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.
8 oz. fresh sweet Italian sausage, casings removed if using links
1 medium yellow onion (about 7 oz.), coarsely chopped
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
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.
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.
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
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°F. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
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.
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.
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.
Transfer chops to plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.
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.
Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes while preparing sauce.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After the roast is browned, transfer to a cutting board, remove the twine, cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve immediately.
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
2 Tbsp. peanut oil, grapeseed oil, or other neutral tasting oil
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
1/3 cup coarsely chopped chives
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground balck pepper
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Place the butter in a mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon or paddle beater, beat until smooth.
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.
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.
“Kielbasa,” the Polish word for “sausage” typically carries a more pronounced garlic flavor and is lightly smoked. When you purchase kielbasa in the grocery store, it has already been smoked and pre-cooked so you are automatically saving cooking time with this ingredient.
While microwaving the potato pieces also saves time, the results are uneven. In fact, they were nowhere near done after four minutes, so I zapped them for another four. If you can spare a bit of extra time, I suggest boiling the potatoes in water until soft for a more uniform tenderness.
After the fact, we thought the softened potatoes should have been browned with the onion to get a crisp on the outside. It’s nearly impossible to do so in the crowded pan with all of the sausage.
Our conclusion? The original recipe (as listed below) was too sweet with two tablespoons of brown sugar. If like us, you prefer a more savory flavor, cut back on the brown sugar to—at most—one tablespoon; and increase the amount of Dijon mustard. Finally, using only half an onion seemed a bit underwhelming so an entire onion was chopped.
Pork shoulder is a classic for braising. The meat turns nearly spoonable but still slices nicely, and leftovers are great for sandwiches. In this recipe the pork is combined with dried cherries and sweet potatoes, balancing their sweetness with the slightly bitter taste of Guinness stout and molasses. Odd combination? I thought so too, but OMG, it was fantastic!
It hailed from renowned Chef Daniel Boulud’s cookbook “Braise, A Journey Through International Cuisine” where all of his recipes are influenced with a global perspective. We know that braising transforms inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into succulent soft morsels. And as Daniel writes “In fact, the cheaper, more sinewy, and more chewy the meat is to begin with, the more delectable it’s texture and the thicker the sauce after cooking.”
The original recipe, which is depicted below, calls for a 5-1/2 pound shoulder roast. We happened to have a 3-1/2 pound pork roast on hand, so that’s what we used and adjusted the other ingredients to follow suit. Then we completed the meal with roasted cauliflower and carrots.
Don’t forget to make the Guinness stout and cherry sauce ahead of time. It needs to sit for at least an hour or be refrigerated overnight for the flavors to meld.
Pork Shoulder with Guinness, Dried Cherries and Sweet Potato
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large red onions, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
5 whole allspice, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and roughly chopped
Bring the stout, cherries, and vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan. Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
Warm the oil in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt and ground black pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pork shoulder to a platter. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot.
Add the onion and the crushed black pepper to the pot and sauté for 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Add the pork shoulder, the marinated cherries and liquid, allspice, bay leaves, molasses, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and braise for 1 hour, turning the pork once during cooking. Add the sweet potatoes and continue to braise for 2 more hours, turning two more times. If the sauce is too thin or is not flavored intensely enough, ladle most of it off into another pot and simmer it until it thickens and intensifies. Then add it back to the first pot.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
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.
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.
Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost dry, about 4 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
In a small bowl combine herbs, chili powder, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Rub all over pork.
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.
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.
Turn off the oven and leave the veggies in to keep warm while meat rests.
I‘ve posted several blogs on flap meat. The only place we ever find it is at Costco, so we load up on it when we go there. Flap steak is cut from the bottom sirloin and is sometimes call beef loin tip. It is less tender than more expensive steaks, but has a great beefy flavor. It is ideal for marinating and needs to be cooked quickly on high heat for medium rare.
Although it has the reputation for not being very tender, we don’t seem to have that experience. It is well-marbled and flavorful and sometimes called bavette, but bavette can also refer to flank steak, which is a different cut altogether.
Our steak marinated for the full eight hours, and then we grilled it for about 12 minutes total for medium-rare at 125°. The original recipe indicated to cook the meat for 20-25 minutes, that would be well-done, a no-no in our house!
