Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

When it comes to Thai food, the cuisine ranks among the top of our ethnic food preferences. This classic from Milk Street, Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews raised the bar as the best version we’ve made at home. We pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except exchanging a medium-large red pepper in place of the small one. Oh, and of course we increased the amount of cashews 😉

Milk Street’s version uses mostly pantry staples and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, and you can prep the bell pepper and scallions in the meantime. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.

Tip: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.

With stir-fries, most commonly we use our carbon steel wok, but our large cast-iron skillet happened to be sitting on the stovetop that evening, so it became the vehicle of choice. Choose your weapon—I mean skillet—according to your own preference, but don’t use a non-stick otherwise the chicken won’t brown well, if at all.

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some thinly sliced greens for garnish
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, more for garnish if desired

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir ¼ cup water into the marinade and set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the bell pepper, scallions and cashews. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with white pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

It’s not unusual that most of us would like to cut calories and fat where we can, but not loose flavor. With this riff on a Martha Stewart recipe, you bake rather than fry, for less mess and less fat. In addition, there is no salting of the eggplant to extract moisture—a process I’ve never grown fond of.

Another plus, make the chunky tomato sauce a day or two ahead and save time on dinner night. It only takes about 20 minutes total, then refrigerate in an air tight container, and you’re one step ahead of the game.

As we prepped the dish, we realized that a few tweaks to the recipe were needed. After coating the slices for one of the eggplants, we noted there would not be enough for all the remaining slices, so we quickly increased by about another 50%; while the amount of egg wash was spot on.

The shredded mozzarella was increased to 2 cups from 1 1/2, although we would even increase it more next time! The dried basil was swapped out for fresh, making sure to add it between layers as well as a garnish. One of those grocery store clamshells of basil is the perfect amount. These changes are noted in the ingredients below.

It was so light and tasty, The Hubs claimed it might be the best Eggplant Parm he’s ever had! Can’t wait to attack those leftovers… Serves 8 as a side dish, 6 as a main.

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Chunky Tomato Sauce (Yields 6 cups)

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Parm

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 Tbsp. for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, chopped to equal a loose 1/2 cup, save some whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 lbs. total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2+ cups shredded mozzarella

Directions

  1. Tomato Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Crush tomatoes into pan; add oregano. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Make up to 3 days ahead.
  2. Eggplant Parm: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and oregano; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  4. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and basil; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Harissa-Spiced Lamb with Dates and Couscous

Harissa is a North African spice paste whichis used as the flavor base for this simple skillet-cooked meat sauce, as well as to season the couscous that’s served alongside. Scallions play a dual role in this dish—the whites are caramelized to lend depth of flavor to the sauce and the greens are sprinkled on as a garnish.

Dates (or golden raisins) lend sweetness that play off the spicy, savory notes. Neither of us are huge fans of raisins/dates in our savory dishes, so we only incorporated one ounce of golden raisins and to us, it was the perfect amount of sweetness.

While the directions were followed as written, the next time we prepare this dish, we’ll brown the meat in the skillet first, remove it to a dish, wipe out the grease, and then cook the scallions as directed, adding back the cooked lamb afterwards. The original way leaves all of the fat in the pan.

The chopped pistachios, lemon wedge and cilantro all added welcome pops of flavor as garnishes.

Harissa-Spiced Lamb with Dates and Couscous

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups couscous
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. harissa, divided, plus more to serve
  • 1¼ cups boiling water
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 lb. 80 percent lean ground lamb (OR ground beef)
  • ¾ cup pitted dates/golden raisins, roughly chopped
  • Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped pistachios, chopped pitted green olives and/or lemon wedges

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the couscous, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1½ tablespoons each oil and harissa. Stir in the boiling water; cover and let stand while you prepare the beef.
  2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the remaining 1½ tablespoons oil, the scallion whites and cumin, stirring, until the scallions brown.
  3. Add the lamb (or beef), the remaining 1½ tablespoons harissa, the dates, ¾ cup water and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally while breaking up the meat, until the mixture is saucy.
  4. Stir in the scallion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve over the couscous.

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Recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Rotini with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto

Pistachios are a borderline addiction for me (although I’m usually not picky when it comes to nuts of any sort). In fact, whenever we stop at Costco’s, it’s pretty likely we’ll pick up a 1.5-pound bag of the shelled, roasted/salted variety.

