Tag Archives: Main Course

Hearty Beef Braciole

If you’re not familiar with Beef Braciole (I had never heard of it until I moved out East in my early twenties), it’s a classic Italian dish with many variations. It can be made with thin, individual slices of beef such as round or as one large roll using flank steak. It can also be made with pork and it always has a savory filling. But first, get the pronunciation right: [brah-chee-oh-ley, brah-choh-; Italian brah-chaw-le].

For this take on stuffed beef rolls, Cook’s Illustrated chose flank steak rather than top or bottom round because its loose grain makes it easier to pound thin and its higher fat content means that it emerges from the oven tender and moist. And that it did!

This filling is on the bold side, with the inclusion of umami-rich ingredients such as prosciutto; anchovies; and fontina, a good melter that also brings much-needed fat to the dish. In addition, a gremolata-inspired mix added to the filling provides a jolt of flavor and freshness. Right up our alley! Finally, beef broth is added to the tomato sauce to integrate the beef and the sauce into a unified whole.

This is not your quick weeknight meal. It takes the better part of 4 to 5 hours before you will be serving it on the dinner table, so plan accordingly.

And below is a bonus Roasted Broccoli Rabe recipe to accompany the main dish; this recipe hailing from Milk Street. It takes about 30 minutes max, so you can make it just as the braciole is getting done.

NOTES: Before you begin, cut sixteen 10-inch lengths of kitchen twine. You can substitute sharp provolone for the fontina, if desired. For the most tender braciole, be sure to roll the meat so that the grain runs parallel to the length of the roll. Serve the braciole and sauce together, with pasta or polenta, or separately, as a pasta course with the sauce followed by the meat.

Hearty Beef Braciole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 7 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, divided
  • ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • ⅓ cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 3 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (3⁄4 cup)
  • (2- to 2½-pound) flank steak
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Your choice of pasta, optional

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Stir 3 tablespoons oil, half of garlic, lemon zest, and anchovies together in medium bowl. Add ⅓ cup basil, parsley, Pecorino, and bread crumbs and stir to incorporate. Stir in fontina until evenly distributed and set aside filling.
  3. Halve steak against grain to create 2 smaller steaks. Lay 1 steak on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge. Holding blade of chef’s knife parallel to counter, halve steak horizontally to create 2 thin pieces. Repeat with remaining steak.
  4. Cover 1 piece with plastic wrap and, using meat pounder, flatten into rough rectangle measuring no more than ¼ inch thick. Repeat pounding with remaining 3 pieces. Cut each piece in half, with grain, to create total of 8 pieces.
  5. Lay 4 pieces on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge (if 1 side is shorter than the other, place shorter side closer to you). Distribute half of filling evenly over pieces. Top filling on each piece with 1 slice of prosciutto, folding to fit, and press firmly. Keeping filling in place, roll each piece away from you to form tight log. Tie each roll with 2 pieces kitchen twine to secure. Repeat process with remaining steak pieces, filling, and prosciutto. Sprinkle rolls on both sides with salt and pepper.
  6. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown rolls on 2 sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer rolls to plate.
  7. Add onion to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in pepper flakes and remaining garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Return rolls to pot; bring to simmer. Add parchment paper to cover the entire pot opening, then cover tightly and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is fork-tender, 2½ to 3 hours, using tongs to flip rolls halfway through braising.
  9. Transfer braciole to serving dish and discard twine. If there is a lot of fat on the surface of the sauce, skim off as much as you can with a large spoon.
  10. Meanwhile, if serving pasta, cook according to package directions.
  11. TIP: If your sauce reduced too much (ours did), add up to a cup of the pasta water to thin it. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons basil into tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over braciole and serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.

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Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated

Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes

The high heat renders the stems and florets tender while the leaves crisp around the edges, like kale chips with a spicy broccoli bite. Make sure not crowd the pan or everything will steam rather than roast. In the end, they may not look real pretty, but they are fantastic in the taste category!

If possible, use whole toasted fennel seed then grind it down yourself either with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. There was a sweet-and-sour mint dressing that was also part of this recipe, but we omitted it. And in a word, the rabe was “Delish!”

Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, well dried
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, toss broccoli rabe with olive oil, fennel, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Transfer the broccoli rabe to the baking sheet and roast until just beginning to brown, stirring halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes total.

