When you’re Hungarian for something and a Snickers won’t do.

Wow it’s been a while.  With the sudden onset of inferno level temperatures, work, trying to get pregnant (yeah not sure why either), and having a 2-year-old toddler running rampant in the apartment, I’ve not really found myself spending much time in the kitchen.  At least not for long periods of time.  Part of the downside of living in a 100-year-old building all brick means that some rooms, despite the fact you have central air never seem to get cool enough during the dog days of summer in St. Louis, MO.  I’m only now able to catch a few moments of peace because the toddler tyrant is currently down for a nap (thank you long walk to a store around the corner but took 3 blocks to walk there to tucker her out!).  So instead of doing something parent-ish like shower, laundry folding, going to the bathroom, I currently sequestered myself to the living room with apaprika bowl of chicken paprikash hastily reheated in the microwave in hopes of obtaining at least 45 minutes of quiet that isn’t speckled with high-pitched squealing, the word cat or my most favorite word…Gimmie!!!! There’s something about the lovely aromatic broth coated noodles with bits of lovely braised chicken thigh that washes off exhaustion of being a parental tyrant and allows one to simply just be for a bit.

Growing up in an ethnically diverse family I was constantly surrounded by non-American type cuisine.  Chicken cacciatori made by my mom, pierogis & golumpki made by my grandmother, beef stroganoff by my father, it wasn’t unusual for us to have on the dinner table something that was harder to pronounce then our last name.  What was unusual was traditional American type food.  Pizza was a rare treat,  burgers and fries a once in a blue moon meal.  I figure, I probably ate more Americanized food at school then I did at home growing up and it’s something that I experience today as I slowly creep towards middle age.  While I’m not opposed to the idea of having an all American burger with fries ever once in a while, I’d rather my time and calories be spent enjoying recipes that harken back to times before the colonists invaded the Americas.  And when hangry_catI’m really hangry only ethnic food will do.

This weekend in an attempt to make sure that chicken thighs purchased earlier week did not go to waste I set my culinary tastebuds on an adventure.  I asked Kyle to pick a country on a map in Eastern Europe and told him not to pick countries like Germany or Poland but something obscure that he normally wouldn’t pick and he said Hungary.  I remember my parents making us goulash as a kid so Hungarian style cuisine wasn’t foreign for me.  Kyle however? He probably didn’t have much exposure to it growing up.  One dish I have always been extremely fond of is chicken paprikash.  The reason I probably enjoy making it so much is the fact that the most important ingredient in the dish is paprika and it gives me an excuse to go to Penzys spice and indulge in the perverted joy of purchasing high quality herbs and spices.  And also because paprika is known to be an aphrodisiac which means hubba hubba time…What?  I’m trying to get pregnant and every little bit helps! So might as well try to kill two birds with one stone right?

Chicken paprikash is quite possibly one of the most common dishes in Hungary.  So20170913_183928 much so that it’s listed as the country’s national dish.  Its something that can be used with the paprika you have in the pantry but keep in mind that the “cheaper” the paprika the less intense the flavor is, so if you are going to go all out I strongly recommend you get fresh made paprika from Spices at Penzeys.   If you happen to live in St. Louis, they have a location in Maplewood on Manchester in the little shopping strip across the street from the Shop N Save.   If you can’t then don’t fret, just taste what you have in your pantry and if its weak or bland toss it out and buy a fresh container at the store.  Jays International Market on Grand has bulk containers of pretty descent paprika for not a whole lot of money so check them out.  This recipe is so simple in technique that you can easily  have this on your dinner table during the week after a long day of work and a busy afternoon of shuttling around the mewling quim called children to Gymboree, BMX practice or who knows what.  It takes a max hour to make from start to finish and is a 2 pot meal so cleanup is rather simple.  It’s also an easy meal to introduce your newb husband to without fear of him jacking it up to the point where all you’re left with as dinner options are Taco Bell or White Castle…It’s happened….many many many times.

