Category Archives: Uncategorized

Braised Lamb Shanks, Celery Root Purée and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Our long-time friend Merry Sue was going to be staying overnight with us so we wanted to prepare an elegant, yet simple meal. After assuring that she did indeed like lamb, we went to one of our tried and true braising wizards, Molly Stevens, and found this Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic & Vermouth (Souris aux Aulx) recipe.

Given that I was gallery-sitting all afternoon the day she arrived, and wouldn’t be home until the evening, The Hubs smartly braised the shanks the day before (see tip below). The entrée was paired with two other tried-and-true side dishes: Dorie Greenspan’s Celery Root Purée and a most recent Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots.

As there were only three of us and the recipe fed six, we halved only the number of shanks but kept all of the other ingredients at full throttle. In fact, if you are making six shanks, you may want to double everything else for the extra sauce. The recipe enhances the flavor of lamb. It is truly delicious and so simple to make; elegant enough for a dinner party or special occasion, yet it’s quick to prep, and is almost effortless as a casual supper.

TIP: The dish can be made up to three days ahead. After braising, transfer the shanks to a baking dish. Strain and season the sauce as directed in the recipe. Pour a little strained sauce over the shanks to moisten them. Refrigerate the shanks and the sauce separately, both tightly covered. Before serving, reheat the chilled sauce, pour it over the shanks in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, and warm in a 325ºF oven for about 30 min. Finish with the herbs and black pepper, and serve.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Vermouth

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 lamb shanks (3/4 to 1 lb. each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white vermouth, preferably Vya or Noilly Pratt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 heads garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a mix of mint and parsley (chervil and chives are also good)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. If necessary, trim any excess fat from the lamb shanks, but don’t trim away the thin membrane that holds the meat to the bone (we mistakenly did). Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or other heavy braising pot large enough to accommodate the lamb shanks in a snug single layer. When the oil is shimmering, add half the shanks and brown them on all sides, 12 to 15 min. total. Set the browned shanks on a platter. Repeat with the remaining shanks. When all the shanks are browned, pour off and discard the fat from the pan.
  3. Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the vermouth. As it boils, stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve any drippings. Return the shanks to the pan, arranging them as best you can so they fit snugly. Tuck the bay leaves in between the shanks and scatter the garlic over them. Cover and braise in the oven, turning the shanks every 45 min., until fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Tilt the braising pot to pool the juices at one end and skim off and discard any surface fat. Pour what remains in the pot into a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the bay leaves. With a rubber spatula, scrape over and press down on the garlic cloves so the pulp goes through but not the skins; be sure to scrape the pulp clinging to the bottom of the strainer into the sauce. Whisk in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed. To serve, pour the sauce over the shanks and shower them with the chopped herbs and a little freshly ground pepper.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Original recipe compliments of Molly Stevens

Vietnamese Meatball and Watercress Soup (Canh)

This light and soothing soup was just the ticket on a recent Winter night; and the following day was our first snowstorm of the season so the leftovers were perfect for lunch. Watercress adds a peppery note to the soup; while lime juice provides a bright note. Of course it’a always best to use homemade chicken broth if you have it on hand because of the depth it brings to the overall flavor.

Slices from a sour dough baguette were a perfect accompaniment.

Look for “live” watercress, which is packaged with its roots attached, it stays fresher longer and is easier to clean. To prep it, trim off and discard the roots, rinse and drain the greens, then cut them into 1½-inch lengths, discarding any stems that are thick or tough. If you prefer, substitute an equal amount of baby spinach for the watercress. We actually doubled the amount of watercress to two bunches.

Tip: Don’t leave the meatballs at room temperature after shaping them.
Chilling firms them so they hold together when added to the simmering broth.

Our package of ground pork was 1 1/4 pounds and therefore we ended up with 27 meatballs as opposed to 20. When you drop the refrigerated meatballs into the hot broth, they initially sink, but don’t worry, as they heat, they will rise to the top.

