Posts Tagged 'Recipe'



Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

Last December, as we were getting the keys to our new house from our landlord, we walked in and there was a giant box sitting in the middle of the empty living room.  It turns out that Angela bought me a smoker for Christmas. It just turned out that it arrived before we did.

I’ve used it a number of times since then and have mostly stuck to the “classics.” I’ve done pulled pork several times but I have trouble cooking it long enough to get it truly tender (I haven’t made myself get up earlier enough). The same issue came with brisket. But what truly shows the beauty of smoked meat is poultry. It’s not classic barbecue but chicken and turkey absorb the smoke beautifully. Not to mention the gorgeous exterior. I’m already planning to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving this year.

I decided to change things up slightly on this chicken.  I usually smoke foods with hickory but I decided to give mesquite a try. I’ll gladly admit to be a novice smoker but there is a definitive difference between the hickory and the mesquite. The mesquite is a bit sharper and tangier in taste. While I don’t think it would work as well as hickory on pork, it adds a really nice bite to the chicken.

A smoker is really a bit of an extravagance but the more I use it, the more I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.

Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Brine:
1 gallon/4 liters water
1 1/2 cups /350 g kosher salt
1/2 cup / 125 g sugar
8 tsp / 42 g pink salt

1 3-to-4 lbs. chicken, trussed

Glaze:
1 cup/250 milliliters whiskey
1/2 cup/125 milliliters maple syrup
1/4 packed cup/50 g dark brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from the heat.  Cool to room temperature.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold.  Place the chicken in the brine, weight it down, and brine it for 18 hours.  Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under running water, dry it with paper towels, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  2. An hour before smoking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator.
  3. Hot smoke the chicken at 200ºF until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF, 3 to 4 hours.
  4. While the chicken is smoking, place all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the glaze is reduced to 1 cup.
  5. An hour and a half into smoking the chicken, brush the chicken with some of the glaze.
  6. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the smoker.  Brush it with the remaining glaze and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Souvlaki kotopoulo (Chicken Souvlaki)

Chicken Souvlaki

Apparently I’m still on the once-a-month schedule.  I hope to get a bit better about that.

When we lived in California, we were on a second floor apartment without a balcony.  So, despite the near constant beautiful weather there, we couldn’t do any grilling.  I’d be walking home and could only jealously smell the cooking meat where I had to go home into the stifling heat of an un-air-conditioned apartment.  When we moved to Virginia, Angela and I each had a different requirement for our new home: she wanted a washer-and-dryer in-unit and I wanted some form of outdoor space.  Luckily, we found a place where we both could be accommodated.

As soon as the weather turned this spring, we took the coupon Lowe’s had helpfully sent us in the mail and purchased a Weber grill.  Alison came over and we grilled both Saturday and Sunday.  Since then, we’ve dodged the frequent thunder storms to mostly grill hamburgers and steak.

I’ve only ventured into making Greek food a few times but Costco had a good deal on a Greek cookbook and I’ve always liked Greek restaurants.  I figured chicken souvlaki would be a good starting point as it was familiar (eventhough I always get tempted by gyro’s when I eat at Greek restaurants).

When I went to turn the chicken for the first time, I knew it would be good when I saw the gorgeous color it had turned.  It tasted just as good.  I suggested making lamb souvlaki sometime in the future and Angela asked why I wouldn’t just make the chicken souvlaki again.  Which is indeed a good question.

I almost wouldn’t recommend making this in a broiler.  I doubt the broiler would do it justice.  But it’s simple enough and good enough that I doubt it would turn out badly.  If you’re willing to get the grill out on a weeknight (and honestly, how hard is it really?), this makes an excellent easy meal.  I made this and even had time to make some homemade Tzaziki and pita bread.

Souvlaki kotopoulo (Chicken Souvlaki)
Adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen

1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 red onions, quartered and separated
2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Mix together 3 tbsp olive oil, the oregano, and salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate over night.
  2. Prepare a medium-hot grill.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto four skewers, alternating chicken with onion slices.
  4. Combine the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with the lemon juice and mix well.
  5. Grill the chicken, covered, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes per side, basting with the lemon juice-olive oil mixture frequently.
  6. Allow to rest for 5 minutes then serve with Tzatziki and pita bread.

