Stuffed Pork Chops with Speck, Manchego and Pesto

these are a pain in the ass to photograph

stuffed

These were a bit of a fluke (these were also inordinately difficult to photograph) – sometimes the best things are. I get meat delivered monthly from a company that sources beef, pork and lamb from farms within 250 miles of the city, then delivers it packed in dry ice right to your door. (Every day I become more of a hermit.) I love it. The meat is delicious, they have awesome things like trotters and tails and organ meats and fresh eggs, and it is so convenient! Plus it is reasonably priced AND when they send be things I wouldn’t typically buy, I get to be creative and experimental.

So I had what I thought were boneless pork chops in the freezer – when I typically buy pork chops I buy thick cut bone-in chops, and then I coat them in panko, pan roast them and serve them with apples, sage and brown sugar, which is one of my favorite meals of all time, but is not summery. That is totally what I would have made if I had known they were bone in, but because I thought they were boneless I got creative – divine intervention! I thought they would be great stuffed with the manchego and garlic scape pesto (you can still find scapes out there – get some, make pesto) that I had in the fridge, and they would have been, but they were even better when I found the speck I had forgotten about in the cheese drawer. (Use prosciutto if you want, in this case, they would be totally interchangeable and equally delicious, I just happen to love the speck from the local meat store.) I just made a quick mixture with chopped up speck, grated manchego and the pesto and then I used a thin sharp knife to cut a slit in side of the chop. A thin knife is great here, because it allows you to cut a thin slit in the meat on the edge, so the stuffing doesn’t fall out, but open it up wider in closer to the bone to maximize the stuffing ability (this would be a great place for a video, because I don’t think my description is even remotely helpful.) Basically, just try to get as much stuffing in there as you can.

Because I used a grill pan inside, I preheated the oven to 400 and finished the chops in there so I didn’t smoke myself out of my apartment, but if you are using a real grill because you fancy, there’s no need for the oven. These are crazy quick and very flavorful and feel like lots of effort even though they are not. Perfect for a summer dinner party. Of course they would also be lovely using boneless chops. These cook up really quickly, and the filling just requires about five minutes to put together, so these are a great weekday dinner. I served them over a salad of farro, summer squash, pine nuts and parmesan, but they would be great with anything mildly flavored. The filling is rich and salty, so you don’t want anything that would compete. (Also, take it easy on the salt, the meat and cheese in the filling are plenty salty.)

off the bone

off the bone

Things about things:

  1. SUMMER TIP: And I can’t stress this one enough – next time you are grilling outside, propane, charcoal, campfire, it doesn’t matter, anything will (and does) work – buy yourself some fresh littlenecks (if you are nice, also buy enough for whomever you are grilling with) rinse them off and throw them on the grill. Let them sit on the grill until they open. Put them in a bowl (if you don’t put them directly into your mouth) and squeeze lemon on them. Pass them around with some hot sauce. Seriously. Do this. There isn’t even a recipe because the only ingredient is clams, so I am just going to drop it here and hope you take me seriously. This is so much better than it should be, and I have no idea why. You don’t even have to like clams, and you are probably going to like them like this.
  2. I have been eating some crazy good food lately. I went to The Red Hen in DC, and Maple Avenue in Falls Church and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, and that was just the last couple of weeks when I was on the road. I have also been to Pastoral and Trina’s Starlite Lounge close to home and I continue to think about the food I had in all of those places. In related news, have you all had corn dogs? I think most people have, right? That is a thing that people eat, I think, but I missed that boat somehow, and I am really sad about that. I had a corn dog recently, and I think it is just the beginning. I have lost time to make up for.
  3. I am still reading A Song of Ice and Fire The Second (A Clash of Kings.) It is good, but it is long and I am ready to read something else.
  4. I am listening to Jenny Lewis and LP. They are very different but equally awesome and I am pretty much just rotating between the two albums this week.
  5. I catered a bridal shower last weekend, and Pam was lovely enough to write about it in her blog. Pardon my face, I forgot how to present myself that day.
  6. I got to visit JMU for the first time in YEARS a couple weeks ago and it was delightful. It looks so different and impressive. It was orientation week and the incoming freshmen were freakin adorable. I am so jealous they still have those years in front of them.
  7. The littlest will be home for a whole month in less than three weeks and I am so excited I can’t stand it. I miss her.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Speck, Manchego and Garlic Scape Pesto (serves 2)

2 thick-cut (at least an inch, an inch and a half would work) pork chops, bone-in or boneless

1 oz (4-5 slices) speck or prosciutto, chopped in small pieces

2 oz manchego, grated

1/4 cup garlic scape pesto (basil pesto will work too!)

salt and pepper to taste

If you are cooking indoors, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Using the thinnest, sharpest knife you have, cut a small (about 1″ wide) slit in the side of each chop, then use the tip of the knife to increase the  size of the pocket in the middle of the chop and in closer to the bone (if there is one.) Try not to puncture the outside of the chop anywhere else.

In a small bowl, mix the grated cheese, the chopped speck and the pesto together to combine. Stuff the chops with as much of the stuffing as you can, without tearing the meat, you should be able to use most of it. I like to use a toothpick to close the opening a bit if it needs it. Salt and pepper the outside of the chops.

Heat an oven proof grill pan or grill to medium high. Cook the chops on the first side for eight minutes, and if cooking on the stove top, flip the chops and put the pan in the oven for another eight minutes. If you are grilling outside, flip the chops and cook for eight more minutes with the top of the grill closed to retain the heat.

Remove the chops from the heat and let them rest for at least five minutes. Slice, serve and enjoy.

 

Pressed Sandwiches are the best sandwiches…

Perfect picnic food

Perfect picnic food

Sandwiches are perfect.

They are portable, they include bread, the filling can be anything you want, they are usually pretty easy to put together, and in this case, they are made ahead of time, so they are great for adventures or weeknight dinners or bag lunches or picnics. And they are really great for summer.

Sandwiches are perfect. These sandwiches are even perfecter.

I have made these a couple different times, most recently for a fundraising meeting at my house on a Tuesday night. I work later than most of the rest of the ladies, and needed something that I could do ahead of time so I wouldn’t spend the whole meeting cooking instead of, you know, meeting. Plus it was hot as blazes that week, and we needed to be able to stay in the living room with the AC.