Did you know Sicily is famous for its pistachios, as well as for ricotta cheese? In this recipe, Milk Street blends the two, along with fresh basil and chives, to create a simple pesto to toss with al dente pasta.

There’s no need to grate the Parmesan—simply cut it into chunks and toss the pieces into the blender. The pesto is good on a wide variety of pasta shapes, but the hollow centers and surface ridges of rigatoni do a particularly good job of gripping the rich, creamy sauce. We used rotini whose spirals also made an easy job of grasping that sauce.

Milk Street advises NOT to use toasted or roasted pistachios because they claim, in this case, raw pistachios are best. Their bright color and natural sweetness lend a vibrant, full-flavored pesto. Well, as I mentioned, we had the roasted salted pistachios and went ahead and used them.

Now don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You’ll need some of the starchy seasoned liquid to thin out the pesto.

Rigatoni with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni or rotini
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1⅓ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup raw pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese (without rind), cut into 4 or 5 pieces
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chives

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. In a blender, combine the ricotta, the whole pistachios, oil, Parmesan, basil, chives, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and blend until creamy, about 1 minute; the pesto should have a consistency similar to yogurt.
  3. Pour the pesto over the pasta and stir, adding more reserved pasta water as needed so the sauce coats the noodles. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the chopped pistachios.

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Adapted from a recipe from Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Roasted Fish and Fennel with Grapefruit Salsa

Looking for a vibrant fish dinner combination? This Roasted Fish and Fennel with Grapefruit Salsa from Better Homes & Gardens caught our attention immediately. And if you lean toward low-carb, keto-friendly dishes, you may want to put this meal in your rotation.

Choose a firm whitefish option like cod, grouper, or hake. These varieties hold up well to oven-roasting—and topping with a tangy, refreshing fruit salsa. Our original intention was to purchase hake, but the local supermarket didn’t have it and we were to lazy to drive to the other side of town to the Asian fish market and get it, so cod it was.

The recipe calls for four fish fillets, but with only the two of us at the dinner table, we simply bought a one-pounder fillet and split it. As far as the fennel, once roasted, it not only dissipates the licorice flavor (which deters some people from eating it), but it takes on a subtle, sweet flavor, which makes a great counterpoint to the grapefruit salsa.

Roasted Fish and Fennel with Grapefruit Salsa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, halved, cored, and cut into thin wedges, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped fronds
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1-inch thick firm white fish fillets, such as cod, grouper, or hake
  • 1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Add fennel wedges. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt. Arrange in a single layer. Roast 12 to 15 minutes or until starting to brown.
  2. Turn fennel and push to sides. Add fish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine chopped fennel fronds, grapefruit, parsley, shallot, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and black pepper. Serve fish with roasted fennel and the salsa.

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Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Chipotle Chicken Breasts

A richly caramelized crust, juicy and flavorful interior, and a sauce so irresistible you’ll be tempted to eat it right out of the skillet. Take note, while the cooking portion is a mere 15 minutes or so, the seasoned poultry needs to be refrigerated uncovered for two hours, then sit at room temperature for another 30 minutes.

Why season and chill this chicken before cooking? That chilling time allows salt to penetrate the chicken and as the muscle fibers break down, it helps the meat reabsorb the juices. And no one enjoys a dried out piece of chicken!

Instead of just serving with plain steamed rice, we upped our game and made rice pilaf which also included a chipotle chile pepper. The other companion side served was glazed carrots.

Chipotle Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place on a plate. Chill, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. To check when hot enough, add a large drop of water (1/8 teaspoon) to the skillet. When it rolls around the pan like a bead of mercury it is ready. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Remove skillet from heat; add oil. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Return to medium-high heat. Add chicken (don’t crowd the pan). Cook for 5 minutes or until a crust forms (be patient; the chicken will release when it’s ready to be turned). Turn and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more—or until chicken is done at 165°F. Adjust heat as necessary.
  4. Remove chicken from skillet to a plate; cover loosely. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully add broth, lime juice, and garlic to skillet (mixture will spatter). Return to heat. Bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in butter, chipotle, and any juices from the chicken.
  6. Spoon sauce over chicken to serve. Sprinkle with cilantro.

