Pot Roast for the End of Winter Blues, and BIG NEWS!

Snow Day Food

Snow Day Food

I have been gone a long time, and I have come back and given you pot roast. This winter has been loooong. And it is still cold. I am basically forced to cook this way. And also, as it turns out, pot roast is pretty delicious.

Pot roast is pretty basic, meat, carrots and onions, generally. Cook it for a long time and serve it over mashed potatoes and you have the ultimate winter comfort food. I added a couple things to boost the flavor, but generally, this is fairly standard. I served it over miso mashed potatoes for an extra umami kick, and I was happy. It’s a perfect antidote to the frozen hellscape that was this Boston winter.

I was looking back at a post I wrote over a year ago, with my goals for 2014, and my success rate was about 50%, but they were big ones!! I passed the Series 79 and 63, I went on an amazing vacation last April for my birthday, and we had so much fun, that that random collection of friends from all parts of my life went on vacation together again in October. I saw Shannon more, I DID eat more (real) ramen, I even made it myself! And, because it happened between then and now, even though it didn’t technically happen in 2014, I am counting it – I ran a half marathon! I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, and it was awesome, and I’ll do it again. I have a couple black toenails to show for it, and there were a few days there where the walking was not so great, but I did it. I ran 13 miles. And I kind of enjoyed it. And I think I might do it again…

Which brings me to the big news…who has two thumbs and no more boring office job? This cook! That’s right folks, I’m taking this show on the road (literally, actually, as I am also moving out of my apartment and buying a car.) B&G is now available full time for all your cooking needs!  There’s lots of stuff going on around here and I could not be more excited. Keep your eye on this spot for updates. Big things are coming soon!

What I’m reading: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield.

What I am listening to: Taylor Swift – 1989, The Best of Elvis Costello – The First 10 Years, and lots of podcasts.

I’ve missed you all so!

Classic Pot Roast (serves 4)

2-3 tbl canola oil

2.5-3 lbs beef shoulder roast

kosher salt

black pepper

1 large onion, half slivered, half cut in wedges and reserved

1 large garlic clove, slivered

1 tbl anchovy paste

1 tbl tomato paste

1 cup diced tomatoes (I use canned!)

2 tbl soy sauce

½ cup red wine

4 cups beef broth

4 large carrots and/or parsnips, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces

Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a large dutch oven or heavy high-sided pot over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper the roast and brown on all sides until caramelized, 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the roast to a plate and set aside.

If the bottom of the pot looks dry, add another tablespoon of the oil, and then add the sliced onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit and continue stirring. Add the anchovy and tomato pastes and stir, caramelizing them a bit until they are fragrant.

When the onions, garlic, tomato and anchovy are caramelized, add the diced tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine and beef broth and stir to combine. Add the beef back to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. The liquid should be at a low simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened a bit. Add the carrots and/or parsnips, and the second half of the onion for the last half hour of cooking. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed!

I recommend serving these over mashed potatoes that you’ve added a tablespoon of miso to (trust, they’re delicious) and a delicious green vegetable of your choosing. (And then maybe stick some leftovers in a grilled cheese.)

Special Chicken – The Sustenance of My Youth

Today I want to talk about what might be the THE quintessential food of my childhood. The one that reminds me of home more than any other. It was featured at more birthday dinners than anything else. (It was also featured at a very recent Christmas Eve.) Everyone loved it, even the picky ones. Behold Special Chicken. It’s really called that in the cookbook, we did not make it up.

chicken wings, Hargraves-kid style

These are the ties that bind

Special Chicken is soy-marinated, batter-fried chicken wings. They are delicious, and fairly easy to make. The recipe came from this little flip top Chinese food cookbook my parents have, and this page is particularly well used.

photographic evidence

photographic evidence

As I have mentioned before, when we were very little, my mom did a lot of the cooking, but sometime during my ‘tween years (I think) the role shifted to my dad and stayed there. But not these. These are firmly entrenched in Mom’s camp, forever to remain. Many have tried to duplicate, none have succeeded. Truly. My attempt is close, and good enough for those who don’t know, but  they are sub par by comparison. The littlest tried them for Christmas and says they were enjoyable, but not right. As far as I know, my mom has always followed the recipe exactly – she’s never told me otherwise – but maybe that’s her trick. If we can’t replicate, she can always lure us home with the original.