Serves 4

Carnitas Caseras (Home Cooked Carnitas)

Carnitas Tacos

It’s been awhile.  It’s been quite awhile.  I could blame it on a number of things but suffice to say that I’m back.

You may remember that we recently moved from southern California to northern Virginia. Unsurprisingly, northern Virginia isn’t exactly a mecca for Mexican food.  My personal Mexican food of choice is carnitas and, unfortunately, the closest I’ve found so far in our new home is at Chipotle.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

So I decided to make my own.  These aren’t the more common carnitas found at taco stands around L.A.  These aren’t cooked for the same length of time so they don’t easily get the shredded texture of taqueria carnitas.

Instead, they are rather quickly simmered in milk before cooking the liquid off.  They’re reminiscent of an Italian recipe where pork is slowly cooked with milk.

They are quite flavorful; almost intense, as Angela described it, but at the same time mild.  The salsa (in the pictures) almost overpowered the flavor of the carnitas and I omitted it for the remainder of my tacos.  The only downside for me was that the texture was different than I was expecting.  Something that shreds more easily would work better on tacos.

These cook quickly.  Quick enough for a week night.  They go well with homemade tortilla chips and salsa.  The leftovers work well in quesadillas.

Salsa Mexicana

Carnitas Caseras (Home Cooked Carnitas)
Adapted from The Art of Mexican Cooking

4 tbsp lard or vegetable oil
3 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
salt
4 sprigs of fresh marjoram
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns, crushed
1 orange, cut into eights
1 cup milk

  1. Dry the pork with paper towels and season with salt.
  2. Heat the lard in a wide, heavy pan until hot.  Add the pork and fry until lightly golden, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the onions and cook until the meat is well browned, about 8 minutes more.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the meat is cooked through and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid, and increase the heat, cooking until all the liquid has been absorbed (there will still be a lot of fat remaining).
  6. Remove the meat from the pot and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Slice the meat into small pieces and serve with corn tortillas.

Serves 6 to 8.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Angela and I have gone out to a restaurant for dinner on Valentine’s Day exactly once.  From the crowded restaurant to the subpar, but expensive food, it was an experience that we didn’t want to repeat.  So last year we went to our favorite pizza place. Given that Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday this year, I decided that I would make a special dinner for Angela. I decided on Tagliatelle alla Bolognese as it is one of Angela’s favorite foods. I made some bread and crème brûlée.

And then I went and ruined it by spilling hot chicken stock on my toe.  I had taken advantage of the fact that I had to stay home to watch the sauce to make a large batch of chicken stock.  All was going well until I was about to strain it.  I cook the chicken stock in a stock pot with all the solids inside a pasta strainer.  To get as much liquid out of the solids as possible, I had picked up the strainer and was trying to push any remaining liquid out.  This is when tragedy struck.  The strainer slipped out of my hands, sending chicken stock flying.  Some of it flew up and landed on my sock-clad foot.  I got the sock off as quickly as possible but the damage was already done.

My foot is finally starting to heal, a week and a half later.  I’ve been forced to wear sandals and socks to work since then.  It did, however, take my manager until yesterday to realize that I was wearing them and duly make fun of me.  Apparently wearing orange toed socks makes it more conspicuous.

Luckily, I only ruined the romantic mood on Valentine’s Day and not the food itself.  The bread and crème brûlée were done.  All that was left was to make the fresh pasta and it helped take my mind off the pain.  Angela can comment on the funny dance I did to distract myself further.

Bolognese sauce is deservedly one of the most classic Italian pasta sauces.  The long cooking in milk and wine helps mellow the beef to almost be reminiscient of veal.  It also helps mellow the normally acidic bite of tomato sauces.  In many ways, however, it almost seems to be the anti-Italian pasta.  It’s one of the few times in Italian cooking where the sauce is the star and the pasta merely the sideshow.