Vietnamese Meatball and Watercress Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 6 scallions, white parts finely chopped, green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, divided
  • 4 tsp. grated fresh ginger, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 qts. low-sodium chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 bunch watercress, cut into 1½-inch lengths (4 cups lightly packed)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice (1 or 2 limes)

Directions

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, scallion whites, egg white, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of the ginger, 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper. Mix with your hands. Lightly moisten your hands with water and form into 20 balls, each about a generous tablespoon, and set on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons ginger and the garlic, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high. Reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the onion is fully softened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the meatballs, bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook undisturbed until the meatballs are cooked through, 160°F at the center, 8 to 10 minutes; cut through a meatball to check for doneness.
  7. Off heat, stir in the watercress and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Let stand until the greens are wilted and tender, about 1 minute.
  8. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the scallion greens.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Original recipe compliments of Milk Street

French Onion Pot Roast

Is it soup, or is it an entrée? Call it whatever you want, but this richly flavored main dish is sure to get your attention. And once you taste the end product, you won’t believe how GOOD it is with very little work and not a lot of ingredients. It is rich folks, so a simple side salad pairs well.

We already know that a large chunk of time is necessary to achieve a successful fork-tender, falling-apart pot roast. Like at least three hours in the oven, depending on the size of your roast. But the good news is the low and slow oven does most of that flavor-building for you.

The credit for this recipe goes to 12tomatoes.com. Of course we usually have to make some changes to suit our preferences, one of which was the addition of four large garlic cloves. Plus we sautéed the onion and garlic in the braising pot after removing the seared roast. And next time (because that WILL be happening) we intend to increase the number of onions to 5 or 6. Then midway through the braising, about 90 minutes in, the roast was turned over so that both sides made contact with the bed of caramelizing onions.

Three cups of broth results in a brothier outcome, so if loose and yummy is your desire, stick with that. If you want more of a slice-able pot roast with French onion flavor, scale the broth back to two cups—although we don’t advise it. Much the same way it does in the original French Onion Soup incarnation, the bread soaks up a good bit of that beefy, oniony, brothy deliciousness here.

TIP: Culinary bear claws work best for shredding the roast after the braising step.

French Onion Pot Roast

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-6 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (you might not need the entire loaf)
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Season roast liberally with salt and pepper, and some of the thyme.
  3. Add olive oil to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Once oil is hot, add roast and sear until deep brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove roast and set aside.
  5. Add onions and garlic to pot, sauté for 4-5 minutes. Nestle the remaining thyme into the onions, place the chuck roast on top, add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Lay a sheet of parchment over the top of the pot extending beyond the edges, cover, and transfer to oven.
  6. After 90 minutes, turn the roast over, recover the pot with parchment and lid, then cook another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, for a total of 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
  7. Remove from oven and remove thyme sprigs. Shred beef into chunks.
  8. Turn oven to broil on high.
  9. Top with baguette slices and Gruyere and return to oven, uncovered. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 2 minutes. (Under our gas broiler it took 5 minutes before the cheesy baguettes became golden brown.)

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Georgian-Style Chicken (Tsitsila Tabaka)

Chicken under a brick is an approach similar to Italy’s pollo alla mattone. In Italy, instead of simply seasoning the meat, cooks build flavor by marinating it in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs, such as rosemary, then searing the chicken, skin side down, with bricks on top. They then usually flip it and finish it in the oven. Here, we spatchcock the bird and add a dry rub.

For this recipe from Milk Street, the skillet in which the chicken is cooked must be oven-safe, as the bird roasts in the oven after the initial stovetop sear. For the “brick,” you can used a second heavy skillet or a large, sturdy pot (such as a Dutch oven). My Mister cleverly used the already-filled skillet with Brussels sprouts intended for our side dish. The weight presses the chicken down, ensuring the bird makes good contact with the hot skillet, rendering the fat and crisping the skin.

Our chicken was larger than suggested at 4.4 pounds, but it did fit our large cast iron skillet (see tip below).