All you will need is: Chicken (thighs and legs bone in-skin on), paprika (duh), onions, bell peppers, sour cream, chicken stock and probably not the most common item, knox gelatin.  If you want to add a little bit of oomph you can also add fish sauce and lemon juice but they are optional and not a requirement. You can serve it over rice, spaetzli, boiled potatoes, egg noodles, with a nice crusty bread to sop up all the amazing broth.  It’s actually a fun dish to do with your significant other because the first 10-15 minutes require you to be by the stove to make sure you don’t burn anything.  Grab a glass of wine or a beer, turn on some Zappa or Patty Smith (common kitchen soundtrack of my youth!) and get ready to make something that will either get you give you the It is or make you hankering for some lovin before the last bit of broth is licked from the bowl.

If using thigh quarters make sure you separate the legs and thighs in the joint (4 total pieces).  You can opt to use all legs; however using more than 6 thighs unless you have a HUGE dutch oven will mean that not all your pieces of chicken will be simmering in the sauce due to lack of space. Before you start heating up your oil, pour 1 cup of chicken stock and pour a packet of Knox gelatin in and let it sit to soften.  Adding the gelatin stock 20170913_183702will cause your liquid to thicken and allow it to coat the chicken and the noodles/rice/potatoes when you eat it.   Heat up a tablespoon of oil until lightly smoking (trust me this will be more than enough) and place skin side down your chicken pieces that have been salted & peppered generously on both sides.  This isn’t a required step but I find that the dish is somewhat lacking if we skip over browning the chicken off first and rendering out some of the fat.  Plus this will create all sorts of awesome brown bits at the bottom called fond which will be scraped off into the broth when we deglaze the pan later on so since its only going to add 10 minutes to your total cooking time anyways there really isn’t a good excuse as to why you don’t do it.  Place your pieces skin side down until golden brown (roughly 8 or so minutes), flip over (if using thighs) and cook the other side for two minutes.  If using all chicken legs, keep rotating until your legs are evenly browned on all sides.  Remove and let rest on a plate.  The chicken at this point is by no means cooked so don’t be all adventurous and try eating any because you’re gonna get sick if you do. But hey, its your butt and gut so you do what you wanna do.

Take one large onion and slice thinly (or diced) and while not traditional in paprikash if you want to use bell peppers by all means use those too.  I find the bag of baby bell peppers is perfect because I can mix up the red and yellow.  I don’t recommend using green bell peppers in this dish at all.  Remove all the rendered fat from the chicken, reserving one tablespoon and then saute your onions and peppers until tender and slightly browned, stirring and scraping up any bits which may get stuck in the browning stage of the chicken.  Some recipes call for adding the paprika after the onions are tender but I like to add it midway through the cooking process to allow it to toast first in the oil and then caramelize a bit on the onions and peppers (if you opted to use them.. I opt to use them, all the time).  This process can take about 5-6 minutes and while it doesn’t need to be babysat like a tiny toddler terrorist who has stolen my heart, it does need to have a watchful eye on it to ensure it doesn’t go from oil toasted paprika goodness to black mess of wtf I’m going to have to throw this pan away.

Once you’re satisfied with the level of toastiness, 20170913_183851whisk in your gelatin broth until incorporated completely and add your bay leaf.  Try to scrape down any bits of dried on paprika which may have collected on the sides to ensure that you infuse every last drop with that smokey, toasty, roasty pepper goodness.  Take your chicken and nestle it skin side up in the broth until half submerged and allow the chicken to braise for 45 minutes to an hour, lowering the heat to a low temp and covering with a tight fitting lid.  While it may not seem like a lot of liquid, a the chicken cooks it will release its own moisture and impregnate the paprika broth with its essence.  Its…….essence.   Essen..okay I’ll stop…Sorry >.>….<.<… The reason we are cooking it skin up is because we don’t want to end up with soggy flabby chicken skin because it doesn’t really taste all that great personally.  When you have about 20 minutes left of cooking time, prepare any sides you may want to enjoy with this.  I enjoy spaetzle noodles while Kyle likes rice or potatoes.  It’s really up to personal preference what you want with it, although truth be told I’m quite content to have a nice chunk of rustic crusty bread to just sop up the liquid with an ice cold german beer.

