Chicken Paprikash

Chicke Papirkash

 

I know that there are as many recipes for this dish as there are days of the year.  But I love this one, also taught to me by Adrienn, and what I love about it is its simplicity.  With just a few ingredients and steps, it is such a classic and homey meal, that I turn to it time and time again.  Every single time I make this dish, I wonder why I don’t make it more often.

That sauce.  It is just spectacular.  I could eat it on its own with a spoon, it’s that good.  Generally, when I have leftovers, I dice up the chicken and then toss the remaining sauce with some pasta or rice.  But not last night.  I made this for a friend of mine who came to dinner, and he was so excited that I had made the chicken for him again.  I had one of the thighs, and he finished off everything else.  My daughter didn’t even have any….not because she doesn’t like it, she just got her braces put in, poor thing.  He also polished off the barley that I had made to go with it, because I don’t have the thing-a-majiggy to make fresh Spaetzle and it is near impossible to find the ready-made kind here.

This is a perfect weeknight meal, you probably have everything in your pantry to make this dish.  So why not try it next week?

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 3-6

3 chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 tbsp vegetable oil, I used olive

2 large onions, finely diced

1 heaping tbsp sweet paprika

Water

1/4 cup sour cream

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and toss with the flour to coat.  Shake off excess.  In a large frying pan, heat up the oil over medium high heat.   When the oil is very hot, place the chicken skin side down and cook, until it is golden brown and crispy.  Turn and cook until the other side is golden and crispy.  Set aside.

photo120

 

In the same pan, add your onion, lower the heat to medium low.  Cook for about 5 minutes, and add some more salt and the paprika.  Cook the onions about 15 minutes, until totally softened and starting to caramelize.

photo122

 

Add the chicken, and add enough water to cover the chicken up to 3/4.  Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.  If the water is evaporating too quickly, add a little bit more.  You want to have a thick sauce, not too watery but not just the onions and the remaining oil.  When the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and add the sour cream, mixing well.  Serve immediately with Spaetzle, wide egg noodles, rice, barley, or any type of grain that you like the best!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Minestrone

Minestronne

 

Nothing screams homey, comfort and belly-warming to me more than Minestrone.  Growing up, it was my mother’s preferred way to get me to eat veggies, mine too now, of course; I also remember watching my uncle carefully chop all the vegetables, and explain to me in which order they should be sautéed, for how long, and of course, his secret ingredient.

photo107

The hard rind of the parmesan cheese.  He rarely threw out any food out, there was always some use for it.  I remember as a kid, watching that incredibly hard and inedible rind being plopped into the soup mid way, and upon its extraction, it was a soft, gooey, gloop of a mess.  For me it was alchemy, magic.  And the taste of the soup…..incredible!

I still make my minestrone exactly the way my uncle taught me, digging out as many veggies from the fridge as I can, but always respecting their taste profiles.  I remember him saying never to put eggplant in, as it would give the soup a more acid taste.  So I don’t use it.  Also, he used broccoli, but this time I found this beauty:

photo105

 

I think this is purple cauliflower, but the taste seems to be a cross between the two.  It gave the overall dish another beautiful color profile, which I love…..I love eating the rainbow, it just makes me feel so healthy!

The recipe I am going to give to you is by no means written down anywhere, I always make it from my memory.  So, the amounts are not perfect, so hang in there.

So, here’s what you’re going to need

Serves 8-10

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1/2 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced

6-7 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 handful of green beans, chopped into 2 inch sticks

1/2 zucchini, diced

6-7 broccoli or purple cauliflower florets, chopped

1/2 cup white beans, from can or jar

1 tsp dried oregano

3 cups vegetable stock

1 large can (800 g) crushed tomatoes

1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks.

photo104

 

Sprinkle in some salt and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium high, and add the rest of the veggies, except for the beans.

photo106

 

Saute until the mushrooms are just starting to soften, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind and oregano.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Five minutes before you take it off the heat, add the beans.  Taste and add more salt if needed, and some pepper.

Serve with the grated parmesan.

photo109

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No.19 – New England Clam Chowder

 

I had high hopes for this recipe.  Being one of my favorite chowders and all.  (Ok, my super-duper favorite is Conch Chowder, but conch is hard to come by here.)  Paolo chose this recipe, he was really excited, loving clams, loving New England.  He also had never tried this and was super intrigued.   Alas, I have to say it was a total disaster.

