Posts tagged ‘wine’

September 17, 2010

Comfort Food with a Newark Edge: Ironbound Estofado

It shouldn’t surprise you that the woman that’s married to the Lord of the Underworld knows a lot about New Jersey.  I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it’s a place with a lot of family, tradition and culture.  And a place that loves its food: it’s a melting pot.  One of those places is Newark, where our family roots run deep.  Spanish and Portuguese influences are strong.  These flavors resonate deep within in me.  Perhaps it’s the immigrant in me and maybe in Americans, in general.  We should all embrace our mongrel past.

With this dish it is officially fall in PK.  Although I hear the Spaniards do this kind of a dish year round.  This beef stew with chorizo and root vegetable mash is chock full of the cheapest cut of beef – boneless chuck roast – plus a couple of links of chorizo for spicy flavor.  Then add in some veg from the garden (or your local Whole Foods) and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive, flavorful, and super-satisfying comfort dinner with a twist.

This afternoon I dove in and pulled up a huge bunch of parsnips from the garden and threw them in the sink to rinse (along with a frighteningly large, oddly colored spider that was subsequently released back into the wild as opposed to washed down the disposal).  These spider-free parsnips became the base for the lovely root vegetable mash that accompanied our stew.  The great thing about this – for those of you that want fewer carbs – is that it’s mostly vegetables, not just potatoes.  And for those of you that say, “Pshaw, I care nothing about the carbs I consume!” then this mash is the most marvelous thing you can eat with the lovely meat gravy you have left after simmering your roast for many hours.  Enjoy, eaters.

Ironbound Estofado

1½ Boneless Chuck Roast (or whatever’s cheapest at your butcher – really!)

½ red onion sliced in thick rings

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, cut in very large chunks

2 medium Brandywine tomatoes (isn’t that perfect?) or ½ pound tomatoes, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 links of chorizo sausage, quartered

6 c. water

Olive oil, salt, pepper

2 T. Butter, 2 T. Flour

Fresh chopped coriander (really, people, this time it’s not optional)

In a large, heavy bottomed pasta pot, heat a good glug of olive oil.  Add in your roast that has been generously seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium high heat to sear each side, four to five minutes a side.  It should get nice and brown and release from the pot easily.  Remove roast and set aside on a plate. 

Dump in the onions to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all that goodness (a.k.a., the fond) up off the bottom.  Then after three or four minutes of stirring the onions, add the garlic, tomatoes, and peppers.  Cook for another minute or two, stirring to incorporate.

Add back in the roast, along with any juices that collected on the bottom of the plate.  That’s more goodness, readers.  Add in the chorizo.  Pour in 6 cups of water.  Raise heat to high and bring to just below a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for four to five hours, uncovered.  If you feel like flipping the roast over halfway through, do it, but really there’s no need to mess with it.  It should be fine.

Just before serving, make yourself a bit of Beurre Manié to mix into the stew. PK tip: this is seriously one of the greatest things you can learn.  Mix equal parts of softened – not melted – butter and flour (use your fingers to make it into a paste) and then drop the whole chunk of thoroughly mixed fat and flour into a stock or stew that needs thickening.  After a few minutes of simmering, this results in a lovely body to the sauce, plus the flavor of yummy, yummy butter and no clumps.  Nailed it.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the roast, peel and cube one large russet potato, two large carrots and three large parsnips.  Rinse under cold water, then cover with water, add a generous pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the parsnips and carrots are soft.  Drain, add in two tablespoons of butter, and a splash of milk or half and half.  Use a potato masher to roughly mash the vegetables.  You’re not looking for a pristine purée here, just an incorporation of the three vegetables.

To serve place a large spoon of the vegetable mash in a warm, shallow bowl (hear that one before?), then top with a couple of spoons of the sauce from the stew along with a generous chunk of the roast, a few pieces of sausage and some of the soft carrots.  Top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

Serve this with what we served it with: an inexpensive Monastrell.

Maybe while you’re cooking, you’ll fancy a listen to the mighty, mighty White Stripes’ Icky Thump.

September 13, 2010

Risotto Night | Shrimp and Sea Beans

It happens pretty much once a week.  I love it.  Hades loves it.  Cherub can’t get enough of it.  I love that it’s a versatile dish that takes on whatever flavor or season you throw at it.  I often make it as a vegetarian dish, and we never really miss the meat on those nights.  You can even skip cheese to make a vegan risotto if you top it with a delicious and simple pangrattato (PK tip: whiz up some bread crumbs, garlic, herbs of your choice a pinch of salt and then fry in a bit of olive oil until brown and crispy).  This summer’s versions have included carrot and coriander or the ubiquitous tomato and basil, as well as this week’s fancy-schmancy version: shrimp with sea beans.