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Recipe by Colleen Weeden for Better Homes & Gardens

Beef and Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut

Southeast Asian curries combine Indian influences with regional ingredients such as lemon grass and star anise. For this one, Milk Street took inspiration from a recipe in “Best of Malaysian Cooking” by Betty Saw. Instead of calling for a long list of spices, this uses Indian curry powder as an easy flavor base; and sambal oelek, an Indonesian-style chili paste which adds bright heat to the meal.

The dish was delish, BUT, it took way longer than indicated. First, since we couldn’t locate boneless short ribs, we bought a chuck roast that was sliced in half lengthwise and popped into the freezer for 30 minutes. This allowed us to easily cut the beef into thin, 1⁄8-inch slices. And there was quite a bit of prep—at least 20 minutes worth—so there was no way this meal was going to be done in a half hour!

Then, the potato halves, which were supposed to be tender after 30 minutes, were still too firm after 45. I fished them out of the curry, and microwaved for several minutes before reuniting them with the other ingredients. For a pop of color, chopped cilantro was added as a final garnish.

It is suggested you serve over hot jasmine rice, yet we are not typically fans of both potatoes and rice in the same dish. Although it would be lovely over rice to help sop up the wonderful sauce, we would substitute sweet bell red and/or green peppers in place of the potatoes, cooking them first before the onions to reduce incorporating any more liquid into the curry.

Tips: Don’t forget to trim off any silver skin from the short ribs before slicing. The silver skin is stringy and fibrous unless the meat is cooking for a long time, and if left in place, it will cause the slices of beef to curl during simmering. Look for sambal in well-stocked supermarkets and Asian grocery stores; if it’s not available, chili-garlic paste is a good substitute.

Beef and Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs (or chuck roast), trimmed and cut to ⅛-inch thick slices against the grain
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 medium red onion, halved thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½ inches in diameter), unpeeled, halved
  • 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. sambal oelek or chili-garlic paste, plus more as needed
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper; set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, curry powder, star anise and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften and the mixture is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the beef, potatoes, coconut milk and sambal, then bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the largest potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes (or longer).
  3. Off heat, taste and season with salt, pepper and additional sambal. Remove and discard the star anise and lemon grass. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if using.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Invite an “Old Pal” to Dinner

A regularly-enjoyed Sunday ritual for The Hubs while preparing the evening meal is, experimenting with different cocktails. This time he met up with an “Old Pal.” Who was that you ask? Not “who,” but “what” was this pal?

By way of definition, the Old Pal is a cocktail originally made with rye whiskey, French vermouth, and Campari. It is similar to a Negroni, but with rye whiskey instead of gin and dry vermouth instead of sweet.

The classic Old Pal recipe is built with equal parts of each ingredient, just like the Negroni. However, some modern recipes increase the rye whiskey while decreasing both the Campari and dry vermouth. The latter formula is often made in a 2:1:1 ratio for a slightly boozier take on the original.

Now The Hubs ratio is even a bit different than that with a 2:1⁄2:1⁄2. By way of explanation he calculates that a coupe (martini) glass holds 3 ounces and therefore the 2:1:1 ratio would be too much liquid.

You should play with the recipe to see which combination floats your boat, but know that either option produces tasty, balanced cocktails that are the warm, whiskey-spiked equivalent of an old buddy…

Old Pal Cocktail

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients (for the classic 1:1:1 ratio)

  • 1 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Directions

  1. Add the rye whiskey, Campari and dry vermouth into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Run the lemon peel around the rim of the glass and pour in chilled mixture.
  4. Cheers!

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Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic, Bay and Chilies

Salivating for some fabulous potatoes with a lot of flavor? Look no further than these Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic, Bay and Chilies that we first spotted in a recent issue of Milk Street magazine. Paired with another of their recipes of Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic, and some Fresh Peas with Lemon & Chives, it was a dinner to remember!

The traditional way of cooking potatoes with these classic Portuguese flavors is to slow-roast them in the oven or long-braise them on the stovetop alongside meat. But in “Authentic Portuguese Cooking,” author Ana Patuleia Ortins includes a quicker, meat-free version that yields a wonderfully delicious side.

Milk Street adapted her recipe, opting to use a mixture of wine and chicken broth for simmering (wine alone tends to toughen the exteriors of the potatoes) and substituting jarred crushed peppers—the type often smeared onto Italian hoagies—for the spicy Portuguese red pepper paste called massa de malagueta. If you cannot find crushed peppers, simply use ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes instead.

