Monthly Archives: January 2021

Hearty & Healthy: Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup

You may know from experience, most recipes for hearty winter vegetable soups are neither quick nor easy. So for a satisfying soup that doesn’t take the better part of a day to make, start with homemade chicken stock which adds tons of flavor. (Use vegetable broth if maintaining a vegetarian diet.) Then add soy sauce and ground dried porcini mushrooms. These ingredients bring a savory, almost meaty flavor to the soup base. Next, to make the soup more filling, include barley to a hearty combination of carrots, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, and turnips.

Turnips you say? While I’ve never been a fan of turnips in and of themselves (I mean when was the last time you ever craved a turnip?) I don’t mind them as part of a mix of vegetables, like in this soup. But they certainly have a health profile worth checking out.

Here’s the lowdown: Turnips are loaded with fiber and vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2 and folate, as well as minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper. They are also a good source of phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. So yes, I will include them in fits and spurts throughout my meal plans.

Another startling statistic is the benefits of barley. Barley’s high fiber content helps food move through your gut and promotes a good balance of gut bacteria, both of which play important roles in digestion. Due to its high fiber content, it makes a great alternative to white rice dishes such as pilaf or risotto. One half cup is packed with 17.3 grams of fiber and 12.5 grams of protein!

So bottom line, this soup is very good for you!

Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ⅛ oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley plus 3 Tbsp. chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ lbs. leeks, white and light green parts sliced ½-inch thick and washed thoroughly
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. Grind porcini with spice grinder until they resemble fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds. Measure out 2 teaspoons porcini powder; reserve remainder for other use. Using kitchen twine, tie together parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf.
  2. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, wine, soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and celery is softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add water, broth, barley, porcini powder, herb bundle, and garlic; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, turnip, and cabbage; return to simmer and cook until barley, potatoes, turnip, and cabbage are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat and remove herb bundle. Stir in peas, lemon juice, and chopped parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Mediterranean-Inspired One Pan Wonder

Treat yourself like company with this Mediterranean-inspired Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Olives recipe. In less than an hour, this one pan wonder works well for a weeknight dinner. It’s a mash-up from America’s Test Kitchen and Molly Stevens cookbooks. The revised recipe noted below serves six, but we halved it for just the two of us.

Cooking the tenderloins until buttery-smooth is key, and roasting them atop a bed of vegetables buffers the heat to ensure juicy meat all the way through. Rather than searing the meat, it is rubbed with a spice mixture. The Mediterranean seasoning inspires the selection of vegetables: sweet, delicately flavored fennel, earthy artichoke hearts, and briny olives.

After softening the fennel in the microwave, toss it with the other vegetables and olive oil, and spread the mixture into the roasting pan, placing the tenderloins on top. The vegetables are nearly cooked when the pork was done, so remove the meat, add in juicy halved cherry tomatoes and orange zest, and let the vegetables finish in the oven while the meat rests.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fennel, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Olives

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • (12- to 16-oz.) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest, divided in 3
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick strips
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry; or 6 oz. jarred packed in brine
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450°. Pat pork dry with paper towels.
  2. In a small bowl, combine thyme, 2 teaspoons of the orange zest, cumin, pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Combine thoroughly and rub all over both tenderloins.
  3. Combine fennel and 2 tablespoons water in bowl, cover, and microwave until softened, about 5 minutes; drain well. Toss drained fennel, artichokes, olives, and oil together in bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread vegetables into 16 by 12-inch roasting pan and lay pork on top. Roast until pork registers 140 to 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, turning tenderloins over halfway through roasting.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, stir cherry tomatoes and remaining teaspoon orange zest into vegetables and continue to roast until fennel is tender and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes more.
  7. Remove pan from oven. Stir parsley into roasted vegetables. Slice pork into ½-inch-thick slices and serve with vegetables.

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Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini

A sense of satisfaction comes from the way the spice-infused red wine permeates the beefy ribs and provides a backdrop for the earthy porcini mushrooms and fresh piney taste of rosemary. Truly a cool weather, down-home meal if there ever was one.

Molly Stevens

Thanks to Molly Stevens, we obtained this Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini recipe from her “All About Braising” cookbook.

A classic trio for braising beef—red wine, tomatoes and mushrooms—there’s no cut more suited to this treatment than beefy short ribs. No need to break the bank when choosing the wine, just look for a big red that can hold its own without too much tannin or bitterness, such as Shiraz, Zinfandel (which we used), or a Rhone blend.

DO AHEAD: Keep in mind that the ribs need to marinate for 12 to 24 hours, so you may want to do this step a day (or two) ahead of the planned dinner (or very early the morning of). In addition, the flavor of the short ribs improves if they are braised 1 to 2 days before you serve them. In this case, complete the recipe through Step 6, and after braising, let them cool to room temperature in their braising liquid. Once cool, transfer ribs and sauce to a glass container, cover tightly and refrigerate.

