I understand the problem as well as anyone: we’re told to eat fish for its health benefits, but it’s a challenging ingredient that leaves us either nervous or unfulfilled. We’re afraid to eat it, and when we do we’re hungry later. Well I have the solution — trout paired with bacon.
Growing up, this was just about the only way I would eat my greens. I am more adventurous now, but I still love some good smothered greens. This is an ultra-simple recipe, one my Grandma made frequently, making a quick gravy out of (usually) some rendered bacon fat, a little flour and some onions. It is quintessential Great Depression cooking: making do with the leftovers. Lowly ingredients that are greater than the sum of their parts.
This time I had some leftover duck fat from a spicy smoked duck breast to start the gravy. If you don’t have it, use bacon fat. It’s enough to turn a greens-phobic into a greens lover.
Turbot has become my new favorite fish. At first blush, it’s light, mild, and delicate. But a heartbeat later you realize its meaty, dense, and packed with beautiful flavor. Pair it with this seasonal and politely assertive sauce and you’ll really get your loved one’s attention on a cold December night. Most importantly, the ingredients are familiar and the techniques are pretty basic. It’s a can’t miss weeknight meal that’s quick, healthy, satisfying and elegant. I can hardly believe something so simple could make such an impact. It’s a beautiful dish.
Turbot is popular on European plates, but lately it seems to be making its presence known in American eateries and grocery stores as well. If you can’t find it, ask your fishmonger. The success of this meal is directly related to the quality of the ingredients. Find the best mushrooms you can. These were from the Greener Grocer and perfection. This is a modified version of a dish found in Rick Stein’s Complete Seafood. You must own this book.
Early Winter Turbot with Chanterelles and Melted Parsnips, serves 2
2/3 to 3/4 of a pound Turbot fillet
So much of Irish cooking was born from necessity. But from Ireland’s extraordinary hardships came simple, delicious farmhouse dishes that rely on cheap, available ingredients. In this case, there are a mere four ingredients – pork ribs, bacon, onions, and of course, potatoes. Then, with a little heat and a little time, they transform themselves into a comforting, nourishing, almost healing stew that makes the house smell beautiful. Plus, its inexpensive and bountiful – it easily makes enough to feed a sizable group. So make the most of not very much and bring the family around your table. And that’s a lot more Irish than green beer.
Irish Pork Rib Stew, Serves 6
2 lb pork ribs (not baby back), cut into six pieces
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
4 large potatoes, approximately 2 lbs, two peeled and sliced, two peeled and cubed
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until lightly browned, then add ribs and cover with four inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim off any fat and foam that rises to the surface. Add onions and potatoes and cook for another three hours.
Serve with brown bread and homemade butter. (The easiest recipe which I’ll post tomorrow.)
I grew up eating breakfast tacos. Notice I did not refer to these as breakfast “burritos.” You won’t find vegetables in these. They are not some sort of fancy omelet in a flour tortilla. They are typically leftovers and eggs wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. They usually consist of some combination of the following : Meat (carnitas, chorizo, bacon, brisket, carne guisada), beans (usually refried), cheese (usually grated cheddar), potatoes, and eggs (scrambled).
In San Antonio, where I spent my early years, breakfast tacos are more popular than donuts. There are places you can pick up a dozen for work (you’ll always get brownie points for this). My favorite little taco place (read: hole in the wall) has housemade flour tortillas and a seemingly endless variety of fillings for your taco. My favorite: bean, egg and bacon.
Thousand Oaks Breakfast Tacos
Refried Beans (mine were pinto, that I pureed, then reheated in bacon drippings and seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin)
Scrambled Eggs (I used Holistic Acres)
Slices of meaty fried bacon (mine was Neuske’s)
Small (not burrito sized, y’all) flour tortillas (I heat mine directly over my gas burners on the stove. Use tongs if you must, but I’ve got asbestos fingers and do it by touch, flipping and rotating until they bubble).
Assemble your taco with a base of beans, a spoonful of egg and a slice of bacon. Fold in half as you would a soft taco. Nothing more complicated than that. Serve with hot sauce or pico de gallo. This morning I didn’t have salsa so I used Sriracha for the heat.
Poseidon is somewhat of a world traveler. After spending some time in Slovenia, he brought back with him a delightful way to incorporate turkey into a weekly menu. He first came across this dish at the restaurant Julija on Ljublijana’s Main Square. It’s a very typical and traditional Slovene dish, but with Italian notes (after all, Venice is just a stone’s throw). Turkey and game are more popular there than chicken. Why not consider a turkey breast for your weeknight meal? It’s not a lot of work (season the ingredients and toss them in the oven, make a quick sauce), but it’s a lot of flavor.
Julija’s Fennel Turkey with Gorgonzola Bechamel, Roasted Brussels and Potatoes
1.5 lb. boneless (skin on!) turkey breast
1 T fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Olive oil, salt, pepper
Combine the fennel, garlic and sage then stuff under the loosened skin on the turkey breast. Drizzle breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and put in a 400˚ oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165˚.
For the vegetables:
2 medium red skinned potatoes, cubed
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, combine the Brussels and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on an oiled baking sheet, place in a 400˚ oven (along with the turkey) for approximately 30 minutes, or until vegetables are browned. Shake the pan once or twice during roasting to evenly brown.
For the Gorgonzola sauce:
2 T butter
2 T flour
¼ c heavy cream
¾ c milk
2 oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat, then add in the flour, stirring to eliminate any lumps. Cook for one or two minutes. Whisk in the cream and milk. Add the cheese and stir to melt. If the sauce is too thick, add in a bit more milk. This should only take 3-4 minutes. Set aside, keeping warm until you are ready to serve. (Or should you just pour the whole thing over some macaroni? Perhaps another time…)
To finish the veg:
2 slices bacon, chopped
Apple cider vinegar
To finish the vegetables, cook the bacon in a large pan over low heat until crisp. Add in the roasted brussels and potatoes, along with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir to incorporate, cook over low heat for a minute or two.
Serve with Hedges C.M.S. White, from Washington State. It is a shockingly good pairing.
PK tip: be careful, if you have leftover bread in your pantry, you may be tempted to eat the rest of the Gorgonzola sauce out of the pan as you’re cleaning up. Well, that’s not really a tip. It’s something to do. And come to think of it, I recommend it.
Tonight we listened to Hang with Me, by Robyn, amongst other things.