Pancetta and Portabella Mushroom Risotto

I really love risotto.  I like to eat it and I enjoy preparing it.  It is a dish that can be served on its own as an entree, or can also play the supporting role in a meal.  Risotto is both elegant and rustic at the same time.

At my work I will sometimes have to prepare food and wine pairings for guests, I will almost always include risotto in the tasting menu.  It is a very versatile dish.  I try to create seasonal menu’s at work and risotto plays perfectly into that acting as a canvas for whatever is in season at the time.

With the nights being cold this time of year I thought I would share a hearty risotto recipe.  This recipe would be great if you plan on doing any entertaining this Holiday season.  Pancetta and portabella mushrooms along with cheese and butter make for a hearty, rib sticking meal that is sure to warm you up.  Pair this risotto with a Syrah or Rhone style blend.

Pancetta and Portabella Mushroom Risotto
 
Ingredients
  • Pancetta and Portabella Mushroom Risotto
  • Ingredients
  • 10 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 12 ounces Arborio rice
  • ½ medium white onion, small dice
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 ounces chardonnay
  • 1 quart chicken stock, warmed
  • 8 ounces grated black truffle cheese
  • 10 ounces portabello mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In large skillet cook pancetta over medium heat, stirring often. Cook until browned and just starting to get a little crispy. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the pancetta into the strainer, reserve the rendered fat in the bowl. Put the pancetta onto a plate lined with paper towels. Add the reserved fat back to the skillet.
  2. Add garlic, onions, and mushrooms to skillet and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, until onions start to soften.
  3. Add Arborio rice, stir until all the rice is coated in the pancetta fat. Cook until pearled, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chardonnay, stirring often, cook until the wine is absorbed into the rice.
  5. When wine is absorbed into the rice, start adding the chicken stock. Add 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. When stock is almost absorbed into the rice, add another cup. Continue this process until stock is gone, should take between 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. When done adding stock, stir in the cooked pancetta, cheese, and butter.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Fork and Whisk:  pancetta, onion, garlic, shredded cheese, arborio rice

Pancetta, mushrooms, onion, garlic, arborio rice, and shredded black truffle cheese all prepped and ready for the risotto.

Fork and Whisk:  Pancetta being rendered

The fat being rendered from the pancetta.

Fork and Whisk:  Rendered fat being drained from pancetta

Rendered fat being drained from the pancetta.

Fork and Whisk:  Rendered pancetta

Rendered pancetta, will be added to the risotto towards the end of cooking.

Mushrooms, onion and garlic.

Fork and Whisk:  Mushrooms, onions, garlic

Fork and Whisk:  Mushrooms, garlic, onion, and arborio rice.

Arborio rice being added to the mushroom, onion, and garlic.

Fork and Whisk:  Cooked pancetta being added to the risotto.

Cooked pancetta being added to the nearly done risotto.

Fork and Whisk:  Butter and Cheese being added to finish the risotto.

Butter and the shredded black truffle cheese being added once the risotto is done cooking.

Fork and Whisk:  Finished risotto

All ready to eat. Enjoy!

I used the black truffle cheese in this recipe because I felt it gave the risotto a nice earthy undertone and depth.  I found this cheese at Trader Joe’s, if you have any problems finding it you could also use Manchego or Gruyere cheese.  You could also use bacon instead of the pancetta in this recipe as well.

Hope you enjoy.

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Autumn Chili

Fall is here and their is a chill in the air.  I guess it depends on where you live on how much of a chill you are getting.  To me Fall is a transition season, going from the warm summer weather, to a cool down to prepare us for the cold weather on its way.  I love fall foods.  They seem to warm you up on the inside.  Stews, roasts, braises, and of course, chili.

Their are so many different styles and interpretations of chili these days, but the one I have for you today is specifically made for the Fall weather.  Butternut squash is in season and works great in chili, giving off a bit of sweetness and adding richness. Roasted pasilla peppers give a depth and smokiness as well as a little heat.  The chorizo mixed in with the ground beef gives some great flavor as well as a little spice to the chili to warm you up.  I hope it you enjoy this chili recipe and it keeps you warm on these cold nights.

