Sunday, October 9, 2011

Brussels Sprouts People Will Beg You to Make

Brussels Sprouts seem to be a universally hated vegetable, yet most people I know have never actually tried them.  I first tried them last Thanksgiving when my mom found this recipe (Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan) and decided to try it.  Much to everyone's surprise, it was delicious!  I now have a more open mind about brussels sprouts so when my mom told me she had a new brussels sprouts recipe to make while we were visiting this weekend I was excited to try it.

This recipe is delicious!  Everybody loved it; even those were skeptical initially were going back for more.  The key is cooking the brussels sprouts just right - do not overcook them!!

Mustard-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
(from the Fall 2011 issue of edibleINDY)

  • 20-25 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup red onions, julienned
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 heaping Tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch halved Brussels sprouts for approximately 3 minutes, until cooked through but not mushy.  Remove Brussels sprouts and place into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking (this step is key to cooking them right!).  Drain.  The sprouts should be tender and bright green.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add bacon and sugar; continue cooking for another 30 seconds or until the sugar melts and begins to turn a caramel color.  Add the Brussels sprouts and deglaze with the chicken stock.  Reduce by half.  Add the mustard, vinegar, and thyme.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ropa Vieja

I've been cooking a lot of crock pot recipes lately because they tend to have a very high taste to effort ratio (that's how Matt categorizes food preparation), and with a 6 1/2 month old crawling around (yes, I said crawling!), recipes with minimal effort are ideal!  Plus you have the added bonus of smelling it all day, which makes me very excited to eat it when dinner comes around.  Luckily Jeremy & Lindsay gave me an awesome crock pot cookbook for Christmas last year and I've been making very good use of it over the past 6 months.  The book is Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea and pretty much everything I've made from it has been terrific.

Last night's meal, Ropa Vieja, was no exception!  Ropa Vieja is Spanish for "old clothes," which may not sound very appetizing but it is!  The smell and the flavor reminded me of something and it took me a little while to figure out what - it reminds me a little of barbacoa from Chipotle, which makes me think this would also be wonderful in burritos.

This is in the crock pot after a few hours of cooking.  (I guess
I should have taken the lid off for the photo so it would
have come out a little more clear.)
And here is the finished product, with the meat and veggies
all mixed together like old clothes in the wash!
Ropa Vieja

  • 1 Tbsp (tablespoon) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (teaspoon) smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds beef or pork stew meat or roast (get what's on sale: I used beef chuck shoulder roast)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 yellow apples, peeled and grated (I'm not sure why it calls for yellow apples specifically; I used empire apples I had and it worked out great)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Use a 6-quart slow cooker.  Combine the cumin, paprika, salt, and peppers in a bowl.  Rub the spice mixture all over the piece (or pieces) or meat you are using.  Put the meat into the stoneware.  Dump any extra spice left in the bowl on top.  Add the vegetables, garlic, cilantro, grated apples, chicken broth, and vinegar.  Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork - the meat and vegetables should be shredded and fully intertwined.  The longer and slower you cook this, the better.  Serve over brown or white rice, with a ladle full of broth.

*I'll add one more note about the meat:  The roast I used had a layer of fat on the top and bottom and I figured it would melt during cooking.  It didn't and I ended up pulling out a few fairly large ribbons of fat before I served this.  It might be worth attempting to cut the fat off ahead of time if it's a thick layer like it was on mine.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ragout of Lentils, Turkey Meatballs, and Mint

Now, in most cases, ground turkey seems to be one of those “meh-schmeh” kinds of meat. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good turkey burger—but I’m not generally racing to my kitchen because I have ground turkey in the fridge. This recipe has changed all of that. It not only tastes wonderful, but it also uses ingredients that I almost always have on hand.  

First of all, however, I have to make an embarrassing confession of an action not befitting any sort of erudite housewife.  I have looked at and made several “ragout” recipes. But, somehow, I never realized it was a French term, pronounced “ra-goo”.  Yes, I have indeed been reading “rag-out,” as in, “I need to wring this rag out.” I always felt it to be a bit rustic, but in a world of gumbo and hash (as in, country chicken hash, of course), what’s odd about a rag-out?  Somehow, along the way, Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag started playing in my mind and I subconsciously formed a whole etymology of “rag-out.” In my opinion (because clearly, these sort of things can be based on opinion), a rag-out is a colloquialism combining “rag-tag,” and pulling everything thing out of your pantry. It’s a  mishmash where you throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that—whatever you have on hand—and simmer it together into warm, home-y goodness.

Now, to turn my faux pas into an educational experience, I ask,  what is a ragout? According to the Food Network, a ragout is “A derivative of the French verb ragoûter, meaning "to stimulate the appetite," ragoût is a thick, rich, well-seasoned stew of meat, poultry or fish that can be made with or without vegetables."  

I guess I wasn’t so far off. Nonetheless, this is has been the most eventful enunciatory epiphany I’ve had since the fifth grade, when I realized that “ron-day-voo” and “ren-dez-vous” were the same word. I need to learn French, but not knowing it definitely provides an opportunity to laugh and not take myself so seriously. 
Now, here is this wonderful recipe.

Ragout of Lentils, Turkey Meatballs and Mint
(This is from the Williams and Sonoma Beans and Rice Cookbook)

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, lamb or beef)
1 c. bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic minced, (you need 4 cloves in all, however)
3 T. fresh mint for meatballs, (5 T for garnish at the end)
2 T. fresh parsley,
1 t. paprika,
¾ t. ground cumin,
½ t. ground cloves,
¼ t. cayenne pepper
¾ t. salt
½ t. pepper.
¼ c. olive oil
1 chopped small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small diced carrot
1 c. lentils
1 can whole plum tomatoes, juiced reserved and tomatoes chopped
4 c. chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients from ground turkey to pepper. Make 24 meatballs and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

2.Warm ¼ c. olive oil in large sauté pan. Add chopped small onion, diced carrot, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté until onion is soft over medium heat. Add lentils, 1 c. reserved juice from can of whole plum tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer until lentils are tender, around 20 min.

3. Chop tomatoes, add them and reserved meatballs to the pot and simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste. Garnish with 5 T. mint.