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Recipe courtesy of Milk Street

Chiringuito Seafood Paella

Chiringuitos are humble seaside establishments that are to the Spanish coast what clam shacks are to New England; thus the name of this recipe. According to Anya von Bremzen’s cookbook “The New Spanish Table” there is usually a pretty terraza with a view of the sea and a menu that revolves around salt-baked fish, fried baby squid, clams, and invariably a simple mixed seafood paella like this Chiringuito Seafood Paella recipe.

Well, it was Christmas eve in our Bucks County home, so there was no terraza with a seaside view, let alone salt-baked fish or baby squid. But, The Mr. has made many a paella on both his outdoor paella grill and on the stovetop, which happened to be our only choice on that particular night. Yes, the Winter holidays have come and gone, but no need to wait for a major holiday to treat yourself with this elegant meal.

You know my mantra, use homemade stock if at all possible. If you can manage to make a stock from shrimp shells (save them in a plastic bag in the freezer when you peel shrimp), it is even better. But bottled clam juice diluted with some water, can work too. 

The original recipe called for monkfish and baby squid, neither of which we included (I can’t stand squid). However, eight large sea scallops made the ingredients list, and I love them! The rest of the seafood consisted of shrimp, little neck clams (half of which did not open much to Russ’s chagrin), and a sprinkling of crabmeat leftover from our starter course of Crab Louie, recipe below.

TIP: If you’re making the recipe for a dinner party, you can prepare it up to the point just before you transfer the paella to the oven; just remove it from the heat and leave it on top of the stove up to a half hour, until you’re ready to proceed. That leaves you with 15 minutes baking time after you press the seafood into the rice and 10 minutes for it to rest.

Chiringuito Seafood Paella

  • Servings: 4, as a main course
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups homemade shellfish broth, OR make from diluting 3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice with 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • 8 large dry-packed sea scallops
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in half and grated on the medium holes of a box grater, skins discarded
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sweet (not smoked) paprika
  • 1 3/4 cups short-grain rice such as Arborio or Bomba
  • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 12-18 small clams, such as Manila or littlenecks, scrubbed
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the shellfish broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Crumble the saffron between your fingers and drop it into the broth. Keep it at a slow simmer until you’re ready to use it.
  2. Place 3 tablespoons of the oil in a 15- or 16-inch paella pan set over a burner and heat on medium heat until it starts to smoke. Add the scallops and cook until barely seared, 1 to 2 minutes, seasoning it lightly with salt. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl and set aside. Add the shrimp to the pan, stirring, until just seared, about 2 minutes, seasoning it with salt. Transfer shrimp to the bowl with the scallops and cover with foil.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the center of the pan. Add the crushed garlic and cook until fragrant, less than 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes to the center of the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring the tomatoes several times, until they are thickened and reduced, 5 to 7 minutes. Season lightly again with salt. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds.
  4. Add the rice to the paella pan and stir it gently to coat with the pan mixture. Pour in 3 1/2 cups of the simmering stock (5 cups if using Bomba rice), keeping the remaining stock simmering in case it is needed later. Stir in the parsley and a sprinkling of salt, and shake the pan gently to distribute the rice evenly. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Periodically move and rotate the pan so that the liquid boils evenly. 
  5. Press the clams into the top of the rice and cook until the cooking liquid is almost level with the rice but the rice is still rather soupy, another 2 to 3 minutes, again moving and rotating the pan periodically to keep the liquid boiling evenly. If the liquid is absorbed too fast and the rice still seems too raw, sprinkle on some more stock. (NOTE: At this point you can turn off the heat and set it aside for up to half an hour, if you like.)
  6. Transfer the paella pan to the oven and bake until the clams open and the rice is tender but still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Check the paella a few times and sprinkle more stock over the rice if it seems too al dente. Remove the paella from the oven and discard any clams that have not opened. Distribute the shrimp and scallops over the paella, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and let stand for another 5 minutes (the rice gets better as it stands).
  7. To serve, arrange the lemon wedges around the edge of the paella pan and decorate the top with the shrimp. Serve the paella straight from the pan, along with allioli if desired, for stirring into the rice. 