Ingredients

  • ¼ pound chorizo
  • 1 butternut squash, about 3 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut in ½ inch cubes
  • 1 pasilla pepper, roasted, cut in ½ inch pieces*
  • 1 pint of beer (any beer you like, I recommend an IPA, Stout, Red Ale or Brown Ale), reduced down to about a ½ cup.  You can also use wine if you prefer, take 1 bottle of red and reduce it to 1 cup.
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, any combination of colors, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef (grass fed preferred)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 ounces olive oil

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions, bell peppers, butternut squash, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander,  oregano, cayenne, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onions, bell pepper and garlic start to soften, 8 -10 minutes.
  2. Add the beer to the vegetables and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beef and cook while breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon until no longer pink.
  4. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato puree, roasted pasilla pepper and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1  hour.
  5. Uncover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*  Roasting a pepper is easy.  You can do it right on your stove top whether you have a gas or an electric range.  Turn the stove on to medium high heat.  Place the pepper directly onto the flame or stovetop.  When one side is black use tongs and turn to the other side.  Repeat until the whole pepper is black.  Take off the heat and wrap in foil for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes remove from foil and peel off the skin using a paper towel, the skin will come right off.

Fork and Whisk:  Pasilla Pepper

Pasilla pepper on stove top about to be roasted.

Fork and Whisk:  Roasted Pasilla Pepper

A finished roasted pasilla pepper.

Fork and Whisk:  Diced onions, butternut squash, garlic, and bell peppers

Onions, Butternut Squash, Garlic, and Bell Peppers

Fork and Whisk: Sauteing peppers, garlic, onions and butternut squash with spices.

Sauteing bell peppers, garlic, onions and butternut squash with spices.

Fork and Whisk: Shipyard Brewery Monkey Fist IPA

For our chili we decided to go with Shipyard Brew Monkey Fist IPA.

Fork and Whisk:  Beer reducing on the stove top

Shipyard IPA reducing down on the stove top.

Fork and Whisk: HR Coop grass fed ground beef mixed together with chorizo

Grass fed ground beef from HR Coop mixed together with the chorizo.

Fork and Whisk:  Adding ground beef and chorizo to the vegetables to break apart and brown.

Adding the ground beef and chorizo to the pot along with the vegetables.

Fork and Whisk:  Adding the Roasted and diced pasilla peppers.

Add the roasted and diced pasilla peppers to the vegetables and meat.

Fork and Whisk:  Vegetables, beef, chorizo,beer, beans, tomatoes and spices all simmering together.

Vegetables, beef, chorizo, beer, beans, tomatoes and spices all simmering together.

Fork and Whisk:  All ready to eat.

All ready to eat. Enjoy!!!

This chili will be good the night you make it but will be even better the next day.  You can keep it in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.  It is great to bring to work for lunch or as leftovers.  Feel free to tweak the recipe anyway you want.  If you don’t like butternut squash, don’t use it.  You can add more peppers instead or try a different vegetable to put in it.  Are you vegetarian?  Then try this recipe with tofu instead of beef.  You can try different beans in the recipe instead of red kidney beans.  Do whatever you like, as long as it gets you cooking at home.  Enjoy.

&n

Making Beef Stock at Home

Stock is a great thing, whether it be chicken stock, vegetable stock, or in this case, beef stock.  Making stock is one of the first things I learned in Culinary school.  I remember the emphasis my Chef instructors put on making a quality stock.  I remember them saying “never let your stock boil, don’t stir your stock, skim your stock of impurities frequently, when done simmering quickly cool your stock”.

When I hear people talk about putting love into their cooking I usually think of making stock, or baking bread.  I know it is different for every cook and where their passion lies, but for me personally it seems as if you put part of yourself into the stock or loaf of bread when made from scratch.

A great stock can elevate a dish to new heights.  Whether it is a simple soup, or a complicated sauce with many components.  Homemade stocks are superior to store bought stocks in many ways, the two most important in my opinion is first taste, and secondly, the ability of a homemade sauce to reduce and thicken when making sauces.  Store bought stocks always seem to taste salty and watered down, and if they are from a can they always seem to have a bit of a tin taste to them as well.  Homemade stock has a wonderful richness and concentration of flavor.  Beef stock smells and tastes like beef, and chicken stock smells and tastes like chicken, while both get a bit of added depth from the vegetables.  Perfect.  Homemade stocks will also thicken on their own when being reduced down without the help of any thickening agents like flour or cornstarch.