Some of our strips had thick and thinner ends. You may want to cut the thinner portions off and add them to the grill a few minutes after the thick pieces have cooked. This will ensure the meat is all cooked to the same temperature, if that is your desired outcome. (Discard any leftover marinade.)
We saw this Smothered Chicken with Bourbon and Miso recipe in our latest Milk Street magazine and knew it had to get on our short list. It is their adaptation of a recipe from the cookbook “Smoke and Pickles” by Edward Lee.
As described by Milk Street, “It’s a fantastic Asian-inflected spin on an all-American favorite: smothered pork chops. A combination of umami-rich ingredients, woodsy bourbon and sweet-tangy orange juice produces a silky, deeply flavored mushroom sauce for smothering tender bone-in chicken legs.”
And since I am not a fan of chicken legs, we decided to buy a whole 3 1/2-pound chicken. This option gives us the extra “body parts” for making homemade stock later on. Plus, I get my preferred white meat.
Don’t worry if you have the wrong variety of miso. Dark miso, such as red (aka) or barley (mugi) miso is preferred, but white (shiro) miso is easier to find and more versatile. The sauce will be a little sweeter and milder, but still delicious.
Smothering typically refers to braising meats in gravy, a process that produces tender meat and a rich sauce to ladle over it—but it is time-intensive. Here, corners are cut to streamline the technique but keep the savory flavor. Chief among them are the bourbon whisky, dark soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms.
Bourbon is a wonderful ingredient to add when you want a smoky, aged sweetness with a bit of leathery caramel flavor.
The result? A rich, velvety umami-packed chicken that offers the savory flavors of a long braise in a fraction of the time. Works for us!
12 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
⅓ cup bourbon
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and miso until smooth. Whisk in the orange juice and set aside.
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook undisturbed until well browned, about 5 minutes. (You may have to do this in two batches.)
Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned, another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate, then pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot.
Return the pot to medium-high. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the bourbon and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds.
Pour in the miso mixture and 2 cups water, then bring to a simmer. Return the chicken skin up to the pot and pour in the accumulated juices.
Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until the thickest parts of the legs reach 175°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Bring the sauce to a boil over high and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to a gravy consistency, 7 to 9 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, then spoon over the chicken.
The beauty of this meatloaf and gravy is that they share several essential ingredients: mushrooms, dry sherry and garlic. While this recipe uses just ground pork and veal, if all you can get your hands on is the meatloaf mix combo, go ahead, the flavor profile won’t be too heavily altered.
Soaking the bread in the milk gives the meatloaf its tender texture. The bread should be wet but not drenched, so squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid. Then chop it all up into very small pieces. You don’t want big hunks of bread marring the perfect loaf.
This ridiculously flavorful vegetarian gravy will satisfy even the heartiest meat-eaters. Along with sherry and tomato paste, dried porcini mushrooms (available in the produce sections of large supermarkets) replicate the savory flavor of drippings. It has to be up there as one of the best gravies we’ve ever had!
*1 cup porcini soaking liquid from rehydrating above mushrooms
3 large thyme sprigs
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Rehydrate porcini mushrooms by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over them in a heat-proof bowl. Let soak 15 minutes. Drain liquid into 1 cup measure, squeezing porcinis over container to remove all liquid. Strain through a very fine sieve to remove any grit from liquid, and set aside. (Add more water if necessary to equal 1 full cup.)
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.
Add tomato paste; cook, stirring until color deepens, about 2 minutes.
Add sherry; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, strained mushroom liquid, rehydrated mushrooms and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes.
Strain again through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids (discard solids). Do not wash pan.
Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, 1 to 2 minutes (don’t let flour brown).
Add about 1/2 cup of the hot broth, whisking to blend. Add remaining broth a bit at a time, whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with pepper.
In Autumn, the first nips of cold air waken our desire for braised dishes which take hours in the oven permeating the house with wonderful appetite-inducing aromas. One of our favorite go-to chef/authors for slow-cooking recipes is—as I’ve mentioned many times—Molly Stevens. This Braised Lamb Shanks Provençal hails from her All About Braising, a treasury of one-pot meals.