When ready to cook, scrape off almost all of the solidified fat from the surface. Arrange the ribs in a shallow baking dish, along with the sauce; discard spice pack. Cover with foil and bake in center of oven at 375° for 15 minutes. Remove foil, taste sauce for salt and pepper, and baste ribs with sauce. Place back in oven uncovered, to heat for another 10 minutes before serving.

BTW, beef short ribs should not be confused with back ribs or beef spareribs. These two cuts (one from the back and one from the belly) are what are referred to in the trade as “scalped” ribs, meaning nearly all of the meat has been stripped from the bone and there is very little left to eat—not exactly a hearty meal for company.

You’ll want a bed of creamy polenta or silken mashed potatoes over which to ladle the beef and sauce when ready. Our choice was a potato, celery root mash combo along with roasted carrots and cauliflower.

Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs with Rosemary and Porcini

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

MARINADE:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice berries, coarsely crushed
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. evoo
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 bottle dry robust red wine, such as Zinfandel or Shiraz
  • 3 1/2-4 lbs. meaty beef short ribs, thick fat trimmed away and silver skin

AROMATICS & BRAISING LIQUID:

  • 1/2 oz. dried poricni mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. evoo
  • 1 large onion, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 1/2 oz. canned whole tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved or 1 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped w/ juice
  • 2- 3-4″ sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Marinade: place bay leaves, allspice, peppercorns and cloves wrapped up in a piece of cheesecloth; tie up.
  2. Sauté onion, celery, carrot and garlic; add wine and cheesecloth bundle. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes; set aside to cool.
  3. Place ribs in a baking dish, season and pour over marinade. Cover and marinate 12-24 hours.
  4. Just before braising, soak mushrooms 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove ribs from marinade and strain marinade into a bowl. Reserve liquid and cheesecloth bundle; discard vegetables. The ribs will have absorbed a lot of the marinade so you should have about 1 cup marinade.
  6. Make sure ribs are dry and season. Sear until deeply browned on all sides; remove to a plate.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°
  8. Drain mushrooms and squeeze dry; reserve liquid. Coarsely chop mushrooms and strain liquid through a coffee filter to catch any dirt or grit; reserve liquid.
  9. Sauté onions; add garlic, tomatoes with juice and mushrooms. Add mushroom and wine liquids and boil until reduce by half. (Since we had no liquid left at the end, we recommend not reducing this liquid.) Return short ribs to pot with any juices. Tuck spice bundle in between ribs and cover with parchment, pressing down.
  10. Cover with a lid and braise on lower rack of oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn every 40-45 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove lid and see if liquid is simmering too fast, if so turn down heat.
  11. Remove ribs from pot and discard spice bundle. Remove top layer of fat from liquid. Season remaining liquid. Spoon over ribs.
    NOTE: We had no liquid left in the pot, just fat and veggies. So we first spooned off as much fat as possible. Then we added a cup of warm water, scraped down the browned bits from the side, covered and let the mixture meld, with a few stirs in between.

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White Bean Gratin with Tomatoes and Sausage

Such a humble dish, but once you taste it, it rises to superstar status! Satisfying and economical, it uses a handful of ordinary ingredients. Once this Mediterranean-inspired dish is cooked up, you can’t get enough of it—and with every bite, it seems to get better.

We have been avid fans of chef/author Molly Stevens for decades, and this recipe came from our most recent cookbook addition “All About Dinner” which was released in 2019. It was gifted this past Christmas to The Hubs from one of the adult children, along with three other cookbooks—yes, we are a bit obsessed.

Our original plan was to soak dried white beans overnight. But the morning of, we realized we forgot to do that and therefore just used canned cannellinis which have a silky texture and nutty flavor. Opting for canned saves a step and some time, but if you prefer to soak beans by all means go ahead.

Our topping was not browning in the oven, so we put the gratin under the broiler. If you do the same, keep a close eyeball on it, because it browns very quickly under the intense heat. The next time we make this (which I hope is soon), we plan to drizzle olive oil with the bread crumbs and grated cheese before topping the gratin with it. This should help the browning process.

Do Ahead: The gratin can be prepared through Step 4 up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or so before serving.

White Bean Gratin with Tomatoes and Sausage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. fresh sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if using links
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 7 oz.), coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of mellow red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo, or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 14½-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs or panko crumbs
  • 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • Hot sauce such as Cholula or Tabasco for serving, optional

Directions

  • Heat the oven  to 350°F with a rack in the upper third. Lightly oil a medium gratin dish, shallow baking dish, or ovenproof skillet.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and use a spoon or metal spatula to flatten it into large chunks. (You get better browning on large flat chunks than crumbles.) Then cook, flipping it occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Break the sausage into bite-size pieces and transfer it to a large bowl and cover to keep warm, leaving the fat and drippings behind in the pan.
  • Return the skillet to medium heat, add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened and lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and a few good grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the aromatics to the bowl with the sausage.
  • Add the beans, tomatoes, with their juice, and parsley to the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir gently to combine without smashing the beans, then add a generous pour of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), and season boldly with salt and pepper. Taste, being sure to taste both the aromatics and a bean, and correct the seasoning as needed. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and use the back of a spoon to spread into an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the top of the beans with the bread crumbs and cheese. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake, uncovered, until heated through and beginning to brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes. If the top is not as brown and crisp looking as you like, slide the gratin under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.

