Tag Archives: potatoes

By request: Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

I was asked to settle a debate this week and while I’m uncertain whether it was my food knowledge, my part Irish heritage, or simply my well known penchant for eating food that led them to me, I was more than happy to throw in my two cents. The question was “Is corned beef really Irish?” In fact, I told them, it is Irish but the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patty’s day is uniquely American.

Historically corned beef (named so because the salt used in the process resembled corn kernels) or salt cured beef was an export of Ireland but rarely ever was it eaten by the locals. In those days Beef was generally too expensive for the common people and a dish of boiled “bacon” and cabbage was much more customary. What they called “bacon” was pretty much any part of the pig, other than the ham, that contained a joint…typically what we know as the shoulder or the loin.

Later, when Irish immigrants came to America, beef was actually far more available than pork so they “corned” the beef and cooked it with cabbage in an effort to replicate their comfort food from back home. Loosely, this is assumed to be the origin of the wholly American tradition of corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, to this day, corned beef and cabbage in Ireland is generally reserved for the tourists!

For a great read on the subject check out Europeancuisines.com .

Through the years I tried every method known to man for preparing corned beef including boiling, stove-top braising, baking and most recently sous vide. For depth of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this slow oven braise remains my go-to recipe for corned beef. Make enough for leftovers because the sandwiches are awesome and the chopped meat makes for an incredible corned beef hash!

Beer Braised Corned Beef Brisket & Cabbage

1 – 3 to 4 pound First cut corned beef (**See note)
1 or 2 cans – Guinness draft
10 to 12 – Mixed peppercorns (pink, green, black, etc…)
6 to 8 – Cloves of garlic, smashed
4 to 6 – Allspice berries
2 to 3 – Bay leaves
1 to 2 – Star anise pods

Note: Reserve vegetables for later. These can be added and cooked with the roast for the final hour of cooking or boiled in the pot juices while the roast  rests.

1 Head – Green or Napa cabbage, quartered
3 to 4 Large, or 4 to 6 Med – Red bliss potatoes
2 Med – White onions, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the corned beef from its packaging and rinse in cold water while rubbing with your hands to remove any scum left over from the brine. Place the roast, fatty side up, in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (or a pot with a tight fitting lid) and pour in enough beer to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides, sliding the roast around a little to get some liquid underneath. Add the remaining ingredients, distributing them evenly around the beef (if your roast is larger add more / if it is smaller add less of the spice).

Note: If your Corned Beef comes with a spice packet add that too…flavor is flavor!

On your stovetop over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil then cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil placing the Dutch oven lid on top of that for a nice firm seal. Place the whole thing in the oven and roast, without peeking for 3 – ½ to 4 hours again depending on the size. The beef should be very tender after 4 hours…if not put it back in the oven and check it every 30 minutes until it is very tender.

Remove the corned beef and wrap it in the foil to rest. Meanwhile, place quartered cabbage (cut side down), red bliss potatoes, and white onion halves in the cooking liquid, return to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes while the Corned Beef is resting. After 15 to 20 minutes of rest, slice the Corned Beef, across the grain and serve with vegetables and your favorite Dijon Mustard.

**Note: Corned beef is generally sold as Whole Brisket, Half Brisket – First Cut (or Flat), or Half Brisket – Point Cut. The first cut (or Flat) is my favorite. This cut comes from the wide flat half of the whole brisket with the Point Cut coming from the thicker, fattier end of the Brisket. The First Cut is generally leaner and more suitable for the dinner plate. The Point Cut is “generally” fattier and more suitable for sandwiches. Hence, most of the time when you see a sale on corned beef it will be the Point Cut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the First Cut.

Enjoy,

Randy

Shepherds Pie, American Style

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I call this recipe “Shepherds Pie, American Style” because I have read or heard much debate through the years about the authentic ingredients for shepherds, or cottage pie. While it is true that many might say “this is not Shepherds Pie if it contains no lamb!” I beg to differ. Oh yes, I am well aware that because it is made with beef as opposed to lamb that it should rightfully be called “Cottage Pie”. But that’s not what they called it when I learned to love it!