Despite my mishap, this was still the right choice for Valentine’s Day.  It’s a special meal, taking a good bit of time.  But that time and effort pays off in a dish that can only really be described in superlatives.

Homemade Bread

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 lbs ground pork
salt and pepper
1 cup whole milk
nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1 1/2 lbs. fresh tagliatelle (made with 3 eggs and 3 cups of flour)
grated parmigiano-reggiano

  1. Put the oil, 3 tbsp butter, and the onion in a large dutch oven and place over medium heat.  Cook the onion, stirring occassionally, until it has become transluscent.
  2. Add the celery and the carrot and cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring regularly.
  3. Add the ground beef and ground pork.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring the meat, until it loses its pink color.
  4. Add the milk and bring to a simmer.  Cook at a low simmer until the milk has completely cooked away, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
  6. Add the wine and bring to a simmer.  Cook at a low simmer until the wine has completely cooked away, 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook at the barest of simmers for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  If the sauce dries out, add 1/2 cup of water, whenever necessary.
  8. Cook the fresh pasta and toss it with the sauce, adding the final tablespoon of butter.
  9. Serve immediately with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Serves 6.

Penne con le Zucchine Fritte, Piselli e Pomodori (Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes)

Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes

When I announced to Angela what I was making for dinner last night, she was distinctly less than excited.  In her defense, my motive for choosing this recipe was mainly that I had a zucchini that had been sitting in the fridge long enough that I had started to worry whether or not it had turned into a home for something else.  Luckily for us it had not.

I say luckily as both Angela and I enjoyed it immensely.  This pasta was significantly better than it had any right to be given its ingredients.  It’s very simple and I always appreciate simple food but, looking at the recipe alone, I didn’t see anything that would differentiate it from the mass of other pasta recipes that have a base of tomatoes.

However, the distinct flavor of the fried zucchini slices makes the dish truly compelling.  It provides a nice counterpoint to the acidity of the tomatoes.  The peas are nice but mainly from a color and nutritional perspective.

But what will really keep me coming back to this recipe is how quick it is to make.  The longest part of the preparation is waiting for the water to boil and then cooking the pasta.  The sauce can be made entirely in the time that the pasta cooks.  It also reheats the next day fairly well.

Zucchini Frying

Penne con le Zucchine Fritte, Piselli e Pomodori (Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1 lbs penne
1 cup grated Parmigiano Regiano

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne for one minute less than the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and cook until both sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Add the garlic and stir briefly.
  4. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over high heat until most of the tomato juice has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the peas and the butter and cook over low heat until the peas are warmed through, about 1 minute.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.  Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for one minute over medium heat, stirring regularly.  If the pasta is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the parmigiano.
  8. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmigiano.

Serves 4.

Sliced Zucchini

Pain à l’Ancienne

Pain à l'Ancienne

We end up eating a lot of bread in our household.  And I make quite a bit of it myself.  In fact, one of the easiest ways for me to pleasantly surprise Angela is to start making bread before she gets home.  I’ve even developed a “quick” recipe for bread that I make regularly and is the metric for any bread we eat, whether I make it or it’s produced elsewhere.

This is not that bread.  The bread that I make, while quite good, does not involve any special technique.  I decided that I’d like to really take my bread making up a notch and improve both my knowledge of bread making as well as my technique.

Pain à l'Ancienne

This is my first attempt at a more advanced bread.  Actually, it’s my second attempt at this bread.  The first attempt was good but I improperly shaped it so it ended up too short.  I made this using the baker’s percentages (the recipe as written makes something like 6 baguettes which is 5 more baguettes than I would eat) which made it quite easy for me to use metric measurements.  The only hard part was measuring out 2 g of yeast.

The bread turned out quite well.  Given it’s overnight fermentation, it developed a very nice flavor.  The wetness of the dough led to a very light, airy dough; much more so than the dense bread that I normally make.

I will definitely be making this bread again whenever I have the time.  It went very well with an herb brined roast chicken and a bottle of 2007 Mandolina Rosato.