TIPS: Don’t use a chicken much larger than 4 pounds, as it may not fit comfortably in the skillet. Don’t forget to pat the chicken dry before searing. The drier the skin, the better it crisps. After searing, make sure to drain the fat in the pan before putting the bird in the oven; this reduces splatter. Finally, don’t forget that the skillet’s handle will be hot after being in the oven. — Milk Street

Georgian Style Chicken Under a Brick

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3¼- to 4-lb. whole chicken
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, end to end. Remove and discard the backbone (or save it to make broth).
  2. Spread open the chicken, then turn it breast up. Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast, until the wishbone snaps. Season all over, front and back, with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the skin. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the lowest position.
  4. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Place the chicken breast down in the pan. Lay a small sheet of foil over the chicken, then place a second heavy skillet or pot on top. Reduce to medium and cook until the skin is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, removing the weight and foil and checking every 4 to 5 minutes to ensure even browning.
  5. Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a large plate, turning it breast up. Pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Slide the chicken breast up back into the pan and place in the oven. Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest while you make the sauce.
  6. Set the skillet (the handle will be hot) over medium-high and cook the butter and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then cook until the garlic is softened and the mixture is lightly thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Using a silicone spatula, mash the garlic until almost smooth and mix it into the sauce. Off heat, stir in the cayenne, lemon juice and cilantro, then transfer to a serving bowl. Carve, then serve with the sauce.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Chocolatey Pizzettes

Each Winter holiday season, along with my tried-and-true decorated sugar cookies, I like to introduce at least one new recipe to the fold. This year we were struck by the chocolatey appearance of these Pizzettes in the latest Bon Appétit magazine, and knew they had to become part-and-parcel of our baking agenda.

They are an Italian classic with fudgy texture, piercing bittersweet chocolate, almonds, citrus zest, and a heady undertone of cinnamon and clove. They sounded so good, I decided to make a double batch in addition to double batches of three other cookie batters—all on the same morning!

Please note, that the almonds need to be blitzed in the food processor and the chocolate chips should be chopped before adding to the dough. I only ground the almonds and didn’t realize I should have chopped the chocolate chips until after I made the dough and read the reviewers comments. (Chopping them makes it easier to cut into bars.)

As far as cutting the dough into cookies, I did it a little differently than the instructions below. My log of dough was very firm after refrigerating it all night. So I made 1-inch thick slices vertically across the log. Then I cut each slice in half, then in half again at a diagonal.

I glazed most of the cookies while in a cupcake wrapper which makes them easier to package and serve.

With a good bit of chocolate glaze left over, I thickened it with more powdered sugar and then used a spoon to drizzle over each bar to give more visual interest and contrast.

Chocolatey Pizzettes

  • Servings: 20 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

Cookies

  • ¾ cup raw skin-on almonds
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Glaze and Assembly

  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Cookies

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, 7–10 minutes. Let cool, then blitz in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 375°.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes to infuse.
  4. Whisk granulated sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Pour in spiced butter, scraping pan so you don’t leave any spices behind, and whisk vigorously to combine.
  5. Add egg and egg yolk; whisk vigorously to combine. Mix in dry ingredients, then almonds, chocolate chips, lemon zest, and orange zest.
  6. Turn out onto a clean surface. Divide in half, then roll each half into a log about 1½” wide. Flatten logs to 2″ wide and slice on a diagonal into 1″-wide cookies. Divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 1″ apart.
  7. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until firm around edges but still soft in the middle, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.

Glaze and Assembly

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, or melt in a small microwave-safe bowl in a microwave in 20-second bursts, stirring between bursts.
  2. Add powdered sugar, salt, and 2 Tbsp. boiling water and whisk until glaze is smooth and glossy.
  3. Dip tops of cookies into glaze and let sit, glaze side up, on a wire rack until glaze is set, about 2 hours.
  4. Optional: If you have leftover glaze, thicken it with more powdered sugar and then drizzle with a spoon over each bar, zig zagging as you go.

Do ahead: Pizzettes can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe by Chris Morocco for Bon Apétit

Spice is Nice, In Cookies Too

The Mr. loves a good spice cookie so he wanted to make sure we got them in the holiday extravaganza rotation this season. Since it’s his passion, I let him pick out which recipe would make the cut. After a bit of research he found this Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookie on oliveandmango.com which apparently was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. These homemade soft molasses cookies with crackly tops are super chewy and so perfectly spiced. 