I apologize for bringing up my childhood twice in as many posts but is that not truly when many of our adult likes and dislikes are formed? When I was in elementary school one of my favorite, absolute favorite dishes on the cafeteria (or cafetorium) menu was named “Shepherd’s Pie” and this recipe is my rendition of that dish. This is how I remember it tasting and once again we’re talking comfort food, so this is how I prepare it.

Honestly, I won’t be insulted if you call it cottage pie; call it anything you like…what really matters to me is that it tastes good. After all if we were really going to get down to brass tacks then do you think that stuff they served at the “PTA Spaghetti Dinners” would pass as Spaghetti with a true Italian? Ha! I think not. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t gobble it up with enthusiasm each and every time I ate it. I hope you do the same with this recipe.

Notes: I use a fork to “rake” the top of the potatoes because I think it facilitates browning and creates a crispier crust. I do not use cheese because they didn’t use any when I was a kid. Please feel free to add anything you like to the recipe. (On that note, I think I will add a cup of chopped green onions to the potatoes the next time around.)

Shepherd’s Pie, American Style

1 Lb – Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Onion, chopped
32 Oz – Lower Sodium Beef Broth
2-3 Tbsp – Red wine, chilled
2 Tbsp – HP (or A1) Steak sauce
2 Tbsp – Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp – Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp – Dried Tarragon
8 Oz – Frozen Sweet Peas
3 Lbs – Red Bliss Potatoes, cut in (roughly) 1 inch chunks
2 Cups – Low Fat Buttermilk, plus a little extra if needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Stir in carrots, celery, and onion along with ½ Tbsp each of thyme and tarragon. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a fork while stirring to mix. Add the remainder of the thyme and tarragon along with about ¼ tablespoon of pepper and the steak sauce. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the beef has browned. When the beef has browned and cooked through, add the broth and simmer while you prepare the potatoes.

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by ½ inch. Add about 1/8 cup of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the beef & broth mixture has simmered at least 20 minutes, strain about 1 cup of the hot stock into a bowl. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cold red wine and set aside to cool while you mash the potatoes.

When the potatoes are very tender carefully drain them in a colander or strainer allowing them to sit a few minutes to steam off excess moisture. Place hot potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, dough cutter, or a large fork mash in about 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue mashing until the liquid has been absorbed, then drizzle in the second cup of buttermilk while still mashing the potatoes. If the potatoes are still too dry drizzle in a little extra buttermilk, while mashing, until the mashed potatoes reach your desired consistency.

Whisk 2 Tbsp of flour into the reserved stock and wine mixture then stir this into the simmering beef mixture along with the frozen peas. Stir gently until everything is incorporated, heated through, and slightly thickened then spoon or pour the mixture into a 9” X 13” casserole. Using a spoon and your fingers if necessary spread the potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.

Before baking, smooth the top of the potatoes, then use the back of a fork to create parallel 1/8 inch deep “grooves” along the length of the entire dish to give the topping some texture. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Randy

Sunday Brunch: Chinese Style Shrimp and Eggs

Brunch

Sunday brunch is one of my favorite meals! I have such fond memories of preparing late morning (or early afternoon) omelets, French toast or pancakes for my daughters as they were growing up. Nowadays it just Kat and I most weekends but that hasn’t diminished the joy of getting in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and whipping up something tasty and interesting on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I had bought some amazing looking shrimp earlier this week so today I was looking for recipes with shrimp and eggs. I had thought of egg fu yung but that would mean a trip to the store. A frittata sounded interesting too but with ginger and garlic on my mind I found this recipe on one of my favorite web sites!

Using Shao’s recipe for inspiration I added potatoes for substance and a little Sriracha for warmth and came up with an interesting dish that would even make for a light and easy weeknight dinner. Served with a simple slaw of mixed cabbage tossed with a little rice wine, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil this was a satisfying and delicious Sunday Brunch.