There are two things I have adjusted a little from the recipe. The first is the temperature. At 375 the oil is way too hot. The wings get too dark and the batter gets unpleasant. 325 is the way to go. (I am not sure what temp Mom uses, since she doesn’t use a deep fry thermometer. She just knows when it’s right.) The recipe also suggests marinating the chicken wings for an hour, but I recommend longer. All day, if you’ve got it. Marinate overnight! It makes this a delightful option for a weekday. These usually meant a special occasion for us, or at the very least a Sunday dinner, but they don’t have to be. Get wild! Make them on a Tuesday! I most recently made them on a Wednesday at the behest of a delightful house guest. (The word is spreading!) They involve deep frying, but don’t let that scare you. It doesn’t require much oil, especially if you have a wok. (Do you have a wok? They are great, get a wok.) Make sure you make extra, because the joy of eating them hot just ever so slightly trumps the joy of eating them out of a sandwich bag the next day – lunch or even breakfast. Doesn’t matter which.

And now, just because I feel like it, and it’s fun, a rundown of some of the best things I’ve eaten in Boston recently and some of my favorite Boston dishes, in general –

A cold corn and coconut milk soup from East By Northeast – revelatory

The whipped goat’s milk feta snack at Tavern Road is one of my favorite snacks OF ALL TIME. So simple and so so good. (They also make an amazing risotto over there. Every preparation has been great.)

The breakfast sandwich at Clover is way better than it has any right to be.

The corn dog at Trina’s Starlite Lounge is a delight.

The johnnycake at Neptune is just nonsense it’s so good. Seriously, mind-blowingly, crazy crazy good.

The classic Chinese BBQ pork sandwich from Bon Me is my favorite lunch.

The Baloney Pony sandwich at the Biggie Brunch at Alden & Harlow still haunts me, and alas, I am afraid I will never get to enjoy it again. I’ll have to settle for the chicken fried rabbit over there. Poor me.

The burger at JM Curley’s. Always and forever.

The corn at Toro, but everyone knows this.

The tuna crudo at Row 34.

There are others, so many others, but that is what I am thinking about right now.



Special Chicken (serves 4-6)

For the chicken:

2.5 – 3 lbs chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats

oil for frying

For the marinade:

2 tbl soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tbl sherry

1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tsp hoisin sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp salt

For the batter:

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken wing pieces, stir to coat, and marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or preferably overnight.

Heat the oil in a wok or another high sided pan or pot to 325 degrees.

Mix the batter ingredients together in a small bowl. It will form a thick sticky dough, and won’t come together cohesively, but that’s ok, just mix a bit until the ingredients are starting to combine. Add the batter to the bowl with the chicken and stir until the marinade and the batter come together to coat the chicken. This will be kind of a sticky mess, and will take some time to come together, but keep stirring until it does. The batter will thin when mixed with the marinade, and all the chicken pieces will be coated.

Deep fry the chicken in batches, without overcrowding, until the pieces are brown and crispy and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool slightly before serving. Let the oil come back to temperature between batches, and continue to fry until all the chicken is finished. Enjoy!!

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Holy Balls, Batman

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Oh haaaaaaaaaay!

Anyone there? Have you left me? It would be well deserved – I am a giant slacker and I apologize. This has been, perhaps, the busiest six months of my life, and I am exhausted. Just when I think things are easing up, they absolutely do not do that. Luckily it’s been mostly great, fun, exciting and lovely stuff, but I am tired. I have a list a mile long to tell you about, but it’s been so long since I have made some of the things I want to share, I am going to have to go back and make them again.

BUT, I had to write today, because as it turns out, today B&G turns FIVE. That’s right. Today is Bread & Ginger’s fifth blogiversary. I am currently celebrating with a delicious gimlet and some pork chops that I can’t wait to tell you about, but we are going to celebrate with some fried chicken sliders, which might be how I celebrate everything from now on, because they are good. I first made this a full sized sandwich, which was good but it was a lot. I like the sliders better for their spicy/sweet meat-to-everything-else ratio.

These are good and easy and quick! There is some deep frying but hopefully that doesn’t scare you anymore. The sauce is sweet and spicy and nutty from the sesame, and also has a hint of funk from the fish sauce. (A good thing, I promise…) There are some ingredients in here that you may not have, but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby you will be able to find all of them ( if you don’t  – Amazon!) Gochujang – Korean chile paste – is spicy, but spicy like sriracha, rather than spicy like Frank’s or Texas Pete. There is a great depth of flavor and umami-ness to it. The spice is balanced by the sweetness from the sugar, and the pickles and the Kewpie mayo and the buttery brioche combine with the sauce for crazy goodness.

