Lamb and White Bean Chili

Lamb and white bean chili

Frances and Matthew arrived Sunday for the  Thanksgiving holiday. The weather was chilly and damp and I wanted to serve some comfort food that wouldn’t take me forever to make and also would not suffer if their flight were delayed. I came across this recipe on the New York Times website and it sounded perfect. Initially I was going to use a good canned cannellini bean, but I remembered I had some wonderful Rancho Gordo Heirloom dried beans that I could use instead. They were the giant Royal Corona Beans, an enormous, thick-skinned runner bean that cooks up to a creamy center. I had to soak them overnight and then cook them in my slow cooker for several hours, but frankly, it was worth it. However, if you are in a hurry, this recipe would still give you a good result using a quality canned bean. It might not be the prettiest dish you will ever come across, but it is the ultimate in comfort food.

Lamb and White Bean Chili by Melissa Clark and slightly modified by me

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons EVOO

2 pounds ground lamb

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

3 large Poblano peppers, seeded and diced

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped, including the stems

8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (If you want this to have more heat, do not remove the seeds.)

4 Tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 Tablespoons double-strength tomato paste

1 pound of dried beans, soaked and cooked or 4 cans of cannellini beans (If you are using homemade cooked beans, reserve the liquid to use in the recipe. If you are using canned beans, rinse the beans.)

For Serving

Plain whole milk yogurt, preferably sheep’s milk

Chopped cilantro

Sev (An Indian snack made from chickpea flour. It is a very, very fine cooked noodle-like food that adds protein and also can be used as a thickener. It can be found in Indian markets or online.) Optional

Directions

  1. If you are cooking your own beans, then soak them overnight and cook them until tender.
  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the EVOO in a Dutch Oven or large soup pot. Add the lamb and brown it, breaking up the pieces with a fork. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Transfer the cooked meat, using a slotted spoon, to a colander. Wipe out the pan.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon of EVOO and add the onions and Poblano peppers. Cook until the vegetables have softened – about 5-7 minutes. Add 4 Tablespoons of the chopped cilantro stems and stir. Add the chopped garlic and jalapeno peppers and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chili powder, cumin and coriander an cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until everything is very fragrant.
  4. Return the lamb to the pot. Add 5 cups of water (or reserved bean liquid, if you cooked the beans yourself) and an additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add more water if the chili becomes too thick. You want this to have an almost soup-like consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. (I did not need to make any adjustments.) Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt. Garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves and the Sev, if using. I served this with a crusty bread, my Sunshine Kale Salad and a rich Zinfandel.

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw

So I had half of head of red cabbage leftover from my red cabbage, goat cheese and walnut salad and hated for it to go to waste. I was making some lovely grilled trout and corn on the cob for dinner and thought about what would go well alongside that would be fast, easy and didn’t require any ingredients that weren’t already in my fridge. I was able to throw this together in minutes in the morning and left it covered on my counter until dinner. I hadn’t planned on blogging about this since it seemed almost too simple. But when my husband saw how beautiful it looked he decided to take a photo. And then of course, it tasted great. So especially now that it is officially barbecue season, this is one side that goes with just about any grilled meat or fish. I don’t actually have a grill, but broiled or oven roasted foods work well too. The amounts are a guideline and can easily be doubled or tripled.

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 small head of red cabbage, cored and sliced thinly

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated with the large grate (or if you are REALLY lazy, you could use the bought julienned carrots)

Juice of 2 fresh limes

4 Tablespoons EVOO (I used a Meyer Lemon EVOO but you could use just a good quality plain EVOO)

1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 small bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

Toss everything in a non-reactive bowl and cover for a few hours, tossing when you think of it.

