Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Braised Lamb Shanks

My summer cookbook purge continues.

This recipe is Maundy Thursday/Passover lamb meal.  In our good years, we celebrate a Christian Seder on Maundy Thursday.  The main course is lamb.  My notes in the cookbook?  "Best lamb I've made."  Depending on the year, all my kids will eat this.

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Braised Lamb Shanks
adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker

4 - 5 lbs lamb shanks, trimmed of fat
3 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cumin
1/2 c beef stock, chicken stock, or water
1/4 c dry white wine (optional, if don't use, increase water by 1/4 c)

Optional sweet pepper garnish (I've done this before, but I've also omitted it)
1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 T parsley, coarsely chopped
1 c crumbled feta cheese

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 T of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat  Sear the shanks, in batches of necessary to prevent overcrowding, when the oil is hot, until golden brown on all sides.  Transfer to a plate.

Pour most excess fat from the pan and heat again.  Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and saute until vegetables are soft and golden, about 8 - 10minutes.  Pour the stock and wine into the pan and stir to dislodge any yummy browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and place the lamb shanks on top.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours (my slow cooker cooks fast on low. I only cook this for 5 hours on low.  Know thy slow cooker and cook accordingly).  The meat should be very tender.

If desired, to finish, heat a skillet over medium heat and warm 1 T olive oil.  Add the bell peppers and salute until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

To serve, top with sautéed bell peppers (or if not using bell peppers, just with top with the fresh chopped parsley) and a sprinkle of feta.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing

Sometimes, a holiday comes around and you just don't want to make an entire turkey and dressing.  A whole turkey is a big deal and feeds a large crowd, so the years it is just may family and my in-laws for Christmas, I make this dish instead.  It feels like turkey and dressing, but it is easier and feeds more small group I am cooking for better than a 12 lb turkey.

Start the bread cubes and crumbs a day or two before you want to serve this, just like you would with regular dressing.  If your family likes more dark or white meat, just adjust the chicken parts you want accordingly.

Serves 8 - 10

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinner by Pam Anderson

10 -12 c 1/2" bread cubes (from a nice crusty French or Italian loaf if possible), dried overnight
2 c finely ground bread crumbs, dried overnight
1 1/2 T dried basil
1 1/2 T dried oregano
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 t fennel seeds
1 1/2 t orange zest
2 T olive oil
4 chicken leg quarters (with bones and skin included)
2 - 4 chicken breasts (with bones and skin), halved cross wise (this takes a little force!)
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 c golden raisins (regular raisins are ok too, as well as dried apricots)
1/2 c parsley, minced
2 eggs
1 qt chicken stock

Mix together 1/2 t basil, 1/2 t oregano, 1 T salt, 2 t pepper, fennel, orange zest, and olive oil in small bowl.  Smear over each piece of chicken.  Heat a large heavy roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat.  (If you are not sure about doing this to your roasting pan, do these stove stop steps in a large skillet, be sure to scoop all skillet juices into the pan as well before roasting the chicken).  Heat a bit of olive oil in the roasting pan and sear chicken, skin side down at first, until chicken is nicely browned on both sides, about 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the sausage in pan until it is no longer pink.  Add onions and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, about 8 - 10 minutes.  In large bowl, mix together bread cubes, bread crumbs, sausage mixture, raisins, parsley, and remaining oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and then add chicken stock, whisking it with the eggs.  Pour over bread cubes and sausage mixture.  Toss to coat and let stand for 10 minutes to let liquid absorb.  If mixture looks dry, add extra chicken stock or milk.

Dump bread cube mixture into roasting pan.  Top with chicken, skin side up and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shortcut Choucroute

There's about to be an onslaught of new recipes.  I'm cleaning out my cookbooks (7 cookbooks will be leaving my house in the next couple of weeks).  Thus, in the next couple of weeks I need to copy down the handful of recipes from each cookbook that I actually make.

First up, a hearty, winter, one-pot meal. This is not a meal I typically make because of the massive amount of meat it calls for.  However, for serving a crowd of meat eaters easily, this one is great.

This serves 8 - 10, depending on how much meat people eat.  To make it serve more, just add more potatoes.

Shortcut Choucroute
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson

2 T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 crisp, green apples, cored and chopped
4 thin slices prosciutto
10 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 lbs sauerkraut, drained
1 - 2 c dry white wine (If using less wine, increase chicken stock)
1 qt chicken stock
1 lb bratwurst, cut diagonally into 8 pieces
2 lbs smoked pork chops or ham (I used ham), cut into 8 pieces
1 lb kielbasa, cut into 8 pieces
8 - 12 small red (new) potatoes, halved

Heat oil in a large heavy roasting pan set over two burners on medium high heat.  Add onions, apples, and prosciutto and cook until tender and golden brown 5 - 10 minutes (If you don't want your roasting pan on the burners, do this in a large skillet).  Add cloves, bay leaves, and sauerkraut, and cook for a few minutes to blend flavors and heat sauerkraut.  Add wine, chicken broth (if doing this in a skillet first, bring to a boil at this point, then transfer to a roasting pan and add meat), and meat.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly with foil, and transfer to a preheated 350 degrees oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover carefully, add potatoes, and cook an additional 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.