These can be done with mostly meat or mostly vegetables. They could be completely vegetarian and would be delicious, and I suppose they could be all meat and cheese, though I think they might be a bit one note done that way. I recently did them with various cured meats, some pesto, some provolone and roasted peppers, and they were great. This version included grilled eggplant and squash, pesto, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and sweet capicola on a really good ciabatta that I can get at a bakery in my neighborhood. Next time I might try tapenade or olive spread of some sort. Maybe another meat or cheese or both. You can really do anything your heart desires, but don’t leave out the pesto, because that might be the best part. All the work is done the day or night before, and then the sandwiches get wrapped up and pressed under bricks in the fridge. All you have to do the day you eat them is slice them up.

Plan a picnic, or a boat ride, or a night a roof deck or even a meeting. Invite your friends. Make these sandwiches. Bask in their thanks and awe. Pack them leftovers if you have them. Bask in their thanks once more. And do it in August. It’s national sandwich month!

What I am thinking about when I am not thinking about food:

1. ALL THE BOOKS. I just finished Canada by Richard Ford. It was beautifully written. I have about eleventy hundred still on my list. The problem is they keep publishing more. Someday I am going to find a job that involves copious reading, cooking food, and writing about stuff. And then I will be happy.

2. I, like the rest of humanity, can’t stop listening to Blurred Lines. This is my new favorite version.

3.  I just spent a week with 50 of the loveliest humans I know. They are fun, funny, smart, musical, kind and generous, and I am lucky that they are also my family. We have good times.

Pressed Sandwiches (makes 8 big sandwiches)

One large loaf ciabatta (two smaller would work just fine too. The ones I get are 16 or 18 inches long and about 8 inches wide. You may not be able to find them that big. Two smaller ones would work just fine!)

three large red peppers

two medium summer squash, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

two medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

one large globe eggplant, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

1 cup of your favorite pesto

12 oz fresh mozzarella sliced in 1/4 inch slices

1/2 lb thinly sliced sweet capicola or prosciutto

olive oil for grilling

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning every 15 minutes or so, until the skins are charred and the peppers are soft. Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to steam. Set aside for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, salt the eggplant slices and let sit on paper towels for 20 minutes or so to remove the bitter liquid. At the same time, heat a grill pan over medium high heat (or an actual grill is even better!) and rub lightly with olive oil. Grill the squash, zucchini, and eggplant when they are finished salting, in batches until cooked through and soft. Set aside.

Remove the roasted peppers from the bowl and peel, stem and seed them. Slice them into wide slices and set aside.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise, and spread the pesto on the bottom half. Layer the cheese over the pesto, followed by a layer of meat. Follow that with the grilled vegetables, then the peppers, then another layer of meat. Put the second piece of bread on top and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Find a spot in the fridge and use bricks, cans or cast iron pans to press the sandwich down overnight.

Slice the day you plan to eat it and enjoy!

layers of goodness

layers of goodness

Stocking up for the New Year…Chicken, Beef and Vegetable Stock

Essentials for the new year...

Essentials for the new year…

Hola nerds!

How I have missed you! It has been a busy fall and winter, blah blah blah, excuses, blah, blah, travel, blah, unitentional hiatus…

Now that I have cleared that up, what’s new with you? I hope all has been well!

My brother recently said that I needed to post something asap, because he was really tired of looking at wings. I did not know that my brother was actually visiting the blog, but since he is, I certainly don’t want to cause fatigue and lose him as a reader, so here I am with a new post. This may not actually be what he had in mind, but beggars can’t be choosers.

This one is really more about technique, as there are myriad ways to make stock and pretty much all of them have already been documented on the interwebs, so instead of considering this a recipe, consider it a friendly reminder/suggestion. Make stock, put it in the freezer, use it until you run out, make stock again. Repeat ad infinitum. The work involved is minimal and the payoff is HUGE. The flavor is better than what you get in the store, your house will smell good while you make it, and people will be impressed. Actually, those three reasons pretty much make up the sum total of my rationale for cooking at all…

I value my “stock”pile (ahahahaha) so much that it is the only frozen item that made the move to my new place with me. I make the stock and let it cool and then measure two cup quantities in to quart-sized ziploc bags. Then each stock bag goes into a second ziploc bag to prevent freezer burn. Label with the type of stock, the quantity and the date, and there you go. This is not the most environmentally friendly storage method, but it is the best storage method, and if you label the INSIDE bag, you can use the outside bag again. (Label the bag before you add the stock. This is probably obvious to most, but in case it’s not, take it from me…) (Also, I know you are looking at the photo and saying “but Meghan, those don’t look like ziploc bags…” and you would be correct, but ziploc bags don’t photograph particularly well, so I dirtied some extra dishes for you. You are welcome…) Freezer bags are the best storage because they can be laid flat and stacked on top of each other in the freezer to maximize space. Two cups is a good amount because if you are making soup or risotto, two bags will typically do the trick, and if you need less than that, you will likely be able to use the rest of what you defrosted without it getting lost in the back of your refrigerator for many moons and going to waste…though maybe that kind of thing never happens to you, in which case, carry on.

the beginnings of beef stock

the beginnings of beef stock

Stock is pretty much the same regardless of type – the main ingredients, the aromatics and water get simmered together for enough time that the water becomes rich flavorful stock rather than boring, flavorless water. Which aromatics and vegetables you choose can depend on the stock you are making, but for the most part, if you have the holy trinity of cooking: onions, carrots and celery, and perhaps some garlic and herbs, you have what it takes. For chicken stock I like to make sure I add thyme, bay leaves, lots of peppercorns and, sometimes, ginger, to brighten it up. For lobster stock I like to add fennel and some tomato paste because they are so suited to lobster, and for vegetable stock I like to add mushrooms, because they deepen the flavor and add the umami-ness that is important when you aren’t including meat. The rules are the same: bring everything to a gentle boil, then reduce the temperature and let the goodness simmer for a couple hours until it’s stock. In the case of beef stock, you want to avoid boiling at all – you just want to bring it to and keep it at a simmer instead – but otherwise, the process is the same.