I will be honest, most of the time I do use store bought stocks.  It is so convenient and quick to buy a box of stock and take it home and instantly use it.  I mostly used boxed chicken stocks and have found some decent ones, but I still have never found a boxed or canned beef stock that doesn’t taste anything but weird.  But in my efforts to eat better, and to not eat so much processed food, I am going to try and keep an ongoing supply of homemade beef or chicken stock at home and ready to use.

The specific reason I decided to make beef stock last week was because my wife and I have been having a craving for Pho.  Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup.  When she lived in New York city and Chicago she didn’t have too much of a problem finding good Pho.  For me, my older brother turned me onto Pho about 10 years ago when we were living in Southern California, tons of great places down there to get Pho.  But here on the Central Coast in Santa Maria, we haven’t been able to find any.  So we decided we would give it a shot at home.  Since the base of a great Pho is the broth, we knew we wouldn’t have an adequate Pho if we used a boxed beef stock, so we went to the butcher, bought some beef bones, and made beef stock at home.

Making the stock itself is not hard, but it is time consuming.  But I think it is definitely worth the effort.  Below is what you will need and the method to making a great beef stock at home.

What you will need:

-5-6 pounds of beef bones.  We used mainly knuckle and marrow bones and got them from the Meat Company Butcher Shop in Arroyo Grande.  If you don’t have a butcher near by then ask the butcher at the grocery store you go to.

-4 carrots, peeled and chopped into big pieces.

-4 celery stocks, chopped into big pieces.

-2 or 3 large yellow onions, chopped into big pieces

-1 or 2 tbsp tomato paste

Method:

Place bones on sheet tray and place in a 425 degree oven.  Roast until bones are evenly browned, turning every so often.

When bones are nice and brown take out of oven.

Place bones in a large stockpot.  Discard rendered fat from sheet tray except for about 2 tablespoons.

Cover bones with cold water.  Place the stockpot on the stove and turn the heat on high.  Bring to a simmer.

While your waiting for you bones to come to a simmer, add the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions) to the sheet tray with the reserved fat and toss to coat all the vegetables.

Put sheet tray in 425 degree oven and roast vegetables until caramelized.  Tossing the mirepoix every so often.  It would have probably have been better if I split the vegetables into 2 sheet trays.  I think I would have gotten a better caramelization to them.

While the mirepoix is roasting in the oven, check on your beef bones.  When the water starts to simmer lower the heat to keep a consistent low simmer.  I keep a bowl and a spoon near the stock pot while it simmers, skim the scum and impurities that rise to the surface frequently with the spoon.

When vegetables are done browning in the oven, take them out and add the tomato paste. Mixing it up with all the vegetables.

Cook for a few minutes on top of the stop top, or return to the oven for a few minutes to cook out raw tomato taste.

Add the mirepoix to the stock pot with the beef bones.  Add a little  water or red wine to the hot sheet tray to degrease, scraping up all the brown bits, add to the stock pot as well.  Their is a lot of great flavor in those brown bits.

Let your stock simmer, uncovered, for 8-48 hours.  I let mine simmer for 11 hours.  I am not a huge fan of leaving my home with the stove on.  Remember to check on your stock frequently in the beginning, skimming off the fat, scum, and impurities that rise to the top.  Continue to check on it periodically after that.

When you are done simmering your stock, place another stockpot in the sink and surround it with ice.  Put a strainer or colander over the pot and pour your stock into it, letting the colander separate the cooked vegetables and bones.  You can throw away the bones and vegetables.

It is important to cool your stock off fairly quickly.  You don’t want to put your stock in the refrigerator hot because it will take to long to cool off and it will heat up everything else in your refrigerator.  Putting it in an ice bath will help it to cool off quickly, just don’t stir, that will cloud your stock.

When your stock is cooled off, place in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or you can also freeze your stock for up to a couple of months.

In the above picture, you can see the layer of fat that rises to the top of the stock when it cools off.  Before you use your stock you can scrape that layer off.