Once your chicken has hit an internal temp of 160 degrees, remove all the pieces and place on a plate.  Remove your bay leaf and discard (this is not good eats and you don’t want to end up on twitter with someone going “This spinach leaf is off.  whats up?!”).  Stir in your fish sauce (if using), and lemon juice and wisk in your sour cream until 20170913_183954combined.  At this point you’re going to want to serve it up because if we allow the broth to keep cooking after the sour cream has been added, we run the risk of it beginning to separate and curdle.  The culprit behind this culinary wtf are the milk solids found in sour cream.  As the solids start to heat up they start to split apart.  You can bypass this by ensuring that in whatever dish you have that calls for sour cream it is incorporated at a lower temperature and served relatively quick.  If we allow it to cool we also face the possibility of the broth gelatinizing because we added gelatin to the chicken stock in the beginning.  Either way you shouldn’t have to twist the arm of your dinner guests too hard because it smells amazing.  Prior to plating, take your chicken and dip it into the sauce.  Yes, yes I know.  You are going to ask “if we were just going to dip it in the broth then why cook it skin side up?!?”  Because we want tender skin.  Not soggy flaccid blech skin.  Listen to me, I know what I’m talking about!

This has become a common meal at my house with me and mine and I hope that you guys enjoy it too.  It’s a great recipe to make on the weekend and toss into a lunch bag for a quick meal at work or even to reheat in the evening for a lazy dinner night.  If you tweak the recipe let me know how it turns out!  And like they say on the interwebz.  Bone Appletini Ya’ll!

 

Chicken Parprikash

Recipe taken from: The Best Chicken Paprikash Recipe

  •  cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (.25 ounce) packet powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 4 whole chicken legs, split into thighs and drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional, see note above)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) high quality Hungarian sweet paprika (see note above)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
  • Minced fresh parsley leaves or dill (optional)
  • Egg noodles, boiled potatoes, or spaetzlefor serving

Directions

  • Pour chicken stock into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside.

  • Season chicken pieces generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add chicken pieces skin-side-down in a single layer and cook without moving until deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. As the chicken pieces finish browning, flip them over and cook until the second side is light golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a large plate and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan.

  • Add onions and bell peppers (if using) to the pan and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, until the onions are tender and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant and nutty, about 1 minute.

  • Add stock/gelatin mixture and scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan, stirring constantly. Add bay leaf. Nestle seared chicken pieces back into the sauce, leaving them skin-side up. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover pan, and cook until chicken is completely tender, about 30 minutes.

  • Remove chicken pieces and set aside on a large plate. Whisk sour cream, fish sauce, lemon juice, and half of minced parsley or dill into sauce. Season to taste with salt and more paprika if desired. Return chicken to pan and turn to coat in sauce.

  • Serve immediately over noodles, boiled potatoes, or spaetzle, tossing the noodles or potatoes with the sauce and placing the chicken on top. Garnish with more sour cream, paprika, and minced fresh parsley or dill (if using)

     

 

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I’ve made your favorite. Spaghetti. With lots of oregano….VERONICA DINNER!!!!!

One of the movies that seemed to be a staple of my angsty adolescent years was the cult classic “Heathers”.  Veronica Sawyer played by the somewhat neurotic Winona Rider was desperately trying to escape her fate of becoming a plastic Heather by succumbing to her bad boy lust and dating a rather ummm misguided youth named J.D. played by the always luscious Christian Slater *sighs*.  In this movie a love struck Veronica goes on a tumultuous world wind love affair which results in mayhem, bombs, a murder or two and a mantra that still holds true to today.  Teenage suicide. Don’t do it.  It’s fucking brilliant and apparently a new musical hitting the stage in 2017.  There is a rather amazing dream sequence that happens in the first hour of the movie where the heroine of the movie is faced with the harsh reality of innocence lost due to suicide..or in this instance a cup full of Draino where she is faced with the Heather she unknowingly killed7-heathers-quotes. The deceased debutante pulls back the cover of the holy water to reveal a bowl full of spaghetti, extra oregano and says “I’ve made your favorite.  Spaghetti.  With lots of oregano.  VERONICA DINNER!!!” and slams Winona’s face into the bowl of complex carbohydrates covered with the simmered saucy goodness.   This phrase had become a permanent part of my culinary lexicon and every time I make spaghetti now I can’t help but reminisce back to the good old days of 1992 when I first saw the movie and how I truly related to J.D and his angsty desire to blow up the school during a pep assembly by strapping a bomb to the boiler room….>.>…..<.<….um..anyways….