Delightfully chewy with a crisp sugar coated exterior and plenty of spice and warmth, these ginger spiced molasses cookies are impossible to resist. They have the perfect balance of sweet molasses, spicy ginger, and warm cinnamon. 

Chilling the cookie dough is always a good idea to allow the flavors and textures  to develop. If you skip the chill time they will still be delicious but the dough will spread out more when baked and the cookies will be thinner.

Interestingly the original recipe indicated the yield to be 30 cookies, when in fact I ended up with 52! So it all depends on how large you roll them. I did as the directions instructed at about a 1 tablespoon ball… oh well, the more the merrier, especially during the holidays!

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookie

  • Servings: Yields 4 doz+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground clove
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, plus ⅓ cup for coating
  • 6 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dark rum
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and pepper.
  2. Cream the butter, brown sugar, and ½ cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses, egg and rum. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined. Wrap bowl in  plastic, and freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2-3 days. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 2 hours, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar in a bowl. Roll cookie dough, 1 tablespoon each, into balls. Roll each in granulated sugar and arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until edges appear set. If the tops aren’t appearing cracked as pictured, remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently bang it on the counter 2-3x. This will help those warm cookies spread out and crack on top. Return to the oven for 1 additional minute.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Steamed Fish with Shiitake Mushrooms

Lean white fish is mild in flavor, so before steaming the fillets we season it boldly with garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and fiery-sweet Sriracha. We often carve out the start of our weekday meals for a “Meatless Monday” and this combo from Milk Street (MS) fit the bill.

From their “New Rules Cookbook” it emphasizes a gentle heat as best for keeping the delicate flesh of fish tender. Steaming is ideal because the heat surrounds the fish, cooking it from all sides without movement. An aromatic sauce is added to complement the mild fish.

Because we are fungi fanatics, we increased the shiitake mushrooms by 50% for a total of 12 ounces. For a little spice, drizzle the plated fish fillets with a little chili oil before sprinkling with the scallions. Or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed or stir-fried greens and jasmine rice.

Pairing the cod with stir-fried baby bok choy made with garlic, ginger soy and a few red pepper flakes, and a side of steamed jasmine rice brought the entire dinner together. And plating it all on a singular platter makes for an easy presentation and allows each diner to serve themselves as much as they want.

Simple. Healthy. Tasty. What more could you ask for?

Steamed Fish with Shiitake Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 6-oz. skinless cod, haddock or halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the fillets and turn to coat, gently rubbing in the sauce.
  2. Add the mushrooms and toss until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place a steamer basket in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill the bottom of pot without touching the basket. Remove the basket. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high.
  4. Meanwhile, mist the steamer basket with cooking spray. Arrange the fish in an even layer in the basket and top the fillets with the mushrooms, evenly arranging them. Return the basket to the pot, cover and steam over medium until the fish flakes easily, 8 to 12 minutes. (Ours took the entire 12 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ¼ cup water.
  6. When the fish is done, use a thin metal spatula to transfer the fillets and mushrooms to a platter. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve with the sauce on the side.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Split Decision Chicken

On weekends, we usually work out dinner menus for Sunday through Wednesday for the following week. Then Thursday is leftover night, while Friday and Saturday we dine out. (Of course, COVID put a big dent in that typical scenario for much of 2020.)

Recently, one Saturday morning I was creating the menu while simultaneously preparing a shopping list of necessary ingredients. Part way into process, The Mr. joined me to work out the details. Shortly afterward we hit the road to make our purchases.

As I mentioned, Saturday night is a dine-out event. As we enjoyed our repast at a nearby restaurant, I wondered aloud what we had planned for dinner the next day on Sunday? We just stared at each other open-mouthed, and realized that somehow, we had entirely overlooked that meal altogether, duh! So we made a split decision and decided to retrieve two chicken halves from the freezer as soon as we got home.

