I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Buttermilk Grits with Bacon Gravy

Buttermilk Grits with Bacon GravyI have combined in this recipe three of my favorite Southern ingredients. Flavor-packed, stone ground corn grits, creamy, sharp buttermilk and, of course, bacon. The trifecta of flavor elevates the simplicity of each ingredient to a new, sophisticated level. Buttermilk adds an elusive edge of tang and the smoky bacon plays off it beautifully. Another reason I love this recipe is that with the burgeoning local food scene, I find carefully, traditionally and creatively made local versions of each ingredient. Many farmers, restaurants are and markets are curing their own bacon, and small producers are grinding locally grown corn and heritage strains on traditional mills to make hearty, rich grits. And as people rediscover the beauty of buttermilk, local dairies selling rich, whole buttermilk, which makes all the differences in recipes like this. Seek out the best versions of these components you can, and prepare to be wowed.

Of course these grits and gravy are delicious at breakfast, but I generally serve this hearty combination as a supper side dish. It’s wonderful beside a good pork roast, with a little gravy drizzled over the pork as well. And imagine this with a plate of fried chicken!

Buttermilk Grits with Bacon Gravy
Serves 6
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For the Grits
  1. 2 cups whole buttermilk
  2. 2 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
  3. ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, cut in pieces
  4. 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  5. 1 cup stone ground yellow grits
For the Gravy
  1. 5 strips of bacon
  2. I medium yellow onion
  3. 3 sprigs of thyme
  4. 2 tablespoons flour
  5. 2 cups pork stock or beef stock
  6. generous grinds of black pepper
For the Grits
  1. Stir the buttermilk, chicken broth, butter and salt together in heavy bottomed large Dutch oven. Cook over medium high heat until the butter is melted and it all comes to a low boil. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The grits should be tender and the liquid absorbed. You may add a bit more broth if needed. When cooked, the grits can be kept covered for an hour or so, then slowly reheated over low, stirring in a little broth.
For the Gravy
  1. Finely dice the bacon and place in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Finely dice the onion, and when the bacon has released its fat and is beginning to brown, add the onions to the pan. Stir to coat the onions evenly in the bacon grease. Drop in the thyme stalks. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and brown and the bacon is cooked, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. Place a strainer over a bowl and pour the bacon onion mixture into the strainer. Stir to release as much bacon grease as possible. Discard the thyme stalks. Measure out 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease and return it to the pan. Whisk in the flour and cook until smooth. Slowly whisk in the stock, scraping the lovely browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you go. Simmer until the gravy begins to thicken, stirring frequently, then stir the bacon and onions back in the pot. Simmer until the gravy has thickened to coat the back of a spoon. Season generously with black pepper. The gravy may be made several hours ahead. Reheat over low, stirring in a little extra stock if you think it needs it.
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Debris Po’ Boys

Debris Po BoyMardi Gras is almost upon us, so it’s time to talk Po’ Boys. Traditionally, the story goes, the Debris po’ boy (pronounced DAY-bree in this case) was made from the leftover bits and pieces left behind from carving a roast, soaked in the gravy and meat juices. But I don’t generally have enough leftover roast beef to serve a crowd, and besides, debris is just too good to wait for leftovers. So I make this version in the slow cooker, to get the slow roasted flavor and lots of juices to turn into gravy. It is a very fun celebratory meal, letting everyone assemble their own po boy.

The bread for a po’ boy is obviously a key part of the overall experience. In New Orleans, po’ boy bread is a thing unto itself – made by local bakeries it is soft in the center with a crust that is not overly hard or chewy. Outside Louisiana, it’s a little hard to find real po’ boy bread, so you have to do you’re best. I find typical French bread too chewy so I tend to go for a hoagie roll or Mexican bollilo rolls. If you have a bakery in the area that supplies rolls for a Vietnamese bahn mi place or a Vietnamese grocery, that version of French bread is pretty close. Split the rolls or loaves and lightly toast.