Make stock my darlings, if you’ve never done it before, it will revolutionize your cooking.

In other news…my 10 things:

I don’t like asking for things, but this one’s for Shania – I am so lucky to call her my homie: http://www.fundraiseforbcrf.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1021963&team=5354081

BostonGLOW: an amazing organization that I am proud to be a part of…small now, but I’m certain it won’t be small for long…

My album of the moment is really not an album at all, just a playlist of ridiculous Top 40 amazingness.

What I am reading: I just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Amazing and heartbreaking.

I want Tina and Amy to be my best friends. http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/2013-golden-globes/tina-fey-amy-poehler-dazzle-hilarious-golden-globes-014640389.html

Pitch Perfect might be my new favorite movie. Best. Ever.

I guess I have to root for the 49ers in the Super Bowl? Not how I hoped that would go.

Resolutions are tricky, so I am setting goals instead. Because those will totally be easier. Financial, Work, Personal, Fitness, B&G, they’re all covered…we’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year!

It’s the beginning of free week at the casa! If you are new around here, free week is when I decide not to buy any groceries, and just fashion dinners out of what I have in the house. I did cheat and buy eggs today, but I figured that didn’t count, because you can practically buy eggs with pocket change. The menu for free week includes: Penne with fennel, tomatoes and olives inspired by this, cowboy beans from here, spaghetti carbonara (I think I might have figured out how to make this work every time! I will share) meatloaf, soy sesame noodles and sweet pea ravioli with pecorino romano. As you can see, it was high time for a free week. It will not be much of a sacrifice.

I guess that was only nine things…until next time, my lovelies…

Here’s to 2013. I have high hopes.

Be good to one another.

And to the recipes we go…

Beef Stock

Vegetable Stock

Basic Chicken Stock (makes about 3 quarts)

4-5 lbs chicken wings

2 medium onions, quartered

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Handful of fresh parsley

2 dried bay leaves

1 tsp peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a large pot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for two or two and a half hours. Strain the stock through cheese cloth, and store for future use.

Feel free to add leeks if you have them, ginger if you would like to add a little zip and bright flavor or thyme if you want a more herby flavor.

Fall Project: Bacon!

Bacon. Homemade!

Hello my little jellybeans…I have missed you so. It has been crazy around here! Since we have spoken last, the following things have happened:

I have been to CT for a baby shower during a hurricane.

I have started class every Monday night with some colleagues.

I have been to Virginia for a wedding.

I have been to NY for a surprise party.

I ate pig eyeball. I also ate pig brain on a cracker.

I have been hanging out with my new best friend Baby L.

I rediscovered my love for cereal. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal? But trust me, it’s huge, and kind of problematic. I am now remembering why I don’t keep cereal and milk around all the time. I could eat cereal three meals a day and not get tired of it. Rice Krispies with banana? Raisin Bran? (Kellogg’s. Obv.) Fruity Pebbles? Cap’n Crunch? Kix? I LOVE it. Love. It tends to limit the amount of cooking I do. It also does not include vegetables, so there are serious nutritional holes in the all cereal diet. But so good!

I have been doing new fun stuff at work.

Another baby was born into the family! Welcome Baby Dubs!

I joined the gym again! (Incidentally, took a class this weekend that has rendered me practically immobile. So. Much. Pain. Good pain?)

I finished watching “Friday Night Lights.” That show is AMAZING. I want to go back to the beginning and watch again. Seriously. Amazing.

The following things DID NOT happen:

Much cooking of any kind. A little bit here and there, I guess, but not much. I made some classics and repeats, and supplemented with much takeout, no real adventures.

But it’s fall! Football season! The perfect time for cooking! I feel my groove coming back. Yesterday I made ricotta, and might make some gnocchi later. I also made some tomato soup. I am excited about trying puff pastry, because all butter puff pastry is expensive, and the ingredients for all butter puff pastry are not, so I figured I might as well give it a try. I have a bunch of chicken in the freezer and a bunch of weeknight chicken recipes to try. I have some more projects for these upcoming months…bread, noodles, sausage, duck confit. Lots of plans.

But now, to what you are here for. If you recall, I made bacon awhile back. Every time I have mentioned that, some smart ass has asked if I slaughtered a pig. I did not. I am not allowed to raise pigs in my apartment, my landlord has allergies.

Lucky for me, Whole Foods sells lovely, large pork bellies for just such a purpose, so I got one there and we were off.

Making bacon is perhaps the easiest project ever. It requires almost no work. It takes a little bit of effort to track down the required ingredients, and then it takes about 10 minutes to put together. That’s it. You let it sit for a week in the fridge, and every night when you get home from work, you try to remember to flip the belly over. Literally, that is pretty much all there is to it. Once it has cured for a week you cook it in a low oven or smoke it until the internal temperature is 150 degrees, and voila…bacon! Delicious, porky, flavorful homemade bacon. So fun!

You need pink salt for making bacon. It contains nitrates, which kill bacteria and keep bacon that charming reddish/pink color instead of turning gray like most pork that you cook until well done. They have been vilified, but for no real reason, it seems, since they are not bad for you in the doses you find in cured meats. Plus, though curing bacon to bacteria free levels can be done without it, the risk of poorly cured meats is not something I like to mess with, so I am decidedly pro-nitrate. Gimme an N! Gimme an I! To give credit to the anti-nitrates out there, they ARE poisonous if you ingest too much. And a teaspoon on its own is too much, so keep away from the kids. Also any adults that confuse tablespoons and teaspoons. No one said curing meat wasn’t a job for a responsible adult. As with all things bacteria, you must be careful.

A good basic dry cure is salt, sugar and pink salt. The rest is just gravy. I followed the instructions of Michael Ruhlman, because his post on the subject was what got me wanting to do this in the first place. But I like the idea of including mustard, because I bet that’d be good. I will be doing this again, and stat. Seriously, do it with me. It is so easy. And very impressive. I made bacon!

As it was in the beginning…

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 6

Day 8 - looks like the real thing!

To keep you updated on things around here…

What I am currently reading: A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. It is about Commercial Real Estate, and set in Atlanta. Both of these things are wildly relevant to my current job, so I am very much enjoying it.