As I mentioned in my first Saveur Magazine post,  I am going to prepare the recipes exactly as it states in the magazine.  I’ve prepared this dish from another recipe of mine and it has been a complete success.  I have eaten this dish a gazillion times too.  The problem that I found with this recipe, is that it was extremely watery.  A little red flag started waving wildly as I read the recipe calling for 6 cups of water to 2 cups cream.  And no thickener.  And, I would highly advise to place the clams in water to rid them of the sand, because I was straining and straining and straining.  But, anyhoo, I proceeded to recreate it in complete trust and experimental nature.

Needless to say, my two co-judges were not pleased at all.  Another recipe bust, another lunch that we ended up eating mainly bread and the sautéed porcini I had made as a side.  But, tastewise it was delicious.

So, without further ado, the rankings:

Overall points:  4.6/10

Difficulty:  Medium, as it has numerous steps and a wee bit time-consuming

Availability of ingredients:  Easy, if you can’t find fresh clams, frozen will do in a cinch.

10 lb clams in the shell, preferably cherrystone, scrubbed

4 oz. thick-cut bacon, finely chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves

2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 cups heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Oyster crackers and hot sauce for serving

1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan over high heat.  Add clams, and cover pan;  cook until clams are steamed open, about 10 minutes (discard any that do not open).  Remove from heat, and let cool.  Remove clam meat from shells, and roughly chop;  set aside.  Pour cooking liquid from pan though a fine strainer into another bowl (you should have about 6 cups; if not, add enough water to make 6 cups); set aside.

2.  Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until its fat renders and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add butter, thyme, onions, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add reserved cooking liquid and potatoes, and bring to a boil;  reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Add chopped clam meat and cream*; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper;  serve with crackers and hot sauce on the side.  Serves 8.

* I suggest you lower the heat to minimum, if not your cream is going to curdle.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Buckwheat Polenta with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts

 

Buckwheat Polenta

 

The first time I tried Polenta I was 11 years old, my first year in Switzerland.  I remember seeing these enormous vats of polenta, being stirred constantly by a mechanical arm.  To tell you the truth, it really didn’t look very appetizing.  It looked like a big mass of yellow mush.  Then I tried it.  I’ve been hooked since.

I love the versatility of polenta.  It can be eaten soft, or left to harden then baked or fried.  It allows you to top it with an infinite nuber of possibilities, savory or sweet.  Buckwheat Polenta, or as they call it in Italy, Polenta Taragna, is quite different.  It has a saltier and denser quality, and usually it is eaten only with savory, and with a final addition of Bitto cheese.  In Lombaridia, the region where Milano is capital, there is an area called Valtellina.  This is the northern alpine area, and buckwheat is used in many recipes, two of the most famous being this polenta and a type of pasta called Pizzocheri.  They are both some of my favorites, but for my belly it needs to be quite cool to eat this since it is much more filling than normal pasta and polenta varieties.  That said, it is also a heck of a lot more nutritious too!

On my last trip to Lugano, I brought back some of this polenta, and finally the weather cooled down enough for me to make some.  I have a few friends here who are die-hard fans of polenta, so I wanted to introduce this variety to them.  I chose to top it with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, and some toasted walnuts.  If you are so lucky to find some, make sure you get the express variety, which cooks in about 5 minutes.  If not, you will have to stand over the stove and CONTINUOUSLY stir the polenta for 40-50 minutes!  (I haven’t had an arm workout like this in years.)  But, the end result is well worth the exercise, and throughout the process, I was channeling my inner nonna.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

500 g Polenta Taragna (or regular polenta if you can’t find it)

250 g Gorgonzola Dolce Cheese

200 ml cream

Salt, Pepper and Freshly Grated Nutmeg to taste

100g Walnuts, toasted

Cook polenta according to package directions.   In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the cream and gorgonzola cheese, stirring until it melts.  Take off heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Keep warm.

In a small frying pan, toast the walnuts until darkened and fragrant.  Take off heat.

On a plate, heap some polenta on it, then drizzle as much cream sauce as you want ( I like a lot) and top with the toasted walnuts.

It’s that easy and it’s even more delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Arroz Caldoso a “Seis Manos” – “Six Hand” Seafood Stew and Rice

Arroz Caldoso de Pescado

 

This is one of those feel good Sunday dishes.  All over Spain, you can find variations of this.  Truly one of the most comforting and homey dishes, it is also a main feature in many menus here, from small family run restaurants to Michelin starred dining rooms.