Debris Po Boys
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 4 stalks celery
  2. 3 carrots
  3. 2 onions
  4. 1 green bell pepper
  5. 10 cloves garlic
  6. 3 bay leaves
  7. 3 sprigs thyme
  8. 5 pounds bottom round beef roast (in two pieces is fine)
  9. Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s)
  10. 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer (I use Abita Turbo Dog)
  11. 1 cup beef broth
  12. 1 teaspoon corn starch
  13. Creole Spread
  14. ¾ cup mayonnaise
  15. ¼ cup Creole mustard (I like Zatarain’s)
  16. 2 teaspoons honey
  17. 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Crystal)
  18. 6 French bread rolls or hoagie rolls
  19. provolone cheese
  20. shredded lettuce
Instructions
  1. Place the celery, carrots and onions in the bottom of an 8-quart slow cooker. Stem and seed the bell pepper and add it to the crock with the garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Generously coat both sides of the beef roast with creole seasoning, rubbing it into the meat. Place the meat on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.
  2. Pour in the beer and beef broth, cover and cook over low heat for eight hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker to a deep rimmed platter or bowl. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker through a strainer into a large saucepan. Discard the solids. Let the juices settle, then skim off the fat. Bring the liquid to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, until it is slightly reduced.
  3. While the liquid is boiling, shred the beef. Cut away any fat or gristle, then use two forks to pull the meat into shreds.
  4. Put the cornstarch onto a small bow and whisk in a few tablespoons of cooking liquid and whisk until completely smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture back into the juices and continue cooking for 2 -3 more minutes.
  5. Rinse out the slow cooker crock and return the meat to it. Pour over the juices and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the Creole Spread
  1. Whisk together the mayo, mustard, honey and hot sauce. This can be done up to a day ahead, covered and kept in the fridge.
  2. To serve, split the rolls and lightly toast on a cookie sheet in the oven. Spread on side of the bread with the creole spread. Use tongs to pile the beef onto the bread, then top the hot meat with a slice of cheese, then layer with shredded lettuce.
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Habitant Pea Soup in the Slow Cooker

Habitant Pea SoupLast fall, over a year ago now its hard to believe, I set out on a book tour to share Pimento Cheese The Cookbook (available at your local bookstore or online now) throughout the South, tasting all sorts of local specialties along the way. I drove myself for the whole tour, so I spent a lot of time in the car listening to public radio and a few podcasts. One program I was listening to had a Canadian chef expounding the virtues of Habitant Pea Soup, a traditional Canadian dish I’d never heard of before. Maybe I was in the mood for some home cooked food, or the weather was turning cold or just the enthusiasm of the chef, but the story piqued my interest. And the story of this chef exploring the origins of the soup as a piece of Canadian heritage was fascinating. (If I remembered where I heard it I’d post a link!). He deduced that this was a dish made by the original European explorers out of their meager stores, and that it had remained in the Canadian culinary canon. When I got I home, I did a little research and came up with my own version of the soup, cooked in the slow cooker for simplicity.

Habitant Pea Soup is as comforting and homey as I thought it would be. The split peas, an ingredient I had only used in Indian cooking before, add a nice richness and creaminess to the soup, and the use of a ham hock and a little salt pork keep the soup from being plain or boring. In my research, I found a couple of different ideas. I settle on this version for ease of preparation, but one recipe suggested shredding the ham meat and crisping in a skillet and serving on top of the soup, rather than stirred through. I like that. Some suggested topping the soup with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche. I like that too. I can definitely imagine this warming up the original explorers on a cold Canadian night.