Pain à l'Ancienne

Pain à l’Ancienne
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

300 g bread flour
6 g kosher salt
2 g yeast
240 g water, ice cold

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and water.  Beat with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes on low.  Switch to the dough hook and beat for 5 minutes on medium.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise at room temperature until it has doubled, 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using a plastic dough scraper, transfer the dough to a well floured counter.  Shape into a bâtard.  Carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cover until ready to bake.
  4. In the oven, place a pizza stone on the top rack and a cast iron dutch oven on the bottom rack.  Preheat the oven to 500ºF.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  5. When the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet on the pizza stone and carefully pour the boiling water into the dutch oven.
  6. Immediately reduce the temperature to 475ºF and bake for 8 to 9 minutes.  Turn the bread if it is not browning evenly.  Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the bread is a rich golden brown.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 bâtard.

Roast Chicken

Zuo Zong Tang Ji (General Tso’s Chicken, Taiwan Version)

Zuo Zong Tang Ji (General Tso's Chicken, Taiwan Version)

One of the very first posts I made to this blog was a version of General Tso’s Chicken.  That version was from Changsha in Hunan province and is fairly close to the version served in America (and, strangely, rarely in Hunan province).  Now, well over a year later, I tried my hand at the Taiwanese version (and succeeded in not gassing myself out of the kitchen this time).

Apparently, this is closer to the original General Tso’s Chicken which was developed in the 1950’s in Taiwan by a Hunanese chef, Peng Chang-Kuei.  He’s also responsible for the other style of General Tso’s Chicken, which is hot and sweetand was developed in New York City.  This version is hot and sour, without the sweetness of the more American version.  Despite the fact that this was not developed in Hunan itself, this version is more Hunanese as it doesn’t have the sweetness.

Of course, the unspoken issue is which is the more authentic version.  I do appreciate authenticity in cooking but I don’t think it matters in this case.  The supposed canonical example of Hunanese cuisine isn’t Hunanese at all.  I don’t think there can even be an authentic version of this dish.

Frying Chili Peppers for General Tso's Chicken

So if authenticity doesn’t matter, which is better?  It’s really hard to say (not the least because of the time delay between the two).  I remember liking the Changsha version a lot despite the high spiciness.  The Taiwanese version is much more challenging to my taste buds.  I’m simply not particularly used to food that is hot and sour.  Angela enjoyed the Taiwanese version a lot; she was already asking when I could make it again.

So my advice is simple.  Make both this version and the Changsha version and see which you like better.  Or realize that they’re different enough that you can enjoy both.

Frying chicken for General Tso's Chicken

Zuo Zong Tang Ji (General Tso’s Chicken, Taiwan Version)
Adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province

4 boneless, skinless chicken, thighs
6-10 oz. dried red chilies
2 tsp finely diced ginger
2 tsp finely diced garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
peanut oil for frying

Marinade:
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 egg yolk
2 tsp potato flour or corn starch
2 tsp peanut oil

Sauce:
1 tbsp tomato paste mixed with 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp potato flour or corn starch
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp clear rice vinegar
3 tbsp chicken stock

  1. Cut the chicken thighs into similiarly sized, bite size pieces.
  2. For the marinade, combine the soy sauces and egg yolk with the chicken and mix well.  Then stir in the potato flour.  Finally, stir in the potato flour or corn starch.  Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Cut the chilies into 3/4″ pieces and discard the seeds.
  5. Heat enough oil to deep fry the chicken in a wok until it reaches 350ºF.  Add the chicken and deep fry until the chicken becomes crisp and golden.  Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels.  Pour the oil from the wok into a heat proof container.
  6. Return the wok over high heat and add 2-3 tbsp of the peanut oil.  Add the dried chilies and stir fry until they start to turn brown.
  7. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for several seconds.
  8. Add the sauce and stir regularly until it thickens.
  9. Return the chicken to the sauce and stir to coat the pieces in the sauce.  Remove from the heat.
  10. Stir in the sesame oil.
  11. Serve immediately over white rice.

Serves 4.

