Category Archives: Meat

Steak and Blue Cheese Hand Pies

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A hand pie, I will have you know, is when you put fillings in little circles of pie crust, fold it over, and then bake it like a turnover.  In Michigan, we call these pasties (that’s pronounced PAHS-ties, as opposed to PAYS-ties, and you are all filthy if you thought the other thing).

Oh wait. First I want to address the fact that neither Sue nor I have written a blog post since July.  Well, we have the following to say for ourselves: we were busy, and apologize for the long delay. I CAN say that we cooked many interesting things while we’ve been away, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips on it, a Christmas yule log, crab jambalaya WITH CRABS THAT I MYSELF CAUGHT FROM THE OCEAN, KILLED* AND CLEANED, a turducken and a devil’s food cake, but we didn’t blog about any of it. (Hint on the PB&J: you put the chips right on the sandwich!!!)

*I didn’t kill them, my boyfriend did. Crabs are a lot harder to kill than you’d think, and also if, say, you try to kill one and just piss it off instead, it gets verrrrry fighty.

So, hand pies/pasties, which are basically the same thing. Pasties originated in Cornwall, and arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Cornish immigrants who came for the UP copper mining.  They can be filled with savory or sweet things, though traditionally it would be beef and root vegetables.  The crust is a traditional shortcrust pastry, a basic pie crust with a 1:2 fat to flour ratio. We filled ours with some leftover jerk chicken, and made some with steak, blue cheese and caramelized onion. That’s the recipe I’ll post, because it’s going to make you cry, it’s so good. This recipe makes about 7 hand pies.

Crust:

2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, diced

3/4 cup very cold vodka

1 tsp salt

Egg wash (whisk together one egg with 2 tsp of cold water and set aside)

Filling:

1 lb or so of sirloin steak, salted and peppered on both sides

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup wine, any kind will do

salt and pepper

blue cheese

Method:  In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and butter until the mixture is grainy like sand. Drop in the cold vodka about a teaspoon at a time until the mixture JUST holds together. DO NOT OVERMIX. Remove the dough from the food processor, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This resting process is extremely important and I think has something to do with gluten but I forget, so just do it, or else watch this video.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

While the dough is resting in the fridge and the oven is pre-heating, make the filling.  In a cast iron pan on medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sear the steak for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to a plate and let rest. In the same pan but heat reduced to medium, melt the remaining tbsp of butter and cook the onions until browned and even lightly charred, scraping up all the delicious beef bits.

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After maybe 6 or 7 minutes, deglaze the pan with whatever wine you have and cook until the liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat. Dice the steak into cute little bite sized pieces.

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good luck not eating this before you put it in the hand pies.

After resting and preparing the filling, unwrap the dough, separate it into as many balls as you want to have hand pies (we  made 7 with this amount of dough), and on a lightly floured work surface, roll each dough ball out into a  little circle.

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my boyfriend ends up doing most of the gnarly jobs. rolling out dough, killing crabs, etc.

Pile a little steak, a little onions and some blue cheese bits onto the circles, fold them over into a half moon shape, pinch the ends together with your fingers (or use the tines of a fork to crimp them) and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with egg wash and bake them for 20-25 minutes or until browned.

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egg wash SEEMS stupid and pointless, but it gets the crust all brown and delicious. a good idea would be to feed the leftover egg wash to your dog. i bet he would like it.

You can reheat these in the oven as long as they last, which will be zero days. I took these to work for lunch and I didn’t heat them up, I just kept it on my desk so when I ate it it was room temperature and the crust was crisp and fantastic and I wish I still had some of these but I don’t because we ate them all. Also, MAY I SUGGEST eating the steak ones with a little dollop of raspberry jam. Good GOD they’re delicious.

– Cat

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Meat, Recipes

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam, or Why Canning is Awesome

Canning is awesome. It is also making a huge comeback (did it ever disappear? I mean, I guess not, but now it is hip). In fairness I have always been on board, my mom has been canning things for years, but I think there was a generation or two out there who kind of lost the art and trust me- it is an art. I have wanted to can for a long time, but it is an intimidating task. There are a lot of steps to can properly. There is also the fear of the big B (botulism) or just plain ruining a batch of something you spent hours making. So here’s the thing, maybe next summer I’ll be ready to teach you about canning but for now, I’m going to tell you about the places I am learning from. If you have ever canned, thought about canning, or read blogs in general there is a good chance you have heard of the blog Food In Jars. It is incredible. Not only is it a great resource for how to but also recipes and links galore. Another resource I have been using heavily is the book Put ‘em Up. It is a fantastic comprehensive guide to all kinds of preserving. It is laid out well and includes illustrations, tips, and delightful recipes.