I’ve recently become the proud owner of the Kitchenaid pasta attachment set.20170216_181413_11  It’s been one I’ve been holding on out getting until it either went on sale or went on sale and I had a surplus of Kohl’s cash and gift cards to warrant me spending absolutely nothing on it.  It finally happened.  Last week I busted out the remnants of the wedding gift cards with expressed consent from my loving husband *who lets face it, he would pretty much let me buy anything kitchen wise as long as it didn’t cost me a grand* and set forth to purchase my long-awaited Kitchenaid accessory.  It’s pretty much the only one I wanted with the exception of maybe a second Kitchenaid which I will some day own.  I want two..for multitasking.  STOP JUDGING ME!!!! So I decided today would be the day I would crack open that box and bust a pasta cherry.  I’ve made homemade pasta before.  My mom has a hand cranked pasta maker which I enjoy using but sometimes you just want something that isn’t going to require you vicegripping something to your countertop that you can use with one hand while you drink a glass of wine with the other.  Don’t think that you need to drop a few hundred $$ to make pasta.  People have been making it for centuries without the aid of an electronic gadget and when I’m in the mood and need to vent some frustrations because my job is driving me absolutely bonkers I relish the idea of knowing that I am going to beat the ever-loving shit out of some dough and roll away the tension.  But I normally end up pretty bruised on my forearms from pressing hard on my rolling-pin aka wizard staff and I’d rather not be bombarded with questions about whether or not I feel safe in my own home…It’s happened…I bruise like a Georgia peach.

I’ve tried many different recipes for pasta dough.  Some which use only AP flour some which use a mixture of AP and semolina.  Some which call for eggs and others which call for vegetable oil.  While I’m sure they are okay I found them somewhat lacking, so I found this awesome recipe that has since become my standard go to pasta recipe. It calls for no egg which means its vegan and also means that you don’t run the risk of salmonella setting in from letting it dry for later use.  It also only has 4 ingredients to it and most of them everyone already has in their house.  AP flour (all img_20170218_132111purpose), semolina flour, water & olive oil.  That’s it.  Plus  I have a quick go to pasta sauce that I’m going to share that helps out in a pinch when you don’t have access to nice vine ripened tomatoes because it’s still technically winter and you live in the midwest.

First off, this pasta dries up amazingly and will keep in a ziplock bag for a few months.  I normally don’t keep dried pasta for longer than a month because I normally only make enough for a meal. Unless I’m making ravioli then I make tons and freeze them for quick meals during the week for myself or Kyle.  So don’t feel like you MUST use this the day you make it.  You’ll want to get your materials together so you aren’t running all over creation and back. Taking equal weights of AP flour and semolina you will want to pour them into a large mound on your countertop. I recommend doing this by hand instead of by using a machine because you can get some pretty gnarly pasta if you over mix it.  Plus it’s always more fun to be interactive with your food.  Taking the bottom of a bowl you will want to make a deep well in the center of your flour.  I’ve made some pretty shallow ones only to have water and oil spill over and go everywhere.  Take your warm water and your olive oil and using a fork you want to slowly start to mix in the flour into the water.  Go slow,  you don’t want to build up a lot of gluten in your pasta dough because that can make for tough chewy pasta which aint good eats.  Once you’ve got the inside of your flour volcano pretty much mixed in you’ll want to exchange your fork for img_20170218_132326a dough scraper to start folding in the outside walls of Mt Semolina in on itself.  If you don’t have a dough scraper simply collapse the mound in with your fingers and continue folding and kneading until it forms a rough ball of dough which kinda looks like the moon.  Okay it doesn’t but it’s not smooth.  Transfer the ball of dough to a ziplock bag and walk away.  Yes that’s right.  Walk away from it for about an hour.  Go take a shower, run to the store, have a quick make out session with your significant other or perfect stranger.  We want to give the dough time to relax due to the fact that during the kneading process, gluten was created and we need for it to take a break and relax to create a soft supple dough that will be easy to either roll out for hand cutting or be fed through a machine without causing too much strain on the machine, your nerves and the dough itself.  Plus the additional time allows the flour to thoroughly hydrate.