I miss you all, and B&G. I am still working on making more hours in the day. If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

Happy Blogiversary B&G! And thank you all for reading!!

Seriously, you are not gonna want to stop.

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

1. It is apparently National Junk Food Day which makes me feel way better about the snacks I had today.

2. I will watch Parks and Recreation any time it is on, notwithstanding how many times I have seen a particular episode.

3. I am currently reading A Clash of Kings. I am currently listening to Beyonce as often as possible. I saw her and Jay in concert a couple weeks back. It was amazing – life changing even. (Too hyperbolic?)

4. I am recovering from an ankle sprain. Apparently walking is a struggle. I wear heels for days, and hike around Denver, and a curb in front of one of my favorite restaurants three blocks from home lays me low while I am wearing top-siders. My high school soccer career is coming back to haunt me. Forever a champion. (This is the most annoying because I was starting to run again, and I have a Jawbone. It counted crutching, which was nice, but I am falling way short of my goal while I have a bum wheel.)

5. MAKE THESE SLIDERS. They are so good. You are going to like them. (And then use whatever sauce you have leftover for chicken wings. I am planning on doing just that this week.)

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders (makes 8 sliders)

For sauce:

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbl gochujang (Korean chile paste, available at Asian markets or online)

3 tbl dark soy sauce (available at Asian markets)

1 tbl fish sauce

1 tbl brown sugar

1 tbl sesame oil

2-3 tbl rice vinegar

Put all ingredients and two tablespoons of the vinegar in a blender and pulse until ingredients are mixed and ginger and garlic are minced. If sauce seems a little thick, add another tablespoon of vinegar and blend to combine. Place in bowl and set aside.

For chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in two equal pieces each

1 egg

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup masa harina (corn flour)

1 tbl corn starch

Salt and pepper

oil for frying

Heat three inches of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in one bowl mix egg with 1 tbl water and whisk until combined. In another bowl, mix both flours, the cornstarch and generous pinches of salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Dredge chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, and then again in the egg and then the flour. Fry chicken in batches until light brown and crispy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let the oil come back to temperature and repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces.

For sliders:

8 small brioche rolls

butter for toasting

dill pickle slices

kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese style mayonnaise – can be found in Asian markets and some supermarkets.)

Spread butter on the sliced brioche rolls, and toast until cut sides are golden brown and toasty. Spread each side generously with kewpie mayonnaise and layer pickle slices on the bottom roll. Dredge fried chicken pieces in sauce until well coated, and place on top of the pickles. Cover with the top of the roll and voila!

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

Indian Butter Chicken

A lot of my earliest memories are food related. I remember sitting down at the dinner table with my dad and my little brother after my dad got home from work. My mom worked at a Hospice at the end of our street a couple evenings a week, and before she left for work in the afternoon, she would make dinner that my dad could put in the oven when he got home. She would make Chicken Tetrazzini or Mac and Cheese or Chicken Divan and we would sit down at the table and instead of saying grace, we would count to three and scream “Good Dinner Mom!” at the top of our lungs, because my brother and I were SURE she could hear us down the street. And the next morning when we would ask if she heard us, she always said yes.

I remember my dad making us Cream of Wheat in the mornings. It was my favorite. He would skip stirring it just enough, so that it would be the perfect amount of lumpy, because I loved it lumpy. On St. Patrick’s Day he would put a drop of food coloring in the bottom of the bowl, so when we stirred it up it would turn green.

I remember my brother burning his top lip on a cookie sheet of hot homemade pretzels, and he had to wear this green vitamin e paste on his top lip for days, so the burn wouldn’t scar.

I remember special chicken, the most delicious, perfect birthday dinner of fried Chinese chicken wings you could ever imagine, which I have never been able to recreate correctly.

I remember lobsters every July for the joint birthday celebration for my mom and dad and their friends. My middle sister and I would get to have a lobster of our own because we would eat anything and everything. The other two would have chicken or hot dogs or something, because they were not very adventurous eaters and had no interest in lobster, which was fine with my parents because two kids with expensive tastes were plenty.

I remember the school lunches my dad always made. Always. Like every day of my life until I graduated from high school. The lunches were epic, the brown bags were always overflowing. He started making me two sandwiches because the boys in high school would hound me for mine until I shared. Bulkie roll, mayo on the bottom, then lettuce, then ham, then American cheese, then tomato then more mayo on the top – the tomato juice and the mayo made the most delicious combo.