Today was my first canning experience on my own. I chose a 90 degree day here in Denver because I’m smart and I plan ahead. Wait, what? Here is the thing about canning, It’s a task it’s kind of labor intensive and if you have a small kitchen it will probably get really hot and steamy (and not in a good way). Frankly, it’s really easy to put off. My point is- don’t put it off. The rewards are amazing. Being able to give someone something you canned all by yourself is kind of an awesome experience. Learning how to preserve the flavors of summer in a jar that costs less than a dollar and doing it for ½ the price of what it would cost to buy those things out of season. Totally. Worth. It.

After reading Food In Jars a few days ago I couldn’t pass up this recipe, and I’m glad I didn’t because it was incredible.

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam

beautiful fresh raspberries

yay canning!

That’s right people. It’s as good as it sounds. For this part of the recipe I’m going to direct you to the source, then I’m going to tell you how I used that delicious jam to make the best summer meal ever. Which was…

Grilled pork chops with Raspberry Jalapeno Jam served with goat cheese and arugula smashed potatoes.

Ingredients:

2 bone in pork chops

Salt and pepper to season

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Jalapeno Jam

4-5 medium sized red skin potatoes (or other waxy variety)

4 oz goat cheese

1 Tablespoon (or so) olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large handful of arugula

Method:

Liberally salt and pepper the pork chops up to 2 hours in advance, chill until ready to grill. Grill the pork chops over medium high heat until they reach an internal temp of 145 degrees*. Let rest under foil while you mash the potatoes.

Boil a pot of water and season with salt (remember, if you don’t salt the water your potatoes will be bland no matter how much salt you add after cooking). If the potatoes are small leave them whole, if not cut them in ½. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and put in a large bowl, add the goat cheese, and olive oil. Mash with a potato masher or a fork until the goat cheese is incorporated and the potatoes are all mashed and slightly creamy- you may need more olive oil or even a small splash of milk if you like. Add salt and pepper to taste (about ½ tsp each). Fold in arugula and serve warm.

Top each pork chop with a tablespoon of raspberry jalapeno jam and serve with a spoonful of the mashed potatoes.

A few notes:

* USDA recommends cooking pork to a minimum internal temperature of 145, resting it under foil will raise that temperature slightly. This is the best temperature for moist pork chops, but it might be a little pink for some so please cook it to whatever temperature you feel comfortable.

– Goat cheese is really delightful with the raspberry jalapeno jam but you could substitute cream cheese if goat cheese isn’t your thing.

– Speaking of which, this would be delicious with just goat cheese on crackers. It would really be a great addition to any cheese plate.

– I joined a CSA this summer. It is a great way to eat local produce and support a local farm. I am also truly looking forward to the challenge of my weekly baskets and figuring out how to eat or preserve everything! I’m diving right in kids, get on board!

-Sue

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Filed under Appetizers, Canning, Meat, Recipes, Sides

Asian Chicken Wings

this is the prettiest picture ever. that is because susan took it.

To me, chicken wings are the fowl equivalent of sugar pie, which is when you take all the odds and ends from your pie crust and bake them with sugar on it.  Chicken wings are what is left over when the parts of the chicken people actually want are spoken for: unsellable, weird pieces of what is very obviously a bird.  The marketing department of Giant Chicken Conglomerate, however, figured out a way to make money off the pieces no one in their right mind would actually want:  PUT A LOT OF SAUCE ON THEM.  Realistically, chicken wings are vehicles for sauce.  Which actually I am totally fine with, though it does raise a question that has troubled me for some time.  Why must we use animal parts to ferry sauce from our grubby hands to our  mouths?  Why is it not ok to eat sauce with a spoon?  Some questions just don’t have answers.