When you’re ready to start rolling out pasta make sure your sauce or whatever you are dressing it with is almost finished.  Fresh pasta only takes about 5 minutes or so to roll out and only needs 2 minutes to cook so you don’t want your pasta sitting in water getting soggy while you toss in a jar of Prego to warm up.  I’ll share my quick and easy pasta sauceimg_20170218_140923 at the end.  Taking your dough you are going to want to cut it in half and place the unused portion back in the bag to keep it from drying out.  Knead a few times back into a ball and taking your rolling-pin you’re going to want to gently roll it out so that it can feed through the pasta attachment easier.  For the Kitchenaid the largest setting is 1.  Turn your mixer to speed 2 and slowly start to feed your dough in.  It will struggle at first but after the second or third time you’ve passed it through it won’t sound like it’s a 1982 bright orange Volvo going up a steep hill and about to die.  This is just my own personal preference but after I feed the dough through for the first few times I fold it in half and give it a second pass.  I crank the dial up to 2 and give it two-three passes. Set it to 3 and then 4.  You may need to cut your dough into sheets if it gets to long to manage on your own.  I ended up doing that for mine and did it in two sheets before swapping out to the spaghetti attachment.  I wish I had gotten pics of what it looked like coming out but I had originally meant for this post to be about sweet potato ravioli with brown butter sauce but decided to forgo that idea for now and save it for later. I.e I ate the raviolis before I got pictures of them..DAMN MY TUMMY!!!!  Anyways you only really get one shot once you put it through the spaghetti attachment.  After that it’s decision time.  Do you use it now or save it for later?  If saving for later you can lie it flat on a flour dusted cookie sheet or if you’re creative and kookie like me you can drape it over a new coat hanger you bought specifically for this and put it in your pantry to dry out

 

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Ancient Italian drying technique

 

Now I’m pretty sure all of you have made some sort of pasta before so it should go without saying that you need to have a large pot of water that it salted like the sea at a boil before you toss it in.  If not um, fill a large pot up with water, add salt and bring to a boil.  It’s not rocket science people,  its complex carbohydrates.  Once at a boil add your pasta and put on a timer for 2 minutes.  Fresh pasta cooks insanely quick and you don’t want it to become soggy and mushy because well then you’ve wasted time and energy and you might as well have used store-bought and I will shame you endlessly.  ENDLESSLY.  Once cooked strain and toss with your pasta sauce.  If using a thick ragu type sauce don’t mix because I’m pretty sure that’s a cardinal rule and will result in you getting capped by an angry Sicilian woman.  You never mix your pasta and sauce because you want to be able to add meatballs..I personally don’t like mine mixed all together because it makes reheating difficult and I sometimes like to only eat the pasta sauce and not the actual pasta.  Bariatric patient..It happens.  Serve up with some fresh herbs and a little grated parmesan cheese and you’ve got a nice bowl of love ready for devouring.  Now don’t limit yourself to just spaghetti with this pasta dough recipe.  Make lasagna, tortellini, ravioli, parpadelli pasta.  It’s just a pretty basic pasta dough which you can modify and tweak to your liking.  Not a fan of sauce but just a little olive oil with some minced garlic and grated egg yolk? Knock yourself out.  You do with this what you want and share with me what worked for you and what didn’t.  I like feedback 🙂 So go out, find Heathers on Netflix or Hulu, Kodi or where it’s hiding these days.  Make up a huge bowl of spaghetti and embrace your inner angry teen.  You won’t regret it.  I promise 🙂

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Pasta Dough Recipe

  • 500 g AP flour (all-purpose)
  • 500 g Semolina Flour
  • 75 g olive oil
  • 450 g warm water

Pour both flours onto a clean countertop into a large mound.  Take a bowl and create a deep well.  Add water and oil and slowly start to incorporate the flour into the liquid using a fork, slowly adding the sides of the well until no runny liquid is left.  Scrap dough together and gently knead for up to 8 minutes until a rough ball forms.  Wrap in plastic and let rest for a minimum of 30 minutes but up to an hour to allow the gluten to relax and the dough to fully hydrate.  Either roll out and cut by hand or feed through your pasta attachment until you get to your desired thickness.  Cut using either a knife or spaghetti attachment and add to salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain and dress in sauce preference.  If eating later, lay in single layer on a floured baking sheet and allow to dry fully for up to 12 hours.  Store in a zip lock bag until ready to eat.  Bring water to boil and cook till al dente and dress in sauce preference.