What I am currently listening to: A lot of playlists. I’ve got a good mellow one, a good regular one, and a good upbeat one for the gym. And A LOT of cheesy pop (see: gym.) Also Otis Redding. There is nothing better than Otis Redding. Except for when I am listening to it through my iTunes and my Otis Redding is followed by Phoebe Snow. Phoebe Snow! SO good.

Home Cured Bacon

1 5lb piece of pork belly, skin removed.

2 ounces (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher) salt

2 tsp pink curing salt #1

4 tbl coarsely ground black pepper

4 bay leaves, crumbled

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup (I used brown sugar)

5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

Find a large bag that will hold a 5lb pork belly flat. The 2 gallon Ziploc bags are perfect for this. Mix all of the ingredients for the rub together in a bowl (that would be everything but the belly.) Stick the belly in the bag, and then rub well with the dry cure. Make sure you get it all on there and press it into the meat as best you can. Seal the bag and put in on a baking sheet and stick it in the fridge. Flip the bag every 24 hours or so.

After a week, preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or better yet, get your charcoal grill fired up to smoke it.) Remove the belly from the bag, rinse it under cold water and pat dry. Place on a rack on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven or smoke on the grill for an hour and a half, or until the internal temperature of the belly is 150 degrees. Remove from the oven, marvel at your creation and give yourself a big old pat on the back. You made bacon! You are like a straight up pioneer or something!


Pulled Pork and Slaw for Five or Thirty-seven…

pulled pork with dad's slaw

Pulled pork confuses me a little because from a cooking standpoint, if you are without a grill, this is a wintery food. The cooking is low and slow (overnight at about 275, which is as low as my oven goes) and the result is fall off the bone goodness that feels like a braise. But the result is all summer-barbecue-potluck-outside-hanging out to me. It tastes like summer, goes well with summer sides, and has kind of a 4th of July feel. So I guess really, make sure you have an air conditioner, so it doesn’t matter that it’s 85 degrees in the house when you have the oven on all night, or just stick to winter. Which ever best suits your fancy.

I’ve made this twice this summer. Once with my cousins for the cousin dinner on our family vaca (four boston butt roasts for 37 adults) and once recently, because my brother was in town and I figured he’d like it (just one smallish one for five adults, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough.) Also because I didn’t take pictures of it the first go round, and I wanted to tell you all about it, so I needed to make it again. Both times I had some leftovers, and both times I made hash with them. Bonus.

Pulled pork is served in a couple of different ways, and I THINK I know which one I like better, but I suppose I could change my mind at any time. You will see it served with a sweet/spicy barbecue sauce finish, or you will see in served North Carolina style, which is a vinegar sauce finish. On the vacation I finished two of the roasts with barbecue sauce, and two of them with vinegar sauce. The second time, I went just with the vinegar. It is just so good that way. Maybe because sweet, sticky barbecue sauce has never been my favorite condiment? Not sure, but North Carolina style is the one for me. I think.

Pulled pork is really so easy, which is why I thought about it for the cousins’ dinner in the first place. I knew we could put the rub on it and cook it over night, come up with some sides that could be done mostly ahead of time (we came up with meat beans…oh meat beans, so good. I think normal people call them campfire beans, but really, meat beans is a more apt description, since there was no campfire but lots of meat…they are for another post, when my cousin sends me the recipe) throw together the slaw, and still spend the day at the beach, which was the point of the vacation, after all.

When I was originally looking for a recipe for pulled pork, I called the expert, and Pops mentioned that he used the Chris Schlesinger rub from his grilling cookbook. Chris Schlesinger owns a fantastic barbecue place up here that is so delicious, so I figured it would be tasty, plus, my cousin used to work there before we lost her to the far reaches of the Florida beaches, and I figured she would appreciate it too. It got such a great reception at the reunion, I didn’t change much up the second time, except I added a brine, because I felt like it.

The rub does not mess around. It is spicy. I was nervous it was too spicy when they first came out of the oven, but with the sauce and the slaw and the buns it does just fine, and the spice holds up nicely. It’s basically equal parts salt, sugar, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder and pepper, and then half as much cayenne and twice as much paprika. Tons of flavor.

The brine was pretty standard, water, salt, sugar, spices, but honestly, I am not sure it made a huge difference.

brining

The meat went into the brine and into the fridge for 24 hours. The next night I went out after work and stayed out a good bit later than I anticipated. When I got home I rinsed off the roast, rubbed it vigorously with the spice rub, and threw it in a pan in the oven as low as it could go, and went to sleep. I woke up, got ready for work, and it still wasn’t quite done, so I had to make a quick run home a few hours into the work day to take it out of the oven, but it was all ok! Totally worth it. The pork comes right off the bone and shreds and the fat melts into it and it is all just so good. The nicest part about this is that you can turn it into a meal that is fairly quick to pull together and serve if you are having company, because even though it requires a lot of hours, it doesn’t require a lot of hours of actual work, and all the prep can be done ahead of time. My fam was coming over for dinner that night after work, my brother and his gf were in town, and I was able to easily make a basic slaw, add the vinegar sauce to finish, reheat the meat, and put together the rest of the sides (in this case, fried corn (a revelation, but not exactly haute cuisine…open and drain a can of Keebler’s Niblets corn. Saute three pieces of bacon, crumble bacon, add corn to frying pan with bacon fat, fry until delicious, add crumbled bacon back in. Serve.) and baked beans (in this case, open a large can of B&M. Pour into a pan. Add ketchup and mustard. Serve. Doesn’t make me proud, but they sure taste good)) and it feels like a quick weekday meal. The meat is spicy for sure, but the slaw and the rolls balance it out so well. The slaw that I like is a basic vinegar based slaw, not a creamy one. I love me some creamy slaws, but this one is nice, feels light, is a little sweet, and is good as a side on its own too. It gets rave reviews. I can’t figure it out, because there really is almost nothing to it. But it’s a hit. I think it’s all the sugar.

mmmmmmm...

The boys, the girls and the moms-to-be were all pleased with this. Lots of clean plates in the group of 37 and the gang of 5. And, in both occasions, I used the leftovers to make hash. One of these days, I will tell you about hash, because it is easy and great for a crowd, uses leftovers and could be done the night before or the morning of. And it’s pretty…

leftovers for breakfast.