Habitant Pea Soup in the Slow Cooker
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 16 ounces yellow split peas
  2. 1 ham hock (about 14 ounces)
  3. 6 ounces salt pork
  4. 1 medium onion, finely diced
  5. 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  6. 1 carrot, finely diced
  7. 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  8. 6 -7 sprigs of thyme
  9. 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Spread the split peas on the bottom of a 7- 8 quart slow cooker. Place the ham hock and salt pork on top, then the onion, celery and carrot. Pour over the chicken broth. Do not stir. Drop in the thyme sprigs (count how many stems so you can remove them later) and the bay leaves. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.
  2. Remove the salt pork, thyme stems and bay leaves and discard. Remove the ham hock to a plate and pull the meat off the bone using two forks. If needed, dice the hock meat into bite size pieces. Return the meat to the slow cooker, cover and cook a further 30 minutes.
  3. Serve warm, topped with sour cream of crème fraiche if you like.
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Roasted Pork and Sweet Potatoes with Hard Cider Cream Sauce

Roasted Pork and Sweet Potatoes with Hard CIder Cream Sauce

October is that transitional time of year, the leaves are beginning to fall, the weather is cooling and I’ve pulled the sweaters out of storage. I’m ready to cover up the grill and move onto to hearty roasts and vegetables, but I’m not quite ready for thick soups and heavy stews. So a perfect piece of pork surrounded by fall produce fits the bill perfectly.

I love that this dish is beautiful to serve, with perfectly roasted meat and an array of colorful fall vegetables, but could not be easier to prepare. A little work for a lot of reward. The sauce is rich and creamy with a nice sweet-sharp tang from the hard cider. I use a Woodchuck Amber cider, and serve the rest of the six-pack with the meal.

Roasted Pork and Sweet Potatoes with Hard Cider Cream Sauce
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pound boneless pork roast
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 2 medium sweet potatoes
  5. 2 medium apples
  6. 2 small red onions
  7. 1 cup hard apple cider (alcoholic)
  8. 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Rub the outside of the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of a stovetop and oven safe roasting pan with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Heat the oil in the pan, placing it over two burners if necessary, then sear the pork until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the roasting dish to the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Peal the sweet potatoes and cut in half vertically, then in wedges. Core the apples and cut into wedges, then cut the onions into wedges as well. Place everything in a large ziptop bag and pour in the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and generous sprinkles of salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables around to coat with the olive oil and seasoning.
  3. After the first fifteen minutes of cooking, spread the oiled vegetables around the pork in the roasting pan and cook until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 140° internal temperature, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and transfer the pork to a cutting board. Cover with foil and leave to rest. Remove the vegetables to a platter. Place the roasting tin on the stove (over two burners again if needed) over medium high heat. Pour in the apple cider and use a spatula to scrape up all the delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring the cider to a boil and cook until reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream and continue cooking until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the pork and serve with the roasted vegetables and the sauce.
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Chicken Tinga

Chicken Tinga

When I was a kid, taco night mean hard shells, ground beef cooked with a packet of seasoning and shredded cheese. It was fun, because you got to “make” your own dinner, putting as much meat and cheese on as you wanted (though mom probably insisted that I put a little lettuce on it too). And eating with your hands! But my, how times have changed and only for the better. Tacos much closer to traditional Mexican food are readily available, and those kit tacos from my youth seem bland and boring now. That’s not Mexican food anymore, that’s drive-thru fast food now.

But one thing does remain, the fun of building your own dinner. I have often mentioned how much I love an interactive meal – everyone gets involved and talking and laughing and everybody has a meal they love. Chicken Tinga, which is a wonderful name for a dish, is chicken slow-cooked to melting tenderness in a flavor-packed onion and chipotle sauce. It is pretty simple to make for the reward it produces, and incredibly versatile. Use the juicy chicken to fill tortillas for tacos, or spread it over a crispy tostada. Stuff it into bread to make a torta, or use it to top an colorful taco salad. It is wonderful over rice, or serve it on its own, or rolled into burritos. The leftovers can be used for several days, and you can even freeze it.

I love to pull out a full array of colorful toppings to add crunch and creaminess and counterpoints to the smoky chipotle flavor. Simply pickled red onions are traditional and the vinegar tang complements to rich meat perfectly and this creamy avocado sauce cools everything down. Make this for family taco night or invite friends over for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. I think this would also make a great book club meal.