Christmas Lamb Shanks

img_2629Okay, so I don’t celebrate Christmas and these lamb shanks can be eaten any time. I named them Christmas Lamb Shanks because I am using an heirloom Christmas Lima Bean that I bought through Rancho Gordo, the premier site for heirloom beans and other wonderful one-0f-a-kind goodies from south of the border. I was introduced to this company on a trip to Napa Sonoma that my husband and I took with Frances and Matthew a few years ago. Of course, if you don’t have access to these beans, which are meaty and unctuous and taste ever so slightly of chestnuts, you could substitute a good dried lima bean or other large runner bean.

Chicago is currently under a polar vortex and a former colleague from Russia says that we are living in Chiberia! This dish only takes about 30 minutes of prep time but then you want it to cook low and slow so it is wonderful to make on a day when you are stuck indoors. Alternatively it could probably be made in a slow cooker or cooked overnight and then reheated when you are ready to eat. This dish cries out for a really full-bodied red wine, preferably from California or Oregon, but a Shiraz or Spanish Rioja would also be wonderful.

I really don’t do any serious measuring and this dish can be increased easily – only limited by the size of your Dutch oven. The amount I made is enough for four servings and I used a 5 quart oval Dutch Oven to give you a reference point.

Christmas Lamb Shanks

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

3 to 3.5 pounds of lamb shanks (The lamb shanks these days seem to run really large so I am using only 2. The meat will be falling off of the bone so it is not a problem; however, if you are really looking for presentation, try to find 4 small shanks or serve the 2 on a platter and then remove the meat from the bone.)

1 pound of dried runner beans, soaked 18 hours (I changed the water 3 times before going to bed. You could soak them for less, but I want them REALLY unctuous.)

2 to 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 to 3 Tablespoons of EVOO or Grapeseed oil

1/4 cup of whatever red wine you will be drinking or have opened from the night before

5 large shallots, peeled, split into its 2 parts and left whole

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves which are trimmed, peeled and left whole or are lightly smashed img_2622

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 or 4 chunks each

2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon dried rosemary

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

4 cups of chicken stock

28 ounces of whole San Marzano tomatoes, squeezed by hand into rough chunks

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

8 ounces whole button or Cremini mushrooms

3 Tablespoons of chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Drain your beans which should have almost doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a Dutch Oven or heavy duty casserole (I recommend Staub or Le Creuset) large enough to fit the lamb shanks in one layer and hold everything else, heat the EVOO or Grapeseed oil to hot but not smoking. (If I am being totally honest, I added 1 Tablespoon of duck fat to the EVOO for flavor and its burning point, but since everyone may not have it around, I didn’t want to complicate things for you.)
  3. Make 3 or 4 deep slits in each lamb shank and stuff the slit with a sliver of garlic. This took 2 cloves from the total. Lightly dredge the shanks in the flour, shaking off any excess. I put the flour in a one gallon plastic freezer bag and threw in the shanks and sealed the bag. I tossed the shanks around to coat. It’s easy and you then just throw away the bag. You can season the flour if you wish with salt and pepper, but I didn’t.
  4. Brown the shanks in the hot oil – about 5 minutes a side. They will brown best if you don’t move them around except to turn once. Adjust your heat so the oil doesn’t burn. Once the shanks are browned, pour in the 1/4 cup of red wine to quickly deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits.
  5. Add everything else to the pot except for the parsley and mushrooms and stir through to mix. The beans and shanks should be covered with the liquid from the stock and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil on top of the stove, then cover and place in the oven. Cook it for 3 hours, checking once to stir things. Then add the mushrooms and cook covered for 30 minutes more.img_2626
  6. Serve garnished with the parsley. Make sure you have plenty of crusty bread to soak up the sauce or some starch of choice. This dish reheats beautifully and only gets richer with time.

img_2631

Linzer Torte with a Rich Tart Pastry

img_2523I had two favorite cookies growing up – the famous “Black and White” Cookies and the linzer torte cookie, sometimes referred to as “Lunettes.” I still haven’t replicated the Black and White cookies and many that you can buy today are sickeningly sweet, but I have developed my version of a Linzer Torte. Because making cookies can be tedious, I prefer to make this as an actual torte. The only part that I make from scratch is the rich pastry dough, so the quality of the remaining ingredients that you purchase is everything. If you prefer to make a cookie, you can still use this dough recipe. I made this for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends and it was a big hit. It also is great since it can be made a day ahead and any leftovers will keep for several days. The crust may soften a bit, but the taste is uncompromised.