The good news is, these chicken wings have a really good sauce.  It’s more like a glaze, really.  And it can be modified very easily.  If, for example, you are making these for someone who does not hate ginger, it would be lovely to put ginger in the sauce!  I’m not usually one for recipes that require a long marinating time, because I don’t plan food in advance much, but the longer these marinate, the better they will be.  Because you broil them, the skin gets all crispy and caramelized from the sugar and the fat, and soy sauce, garlic and sugar are a magical combination in any situation.  Also, if, like me, you make these for a whole bunch of people during which time you drink a large quantity of red wine, you will appreciate how salty, sweet and spicy they are in contrast to how drunk you feel.  And, if, like me, you ALWAYS want a snack when the red wine-drinking is over, these are excellent left over.

Vaguely Asian Chicken Wings (these proportions are for 1 lb of chicken wings, double, triple, 14-ple as needed.)

1 lb chicken wings

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup  brown sugar

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 tsp Sriracha, depending on how spicy you like things

Some other things you could add to the sauce if you wanted:  minced ginger; sake, if you have some lying around; sweet Thai chili sauce; peanut butter, if you want a peanut sauce kind of thing; ponzu; FISH SAUCE, and I would highly recommend this; grated pear, which I use when I make Korean bulgogi, it is magic.

Method:  Whisk together the sauce ingredients, coat the wings with it for at least 2 hours, but preferably 24.  When you’re ready to cook them, put all the wings on a cookie sheet (reserving the marinade) and bake them in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until they’re more or less cooked through.  Take them out, brush the glaze you reserved back over them and put them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.  Take them out, flip them all over, broil the other side for 2-3 minutes.  If you want to then flip them one MORE time and broil the other side for a further minute, you can, because there’s so much fat in chicken wings it is basically impossible to overcook them, and you’d rather have the skin be crispy all the way around, trust me.  Serve, with Sriracha and chopped green onion for garnish.

– Cat

another beautiful picture, courtesy of susan.

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Filed under Appetizers, Meat, Poultry, Recipes

Cheddar, Chive and Stout Bread with Corned Beef and Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Yesterday I was reading a post  about cheddar chive beer bread on thekitchn and became inspired to make something for St. Paddy’s day. Then I thought- how can I make this into dinner? So I thought I would make an open faced corned beef sandwich.  After contemplating for approximately 3 minutes about making corned beef, I instead decided to go to our local market and buy some thinly sliced corned beef.

Here is the short rundown on corned beef, it’s salt cured and brined with spices- that’s what makes it what it is. You can get it in a can, which is the ground salted version- and is shockingly better than you might think- but not like fresh corned beef. Then there is the kind you can buy in the supermarket that is already packed in brine that comes with the seasoning packet. You can also make it from scratch following Alton’s instructions which will probably be fantastic but will take you days. It’s not so much hard, as it is time consuming. So if you are making this dish and you know of a good deli (Marczyk’s for me) maybe just buy it there.

So next, we are on to the bread. Oh my God, the bread. Is it possible that I have never had beer bread? Or was it just never this good? Either way, I am hooked. It was SO easy, and delicious! You mix everything in one bowl, and it comes together in minutes. From the first bite, all I could think of was ways to modify it. I love making bread with yeast so I have never really gotten on the quick bread train (at least not the savory kind) well- I’m here now. This bread is made with stout, white cheddar, and chives. The stout adds a light bitter flavor, which is delicious on its own and even better in the sandwich.

I have very fond memories of my dad making corned beef and cabbage growing up… I should really rephrase that and say, I have fond memories of the beef, the cabbage part, not so much. I remember it smelling a lot like farts and plugging my nose to eat the one piece I was required to choke down before I could leave the table.  Here is the thing about cabbage (and brussels sprouts and a number of other vegetables out there) they contain sulfur. When you over cook them- they smell like a fart. Now, they might not taste like it- but try explaining to your kids why they should eat something that smells like a fart- let me know how that works out.  I read about roasted wedges of cabbage on a few blogs awhile ago, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. IT IS DELIGHTFUL! The outer edges get crispy, and the inside is buttery and tangy. It’s almost impossible to overcook it (to fart stage) because you just watch the outer leaves and when they turn brown it is perfect! I finished mine with a little lemon, and it was a perfect addition to the plate.