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Recipe from All About Dinner by Molly Stevens

Cream of Celery and Celery Root Soup

This Cream of Celery and Celery Root Soup is smooth and delicate, and its elegant celery leaf garnish makes it a perfect first course for a dinner party—which was our original plans. Adding celery root (a relative of celery) imbues the soup with even deeper celery flavor.

Found in our Fine Cooking Magazine, several reviewers mentioned they thought the soup was flat. Au contraire mon ami, we loved the silken flavor profile. Perhaps ours was more robust in that we used homemade chicken stock which amps up flavor tenfold as opposed to any bland store bought version. In addition, The Hubs tossed in a 1/2 teaspoon each of celery salt and white pepper.

Unfortunately the dinner party plans fell apart for a number of reasons, but that didn’t stop us from dividing the soup in half; one part destined for the freezer in the hopes those dinner plans would come together again soon, and the other for us to nosh on for lunch the next day.

UPDATE: We did use the “freezer” portion of the soup for that dinner party a few weeks later, and luckily it thawed just fine.

Cream of Celery and Celery Root Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 cups thinly sliced celery (reserve 1/4 cup celery leaves)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups peeled, small-diced celery root
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh or 1/2 dried bay leaf
  • 2 Tbs. crème fraîche
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil for frying

Directions

  • In a 4-quart pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until tender and just beginning to color, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the celery root and stir to coat with the butter. Pour in the chicken broth, and then add the thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Pass the soup through a medium-fine sieve and transfer to a clean pot.
  • Bring the soup back up to a simmer, whisk in the crème fraîche (please don’t omit this important ingredient), and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep hot.
  • Heat 1/2 inch of canola oil in a 1-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery leaves and cook until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the celery leaves to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the celery leaves.

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Recipe by Melissa Pellegrino  for Fine Cooking

Sautéed Flounder Fillets and Lemony Green Beans

Here’s a speedy and uncomplicated method for cooking mild-tasting fish. From Molly Steven’s latest cookbook “All About Dinner” comes Sautéed Flounder Fillet with Wine Sauce along with a side dish of Green Beans with Shallots, Herbs and Lemon. All you need to complete this light and quick meal is a simple side salad.

Both dishes take approximately 20 minutes total from prep through the cooking process.

Sautéed Flounder Fillet with Wine Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-4 skinless flounder fillets, about 6 oz. each
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided into 1 1/2 Tbsp. each
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 tsp. chopped capers
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Set a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to hold the fillets (or cook in two batches) over medium-low heat. As the skillet warms up, dredge the fish in the rice flour on a plate, flipping so both sides are lightly dusted, shaking to remove any excess.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the oil to the skillet (use only half if cooking in two batches). When the oil shimmers, lower in the flounder. Drop the pieces of butter around the edges of the skillet, and as soon as it melts, tilt the pan to pool the butter and use a spoon to baste the fish. The butter will turn golden.
  4. In 30-60 seconds, when the fillets turn golden, flip them and repeat.
  5. Transfer the fish to a serving platter, flipping the fish so that the browner side is up. Cover tightly with foil while you make the wine sauce.
  6. Give the skillet a cursory wipe to remove any excess fat, but don’t wash it.
  7. Return the pan to medium heat, add half of the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the minced shallot, and cook stirring frequently, until the shallot is tender, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until reduced to a glaze, another 30 seconds or so.
  9. Add the capers, parley and remaining butter. Swirl the pan to incorporate the butter and heat through. Spoon over the fish and serve immediately.

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Green Beans with Shallots, Herbs and Lemon

This side dish is a great model in how a little technique and a few choice seasonings can transform basic ingredients. As Molly says in her cookbook “There is a sort of Goldilocks zone when they loose their raw taste and relax enough to offer a pleasant bite before turning limp and sad.”

At home, you can store green beans in a loose produce bag for a couple of days, but any longer, they start loosing their flavor.

Green Beans with Shallots, Herbs and Lemon

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • Salt
  • 1 /2 to 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Flaky salt such as Maldon

Directions

  • Bring 2-3 quarts of well-salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Set a colander in the sink.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 4-6 minutes. Add the herbs and keep warm over low heat.
  • Once the water reaches a rollicking boil, add the beans in big handfuls, and boil until the color deepens and a bean bends a bit when you lift it out with tongs. For best flavor, stop the cooking when they are tender with only a bit of resistance, 3-5 minutes.
  • As soon as the beans are done, dump them in the colander, giving it a couple of good shakes to remove excess moisture. Quickly wipe out and dry the pan, and return it to the stove. Return the beans to the pan over medium-high heat. Use the tongs to toss briskly until the beans are nice and dry, about 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the heat, add the shallot butter and lemon, scraping the skillet with a silicone spatula, and toss to coat. Garnish with flaky sea salt and serve immediately.