Pulled pork is a fun treat. It feels indulgent and like it took work. It is a crowd pleaser and it makes for very tasty leftovers.

Before I get to the recipes, I want to give a little hint as to the nature of my August project…

makin bacon…

That was actually a big hint, and if you follow B&G on Twitter (@bandgmeg) or Facebook, you already know this, but I am pretty excited…it is day five and it is looking pretty good…full report to follow, of course.

What I am listening to these days: Josh Ritter The Animal Years pretty much blows my mind every time I hear it, my running mix is pretty pimp, and Toots & the Maytals is the perfect summer soundtrack…

What I am reading these days: Just finished The Hunger Games trilogy. That is some DARK young adult fiction, currently reading Kitchen Confidential which is making me simultaneously miss working in restaurants and wonder how I possibly survived, AND, I just restarted my subscription to the Sunday Times. Nothing makes me happier than waking up in the morning and having that outside waiting for me.

Hey, did you guys know it’s almost time for football? Guess what is perfect for football?! Pulled pork! Get to it!

pulled pork and slaw

North Carolina Pulled Pork (serves 6-8)

thanks to Chris Schlesinger for the recipe

1 7-8 lb bone in Boston Butt pork roast or shoulder

Hamburger buns for serving

For rub:

2 tbl kosher salt

2 tbl sugar

2 tbl brown sugar

2 tbl cumin

2 tbl chili powder

2 tbl black pepper

1 tbl cayenne pepper

4 tbl paprika

For vinegar sauce:

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 tbl sugar

1 tbl red pepper flakes

1 tbl hot sauce

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the sugar and spices for the rub together and stir to blend. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan, and rub spice mixture onto roast, coating it well, and massaging into the meat. Place the roast into a low oven (250-275 degrees) for 8-10 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. The meat should be falling off the bone and easy to shred. If the rub on the outside of the roast starts to get too dark or crisp during the roasting, cover the meat with foil and continue until done.

Mix the vinegars, sugar, spices and hot sauce together and set aside. When the meat has cooled slightly, enough that you can shred it with your hands, pull the meat off the bone and shred. Pour the vinegar mixture over the meat (you may not need all of it, put the remaining aside for people to add to their sandwiches as they’d like) and mix well into the pork. If you are not serving right away, reheat the pork in a low oven until heated through. Serve pulled pork with hamburger buns and slaw (see below.) (NOTE: If you prefer a bbq sauce finish, that is easy enough! Skip the vinegar mixture, and mix pork with your favorite bbq sauce, and serve extra along side.)

Cabbage Slaw (makes about 8 cups)

1 head savoy cabbage sliced thin and into bite sized lengths

1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1 cup sugar, divided

3/4 cup canola or other neutral oil

3/4 cup white vinegar

1 tbl dry mustard powder

2 tbl kosher salt 

Mix the cabbage and the onion in a large bowl, and toss with 3/4 cups of the sugar. Mix the oil, vinegar, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mustard and salt in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat the cabbage well, and chill. Drain excess liquid off slaw before serving. (Note: this makes more liquid than you need. When I made this for 37, I used three heads of cabbage and only doubled the liquid and it worked quite well.) Slaw is best eaten the same day. It will brown quickly, and while it tastes fine, it is not nearly as aesthetically pleasing.

In which I totally cheat…

I did, my friends, I did. I cheated.

I can be forgiven for succumbing to this, right?

Lenten sacrifices are no match for a request from a not-oft seen uncle for homemade pasta with Bolognese. Apparently it is his most favorite. How do you say no to that?

This is a very traditional Bolognese, it is really a meat sauce, rather than a tomato based sauce with meat in it. In fact, the only tomato ingredient is tomato paste, and the sauce contains milk and white wine. It also has a whole lot of carrot, celery and onion in it.

It is very easy to do. You soften onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a bit of butter and olive oil until it is soft.

soffrito

Then you add a combination of ground meats.

pancetta on the left, veal, pork and beef on the right

I use equal parts beef, pork and veal, and then a bit of pancetta as well. I made this a couple of months ago in my home kitchen, and I forgot to have the butcher grind the pancetta with the rest of the meat, and when I remembered, the volume wasn’t enough to run it through their big meat grinder, so I had to take it home and use this…

bad picture, fantastic attachment

It was glorious. I love my meat grinding attachment.

Anyway, they now go into the pot as well.

into the pot

Once the meat browns, you add the tomato paste.

tomato paste

Lastly the milk and the wine go in, and the sauce simmers for a couple of hours until it comes together in a meaty masterpiece.

bolognese

And with that, if you want to showcase this fantastic sauce, the best way to do it is with homemade pasta, which you can create while the sauce simmers.

And guess what I did? Because of the absence of a food processor, I made the pasta the old school way, with a well of flour, some eggs, a fork and some elbow grease.

the well

the fork

the elbow grease

the result

Ok, so clearly I should remove most of the expensive tools (or at the very least, the processor) from my kitchen, because I said it with the pate brisee, and now again with pasta. This dough was divine. It was a pleasure to knead and to roll out. It was smooth and pliable and felt light. I felt like I had control over it: how much flour to add, how much to knead, etc. And if you make the pasta in a large bowl, there is no egg wrangling if it escapes the well, though I feel like I could probably do that too, if I put my mind to it. This does make a ton of dough though, and that’s the weird part. I got the proportions from Mario Batali, and this apparently is supposed to make about a pound of pasta. I used close to four cups of flour and five eggs. (I don’t have a scale down here.) And the recipe I use in the processor? Two cups of flour, two eggs and a little bit of water. Also supposedly makes about a pound. I smell an experiment. I do know that my more recent attempt made more dough, and two batches made WAY more than needed for 8 adults.  It looked like a pasta bomb went off in the kitchen…

explosion

It was everywhere. But those granite countertops are a pretty awesome surface for pasta dough wrangling, so it worked out.