Last thing before the recipes- the sauce. My dad used to put a mixture of brown sugar and mustard on our corned beef. I’m not sure where this tradition came from, but it was one of my favorite parts. I loved the tangy sweet flavor it added to the meat. This is a common pairing with ham, but I’m here to tell you, it should be on corned beef too.

This isn’t just a meal for St. Paddy’s day people- I’m going to make this every Tuesday.

Cheddar and Chive Stout beer- originally from the kitchn

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle stout (I used St. Peter’s cream stout because I love it)
1 cup grated Irish cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook vintage white cheddar because it’s the best)
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup Irish butter, melted

Method:

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, or coat with butter.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the beer and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in 3/4 cup of the cheese and the chives.

Transfer the batter to prepared pan. Pour the melted butter evenly over top of the dough. Bake about 30 minutes then scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top. Return the loaf to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Turn out and serve warm, sliced.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges:

 Method:

Preheat oven to 425

Remove any wilted outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper, and squeeze lemon juice over each piece (about 1 lemon).

Bake for 30 minutes until the outer leaves and edges are browned. Dress with more lemon (if you love lemon like I do) and serve.

Brown sugar mustard sauce:

In a sauce pan combine ¼ cup dark brown sugar with 1 Tbs yellow mustard. Cook over medium until the brown sugar is dissolved. Taste and add more mustard if desired.

Sandwich building:

I made the bread first and let it cool. Then I roasted the cabbage. While the cabbage was roasting I cut the bread into ½” slices and put them on a baking sheet. I put them in the oven to toast lightly while the cabbage was finishing. Then I topped them with a few slices of corned beef, a drizzle of the sauce, and a few slices of Swiss cheese When the cabbage was done I turned on the broiler and broiled the sandwiches until the cheese was bubbly and just starting to brown.

A few notes:

Happy St. Paddy’s day everyone! Don’t drink the green beer, drink a stout instead, and then use any leftovers to make beer bread!

I mean it about the quick bread- you should expect to see more posts, and soon.
I am thinking fresh dill from the garden, or maybe buttermilk walnut bread? I’m getting pretty excited about it.

Is it St. Paddy’s or St. Patty’s? St. Patricks? I’m not going to lie- i put all of these in here to make this post searchable. Don’t judge.

-Sue

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Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a bit of a production, but it’s worth every ounce of effort. You have to make a pie crust, roast chicken, make the filling, and then assemble the pie. It’s quite an ordeal, but it’s fantastic. Of course, there are a lot of cheater methods for chicken pot pie including buying pre-made pie crust, or even puff pastry. You can substitute cream of chicken soup instead of making the filling from scratch. You can even use biscuits as a topping…but I’m telling you right now, if you make it my way, you won’t regret it. In fact, if you have someone you want to impress (a boyfriend or girlfriend by chance) you might want to consider making this for them. This was one of the first meals I made for my boyfriend, and I’m fairly confident it sealed the deal for me.

Classically, chicken pot pie is a cream based filling with chicken, carrots, onions, celery, peas, and potatoes; which is exactly how I make mine. Many recipes add things like mushrooms (which I do love, but my boyfriend doesn’t), bell peppers, and even green beans. Bells peppers and my stomach don’t get along, and I think there is no worse crime than an overcooked mushy green bean, but you can add whatever you like. If you want to add or omit any vegetables in this recipe, you can do it without making any adjustment.

Now, there are a few things I should tell you about this recipe:

–          This is a recipe for a full double pie crust. Depending on how you make your final product you might have left over. If you have left over you can roll out an extra pie crust and freeze it in a disposable pie tin for use later.

–          This recipe makes more than enough filling. My boyfriend calls it “chicken stew” and he loves to eat it alone as much as he loves it in pie form.

–          This can be made in various ways: In a pie plate with both a top and a bottom crust, in a pie plate with just a top crust, or in ramekins or small crocks topped with crust.

–          I made the original in the traditional way with a top and a bottom crust in a pie plate. With the leftovers for picture (and round two eating) purposes I made a small one in a ramekin. One was prettier, but they were both equally delicious.

The filling for this recipe is my own, but the pie crust recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  I have a number of different pie crust recipes under my belt (including the secret family recipe), but this one was excellent for this dish.