That begged the question of exactly what to do with said chicken halves, not to mention what sides to serve with it? I decided to make a butter-garlic rub for the chicken and roast some Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and garlic, all of which could go into a 425° oven. Hubby was going to throw together a baked rice dish which he could do entirely on the stovetop. Crisis averted.

I always keep a container of homemade roasted garlic paste in the fridge and decided to make a butter rub using the paste, rosemary and lemon zest. Our Lynn’s Split-Decision Roast Chicken not only spoke to our separate preferences of white versus dark meat, it resulted in a wonderful dinner full of flavor!

Lynn's Split Decision Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken halves, each about 1 3/4 lbs.
  • 2 Tbsp. softened (not melted) butter
  • 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. If you’re starting with a whole chicken, cut out the back and split the chicken into two equal halves. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the other ingredients with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Lifting the skin of the chicken rub the butter mixture all over the breast, thigh and legs without ripping the skin.
  3. Oil a rimmed quarter baking sheet. Arrange the chicken halves, skin side up on the baking sheet, rub more oil over the skin and sprinkle on salt and pepper.
  4. After 30 minutes, baste the chicken with the drippings to help the skin brown and crisp. Check the temperature and return to the oven for about another 10 minutes. The thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, should register 170° when done.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, move chicken to a platter, and tent with foil for 5-10 minutes. If desired, cut the breasts away from the thighs to create 4 pieces total.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Vermouth-Braised Chicken and Potatoes with Fennel

This one-pot meal from Milk Street with classic Italian flavors couldn’t be easier. The ingredients are combined in the pot, then pressure cooked (or slow cooked) until the chicken is fork-tender. To finish the dish and create a flavorful sauce, the cooking liquid is thickened with a couple tablespoons of flour—just enough for clingability but without any heaviness. A little lemon juice adds acidity and brightness. Super Good!

It is suggested to serve over polenta or with hunks of crusty bread. Since we were doing neither, we increased the amount of baby potatoes by about 50%, to 12 ounces instead of 8 (which would be pretty paltry for four people). And with only 1.6 pounds of thighs, we were able to use our smaller 4-liter pressure cooker. Somehow we forgot to halve the potatoes, but they still came out tender and creamy.

Don’t worry that ½ cup vermouth is too little liquid. The chicken and vegetables release flavorful juices as they cook that, combined with the vermouth, form the base for the sauce.

Vermouth-Braised Chicken and Potatoes with Fennel

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup white vermouth
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 8 oz. small yukon gold potatoes (1 to 1½ inches in diameter), halved
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a 6-quart Instant Pot, stir together the vermouth, garlic, fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper. Add the chicken, potatoes and fennel, distributing the ingredients in an even layer.
  2. Lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 8 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally until the float valve drops. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and potatoes to a serving bowl, then tent with foil. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid until smooth, then stir into the pot. Select Normal/Medium Sauté and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until lightly thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the arugula and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and white pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

Up Your Game with this Shrimp Risotto Recipe

When preparing our weekly menus, we try to be as diverse as possible concerning the main entrée. And we certainly are suckers for trying new dishes or twists to an old favorite. Variety is the spice of life, right? We need a little variation during the extended periods of lockdown when we are all so weary of the challenges 2020 has thrown our way.

After seeing this Shrimp Risotto with Tomatoes and Basil recipe in our latest Milk Street magazine, it quickly prompted us to add shrimp to the grocery list. Classic risotto-cooking technique calls for adding hot broth in several additions to the rice as it cooks, as well as for constant stirring. This simplified method from Milk Street adds the liquid in just two batches with frequent but vigorous stirring which coaxes the starch from the grains, yielding a rich, velvety risotto with minimal effort.

The starchy, creamy consistency of carnaroli (or Arborio) rice is a perfect backdrop for the briny-sweet flavor of plump, perfectly cooked shrimp; juicy tomatoes; and fresh, fragrant basil.