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Salmon with Sweet Peppers and Chorizo

Never would I have conceived of assembling this eclectic group of ingredients, but WOW, it sure made a convert out of me! The rich flavor and firm texture of salmon paired perfectly with sweet peppers made into pipérade, a Basque relish-like stew of peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Piment d’esplette is the authentic seasoning for pipérade, but instead Milk Street used a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne—both of which are probably already in your pantry.

And for smoky, meaty flavor, sauté slices of Spanish chorizo; the rendered fat helps cook the vegetables and the browned chorizo simmers with peppers for a few minutes at the end. For a medium doneness, cook the salmon until the center is translucent. To cook the fish until opaque throughout, simmer the fillets for a few minutes longer, or until the center reaches 125°F to 130°F

A few changes we made included using a single piece of salmon weighing one pound. Plus, the recipe called for only two ounces of Spanish chorizo, but with each link weighing three ounces, we included one entire sausage, which we thought was the perfect amount. The Hubs made the rice with a Spanish twist incorporating olive oil and a few smashed garlic cloves. Our side of asparagus not only lent healthy nutrients, it was a nice pop of color on the plate.

TIP: Don’t forget to place the salmon skin side up in the pan. This way, while the fillets cook gently in the pepper mixture, the skin, which is removed before serving, protects the surface from drying out. Also, don’t allow the pepper mixture to simmer vigorously while the fish is in the skillet. Medium heat should ensure a gentle simmer, but adjust the burner as needed.

Salmon with Sweet Peppers and Chorizo

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. center-cut salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 oz. Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red or orange bell peppers (or 1 of each), stemmed, quartered lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 14½ oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 large thyme sprigs

Directions

  1. Season the salmon on both sides with salt. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the oil and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil has taken on a reddish hue and the chorizo begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a small plate and set aside.
  2. Set the skillet over medium-high and heat the fat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers, onion, paprika, cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are wilted and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes with juices along with the thyme, then bring to a simmer. Nestle the salmon fillets, skin-side up, in the mixture. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer, until the thickest parts of the fillets reach 115°F to 120°F, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully peel off and discard the skin from each fillet. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the salmon to serving plates, flipping each piece so the skinned side faces down.
  5. Bring the pepper mixture to a simmer over medium-high, add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove and discard the thyme, then spoon the mixture over and around the salmon and drizzle with additional oil.

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Recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Three Cup Chicken with Thai Stir-Fried Spinach

Both recipes from Milk Street, this stir-fry combo was startlingly good. Yes, between the two of them, you use over a head of garlic but it didn’t overwhelm in any way. There is quite a bit of prep involved so don’t begin cooking until all of the ingredients are ready; the dishes come together quickly.

Milk Street says Taiwanese three-cup chicken is named for the formula once used to prepare the dish: one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. Not surprisingly, recipes no longer adhere to that ratio, but the name has stuck, so we’re sticking with it too.

If you plan to serve over rice, make sure to start cooking the rice before you begin stir-frying anything. The spinach takes only minutes, but is done in three batches. If you have two cooks in the kitchen, one can finish stir-frying the main chicken entrée while the other works on the spinach.

The original recipe calls for a serrano chili, but with none available at our grocery store, we opted to use a jalapeño, which is not as hot on the Scoville scale as the serrano. Three cups of basil may seem like overkill but it wilts down considerably and imparts a sweet pungent flavor with a clove-like back end.

Three-Cup Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ¾ cup sake
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths 
  • 1 serrano (or jalapeño) chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • ¼ cup minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, cooked to package directions

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and soy sauce, then stir in the sake and sugar. Set aside.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high for 3 minutes, or until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds. Add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook without stirring until browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is well-browned and softened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the scallions, serrano, ginger and sesame oil, then cook, stirring constantly, until the scallions begin to wilt, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir the sake-cornstarch mixture to recombine, then add to the wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
  6. Off heat, add the basil and stir until it begins to wilt, about 30 seconds.
  7. Serve over hot jasmine rice.

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Thai Stir-Fried Spinach

This simple, bold stir-fry uses regular bunch spinach rather than the water spinach common in Thai cooking. The wilted leaves and crisp-tender stems combine for a pleasing contrast of textures, and is not cooked to death like many recipes. In fact, we’ll go as far to say, it was probably the best cooked spinach we’ve ever had! Be sure to dry the spinach well after washing thoroughly (a salad spinner works great); excess water will cause splattering and popping when the spinach is added to the hot oil.

Don’t use baby spinach, which can’t handle high-heat cooking and doesn’t have stems to offer textural contrast. And don’t allow the spinach leaves to fully wilt in the pan; some leaves should still look fairly fresh, but will continue to cook after being transferred to the bowl.