Rice is taken very seriously in Spain, with a plethora of incarnations, from Paella to Rice Pudding, Salads to Stews, it is almost national pride.  I have called this “Six Hand” because it was a collaboration between three people, our amazing hostess, Dolors, long time friend and extraordinary woman, my friend Fer, who hails from Zaragoza and is a killer in the kitchen, and myself.  Each one of us had a part in making this dish, and it was such a great experience, because that is what Sundays are all about.  Family, Friends, Food and Fun.  Oh, and spending an afternoon in our hostesses breathtaking Ramblas loft was a plus, too.

The key to arroz caldoso is in the stock.  This is an inexpensive way to make a dish for a large family, and because you are showcasing the stock, it has to be quite amazing.  It is the canvas to the rest of the ingredients, and you can let your imagination go wild.  We decided on monkfish, squid, shrimp and mussels.  Then, the finishing touch, is obviously the rice.  And bomba rice is the one that you need to splurge on, since I was informed that if you use regular short grain rice, there is a chemical reaction that occurs when paired with shellfish stock.  Apparently, the grain splits, and lets out too much of its starch, making this more of a cream than a stew.

It was an amazing lunch, and all of us, even the kids (all 10 and under) repeated three times.  Now that speaks for itself!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6-7

3 liters good quality shellfish stock, preferably homemade (recipe below)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 roma tomatoes, finely diced

1 nyora pepper, soaked and peeled

2 tsp spicy Pimenton powder (or hot smoked paprika)

400 g monkfish, cubed

1 large squid, cut in bite sized pieces

a few pinches of good quality saffron threads

400 g Bomba rice

400 g shrimp, peeled and deveined

200 g mussels, steamed and shelled

Fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and sauté until sauce has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the nyora pepper, stir until mixed, and sauté another 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper the squid and monkfish, and add to the tomatoes along with the pimenton and saffron.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Add your shellfish stock to the fish and squid, add the rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, about 10 minutes.  In the last few minutes of cooking, add the shrimp, mussels, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

For the stock:

5 liters of water

shrimp shells and heads from the shrimp you will be using in your stew

monkfish heads and bones (ask your fish monger to give these to you when you buy the monkfish)

fennel, stalks and fronds

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tomatoes chopped

1 bay leaf

some saffron, nyora peppers, pimenton and salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients and boil for about 40 minutes.  Spoon the foam off the top as it cooks.  When done, leave on the stove and cover, and let it sit, so the flavors will meld, about 20 minutes.  Strain and reserve.

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco

 

Osso Bucco.  Literally meaning, Bone Hole, is probably one of my top ten favorite dishes.  That tender, fall off the bone meat, with a flavourful sauce……it is autumn/winter food at its best!

The key to Osso Bucco is like the Ragu, you need to let it simmer for a long time, so all the wonderful flavors meld together and create a sexy and rich sauce.  Like most Italian food, there aren’t many ingredients.  Onion, carrots, vine ripe tomatoes, and some wine and beef stock.  Perfect.  Lip-smacking good.  You can pair it with risotto, polenta, potatoes…..even just bread!  And the next day, you have a crazy good pasta sauce!

Of course, don’t forget to spread the delicious marrow on a piece of crusty bread, that in itself is worth the 3 hour wait!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

 

Serves 4

4 veal shanks

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

red or white wine

1 large onion, minced

1 leek, sliced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

7 roma tomatoes, diced

4 cups beef stock

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over high heat.  Sprinkle the veal shanks with the salt and pepper, and sear on both sides.  Remove and set aside.  Add a drizzle of the wine to the pan and deglaze, breaking up the brown bits until the wine has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the onions, leeks and carrots.  Cook for 10 minutes, or until softened.  Add the tomatoes and some more salt and pepper.  Cook another 10 minutes until it starts to become a thick sauce.  Add the veal shanks, some more red wine and the beef stock and raise the heat to high.  Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer, for about 2 and a half hours.  Stir occasionally, making sure that the shanks don’t stick.  The meat should be extremely tender.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Sancocho Colombiano: Colombian Soup

Sancocho

Welcome to the Expat Hospital.  Wow…this past week has been, well, less than stellar.  It started with my daughter getting sick on Monday.  I got the virus on Thursday, one of my dogs got sick on Friday, then the other one last night.  The only person spared, at the moment, is my boyfriend Paolo.  Let’s see how that goes!