I rolled the dough out into sheets and then cut it myself, so I could do a wider pasta than the machine allowed for. It only took a minute or two to cook, I combined it with the sauce and dinner was served.

pappardelle with Bolognese

Fresh Pasta (makes enough for four adults)

Adapted from Mario Batali

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading if necessary

5 eggs

pinch of salt

Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour and the salt in a wide bowl or on a flat surface. Make a large pile of flour and then create a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well, making sure the well is large enough and has high enough sides to contain the eggs easily. With a fork, begin to scramble the eggs, pulling flour from the inside of the well walls. (I find pulling from the bottom of the walls help keeps the well intact.) The dough will start to come together, and will be too hard to mix with the fork. At this point start to use your hands to knead the flour into the dough. The dough will be fairly wet and shaggy. When it becomes more difficult to incorporate the flour in the bowl, remove the dough to a heavily floured surface and put the bowl aside. Knead the dough, adding more flour, until the dough is no longer sticky, this could take up to ten minutes. Do not add too much flour, the dough should remain light and easy to knead. When it is smooth, set it aside sprinkled lightly with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 45 minutes to an hour, and then roll through a machine or by hand to the shape and width of your choice. Fresh pasta should only be cooked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until al dente.

Ragu Bolognese (makes A LOT – enough for two batches of fresh pasta)

Adapted from Molto Mario

3 tbl unsalted butter

3 tbl olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, peeled and diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground veal

1/3 – 1/2 lb pancetta, preferably ground, diced small if unable to find ground

9 oz tomato paste (a can and a half if you are using small grocery store cans)

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and oil together in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until the aromatics are soft. Turn the heat up to medium high and add all the meat. Cook until the meat browns, 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir the mixture to combine, and cook until the mixture is aromatic. Add in the milk, wine, thyme, salt and pepper and bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until sauce reduces and comes together. Serve over your favorite pasta (pappardelle is traditional) or use in lasagna.

In which the short ribs are successful once again…

short ribs

I made the short ribs again Friday night. Well, actually, I made them Thursday night and served them Friday night. They were once again, a success, even better than the first time, actually. I did not take any more pictures, which is a shame. My camera has been woefully underused of late. These short ribs are great, because the recipe is easy to adjust for the size of the crowd, they are not an excessive amount of work, and they are better when they are done ahead of time. The sauce was better this time because I skimmed it better, so it was not greasy at all, I was able to remove most of the fat. If they are prepared ahead of time, pull the ribs out of the pot and store them separately in the fridge. I didn’t do this last time, and I couldn’t skim the cooled fat very well. Dirty the extra pot, it’s well worth it.

OH! And I almost forgot, I figured out that if I didn’t brown the bone side of the meat, most of the bones stayed attached, which made for a lovely presentation. Consider my words eaten Fine Cooking, you are of superior cooking intellect…

Asian Style Beef Short Ribs with Frizzled Leeks (serves 6-this recipe is easily doubled.)

Adapted from Fine Cooking

1-1/3 cups drained canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine, or dry vermouth

2 tbl brown sugar (I’ve used light or dark)

2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder

6 to 6-1/2 lbs beef short ribs on the bone (each 3 to 4 inches long)

Freshly ground black pepper

1-1/2 tbls vegetable oil; more as needed

6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1-inch piece fresh ginger (about 1 ounce), peeled and cut into 8 slices

6 large scallions (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch lengths

1 tbl unsalted butter

3 medium leeks (white and light green parts), cut into 2-inch-long julienne strips (2 to 2-1/2 cups), rinsed, and dried well

Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Put the tomatoes, 2/3 cup water, the soy sauce, sherry, and brown sugar in a bowl and stir. Add the five spice powder.

Pat the short ribs dry with paper towels and season them with pepper. In an ovenproof pot (I have gotten the best results from my dutch oven) that’s large enough to hold all the ribs in no more than two layers, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Put as many ribs in the pot as will fit without crowding and brown them on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Brown the rest of the ribs, adding more oil if needed, and transfer to the platter.

Pour off the fat from the pan, reduce the heat to low, and add the garlic, ginger, and scallions, stirring and pressing them against the pot, for 1 to 2 minutes to bring out their flavor. Return the ribs to the pot and pour the tomato and soy sauce mixture over them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise the ribs, lifting and turning them about every half hour, until the meat is very tender and starts to fall off the bone when pulled with a fork, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Transfer the ribs to a serving platter (or if you’re working ahead, transfer them to a baking dish; refrigerate, covered, when cool). Pick out and discard the ginger and star anise from the pot and pour the remaining sauce into a large, clear measuring cup. When the fat rises to the surface, after about 5 minutes, spoon it off and discard. (Or, if you’re working ahead, cool the sauce in the pot, refrigerate it, and skim the solid fat off the top. When it’s time to reheat the ribs, return them to the pot and heat gently in the oven.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat the sauce, season generously with pepper and more salt, if you like, and pour it over the ribs. Scatter the leeks over the top and serve.

For detailed pictures see here.

In which I get it together…

So apparently when you hit “Publish” instead of “Preview” you can’t actually unpublish, so here is the end of the prematurely posted post from earlier.

Chinese-Style Spare Ribs from Fine Cooking (serves 4-6 as a main course)

2 full (13-rib) racks of St. Louis-cut pork spareribs

Kosher salt for sprinkling

1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, sliced thin

Chinese Spice Rub

2 tbls ground coriander

2 tbls hot chili powder

2 tbls dark brown sugar

1 tbl five-spice powder

1 tbl ground fennel seeds

1 tbl kosher salt

1 tsp dried red chile flakes

Stir together all ingredients.

For the ribs:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees (or 325 if you are me.) Sprinkle and press 1/4 cup of the rub on both sides of each rib rack (you can do this a day in advance if you like, it makes it even better!) Put the ribs, meaty side up, on a broiling pan or wire roasting rack set over a baking sheet (or line the entire oven rack with aluminum foil, and put them directly on that, if you are me.) Lightly season the ribs with salt and put them in the oven. After the first hour rotate the pan every 30 minutes (if you are using two baking sheets, rotate their position in the oven as well.) (Or just switch the ribs spot on the rack, if you are me.) The ribs will sizzle gently as they cook, and they’ll become tender after about 2 hours in the oven.

To test for doneness, pick up the center of the ribs with tongs; the ends of the ribs should flop downward and a skewer inserted between the ribs should meet little resistance (or don’t bother with the skewer part, if you are me.) If the meat between the ribs is still tough, keep cooking, checking them every 15 minutes.

