Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strozzapreti with Three Meat Ragu

If it's good with one cut of meat, surely three are even better.  This is an excellent make ahead meal and equally excellent for a large group.  Start a day ahead as it's better chilled and reheated to serve.

I made this to serve 12

3 lbs veal shank
1 3/4 lbs beef short ribs
1 lb pork shoulder, cut into large 6 inch pieces
4 carrots, roughly chopped
4-5 celery ribs, from the center of the stalk with leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 springs fresh sage
4 bay leaves
4 roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 cup cognac
2 cups medium bodied red wine
3 1/2 cups beef stock
2 1/2 cups chicken stock

Tie together the thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaves.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil.
Salt and pepper only the amount of meat that will fit in the pan, and brown it in batches making sure not to crowd the pot.
Brown all sides of each cut of meat in turn, salt and peppering the meat as you are ready to brown it and adding more olive oil as needed.
Place the meat onto a baking sheet as your work through all of it.
When you are finished browning, discard all but 1 tbsp of oil.  Then add in the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are lightly browned and almost caramelized looking.
Deglaze the pot with the cognac and let it boil until almost fully evaporated.
Then add in the red wine and bring to a boil.
Follow with the beef and chicken stocks and the tomatoes.
Once the sauce is returned to a boil, add the meats back in along with any juices that have collected.
Cover and bring to a simmer and then turn down heat to low to medium low.  
Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is pull apart tender.  Check it periodically to rotate the meat around and make sure it is covered under the liquid.  I found the veal and pork were ready at 1 3/4 hours, while the short rib was more like 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
When the meat is finished, pull it out onto a baking sheet and cover until cook enough to handle.
Meanwhile strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve pressing on the solids to extract all of the flavorful juices.
Return the strained sauce to the pot and bring to a rolling boil to reduce slightly.  Thicken with a flour roux.  Take 1/4 cup flour and about 1/2 cup of the sauce and whisk together into a paste.   Then whisk the paste back into the pot.
When the meat is cool enough to handle, use your hands or two forks to pull it apart, discarding any sinewy gristle and excess fat.
Then return the meat to the sauce.  Cool the sauce and meat down and then place it in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, skim off any fat that has risen and solidified on top.  Simmer the sauce for another 20 minutes or so.
I used Lagana Foods Strozzapreti pasta, but pappardelle noodles or another shaped pasta would be great as well.

I served the pasta with a gremolata:
1/2 Cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 Cup grated parmaggiano reggiano1/4 Cup pine nuts, toasted
Zest of 1 lemon

Mix all together

And a cheese crisp made of parmaggiano reggiano and pecorino romano. 
Meaty goodness.

Cheesy Breadsticks

These are a kid pleaser and came about initially as a result of extra pizza dough.  Bake them fresh and serve immediately, otherwise they are like left over pizza... which is not bad either!

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl.  Stir together yeast and water and let sit for 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved.  Stir the water/yeast mixture into the flour and combine well.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise, 12-24 hours.  

For the topping:
4 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup grated cheese, mixture of gruyere and parmagiano reggiano

Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper dusted with flour.

When ready to use, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface.  Separate the dough into two rounds.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for another 2 hours.  
Then roll out each dough round into an oval.  You will need plenty of flour as the dough will be quite sticky.  You want it to be about 1/3-1/2" thick.  
Melt the butter together with the garlic in the microwave.
Brush the dough with the butter, then top with the cheese.
Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the dough into 1/2-3/4" wide strips.  Place the strips of dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a little space if separation in between.
These can be made ahead of time, covered with a kitchen towel until you are ready to bake them.  I did this and put them into my unheated oven for a couple of hours.
To bake, heat oven to 400f, bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brisket Laredo - An Opportunity to use Cheez Whiz

In case you were wondering what to do with your leftover brisket from Chris' previous post, and you just happened to have a jar of Cheez Whiz laying around, go with this stick to your ribs, bonus meal.  A version of this dish, which Chris called Laredo, was one of his first meal idea contributions.  He ate it growing up and described it as ground beef, beans, onions, tomatoes, and Cheez Whiz.  I suppose a chili of sorts, but with the added indulgence of our favorite cheese product in a jar.  It was just what a growing teenage boy needed.  

On Sunday, Chris remade his brisket with only one change.  I suggested he not strain the sauce, but instead keep all of the chunky goodness, but for the chipotle peppers.  Those got pulled out to keep the heat down for the girls.  In preparation for tonight's meal, the leftover sauce, about 16 oz, was jarred separately from the brisket, about 1 lb.  Then tonight I shredded the brisket and prepared the following:
1 Sweet onion, diced
1 Red bell pepper, diced
2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
In a large rimmed pan, heat about 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and sauté until slightly browned and softened.  Add the brisket and then the sauce.  Bring all to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.  Then add the Cheez Whiz... oh, about 1/2 cup.  But you be the judge on how much you like.  We like lots.  Heat until the Cheez Whiz is incorporated.

I served the brisket laredo with white rice, as requested by Chris, and the pickled red onions on top, along with a few sweet potato tortilla chips on the side.  What it lacks in visual appeal, it more than makes up for in flavor.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roast Pork Belly Pizza

While in Hawaii, Chris enjoyed a kalua pork pizza called the "Steve McGarrett" several times over.  I think he had it for four meals.  That's a lotta pizza love.  Here's a little variation on it.  I wonder if it'll pass the mustard.