While it is not a complicated dish, you do have to carve out a good chunk of time from start to finish. We happened to have four lamb shanks in the freezer, and while the recipe calls for six, it was only The Hubs and me for dinner, which would also give us scrumptious leftovers for another weeknight.
Make sure to take the time to remove the bit of papery white covering called “fell”, and any large fatty deposits, from the shanks. This will lessen any gamey flavor as the meat is cooked. Best to use a small, sharp knife to loosen the silverskin, but don’t fuss with trying to peel off any of the thin membrane—this holds the shank together and will melt down during braising. (Oops, I may have gotten a little carried away and removed some of the silver skin too, mea culpa.)
A cherished side dish as an accompaniment for braised dishes is garlicky mashed potatoes—sigh. And this lamb dish provides plenty of luscious sauce for topping those spuds. Steamed green beans with a lemony vinaigrette completed the meal.
2 large yellow onions (about 1 pound total), chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 lb. plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or one 14½-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved)
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
3 small or 2 large bay leaves
½ cup pitted and coarsely chopped oil-cured black olives, such as Nyons or Moroccan
¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oven to 325°F.
Trim the lamb shanks: If the shanks are covered in a tough parchment-like outer layer (called the fell), trim this away by inserting a thin knife under it to loosen and peeling back this layer. Remove any excess fat as well, but don’t fuss with trying to peel off any of the thin membrane—this holds the shank together and will melt down during braising.
Dredge the lamb shanks: Pour the flour into a shallow dish and stir in 1 tablespoon of the paprika. Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper. Roll half the shanks in the flour, lifting them out one by one and patting to remove any excess, and set them on a large plate or tray, without touching.
Brown the lamb shanks: Heat the oil in a large heavy-based braising pot (6- to 7- quart) over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the 3 flour-dredged shanks (you’re searing in two batches so as not to crowd the pot). Cook, turning the shanks with tongs, until they are gently browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the shanks to a plate or tray, without stacking or crowding. Dredge the remaining shanks in flour, patting to remove any excess, and brown them. Set beside the already browned shanks, and discard the remaining flour.
Make the aromatics and braising liquid: Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot and return the pot to the heat. If the bottom of the pot is at all blackened, wipe it out with a damp paper towel, being careful to leave behind any tasty caramelized drippings. Add the onions, tomatoes with their juice, and the garlic and season with the remaining ½ teaspoon paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are mostly tender. Pour in the wine and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits on the bottom of the pot that will contribute flavor to the liquid. Simmer for 3 minutes. Pour in the stock, stir and scrape the bottom again, and simmer for another 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, zest the lemon: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from half of 1 lemon, being careful to remove only the outermost yellow zest, not the bitter-tasting white pith; reserve the lemon. Add the zest to the pot, along with the bay leaves.
Make the braise: Arrange the lamb shanks on top of the vegetables. The shanks should fit fairly snugly in the pot, but you may need to arrange them “head-to-toe” so they fit more evenly. Don’t worry if they are stacked in two layers. Cover the pot with parchment paper, pressing down so that it nearly touches the lamb and the edges of the paper extend about an inch over the side of the pot. Set the lid in place, slide the pot into the lower part of the oven, and braise for about 2½ hours. Check the shanks every 35 to 45 minutes, turning them with tongs and moving those on top to the bottom and vice versa, and making sure that there is still plenty of braising liquid. If the liquid seems to be simmering too aggressively at any point, lower the oven heat by 10 to 15 degrees. If the liquid threatens to dry out, add ⅓ cup water. The shanks are done when the meat is entirely tender and they slide off a meat fork when you try to spear them.
Segment the lemon: While the shanks braise, use a thin-bladed knife (a boning knife works well) to carve the entire peel from the 2 lemons. The easiest way to do this is to first cut off the stem and blossom end of each one so the lemon is flat on the top and bottom. Then stand the lemon up and carve off the peel and white pith beneath it with arcing slices to expose the fruit. Trim away any bits of pith or membrane that you’ve left behind, until you have a whole naked lemon. Now, working over a small bowl to collect the juices, hold a lemon in one hand and cut out the individual segments, leaving as much of the membrane behind as you can. Drop the segments into the bowl, and pick out the seeds as you go. When you finish, you should be holding a random star-shaped membrane with very little fruit pulp attached. Give this a squeeze into the bowl and discard. Repeat with the second lemon.