Pie Crust Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I left this out since I was doing a savory preparation and this dough is quite sweet)
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka  (Don’t skip this, see the note at the bottom of the post)
1/4 cup cold water

1 egg, for egg wash

Pie crust method:

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Filling (a.k.a. Chicken stew) ingredients:

1 ½ to 2 lbs of chicken, roasted  and diced (or shredded) *See notes at bottom*

1 onion, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

4 Tbs butter

¾ cup flour

4 cups (1 box) chicken stock

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼” rounds

2 large stalks celery, slice into ¼” pieces

1 medium to large russet potato, diced and par boiled

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor, or 1 bouillon cube

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup heavy cream or ½ and ½

Filling method:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large pot or sauce pan heat olive oil and sauté onions over medium heat until translucent. Add butter and let it melt. Add flour and whisk into butter and onions, cook over medium heat until a thick paste has formed and has started to lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in chicken stock and bullion, bring to a boil. The sauce should be significantly thickened, turn heat back down to medium and add the carrots and celery, and chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes until the carrots and celery have begun to soften. Add peas and potatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, about a tsp. each, or more to taste. Whisk in heavy cream and remove from heat.

Chicken Pot Pie assembly:

For full crust: Assemble the bottom crust of the pie and rub with butter (yes, more butter, but this will help the crust from becoming soggy).  Add the filling and top with an additional crust. Crimp edges.  And cut 3-4 vents in the top. Whisk one egg and brush lightly over the entire crust. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling

For individual pot pies: Spoon filling into 4-6 ovenproof bowls (depending on their size). Roll out dough and cut into strips to create a lattice top, or cut into rounds large enough to drape over the edge of each bowl.  Brush the edge of the bowls with egg wash and top with crust. If you are using rounds, cut 2 vents in each. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper. Bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

A few notes:

You can buy roasted chicken, or roast your own. I used two large bone-in chicken breasts with skin on. I like to buy skin on because it keeps the breasts moist. My method is to rub each breast with olive oil, place them in a roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 35 minutes until they are cooked through and have an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees. Let the chicken cool , then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin, cut into a large dice.

Vodka in pie crust?! No, I’m not crazy. There is some science behind this.  Essentially the alcohol adds moisture without aiding in gluten formation, because gluten does not form in alcohol. For good flaky pie crust you want layers of fat and layers of gluten, and much of this is achieved by using cold ingredients and not allowing too much gluten to form too quickly. One other note- don’t skip that step about folding in the water/vodka, it makes a HUGE difference, trust me. There are a LOT of things I have learned about dough making over the past few years, but that’s a whole different post.

-Sue

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Filed under Baked Goods, Meat, Poultry, Recipes

Clams with White Beans and Wine

interestingly, the best spot in my apartment for taking pictures of food after dark is on top of a bookshelf.

Look.  Shellfish are ugly.  Sometimes they have weird things hanging off their shells, and more often than not, they look like genitalia or snot.  But here’s the thing I didn’t know until this year:  THEY ARE DELICIOUS AND ARE ALMOST ALWAYS SERVED IN A SAUCE MADE OUT OF MELTED BUTTER.

In October, Sue and I went to Seattle to eat.  During the trip, I learned the following:

1.  Clams, even though they’re so ugly and weird looking with ridiculous valves and things that they really require that you not look directly at them as you lift them to your lips, are sweet little morsels of delight.

2.  Oysters, which are most often advertised by aggressive seafood eaters as being “briny”, (Really, everyone I’ve ever met?  Briny?  Think up a selling point that doesn’t remind me of all the worst parts of going to the beach) are actually quite lovely, and I even chewed mine, which apparently is not best practice for eating oysters.

3.  Mussels, despite looking quite obviously like tiny vaginas, are tender and sweet and are served with french fries a lot.

Last week, I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for mussels in white wine, and figured “forget my lifelong promise to myself not to cook seafood at home thanks to that time I was a kid and my mom made salmon and it made the whole house smell like fish for 17 days,  I’m gonna cook mussels at home!”  Except then, when I went to the store, I realized that mussels have to be de-bearded and that felt too scary so I bought clams instead.