Lisa’s Linzer Torte

Yield: One 9-inch Torte

Ingredients

For Rich Pastry Dough (Makes enough dough for two 9-inch pastry shells)

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup frozen butter, cut into 1 Tablespoon-size pieces

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 hard-cooked large egg yolks

1 large egg

Zest of 1 large lemon

3 Tablespoons cold water

For the filling

1o ounces of Raspberry Curd (If you want to make  your own, more power to you. I buy a good commercial brand. Since what is available can vary so much, just look for what is available and check the ingredients. The main ingredients should be fruit, eggs, butter and sugar.)

10 ounces of Raspberry Jam (Again, there are so many fine commercial or artisanal jams out there, that this is not something I personally would spend time on making. Whether you choose with seeds or without is purely personal taste. With seeds is more traditional, but it is your choice.)

7 ounces almond paste (I used Odense brand. I like the quality and it rolls out well which is what you need for this recipe.

1 egg yolk plus 1 teaspoon milk or cream

Casting Sugar or Confectioner’s Sugar (Optional)

Directions

For the pastry dough 

I like to make this in a food processor, but you could make this by hand.

  1. Using the metal blade, add the flour, butter, sugar, egg, egg yolks, lemon zest, salt and water to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse for 15 seconds and then turn on, processing just until a ball of dough starts to form on the blades. Since all flour is different, if you must add a bit more water for this to come together, add a 1/2 Tablespoon at a time and use as little as you can get away with.
  3. Divide into two dough disks and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Assembling the Torte

  1. Roll out one dough disk to fit a 9-inch fluted flan pan with a removable bottom. (If you don’t own one of these, you can use a 9-inch pie plate, but I highly encourage you to purchase this pan.) Leave a 1-inch overhang and trim off any excess dough. Fold the overhand under and smooth the top.
  2. Roll out the almond paste to fit the inside of the pan, not quite coming to the top of the sides. You might need to trim this a bit. Fit the rolled out almond paste into the ie shell. Ideally you will refrigerate the pie shell at this point, but when I made it, I had neither the time nor the space in my fridge to do this step and it was fine.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. When you are ready to bake the torte, fill the shell first with the raspberry curd and then cover that with the jam. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect and there is some mixing going on of curd and jam.
  5. Roll out the second disk of pastry into a rectangle and trim it so the ends are straight and even. Using a pastry wheel (straight or fluted) or a knife, cut 1/2 inch strips of dough. You will probably need 8 to 10 strips. Any leftover dough can be made into a simple but delicious cookie.
  6. Weave the strips into a lattice pattern (YouTube it) on top of a piece of cardboard. Once you have the pattern, you will carefully slide it onto the top of the torte. You can also weave it directly on the torte, but it is difficult to not get jam all over the dough that way. (I am admittedly still working on perfecting my weaving technique which is why I am advising you to YouTube it.) Carefully tuck the ends of the strips, trimming where necessary, under the edges of the bottom crust. Mine isn’t perfect but it was still wonderful so don’t be intimidated! Pinch the two doughs together and smooth it with your fingers.
  7. Whisk the egg yolk with the cream or milk and carefully brush the strips and outer rim of the torte with the mixture. You probably won’t use it all on this recipe. If you are using casting or sanding sugar, sprinkle it over the strips. Don’t be too anal about this. And if you prefer you can sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top just before serving, which is a bit more traditional.
  8. Bake for 23 minutes and then turn the torte. Continue baking until the pastry is golden brown. The jams will be a bit liquidy at this point but will thicken as the torte cools. This took about another 22 minutes in my oven, but ovens vary. Allow to cool completely and then remove from the flan ring and using a thin spatula, carefully remove the bottom. It should slide right off, so don’t use any big or abrupt moves or you will see your torte go flying! img_2506

