Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks and Navy Beans

The slow cooker is my new favorite thing. We prepped and started this last night, went out, came back, slept and woke to this savory, meaty richness. We used this recipe as a jumping-off point. Our version (below) completely filled the cooker (thankfully, I decided to buy only two shanks at the last minute!) and produced at least four cups of spare liquid/fat. Now that we have a solid base recipe, next time, we may try a bit less liquid, more seasoning (it's too rich and savory to be bland, but could perhaps use a bit of zing), some herbs and perhaps more vegetables.
  • 1 lb. navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 lamb shanks (about 4 lbs.), cut in thirds
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil (will probably omit this next time - there's more than enough fat in the finished product)
  • 1 huge carrot (about 1 lb.), roughly chopped (will add more next time)
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup), chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups liquid (hot water or stock)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans. We forgot to soak them overnight, so we followed the quick soak method on the bag:
  • boil for two minutes
  • remove from heat
  • cover and let stand for an hour
  • rinse.
Boil the beans (in new water) for a half-hour. We may skip this step next time and just adjust slow cooking time accordingly.

Drain the beans and place them in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients, then season (we started with about a tsp. of freshly ground black pepper and a tbsp. of salt). Cook on high for an hour (we had to leave, so it was more like half an hour), turn the slow cooker to low, and let cook for 8-10 hours (more like 12 in our case, because we slept in).

Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Backlog: Braised Pork Chops With Tomatoes, Anchovies and Rosemary

Tomato Sauce, originally uploaded by essgee51.
(The above is an in-progress shot, obviously.)

Made this in Dec. 2010, following this NYT recipe pretty much to the letter, save for doubling the amount of garlic. Turned out very well - rich and tasty, with the anchovies adding savory depth to the always-winning combo of rosemary, pork and tomatoes. Sans pork chops, the sauce itself would probably go well over pasta - maybe even whole-wheat, if I added some heat to counteract the additional body.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew, originally uploaded by essgee51.

With a Christmas Amazon gift card from John's aunt and uncle, we finally bought a slow cooker!

Our first project, based on this recipe, was a success - the meat was tender, and the sauce was rich, silky and savory in a way that only slow-cooked food can be. Next time, we may experiment with more/different herbs -- and definitely add more mushrooms. Tweaks below.
  • 2 tbsp. oil (used peanut this time)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves,chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme (orig. 1/2 tsp. dried, but in an unusual reversal, I didn't have any)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. frozen peas
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Put the oil in a large pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the celery, carrots, onion and thyme. Cook till the carrots begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Cook another 3-5 minutes or so, till the tomato paste starts tasting a bit roasted. Add wine and mustard, then stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook till wine's reduced by about half, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cut the roast into 1-1/2 in. cubes. Put the meat and mushrooms in the flour mixture and toss to coat.

Put the meat, mushrooms and any excess flour into the slow cooker. Add the wine and vegetable mixture, and a bay leaf. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook till meat is pierced easily by a fork, 5-6 hours.

Add peas and cook till heated through. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meatloaf for Dinner!

Meatloaf for Dinner!, originally uploaded by essgee51.
We returned from Eastern Market with a bounty, including the makings of this dinner. The meatloaf recipe is based on Bittman's basic one, with changes (particularly more cheese, garlic and parsley) outlined below. It turned out to be delicious - tasty, juicy and perfect for a warm but still wintery evening. Note: Creates lots of drippings, which I'm sure we can figure out lots of delicious uses for.
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (used panko)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs. meatloaf mix (they were out of pork, so equal parts veal and beef)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. bacon (six slices - three in the original)
Preheat oven to 350.

Soak breadcrumbs in milk till liquid is absorbed, around 5 minutes.

Mix together all ingredients except the bacon. Shape meat into a loaf in a baking pan (we used John's cast-iron skillet), then drape the bacon over the loaf. Bake for 45-60 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, till the meatloaf is firm, lightly browned and 160F.

Optional: put under the broiler for a minute or two to get a browner crust.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Variation: Leek and Tomato Braise

Leek and Tomato Braise, originally uploaded by essgee51.
I've cooked this before, but now I have a picture - and enough variation in the recipe to make this repeat worthwhile, for me at least. Unfortunately, this version didn't make nearly enough liquid to put on the rice; I may add some juice from canned tomatoes or broth next time.
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-6 leeks, cleaned and halved
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice or more, to taste
In a pot large enough to hold the leeks in a single layer (I had too many and thus worked in batches), heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the leeks till they begin to brown, 5-7 minutes; salt and pepper them as they cook, turning them once or twice.

Add tomatoes (and some of their liquid or some broth if you like). Adjust heat till mixture bubbles, then cover and cook till the leeks are tender, 15-25 minutes.

Add lemon juice to taste and serve over rice (good hot, warm or cold).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chicken Braised in Lemon and Soy Sauce

Wanted something quick, and Bittman gladly obliged. It's rather less adobo-lite than its constituent ingredients may make it seem, and is bright with just a small touch of heat. My version of the recipe (with more garlic and lemon juice than originally called for) below.
  • 2.5 lbs chicken (thighs)
  • 4 tbsp. neutral oil (grapeseed this time)
  • 1 heaping tbsp. garlic (originally 1 tsp.)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tbsp. lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (may add slightly more next time)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from one juicy lemon)
Put oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it's hot, brown the chicken, working in batches if necessary (should take around 10-15 minutes).

Remove the chicken and pour/spoon out all but 1-2 tbsp. of oil. Turn the heat to low, add the garlic and cook till it starts to soften, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the water, soy sauce, sugar and cayenne pepper to the pot. Put in the chicken, turning it once or twice to soak up the broth. Adjust the heat so it bubbles gently but constantly and cook till done, anywhere from 20-40 minutes.

When done, stir the lemon juice into the dish and remove from heat. Adjust seasoning and serve over white rice.