Chicken Tinga
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. 1 tomatillo, diced
  6. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (2 if you want), diced
  8. 2 Tablespoons adobo sauce from the chipotles
  9. 1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted adds a little smokiness)
  10. 2 teaspoons oregano (preferably Mexican)
  11. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  12. 6 chicken breasts
Topping ideas
  1. Creamy Avocado Sauce
  2. Quick Pickled Red Onions
  3. Crumbled cotija cheese
  4. Shredded lettuce or cabbage
  5. Shredded radishes
  6. Pico de gallo
  7. Salsa
  8. Limes wedges to squeeze over the top
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then add the onion and bell peppers. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables star to soften, then lower the heat a little, add the garlic and cover the pan. Cook until soft and browning a little, about 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Add a little water to the pan and scrape up any browned bits form the bottom of the pan, then let the water cook off. Browning the vegetables a little adds some depth of flavor and richness. Add the tomatillo, chipotles, adobo sauce, tomatoes, oregano and cumin and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes. When the sauce has cooled a bit, transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour the sauce back into the pot and add the chicken breasts, stirring to cover each breast with sauce. Bring the pot to a bubble over medium high heat, then turn the heat to low, cover the pot and leave to simmer until the chicken is very tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate one at a time and use two forks to pull the chicken into shreds, then return the shreds to the sauce in the pot. Continue to simmer uncovered until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. You can place the chicken and sauce in a slow cooker and cook over low heat for 4 hours, then shred the meat as above.
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Quick Pickled Red Onions
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Ingredients
  1. 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  2. 1 cup water
  3. ½ cup cider vinegar
  4. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  5. 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  6. ½ teaspoon pickling spice
Instructions
  1. Layer the onions in a pint jar or glass bowl. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a boil in a small pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine over the onions and leave to cool, then seal and keep in the refrigerator for a least an hour, but the onions will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Creamy Avocado Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1 avocado
  2. 3 tomatillos
  3. juice of one lime
  4. 2 garlic cloves
  5. ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  6. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado and place it in a blender. Chop the tomatillos roughly and add to the blender with the garlic, cilantro and salt. Blend until smooth and scoop into a bowl or jar. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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Potted Ham

Potted Ham

Potted ham is some truly old fashioned cooking. Potting was a method for preserving meat and seafood and even cheese in English kitchens before the advent of refrigeration. It is basically sealing finely chopped meat under a layer of clarified butter. The butter solidifies and shields the meat form unwanted visitors. It was the precursor to canned meats and I think that is probably why it’s reputation suffered and it went largely out of fashion. I’ve made potted shrimp and potted stilton for English themed tea parties and they’ve always been very popular, but I had never thought of potting ham until I found this recipe in Noel McMeel’s book Irish Pantry at the precise moment I had a surfeit of leftover ham in my refrigerator.

I find this dish charmingly old-fashioned, but it somehow seems to have a modern resonance and stylishness to it. It seems so homemade and self-sufficient. Make this in elegant little ramekins and serve as a first course with toasted crusty bread and a pretty little spreading knife, or make a larger ramekin (no more than a 2-cup size) and serve on a cheese platter with crackers. And it makes great sandwiches – even as a layer in a bahn-mi.

I would not trust this method as its original purpose as a long-term storage solution for meat, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. And it freezes well too. Pack it into freezable jars, cover with butter, refrigerate until cold, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before serving. I particularly like it in these European-style jars. I have simplified the original recipe a bit.