Thai Stir-Fried Spinach

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1½ pounds bunch spinach, trimmed of bottom 1½ inches, washed and dried well

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and pepper flakes until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until just beginning to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just beginning to color, 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. Return the skillet to high and immediately add about ⅓ of the spinach. Using tongs, turn the spinach to coat with the oil and garlic. When the spinach is nearly wilted and the garlic has turned golden brown, 30 seconds or less, transfer to a large bowl. The leaves will continue to wilt but the stems should remain crisp-tender.
  4. Return the skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil, swirl to coat the pan and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add half of the remaining spinach and cook, as before, for 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to the bowl and repeat with the remaining oil and spinach.
  5. Pour the fish sauce mixture over the spinach and toss. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with any accumulated liquid.

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Both recipes hail from Milk Street

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Chive-Thyme Pan Sauce

Here’s turning a conventional cooking method upside down. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, the salted pork chops are first cooked in a low oven, then seared in a smoking pan. Slowly cooking the meat allowed enzymes to break down protein, tenderizing the chops. The salted surface gently dried out in the oven and became beautifully caramelized in the pan.

I know this recipe calls for bone-in loin pork chops, but we happened to have four, thick boneless loin chops in our freezer and went ahead and used them. It’s essential to keep an acute eye on the temperature when using boneless chops since they tend to take a bit longer to come to temperature, however, this method didn’t tend to make a difference.

TIP: Buy chops of similar thickness so that they cook at the same rate.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Chive-Thyme Pan Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in rib loin pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick (about 12 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Garlic and Thyme Pan Sauce

  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 4 Tbsp.)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp.)
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 3 pieces
  • Table salt and ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°F. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
  2. Using sharp knife, cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart, through outer layer of fat and silver skin. Sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 teaspoon salt. Place chops on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature 45 minutes.
  3. Season chops liberally with pepper; transfer baking sheet to oven. Cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of chops and away from bones registers 120° to 125°F, 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skillet and sear until well browned and crusty, 1½ to 3 minutes, lifting once halfway through to redistribute fat underneath each chop. (Reduce heat if browned bits in pan bottom start to burn.) Using tongs, turn chops and cook until well browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Transfer chops to plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.
  6. Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 pork chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return to skillet and sear sides of chops (with exception of bone side) until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chop and away from bone registers 140 to 145 degrees, about 1½ minutes.
  7. Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes while preparing sauce.
  8. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon oil from the pan and return pan to medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce measures 1/2 cup, 6 to 7 minutes. Off heat, stir in the thyme and vinegar; whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the pork chops.

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Adapted from a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated

Cider-Braised Pork Ragoût over Creamy Polenta

Just so we’re all clear, ragoût is a French word for stew. However there is nothing terribly French about this dish. The recipe hails from Molly Stevens‘ latest cookbook “All About Dinner” where she explains the title comes from the verb ragoûter which means “to perk up, to revive the taste of,” and that’s exactly what the hard cider does here.

We were lucky enough to have a growler of son Dan’s homemade hard cider that he gifted us over the holidays. The sharp, lightly appley taste brings out the porks natural sweetness and balances the acidity of the tomatoes. The depth of flavor overall was astounding!

While it was fabulous from the get-go, like most stews and braises, this tastes even better a day or three later. That fact makes it a good choice for company, because you can make it a day or two ahead and then just gently reheat the ragoût while making the polenta. Yes, we did have leftovers, and were loving them a few days later…

Cider-Braised Pork Ragoût

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 med. yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 med. carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups hard cider, preferably dry
  • 1 14-oz. can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ay leaf
  • 2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (about 3 ” x 3/4″)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Arrange the pork chunks on a tray and pat dry. Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (4-6 quarts) over medium heat, then add the oil.
  2. While the oil heats, sprinkle salt and pepper on half of the pork (you will season in two batches and prevent the meat from sweating as it sits). When the oil is hot, add the seasoned chunks without crowding the pan.
  3. Cook, turning the pieces with tongs, until nicely browned all over, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned pork to a plate and repeat with remaining pork.
  4. Examine the empty pot and discard all but two tablespoons of fat, if necessary. Wipe out any black areas, but leave the meaty drippings and browned bits.
  5. Once all the pork is browned, return the pot to medium heat and add the pancetta/bacon and cook, stirring once or twice with a wooden spoon. until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the onion, carrot, fennel, garlic, rosemary, coriander and fennel seeds, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste, working it through the veggies so it is evenly distributed. Let cook for 1 minute, then add 1/2 the cider.
  8. Increase the heat to medium-high, scrape the bottom of the pot with the wooden spoon to dislodge and dissolve all browned bits, and cook at a rapid simmer until the cider is reduced by about two-thirds, about 8 minutes.
  9. Add the remaining cider, return to a simmer, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
  10. Add the tomato puree, bay leaf and orange zest strips, and bring back to a simmer.
  11. Return the pork to the pot, lower the heat so the liquid barely simmers, and cover. Cook gently to maintain a quiet simmer with bubbles slowly rising to the surface, stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing is sticking, until the pork is fork-tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  12. Meanwhile, make the Creamy Polenta as per the recipe below.

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Creamy Polenta

According to Molly, the difference between mediocre polenta and superb polenta is starting with stone-ground cornmeal and allowing plenty of time for it to cook—45 to 60 minutes. The extended simmer allows the grains to swell into a soft, fluffy porridge redolent of corn flavor. Made with part milk instead of all water, it creates a softer, creamier porridge.

