Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chicken with Cabbage and Potatoes

Here's a one-pot peasant dish at it's finest and a good way to stretch your food budget by using lots of veggies. I used chicken legs because they are still inexpensive and hold up well to the braising. Pork "side meat" may be difficult to find. Basically, it is unsmoked bacon and not overly salty like salt pork. (I'm sure one could use bacon with no harm--it's just expensive).

This will make its own "juice" as the vegetables cook down. You are seeking a stew-like consistency. Of course, you could easily make it into a "soup" by adding some chicken stock.

For this batch, I used half red potatoes and some chunks from a sweet potato.

It's not the prettiest dish when done, but it is warm and filling. This would be nice served with a side of wide, buttered noodles.

To make it vegan, simply omit the meats and simmer for a shorter period of time.

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced (8 full ounces)
  • 4 small red potatoes cut into chunks
  • 2 small carrots, slice and diced
  • 1/2 large onion sliced and diced
  • 1, 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup pork side meat, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tabasco sauce, several shakes or to taste
  • Smoked paprika 
  • Butter

In a medium Dutch oven, mix the vegetable ingredients, thyme, caraway seed if using, and side meat together. Give a few shakes of Tabasco and smoked paprika. Salt and pepper the chicken legs. Place on top of vegetable mixture. Dot chicken legs with butter. Cover. Slowly bring up to heat and simmer 60-90 minutes until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, skin, de-bone, and add back to pot.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Shallots

Believe it or not, there was a time when a pork tenderloin was only a few dollars. Boy, do I miss those days. Today, one will pay upwards of seven to eight dollars for one!

Pork tenderloin was one of my favorite meats to prepare. Quick and easy. Lean and nutritious. A cinch to pop on the barbecue. (I've included links to my favorite recipes at the end of this post.)

When I saw some in the grocer close-dated and marked down to four bucks, I grabbed the two that were left. One I just seared and baked. But I wanted to be a bit more adventuresome with the second one.

If you don't like star anise, use a bit of Chinese Five Spice instead--maybe 1/4 teaspoon. This had lots of flavor going on. I paired it with plain white rice.

Don't let it marinate for more than two hours. I like my pork just a bit rosy in the center--about 145 F. degrees on an instant-read thermometer. 


  • 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (I only use Lee Kum Lee)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 small garlic cloves, pressed or crushed and minced very fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme flakes, lightly crushed
  • several shakes smoked paprika
  • 1/2 small star anise, slightly crumbled or 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • 1, 1.25 lb. pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
Mix the first eight ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste. Re-season to taste remembering most of the marinade will cook off. Place tenderloin in a plastic bag and add marinade. Massage a bit. Place in refrigerator and marinade for at least one hour and no more than two.

When ready to assemble and bake have the following prepared:

  • 4-5 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 4-6)
  • 1 tablespoon flour mixed with--
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2-4 tablespoons dry white wine (or stock)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (a good nob)
  • Pre-heated oven at 400 F. Degrees

Heat an an oven-safe pan (about 7-8 inches) over medium heat until hot. Add a bit of butter and olive oil. Remove tenderloin from marinade. Shake a bit but do not dry it off. Add to pan. Is fine to curl it around the pan the sides of the pan. Sear on four sides until brown. You are not cooking it, just browning the outside.

Add the dry white wine and butter to de-glaze the pan. Allow alcohol to cook off a minute or two. Add sliced mushrooms. Continue turning the pork as mushrooms cook a bit. When mushrooms begin to give off their juices, add some of the flour/stock mixture. You probably won't need all of it and will want to add more half way through the cooking process.

Transfer pan to oven. Bake for about twenty minutes, adding more stock mixture if necessary after about ten minutes or so. Roast until instant-read thermometer registers 145 F Degrees. Remove from oven. Tenderloin will continue to cook in hot pan. OR ... after removing from oven ... transfer tenderloin to serving plate/board. Tent with foil for about ten minutes before carving. Add a bit more butter/stock/wine to drippings in pan with mushrooms. Place on low heat on a burner. Stir. Combine. Taste.

Carve tenderloin into 1/4-inch slices. Place around rice. Drizzle rice with pan drippings or a bit more soy sauce. Top with mushroom mixture.

Lovingly, serves two. Piggishly, one. Frugally, three. Anorexically, four.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hobo Soup with Hamburger and Vegetables

I had forgotten this recipe was waiting in the wings of my "new post" file. I know I harp on and on about soups. But, honestly, they they are surprisingly, even amazingly, easy to prepare. They are nourishing. They use the most humble and inexpensive of ingredients. For some reason, people seem intimidated by making soups. Really, it's just about chopping and dumping. What could be easier?

I love the two vowels ... "o" and "u" supported by the the consonants ... "s" and "p." To me, soups are like poetry ... they insist on inspiration and creativity ... how to use what you have on hand ... how to understand ... your own experience ... ingredient by ingredient ... word by word ... Potatoes? Add it in. Or pasta. This is your poem. And, yes, you can do it. You will do it. And, trust me, all the flavors will rhyme.