I’m not above a bit of theater in the kitchen, and you shouldn’t be either — even on a weeknight.  So gather together a little technique, and a lot of showmanship and style with a risotto.  Here I was inspired by Julia Fischer’s new recording of Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices, out this week.  Signore Paganini was never short of drama, so might he be too much?  Not a bit of it:  Ms. Fischer is, as always, extraordinary.  This brings us to tonight’s risotto.  Think a German brunette can’t handle the Italians?  Think again…

So what is a sea bean you ask?  A delicious little branched green bean looking thing that grows in salt marshes.  A very salty little thing it is, too.  So much so, that you need to blanch them first to get some of the salt out.  Taste-wise, it’s a bit like a tiny asparagus, in the woody sense, but with a burst of saltiness when you bite into it.  Really cool.   I picked these up from the Greener Grocer.  They had a few in as a little treat, but most times, you won’t find much of them unless you live on the coasts.  So if you happen to run across some and they look good, by all means buy them!

This week’s risotto was born of Rick Stein’s version in Complete Seafood.  He came up with the combo, I did my version of risotto.  If you are just starting out with cooking fish, and feel a bit out of your depth, there’s truly not a better cookbook than this one.  I’ve even seen them on sale at Whole Foods, and it’s really worth it to purchase a copy.

PK tip #2: This is one of those recipes that it’s really important to have all of your mise en place.  All your ducks in a row.  Organize, organize, organize!  Do all your prep first, chop all the carrots, onion, measure out all your rice, have all the pots out that you need (one for the stock, one for the sea beans, one for the risotto).  Have your bowls ready for serving.  Heck, even clean up your prep stuff and shove things in the dishwasher or sink to get things out of the way.  Now, roll up your sleeves.  Pour yourself a glass of wine.   This is gonna be fun.

Risotto with Shrimp and Sea Beans

2 carrots with the tops

1 pound of shrimp, deveined and shells reserved

1 small onion, skins reserved (really!)

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

1 small very ripe tomato, quartered (if you’ve got it)

1 stalk of celery with leaves, halved (if you’ve got it)

1 small handful of fresh parsley (if you’ve got it)

8 to 10 c. water

2 T. olive oil

1 1/2 c Arborio rice (Campanini, if you can get it.  I really, really like this rice.  And I’ve tried lots.)

Splash of sake or vermouth

4 oz sea beans, tough ends removed and broken to be about an inch each

Two handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot, add one whole carrot broken in half (top included) and the top from the second carrot.  Add in 1/2 of the onion, quartered and all of the papery skins (really!).  Add in the shrimp shells, bay, peppercorns, tomato, celery, and parsley.  Turn heat to high to get the stock up to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low to medium heat; give it at least 15 minutes to cook before you begin the next steps with the rice.  I usually use this time to clean up the first round of prep, wipe down counters, put things in the dishwasher, sip some wine.

Next, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the other 1 half of the onion that’s been minced along with the last carrot which has been minced as well.   Soften the veg for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Tip in the rice, stir to coat with the oil and mix in the carrot and onion.  Cook for one to two minutes, then add in a nice big splash of the sake or whatever you’re using.    This should evaporate pretty quickly, so stir rapidly once the liquid goes in to deglaze the pan a bit.  PK tip: I normally use Noilly Prat in just about every other recipe.

Now start adding in your stock.  I use a ½ cup ladle, a mesh strainer and a wooden spoon.  With the stock pot on simmer on the burner directly behind the pan you are cooking the risotto, (having the pans close together makes this much easier) ladle in two measures of stock through the strainer you hold over the risotto pan (set your wooden spoon down!).  Then using the wooden spoon, stir the risotto to incorporate all the stock, when it’s most all absorbed, add another ladle of stock the same way as before.  Repeat this process until the rice has developed its own lovely starchy sauce, and the rice is tender, but not mushy; usually 20 to 30 minutes of lovingly ladling, stirring and sipping wine.  You’ll go through just about all that stock.

When the rice is almost done, say 18 to 20 minutes in, you’ll need to bring a pan of water up to the boil and blanch the sea beans for one minute.  Drain the beans.  Now add in the shrimp to the hot risotto, along with another ladle of stock for good measure.  Cook two to three minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp.  Add in all but a handful of the beans (you’ll need some to garnish) and the parmesan to the risotto, stir and taste for seasoning.  I found that it just needed the slightest bit of salt.  It’s at this point before serving that I always add an extra ladle or two of stock.  You don’t want it runny, but almost.  The second risotto gets out of the pan and begins to cool, it thickens up.  Always.  Adding that extra stock at the end just ensures you have a lovely creamy bowl of rice, not a lump.  Gross.

I serve it in shallow bowls and garnish with a small pile of the sea beans that you reserved and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.  It’s pretty great stuff.

You must, must, must serve this with a Vinho Verde.  In PK’s opinion, it’s just the most perfect pairing, a bit sparkly, super light, white and refreshing.

Mangia!

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