Milk Street

Don’t forget to cover the pot after adding the shrimp; this traps heat in the pot so that the shrimp gently cook through. Ours took 8 minutes to become fully opaque. And just to note, we increased the quantity from 12 ounces to a full pound. That seemed more reasonable for 4 servings as a main course.

If you happen to have homemade shellfish stock on hand, use that in place of, or in addition to, the clam juice.

Shrimp Risotto with Tomatoes and Basil

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 8-oz. bottles clam juice (or homemade shellfish stock)
  • 12-16 oz. extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • 2 medium shallots, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ cups lightly packed fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the clam juice and 2 cups water. Cover and microwave on high until hot, about 4 minutes; set aside, covered. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, tomatoes and garlic, then cook, stirring, until the grains are translucent at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost dry, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 3 cups of the hot liquid and cook, stirring often and briskly, until a spoon drawn through the mixture leaves a trail, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining hot liquid and cook, stirring, until the rice is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shrimp. Cover and let stand until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes. The risotto should be loose but not soupy; if needed, stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time to achieve the proper consistency.
  6. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the lemon zest and juice and all but 2 tablespoons of the basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the remaining basil.

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Recipe from Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Herb-Rubbed Pork with Squash and Grapes

So simple, with minimal ingredients, using only one sheet pan, but packs a lot of flavor. Do I have your interest now? Here, fruit, vegetables, and pork tenderloin all roast on one pan for this hands-off dinner recipe. The sweet, wine-y flavor of grapes intensifies while roasting, a perfect pairing for the natural sweetness of pork.

I tweaked the recipe a tad by purchasing already-prepped butternut squash. I mean, who really likes peeling those things? Plus, the original directions had you buy a 2-pound squash, peel it, but only use half of it. Save yourself time and aggravation and buy it already cubed.

In addition, the original amount of grapes was 1 cup. If you try to measure 1 cup of whole grapes, it doesn’t amount to many. Therefore, I changed the quantity to 8 ounces, which ended up being a perfect amount.

During the last step of roasting, make sure to check the meat after 10 minutes. I waited the full 15 minutes and our pork was a little more done than we prefer. After resting and slicing, pour any accumulated juices back over the meat.

Herb-Rubbed Pork with Squash and Grapes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, basil, and/or rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1, 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin
  • 1 lb. butternut squash, already peeled and cut in 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. seedless red grapes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  3. In a small bowl combine herbs, chili powder, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Rub all over pork.
  4. Place pork on one side of prepared pan. Add squash and onion on other side of pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Drizzle pork, squash, and onion with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast 15 minutes.
  5. Stir squash and onion; add grapes. Roast 10 to 15 minutes more until pork is done (145°F). Remove pork to a moated cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  6. Turn off the oven and leave the veggies in to keep warm while meat rests.

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Recipe found in Better Homes & Garden Magazine

Szechuan Pork Stew and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

For those of you who favor bold Asian dishes, you’re going to want to put this recipe on your short list. It used to be that the only place to experience Szechuan cooking was China’s Sichuan province—a region located in the southwestern part of the country. But it is quite common just about everywhere now.

Though it is particularly unique in that Szechuan cooking is known for its dishes loaded with beef, rice, vegetables and, of course, Szechuan (or Sichuan) pepper. Although the main protein in this dish is pork.

Szechuan pepper is the trademark ingredient in Szechuan cuisine, however it doesn’t carry a lot of heat because it’s not even a pepper! Instead the regional spice is made from tiny peppercorns made from the dried husk of an ash shrub. These tiny pink peppercorns provide a kick of citrusy flavor that marries well with ingredients like ginger, soy and steamed veggies.

I didn’t notice until after I made and ate this fabulous dish, that I had completely forgotten to include the 1 tablespoon of sugar in the pork marinade. But we didn’t miss it at all, so if you have scaled back on sugar in your diet, then I would say it is OK to eliminate it here.

At the very end of the cooking process, we weren’t satisfied with how thin the liquid in the stew appeared. Russ made a last minute decision to make a slurry from corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. It only took another couple of minutes, and not only coated the meat nicely, it gave a more substantial appearance overall.