I remember my grandparents’ 50th anniversary dinner at their beach club. My dad and my aunt cooked for my grandparents and all their friends. I suspect my mom made dessert. That’s always been her wheelhouse. My cousin and brother and I were the servers. I have a picture of my dad from that night over the sink in my kitchen. Just looking like he’s always looked, and like I picture him. With an apron on, prepping something and smiling.

I don’t remember when my dad took over primary cheffing responsibilities, it was probably gradual, but now when I think of him, it’s always in front of the stove or the cutting board. It might be for that night’s dinner, it might be for the next day’s brunch and it might be for something a week down the road, but that’s where he likes to be. It’s a very good thing. We eat well at my parents’ house.

I also don’t remember when I really started cooking, though I would imagine it was in college. I used to bake in high school, lots and lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies, but cooking came later. My first major event was a sit down, plated engagement lunch for my college roommate junior year. Which was totally insane, if I think about it. I made pork tenderloin, and fried chicken and greens for the people that didn’t eat pork. It was for about 30 people I think. That was the start…I never really looked back. There were epic law school dinners, and lessons for my roommate who would eat anything, and wanted to learn to cook herself. And then I had a big kitchen all to myself, and so there have been Christmas parties for 40 with food for 90, and football Sundays, and lots of brunches and a few catering gigs.

I am never happier than when I am in a kitchen, preferably my own, cooking for people I love. I love the feeling of providing for people, for nourishing them, for making them happy and, if we’re being honest, the kick in the ego I get when people enjoy it. I feel good when I am cooking, in part because I think I am pretty good at it, but mostly because it is the surest way I know how to tell people I love them. And this, more than anything, is the part of my cooking that I got from my dad. It is how we are most alike and it what I am most thankful to share with him.

All of this is basically just to say Happy Father’s Day, a couple of days late and plenty of dollars short, of course, to a dad who continues to teach me and my sibs what it means to love and be loved. And who makes one hell of a frittata…

Killer 'stache.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend


And now, a confession. I am losing my mind. I posted the last installment, and promptly realized I ALREADY HAVE A CARBONARA RECIPE ON HERE. I am THE WORST. And then I took eleventy months off. So I am making it up to you by posting THIS recipe. Because it is delicious. It should make up for all manner of sins, it is that good. I actually made it a couple of months back, and have been meaning to share it with you since, but then time got away from me (have you heard that before?)

Don't mind the fabric cutting mat...that's just how I roll

Murgh Makhani

I have wanted to make Butter Chicken since the first time I heard the words. It has butter in the name – I’m an easy sell. When I found out it is kind of  a buttery version of Chicken Tikka Masala, my need to make it got more urgent. I looked around and found a recipe by Floyd Cardoz, who I really enjoyed on Top Chef Masters. The recipe looked like it had perhaps a few more steps than some of the others, but still wasn’t particularly difficult. The extra step is straining, and while it may also be delicious without that step, the sauce that results from it is so silky and creamy, I can’t imagine not doing it.

This Butter Chicken is cumbersome only in that you need to start a day or two before you plan to eat it. I marinate the chicken on day one, cook it on day two, and make the sauce and eat on day three. Each day requires about a half hour’s worth of work, if that, and day two and three could easily just be done the same day. It can be a weeknight meal for sure.

The first step is marinating the chicken, and it should be done a day before you cook it. The marinade is garlic, ginger, jalepeno, lime juice and yogurt with garam masala and paprika. I used skinless boneless chicken thighs because I like the flavor of the dark meat. Marinate the chicken overnight.

Step two is broiling or grilling the chicken until it is cooked through and slightly charred. This can be done the day before or the day of dinner.

Step three is the sauce. Onion, tomato, more garlic and ginger, another jalepeno and butter. This gets simmered down for about a half hour, then pureed and strained. It’s finished with cinnamon, honey, fenugreek leaves and cream. Apparently fenugreek is THE thing that makes Butter Chicken, Butter Chicken, but I have a secret…I can’t find it, so I haven’t used it either time. This was still delicious. Someday I am going to find it and add it, and I suspect my mind will be blown.

It sounds like a lot, or like it might be time consuming, but it really isn’t, it just needs a little foresight. And the results are amazing. The sauce is so smooth and flavorful and great.

Thanks Floyd!


Just because I haven’t been around here doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and eating – I wouldn’t want you to worry that I have been hungry for four months.