Remove the rib racks from the oven, put them on a cutting board meaty side down and slice them into individual ribs. Arrange the ribs on a platter and sprinkle with scallions and either drizzle the dipping sauce over the ribs, or serve it on the side.

Asian Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbl granulated sugar

2 tbl rice vinegar

1 tbl minced fresh ginger

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

yum.

In which I make boy food that girls like too…

Pardon the interruption, but I need to own this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/dining/09sous.html?_r=1&ref=dining. I just had to share. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. 

I love football season. Except the Patriots are freakin killing me this year. Bums. Nothing better than a chilly Sunday afternoon with my peeps and some good football food. I used to have people over a lot on Sundays. And when I say people, I pretty much just mean my cousins, but they used to come over a lot. And then they got a new fancy tv, and my tv just doesn’t measure up, and also they moved, and the walk to my house is longer than 30 seconds, so it doesn’t happen as often anymore. But anyway, cozy Sunday afternoons with football and food are my fave. I am not sure what it is about football – maybe because the games are so long, and there are usually three on in a row. It just isn’t the same with baseball or basketball. 

My brother was up from NY for three weeks or so recently working with one of his buddies, so I got to see him more than usual, and one of those times was a Sunday. The Giants were on and he decided to come over and hang out all day, and that lured my littlest down from New Hampshire, and my cousin over from the far reaches of Charlestown. It was fantastic and just like old times. All we were missing was the almost littlest, and a few more cousins and my life would have been complete. 

I made guacamole, ribs and mac and cheese. I have already done mac and cheese around here, but this time I used ras el-hanout instead of mustard powder. It was delish. 

Macaroni and Cheese redux

 

The ribs are ones that I have made before on several occasions. I have made them for 4, and I have made them for 40… 

lunatics

 

They are always a success. They originally came from Fine Cooking (do you notice that comes up a lot? Get yourself a subscription, stat. I love this magazine, I have never had a bad recipe from them, and they are always easy enough to not be at all intimidating, but not at all dumbed down. They are always great for entertaining. Run and pick one up, I promise you’ll like it) but get modified slightly almost every time based on what I have in the house (or in this particular case, what I totally forgot to add because I am a space cadet.) 

It starts with St. Louis style pork ribs. They get a dry rub, some low, long cooking time and a sauce to drizzle at the end, and they are delicious and easy. St. Louis style ribs just involves creating a more uniform rack of pork spare ribs by removing the rib tips and skirt from the top of the ribs, and removing the tough membrane from the boney side of the rack. Ask your butcher to do it. Or look it up on the webs and try to do it yourself. Or if you are cooking for 40 hungry crazies and don’t want to take the time to trim 12 racks of ribs to the St. Louis style, don’t bother. It actually does not matter at all for these, as it turns out. 

This is the beginning: 

rubbed and ready

 

Uh, I just went looking for that photo and realized how many things I still have in the queue to tell you about. I am a slacker. 

This is an Asian flavored recipe. The rub has chili powder, brown sugar and chinese five spice powder, and the drizzle is mostly soy sauce. This particular Sunday I was out of a couple things and instead I used, surprise surprise, ras el-hanout with the five spice powder. Guess what?! It was delicious! That is some remarkable stuff. I also totally forgot to add brown sugar. Oops. Didn’t matter though. Still good. I am including a link for ras el-hanout, because if I am going to talk about it so much, I should probably hunt down where you might be able to find it, or else that’s just mean, since not everyone has little sisters that head off to exotic places and bring them spices. Which reminds me, I have been wanting to show you this…she flitted off to Budapest about a month ago and brought this back. 

saffron

 

Can you even stand it? Look at that little scoop! The best part is that I think this bag cost her like 50 cents, and it would have cost like 50 bucks in the States. Thanks Al! 

The ribs get rubbed with the dry rub, and then put in a 325 degree oven for 2 or 2.5 hours. Technically the recipe says a 300 degree oven, but perhaps I have mentioned that my oven burns 125 degrees too hot, so 325 is the lowest I go. This should be inconvenient enough that I get it fixed. It is truly a demonstration of my laziness that I have not, since it would take an explanation to my very dear, but not very english speaking Italian landlords, and I can’t quite imagine how that would go, and don’t often have the energy for such things. I just avoid recipes where I would have to dehydrate things (I am looking at you, Alinea) and I can’t really use my oven as a warmer. So far I have survived. 

After two and a half hours or so, the house smells fantastic and the ribs are very tender and they bend in half pretty easily when you try to lift the rack up with tongs. I took them out of the oven, sliced between the ribs, drizzled with the soy dipping sauce and sprinkled with scallions. Voila. 

meaty and delicious

 

These were pretty tasty, as I have come to expect from this recipe. The boys and the girls were happy. I finished off the afternoon with some brownies that I made from the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli cocoa container. They were also pretty tasty. 

dessert

 

And with that, I am going to leave you with the recipe, and head off to plan my next post because I am rambling like a crazy person today. I need to work on my focus for next time.

In which I feed a crowd…

Another post so soon? Indeed, due to my woeful lack of attention for close to three weeks, and my natural tendencies towards feelings of guilt (Catholic? can that be inherited? I never spent much time in church, but it came from somewhere) I am going to load up. I actually have a couple of things waiting from before my big New Orleans trip, so you are going to get them all now…

The weekend before New Orleans a group of my cousins gathered in Boston for the BC FSU game. A have a cousin who is a ‘Nole, and another cousin is a legal Eagle, so it is only natural that the Floridians head up north for the big matchup which always seems to take place in the pouring rain. It is actually a lot of fun, and even Molly, who can’t even stand football from the comfort of her own living room, enjoys herself.

the excitement is palpable, no?

the excitement is palpable, no?

The gang was all arriving on Friday, and I was making dinner. We were going to eat at the apartment with the roof deck, so I wanted to make something that I could do mostly ahead and transport with a modicum of ease. Short ribs it was. I have made these short ribs for some of this group before, and they are a huge hit. They come from Fine Cooking, and they are braised with asian flavors, and served over the greatest lemon garlic mashed potatoes you could possibly imagine. I started them the night before (the night of the fried eggplant) and then the night of the dinner all I had to do was throw them back in the oven to heat up, and make the mashed potatoes. Easy.