Homemade Guanciale

Diced homemade guanciale

Our recent move necessitated the use or disposal of any perishables.  Since that time, I’ve been missing my cured meats the most.  Luckily, we’ve been able to find some good bacon in Virginia. However, I have yet to find any thing as good as my homemade pancetta.

I have, however, made friends with a local pork farmer who comes to the Alexandria Farmer’s Market.  As a side note, his pork is very very good.  So far, I’ve only managed to get one pork belly from him (most are preordered by restaurants, mine has been turned into pancetta) but the real surprise for me was that he regularly sells pork jowls.  I’ve been to quite a few specialty markets, butchers, and Asian groceries and not once have I seen pork jowls for sale.

Homemade pancetta and guanciale drying

To me, the real coup with finding pork jowls is that I can turn them into guanciale (another hard to find product in the United States).  And my desire for guanciale is simply that it is the authentic ingredient in probably my most favorite pasta dish (and quite likely favorite food), spaghetti alla carbonara.

The most difficult part of making guanciale is finding a pork jowl.  It’s cured simply with just salt and a few seasonings.  Then it’s hung to dry.  My choice of hanging spot was in our unheated sun room.  The temperature was pretty close to right (50ºF to 60ºF) and seemed to have a pretty good humidity.  The only possible mistake I made was hanging it by a window as a pork jowl is mostly fat and light can damage fat.  I’ll have to return my drying to a mini-fridge in the future.

Until I had to go without, I didn’t realize how central cured meats like guanciale or pancetta are to my cooking. I like to keep some in the fridge to make quick, but good, pastas.  It’s an effective way to add some protein to a meal or to modify a side dish into being a complete meal.

Along with spaghetti alla carbonara, it is also traditionally used in bucattini all amatriciana.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara made with home guanciale

Homemade Guanciale
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

One 2-lbs/1-kg pork jowl

Dry Cure:
70 g kosher salt
70 g sugar
10 g garlic, mashed
15 black pepper corns, cracked
1 large bunch thyme

  1. Rinse and pat the jowl dry.  Trim any stray tissue, glands, or hairs from the jowl.
  2. Combine the dry cure ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Place the jowl into a large zip-top bag and rub with the dry cure on both sides.  Refrigerate for 4 to 6 days, until it feels stiff all the way through.  Overhaul the cure by redistributing the cure and turning the jowl over every other day.
  4. Remove the jowl from the bag and rinse off all the cure.  Dry thoroughly.
  5. Poke a hole in the corner of the jowl with a knife.  Run a piece of butcher’s string through the hole.  Hang the jowl in a cool, dry place for 1 to 3 weeks, until it is stiff but not hard.
  6. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for several months.

Italian Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Red Wine

Italian Beef Braised in Red Wine

Making a house into a home is difficult.  It helps that we’re mostly unpacked.  It helps that our cats are here.  But there’s a certain comfort level of a home that hasn’t quite developed yet.

I firmly believe that food and cooking can be a vital part of making a home a home.  To share a meal with family is an important component of this.  And while we’ve had family over for dinner (including just before Christmas when we realized that more people were coming than we owned chairs), the most basic, and most frequent, family dinner we can have consists of solely Angela and me.

There’s something to be said that the food served at a family dinner can be an important component of homeyness.  Despite never eating it growing up, pot roast strikes me as one of the most homey meals possible.  A slowly braised piece of meat conjures up images of a Sunday dinner in the wintertime shared with family.  But, when you really come down to it, it also conjures up images of good food.

If you’ve ever read this blog in the past, you may easily realize that my cooking tends toward Italian. And that holds true even for something that can seem as Italian as pot roast.

This is a simple preparation of beef braised in red wine and beef stock.  A few aromatic vegetables are used in a sofrito first.  Some tomato paste is added mainly for color.  There are a few herbs in the sauce.  It’s very simple but very satisfying.

This is really a variation on Beef with Barolo.  My wallet doesn’t allow me to buy Barolo, let alone cook with it.  Instead, I used a 2006 Mandolina Nebbiolo Barbera as well as the remainder with dinner.  It worked well in both cases.