Creamy Polenta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups liquid, half water, half milk
  • Salt
  • 1 cup polenta (cornmeal) preferably stone-ground
  • 1 to 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 to 2 oz. Parmesan, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 4 cups of the mixed liquid (milk and water) in a heavy-bottomed 3- to 4-quart pot over medium-high heat until just warm. Add a good pinch of salt, then add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking to avoid lumps, and let come to a gentle boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer as you whisk occasionally. Once the mixture begins to thicken, switch to a wooden spoon and stir regularly—once every few minutes at first, less frequently as the polenta gets thicker, scraping the bottom as you go, and continue to adjust the heat as needed so that the occasional fat bubble breaks the surface but the polenta does not boil and splatter like hot lava.
  3. Add the remaining one cup liquid (milk and water) in 1/4 cup increments as need to keep the polenta smooth and creamy. (I used only a 1/2 cup total in this instance.) Continue to to simmer and stir, until the polenta is fluffy and tender, about 45 to 60 minutes total.
  4. Stir in the butter and parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve in shallow bowls and ladle the pork ragoût over the polenta. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Both recipes come from Molly Stevens “All About Dinner” cookbook

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Fennel, Rosemary and Orange

First order of business for this scrumptious recipe from Molly Stevens is to butterfly—aka spatchcockthe chicken (or have your butcher do it for you). A method we use often because the flattened bird cooks more evenly than a whole one, where the slower-cooking dark meat gets more heat exposure and the lighter breast meat remains protected at the center of the pan.

This recipe arrangement allows for a marvelous flavor exchange as the chicken bastes the fennel-orange-rosemary mix with savory juices, all while absorbing its sweet-citrusy-woodsy aromas. Just writing this is getting my juices flowing! And everything on just one pan, who doesn’t love that?!

If at all possible, try to get blood oranges, with their sweet, yet tart, exceedingly aromatic and juicy fruit. Along with their lovely, jewel-like red color, blood oranges tend to have a noticeable and delicious raspberry edge to their flavor.

With the potatoes around the perimeter of the baking sheet, they get the full brunt of the oven’s heat, producing brown crispy exteriors while maintaining creamy interiors. This approach to cooking a variety of elements all in one pan (with different handling) results in a complementary alliance of flavors and textures. A good bottle of wine would be the only other accompaniment needed…

Plan Ahead: For the best flavor and texture, season the chicken at least 4, and up to 24 hours in advance.

One follow up note, some of the fennel wedges were still not completely cooked through at the end. To solve this issue, first make the fennel wedges only 1/2″ thick, and then slice off some of the inner triangular core of the fennel, but leave enough to keep the wedges intact.

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Fennel, Rosemary and Orange

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika, smoked (pimentón) or regular, sweet or hot
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 4-lb. chicken, butterflied and patted dry
  • 2 large fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 lbs. untrimmed)
  • 1 3/4 lbs. med. red or white potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 small blood (or navel) orange, scrubbed
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 3- to 4-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

Directions

  1. Combine the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a mortar or spice grinder and coarsely grind. Transfer to a small cup and add the pimentón (paprika) and 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and stir to combine.
  2. Pat the chicken dry all over and sprinkle half of this mixture on the underside of the chicken, rubbing in so the spices adhere. Flip and rub the remainder of the bird, including legs and wings, with the spices. Set the chicken, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet or tray. Tuck the wingtips under the back of the chicken, and the thighs are not flopped outward. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 4, and up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to roast, heat the oven to 400° (375° convection) with a rack near the middle. Let the chicken sit at room temperature while the oven heats.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the fennel into wedges just over 1-inch across at their widest. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch wedges.Cut the orange crosswise in half and set one half aside for juicing later. Cut the remaining half in half, and then crosswise into 1/4-inch quarter moon shapes.
  5. Place the fennel and orange slices in the center of a large heavy rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the potatoes off to one side. Drizzle the olive oil over everything and season with salt and pepper. Toss the fennel and oranges together to coat with oil and seasonings. Do the same with the potatoes but keep them separate.
  6. Spread out the vegetables in a single layer, grouping the fennel and orange toward the center and the potatoes around the perimeter—this will allow the chicken to protect the quicker-cooking fennel and oranges from burning, and ensure crisp brown potatoes.
  7. Place the rosemary sprigs on the fennel and squeeze the juice from the reserved orange half onto it.
  8. Place the chicken on the vegetables, skin side up. The potatoes should be fully exposed or poking out and the fennel mostly tucked under the bird. Pour the vermouth or the wine around the potatoes, avoiding the chicken.
  9. Roast, stirring the potatoes and rotating the pan about halfway through, until the chicken skin is crisp and well-browned in spots. The juices from the breast should run almost clear when you prick it with a knife. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh (without touching the bone) should register 170°, in 45 to 50 minutes.
  10. Remove chicken to a cutting board with trough to catch the juices, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  11. Stir the vegetables, combining the fennel, potatoes and oranges and coating them with the pan drippings. If the fennel and potatoes are not tender, return them to the oven to finish roasting while the chicken rests.
  12. Halve the chicken by cutting straight down the center bone. Cut each whole leg away from each breast half and cut the legs into thighs and drumsticks. Cut each breast half crosswise in half, leaving the wing attached to the upper portion, creating 8 total pieces.
  13. Pour any carving juices over the vegetables and serve immediately.