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Adapted from a recipe in “The New Spanish Table” by Anya von Bremzen

Crab Louis Salad

Crab Louie

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup-based chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced scallion
  • 2 Tbsp. minced green olives
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. bottled horseradish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs. jumbo lump crabmeat
  • Bibb lettuce leaves, washed, dried and divided
  • Capers
  • Tomato wedges
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Lemon

Directions

  1. Whisk scallions, mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. (You will most likely have leftover dressing.)
  2. Line four salad plates with Bibb lettuce leaves and top with crab meat, avocado, and tomatoes. Drizzle dressing over, then top with capers and parsley.
  3. Garnish with capers and wedges of tomato, hard-boiled egg, and lemon. Serve with additional dressing alongside.

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Recipe from epicurious.com

Eggplant Involtini

Here’s a lighter version of Eggplant Involtini that focuses on the eggplant. Baking instead of frying allows you to skip the salting and draining step, since the eggplant’s excess moisture evaporates in the oven, and it means that the eggplant’s flavor and meaty texture are not obscured by oil and breading. This was sooo good, we can’t wait to make it again!

Swapping the usual ricotta-heavy filling for one that’s boosted with a generous dose of Pecorino Romano means we can use less filling without sacrificing flavor. Lastly, make a simple but complementary tomato sauce in a skillet, add the eggplant bundles to it, and finish it under the broiler, which decreases the number of dishes required—always a plus in our book!

Of course we put our own spin on the dish, first by utilizing the pieces of eggplant cut away before planking them. What a waste it would be to discard all of that—about 3 cups worth! So we cubed those leftover pieces into about a 3/8″ dice and sautéed them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until softened before adding the tomatoes to the same skillet.

Now here comes the real twist. We added very thin slices of prosciutto on top of the eggplant slices before spooning on the cheese filling. Of course this step makes it no longer vegetarian, but that extra ingredient added even more depth of flavor. And we served ours with a side of gemelli pasta, which negates the low-carb factor, if you’re not concerned with that aspect.

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants (1 1/2 pounds each), peeled
  • 9 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed coarsely in their juices
  • 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. very thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half crosswise (optional)

Directions

  1. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12-15 planks). Trim rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
  2. Cut up those leftover rounded pieces into a 3/8″ dice and sauté them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in your large skillet until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and brush with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using thin spatula, flip each slice over. Heat broiler.
  5. While eggplant planks cook, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the diced eggplant in same broiler-safe skillet over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in hand crushed tomatoes and their juice. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  6. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
  7. With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, place a half slice of prosciutto, if using, on the wide end of each plank. Next, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
  8. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.

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Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook for America’s Test Kitchen

White Balsamic Chicken with Tarragon

Sweet-tart white balsamic vinegar and tangy Peppadew peppers bring flavor and color to this weeknight chicken dish found on Milk Street. White balsamic, which is not cooked and aged as long as regular balsamic vinegar, has a mellow acidity that complements the peppadews, a variety of small, sweet peppers from South Africa.

Peppadews add slight heat and additional sweetness, as well as a vivid splash of red. Find them (or not) jarred at most grocery stores, and sometimes loose at the olive bar. Unable to locate peppadews, we substituted cherry peppers. And for some odd reason, there were no plain pitted green olives (no open olive bar during COVID) and all the jarred versions were pimento stuffed. Frustrating yes, but in the end… FRIGGIIN’ delicious!!

Packed with Flavor

Don’t rush rendering the fat from the skin on the chicken thighs. The skin should be golden brown and feel crisp. When reducing the sauce before serving, add water if the liquid is less than 1 cup. It took us extra time to get the sauce reduced to one cup, more like 6 minutes,

The sauce was just bursting with flavor and the chicken retained crispy exteriors and juicy interiors. Some serving suggestions are with roasted sweet potatoes—our choice—boiled baby red potatoes or spinach pasta tossed with butter and poppy seeds.

White Balsamic Chicken with Tarragon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about ⅓ cup)
  • ¾ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • ⅓ drained peppadew peppers, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until smoking. Add the chicken, skin down, and cook until fat is rendered and the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. (You will probably have to do this in two stages as you don’t want to crowd the pan and steam instead of crisp the skin.)
  3. Transfer the chicken skin up to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Stir in the garlic and shallot and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vinegar and broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin up. Transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken reaches 175°F at the thickest part, or a skewer inserted into the thickest part meets no resistance, 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken, skin up, to a deep platter and return the skillet to the stovetop (handle will be hot) over medium-high. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until reduced to about 1 cup, 2 to 3 minutes (or longer if necessary).
  6. Stir in the olives, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Off heat, stir in half the tarragon, then spoon the sauce around the chicken.
  7. Top with Peppadews and the remaining tarragon.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill of Milk Street

Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini

Although summer produce season was nearing its end, we easily scored some fresh corn and zucchini to make this flavorful Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini. It’s a one pan meal that’s ready in a total of 45 minutes. Cooked in a skillet, the spiced chicken takes on a brick-red hue with a moderately spicy kick. (You can adjust the amount of heat by adding or eliminating the amount of cayenne.)