In Portugal it’s known as “batatas cozidas em vinho e alhos” and varies by region and family, but the heart of the recipe is consistent: potatoes, onions, garlic and olive oil. First the onions and garlic are cooked until jammy-sweet, then the potatoes are added and simmered in white wine to add wonderful acidity to balance the starchiness.

“The thing that people don’t understand about Portuguese cooking is that it’s flexible. The way they say it, it’s ‘com gusto.’ It’s how you like it.”

Patuleia Ortins

We knew it was going to be a winner so we increased the recipe by 50% right off the bat. And although the directions indicate it takes about 30 minutes for the potatoes to meet no resistance when pierced with a knife, ours took an additional 20 minutes—therefore be prepared to add extra time if needed.

Tip: Don’t stir the potatoes too vigorously or they’ll break apart and make the sauce gluey. Aim to keep the large pieces of potato as whole as possible. Also, don’t reduce the sauce too far; as the potatoes sit off heat, they’ll continue to absorb the sauce.

Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic, Bay and Chilies

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 1½-inch chunks
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ tsp. jarred crushed peppers or ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the garlic, bay, crushed peppers, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until fully softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the potato mixture, then add the wine and broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover and cook over medium, now stirring more often and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until the liquid has thickened and lightly coats the potatoes, about 7 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay and stir in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

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Adapted from recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic

From a recent issue of Milk Street, we found out that Carne Vinha D’alhos, or pork with wine and garlic, is a traditional Christmas dish from the Portuguese island of Madeira and the precursor to the spicy Indian curry called vindaloo.

To make it, chunks of pork are marinated in a heady mixture of wine, vinegar, garlic and herbs for up to a few days before they’re cooked until tender. This version of Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic was streamlined using pork shoulder instead of leaner pork loin, and the meat can marinate anywhere from 1 to 48 hours. (Ours marinated for 24 hours.)

Pork shoulder is a cut that requires lengthy cooking to become tender, so this oven-braised for about 1½ hours. Next, you brown the meat after simmering to a develop rich, flavorful caramelization. The marinade is then reduced to a light glaze, and the pork is finished by coating it with the reduction.

In Madeira, the pork typically is piled onto crusty rolls to make sandwiches, but we paired ours with another recipe from Milk Street: Portuguese Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic and Chiles where a mixture of wine and chicken broth are used for simmering the spuds to render them soft and tender.

After simmering the pork, be sure to drain the pieces on a rack as directed. This helps ensure nice caramelization when the pork is browned in the skillet. Finally, when skimming the fat off the braising liquid, be sure to reserve it for browning the pork.

Tip: Don’t use an uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven. Enamel-coated cast-iron is fine, but in an uncoated cast-iron pot—even in one that is well seasoned—the acidity of the marinade may react with the iron, producing metallic “off” flavors. A stainless steel cooking surface is fine, too, but avoid aluminum unless it has been treated to make it nonreactive.

Madeiran Pork with Wine and Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1½-inch chunks
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6 whole cloves (optional)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Madeira wine
  • ¼ cup minced fresh oregano

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven, stir together the pork, wine, vinegar, bay, garlic, dried oregano, pepper flakes, cloves (if using) and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 48 hours.
  2. When you are ready to cook the pork, heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Set the pot, uncovered, over medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Re-cover, transfer to the oven and cook until a skewer inserted into the pork meets just a little resistance, about 1½ hours, stirring once about halfway through.
  3. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and garlic to the rack, removing and discarding the bay and cloves (if used); set aside. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off as much fat as possible; reserve the fat. Or use a fat separator.
  4. Add the Madeira to the pot, bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes; set aside. (We ended up with a LOT of liquid, so it took twice as long to reduce.) Remove and discard any large bits of fat on the exterior of the pieces of pork.
  5. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat until barely smoking. Add the pork and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the reduced cooking liquid. Return to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the pork is lightly glazed and begins to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, then stir in the fresh oregano. Transfer to a serving dish.

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Recipe by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Szechuan Dan Dan

This riff from Better Homes and Gardens on the popular Chinese Sichuan recipe features a spicy sauce, fresh vegetables, and ground pork. Black vinegar has a hint of fruitiness and gives this street food favorite a touch of umami richness.

