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Recover the American kitchen.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

I don't care that it's 95F today. I say it's FALL. Big pot of red.

 Ragu. Not the crud in a jar. Real Ragu. Feeds an army. Empties out the fridge. Bottle of red wine, lots of tomato, lots of herbs.
 This is my take on the classic Italian-American version which uses three different proteins. Today I got a Beef Chuck steak, a Pork-chop with bone, some salt pork and some chicken gizzards, livers and such. A tug of Basil, Rosemary and Parsley from the back-yard.  This is a rich and complex-flavored dish but is actually really easy to make (shhh it will be our secret.)
Takes a while but easy to put together. Grab your biggest pots and let's get started.

CHEF NICK DOES RAGU:

Mise-en-place

2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
3 pieces Salt Pork

Pork
Beef
Chicken livers, gizzards

Bottle of dry red wine
Chopped fresh herbs. Parsley, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil.
A couple dry Bay Leaves
and my secret ingredient, one piece of Orange Peel. I don't remember where I picked that up from but thank-you whomever.
Olive Oil

Any special vegetables you have lying around. Today I used a Red Pepper and some Patapan Squash. I  like Eggplant in this but sad me, no got.
Don't be afraid to add stuff.
Mushrooms are awesome in this but my little niece is allergic so no go.

1 large can Tomato Puree, best you can afford
same of Crushed Tomato.
OK sure if you have a junk-load of fresh than use that but you'll need to peel and de-seed
(un-seed?, I dunno) and crush by hand.

Black Pepper, Kosher salt.

The thing to remember is that this is going to cook for a while so large pieces are the order for the day.

I've mentioned in other articles that Italian cooking uses something called a Battuto. This uses the same aromatics as the French Mirepoix with the addition of Garlic and Salt Pork. The idea being that all of it gets sweated together and forms the base of whatever you're making, soup or sauce, which when you think about it are really the same thing.

Start your Battuto with the carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Again, today we're looking for a medium dice. In other dishes you'd take this down into almost a paste.

Chunk up the Salt-Pork and toss all that together. Set aside.

















Any special Vegetables you want to use, chop up large and keep on a separate plate.

Gather up your animal parts. Large dice please. Save any bones. Keep the chicken parts separate. We'll use those last. Wash your board.

nice sized pile of this
Grab all your fresh herbs and rough chop. That's all your prep, really it is. Unless you count opening up 2 cans and a bottle of wine and I never do. You're ready to go.

Heat up a large pan, add some Olive Oil. Add a handful of your meats. Season a bit and let them sit on high heat until they give, we only want a light sear. Once they give, turn the pieces over and do the other side. Remove to a plate and do the rest. EXCEPT FOR THE CHICKEN PARTS. We'll do those last. Once all your meat is done, put the pan back on medium heat for the last part. 
chicken livers, separate

Now, on the bottom you've got all this golden-brown stuff. Put the pan back on heat and add just a splash of your wine. Instantly it will boil. Use a wooden spoon, scrape up quickly and set aside. 
Add caption

All that stuff is what we Chefs call "flavor" Ok yeah I'm a smart-ass. It's actually called "Fond" and is a result of caramelized sugars naturally occurring in meats and vegetables. 

Done with the meat for now. Start heating up a deep pot. Add a tiny splash of Olive Oil and all the Battuto with a large pinch of both salt and pepper. We just need to sweat here, no browning. Add the Bay-Leaf and piece of Orange Peel. Toss around for a minute. 



Add any bones, toss again. Add all fresh herbs and any special Vegetables you'd like to add.  Toss around again. Add all your cooked meats. AND guess what? Toss around again. 
THEN, my favorite part. Add the rest of the wine, all at once. Bring to a simmer and stirring, let the alcohol cook off (you'll know, use your nose)


Turn down your heat just a little and add both cans of Tomato stuff. 
I want to marry you

Check seasoning. Bring to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and let it go for, oh say....at least a couple hours. Stir occasionally, no sticking. This can go on all day. Once everything has cooked together you'll want to crack the lid a little and let it reduce slowly. We're aiming for sauce, not soup.
 It's even better if after the cooking you let it sit in the 'fridge overnight and re-heat the next day. Make a big grip of large type Pasta. You can even, if you're so inclined to just dump a mess of al dente pasta into the pot and just let people serve themselves, that's ok with me. Also, you'll want to fish around and pull out your Bay-Leaf, bones and Orange Peel. 

Serve up with some grated Parmesan. Maybe garnish with some more fresh Basil. Your call. 

This is cooking poor. eating rich
Go get your grub on
CIAO



Friday, September 7, 2012

I got dibs on the stale bread. Puddin'.

stale bread and day-old muffins

What do we do with stale, dried out bread? Sure, throw it out. Ass-hats. NO!! Save it, who cares if it's dried out.
 Got some three-day-old muffins from the local box-store? I got plans. This is cooking poor, eating rich. Get some milk, any dried fruit, raisins, cranberries, cherries are just dandy. Get 3  hen-berries please. I grabbed a nectarine and a bag of frozen cherries. Get some ground cinnamon and sugar. Butter. Yes, butter. 







Here we go. Can you hear me? Am I shouting? We throw away more food than we consume. I can make a dessert from what most would call waste. You can too. 

Mise-en-place

I got some sliced, stale, french bread, 'bout 6 slices
3-day old banana-chocolate muffins, broken into pieces
Dried fruit. 'bout 1/4 cup, use any, raisins, cherries, cranberries, prunes

softened butter
cinnamon-sugar ( 1/4 cup sugar tossed with 1 TB cinnamon)

Gotta get your bread into big cubes. Smear with butter, place in a big bowl, toss with cinnamon-sugar
smear with butter, toss in cinnamon-sugar


Anybody else got some stale muffins? Break those up with your hands. Add to the bowl. 
got it?
in a measuring cup, dump your milk, break open those 3 eggs, whisk together, add vanilla extract
Best vanilla comes from Mexico


Whisk away. Dump into your bowl of scrap bready pieces. Add a hand of dried fruit and walk away. Watch some Downton Abbey for like 2 hours. Let  it all soak together. 

soakedy soak soak...laddity la
Grab your widest casserole dish, smear the sides with butter, yes butter
Put all that stuff in it, bake off at 325 degrees until puffy, 'bout 45 minutes. 


Sauce: 
grab a bag of IQF cherries
add 1/4 cup of sugar
nectarine peel
slice, mince..
juice of same
pinch of cinnamon

in a small pot, bring to boil, stir and remove from heat.
Puree, THUNDER-STICK

Strain it all through. What? You don't have a wire-mesh strainer? 
A one
a two


The pudding should be ready by now. Puffy.  Let's plate up. Serve with a bit of the sauce. 

I used a ring-form. 
Or maybe

Cooking poor, eating rich.
Get your grub on.
Ciao