Beef Chuck

Italian Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Red Wine
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

2 lbs. beef chuck roast
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp onion, finely diced
3 tbsp carrot, finely diced
2 tbsp celery, finely diced
3/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh marjoram

  1. Dry the chuck roast well on all sides.  Tie the roast to keep it together.  Season well with salt and pepper on all sides.
  2. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a heavy dutch oven over high heat.  Brown the chuck thoroughly on all sides in the hot oil.  Set the beef aside and discard the hot oil.
  3. In the dutch oven, add 1 tbsp oil, the butter, the onion, and a pinch of salt.  Cook over medium heat until the onion becomes lightly gold.  Add the carrots and celery and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the dutch oven with the red wine, scraping all fond.  Add the stock and the tomato paste and stir well to incorporate.
  5. Add the thyme and marjoram and return the beef to the dutch oven.  Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 3 hours, turning the meat every 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the beef from the dutch oven, place on a cutting board, and cover with a towel.  Remove the springs of thyme and marjoram from the sauce and discard.  Reduce the sauce in the dutch oven over high heat until it starts to become syrupy.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Slice the beef against the grain and serve with the sauce on top.

Serves 4.

Chuleta de Ternera al Ajo Cabañil (Veal Chops, Shepherd Style)

Veal Chops, Shepherd Style

I’m starting to feel that the only thing I do on here is apologize for not posting more often.  My current excuse is that the holidays were hectic.  Angela’s parents came to visit for a week and then we went skiing in Vermont.   But now I’m back and will hopefully be able to provide a little more attention to this food blog of mine.

This meal actually occurred before our New England winter sojourn.  Angela’s mother (my mother-in-law) spent a significant portion of her college experience in Spain (she’s now a Spanish teacher).  Given that she hasn’t been back to Spain since, I had the bright idea that maybe I could bring a little bit of Spain to her by making something Spanish.  It didn’t hurt that I had a new Spanish cookbook that I haven’t had a good opportunity to explore.

Veal Chops

While Angela’s parents were here, we finally decided to take them up on their offer to let us do what we normally do (we always respond that we don’t normally do much of anything and that it’d be boring for them).  I was in desperate need of some black peppercorns, so we set out in search of the Penzey’s in Falls Church. That portion of the trip was relatively uneventful (except for being told that they are discontinuing the Sarawak peppercorns that we prefer). On our way back, we passed a 7-Eleven where we stopped to pickup a soda. Driving into the parking lot, I noticed that there was the Lebanese Butcher in the same shopping center. While not a particularly large shop, they do have a good selection of meats (but no pork) at good prices (particularly for veal). Because of the prices and the fact that we wanted something fairly simple, we settled on the veal chops. I also picked up some tahini, pomegranate molasses, and rose flower water. The last two are a bit harder to come by in western stores and have nothing to do with this recipe.

Mise en Place for Veal Chops, Shepherd Style

This is a fairly simple recipe but I managed to mess it up a bit when I made it.  After you brown the veal, liquid is added and it’s cooked at a low temperature for 10 to 15 minutes (simply 15 minutes in the original recipe).  Unfortunately, different stoves have different settings for low.  When we were in California, low meant turning the knob just lower than medium (anything lower and it wouldn’t cook at all).  Here in Virginia, low is turning the knob to almost off.  While I prefer this stove to the California stove, it meant that I overcooked the veal.  It wasn’t bad, just not quite where I’d like.  So be careful about what temperature it’s cooked at.

Veal Chops Cooking

Chuleta de Ternera al Ajo Cabañil (Veal Chops, Shepherd Style)
Adapted from The Foods and Wines of Spain

2 tbsp olive oil
4 veal rib chops, about 3/4″ thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chicken broth

  1. Season the veal chops with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When the oil is hot, brown the chops on both sides.
  3. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, vinegar, and broth and lower the heat to low.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the veal chops are cooked to the desired doneness.
  4. Serve immediately with roast potatoes.

Serves 4.