Notes: This recipe serves two. A wok would be a perfect cooking vessel for this, especially if you were going to double the recipe. Be careful not to over beat the eggs, there should still be some separation between the whites and the yolks. And, do add a little more Sriracha at the table for a great boost of flavor to wake up your taste buds!

Chinese Style Shrimp and Eggs

4 – Large Eggs
8 – Fresh Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Cup – Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in ½ to ¾ inch cubes
1 Tbsp – Baking Soda
2 Tbsp = Kosher Salt, divided
Fresh black pepper
Cold Water
1 ½ Tbsp – Low Sodium Soy Sauce, divided
½ Tsp – Chili Sauce
1 Tbsp – Unsalted Butter, divided
1 Tbsp – Sesame Oil, divided
1 Tsp – Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Tsp – Fresh Ginger, minced
½ Cup – Fresh Scallions, green parts only, cut in approx. 1 inch pieces

In a bowl (or a zip lock bag) add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and the baking soda to 2 cups of water and stir (or shake) to dissolve. Add the shrimp and chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan over high heat bring 3 cups of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and the potatoes. When the water reaches a boil reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes test “almost” tender. About 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes into a strainer and shake to remove excess liquid. Set the strainer, with the potatoes, back over the saucepan to allow the potatoes to steam dry.

When you are ready to cook the eggs, remove the shrimp from the brine, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.

Place a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium heat and melt ½ of the butter with ½ tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the potatoes and cook, shaking the pan and stirring to turn only every couple of minutes. Cook until the cubes are nicely browned on all sides.

Add the shrimp, shaking the pan to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for about 1 minute on each side before adding the garlic, ginger, and a splash of the soy sauce (about ½ Tbsp.). Shake the pan and gently stir to distribute the ingredients and cook 2 minutes more, stirring gently only 2 to 3 times. Toss with the scallions, remove from the heat, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. (There is no need to wipe the pan.)

Gently beat the eggs together with the remaining soy sauce, the chili sauce, and about 1/8 teaspoon each of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper. Add the pan back to medium heat and melt the remaining butter with ½ tablespoon of sesame oil.

Swirl the pan to distribute the oil then add the eggs. Cook 30 seconds then shake the pan a little to loosen the eggs. Continue giving the pan and occasional shake while using a rubber spatula to break up the curds moving them towards the center of the pan.

When the eggs are mostly cooked with some still a little loose, gently stir the shrimp mixture into the pan. Cook no more than one more minute as you gently stir to combine.

Serve immediately garnished with a few sprigs of scallion and a little hot chili sauce on the side.

Enjoy!

Menu – Restaurant Style Greek Roasted Game Hens with Fingerling Potatoes and Fennel Infused Cabbage

I was recently asked to post some of my easier recipes and this is definitely one of them. With 10 minutes of prep, you can put the game hens in the oven then sit down and relax for ½ an hour. Then, by the time you slice and cook the cabbage the hens should be coming out of the oven. Viola! Your plates will look like you worked very hard but you will still have enough energy left to enjoy the compliments.

I know some of you are a little intimidated by Game Hens but they are really just little chickens. To split them just set them, breast side up, on the cutting board and take a knife or kitchen shears and carefully cut, lengthwise, through the center of the top of the bird. Once the breast is cut through you can spread open the cavity a little, sort of like a book, then cut down either side of the backbone to remove it. That’s all there is to it! You should now have two even halves.

Here is a video in case you need a little more help:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwyB_HDk8MM

You can cook these hens whole but for this recipe I think they cook through better, and present better, when cut in halves before cooking. If you are still hesitant, this recipe would work fine with a smaller chicken cut into quarters. I do recommend you give these little hens a try though; they are easy to work with, tender and delicious, and very impressive looking on the plate. (They will think you slaved for hours!)

Notes: For the cabbage, I like to let it cook without stirring for more than 5 minutes at a time. This allows the cabbage to brown a little and makes it taste almost like it was griddled on a restaurant flattop. Just be sure to shake the pan at least every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get too brown.

Greek Roasted Game Hens with Fingerling Potatoes

2 – Rock Cornish Hens, split into 4 halves, rinsed and patted dry
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ Cup – Olive oil
¼ Cup – Fresh parsley, chopped
½ Tbsp – Dried oregano
1 Clove – Garlic, minced very fine
¼ Tsp each – Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Lb – Fingerling potatoes, about 8 or 10 total, rinsed and dried
1 – Spring fresh rosemary

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, garlic, and salt & pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk the olive oil slowly into the bowl until all of the oil is added then continue whisking until the liquid begins to thicken. Dredge each Cornish hen half in the liquid rubbing carefully with your hands to cover all sides. Place the hens in a 9” X 13” glass baking dish.

Dredge the potatoes in the remaining liquid and distribute them around and in-between the Cornish hens. Drizzle or sprinkle any remaining liquid or herbs over the hens and add sprinkle more of salt & pepper if desired. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour.

Carefully remove and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving with cabbage.

Fennel Infused Pan-Sauteed Cabbage

½ Head – Cabbage, halved lengthwise then sliced crosswise in ½” increments
1 – Small white onion, halved & sliced
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
½ Tbsp – Whole dried fennel seeds
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering hot. Saute the onions and garlic for about 1 minute before adding the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until cabbage is just tender through and through…about 20 minutes. Set aside until the hens are finished then serve the cabbage as a bed on the plate, with Cornish hens placed on top.

Enjoy,

Randy

Using Leftover Turkey – Shepherds Pot Pie

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

In one of my last posts I talked about all the stuff I’d been doing with leftover turkey, then, I posted a recipe for pork. Surprise! I got a few emails asking for the turkey recipes I had mentioned. Since I didn’t have pictures of those I thought I would use a little more of that turkey last night. Even after making this one, would you believe I still have more turkey in the freezer? Wow, I do love making good use of those leftovers!

This is sort of a fusion recipe; a pot pie filling with a shepherd’s pie topping. All of the ingredients are fresh and honestly, with the exception of a couple of recipes my daughters will never let me quit cooking, I doubt I could ever go back to making casseroles with frozen veggies and canned soups! When you take that first bite of good fresh food the wholesomeness is immediately apparent…the richness of the leeks and the mushrooms, the depth of flavor in the homemade broth.

I can’t recommend enough cooking with fresh food. The payoff in enjoyment (not to mention compliments) is almost as nice as the health benefits!

In this recipe I used my own homemade turkey stock, another great way to use leftover turkey (and bones). Chicken broth would work almost as well as would leftover chicken. The idea behind cooking the mushrooms in this way is to get the pan just hot enough so that the juices exude and evaporate very quickly, rather than pooling in the pan. As the liquid evaporates it leaves lots of flavor behind. Then as the mushrooms begin to caramelize, they will be at the peak of their flavor.

Yes, I do use a little butter here; I think it adds richness to the potatoes and a polish to the sauce. I honestly feel there is no harm in using butter as long as it is used in moderation. If you think about it in terms of, two tablespoons of butter in a dish of 10 – 12 servings, it actually works out to very little fat per serving. Just enough in fact that I didn’t miss the whole milk (or cream) that I used to use in mashed potatoes. As the potatoes come together the goal is a fluffy creaminess with still a little stiffness…too much liquid would result in a watery final dish.

Start to finish the dish took a little over an hour to prepare…40 minutes prep work and 30 in the oven. This one is definitely good enough for company as the friend that came to dinner simply couldn’t stop eating it. It was, for sure, a great way to use up a little more of that leftover turkey!

Shepherd’s Pot Pie

For the filling…

2 Cups – Cooked Turkey, cut in roughly ½” cubes
2 Cups – Good stock
2 Cups – Leeks (white part only) quartered lengthwise, rinsed well then sliced
8 oz – Button mushrooms, quartered (approx 2 cups)
1 Cup – Celery, diced large
1 Cup – Carrots, diced large
3 Tbsp – Unbleached all purpose flour
2 Tbsp – Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
½ tsp – Rubbed sage
½ tsp – Dried marjoram
½ tsp – Dried thyme
2 tbsp – Olive oil
1 tbsp – Unsalted butter
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

For the topping…

5 large – Red potatoes, quartered lenthwise the cut into (approx) 1” chunks
1 Cup – Low fat cultured buttermilk
½ Cup – Fat free plain yogurt
1 Tbsp – Unsalted butter
One sprinkling – Paprika

Kosher salt

Place the potatoes into a large saucepan or soup pot and add enough water to cover. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. When the water is boiling reduce the heat to medium and cook until fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking…

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. When the pan is nice and hot add the olive oil and swirl in the pan to distribute. Add the mushroom and sage and cook stirring frequently until the liquid has cooked out of the mushrooms and they are showing signs of browning. Then, add the leeks, carrots, and celery to the pan along with several good grinds of pepper, the marjoram, and the thyme. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often until the celery is tender-crisp.

Stir the Turkey into the pan along with 1 Tbsp of butter and cook, stirring, until the butter has melted. Stir in the flour and cook two minutes more stirring gently to incorporate. Stir in the broth being sure to loosen any browned bits that have stuck to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer and thicken, stirring only occasionally, while you prepare the mashed potatoes.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

When the potatoes are fork tender carefully pour into a colander or sieve to drain. Allow the potatoes to sit for 5 minutes to allow the steam to dry the potatoes before returning them to the cooking pot. Crush the potatoes slightly then add ¾ of the buttermilk and the yogurt. Mash well with a potato masher (or mixture) until well mashed. Add the butter and the remaining buttermilk and continue mashing until your desired consistency is reached. Taste the potatoes and season with salt if needed.

Stir the turkey mixture once more, stirring in the fresh parsley. Taste the mixture to check the seasonings, add salt & pepper if needed, then pour evenly into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Top the turkey mixture evenly with approx. ½” thickness of the mashed potatoes using the back of a spoon to even out the surface. Sprinkle the top with a little paprika then bake 30 minutes. Rest 10 minutes and serve, garnishing each plate with a little more fresh chopped parsley.

Enjoy,

Randy

Menu – Crispy Salmon with Crash Hot Potatoes and Braised Kale

(Another installment in How To Stretch Those Dinner Dollars…)

I am usually wary of grocery store fish counters but I found the nicest, very fresh, fillets of Farm Raised Steelhead on sale at Albertson’s yesterday. As an avid fisherman I have learned to appreciate fresh fish and when or if I do purchase fresh fish it must first pass a few very important tests. First, the fish must never be frozen. I often see “previously frozen” fish at the fish counter, thawed and displayed on ice. If it was frozen why did they thaw it? How long ago was it thawed? I’m not saying I won’t purchase frozen fish. I just prefer to examine the packaging myself (for me it should be flash frozen or vacuum sealed) and I prefer to thaw it myself…thank you very much.

My second test is visual. Does the fish look fresh? If it is a whole fish the eyes should look clear, not clouded. The skin should be firm and glistening and should not look dry or wrinkled and scales should not be loose or falling off. Fillets too should glisten with moisture and should never look dried out. All fresh fish, whole or filleted, should be kept on ice and unwrapped. If the fish is just lying on a rack or shelf, or if it is packaged and wrapped, I’ll usually keep looking.

Next, how does it feel? If you press your finger on a fresh whole fish it should feel firm. The flesh should spring back quickly when you take your finger away. A fillet may not be as firm but if you press your finger into a fillet and remove it, the flesh should immediately spring back. If an indention remains when you take your finger away, or if the fish feels mushy, then the fish is probably not the freshest. Lastly and simply, how does it smell? You may feel a little funny asking but really, I’ve never even had a person behind a fish counter look surprised. I always ask to smell the fish which should smell fresh and clean, perhaps a little like the mist of a breaking wave…and never, ever should it smell fishy or strong.

The Albertson’s Farm Raised Steelhead fillets passed every test with flying colors. Not only that, at $5.99 per pound it was a great deal! The 1-1/2 pound fillet was big enough for two dinners for 2 for Kathy and I which works out to about $2.25 a plate. Not bad for fresh fish! I still had half a bunch of kale from the other night and I wanted to use that up so this Saturday night dinner really was quite the value meal.

Speaking of feeling funny…I feel a little funny posting other people’s recipes on my blog. If this is going to be “Recipes Randy Cooks” though, then it should most definitely include recipes created by others. Kat loves the crispy salmon skin the sushi chefs make so I was looking for a way to crisp the skin when I found this video by Gordon Ramsay. I was getting a little tired of rice so I chose an old favorite potato recipe, Crash Hot Potatoes. Like I told my friends on Facebook, if you have not tried this potato recipe…do it…do it now! You will not be disappointed.

Menu – Crispy Salmon with Crash Hot Potatoes and Braised Kale

For the Kale

About 2 Cups – Fresh Kale, stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Med – Shallots, Halved, then sliced lengthwise
2 Cloves – Garlic, minced
A couple of Lemon Peels (Left over from making the lemon vinaigrette and lemon zest used in the other 2 recipes)
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary
¼ Cup – Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat and cook the shallots and garlic until just beginning to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add another Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and sauté the kale for two minutes before adding the lemon peels, rosemary, chicken stock, and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the shallots & garlic back into the pan and continue simmering uncovered a few minutes more allowing most of the broth to evaporate. Remove the lemon peels and rosemary and serve with a drizzle of the lemon vinaigrette from the fish recipe.

For the Potatoes

4 Med – Red Bliss or Yukon Gold Potatoes, whole, two inches or less in diameter
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary, stem removed & chopped fine
Lemon Zest (from the fish recipe)
Olive Oil

While pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees, boil the potatoes until they are just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on a foil-lined sheet pan and place the potatoes on the pan. Using the bottom of a jar or drinking glass, gently but firmly press the potatoes until they burst, then flatten them to about ½ inch thick while trying not to break them apart. Drizzle each potato with olive oil, season with kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, and sprinkle with the rosemary. Bake until the potatoes are browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little of the lemon zest and serve.

For the Fish…

2 Portions – Salmon or Steelhead, 4-6 oz each, skin on
1 Sprig – Fresh Rosemary, stem removed & chopped fine
Zest of 1 Lemon
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Lemon Vinaigrette (I used 1 recipe of Good Seasons Italian Dressing made with lemon juice instead of vinegar.)

Rinse and pat dry the fish so that it is very dry. Using a very sharp knife, make a series of deep slices into the skin, crossways along the center, about every three eighths of an inch. (The slices should not reach the edges of the fillet.) Season the skin side with kosher salt, lemon zest, and chopped rosemary making sure to get plenty of the seasonings down into the slices. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside until your sides have been cooked and are ready to serve.

When you are ready to cook the fish, Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Carefully place the fish into the pan, skin side down, and do not move it until the fish appears to be cooked about three quarters of the way through. While it is cooking add salt and fresh pepper to the exposed side.

When the fish appears to be cooked about three quarters of the way through, gently turn it over. Cook 2-3 minutes, turn again, and cook one minute more on the skin side. Remove the fish from the pan and plate skin side up. Drizzle lightly with the lemon vinaigrette and serve.

Enjoy,

Randy

Menu – Pan Seared Pork Chops with a Dijon “Cream” Sauce, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Sautéed Kale with Caramelized Onions and Garlic

Oh, but I do love pork! Granted, as we have grown both in age and in wisdom my wife and I eat much less pork than we used to. The old “everything in moderation” certainly holds true here and while I do eat more pork than beef, I also believe it’s all about balance and I try not to overdo it. No really…I do!

Ok, I admit it; I did pick up this lovely package of chops just last week and last night was the second Tuesday in a row that we enjoyed them. It will however be quite some time before we have them again as they are a fattier cut of pork. Even though there is still some debate regarding the health benefits of pork I do try to pick the leaner cuts if I am going to cook it.

So while you will see it here once in a blue moon I hope you can appreciate that we consider pork an exception to our otherwise healthy diet, a special treat if you will. The same holds true for beef. Some may call it rationalization but I firmly believe that eating whole grains, lower fat foods, and fresh vegetables as the major part of my diet gives me a little leeway. It allows me to enjoy myself from time to time and cook something a little less good for me without feeling guilty. And it tastes oh so good!

As a nod to that healthier diet this sauce is my lower fat answer to a Dijon cream sauce. There is no butter and there is no cream. I think the non-fat yogurt adds a nice creaminess to this sauce and in such a small amount that it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors. Adding the yogurt at the last minute, off the heat, keeps it from separating or curdling in the sauce. You can use plain non-fat yogurt in many dishes in place of sour cream, milk, or cream just be sure not to let it boil.

This recipe is written as a menu for 4 and it comes together in 1 to 1-1/2 hours depending on the size of the potatoes. Although I did not do it this night, I often sprinkle Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs over the kale as a garnish. Try it, you’ll like it!

Menu – Pan Seared Pork Chops with a Dijon “Cream” Sauce, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Sautéed Kale with Caramelized Onions and Garlic

For the Sweet Potatoes…

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry 1 Sweet Potato per person. Using a paring knife carefully pierce each potato once, at least halfway through (from the side). Rub potatoes thoroughly with olive oil and bake 1 to 1-1/2 hours until cooked through.

For the Kale…

4 Cups – Fresh Kale, trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 – Medium Onion, quartered then sliced thick
2 – Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup – Homemade or low sodium Chicken Stock
McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder
2 Tbsp. – Olive Oil
Malt Vinegar (Optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and lower the heat to low. Add 4 good grinds from the Herb Grinder (about ¼ Tbsp) and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to turn golden. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking and stirring occasionally until onions begin to brown (about 30 minutes over all).

Add the kale and toss to coat well with the olive oil, raise the heat and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and cover. As soon as the stock comes to a boil lower the heat and stir once more. Cover and cook on low 10 minutes more, stirring now and then. Remove lid, stir and continue cooking uncovered to allow most of excess stock to cook away. Stir in the vinegar (if using) and serve.

For the Pork Chops…

4 – Center Cut Bone-In Pork Chops, about 1/2” thick, trimmed of excess fat
1 cup – Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp – Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp – Plain Non-Fat Yogurt
1 Tbsp – Whole Wheat or Unbleached Flour
3 Tbsp – Olive Oil
McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder

Sprinkle the pork liberally with the Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder then with kosher salt and set aside (at room temperature) for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the pork chops into the oil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook chops 3 minutes to brown then turn the chops and cook 3 minutes more. Move the chops to a foil or parchment lined sheet and place into the 350 degree oven to finish.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. of flour. Continue stirring until the flour is blended with the remaining oil then return the pan to the heat. Cook, stirring for one minute more then add the chicken stock. Using a whisk, stir the stock until well blended then allow the sauce to come to a boil, stirring occasionally.

When the sauce has thickened somewhat, whisk in the mustard and continue cooking and stirring until the sauce becomes quite thick. Remove the pan from the heat and turn off the burner. Remove the chops from the oven and place on plates or a platter. With the pan still off the heat, whisk in the yogurt until well incorporated then spoon the sauce over the chops.

Serve with the cooked greens and sweet potatoes.

Enjoy!

Randy