Here gochugaru—Korean red chile flakes—imbues this one-skillet chicken and vegetable supper with its deep, savory flavor, gentle heat and a hint of smokiness. But don’t fret if you can’t find gochugaru, just substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder (or choice) for a delicious but different taste profile. Add more cayenne or eliminate it to adjust the level of heat, which is moderate as written. (Gochugaru can be found at Asian markets, well stocked supermarkets or online.)

I got carried away and pounded the chicken breasts down to a 1/4″ instead of the indicated 1/2″. Not a problem as long as the meat is not overcooked and dried out. Adjust the cooking time so that the poultry registers 160°, then move to a plate and cover with foil.

The amount of chicken we made was over 1 1/2 pounds, which when hammered down made 4 large cutlets, and therefore had to be cooked in 2 batches. Once the veggies are done, pour the accumulated chicken juices into the pan and stir to distribute.

Yes, you can make this meal with frozen corn, but you will suffer from a loss of flavor. This summer was THE BEST corn season we’ve experienced in a long time. And this last batch in particular was astoundingly sweet and juicy!

Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp. gochugaru (Korean chile flakes; may substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
  • 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster and/or cremini, sliced
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. water, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, plus dark greens for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. minced or finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3-4 ears of corn, kernels sliced from cob

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the gochugaru, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the granulated garlic and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture onto both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in a little with your fingers.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the water if the pan seems dry, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the scallions and ginger and cook until they soften, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the zucchini, corn and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add more water as needed, a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  6. Pour any accumulated juices from the chicken into the pan with the vegetables, and then slice the chicken into strips.
  7. Serve the vegetables with the sliced chicken on top or on the side.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post

Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

Stir-frying is the name of the game when you want something quick and healthy. And making it yourself ensures you know exactly what’s in it, as compared to many Asian take-out places loaded with unwanted fat and calories. Cook’s Illustrated found that marinating pork tenderloin in a simple soy-sherry mixture and cooking it quickly (about two minutes) in batches over high heat kept the meat tender and beautifully seasoned. In place of the sherry, we substituted Shaoxing wine which is fermented from rice.

Because different vegetables cook at different rates, batch-cook the vegetables and add aromatics (like ginger and garlic) at the end so they are cooked long enough to develop their flavors but not long enough to burn. Chicken broth gives the sauce some backbone, and cornstarch slightly thickens it so that it lightly cloaks the meat and veggies.

We increased the amount of pork tenderloin from the original 12 ounces to one pound. And because of that, we doubled the soy sauce and sherry that gets mixed with the pork strips (which is all noted below). Keep in mind that pork tenderloin is easier to slice if it is partially frozen. *Freeze the tenderloin until firm but not frozen solid, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips.

Stir-frying isn’t rocket science, and that’s what’s so great about it. It doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. Instructions indicate to cook in a skillet, however we feel most stir-fries benefit from being cooked in a flat-bottomed wok. It helps to have a stir-fry spatula which fits the contour of the wok and has a long handle (to keep distance from the intense heat).

Stir frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. As the name indicates, the food is constantly stirred while you cook it. Make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola, safflower, soybean, etc.

Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, prepared as noted above*
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. green beans, cut on bias into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch squares
  • 3 medium scallions, sliced thin on bias
  • Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (or brown rice if you prefer)

Directions

  1. Combine pork, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 teaspoon sherry in small bowl. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, white pepper, and cornstarch in measuring cup.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of pork to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well-browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl with pork.
  6. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. Clear center of skillet, then add garlic/ginger mixture to clearing; cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers.
  8. Add pork and green beans; toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
  9. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Pork Kebabs and Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion, just the name gets my juices flowing. Imbued with spices that char at high heat, this aromatic pork recipe is a snap to throw together — exactly what you want for a night of summer grilling.

If using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water for an hour before grilling, so they don’t flare up. And, NYTimes where we got the recipe, suggested if you’re broiling and you don’t want to bother with skewers at all, just spread the pork cubes out on a rimmed sheet pan, turning them halfway through cooking with tongs or a spatula. Always good to have a Plan B for inclement weather.