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Recipe from from Molly Stevens cookbook “All About Dinner”

Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup

What’s better than a good soup for lunches during the cooler months, or for a quick, healthy dinner in a time crunch? This Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup is a load-and-go crock pot recipe adaptation from one we found on Eating Well.

While there is really nothing “quick” about it because you first have to soak the beans overnight, the “fast” method in a slow cooker takes four hours on high, and the “slow” method takes seven or eight hours in the crockpot. Not exactly my idea of a quick turn-around. But the prep is quite simple and then its hands off for hours, allowing you to do other things.

As with many recipes, we alter them to suit or own personal preferences. In this case, we increased each of the three bean types from one-third cup to a half cup each. Then we included 4 pressed garlic cloves and a can of crushed tomatoes to address the moisture for the extra beans. All of these changes are noted below.

Bump up the Southwest flavors like we did with all, or some, of these garnishes of chopped fresh cilantro, some crumbled Cotija (or ricotta salata) cheese, sliced scallions and a squeeze of lime, if desired.

To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Slow-Cooker Southwestern Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced 
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 cups water 
  • 4 cups chicken broth, (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup dried black beans
  • ½ cup dried great northern beans
  • ½ cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Soak black beans, great northern beans and kidney beans in water for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and boil in fresh water for 10 minutes. Drain and add to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Add oil, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, water, broth, tomatoes, barley, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt to the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 4 hours on High, or 7 to 8 hours on Low.

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Recipe adapted from Carolyn Malcoun for EatingWell.com

Japanese Ginger Pork

Japanese Ginger Pork (Shogayaki) is a recipe hailing from Milk Street. They explain that shoga means “ginger” in Japanese, and yaki translates as “grilled,” though the term is sometimes applied to foods that are fried or griddled. In the popular dish known as shogayaki, thinly sliced pork is cooked with a lightly sweetened, very gingery soy-based sauce.

Here, pork tenderloins are cut into quarters and pounded into thin cutlets. A quick soak in a marinade that later becomes the sauce ensures the cutlets are thoroughly flavored. Shredded green cabbage and steamed rice are the classic accompaniments so we paired them with the entrée.

In Japan, the meat of choice for shogayaki is thinly sliced pork loin. The thin cuts of meat cook quickly and make it easier for the seasonings to penetrate. But because making thin, even slices requires some challenging knife work, the thin slices of pork tenderloin are pounded even thinner. As a bonus, the pounding breaks apart the muscle fibers, making it even easier for the meat to season. Additionally, ginger has an enzyme called zingibain that helps tenderize meat.

After another recipe once-over, we decided to double the sauce—soy sauce through fresh ginger. We’re glad we did, but would not double the white sugar next time, it was a tad too sweet. Another major change we made was to coat the shredded cabbage with a one-to-one mixture of rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil with a pinch of salt. Overall, we feel the cabbage should be increased by utilizing the entire head, especially if this meal is to feed four. Finally, we also added an extra half bunch of scallions.

TIP: Don’t crowd the skillet when cooking the cutlets. It’s usually best to cook them in two batches so they brown rather than steam. But how they fit in the skillet depends on their shape after pounding. If you can fit all four in your pan without them touching, cook all at once using the 2 tablespoons of oil.

Japanese Ginger Pork (Shogayaki)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. mirin
  • 2 Tbsp. sake
  • 1 Tbsp. white miso
  • 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1¼ 1b. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch piece
  • ½ small head green cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • Cooked Japanese-style short-grain rice, to serve

Directions

  1. In a wide, shallow bowl whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, sake, miso and ginger.
  2. Cut the pork tenderloin in half crosswise, making the tail-end half slightly larger, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place 2 pieces of pork between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound each piece to an even ¼-inch thickness. Repeat with the 2 remaining pieces.
  3. Add the cutlets to the soy mixture and turn to coat, then let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  4. Mix the rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil together then add to a large bowl with the shredded cabbage and a pinch of salt. Mix well, and set aside.
  5. In the meantime, cook the Japanese rice according to package directions.
  6. Remove the cutlets from the marinade, letting the excess drain back into the bowl; reserve the marinade. Pat the cutlets dry with paper towels.
  7. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the cutlets in a single layer and cook undisturbed until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip each piece and continue to cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a large plate, then wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil and cutlets.
  9. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the reserved marinade, the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the mixture thickens and a spoon drawn through it leaves a 1- to 2-second trail, about 3 minutes. (Because we doubled the sauce, it took twice as long to thicken properly.)
  10. Stir in the scallions, then add the pork and any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring gently, until the scallions are wilted and the pork is heated through, about 1 minute.
  11. Serve with the shredded cabbage and cooked rice.