As is typical, we did make some changes. The first included using broccoli rabe instead of Chinese broccoli. In doing so, we tossed it in the pot with the carrots and shallots due to a longer cooking time. The amounts of ground pork and lo mien noodles were about 25% more than called for, and an extra carrot was added. For even more depth of flavor, we used our home made chicken stock.

*Shopping Notes: Buy Szechuan peppercorns at Asian markets or spice stores. An Asian market is best for salty, garlicky black bean paste and leafy Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan). Black vinegar is occasionally at large supermarkets. A good sub for it is 1 Tbsp. each rice vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

Szechuan Dan Dan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Tsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns* or 4 dried Thai chile peppers
  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into thin, bite-size strips
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. black bean paste*
  • 6 oz. dried lo mein noodles
  • 2 cups trimmed and thinly sliced Chinese broccoli*, broccolini or broccoli rabe
  • 1 cup fresh snow pea pods, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp. black vinegar*
  • ½ cup chopped, lightly salted cocktail peanuts
  • lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat oil and peppercorns over medium 1 to 2 minutes or until peppercorns are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Remove and discard peppercorns, reserving oil.
  2. Add ground pork, garlic, and five-spice powder to oil in Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat.
  3. Add carrot and shallots to drippings. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broth and bean paste to Dutch oven. Bring to boiling. Add noodles; return to boiling. Cook according to noodle package directions until tender, stirring occasionally and adding broccoli the last 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in cooked meat and pea pods; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in vinegar. Top servings with peanuts.

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Ginger-Miso Filet Mignon

You will adore this lickety-split sauce of butter, green onion, and ginger, which adds an Asian-style final touch to this steak recipe. With its crisp pan-seared exterior and succulent juicy center, and quick cooking time, you’ll find you’ll want to make this recipe often. And you can mix it up by using filet tips like we did.

In the original version from Better Homes & Gardens, the recipe calls for four filet mignon steaks. But we had 14 ounces worth of filet tips in our freezer, which had thick and thin areas, so cooking them was a little tricky. Once the meat was medium-rare, they were plated and covered while the sauce was made; then thinly sliced and laid over a bed of steamed rice. This actually stretched the portions to three with less than a pound of meat!

The most-time consuming portion of this recipe is the wait. The meat has to be seasoned and refrigerated for 2 hours, then taken out to room temperature for another 30 minutes. The actual cooking time is only about 15 minutes. If you are serving rice too, make sure to time it correctly so that is ready when the sauce is.

Omitting any rice keeps the dish low-carb and keto-friendly.

Ginger-Miso Filet Mignon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon), cut 1- to 1 1/4-inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil 
  • ⅔ cup rice wine
  • 2 Tbsp. white miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (optional)

Directions

  1. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Place on a plate. Chill, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove and let stand 30 minutes. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. To check when hot enough, add a large drop of water (1/8 teaspoon) to the skillet. When it rolls around the pan like a bead of mercury it is ready. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat; add oil. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Return to medium-high heat. Add beef. Cook for 5 minutes or until a crust forms (be patient; the beef will release when it’s ready to be turned). Turn and cook for 2 to 4 minutes more or until done at 135°F.
  3. Remove beef from skillet to a clean plate; cover loosely. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully add wine, miso, and soy sauce (mixture will spatter).
  4. Return to heat. Bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits and whisking to incorporate miso. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, green onions, and ginger.
  5. Spoon sauce over beef to serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Adapted from a recipe By Colleen Weeden for Better Homes & Gardens

Parmesan and Herb Turkey Burgers

Once again we found an interesting recipe from Milk Street with an odd combination of ingredients, this time for a turkey burger. Mayonnaise and plenty of herbs turn ground turkey into these moist, pillowy, flavorful patties. For the panade—a hydrating binding mixture of dairy and breadcrumbs—use creamy mayonnaise and crisp panko along with fresh mint, cilantro and scallions. Unusual, right?

For an extra layer of flavor, more herbs and mayonnaise are stirred together with lime juice for a simple topping. Spread the panade directly on the bun halves, not the burgers. The flavor and texture of these burgers are best when made with ground dark meat turkey, but if you prefer, ground breast meat works, too.

Parmesan cheese adds a salty-savory note. Now if you’re cutting back on carbs, you could serve the burgers sandwiched between bibb or Boston lettuce leaves spread with the herbed mayonnaise, in place of a bun.