So, the only thing that I was actually hungry for, was my mom’s Sancocho.  Sancocho is a dish that has variations all over South America and the Caribbean.  It originates from Spain and the Canary Islands, from Cocido, which means cooked.  Sancocho means parboiled.  This soup, or stew as some would call it, is not only delicious, but is ridiculously nutritious.  And so easy.  All you need is a very very big pot, and some time to peel and dice.  And then you boil.  In my family, we add pumpkin, yuca, green plantain, carrots, corn, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, scallions, cilantro….and some chicken and beef.  It makes a crazy good soup.  And of course, I remember my dad telling me that it was Jewish Penicillin.  So……this is what we have eaten ALL WEEK LONG in the expat household.  Or at least, I have.

So, since it is flu season and all that, why not share my super easy, super delicious, super healthy recipe of my mom’s Sancocho?  I am sure you will like it, and will cook it up even when you aren’t feeling under the weather!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

(Sorry, have no idea how many it serves and the ingredients are approximated, use more or less, depending on taste!)

5 chicken legs or thighs, skinned

200 g pork or beef ribs

1 onion, quartered

4 scallions

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 carrots, sliced

1 potato, cut into cubes

1/2 yuca or malanga, peeled and cut into chunks

1 plantain, cut into chunks

1 large slice of pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks

2 corn on the cob, cut into 4 pieces or 6 pieces

Cilantro, plus a tbsp of the leaves

1 tbsp vinegar (apple cider is best)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Lime wedges, to serve

White rice, to go with if you want, in the soup or as a side

In a large stock pot, add all the ingredients up to the cilantro leaves (you want to add a couple of sprigs of cilantro).  Cover all of it with water and bring to a boil.

When the chicken is cooked and your vegetables are tender, add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Boil 5 minutes longer, and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard the scallions, tomatoes, onion, cilantro sprigs.  Return all the “eating” vegetables (carrots, potatoes, yuca, plantain, pumpkin and corn) plus the chicken and beef to the broth.

Serve in large bowls with a little bit of veggies and the meats for everyone.  Sprinkle with the cilantro and lime.  Eat while it’s hot, and sweat out that flu!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Arroz con Pollo – Colombian Chicken and Rice

 

 

Arroz con Pollo

The last time I made this dish, was 5 years ago.  5 YEARS AGO?!?  Why the heck has it taken me so long to make it again?  As a child, this was the staple dish for large gatherings with my mum’s side of the family.  Really, what can be simpler, a crowd pleasing dish, that is full of protein, veggies, and best of all, flavor.

There a many variations of Arroz con Pollo, every family has their own recipe, and many latin american cultures have their methods too.  For example, the cuban variety uses the chicken on the bone, and the rice is a little soupier, almost like an Arroz Caldoso,  or soupy rice.

My version is probably influenced by my Italian grandfather, with the addition of olives and capers.  Either way, it is awesome.  It’s a dish that has a few steps, but totally worth it, because it’s a whole meal on a plate.  My daughter loves it, and always has, it was a great way for me to sneak it some vegetables that she would never normally eat.  As I said, there are many, many variations.  I like to use annatto seed, or as some call it, achiote.  This is a small red seed, and it is used for food coloring, much like saffron but with a nuttier taste.  In some countries, like Mexico, they grind the outer layer into a paste, but in Colombia you boil the seeds in oil or water until it releases its natural color.  The longer you boil, the deeper the hue you get, so it can turn your oil from yellow to deep red.  Then you discard the seeds and use the oil in your food.

Annato Seeds

 

I also like to use cabbage, well, because I love cabbage.  Then I add some raisins, because I love having every other bite give you a surprise of sweetness amid the saltiness of the olives and capers.

Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo

This dish is very heartwarming, and tastes of home and family to me.  I hope you take the time and make it so you and your family and friends can savour the tastes of Colombia!

So here’s what you’re gonna need:

Serves 8

For your basic white rice:

1/4 onion, finely minced

1/4 green pepper, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups long grain white rice

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

For the braised chicken:

1/4 cup annatto seeds

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 small green peppers, chopped

4 small tomatoes, chopped

4 scallions, sliced and set in a bowl of water to wash, then drained

1 heaping tbsp of cumin powder

2 tsp of salt, more to taste

1 packet of Sazon Tropical

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 chicken, cut in pieces, skinned

1 1/2 cups of cabbage, chopped, plus one large leaf to “cover the pot”

1 handful of green beans, chopped

2 tbsp of pimento stuffed green olives, sliced

3 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 cup water, or more to cover and braise the chicken