It all starts very innocently…

tomatoes

tomatoes

The tomatoes go in to a braising liquid with soy sauce, water and star anise or chinese five spice powder.

now it's getting good.

now it's getting good.

That gets put aside until you need it. I also did a little mis en place of scallions, garlic and ginger, so it was ready for the hot pan.

doesn't get much better...

doesn't get much better...

And then I broke out the big guns…

hello my darlings.

hello my darlings.

As I was making this, I was counting 12 people for dinner. There were six of us. This happens to me more than it should. Cooking reasonable amounts of food has never been something I have done well.

And this is where it gets good…

glorious.

glorious.

Ahh the glory that is beef short ribs. So so good. Short ribs come cut either between the bone in individual ribs, or across the ribs in strips with three or four bones in them. The cuts have names that I forget, so I will just tell you that this needs the kind cut on individual bones. I had them cut about two inches long, but I think I would have had the butcher leave them a bit longer, though I am not sure why I think that.

Anyway, beef short ribs are marbled and meaty and relatively inexpensive. I paid $50 for 12 or 13 pounds, you want to figure about a pound a person, since there is a lot of bone in there. Also, you may want to actually count the number of people who will be eating so you don’t buy double what you need. Although these are so freakin good you may want the extra for yourself. Somehow the extra this night stayed at my cousins’ house. I bet they were a delicious snack for Jed and Sarah. They are two of my favorite people and they have a roof deck so I don’t mind leaving them treats as enticement to invite me back.

So the short ribs…they go into a very hot pan (or pans) and sear for several minutes on each side until they are brown and caramelized. (Does several mean three or more? I think it does, but it sounds like more than that, I would guess several meant seven.) In this case, just cook them until they are brown and caramelized on side, and then turn them. I think maybe five minutes a side will do. They will look like this:

can you smell them yet?

can you smell them yet?

The whole process takes a little time, since short ribs aren’t like any old pansy steak with only two sides, they are big fat cubes of beef, which makes for a lot of sides to caramelize. Six to be exact. Once all the sides were caramelized, I pulled the ribs out and put them aside in a bowl (or a serving platter would do…) I poured the fat out of the pans, and put them back on medium-high heat. In went the scallions, garlic and ginger, and I spent a couple of minutes pressing them against the bottom of the pan to extract all the flavor.

smells divine

smells divine

Then the ribs go back into the pot.

almost there.

almost there.

The cooking liquid went into the pot, and then I brought it to a simmer.

Now for the easy part.

Now for the easy part.

And just because my dutch oven photographs better, doesn’t mean my Calphalon wasn’t doing a fantastic job one burner over, so in order to curb the jealous tendencies that can creep up between cookware, here is a shot of that as well…

C'est magnifique...

C'est magnifique...

That Calphalon has been with me a long time, I love that pot. It may have been my first real cookware purchase.

The pots went into a 350 degree oven for several hours, and every half hour to 45 minutes I turned the ribs to make sure they all got some time under the liquid. When they finished the meat was super tender and falling apart, and had fallen off the bones. This, incidentally, is not something that Fine Cooking shares with you. In their picture of this recipe there is a gorgeous looking short rib attached to the bone sitting atop fluffy mashed potatoes. I assure you, that short rib was undercooked. It gave me a fright the first time I made this because mine didn’t look nearly as pretty without the bone attached, but after I have made these several times, I am assured that it was photographic trickery, because it just can’t happen that way.

At any rate, once the ribs were finished cooking, I took them out of the pots and put them in a baking pan. I condensed the cooking liquid into one pot (the Calphalon) and stuck both things in the fridge. If you are serving them the night you make them, you have to skim the fat off the top of the liquid, but if you are refrigerating overnight, the fat will congeal at the top and you can just scrape it off the next day before you reheat.

***

The following day, I removed the fat layer, and put the short ribs back into the pot, and the whole shebang, plus a five pound bag of yukon golds, made their way across the bridge to our dinner locale. The ribs went back into the oven to reheat, and the potatoes went into a pot to boil.

swimming

swimming

That might be the most boring picture you’ll see on Bread and Ginger, but it was time for one.

As the potatoes boiled, I simmered milk, garlic, butter and lemon zest together. I think the key to good mashed potatoes is to add the liquid hot. It helps keep the potatoes warm and fluffy. Once the potatoes were boiled, I mashed them, I use a potato ricer when I can, and then I added the liquid. The ribs came out of the oven and I served a couple of ribs per person on top of a mound of delicious garlicky goodness.

mmm mmmmm, scruptious.

mmm mmmmm, scrumptious.

This is such a great recipe for a crowd because you can make lots of it, it can be done ahead of time, and so far everyone loves it. The ribs are meaty and rich, and the potatoes are buttery and creamy but have a nice tang from the garlic and lemon to balance out the richness of the ribs. And they are great leftover. Make short ribs if you have never done so. You can braise them in anything you want, wine, beer, veal stock, and you can add all sorts of flavors to them. You could do mexican spices, or italian flavors. Short ribs make a great ragu. Once they are cooked, you can shred them, add them to a tomato base and serve over pasta. You could braise them with mexican spices, shred them and use them for a taco base. Perfect for fall and winter, some football, some short ribs, a lazy Sunday. Ideal.

I also made a fruit crisp for dessert. I actually didn’t love this. I was excited to use Asian Pears and Italian Plums from my farmer’s market, but it wasn’t the greatest.

Italian plums.

Italian plums.

I don’t know if it was the combination or what. The pears didn’t get soft, and they weren’t really sweet or something. I just didn’t love it. But I used Ina Garten’s crisp topping and I really liked that, mostly butter and flour, so it sprinkles like a crisp or a crumble, but it cooks up like a batter almost. Good texture.

plum and asian pear crisp.

plum and asian pear crisp.

We served this with whipped cream, and it was good in theory, and a lovely fall dessert, but I am going to use different fruit next time.

could have been better...

could have been better...

Next up: a Hargraves family favorite.

PS: WordPress wackiness of the day: braise and caramelize. So silly.