For mine, I took it one step further and added a thin slice of heirloom tomato and a round of provolone cheese. I waited until the burgers came out of the pan and onto the grate, topped one of them with the cheese, and covered it with a rounded lid for the 5-minute resting period. The provolone was slightly melty, but not oozing off of the meat.

Oven-roasted rosemary fires made a nice accompaniment.

NOTE: Chilling helps the patties hold together during cooking, so don’t forget to refrigerate the burgers for at least 15 minutes beforehand.

Parmesan and Herb Turkey Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 10 Tbsp. mayonnaise, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • 1 lb. ground dark meat turkey
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted

Directions

  1. Line a plate with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray. In a food processor, combine the panko, 5 tablespoons of the mayonnaise, ¼ cup each of the mint and cilantro, the scallion whites, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the turkey, ¼ cup water and the cheese. Mix with your hands, form into four ½-inch-thick patties, then set on the prepared plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, the remaining ¼ cup each mint and cilantro, the scallion greens, the lime juice and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until beginning to smoke. Add the patties, reduce to medium and cook until well browned on the bottoms, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned and the centers reach 165°F. Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread the cut sides of each bun with some of the mayonnaise mixture. Sandwich the burgers in the buns and serve with any remaining mayonnaise on the side.

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Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street

Greek-Style Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Saganaki is a traditional Greek dish with sweet, briny shrimp covered with a garlic- and herb-accented tomato sauce, and topped with crumbles of creamy, salty feta cheese. This version hails from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.”

This recipe works equally well with jumbo (16 to 20 per pound) or extra-large (21 to 25 per pound) shrimp, but the cooking times in step 3 will vary slightly depending on which you use. The base for the sauce is provided by canned diced tomatoes along with sautéed onions and garlic. Dry white wine adds acidity, and ouzo brings welcome complexity with its slightly sweet anise flavor.

*Since ouzo is not in everyone’s liquor cabinet (it wasn’t in ours—but is now), here are two alternatives: Pernod—Though slightly sweeter than ouzo, this French anise-flavored liqueur is the next best thing. Or use a combo of Vodka + Anise Seed, with one tablespoon of vodka plus 1/8 teaspoon of anise seed to equal 1 tablespoon of ouzo.

Serve the shrimp with crusty bread or steamed white rice.

Greek-Style Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on, if desired
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. ouzo (*see note above)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced medium (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomato, drained, 1/3 cup juices reserved
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill leaves

Directions

  1. Toss shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl until well combined. Set aside while preparing sauce.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their moisture, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture cooks off and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo; increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded and sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated liquid to pan; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes for extra-large or 7 to 11 minutes for jumbo, adjusting heat as needed to maintain bare simmer.
  6. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle evenly with feta. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil evenly over top and sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately.

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Adapted from a recipe for America’s Test Kitchen

Mustard-Shallot Bone-In Pork Chop for Two

One chop, two diners. That’s all you need when your two-inch thick pork chop weighs in at 1 1⁄4 pounds. For a thick, bone-in pork chop, pan-searing is a great cooking method. The high heat seals in the pork’s juices so you don’t have to suffer over dry, chewy meat. Then 10 minutes in a hot oven to render your chop perfectly cooked and succulent.

For a final touch, the mustard-shallot sauce is made in the same pan while the pork chop rests. We tend to like saucy, so if you prefer less of an embellishment, just cut the ingredients in half.

Mustard-Shallot Bone-In Pork Chop for Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1, 1 to 1¼ lb. bone-in pork loin chop, 2-inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot
  • 2 Tbsp. butter 
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

  • Season pork generously with salt and pepper. Place on a plate. Chill, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove and let stand 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Heat a heavy, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. To check when hot enough, add a large drop of water (1/8 teaspoon) to the skillet. When it rolls around the pan like a bead of mercury it is ready. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; add oil. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Return to medium-high heat. Add pork chop. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until a crust forms (be patient; the pork will release when it’s ready to be turned). Turn and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Sear the end caps for a minute or two each.
  • Place pan directly into oven for 10 minutes or until pork reaches 145°F when tested with a instant-read thermometer.
  • Place meat on a plate; cover loosely and keep warm.
  • Carefully add wine and shallots to skillet. Return to heat. Bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until reduced by about half and slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and mustard.
  • Spoon sauce over pork to serve. Sprinkle with parsley.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Colleen Weeden for Better Homes & Gardens