For the dough:
This is a no knead pizza dough I've been using from Jim Leahy's of Co. Pizza in NYC.  But I've adjusted it slightly and added honey.  It makes four 12" pizzas.

3 1/2 Cups bread flour
1 1/2 Cups warm water
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp clover honey
Mix together flour and salt in a  large bowl.  Add the yeast to the water and let sit until yeast is dissolved.  Add water yeast mixture along with honey to the flour.  Use a spatula to stir together until combined.  Bring together into a ball with your hands.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 12-24 hours.  
When ready to use, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Separate into 4 equal balls.  Using a rolling pin or stretching with your hands, form the balls of dough into 12" diameter rounds.  
Since I am making several pizzas and using only one oven and one pizza stone, I par bake the pizza dough to make them easier to work with.  This allows me to do all of them ahead of time, top them, and bake them one at a time without them sitting and sticking to any surface as the raw dough might.  
Heat oven to 500f and put the pizza stone in the oven and allow it to heat up fully for about 20-30 minutes.  Bake each dough for just 60 seconds.  

For the pizza topping:
Store bought barbecue sauce (I used a new one for us - Rufus Teague Honey Sweet)
Roasted pork belly, which I bought at Kings Barbecue.  You can buy roasted pork at most Chinese barbecue spots - the ones with the hanging ducks, chickens, etc in the windows.
Fresh pineapple, diced
Hawaiian sweet onions, thinly sliced
Mixture of whole milk mozzarella and smoked cheddar cheeses, shredded
Shred or cut the pork belly into small pieces.  Saute the onions in a little bit of oil until they are caramelized.  
To assemble the pizza, brush the pizza dough with the barbecue sauce, enough to coat it, but not drench it.  Lay the pork pieces equally on top, followed by the onions and then the pineapple.  Finish with a thin layer of the shredded cheese.
Bake the pizza in the 500f oven for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.  Let rest for just a minute before cutting.
The only improvement... Chris said more cheese.  Remember.... until you hate yourself.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuna Nicoise Salad

Time to reign it in a little.  Those mai tais sure do taste good in Hawaii.  They go down easily and leave a lasting impression.  Here's something light to help offset the effects of an excellent holiday.

The proportions are up to the individual, but here are the ingredients:

Haricot verts, or slender green beans
Baby potatoes
Heirloom tomato
Hardboiled eggs
Butter/Bibb lettuce
Nicoise Olives
Sushi quality Albacore or Ahi tuna

Boil the beans until they are tender, about 4 minutes, and shock in iced water.  Boil the potatoes until tender, about 7 minutes.  Cut each potato in half.
Cut tomato and eggs into wedges.  Wash, dry and roughly tear the butter lettuce into large pieces.
Salt and pepper the tuna.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add a few drops of grape seed old.  Sear the tuna, about 30 seconds a side, depending on how thick the tuna is.  Slice the tuna into 3/8" pieces.

For the dressing:
1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tsp finely minced shallots
2 tsp finely chopped flat leave Italian parsley
1 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix all together.  Can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated.  Bring back to room temp before using.

Toss beans, potatoes, tomato, and olives with just enough dressing to coat.  
To serve, lay bib lettuce on the bottom of a plate.  Then top with some tuna slices.  Lay a few egg wedges around.  Drizzle with a bit of the dressing and then lay the beans, etc around the plate.  

Radiatore with Italian Chicken Sausage, Roma Tomatoes and Ricotta Salada

The kids still have to eat and tuna nicoise is not going to cut it.  This is still a pretty light pasta with just enough flavor to pass the Emerton kid test.  

This made 3 Emerton-sized main portions
Fresh radiatore pasta (I bought Ethan Stowell's Lagana pasta), I used about 12 oz
Italian chicken sausage links or bulk ( I bought Whole Foods own, 2 links)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
Freshly grated Ricotta Salada (I used 1/4 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

If your sausage is in link form, remove the casing and separate slightly.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage breaking it apart into small pieces as you brown it.  Add garlic and sauté until just fragrant.  Then add the tomatoes and stir to combine.  Turn heat down to medium low, cover the skillet and cook until the tomatoes are soft.  Then add the parsley and cook until the parsley is just softened.  
Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  
Add the pasta to the sauce and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Toss to combine, then add the grated ricotta and salt to pepper to taste.  Serve with freshly grated parmgiano reggiano as an option on the side.  
Easy and kid tested.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Ginger Sauce

I've been a little obsessed with brussels sprouts lately.  When I pulled them out of the refrigerator once again this afternoon, Stella said, "wow, you really are obsessed with brussels sprouts".  After try one hundred and something, I've found a version my kids like.  

1 lb brussels sprouts
olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 scallions, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped prosciutto 
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Heat oven to 500F.  Trim the brussels sprouts at the ends so that you can pull the leaves of the sprouts apart.  Toss with enough olive oil to just coat the sprouts, about 3 tbsp.  Spread the brussels sprouts over a large baking pan.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  
Roast sprouts for about 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften.
Meanwhile, combine soy, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.
Sprinkle the sprouts with the scallions, ginger, garlic and prosciutto.  Then drizzle the sauce over top.  Toss to combine.  Return to the oven for another 4-5 minutes or so, until the sprouts are just tender.
I'm not sure if this is so much of a compliment, but I'll take it.  As Stella put it, "I actually like these.  I mean, they are not only not bad, they're good".