I have had pizza


mushroom, onion, black olive…doesn’t get better.

Softshell Crabs


with Israeli couscous, garlic scape pesto and tomatoes

Chicken Stir-fry

quick and easy quick and easy

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

More chicken of the sticky soy variety

Honey Soy Chicken Legs

Honey Soy Chicken Legs

Somen noodle bowls

Tofu, what?

healthy AND delicious

and lobsters, among other things…

You were delicious

Hello little buddy!

I have also been cooking for others quite a bit. I’ve had a couple of catering jobs, a personal chef gig, and LOTS of baking for office birthdays. Exciting stuff!

In other thoughts:

1.) I needed a distraction this past weekend. I decided on CandyCrush, which may have been a huge mistake. I mean, it was a GREAT distraction, incredibly effective, but now I JUST. CAN’T. STOP. I am really concerned for my future. I thought level 33 was going to kill me dead.

2.) Netflix and Hulu Plus are the greatest and the worst. I am SO EASILY DISTRACTED.

3.) It seems to finally be summer here. It took forever to get here, but the weather has been glorious for the past week. Thank goodness.

4.) It is very nice to live in a place where there is almost always a team in contention, it makes things fun. GO B’s!!

5.) What I am listening to: Josh Ritter’s The Beast in Its Tracks. This album is great. I was listening to it for the second or third time, and bopping along and started actually listening to the words…yikes. Dark. JRitt went through a divorce a couple of years ago, and clearly it sparked his creative juices. All is well though, because I saw him in concert about a month ago, and it was the happiest, giddiest most joyful I have ever seen a performer on stage, so it seems like he’s bounced back.

6.) What I am reading: Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers

7.) I am making an Olive Oil Cake for the wedding reception of one of my oldest friends this weekend. I can’t wait to celebrate with her and then tell you about the cake, because it is pretty tasty.

And now, for the main event. Hopefully I will see you all back here again soon!!!

Indian Butter Chicken (serves 4-6)

From Floyd Cardoz and Serious Eats

4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbls minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 tbls juice from 3 limes
3 tbls neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
1 tbl kosher salt
3 tbls paprika
1 tbl garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups yogurt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 (28 oz.) cans roasted tomatoes
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tbls fresh minced ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
8 tbls (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Kosher salt
3 tbls honey
3 tbls fenugreek leaves, toasted and crushed
1 tbl black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, to taste

For Chicken: In a food processor, combine garlic, ginger, chili, lime juice, oil, salt, and spices. Process to a paste, then add yogurt and process until smooth. Transfer to a large zip top bag or tupperware and add chicken. Marinate 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

Set broiler rack 4 inches from heat source and preheat broiler to high (or feel free to grill these!). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from zipper lock bag and wipe off excess marinade. Lay out in a single layer on baking sheet and broil until color darkens and some dark blisters form, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken, rotate sheet pan, and broil until color darkens on other side, about 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice until chicken is cooked through, and there is some dark char on each piece. This takes me 12-15 minutes.

For sauce: In a large, heavy pot, combine tomatoes, water, onion, garlic, ginger, chili, butter, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered at a hard simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to about 2 1/2 quarts, about 30 minutes.

Transfer 1/3 of sauce to jar of a blender. Starting with low speed, gradually increase to high. Blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean large saucepan. Repeat with remaining two batches sauce. Keep sauce warm over low heat and stir in fenugreek, black pepper, honey, and cream to taste. Season with salt to taste, then chop chicken  into bite-size pieces and add to sauce. Serve with rice and a garnish of julienned ginger.

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.

Buffalo Wings for Football Sunday

It’s really fall. I’m sleeping with blankets, wearing boots to the grocery store, listening the college kids partying into the wee hours and making wings for a football Sunday.

a football classic

…At least the wings were successful.

I’m just going to chalk that Pats performance up to a show of solidarity for that smoking wreckage of a baseball team we have up here right now, and figure we’ll all be moving on next week.


Buffalo wings are delicious. And actually pretty easy to make. Ingredients are minimal: hot sauce, butter or margarine, and chicken. I like to add a little salt, pepper and cayenne also. You can technically bake these, and I have. They are fine, and they still taste like buffalo wings, but I’m not going to lie, deep-frying them is better. A bit more work, but not much, and worth it I think. Yep, they are more unhealthy, but we are talking about a recipe in which one of the primary ingredients is butter or margarine, so let’s go all in, shall we?