Above is the finished product, a nice dark brown beef stock with the fat scraped off, all ready to use.  This is the stock we ended up using for our Pho later that night.  But try it out in soups, or make a quick sauce using red wine and beef stock, also great to use as base for braising liquid.  Whatever you end up using it for I really think you will enjoy it.

 

 

 

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

This past weekend my wife and I were invited over to a friends house for dinner.  When we   arrived my friend and his wife had a platter full of caprese salad on skewers.  Shreds of basil sandwiched in-between grape tomatoes and tasty chunks of mozzarella cheese, with a dish of olive oil on the side to drizzle over the skewers, and finished off with cracked black pepper and salt.  It was delicious.  It also reminded me of how much I love caprese, but hardly ever eat it.

That brings me to today.  I had a luncheon at work that I had to cook for and thought a heirloom tomato caprese salad would be perfect as one of the side dishes.  I love the different colors, textures, and tastes of heirloom tomatoes, and right now heirlooms are in season.  Try this recipe for lunch, as a light dinner, or as a side.  If you can’t get heirlooms where you live then use any tomato that you enjoy.

Ingredients:

4-5 heirlooms tomatoes, try different shapes, sizes, and colors

7-8 basil leaves

1 mozzarella cheese log, 5-6 ounces

Extra Virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1.  Using a cheese slicer or dental floss, slice mozzarella into about 1/4 inch thick slices.

2.  Slice tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices.  My slices were not that uniform, just do the best that you can.  It is still going to taste great.

3.  You can serve the salad either on a platter, or individually on plates.  Today I did them individually on salad plates.  Starting with a tomato slice, then alternating between slices of mozzarella and tomato.  I had 4 different tomatoes I was using so I just used one slice from each.

4.  Stack 3 or 4 basil leaves on top of each other, roll them up tightly, and run your knife through creating thin strips of basil.

5.  Using as little or as much basil as you want, place over the top of the tomatoes and mozzarella.

6.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Their you go, an easy and tasty salad that is perfect for the season.  Their are many variations of this that you can do as well.  I saw another website where they fried the tomatoes, or you can do like my friends did and skewer them, which is perfect for when you are having guests over.  I was even thinking of maybe adding some pine nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds next time.  However you end up eating it, enjoy.

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Roasted Red Pepper Steak Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I was searching around on the internet looking at other food blogs and came across www.smittenkitchen.com and found this recipe for a homemade steak sauce.  I am a huge fan of sauces, they are one of my favorite things to make with food as an accompaniment. What’s great about this recipe is that it is pretty fast to make, and really easy to make.  I doubled the recipe my first time making it, so that is why in the pictures you see an extra bell pepper.

My hope is that next time you are barbecuing, instead of grabbing for a store bought sauce you will try making your own at home.  Hope you enjoy, let me know what you think.

The following recipe is not mine, but was taken from www.smittenkitchen.com.

1 red bell pepper, small was suggested, I used a large and didn’t regret it
2/3 cup canned or fresh tomato purée
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat your broiler. Place your pepper on a baking sheet and cook it under the broiler until all sides are charred, turning with tongs as needed. Don’t skimp on the charring as this skin will add a fantastic flavor dimension. Mine took about 15 minutes, but I have a terrible broiler. Yours might only take 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer pepper to a mesh sieve set over a blender jar or food processor work bowl to cool until you’re able to handle it, about 15 minutes.

Tear open the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes with your fingers or a paring knife. Add the pepper (with its skin) to the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Puree mixture until as smooth as possible. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan. Simmer it gently over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. It will yield a fairly smooth that can be used as is, but if you’d like a smoother consistency, you have two options: running it back through the blender or food processor again (I got a smoother blender after the fibers had cooked down more on the stove) or pressing it through that fine-mesh sieve (I started doing this, then decided it wasn’t worth the trouble).

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for one week, though I suspect it will keep for two.

The recipe says to put your bell pepper under the broiler, I prefer charring my peppers on the stove top. Either way is fine.

Getting a nice char on these red bell peppers.

 

 

Cookout Side Dishes

Cookout Side Dishes

With summer finally here, thought we would share three side dishes to go along with your summer barbecues and family get together’s.  Stove top pinto beans, penne pasta salad, and roasted garlic potatoes.  These side dishes are easy to prepare and will go great with barbecue chicken, tri-tip, or anything you want to put on the grill this summer.  First up is the stove top pinto beans.