This was a hearty and satisfying soup dashed together with ingredients I had on hand. (Had I bit of green pepper, I would have used it.) I love the canned combo of corn with okra and tomatoes. (Heated by itself, it's fun to put over white rice with a bit of shrimp and ham on the side.)

I suppose this is best categorized as a "hobo soup," which is any soup thrown together by opening up some cans. I enjoyed the simplicity of a veggie stock. I felt both chicken and beef stock a bit too overpowering. Don't omit the fennel, it's what raises humble hamburger to a kind of Italian-sausage level. The cream mellows all the flavors. I sprinkled each bowl with a liberal amount of smoked Gouda. Any cheese would work as well. Or none.

Served with a hefty chunk of crusty bread for soaking, sit back and enjoy your poem. As with any soup, this just gets better a day or two later.

  • 3/4 cup ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, smashed, skins removed, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste --- several squirts from a tube
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme flakes
  • 2 pinches dried red pepper flakes--or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1, 14.5-oz can corn/okra/tomatoes
  • 1 can rinsed, seasoned butter beans
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 good teaspoon beef granules ...
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheese for garnish
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream

Add a bit of olive oil to a stock pot. Add chopped onion, sliced garlic cloves, sliced carrots, and sliced celery. Sweat just until soft. Move to side of pot and add the ground beef along with the fennel seeds, thyme flakes and red pepper flakes. When brown, mix in the veggies and tomato paste. Cook for about one minute or so. Now add the can of corn/okra/tomatoes, seasoned butter beans. Mix through. Finish by adding the veggie stock, beef granules and smoked paprika. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover. Continue to cook for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cream and mix through. Re-taste for seasonings. Serve with grated cheese on top.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tomato Soup with Rosemary

If one were to think of clothing as food, then tomato soup is as basic as socks and underwear. You know what I'm talking about, that favorite pair of boxers ... and woolly, thick warm socks, past the ankle, to pad around on cold floors during frigid winter. Hey, I'm a guy ... so I won't go into bras. LOL ...

If you have a tin of tomatoes, a bit of onion and garlic--even a rubbery carrot and celery stalk, you can make this. Yes, you can! I'm leaving it rather basic--other than the rosemary, simply because I have an abundance of it right now--which includes a blue flower or two. How lucky am I?

If you wish to dress this up (bereft of blue flowers), here are your other accessories:

  • Saute the veggies in bacon or pancetta before adding the butter.
  • Add a can or two of white beans; preferably, seasoned and smoky.
  • Corn? Okra? Go for it.
  • Lightly brown diagonally-sliced hot dogs or sausages to multiply said equation.
  • Kale? Spinach? Go ahead.
  • Basil? By all means. One can not subtract from this recipe.
  • Do you live on the edge? Then you want a bit of citrus zest--lemon or orange.
  • Want to gild the lily? Want to thumb your nose at a Campbell's kind of world? Then cast your vote for cheese. A genuine winner. Smoked cheese. A swirl of tangy sour cream or yogurt. A sprinkle of goat cheese, flavored or plain. And, of course, blue cheese.
You get the idea. But, for now, let's start with the basic, comfy, sock-and-underwear version. And, hopefully, it will be shared ... Flowers? You decide. Although I believe ... ingredients such as these ... are our planet's greatest flowers.

  • 1 yellow onion peeled and sliced, a good 8 - 10 oz.
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped, about 4 oz.
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped, about 2 oz.
  • 2-3 plump garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 pinches red-pepper flakes or to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, preferably dark
  • 6-8 tablespoons butter (Yes ... you heard me!)
  • 1, 28-ounce can whole tomatoes or two 14.5 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1, 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 to 4, 3-4-inch whole rosemary sprigs, unstripped
  • Salt, not too much--no more than 1/2 teaspoon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, 10 - 20 twists
  • Smoked Gouda for garnish

Using a low-medium heat, gently melt the butter without browning in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes. Lovingly and slowly simmer for about 20 minutes. The idea here is simply to flavor the butter and to stew the veggies. Put your face over the pot. Inhale. Are you happy?

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Add salt and pepper. Stir. Turn up the heat a bit. Add the brown sugar. Lightly bruise the whole rosemary stems with a rolling pin/wine bottle/soda can to release the oils. Sink them into the tomato mixture. Bring to a slow simmer. Add chicken stock. Cover and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are mushy and cooked through. Taste and re-season as necessary.

Remove spent rosemary sprigs. Here, you have two options. If you have an immersion blender, blitz the mixture until smooth; or, remove to a blender and whirl until smooth. I have an immersion blender and blitz until everything is well blended. Then I like to force the mixture through a sieve ... to make it even smoother.

Return to pan. Taste. Add another sprig of rosemary. Maybe a few slices of garlic. If desired, swirl in a few tablespoons of whole milk, half-and-half, cream. Grate with some smoked cheese ... Actually, I'm not too impressed with uniform grates of cheese ... crumble some with your fingers ... Feel it. Love it. Share it.