 

Porchetta

img_2226I just finished reading a mystery series that takes place in the Perigord region of France. The detective in this Martin Walker series loves to cook and there is almost as much time spent on the mystery as on the food – which suits me just fine! Perigord is the home of truffles, foie gras and wild boar as well as walnut tart. When I was in college I spent one winter vacation in Alsace with a French family that I knew at the time. The food was amazing! From the moment you woke up to cafe au lait and beautiful breads shaped like people eaten with home-made confiture to lunches (the main meal) of everything from wild roast boar to fish in a cream sauce to the hand-made chocolates loaded with liqueur that we ate after long walks in the woods – this was eating! We always had a tisane before bed to help keep our livers in good working order. Amazingly I did not gain an ounce, but I’m sure that the long walks in the mountains and the numerous stairs that I climbed, in addition to just trying to keep warm because there was no central heating, all helped.

Well, I have no idea where to buy wild boar here and I’m not sure that I would purchase it even if I could, but a good pork butt (shoulder) is readily available and happened to be on sale this week. This recipe comes mostly from Gabriele Corcos and his Extra Virgin cookbook. I made a few changes in addition to using a much smaller cut of meat. This is one of those homey dishes that just makes me sigh with delight at the first bite. Leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Porchetta – Roast Pork Roast img_2231

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

3 to 3.5 pound boneless pork shoulder (also called pork butt – no idea why since they are clearly different ends of the body!)

3 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves

3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 Tablespoon fennel seeds

1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

EVOO

2 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold but red Bliss potatoes would also work)

2 heads of garlic

1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the sage, rosemary, parsley, 5 cloves of garlic, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and process while drizzling in EVOO. You want to emulsify this into a paste that resembles pesto.
  3. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the pork so that it opens like a book with the spine still attached. Hopefully there is a good marbling of fat, which both adds flavor and keeps the roast from drying out.
  4. Spread about half of the paste over the open “pages” of the pork, reserving the remainder of the paste for serving.
  5. Close the “book” with the fat side facing up and tie it tightly with kitchen twine. You can do this part ahead of time and carefully wrap it tightly and refrigerate it until you are ready to roast it. This can be done up to a day ahead.
  6. When you are ready to roast the pork, halve the potatoes and the garlic heads and lay them cut side down in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Lay the roast – fat side up – on top of the cut heads of garlic and potatoes. Drizzle with a bit more EVOO and sprinkle a little more salt  and pepper on top of the roast.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and roast uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the wine over the roast and baste the meat with the pan juices about every 20 minutes. Roast for about a total of 2.25 to 2.50 hours or until the skin is very browned and the juices run clear or an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. has been achieved.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the roast to rest for about 20 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and carefully snip the twine. Then slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces and enjoy.

 

 

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

beef stew1

There are few dinners that are homier or easier to make than a good beef stew. Whenever possible I buy chuck roast and I cut my own stew meat. It really doesn’t take that long and chuck roast is just the best quality meat for beef stew, instead of the odds and ends of all kinds of beef that are sold as “stew” meat in the grocery. Stew only takes about 30 minutes to assemble and then you put it in a low slow oven or slow cooker and leave it alone. I picked up the knack of using instant tapioca to make a wonderful thick gravy from an Amish cookbook. It requires no messing with making a roux and adding it slowly to avoid lumps. The tapioca goes in the mix at the beginning and when the stew is ready, the gravy is silky, coats a spoon and is delicious. No muss; no fuss. I have always made this in my Dutch oven, but I decided today to use a crock-pot. I usually forget that I have one since it is stored out of sight, but I know how useful they can be. Hopefully, I won’t mess it up!