I have made these for years with butter, but I was just reading the most recent Saveur, and apparently, the original recipe – like the Anchor Bar in Buffalo original recipe – used margarine. Which makes sense, since these were invented in the 60’s. I used margarine today to see if it made a difference, and I am not sure if it does, and since margarine is pretty much poison, I will probably stick to butter in the future. But I did come up with another trick. I tossed the wings in just a little corn starch before I fried them. It doesn’t really make a huge difference in the crispiness, but it gives the sauce something to stick to, so it’s a win!

crisp fried and delicious

Wings are a crowd pleaser. They are messy as anything, but that is half the fun. Obviously, blue cheese dressing is a requirement, and it’s always nice to add celery and carrots for health. And just like that, you can skip the bars and strangers and have delicious wings at home! (If you are like me, this is a dream come true.)

Sunday Funday

Buffalo Wings (makes two dozen wings)

24 chicken wing pieces (from twelve wings, separated, tips removed)

1/4 cups corn starch

3/4 cups hot sauce, like Franks

3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) butter or margarine

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

salt and pepper

Peanut or canola oil (or a combination) for frying

Blue cheese dressing (recipe below) celery and carrots for serving

Heat several inches of oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot to 350 degrees. Toss the wings with the corn starch and salt and pepper. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, shake off the extra corn starch and add half the wings and fry until crispy and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. When finished cooking, remove the first batch from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back to 350 degrees and add the second batch of wings.

In the meantime, cook the hot sauce, butter, cayenne, salt and pepper over low heat until the butter melts. Keep mixture warm over low heat until the wings are finished cooking. Toss the wings in the hot sauce mixture and serve with blue cheese dressing and carrots and celery for dipping.

If you want to bake these, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and toss the wings in half the hot sauce mixture. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the wings the cooked through. Toss with the rest of the hot sauce mixture and serve.

Blue Cheese Dressing (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tbl white wine vinegar

Splash of red wine vinegar

4 oz blue cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine sour cream, buttermilk, vinegars, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add blue cheese and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

A Soufflé for Julia

for one…

I am, as always, behind the eight ball on this one. Julia Child would have been 100 last month. She was remarkable and funny and talented and tall. And she seemed like a joy to be around. She came to the cooking game “late” in life, after spending time over seas as a SPY. That is awesome. I always wanted to be a spy. Or a fighter pilot, or an astronaut. I didn’t quite get there. I do real estate now though, so…close. But maybe I can still follow in Julia’s footsteps someday. Have a second career in food. That seems more manageable (says the girl that can’t even maintain a blog with any regularity. Or figure out how to add an accent to an “e” on a Mac.)

At any rate, I made a soufflé for Julia’s birthday. I also made one a couple days later, just for the hell of it, when Meredith and Baby M came to visit me on M’s first big city adventure, because they are delicious. The good thing about that is I made an individual one, AND a full size one, so I can share the recipes for both of them with you. So if you are chillin by yourself and craving soufflé, as one does, don’t despair! It can be done.

For the full-sized soufflé I turned, of course, to Mastering the Art of French Cooking because where else would you turn? That book is perfect. For the single serving, I turned to Judith Jones, and her book The Pleasure of Cooking for One. Judith, as you might know, was Julia’s editor for MTAOFC, so it was an appropriate birthday tribute.

The way people speak about soufflés, you would think they were these super sensitive explosive devices that detonate the moment you don’t fold egg whites correctly or look at them the wrong way while they are cooking. They are not. They are actually mostly hot air. Since air pressure increases when it is hot and decreases when it is cold (science!!!) soufflés love to puff up really beautifully when they are in the oven, and then deflate pretty much immediately when it is removed from the oven, so you want to make sure you get the most puff for your buck when it is cooking, and have the table set and your guests sitting down and ready to eat by the time it’s finished.

for a crowd

This is also the reason you will have to excuse the photographs, the more I took and the more time I took to set each one up, the more the soufflé deflated, so they are not looking super puffy. I also think in the case of the big one, I could have cooked it for 4-5 more minutes so it set up a little firmer, which would have helped it keep its puff, but since there was a 6-week old baby to hang out with, I got distracted and forgot how many minutes I had put on the timer and didn’t want to overcook it. (I would have made a really terrible spy. Foiled at every turn by babies and kitchen timers.)