Potted Ham
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ounces of high-quality butter (like Kerrygold)
  2. 1 pound cooked ham, torn onto pieces
  3. 1 Tablespoon parley
  4. 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  5. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  6. ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  7. ¼ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt
  9. lots of ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter into quarters and place in a 4-cup microwave safe measuring jug. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Leave the butter to sit for one minute, then skim off any white foam from the surface. Slowly and carefully pour the clarified butter into a smaller measuring jug leaving the white solids behind. Set aside.
  2. Place the ham in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse several times to break the meat up into rough crumbs. Add the parsley, vinegar, cloves, mustard seeds salt, pepper and about 2/3 of the clarified butter. Pulse until you have a thick, rough paste that sticks together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and making sure everything is well combined.
  3. Use a spoon to transfer the ham to ramekins or jars. Pack the ham down lightly into the containers making sure there are no large gaps. Smooth the top of the ham to an even layer. Pour the remaining clarified butter equally over the top of each container. The surface needs to be completely covered with a generous layer of butter. No ham should be sticking up through the butter. Leave the ramekins on the counter so the butter settles and begins to solidify, then carefully transfer to the fridge. When the butter has solidified completely, cover with jar lids or plastic wrap. Let come to room temperature before serving.
  4. The potted ham will keep in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to three months.
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Pastrami on Rye Pasta Bake


Pastrami on Rye Pasta Bake

Tis the season for the rich, comforting pasta bake. It’s cold and gray, but not so much frigid winter as that doleful in between. I still want the warmth and comfort of cozy, hearty food, but I am growing tired of winter greens and roots and the spring bounty hasn’t sprung yet. I’ve souped and stewed, and I have depleted my stock of frozen-in-summer vegetables. So it’s time to get creative with the comfort food.

This is ingenious take on macaroni and cheese – an all-in-one supper with a twist. Ribbons and flavorful pastrami and cheese enrobed in a creamy, mustardy sauce with the added hit of flavor in toasty rye breadcrumbs. I like to stir the grated cheese through the pasta, rather than adding it to the sauce so you get nice melty, gooey pockets of cheese throughout. Look out for a good, well seasoned pastrami at your favorite deli counter.

Pastrami on Rye Pasta Bake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces campanelle pasta, or other frilly shape like bow ties or fusilli
  2. 4 ounces thin sliced deli pastrami
  3. 3 green onions, white and light green parts only
  4. 8 ounces gouda cheese
  5. 8 ounces swiss cheese
  6. 2 cups milk
  7. 1 cup chicken broth
  8. 4 Tablespoons butter, divided
  9. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  10. 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  11. 1 Tablespoon stone-ground grainy mustard
  12. ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  13. 3 slices rye bread
  14. 1 Tablespoon butter
  15. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a Dutch oven full of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package recommends. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, briefly rinse under cold water and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the butter to prevent sticking.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, dice the pastrami in to small pieces. Shuffle through the pieces so the don’t stick together. Dice the green onions finely. Grate the gouda and swiss cheeses and toss together in a bowl. Measure out 1 cup of the cheeses and set aside.
  3. Combine the milk and the chicken broth in a 4-cup measuring jug and heat in the microwave for 1 ½ minutes until it is just warm. (You can also do this in a saucepan) This will help keep the sauce smooth and lump-free. Wipe out the pasta pot and return it to medium high heat. Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter, then whisk in the flour until you have a smooth, pale paste. Gradually add the milk mixture, stirring constantly, and cook until the sauce thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the mustards and mustard powder until smooth and incorporated. Take the pot of the heat and stir in the pasta, pastrami and green onions. Stir well to make sure the pastrami is evenly distributed and not sticking together in clumps. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed (this will depend on the pastrami you are using, so make sure to get some in your tasting bite). Leave the pasta to cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. While the pasta sits, put the rye bread into a food processor (a mini is fine) and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until combined.
  5. Stir the bulk of the cheese into the slightly cooled pasta to distribute it evenly. Spread the pasta in a well-greased 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved cup of cheese over the top, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese, spreading to make and even layer and lightly pressing it into the top of the dish.
  6. At this point, the casserole can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to a day. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° and bake until hot through, bubbly around the edges and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
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Balsamic Beef Stew with Pearl Onions

Balsamic Beef Stew with Pearl OnionsGood beef stew can be one of the most homey and comforting dishes to enjoy on a chilly winter night. But making good beef stew can be a challenge. Somehow, it seems no matter what you do, the stew tastes pretty much the same. Like beef, carrots and brown gravy. This recipe solves that issue. A bottle of inexpensive rich, tangy balsamic vinegar adds such snap to the finished product that it seems like a very complicated, many-ingredient dish with lengthy preparation and complicated technique. The end result is hearty, sweet and flavorful – the perfect beef stew with a little twist.