Quick and easy 15 minute Tomato Sauce

  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes diced
  • salt/pepper to taste (omit if using canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed oregano

Heat a saute pan on medium heat and add olive oil.  Sweat out onions and garlic for 3 minutes and then add tomatoes with juices to pan along with the oregano.  Salt/pepper to taste and let cook for 10 minutes, breaking up large pieces of tomato with your wooden spoon.  Toss to cooked spaghetti and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Braise the Lord Hallelujah!

Now that my wedding is done and over with I can hopefully find more time to keep my blog up to date.  It’s hard out to try and juggle work, wedding and passion but I will try to be a little more due diligent in the future.  A month or so ago my now amazing husband gifted me with a meat grinder after I won a bet of not cutting or coloring my hair for a year. Anyone who even slightly has an inkling of who I am knows that in and of itself is a challenge considering I change my hair color pretty much twice a month so going au natural for 12 months was a sort of sick and morbid type of torture.  You add not cutting or shaving it and I’m pretty sure that violates UN torture laws.  But I did it and I relished the diabolic joy of fastidiously going through different options for my spoils (insert diabolical laugh).  Now this post has nothing to do with actually using said meat grinder but hey spoilers for future posts maybe?

In the meantime while I waited for my package to arrive I set my eyes on a pack of meaty beef short ribs I had purchased on a whim at one of our chain grocery stores.  I hadn’t really worked much with beef short ribs but a burger recipe I had been oogling used ground beef short ribs and I didn’t want it to go to waste so I went through my pantry to find out exactly what did I have that could possibly go with beef short ribs.  And viola.  Found beef broth, garlic, tomato paste as well as a bottle of Cabernet on my wine rack and a little fresh thyme still on my plant outside.  Might as well do a little braising.  Hallelujah!!!!image000004

One thing I love the most about this recipe is that it literally only uses 1 pan.  There isn’t any need to dirty multiple pans and spoons and bowls.  I love recipes like that, Kyle loves recipes like that and my dishwasher definitely loves recipes like that.  Another is that it’s not an expensive dish.  You can easily find beef short ribs on the bone for around $5.00 a pack and even cheaper if you go to a butcher shop.  You don’t need expensive wine and can easily grab a $10 bottle off the shelf and most everyone has beef stock, tomato paste and garlic in their house already so this is an easy meal to make for under $20.00

So braising.  What exactly is braising?  Braising is a two part cooking method in which you first brown the meat and or vegetables (yes you can braise vegetables) in a fat (searing and creating the Maillard reaction before cooking them low and slow for a long period of time in a minimal amount of liquid.  It is meant to help break down tough pieces of meat or fibrous vegetables to make them more tender and succulent.  It differs from stewing in the fact that you don’t completely submerge your item in liquid and it can be done with quite large pieces of meat as opposed to small pieces like stew meat.  And it can be done either on the stove or in the oven.  I prefer the oven in the off chance I have other things that need to occupy my stove top space.

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by the power of Maillard!!!!

The first step always is to make sure you have a clean work space.  We are going to be temporarily working with raw meat and you want to reduce the risk of any possible cross contamination because lets face it, food poisoning is a horrid horrid thing and I really don’t like the idea of anyone getting sick off of my cooking.  You will want to place a roasting pan on your stove and heat over a medium high heat.  This allows us to be able to brown our meat prior to transferring it to a hot oven for the braising portion of the recipe. While your pan is heating up take this opportunity to premix your salt & pepper that will be added to the beef short ribs prior to going into the pan.  This again helps reduce the chance of cross contamination as you can simply throw the rest away after using it.  Add a fair amount of olive oil to the roasting pan and heat until it starts to smoke.  We aren’t talking roaring clouds of Chernobyl, but just little whisps of smoke.  Generously season all sides of your beef spare ribs and place meaty side down in the pan (there is a bone in these hence the meaty side down comment).  You will want to essentially fry these until well browned on all sides for around 10-15 minutes.  This gives you plenty of time to wipe down your work station and prep the rest of your ingredients.  Take your bulbs of garlic (yes whole bulbs) and slice across the equator.  If you have a large elephant bulb of garlic 1 should do ya but if you’re like me I only had the little ones so I ended up using about 4, plus I am a huge fan of garlic so I always use a little extra. More isn’t always a bad thing.

image000006Once you’ve browned all sides of your short ribs, place the garlic cut side down pressing it into the pan.  Take 2 oz of tomato paste and also place into the pan,  be mindful that it may splatter and you want to just cook it out for a minute or two to start the caramelization process, pressing the paste into the bottom of the pan.  I always love the smell of tomato paste as it starts to cook out.  It goes from being this tart acidic smell to a rich roasty smell.  I know so scientific right?  It just smells good dammit!