Clams with White Beans and Wine

2 lb fresh Manila clams

6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tsp bacon fat, from the jar I sincerely hope you keep in your fridge

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup or so white wine, I used a white Bordeaux, because Sue taught me that I like “non-traditional grape varietals”

2 cans white Northern beans, drained and rinsed well

red pepper flakes

a lot of chopped flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper

crusty bread

Method:  Clams are sandy.  To clean clams, you put them in a big bowl of salted cool water for 20 minutes to an hour before cooking, which makes them spit out all the sand.  Apparently, you can also put black pepper, flour or corn meal in the water to help them expel the sand.  I put in salt and pepper only.  When they’re done soaking, fish them out with a spoon and put them in a colander, scrubbing them thoroughly to remove the sand from the outside of the shells.

they weren't so sandy, i guess, because not a ton of sand came out and i didn't chew any sand.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter, the bacon fat and the olive oil in a large, shallow pan with sides and a fitted lid, on medium-low heat.  Toss in the garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and let it cook for maybe 4 or 5 minutes, moving it around frequently so it doesn’t burn.  Burnt garlic is almost as gross as that feeling when you realize the cute boy you’re talking to is a Republican.

After the 4-5 minutes, put in the beans and cook everything together for 5 minutes or so.

if you don't have a pan like this, clearly you don't go to homegoods as often as i do.

Then, pour in the wine and let it simmer for 5 more minutes.  Put in the clams and the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, stir it around a bit and put the lid on the pan for 5 minutes, shaking the pan a couple times to move things around.

i feel fancy that i did this.

Take the lid off, stir everything around, remove any clams that haven’t opened (because they were dead already, I think, is the reason that you don’t want to eat them, but that fact reminds me that I just cooked alive creatures in butter and wine and that’s jarring), put in the chopped parsley and serve with the bread.

all mine opened except 4. i assume "not open" meant not open at all, and that open only a little bit was still ok. i ate those, so if i die, they should really be more specific about how open clams are supposed to be.

This was so easy and so delicious I feel like a chump for every time I’ve been impressed by a dish like this in a restaurant.  Clams are fantastic, and butter, wine and garlic make for a no-lose situation.  Also, this entire process took less than 30 minutes.  I’ve always felt that shellfish are very high maintenance, which I suppose they are in terms of cleaning and de-bearding and de-icing or whatever else, but cooking them was fast and almost foolproof.  I think next time I make this, which based on how good this was might be tomorrow, I’ll put chorizo in it.

– Cat

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Filed under Legumes, Meat, Seafood, Soup

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Red & Green Sauce

I learned a few things today…

  1. I like enchiladas
  2. Enchiladas are hard to photograph. Mexican food is notoriously sloppy (and by that I mean delicious) but seriously hard to make look as appetizing as it tastes.

Let me tell you about my enchilada experience so far in life. It has consisted of soggy, flavorless piles of mush that someone called enchiladas. I have also had a few encounters with enchiladas doused in “enchilada sauce” by Ortega or some other not very authentic Mexican brand, that was not delicious at all (confession: I do love Ortega’s taco sauce on soft tacos, it’s what we ate growing up and it just makes homemade soft tacos taste right).  So anyway, maybe I have had a few decent (maybe even good) enchiladas along the way.  One of these experiences was in Santa Fe, at a food stand outside a flea market. The sauces were amazing, and the enchilada served as the vehicle to shovel them into my mouth.  This was the first time I ever really took enchiladas seriously….and it was all because of the sauce. Santa Fe cuisine is defined by two kinds of sauce, specifically red and green chili. Now- this recipe is not for green chili, or even red chili, but those will come later.  What this recipe does have, is two sauces. One is made from tomatillos and one is made from fire roasted tomatoes.

If you have never eaten or cooked with tomatillos you are missing out. They are not to be confused with green tomatoes, even though they look a little like it. They are small and covered with a thin paper-like husk, they are tangy and absolutely delicious. When picking out tomatillos, you want to look for small firm ones, they are the sweetest. The husks are also an indication of freshness, they should look light green even a little brownish, but they should not be shriveled or dried up.