Don’t worry about the balsamic – this calls for the supermarket salad dressing aisle inexpensive variety, not the gourmet shop aged expensive stuff. I use pre-cut beef labeled “trim cut”, but you can trim your own, which can be more cost effective. Frozen pearl onions make this stew extra easy, but feel free to peel fresh ones. You could also use peeled shallots or cipolline onions if you find them. There is the added bonus that this stew makes the house smell fantastic while cooking.

Balsamic Beef Stew with Pearl Onions
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 pounds beef stew meat chunks, or 4 pounds beef chuck cut into pieces
  2. 1 (8 ounce) bottle balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 cup beef broth
  4. 3 garlic cloves
  5. 3 carrots, peeled
  6. 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen pearl onions
  7. 5 thyme sprigs
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  10. 1 Tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Place the beef in a large ziptop bag. Pour in the vinegar and seal. Squish the bag around to coat the meat, then put in the fridge to marinate for one to two hours. If you think of it, turn the bag over once during this time. Meanwhile, chop the peeled carrots into big-bite sized chunks and let the onions thaw a little.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Pour the beef and vinegar into a large (5 quart) oven-safe casserole or Dutch oven with a lid. Pour over the beef broth, drop in the carrots, garlic, onions, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to mix, cover, then place in the oven. Cook for 2 ½ hours.
  3. Remove from the oven and strain the stew in a colander set over a bowl. Remove the thyme stalks and the bay leaves from the meat. Carefully wipe out the pot with damp paper towels. Pour the juices from the stew into the pot and cook on the stovetop over medium high heat. Reduce the juices by about 1/3, letting them become slightly syrupy, stirring well. While the sauce is cooking, mix the cornstarch and water until a smooth paste forms. When the juices are reduced, add the cornstarch paste, stirring until thick and smooth. Toss the beef and veg back in the pot and stir to coat.
  4. Leave the stew to cool completely. Spoon the stew into a ziptop bag or disposable plastic containers and seal tightly. The stew will keep in the fridge up to two days or can be frozen for up to a month.
  5. When ready to serve, pour the soup into a pot, stir in ½ cup water and heat over medium high heat, stirring, until heated through.
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Cheeseburger Quiche

Cheeseburger Quiche

My family ate together almost every night when I was growing up. We sat at a little table for four in the den; the table came from a restaurant that was once on the property when my grandparents bought their farm lock, stock and barrel. My mom cooked mostly, sometimes my dad, sometimes me as I got older. Never my brother as I remember, though he is a good cook now. The meals were not always complicated, though my mom did tend to go through exotic vegetable phases and my father periods of interest in Chinese cuisine or James Beard books. But sitting at that table as a family was probably the most formative experience of my youth.

This is not, however, a dish from my childhood. But it is the perfect family dinner. It is easy to make and has a whimsical appeal that all ages can love. I take no issue with using purchased, roll-out pie crust, and you can easily brown the beef, onions and garlic early and assemble the quiche right before baking. The shredded lettuce and tomato topper is fun, and you can make up a side salad with any extra lettuce. As I have made pretty clear, I am not a fan of pickle relish, but if your family is, stir a little into the filling or serve a dollop on top.

I asked my family if I should call this quiche or pie, and they suggested Quicheburger Pie. For clarity’s sake I stick with the original, but I will always think of it as Quicheburger now!