You will want to de-glaze the pan and scrape up all the little bits of fond that got stuck to the bottom.  That is the flavor right there and you want to incorporate it into your braising liquid.  What? We aren’t even braising yet? Nope still in the prep stage but its worth it. Put your trust in me I shan’t steer you in the wrong direction. And what shall we de-glaze the pan with? Why an entire bottle of dry red wine. image000008 No…I’m not joking, a whole bottle.  All 750 ml into the pan.  We gonna do this we gonna do this right..Make sure you get a wine that you’ll enjoy drinking because those make the best to cook with. Pour the whole bottle in (don’t cry you should have another to drink while you wait) and scrape up the bits on the bottom.  Return to a boil and reduce liquid by half which can take about 10-20 minutes depending on how big your pan is.  Once reduced, add your beef stock and fill till it almost covers the short ribs, bring back to a boil and gently baste your ribs before transferring to the stove.  Congrats ya’ll.  You’ve successfully created your braising liquid.  Now it’s time to braise.  BRAISE THE LORD!!!!!

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drunk off the fumes but thats okay!

Carefully take aluminum foil and wrap your roasting pan prior to transferring to the oven.  Carefully place inside the oven, get a buddy to help you if the pan is hot and heavy and let it cook for 3-4 hours, basting every 30 minutes until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.  That’s it.  That’s the braising process. Complicated huh?  During the cook time you can do some laundry, watch a few episodes of Shameless, torture your cats by putting them in Halloween costumes….What?  I’d never do…..oh..okay so like once…..or um okay twice..Okay three times..I swear they love it though!

When the ribs are done and you’ve applied Bactine to all your cat scratches remove carefully from the oven and transfer the ribs to a separate place.  All that beautiful meaty rich liquid does not go to waste.  If you throw it away and I find out I’ll hunt you down and slap you silly.  That is a gorgeous demi-glace and should be enjoyed. image000002 Remove the garlic and place in a fine mesh sieve and press out all the braised roasted garlic pulp, and then in the same sieve strain the braising liquid.  You can at this point reduce it down if it is a little thin after incorporating the garlic paste or if its the right consistency place in a separate bowl for your guests.  I personally saute up some mushrooms and shallot and more garlic and add the demi-glace to the pan prior to plating and then drizzle over my short ribs.  You can pair this with anything.  A lovely polenta with the rib nestled on top would be lovely.  Some egg noodles and go a little more rustic always a winner or even eating it by itself with a lovely vibrant salad.  Its all up to you.  I hope you enjoy!

Mangia! 

Recipe:

Oven temp 340 F / 170 C

Total cooking time 5 hours

Ingredients

6 large beef bone in short ribs

750 ml dry red wine

3 cloves garlic split horizontal

2 oz tomato paste

salt/pepper to season

4-6 cups Beef Stock (depending on size of pan)

 

I never cared for Stroganoff. She said that like a Romanov

 

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Work and life have both been insanely crazy and busy with wedding planning and all that other fun stuff that goes with the new four letter word “Adulting” *twitches*.  But I have been cooking and I’ve been deciding on what to blog about.

It’s no hidden secret that I find great comfort in the kitchen.  It’s my sanctuary.  My “man cave”.  It’s where I can go and vent frustrations of the day by pounding out some dough or violently whipping of egg whites.  It’s therapy for me.  I’ve always had this dream of opening up a bakery that has an afternoon program geared towards teens who have a difficult home life where they can come and vent their frustrations through the creation of food.  I hope some day to make that dream a reality.