But really, soufflés are actually pretty easy, especially after you’ve done it once or twice. And there is a good chance you have everything you need in the house at any given time. Eggs, milk, butter, flour, cheese. That’s it. A standing or hand held mixer is certainly helpful, but I whipped the egg whites by hand for one of these and it worked out just fine! Soufflés for everyone! Go forth and impress yourself and your guests!

So many thoughts…

It’s the fall guys! I love the fall! The cooking is so good, and the weather is so great. What should I make? And football! And new tv is back. Have you guys watched Homeland? It is so very good. You should watch it.

This is terrible news…Ry! How could you? No, jk jk. Good luck you crazy kids.

This made me inappropriately sad, considering I have never met them.

Bought my ticket to the west coast for Thanksgiving and I cannot wait. It’s been too long.

What I’m reading: Zone One by Colson Whitehead. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie book. Post-apocalyptic books might actually be last on my list of genres I’m interested in but the writing is pretty much perfect. I am very glad I gave it a try.

What I am listening to: Miles Away from Sam McCarthy – Short and sweet, and fantastic; and The Wheeler Brothers – my sister studied in Spain with one of the guys in the group, and they are great.

Craftiness of the week: I’m working on pillow covers for my living room pillows. Pictures to follow.

If you get a minute, this is pretty amazing and heartbreaking.

Other things I’ve been eating:

zucchini linguine

You will see that one again, the recipe is a work in progress…I’ll keep you posted.

mexican corn

This you will be seeing again. Probably like tomorrow, because it is JUST SO GOOD. You need to make it. I will share post haste.

fideos with aioli

I just found my new comfort food people. Fideos are kind of like a pasta version of paella.

Be good to each other.

I am just going to go ahead and get to the recipes, because if I don’t this post might sit around another month and that would be the worst…

Cheese Soufflé according to Julia

For Four:

1 tbl butter, softened (for preparing the mold)

1-2 tbl grated parmesan cheese (for preparing the mold)

3 tbl butter

3 tbl flour

1 cup milk, brought to a boil

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

A pinch of cayenne pepper

5 eggs, separated (you will need four yolks and all five whites)

3/4 cup grated swiss cheese (or gruyere if you’re fancy)

For One:

1 tsp butter, softened for preparing the mold

1 tbl grated parmesan for preparing the mold

2 tsp butter

1 tbl flour

1/3 cup milk brought to a boil

pinch of salt

small pinch of cayenne

2 eggs, separated (you will need one yolk and both whites)

1/3 cup grated swiss cheese (another option is to use “an aged mountain cheese.” I…have no idea what that is, but if you find it, feel free to give it a whirl!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. For the large soufflé, prepare a six or eight cup soufflé dish with the melted butter and sprinkle with the parmesan, for an individual soufflé, prepare a 1.5 cup ramekin with the butter and parmesan. (The butter keeps the soufflé from sticking, the cheese gives the batter something to climb as it rises.)

Set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour. Stir for a minute or two until it foams. Remove from heat and whisk in the boiling milk. Return the pan to the heat and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer or a wire whisk until stiff peaks form. Add about a quarter of the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk mixture with the grated cheese, and mix. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, and transfer the mixture to the prepared mold.

Put the soufflé in on the middle rack of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake the small soufflé for 18-20 minutes and large soufflé for 25-30 minutes until the soufflé has puffed up an inch or two over the top of the dish. The top will be golden brown. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the soufflé is firm, remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Chicken Tinga Tacos…one of my new favorites

You guys are going to love me for this...

I’m sick again. I may have discovered the kink in my plan to be a person that sleeps less and accomplishes more. All I want to do is lay around, drink smoothies and eat chicken soup. This is on the stove as I type. I’m hoping that by virtue of the almost insane amount of ginger in there, I might actually be able to smell and taste it when it’s finished. It would be about the only thing.

Perhaps my most favorite recent discovery, Chicken Tinga Tacos will likely be in the rotation for some time. I spotted these in the pages of Food & Wine, and may have skipped right over them, but for a recent celebration of Taco Tuesday with the gals at La Verdad, where the Chicken Tingas were our favorite tacos of the evening.

From my very scientific web searches on the topic, it appears Tinga is a stew of braised chicken, pork or beef, with tomatoes, onions, garlic and chipotles in adobo. Which is good, because that’s what it is in this recipe, so it appears we’re on the right track. A couple of the recipes I saw also called for Mexican chorizo (definitely different than Spanish chorizo, if you are reading a recipe that specifies you definitely want to get the right one, Spanish chorizo has the very distinctly flavored Pimenton in the mix, Mexican chorizo uses chile peppers.) I am sure that would also be quite delicious.