STOVE TOP PINTO BEANS
INGREDIENTS
·         1 pound bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
·         5 cloves garlic, minced
·         2 yellow onions, diced
·         1 ¼ pounds pinto beans
·         1 tbsp mustard powder
·         1 tbsp paprika
·         1 tbsp chili powder
·         1 tbsp onion powder
·         1tbsp garlic powder
·         ½ tsp cayenne
·         2 tbsp kosher salt
·         1 tbsp ground pepper
·         ¼ cup brown sugar
·         ¼ cup molasses
·         1 bay leaf
·         1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
DIRECTIONS
1.       Put beans in large stockpot, cover with water by 2 inches and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse.
2.       In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring often, until fat has rendered and bacon is crispy.  Reserve fat.  Place cooked bacon on paper towel lined tray to drain.  Set aside.
3.       In a stock pot over medium high heat add reserved bacon fat.  When the bacon fat is hot add the diced onion and minced garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions start to soften, about 7-8 minutes.
4.       Add mustard powder, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and molasses.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring everything together.
5.       Add pinto beans,  fill the stockpot with water till just covering the beans.  Add the tomatoes and bay leaf.
6.       Turn the heat to high and bring to a simmer, lower heat and let simmer uncovered for 1 hour and fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make sure to use enough water so the beans stay submerged while they soak.
 
 
 
 
 
All ready to eat.  Feel free to experiment with different spices and quantities.  Enjoy.
Next up is our penne pasta salad.  You can make this the day ahead or day of your barbecue.
PENNE PASTA SALAD
INGREDIENTS
·         2 pounds penne pasta
·         4 bell peppers, assorted colors, small dice
·         4 cloves garlic, minced
·         4 ounces olive oil
·         2 ounces red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
·         4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
·         1 bunch parsley, chopped
·         Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
1.       In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add a couple pinches of salt and a little drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water.  Add pasta, boil 9 minutes.  Drain in colander and pour cold water over pasta to stop cooking.  Put cooled pasta in a large bowl or large platter and set aside.
2.       Whisk together oil and vinegar in a small bowl and toss with the pasta.  Add bell peppers, garlic, feta cheese,  and parsley to the pasta and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.
yNow onto the roasted garlic potatoes.

ROASTED RED POTATOES
  INGREDIENTS
·         5 pounds  red potatoes
·         10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
·         ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
·         1 tbsp Italian seasoning (could also use fresh parsley or thyme instead of seasoning)
·         Salt and pepper to taste
  DIRECTIONS
1.       Heat oven to 400 degree F.
2.       Peel potatoes and cut into 8 parts.  Put potatoes into large bowl with olive oil and toss to coat all the potatoes.  Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.  Pour onto a sheet pan and roast in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring potatoes around about every 10 minutes.  Potatoes are done when easily pierced with a fork.

Daniel Boulud’s Braised Pork Shoulder

Daniel Boulud’s Braised Pork Shoulder

Tonight we took a recipe out of Daniel Boulud’s wonderful cookbook called Braise.  Pork shoulder with Guinness, dried cherries, and sweet potatoes.  I am a big fan of pork shoulder, and love to braise foods, but to be honest the dried cherries in the recipe didn’t sound that good to me.  I am not a big fan of fruits in most of my savory dishes.  But thought that maybe it would be a good idea to expand my horizons and maybe try something out of my palates comfort zone.  In the end my wife and I both liked this dish quite a bit and would definitely make it again.  The recipe calls for Guinness, but I would think that you could substitute the Guinness with  Root Beer, Dr. Pepper, or Ginger Beer.  Hope you enjoy this recipe.
If you enjoy the recipe and want to check out other recipes in the book, here is a link to it on amazon.com.  Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cups Guinness stout
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (5 1/2 pound) pork shoulder roast
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 whole allspice, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and roughly chopped
Method
- Bring the stout, cherries, and vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan.  Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
Guinness coming to a simmer with the balsamic and cherries.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Warm the oil in a large cast-iron or Dutch oven over high heat.  Season the pork shoulder with salt and ground black pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Transfer the pork shoulder to a platter.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot.
Pork shoulder being browned.
- Add the onion and crushed black pepper to the pot and saute for 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.  Add the pork shoulder, the marinated cherries and liquid, allspice, bay leaves, molasses, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and braise for 1 hour, turning the pork once during cooking.  Add the sweet potatoes and continue to braise for 2 more hours, turning two more times.
- If the sauce is too thin or is not flavored intensely enough, ladle most of it off into another pot and simmer it until it thickens and intensifies.  Then add it back to the first pot.
Sauce was a little thin coming out of the oven, had to reduce it down  in a separate pan on the stove top.
- Slice the pork and serve with the sauce on top.
All ready to eat.
Really enjoyed this recipes and I was surprised that the cherries were so good in it.  I did have to reduce down the sauce quite a bit after it came out of the oven, also added a bit of butter to the sauce when it was just about done reducing.  Other than that I followed this recipe to the letter.  Again, this is not my recipe but was taken from Braise, which was written by Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark.  A great cookbook.