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Recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Perfect Reverse-Seared Leg of Lamb

What many don’t realize is that prepping and cooking a big cut of meat can actually be easier and more forgiving than working with smaller cuts. According to chef Alan Bergo, you just need to know a few basic principles, and a have a simple trick or two up your sleeve. Here he shares his favorite method for serving up a flawless roast leg of lamb on your first try. It employs a surprisingly simple kitchen hack known as the reverse-sear.

Truth be told, while we’ve done the reverse-sear method on a number of cuts of beef, this was our maiden voyage with lamb. In this case, the recipe called for a 3-4 pound leg of lamb, but ours was nearly 5 pounds so the cooking time was actually 2 hours and 20 minutes. We used an internal thermometer to measure the temperature the entire time it was roasting.

One ingredient not included in the original recipe was garlic, so we included 4 cloves and mashed them in a large mortar with salt. Next we added the herbs (which we increased from 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup since our roast was larger), and mashed it altogether to make a paste.

The lamb entrée was paired with Smashed Sage-Butter Potatoes that were so tender and creamy and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots. A word to the wise on the potatoes: make sure to get the small baby Yukons. This time around the store wasn’t carrying them, and we picked up 3+” potatoes, shown below. They came out wonderfully creamy, but the sagey butter didn’t really penetrate into the interiors as much.

Perfect Reverse-Seared Leg of Lamb

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Boneless leg of lamb (3-4 pounds)
  • Flavorless high heat cooking oil, like grape seed
  • 1/2 cup aromatic herbs like rosemary sage and thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed in a mortar with salt
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt or more to taste
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper or more to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a large mortar, mash the garlic cloves with kosher salt until pulverized. If using rosemary, mash that with the garlic and then finish with the remaining herbs.
  2. Season the meat with salt, pepper and the garlic-herbs paste inside and out. Roll the leg up tightly and tie with kitchen twine to ensure even cooking. Let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, 1 1/2 hours before you want to serve (assuming a 3-4 lb leg) preheat the oven to 250 °F and place the leg in the oven. Insert an internal thermometer if you have one and set it for 130° for medium-rare. If all you have is an instant-read thermometer, start checking after one hour to monitor the meat doneness.
  4. When the internal temperature comes up to your target temperature (which could be 2 hours or more), remove the leg from the oven and allow to cool on its rack loosely tented with foil in a warmish location for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Finally, rub some extra-virgin olive oil all around the roast and heat a few tablespoons of grape seed oil in the sauté or cast iron pan on high. Turn on the hood, and or open a window, since you’ll be using some high heat for a few minutes. When the oil is just starting to smoke gently, reduce the heat to medium-high and brown the roast deeply on all sides.
  6. After the roast is browned, transfer to a cutting board, remove the twine, cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve immediately.

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Original recipe by Alan Bergo

Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillets with Chive-Shallot Butter

For deep flavor and a handsomely browned surface, the practice of pan-searing fish fillets on a hot stove and finishing them in the oven is your best bet. This luscious recipe is very simple and takes very little time to prep and cook.

The idea for the butter mixture is that the heat from the salmon will melt just enough of the butter to sauce it lightly and leave a small amount unmelted so it’s apparent when served at the table. Our side dish of Roasted Fennel with Orange-Honey Dressing was a perfect complement to the salmon.

TIP: A metal fish spatula is a great kitchen tool to have, especially if you often cook fish at home. The thin-gauge, flexible metal head is designed to flip and lift delicate fish fillets without tearing them.

Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillets with Chive-Shallot Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 center-cut salmon fillets, about 6-8 oz. each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil, grapeseed oil, or other neutral tasting oil

Chive-Shallot Butter

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped chives
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground balck pepper

Directions

  1. Position a rack near the center of the oven and preheat to 425° (400° convection). Let the salmon sit at room temperature as the oven heats.
  2. Set a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and heat for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry and season it liberally on all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the oil to the skillet. When it begins to shimmer, lower in the filets one by one, skin side up. Sear, without disturbing, until one side is nicely browned, lifting with a metal spatula (or fish spatula if you have one) to check that it’s well seared before committing to flipping, 1-2 minutes. Flip the filets and immediately transfer the skillet to the oven.
  4. Roast until the thickest part of the filets are just firm to the touch, 5-7 minutes (or when an instant-read thermometer reads 130-135 for medium-rare). Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and serve the fish right away.
  5. For the Chive-Shallot Butter: Combine the wine or vermouth and shallots in your smallest saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes; keep an eye on it so that the shallots don’t scorch. Set aside to cool.
  6. Pound the chives with a 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large mortar to make a coarse paste (or grind in a small food processor).
  7. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon or paddle beater, beat until smooth.
  8. Add the wine-shallot mixture, the pounded chives, and the mustard and lemon juice and stir until everything is incorporated. season with salt and pepper.
  9. If you plan to serve the butter within a few hours, scrape into a small ramekin; other wise cover and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

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Recipe from Molly Stevens “All About Roasting” cookbook.