Why is cooking so therapeutic for me?  I wish I had the answer.  Maybe it’s because I have so many positive memories associated with cooking.  Standing in the kitchen on the holidays with a glass of wine watching my aunts and uncles shoot the shit while trimming green beans, filling pie crusts.  I associate the kitchen with a moment of happiness.  Huh…guess I did have the answer after all ;)…One of my most favorite people to be in the kitchen with is probably a tie between my father and my grandmother.  Probably only natural considering they are mother and son.  My father has taught me so many fine things such as how to make potato soup, foccacia, how to grill, how to tie my shoes (not really cooking related but important nonetheless).  My grandmother however taught me that the preparation of a meal is meant to be done with love for those eating it.  They will be able to taste your feelings in your food and your food reflects you at your core.  And that is very true.  When I’m in a funk it totally shows in my cooking.  I burn things, it tastes bland or over seasoned.  It’s a hot fucking mess I tell you what.  But when I’m happy and in that zone where everything is just right everything is awesome.  Everything is cool cause you’re part of the team!!! Another thing my grandmother taught me was how to make stroganoff.  Just saying that word makes me think of her and how her kitchen would smell when she would make it.  The onions, mushrooms,  the bits of skirt steak or if she couldn’t afford it, ground beef.  And the sour cream…..Good God those were some amazing combinations of smells.  She taught me how to make her version of stroganoff when I was 10 and it’s the recipe I’ve used for near 30 years and it will be the one I teach Ari my niephew (not a typo) and my children (if I ever have any).  But until then I’ll share it with you all 🙂

 

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients.  I will also list appropriate substitutions should you have difficulty finding certain items or if they are outside your dinner budget. This can also be easily made into a vegetarian option by subbing out and omitting certain items.

  • 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak  sliced 1/2 inch thick (you can use ground beef if you can’t find skirt steak) ****
  • 2 medium yellow onions sliced thin ( I recommend using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 4 cloves garlic finely minced into a paste (or you can use garlic paste in a tube)
  • 12 oz sliced portobello mushrooms (I recommend using baby bellas)****
  • 1 1/2 c. beef stock****
  • 1/4 c. butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. AP flour
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream (you can substitute this with Greek yogurt for a healthier option)

**** For a vegetarian option omit the beef and substitute for 1 1/2 pounds of portobello mushroom caps.  Use the large variety for a more “meaty” mouth feel.  Also substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock****

Now to put it all together.

  •  Take a large skillet and cook your mushrooms, onions, garlic and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.  Once done remove from the pan and reserve in a bowl to be added at the end of the cooking process. If opting for a vegetarian version of this dish skip the browning stage of the meat in step 2 and continue with the instructions.
  • While your vegetables are sauteing take your skirt steak and slice across the grain into 1 1/2 inch strips.  Place the beef strips (or ground beef) into the skillet and brown on all sides.  Take note to not over crowd the pan as the meat will then stew instead of brown.  We want to achieve the Maillard effect**  Once brown on all sides stir in 1 cup of broth and the Worcestershire sauce.  Bring contents to a boil and then reduce to allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes.  If using ground beef drain out extra fat before adding the broth and omit the 30-45 minute braising step. While you braise your skirt steak, take remaining broth and stir in 1/4 c. AP flour to make a slurry.  This is your thickening agent to make the creamy velvet sauce that we all know and love.
  • Stir in your broth flour mixture back into the beef mixture.  Add your mushroom and onions back to the pan and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Once at a boil stirring constantly for 1 minute.  This will activate the flour and the fat in the pan and help thicken the sauce.  Stir in your sour cream and heat till hot (do not allow to boil!!!!).
  • Serve over egg noodles with a chunk of crusty bread to sop up all the goodness at the end.

Helpful tips

Partially freeze your beef prior to slicing as this will actually make it easier.  Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so.

Always use a sharp knife.  This will help make the process easier as well as help avoid any accidents.  I’ve cut myself many a time due to a dull blade slipping and cutting my hand.  Sharp knives save lives………no seriously…okay they end lives too but in this instance I don’t want to end up with 9 fingers.

If you dont feel like pasta try subbing out pasta and turning it into a pizza using the mushroom beef gravy as your sauce and top with a little mozzarella baking in an oven at 450 until bubbly.  I recommend using a more bready crust like Boboli to avoid any sogginess.

ENJOY!!!!!