This recipe calls for chipotles in adobo. I have mentioned them before for the Chilequiles, and when I finally get a B&G Pantry page together for your viewing pleasure they will definitely be on it. They are spicy and smoky and add a ton of flavor and background smoke and some excellent heat to things. They are also potent. A little goes a long way. I am guessing you can find them in most grocery stores. Whole Foods carries them, and any market with a decent international section probably does too. (I wonder if my dad can get them? I think yes, even in good old small town CT he can find them, so it is looking good for the rest of you.)  They last pretty much forever in the fridge so don’t be afraid to buy a can or two if you see them. They look so innocuous, but they are spicy. Chipotles are, after all, smoke dried jalapeños, and the seeds are still in there.

This would be a great dinner during the week, it only takes about an hour, and better yet, I think the Tinga would only get better with time, though I can’t say I’ve had many leftovers to test this theory. There is also something that feels very Sunday about it, probably the braising part, even though it is a short braise. It also would be great game day food, and easy for a group. I served it the first time with a combo of hard shells* and soft shells – the hard shells won the day – and it would also be great as a tostada topping, or for nachos, or probably on a roll of some sort like pulled pork. And also just with a fork. Or any spare tortilla chips you might have hanging around. (*Do me a favor next time you are making tacos of any kind, heat some oil in a frying pan ¼ – ½ inch, I’d say, fry corn tortillas until they start to get just a bit stiff, then fold them over so they are taco shell-like and fry for another minute until they are just barely brown and crispy, but not stiff and shatter-y like those gross ones you buy in a box. Truly, it makes a world of difference and takes very little work.)

someday we'll talk about that corn...

There are really only a couple of steps. First you brown the chicken thighs in a little oil, then take the chicken out and add some sliced onion. Let it soften and brown a little, then add the garlic, cook for a minute longer, and then add the tomatoes, chipotles in adobo and chicken stock. This combo simmers for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off for a couple minutes and let it cool slightly, then puree it in a blender, add it back to the pan and add the chicken back in.


Simmer for another 20-30 minutes and voila! Shred the chicken and you are ready to serve.


I serve mine with corn tortillas, either fried into hard shells or just warmed in foil in the oven. Cotija cheese is a must, and I like avocado and something pickled too, radishes or red onion. And finish it with a squeeze of lime.


Hold UP. I think, I THINK I just saw a commercial for TGI Fridays that involved allusions to romance and cute bartenders. Is Fridays a martini bar now? With an app and entree combo for $10? When did that happen?

Is there ANOTHER GOP debate tonight? Are there more debates this primary season than ever before? Doesn’t it seem that way?

I am trying to turn over a new leaf in 2012. I am trying not to let people annoy me for no reason. It’s their life, and if they want to jump around like a fool like the Sweaty McHeadband in my kickboxing class, or kill themselves with cancer sticks like half the people I get stuck behind walking to work, that’s their problem, not mine. It means I will be putting the next blog I wanted to start, peopleiwanttopunchintheface.wordpress.com on the back burner for the time being. Here’s to new beginnings!

I’ve gotten locked in my bathroom twice in the last week. I thought I was going to waste away on the floor of the smallest bathroom in the world. It was terrifying so I took the doorknob off. Now there is no doorknob, but also no chance of getting locked in there. Probably time to talk to the landlord.

I am currently obsessed with Ryan Adams’ “Easy Tiger.”

I am reading The Line of Beauty, and am having difficulty getting into it, but that is probably because I don’t get in bed to read until about 11pm and one of my eyes is already pretty much shut from exhaustion.

This is awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9NF2edxy-M

So is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU and this (even better): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta9K22D0o5Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

And now, please enjoy your Tinga…

Chicken Tinga Tacos (serves 6-8, probably with leftovers)

adapted from Food & Wine

1/4 cup plus 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 lbs trimmed, skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 canned chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped

1 cup chicken broth

24 corn tortillas

Cotija cheese, avocado, pickled onions, slaw or toppings of your choice

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and pour off the fat.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and then add the onion. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chipotles and the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a food processor and let cool for 15 minutes. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce back to the pan and add the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer the sauce and chicken over medium low heat until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick and darkened around the edges. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven for about 10 minutes or fry into hard shells.

Shred the meat, spoon about 3 tablespoons of chicken onto each tortilla and sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and toppings of your choice.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

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!