I make this for Sunday night dinner and then have delicious left-overs for the week. This can also be frozen. The only change you will see when re-heating the stew is that the vibrant green of the peas will fade. No taste is lost. Be sure to serve a good bread or roll to wipe up all of that flavorful gravy!

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 pounds of chuck roast cut into large chunks (about 3-inch pieces)

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced OR a 1 pound bag of baby carrots

1 pound of cippolini onions peeled OR if you are feeling lazy a bag of frozen pearl onions

10 ounces of frozen peas

About 12 red baby bliss or small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and left whole unless larger (then cut them in half)

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thickly or left whole if small (try to use a Cremini or Baby Bella) optional

1 cup red wine like a Cabernet or Zinfandel, but even a Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc would work. Use either what you have left-over or what you will be drinking with the stew.

1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juice (I like fire roasted)

1-2 cups of beef broth or water

1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

5 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca

Directions

  1. I read somewhere that we should be preheating our crock-pots so I preheated mine on high while I prepared my stew ingredients.
  2. I layered in all of my ingredients, except for the frozen peas and parsley and then stirred everything through to distribute them well. I covered the slow-cooker and put it on high for 1 hour.
  3. After 1 hour, I turned the slow-cooker down to “low” but did not touch anything inside the pot. I set the timer for 4 more hours.
  4. After four hours, I stirred in the peas and parsley, adjusted the seasonings and left the slow-cooker on “warm” until I was ready to serve it.

Beef stew

Roast Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Apple Cider Glaze

plated pork roastToday my thoughts turned to roasted meat, apples and squash – autumn seasonal foods. One of the cooking shows that I enjoy watching is Extra Virgin with Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos.  I like it not only because they make the kinds of food I like, but they live out one of my fantasies – having a farm and your family around you. Gabriele loves pork and he had a recipe for roast pork that sounded wonderful. However, as I have mentioned several times, I always like to add my own touches. For his delicious recipe you can read it here. I’m serving mine with the roasted potatoes from the pan and with acorn squash.    roast stuffed pork shoulder

Roast Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Apple Cider Glaze  

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (butt) butterflied and with a nice layer of fat on top. You want a well-marbled piece of meat so it will stay moist during the long, slow cooking. And let’s face it, fat is flavor.

About 24 ounces of apple cider (I used Angry Orchard hard apple cider becasue I had it from another recipe, but plain cider is fine)

1.5 cups dried apple rings

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage

1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic

1.5 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika

6 small red baby bliss potatoes, halved

3 heads of garlic with the top quarter cut off

EVOO for drizzling

cooking twine

Directions

  1. In a glass bowl, cover the apple rings with about 12 ounces of cider. Let these soak covered for at least one hour, but they can soak as much as overnight.
  2. Butterfly the pork roast unless your butcher did it for you. It’s pretty easy as long as you have a sharp knife. Cut the roast vertically so that it opens like a book. Do not cut all the way through. You still want one piece.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the open roast. Then spread the garlic, rosemary and sage over the open roast. Lay the apple rings over everything covering what will become the inside of the roast.
  4. Carefully roll the roast up along the long side, with the fat on top. Using kitchen twine, tie the roast to hold it together. About 4 pieces of twine should do. The roast can be prepared up to a day ahead up to this point. If  you are not roasting it immediately, wrap it well in parchment and foil and place in a plastic bag in the fridge.
  5. When you are ready to roast the meat, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  6. Drizzle EVOO In your roasting pan. Place your potatoes and garlic in the pan, cut side down to form a platform for the roast. Drizzle with a bit of EVOO and sprinkle with some Kosher salt and pepper. Lay the roast on top of the potato/garlic bed. Sprinkle salt, pepper and sweet Hungarian paprika over the meat and drizzle with olive oil.   roast pork ready for the oven
  7. Roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the remaining apple cider over the meat and roast for 1.5 hours more. Let the meat rest for 20 minutes to absorb all of the juices.
  8. Place the meat on a cutting board, cut the twine and carefully remove it. The roll should hold together.