First, make your basic white rice.  In a medium heavy bottomed pot, add the vegetable oil, minced onion, green pepper and garlic over medium low heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.  Wash your rice, and strain.  Add the rice, and then the four cups of water and the salt, and raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil, covered.  When the rice boils, lower the heat to medium low again, and leave the rice partially covered.  When the water is almost all evaporated, about 15 minutes, with a large wooden spoon, “turn” your rice, which basically means to flip the rice with the spoon so the bottom layer goes to the top and vice versa, and let it dry out, another 10 minutes.  Switch off the heat, and leave to further dry out, partially covered.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, add the annatto seeds and the 1/4 cup oil and boil, for about 3-4 minutes or until the oil is a deep red hue.  Take off the heat and strain the oil into a large stock pot, discard the seeds.

Heat the oil over medium heat,  now you are going to make the Sofrito.

Sofrito, Ingredients

Add the onions, green pepper, tomatoes, scallions, cumin powder and salt.  Saute for about 15-20 minutes, until very soft, the vegetables have released their flavors and reduced, but not browned.  Add the carrot and cook another 5 minutes.  Now add your chicken and brown on all sides.  Add the water, sazon tropical, cabbage and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and “cover” it with the large cabbage leaf.

Arroz con Pollo

Let the chicken braise for about 15 minutes, and check to see how the breast is doing.  We don’t want to over cook the breast, so check it to see if it is cooked through, and if it is, take it out and keep cooking the rest of the chicken parts.  Add the green beans.  After about 10 more minutes, check the legs, thighs, and wings to see if they are cooked through.  If they are, remove and let cool along with the breast.  Add the olives, raisins and capers at this point.

When the chicken is cool to the touch, shred it and discard the bones.  Check the vegetables and see how much water has reduced.  You want it to be a bit liquidy, but not so much so as when you mix it with the rice it will be soupy.  If the liquid has almost reduced, turn off the heat.  If not, wait another 5 minutes.  You want about 1/8 cup of liquid, approximately.  Add the chicken back to the braising liquids, and then add your white rice and stir, so everything mixes up together and it is all beautifully colored a vibrant yellow.  Turn the heat down to low, and let “dry” a few more minutes, now fluffing with a fork.

You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to let it sit over night in the fridge, that way all the flavors meld.  Serve with a wedge of avocado and and ice-cold beer!

Buen Provecho!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Ragu Alla Bolognese del mio Zio – Bolognese Sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese

Everybody has their own version of Bolognese, or Ragu as we call it in my house.  My recipe, handed down from three generations, stays true to my uncle Gianni’s version.  As I’ve mentioned before, my family is from Ferrara and Bologna, the food capital of Italy.  With such amazing products as Parmigiano, Mortadella, Balsamic Vinegar, Tortellini and Ravioli coming from my region, Emilia-Romagna, it indeed is a wonderful place to visit and have family!

One of my first food memories is Ragu, my mother made it every week, and when I met my uncle in 1986, I also tasted his version, passed down to him from his mother, who owned a restaurant in a little town outside of Bologna.  Cut to 26 years later, I now make it very often, because alas, it is my daughter’s favorite (along with Carbonara).  So needless to say, I can make this with my eyes closed.

There is something so comforting to me about Ragu.  Just the cooking process screams comfort, and time-honored tradition.  I like to use a mix of pork and veal, pancetta, and white wine.  And I let it simmer for three hours or more, if I have the time.  As my uncle explained to me, his mother taught him how to make this when he was 12 years old, and said, start out on a large flame, and keep moving it to smaller, and smaller flames so it can simmer delicately for hours.  And the smells wafting from the kitchen….divine.  For me, it always tastes better than next day, when the flavors have fully developed, but my daughter can’t wait to have it the moment it’s done.

Ragu Bolognese

It seems like a daunting long process, but actually, once you are done with the preparation, all you have to do is sit back and let it bubble, and just enjoy the warmth in your kitchen like I do.

Ragu alla Bolognese

2 slices pancetta, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, minced finely

1 large carrot, minced finely or grated

1 celery rib (0ptional….some people don’t like the taste) minced finely

1 heaping tbsp tomato paste

1 garlic clove, with skin

300 g ground veal (or 600 g ground veal if you don’t eat pork)

300 g ground pork

1 large glass white wine (if you don’t have white, or it’s really cold, you can add red)

425 ml pureed tomatoes

4 cups beef stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, over medium low heat, warm up your olive oil.  Add the pancetta, onion, carrot and celery (if using).  Add the salt and  cook for about 10-15 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add the tomato paste, garlic and mix well.  Cook for another 5 minutes, to let it caramelize.  Add the veal and pork, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring constantly to break it up and make sure it cooks through.  Add the wine, and let it reduce, stirring to remove all the brown bits, about 8-10 minutes.