Cheeseburger Quiche
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for one 9-inch tart pan (store bought, ready roll is fine)
  2. 1 pound ground beef
  3. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  4. 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1 cup mayonnaise
  11. 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  12. 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  13. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  14. shredded lettuce
  15. diced tomato
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Fit the pastry into a 9 – inch removable bottom tart pan. Line the pastry with parchment and fill with pastry weights (or dried beans or rice) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and leave the crust to cool.
  2. Break up the meat into a large skillet and cook until it begins to brown, breaking it up into small pieces as you cook. Add the onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside to cool. Spread the meat over the crust, then sprinkle over the grated cheese in an even layer.
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire together in a bowl until combined and as smooth as possible (there may be some small lumps). Pour the filling over the meat and cheese in the crust. Use a fork to help some of the custard seep through the filling.
  4. Bake the quiche for 25 – 30 minutes until the center is puffed up and firm. Let the quiche cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove the ring around the tart pan. Serve the quiche warm with the shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Bourbon Grilled Flat-Iron Steak with Southern Bacon Bourbon Butter

Bourbon Grilled Flat-Iron Steak with Southern Bacon Bourbon Butter

When I was a teenager, I loved to entertain (I still do). I thought I was a real gourmet, because I knew how to cook – no help from my mom. We used to have other families for dinner, and sometimes I’d have dinner parties for friends. My favorite meal was flank steak in teriyaki marinade. I probably served it 100 times, never thinking that the guests might get tired of it. The recipe came from a cookbook called A Man’s Taste published by the Junior League of Memphis. My dad and a friend of his spearheaded this project in an effort to show those Junior League ladies that men could cook too. And the book was a success. The recipe below is a version of that original, with the grown-up addition of bourbon. I think flat-iron is a lovely cut to grill, but you could use flank steak if you prefer.

I never bothered with any embellishments to my teenage steak dinners – I thought an actual recipe from an actual cookbook could not be fiddled with or changed, silly me. Now, however, I love to add a slice or two of compound butter to any grilled steak. It takes a pretty simple preparation and makes it elegant and full of flavor. And I have to say, this Southern Bacon Bourbon Butter may be my best version yet. Sweet and tangy with smoke from the bacon and the grill, it melts lusciously over the meat, leaving just a hint of crispy bacon and green onion behind.

Bourbon Grilled Flat-Iron Steak with Southern Bacon Bourbon Butter
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. Southern Bacon Bourbon Butter
  2. 1 slice of bacon, cooked until crisp
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  4. 1 Tablespoon bourbon
  5. 1 Tablespoon sorghum
  6. 1 green onion, white part only, finely chopped
  7. generous grinds of black pepper
  8. pinch of salt
  9. Bourbon Steak
  10. ¼ cup soy sauce
  11. ¼ cup cider vinegar
  12. ¼ cup bourbon
  13. 3 Tablespoons honey
  14. 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  15. 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  16. 2 minced garlic cloves
  17. 2 finely chopped green onions
  18. 1 pound flat iron steak
For the Butter
  1. Finely chop the cooked bacon, and place it in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Use a fork to thoroughly mash and whip the butter until well combined. Scoop the butter onto the short end of a piece of waved paper and use the paper to roll the butter into a tight log, twisting the ends like a candy. Refrigerate for several hours until firm. The butter will keep for a week in the fridge or can be frozen for a few months.
For the Steak
  1. Combine the soy sauce, bourbon, vinegar, honey and oil together in a bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the ginger, garlic and green onions. Place the steak in a large ziptop bag and pour over the marinade. Seal the bag and squish it around to cover the steak. Place the bag on a plate and put it in the refrigerator. Marinate for several hours, turning the bag over occasionally.
  2. Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to grill it. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Remove the steak from the marinade and wipe any excess off with a paper towel. Place the steak on the grill and cook for 5 minutes, flip and cook until medium rare, about 150°, 5 minutes more. Remove from the grill, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Slice in thin strips across the grain of the meat. Serve with thin slices of the Southern Bourbon Bacon Butter melting over the top.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/