Cooking Duck Breast

Cooking duck breast

Whisk and I both really enjoy duck.  Last week we agreed that I would show her how to cook duck breast, and she would show me how to bake one of her delicious pies.  Cooking duck breast at home is easy, quick, and very tasty.
Place duck breasts on cutting board and wipe dry with paper towel.
 Score the duck breast, cutting through the fat, but being careful not to cut into the flesh.
Season with sea salt and pepper.
At home I have a nonstick saute pan, make sure it is big enough so the pan is not crowded.  Place the breasts skin side down over medium heat.
Now season the flesh side with sea salt and pepper.
As the fat renders, drain into a container and save.  Duck fat has great flavor.  We used the reserve fat to cook our asparagus in later on.
 Flip the duck breasts onto their flesh side after most of the fat has rendered off, leaving a deep brown color, and delicious crispy skin. This usually takes about 8-10 minutes.
Cook the duck breasts for about another 1-2 minutes flesh side down to achieve a medium rear to medium doneness.
Take duck out of pan and place on clean cutting board.
Loosely tent foil over duck breasts to rest, 5-7 minutes.  I had to use this bowl because I forgot to buy foil at the grocery store.  Oops.
Slice duck and you are ready to eat.
Duck is great to eat without any sauce, having a great flavor all on its own.  But duck also goes with many flavor combinations.  For a quick sauce, reduce a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to a syrup consistency and drizzle on top.  Hope you enjoy.

Red Wine Bacon Jam

RED WINE BACON JAM

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds bacon, cut cross wise into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2  cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup black strap molasses
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¾ cup brewed coffee
  • 1 bottle red wine (Syrah, Zinfandel, or Cabernet will do) reduced to 1 cup

Preparation

  1. Render bacon, remove onto paper towels to drain.
  2. Add onion and garlic, sauté 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, coffee, and wine.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Add bacon back.
  5. Transfer to uncovered slow cooker on high on 4 hour setting, or dutch oven and simmer for 4 hours over low heat uncovered.  When done, coarsely chop then refrigerate.  Serve warmed or at room temperature.

 

 

 

Seared Scallops with Celery Root Puree

Seared  Scallops with Celery Root Puree
Ingredients:  Celery root puree
6 ounces celery root, cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt to taste
Directions
1.        Add all ingredients except for the salt and parsley into a small saucepan and  bring to a boil.  When just starting to boil reduce heat to a simmer.  Let simmer until celery root is easily pierced with a fork. 25-30 minutes.
2.       Pour ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.  You can do this in two batches if you need to.  Transfer to a bowl.  Mix in chopped parsley.  Season with salt.
Ingredients:  Seared scallops
6 sea scallops
2 tbsp vegetable oil
micro greens
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
1.       Pat scallops dry.  Season with salt and pepper.
2.       Over medium high heat add vegetable oil to pan.  When oil is starting to shimmer place scallops in pan.  Cook about 1 ½ minutes on each side.
3.       Take out and place on paper towel.
4.       Place about 2 tbsp of the celery root puree on a plate.  Place micro greens on top of puree.  Place scallop on top.  Serve as an appetizer to start a meal.