Szechuan Pork Stew with Chiles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. five-spice

For the Stew:

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 1 knob ginger (about 2 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 10 whole dried red chiles
  • 1 Tbsp. Szechuan peppercorns (about 1/4 oz.), cracked
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water for slurry (optional)
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts), thinly sliced

Directions

Make the Marinade:

  1. Toss the pork cubes with the soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, sugar, and five-spice powder. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. (We marinaded for 8 hours.)

Make the Stew:

  1. Sprinkle the pork with the cornstarch and toss to coat.
  2. Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and when it’s shimmering, add half of the pork in an even layer, Cook, undisturbed, until browned around the edges, and pork lifts easily with tongs, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the pork.
  6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the ginger, garlic, szechuan peppers and chiles. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add the pork and any accumulated juices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 1 hour.
  9. To make a thicker sauce, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of cold water and mix until smooth. Heat the pot until a simmering boil and add the slurry a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir together for 30 seconds.
  10. Serve immediately over steamed jasmine rice.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe for Fine Cooking

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, is a leafy green vegetable closely related to thick-stemmed broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. It has flat leaves, thick stems, and tiny florets. It’s not easy to find Chinese broccoli in regular grocery stores, so check your local Asian market, which is more likely to carry it.

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Chinese broccoli, trimmed and cut into small sections
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Directions

  1. Trim Chinese broccoli, remove the hard skins and diagonally cut into 2″ sections. Separate the leaves and roughly chop.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add salt. Add the stems, cooking for 20 seconds. Add the leaves and cook for 10 seconds more. (This helps remove some bitterness.) Drain into a colander.
  3. Add oil in preheated wok and stir-fry the garlic until slightly seared, about 1 minute. 
  4. Place Chinese broccoli into wok, add cooking wine and sesame oil. Stir-fry several seconds to mix well and serve immediately.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Loosely adapted from a recipe found on chinasichuanfood.com

Geng Dang Muu

I must admit, neither of us had ever heard of this dish, but when we saw the recipe with an accompanying gorgeous photo, it certainly caught our attention. Geng Dang Muu was featured in an article highlighting Chef Parnass Savang in a recent Bon Apppétit magazine. It apparently originated from Savang’s Laos grandmother where the curry and ground pork reference the origins of the dish, while the brussels sprouts and leeks are a nod to the local ingredients of Georgia.

Lime leaves aren’t the easies product to locate. We happened to have some in our freezer bought years ago at Wegmans for, get this, $39.99 a pound! Once we got over the initial shock and realized we only needed a minute amount, the real cost was only $2.50 an ounce—and we still have some.

Palm sugar is a sweetener that is made from the sap present in the flower buds of the coconut palm tree. It is known as natural sugar because it involves minimum processing and no chemicals are used. In the stores, palm sugar is available in the block/cones, granular and liquid form.

A few takeaways here. First, the color of our Muu was a light beigy-orange, unlike the magazine photo which was a deep reddish-orange. I believe that was due to the different brands of red curry (we had made our own a while ago). The magazine image also showed a more brothy finish, but because we reduced ours longer, it was thicker.

And if you have diners who can’t tolerate Brussels sprouts, go ahead and switch them out for broccoli or another veg to their liking. Even though it’s not indicated in the directions below, or our photos, if you do go with the sprouts, slice each half down further to 1/4″ half moons. When only halved, they did not get cooked through and were somewhat too firm.

For even more depth of flavor, cook your jasmine rice in homemade chicken stock.