Now, on to the recipe; I used Rick Bayless as a resource for my sauces. He is an authority on Mexican food, and if you haven’t heard of him you should look him up and then immediately buy one of his cookbooks. The book I have is “Mexican Everyday”. He has a number of enchilada recipes, and after Santa Fe I loved the idea of layering sauces, so I combined a few of his recipes into one. The corn tortillas held up beautifully, the flavor of the chicken and the cheese came through and the sauces were EXCELLENT! The sauces stood powerfully alone, and were formidable together. A little bit of sour cream and a couple slices of avocado…and I think I have found my favorite Mexican dish ever.

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Tomatillo sauce, and Tomato Jalapeno Sauce

Tomatillo sauce ingredients:

10-12 small to medium tomatillos, removed of their husks and quartered

3 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeno, cut into quarters (keeping the seeds and ribs! don’t be a wuss)

¾ cup loosely packed cilantro

1 ½ Tbs oil (vegetable or olive oil)

2 cups chicken broth

3 Tbs sour cream*

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar (optional)

Method:

In a food processor or blender, drop in the garlic and the jalapeno and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the tomatillos and cilantro and process until smooth. Heat 1 ½ Tbs oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the puree and cook until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of a thick tomato sauce (the more you cook it down, the sweeter the tomatillos will be). Add the chicken broth and cook over medium heat for an additional 10 minutes. Add sour cream and salt. Taste the sauce, add a little sugar if the sauce is too tangy for you ( I didn’t use it) add more salt if needed also. Reduce to low to keep warm.

Tomato and Jalapeno sauce ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeno, quartered (I seeded this one, because I wanted to have a balance between the sauces)

One 28-oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 ½ Tbs vegetable oil

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp salt.

Method:

In a food processor or blender, drop in the garlic and the jalapeno and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the tomatoes and process until smooth. Heat 1 ½ Tbs oil in a medium  sauce pan on medium heat, add the puree and cook to the consistency of a thick tomato sauce (about 7 minutes). Add the broth and simmer over medium heat for 10 additional minutes. Add salt, add more if needed.  Reduce to low to keep warm

Enchiladas:

1 ½ cups shredded chicken- I bought rotisserie chicken*

Oil for brushing

½ (or more) cups grated Monterrey jack cheese*

A few Tbs. of the red sauce from above

12 corn tortillas

Method:

Mix the shredded chicken with a few Tbs of sauce (about 3 or 4) until they are lightly coated. Heat over medium heat until just warmed.

Heat the oven to 350. Brush each side of the tortilla lightly with oil and place on a baking sheet (you can stack them in twos). Bake for 3 minutes until the corn tortillas are soft and pliable. When you remove them from the oven cover with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.

For the assembly:  holding a warm tortilla by one edge, dip most of it into the tomatillo sauce, then lay it on a dinner plate. Place a small amount of chicken and cheese in the middle of the tortilla and fold the sides up. Place the completed enchilada in a 9X13 baking dish. Repeat until you have completed all 12 enchiladas.

Drizzle the finished enchiladas with a few more spoonfuls of the tomatillo sauce, and the ladle a large portion of the red sauce over the center. Top with cheese and return to the oven for about 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with additional sauce, sour cream, and sliced avocado.

A few notes:

– If you noticed there are only 4 enchiladas in the picture of them before they are baked- you are right. Because of my fear of soggy enchiladas I only made 4 (two each for the boyfriend and I).  If you choose to do this, just bake them in an 8×8 dish. Save the rest of the sauce and filling for later and assemble when you are ready to eat them.

* This was my first time buying rotisserie chicken. It was delicious and convenient and everything that everyone says about it. I roast chicken often so I generally have some in my fridge (for soup and what not). But I will not overlook this option in the future.

* I used Monterrey Jack cheese because it melts nicely and has a mild flavor. You could use any cheese you like, specifically a Mexican cheese like cotija. Cotija doesn’t melt quite as smoothly as Monterrey jack, but the flavor is tangy and delightful (like a mild feta). I think next time I make this I will put the Monterrey jack cheese in the enchiladas and top it with the cotija.

– Speaking of other Mexican ingredients, the original recipe calls for Mexican crema instead of sour cream. Mexican crema is essentially a thinned out sour cream. I decided not thin out my sour cream, but if you did want to, the ratio would be ¼ cup sour cream to 1 Tbs milk.

-Sue

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