The Finish: Transfer the shanks to a tray to catch any juices, and cover with foil to keep warm. Using a wide spoon, skim as much surface fat from the cooking liquid as possible. Lamb shanks tend to throw off quite a bit of fat: continue skimming (tilting the pot to gather all the liquid in one corner makes it easier) until you are satisfied. (We barely had any fat.) Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the lemon segments, olives, and parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Return the shanks to the braising liquid to reheat for a minute or two. Serve with plenty of sauce.
Although this looks like a traditional beef stew recipe, it’s not made like one. While the beef—or lamb as in our recipe—braises in the oven, the carrots, mushrooms, and onions roast on a sheet pan alongside for a caramelized flavor. How’s that for a change?
We made this on a Sunday afternoon for a weeknight meal when we knew there wouldn’t be much time to prep dinner. But of course we had to taste-test the finished product. WOW, it was fantastic. The lamb (you could use stew beef instead) was super tender and the sauce was so silky and full of flavor.
Instead of one or the other, we used both carrots and parsnips. If you choose to include parsnips, make sure to remove the woody core before cooking them.
4 carrots or parsnips, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces, or 2 cups baby carrots
2 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
1 cup frozen peas
2 croissants, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Arrange oven racks, placing one rack at the lowest level. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high. Add half the beef and bacon; cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl. Add an additional 1 Tbsp. olive oil, remaining beef and bacon, and the sliced garlic to Dutch oven. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return all meat to Dutch oven. Stir in tomato paste; cook and stir 2 minutes.
Carefully add wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Reserve 1/2 cup of the 50%-less-sodium beef broth. Add remaining broth to meat mixture. Stir in thyme and 1/2 tsp. each salt and ground black pepper. Bring to boiling. Cover and place pot on the lower oven rack; braise 1 hour.
In a small bowl whisk together reserved 1/2 cup broth and the flour; stir into beef mixture. Stir in barley. Bake, covered, 35 minutes more or until barley is tender and stew is thickened.
Meanwhile, in a shallow baking pan combine carrots, mushrooms, onion, remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper; toss to coat. Place on a separate oven rack; roast, uncovered, 45 minutes, stirring once.
Stir vegetables and peas into stew; let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
OPTIONAL: For croutons: Line a shallow baking pan with foil. In a large bowl combine croissant chunks, melted butter, minced garlic, and parsley; toss to mix. Spread croissants evenly in prepared pan. Bake 5 minutes or until toasted; let cool. Serve croutons over stew.
*If you sub in brown rice, increase baking time in Step 3 to 45 minutes.
A new take on your steak and potatoes menu is this thinly sliced skirt steak with a lightly smoky, tangy paprika butter. While the steak recipe is enough to feed 10, and the potato recipe feeds 6-8, we halved both of them and still had leftovers for another meal. Both the meat and potato recipes hail from Food & Wine, neither of which employ a long list of ingredients.
Adobo Seco was our seasoning of choice for rubbing both sides of the steak(s), although just using salt and pepper works fine too. Remember, skirt steak is a very thin piece of meat so it will cook quickly on the grill, just a couple of minutes per side for medium rare. Make sure to slice against the grain when cutting it.
If desired, go ahead and make the paprika butter which can stand at room temperature for up to 4 hours; reheat the butter gently. We took the opportunity to do this step ahead of time, so we wouldn’t be rushed at the last minute.
4 lbs small Yukon Gold potatoes, about 1 1/2″ diameter
1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 ounce)
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves (about 1/4 ounce)
Kosher salt, to taste
Add water to a Dutch oven to a depth of 1/2 inch; place a steamer basket in Dutch oven. Bring water to a boil over high. Place potatoes in steamer basket. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam until potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium. Add sage leaves, and cook, stirring constantly, until leaves turn dark green in spots and butter is light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet, and gently smash using the bottom of a measuring cup. Transfer to a large serving bowl, and gently toss with sage butter. Season with salt to taste.