With just the two of us, we halved the recipe so there wouldn’t be much leftover—and there wasn’t because it was sooo good!

Our side dish of Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro was just the ticket to compliment the pork and make for a low-carb dinner. The lime and heat in both recipes ensured a unity of tastes. I see making this by itself as a lunch, and would be great to bring to a picnic, potluck or dinner invitation.

While I basically stuck to the pork kebab recipe, I made a few changes in how I handled the cuke salad from Milk Street. Besides cutting the recipe in half, I left the salted cucumber slices in the colander for an hour as opposed to 15 minutes to make sure most of the moisture would be removed. And instead of several cans on the inside plate while draining the slices, I added weight by filling a smaller heavy bowl with water.

A meat mallet came in handy for both smashing the cucumbers and the roasted peanuts, but you may have another preference.

Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving

Directions

  1. Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours. (We marinated for 24 hours to make sure all of that great flavor permeated the pork.)
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
Low-carb dinner bursting with flavor!

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark from NYTimes

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Don’t use regular cucumbers; they contain a large amount of seeds that will quickly water down the salad, even if first salted to remove excess moisture. And don’t forget to peel the cucumbers. The skins will block the salt from drawing out the maximum amount liquid of from the watery flesh.

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1½ tsp. sriracha
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 English cucumbers, trimmed and peeled
  • ½ Cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 4 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Serrano chili, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ Cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, lime juice, Sriracha, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside. Place the cucumbers on a cutting board. With the flat side of a chef’s knife or a rolling pin, hit the cucumbers until they split and crack. I used a meat mallet which worked great!
  2. Slice the cucumbers ½-inch thick on the diagonal and transfer to a large colander set over a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt and toss. Top with a plate smaller than the diameter of the colander; weigh down the plate with 2 or 3 cans. Let stand until liquid has pooled in the bowl, about 15 minutes. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the bowl.
  3. In the same large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peanuts, scallions, chili and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Recipe by Julia Rackow from Milk Street

Grilled Veal Rib Chops with Mediterranean Herb Paste

I first posted a blog on this Grilled Veal Rib Chops with Mediterranean Herb Paste recipe 5 years ago. Back then, we only had veal loin chops, but now we got to revisit with actual rib chops. We loved it the first time, and cemented the love affair with this reiteration.

All of the herbs were just picked from our organic, raised-bed garden giving us the freshest taste possible. In fact, since the past winter was mild, most of our herbs returned, and with aplomb. Just look at those stunning sage leaves. Now that’s a WOW factor—we hated to chop them!

And how about a side of grilled tomato skewers? Pretty darn simple and a wonderful pairing with the chops. Remove the top core, slice them in half lengthwise, and thread them onto metal skewers alternating with a fresh bay leaf* on the cut side. Brush with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When you move the veal chops over to the cool side of the grill for 10 minutes, place the tomato skewers on the hot side, turning once half way through. They’ll take about 8-10 minutes total to get a nice char. Carefully remove them from the hot metal into a bowl and drizzle on a bit more EVOO. Six roma tomatoes (and 12 bay leaves) makes enough for 3-4 servings.

*Speaking of those bay leaves, it’s best to get fresh ones. If all you can get your hands on are dried, soak them in water for about 10-15 minutes so that they become pliable and won’t crack as you thread them on the skewers.

Grilled Tomato Skewers

As I mentioned, we were in Heaven over this meal! And the bonus was getting to gnaw the bone 😉

Grilled Veal Rib Chops with Mediterranean Herb Paste

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in rib veal chops, about 1 1/4 inches thick, excess fat trimmed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

If you don’t have all the herbs, feel free to add additional amounts of what you do have to compensate.

Directions

  1. Preheat grill with all burners turned to high and lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Leave one burner on high and turn other burner(s) down to medium.
  2. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix oil, garlic, and herbs together in small bowl; rub herb paste over chops.
  4. Grill chops, covered, over hotter part of grill until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. (If chops start to flame, slide them to cooler part of grill for moment and/or extinguish flames with squirt bottle.) Move chops to cooler part of grill. Continue grilling, turning once, until meat is still rosy pink at center and instant-read thermometer inserted through side of chop and away from bone registers 130 degrees, 10 to 11 minutes.
  5. Remove chops from grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated