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Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category


I love a good bolognese, but sometimes I just don’t have time on a weeknight to invest in making it. That’s where this kind of pasta sauce comes in. It cooks in the time it takes to boil a big pot of water, and it uses enough veal to flavor the sauce but not enough to make it really heavy. The cherry tomatoes have a natural sweetness and don’t need to cook down too much. It’s the perfect indulgence for a weeknight treat.

Weeknight Veal Ragu

1/2 pound ground veal

1/2 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons oregano, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can San Marzano cherry tomatoes (or other San Marzanos if you can’t find the cherry tomatoes)

1/2 cup white wine

1/4  cup grated parmesan

1/2 box or pound of long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc)

Cook your pasta in salted boiling water a minute less than the package instructions. Meanwhile, brown the veal in a wide saute pan. (Using a wide pan will help the sauce cook quickly because it maximizes the amount of sauce in contact with the pan).

Add the onion once it has developed a nice browned color. Let the onion sweat down with a little salt to season. Add the oregano and garlic and stir through. Add the tomato paste and allow it to rust for a few minutes. Add the wine and tomatoes and cook down for 5 minutes. Once the sauce has reduced a little and thickened, add the cooked pasta with a splash of the pasta cooking water. Stir to cook together for the last minute and add the cheese.

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The key to succulent, juicy pork like you get at restaurants is not to overcook it. Most people do. They recently lowered the FDA accepted temperature for pork to 145 degrees, which means it stays juicy and slightly pink. This makes the meat so unctuous and tender, you won’t miss red meat. Invest in a meat thermometer if you don’t have one; they’re cheap and take the guesswork out of cooking meat.

Add a wonderful spice rub and some sort of fruit, and I’ll be really happy. A delicious, cheesy smear of polenta under the medallions completes it and makes it the best pork you’ve ever had. My dad always made pork tenderloin stuffed with dried apricots and prunes. Definitely one of my favorites, and a great way to do it in the fall.

Seared Pork Tenderloin with Grapes

1 pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup grapes, red or green

1 cup white, red or white

Combine the cocoa and spices together and rub all over the pork. You can let it rest for 20 minutes or go ahead and start searing. Sear all sides in an oven-safe pan in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, making sure to brown all sides. Add the grapes and deglaze the pan with the wine.

Move to a 375 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until it’s about 145-155 degrees in the fattest part. It will continue to cook as it rests. Slice medallions against the grain and serve with the sauce.

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My burgers are always a big hit and I keep my dad’s secret guarded very closely. I’m not sure if I will post that recipe at some point, but for now, it’s a secret. Sorry!

For now, you’ll have to try these delicious lamb burgers. I like lamb because it’s rather lean and flavorful with a gamey quality that I really like. It tends to get pretty dry if you overcook, so keep them closer to rare and they’ll stay nice and moist. Perfect for your next gathering, whether it’s basketball, oscars, or bbq!

Lamb Burgers

1 pound ground lamb

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons chopped mint

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

4 burger buns or 8 slider buns

1/4 cup plain yogurt

Combine the lamb, garlic, shallot, salt, Worchestershire, tomato paste, and half the mint together in a bowl. Mix together with a fork, being careful not to over mix the meat. Form into burgers or sliders and grill on a grill pan or grill for 3 minutes on the first side and then an additional minute on the second side. You want to start seeing the juices coming to the surface and the bottom browning before you flip. You know they’re done to medium rare when they are still somewhat soft to the touch like pushing where your thumb meets your palm.

Combine the rest of the mint and the parsley with the yogurt. Spoon onto the burger and enjoy!

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I’m not a big fan of going out for Valentine’s Day because restaurants typically overcharge and it feels a little forced. Plus, my favorite evenings are ones spent at home over a delicious meal– why do something different? I see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to be reminded how good we have it every other day of the year. And when I think about what my favorite meal is, and what I would like to share, it always comes back to pasta. Of course.

I love a simple bolognese, and some fresh spinach linguine makes it even better. We had this with a 17-year old brunello that my parents gave us, and it was a perfect evening.  Full disclosure: I decided to take the evening off from blogging, and I took these pictures the next day with leftovers. No distractions. But it’s just as good the next day, even more reason to make some tonight.

Linguine Bolognese 

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

2 garlic cloves

1/2 onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped oregano or marjoram

1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor and grind into a chunky paste. Brown the meat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure to really brown the meat well and don’t move it until it starts browning. This is the best opportunity to develop flavor.

Once the meat is browned, move it to the side of the pan to add the vegetable paste and allow it to start browning as well. Season everything with salt and pepper and the oregano. Once the vegetables have softened and browned a bit, add the tomato paste and let it rust for a few minutes. Add the milk and wine and stir through. Add the sugar. Let the whole thing simmer for an hour until it thickens and the flavor deepens. Toss with pasta in a saute pan with a little of the pasta water and some parmesan and enjoy!

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I’ve been thinking about slow roasting a pork shoulder for a while now. I’ve always thought it was some big endeavor with an expensive piece of meat, but it turns out I was totally wrong. The meat was very inexpensive and it couldn’t have been easier. A dry rub on the outside, and you put it in the oven for a good long time. It comes out glistening and golden with a meaty, heavenly aroma that perfumes the whole apartment. No one can resist picking at it before it cools, either. And pork shoulder is so versatile, you could make it into tacos or any other Mexican food, or you could make a ragu, bbq pulled pork, or anything else porky you can think of.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

1 pork shoulder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon ground pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon coriander

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 sprigs of rosemary

6 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine the spices, brown sugar, and garlic together. Score the skin through the fat layer but not into the meat in about a 1 inch cross-hatch. Rub the spice rub all over the pork shoulder, making sure to get inside the cuts. Place the shoulder into a baking dish with some of the rosemary sprigs below. Add a couple on top and a couple extra whole garlic cloves if you want.

Put in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 hours, until the meat is tender and you can pull it apart with a fork. The skin should be crispy and the meat moist.

Pork Tacos

2-3 ounces shredded roasted pork shoulder

2 tablespoons grated cheddar

1 corn tortilla

2 tablespoons guacamole

hot sauce

Put the tortilla in a frying pan with a sprinkle of olive oil and spread the grated cheddar on top. The tortilla will brown a little and the cheese will melt. Remove from the pan and add the warm pork along with the guacamole and a sprinkle of hot sauce. Or add any other toppings you like for tacos!

Guacamole

1 avocado

Juice and zest of 2 limes

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon aleppo pepper or cayenne if you like it spicier

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the lime, shallot, and garlic together and let sit for 20 minutes so the shallot and garlic soften and bloom. Add the avocado, spices, agave, and olive oil and mash together with a fork. Add the tomatoes and stir through gently. Let sit for at least an hour for best flavor.

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After more than a week of eating healthy, this soup tasted so great with just a little ground lamb. I’ve started craving carbs, but not meat– until I started smelling this meat cooking. Because it had been a while, the soup was even more satisfying. I don’t cook a lot with all these spices, so it was nice to have an excuse to try them out. They make it a warm and hearty soup, almost a stew. It definitely inspired me to cook more Moroccan food, especially with some Israeli couscous once I’m back on carbs! If you don’t like cilantro, you could definitely substitute parsley.

Moroccan Lamb Soup

1/2 pound ground lamb

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 slices ginger

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup French lentils

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 can chickpeas, drained well

5 cups water

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Roast the cherry tomatoes at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, start browning the meat in a large pot or dutch oven. Once browned, stir in the cinnamon stick, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Add the onion and ginger and stir through. Add in the tomato paste and season with salt. Add the lentils and the cilantro. Add the water and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the bits on the bottom. Cook for 20 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest and season to taste. Serve with some cilantro on top if you wish.

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It was a great first year for my latest project, Meatballs and Milkshakes. I had a chance to make both namesakes for my blog, spaghetti and meatballs and affogato milkshakes.

My recipe for shaved asparagus salad won on Food52 and I got all sorts of prizes. (And my recipe will be in print in October 2012!)

I had a great guest blog from Gareth with some music to go along with it, a favorite song around the apartment which reminds me that I still have not blogged about the trip to Ravello and Positano. Well, at least I’ve still got things to do in 2012.

There were a lot of favorites that came out of the kitchen this year, including prosciutto and goat cheese stuffed dates, scallop crudo, burrata and tomato crostini, seared scallops with spinach and pine nuts, chicken with porcini mushrooms, veal saltimbocca, and beef stew.

Of course, I can’t forget all the great pasta– linguine with bacon, peas and mint, pappardelle with duck ragurisotto with spinach, lemon and bay scallops, gorgonzola and mushroom tajarin, linguine carbonara, pesto, spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, gnocchi, and carrot and butternut squash lasagna.

I learned that I loved burrata, Di Palo, and Eataly, and surprisingly, I don’t actually hate all ricotta. I made a surprising amount of pasta by hand and got a ricer for gnocchi.

It wasn’t all Italian all the time, however. There were a lot of cookies, including nutella chocolate chip, chewy chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate chip hazelnut, jam thumbprints, and spice cookies.

We celebrated Gareth’s birthday with a delicious chocolate layer cake. We had peach and raspberry crisps and crostatas. I brought zucchini bread on vacation and we had a beautiful and delicious berry pie.

The fall meant apple picking and with it, the bounty of apple-inspired recipes such as apple oat muffins, pork chops with apple chutney, apple pie, butternut squash soup, and apple butter.

Thanksgiving was quickly followed by Christmas and then the whirlwind into New Years.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes was a great success, and my favorites were the marinated sardines, shrimp bisque, and baccala alla vicentina. The chocolate pudding will also be made regularly.

A lot of great friends came over for some really delicious meals and I’m looking forward to more in 2012. Up on the docket are braciole, lasagna, and maybe some healthy dinners like salmon and brown rice in the next couple of weeks….have to balance out the pasta somehow…

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