Geng Dang Muu

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, divided
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved through stem end
  • ¼ cup red curry paste (without added salt)
  • 2 tsp. palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce, plus more
  • 4 fresh makrut (Thai) lime leaves, 3 whole, 1 very thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves
  • Cooked jasmine rice (for serving)

Directions

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably high-sided, over medium-high. Add leek, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; wipe out skillet.
  2. Pour another 2 Tbsp. oil into same skillet over medium-high. Cook Brussels sprouts, in a single layer, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until other side is browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with leek.
  3. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil (still over medium-high). Add curry paste, palm sugar, 2 tsp. fish sauce, and 3 whole lime leaves. Cook, stirring often, until paste darkens slightly, about 1 minute.
  4. Add pork and cook, stirring and breaking up, until in small pieces, about 2 minutes (pork doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this point). Pour coconut milk into skillet and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is cooked through and curry thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and stir in Thai basil, leek and Brussels sprouts. Scatter remaining thinly sliced lime leaf over and serve with rice.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Winter Feast for Our Feathery Friends

Winters, whether mild or harsh, are challenging times for birds when food is in short supply. During these cold months they’ll need lots of energy to help them survive the frigid temperatures. That’s where suet feeders come in. The hard white fat you feed to birds is energy.

Russ and I attended a “For the Birds” garden talk about a year ago where fellow avid gardener, Connie Fairchild, did a hilarious demo on making suet cakes. One ingredient not in Connie’s recipe, but that we meant to put in, was cayenne pepper. If you have problems with raccoons, squirrel, opossums or deer eating your suet too, just add about 2-4 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper to the mix. Birds don’t have the ability to taste hot pepper because they lack the receptor cells that are sensitive to capsaicin.

While we initially followed her recipe, our finished cakes were a bit too soft, although usable. According to a Farmer’s Almanac recipe, they use 2 parts melted fat (bacon, suet or lard), and 1 part peanut butter. This combo would make firmer cakes in my opinion. You can mix up the dry ingredients any which way you want, just keep the same ratio. (Our revised amounts are indicated below.) However, we did include some chia seed that we had leftover.

One of our feeders, gifted from another Master Gardner, has two slots for cakes.

We increased the base recipe by 50% in order to fill our 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ x 4″ deep corning ware dish. Even so, the cakes were slightly smaller than the ideal 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ slots of our suet cage. At least smaller, they fit in the slots. Don’t make them larger than the openings they are intended for—so do the math first!

Reminder: As suet heats up, its fat can go rancid and harbor fungus and bacteria that can be harmful to birds. Fat and oil can be just as dangerous to birds’ feathers as a toxic oil spill. Melted suet that smears on a bird’s feathers will destroy their natural insulation and waterproofing, making the bird vulnerable to temperature changes and poor weather. There are special suet cakes for warmer weather; these are not suitable.

Suet Cakes for the Birds

  • Servings: 10-12 cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups lard
  • 2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 3 cups quick-cook (uncooked) oatmeal
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup shelled sunflower hearts
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt lard and peanut butter over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Take pan off heat and stir in other ingredients.
  3. Pour into wax-paper lined (very important!) container. We used a 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ x 4″ deep corning ware dish.
  4. Place in fridge to harden. We left ours uncovered in the fridge overnight.
  5. Cut into bricks that fit your suet feeder. Ours could be no larger than 4 1/2″ x 4 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ thick. Actual size ended being a bt smaller
  6. Wrap each brick in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator (or freezer) until ready to use.

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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Brussels sprouts was one veggie that I steered clear of for years, mostly because they were never cooked properly and/or lacked any depth of flavor. But when I met Russ, he made a side of them for some home cooked meal when we first started dating, and I became a convert.

Over the following decades, we have often added Brussels sprouts to a menu, trying a whole host of various recipes. This one is a simple sauté of shallots, sprouts, and garlic, that are then browned in the oven and tossed with balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Toasted walnuts were also an ingredient, but not in this house as My Man detests them. You could always make some and serve them separately for those who want a nutty crunch.

I “Lynnized” the recipe to fit our preferences and pare back the 6-8 servings to 3-4. The ingredients list and directions speak to my changes.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed, base trimmed, sprouts cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled, sliced in half
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the shallots, spread them out in an even layer, lower the heat to medium low, and let them cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.
  3. Add the Brussels sprouts and the garlic to the shallots. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts begin to brown.
  4. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  5. Place in oven, uncovered. Roast at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through and caramelized on the edges.
  6. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the thyme. Stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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Adapted from a recipe found on Simply Recipes