When the wine is completely reduced, add the tomatoes and beef stock, mix well.  Let it come to a boil, let boil for about 5 minutes, and lower the heat to medium low, and cook covered for about 30 minutes.  Switch it to your lowest flame, uncover, and let simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Adjust the seasonings, and add the fresh cracked pepper.

Let cool and refrigerate overnight so that the flavors meld.  If you can’t wait, by all means, serve it up over your favorite pasta.  Mine is tagliatelle or pappardelle, but over spaghetti is perfect, or rigatoni.  It is also heavenly in Lasagna or cannelloni.  Or you can reduce it further to use it as a filling for ravioli, which would be the Brasato filling (braised beef).

 

From my zio’s kitchen to yours,

Carla

More Brit Week: Chicken, Mushroom and Tarragon Pie

As a child, I remember leafing through my mother’s cook books, and there was always a recipe for a chicken pot pie.  It looked so good, warm and luscious.  But, as I said before, my family was a lot of things, but not British or American.  So, never in my life did I have a Chicken Pie until I made one myself.  The first few tries were laughable.  I was just out of my teens, was living on my own and attempting to cook.  Let’s just say the results were less than stellar.  And that is putting it lightly.  But, I never give up when I fail at something, so I tried and tried again and EUREKA!  By George, I got it!

A few weeks ago I was at a friends house, she was born here in Barcelona, but her family is from Argentina.  Her husband, however, was born in Yorkshire from American parents.  They had just come back from a trip to the UK, and they brought back this amazing book, I don’t remember what the name was, but it was all about pie’s.  Savoury pies, sweet pies, hand pies…..oh sweet Jesus!  I think I actually drooled on the book. ( I hope they didn’t notice.)  It got my wheels a working to make more pies at home.

I love tarragon, but it is sparsely used in recipes here, although it is always in the supermarket?  Huh.  So, for Brit Week I knew I was going to make a pie.  I originally thought cheese and onion, but since I did the Sunday roast with chicken, I had quite a bit left over.  And as I mentioned before, British cuisine really knows how to make do with all your left overs.

I made this pie yesterday.  And no, I did not make the puff pastry.  I usually do, but it is such a long and hard process, that honestly, it defeats the purpose of this easy, delicious and hearty meal.  I mean…..ok, you’re using up your chicken to make a great meal for your family, but you’re going to spend three hours making the dough?  No way.  Just get store-bought.  No one will know the difference, and unless you have made puff pastry a few times, it will more than likely not turn out.  It is one of the more difficult doughs to make.  If you want to make your own crust, be my guest.  But I was too tired.  And I had a glass of wine instead while it was baking.

Today my friend Julie from Liverpool came over, and she gave me the seal of approval.  We had crustless pie with the rest of the bubble and squeak.  And we had seconds.  It was that good.  I wish I had more.  But hey, next week I can make another pie!!!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

55 g butter

1 onion, sliced

300 g mushrooms, quartered

salt and pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, chopped

40 g plain flour

150 ml white wine

300 ml chicken stock

Left over chicken from 4 breasts

150 ml heavy cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

250 g puff pastry, store-bought

1 egg beaten

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped  plus more for crust

In a sauté pan, melt your butter.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to high, add the salt and cook until nicely browned, about another 5 minutes.  If you feel that the veggies are too dry, add some oil or more butter.  Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.

Now add your flour and lower the heat to low.  Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and stock, and raise the heat and bring to a boil.  When thickened, add your chicken, cream, tarragon and nutmeg.  Take off heat.

Pre-heat your oven according to package directions, but should generally be around 200-220 C.  Unroll the puff pastry, and press some of your reserved tarragon leaves into it.  Place the chicken mixture into a baking dish, and roll out the puff pastry, pressing into the edges to seal.  Cut off the excess, and if you’re feeling up to it, use the extra pieces to decorate the top a bit.  Baste it with the beaten egg.

Bake in your oven for about 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown, and it’s bubbling and you can’t take it anymore cause you’re going to stuff your face into it.  Sorry.  That’s what happens to me sometimes.  Food makes me crrrrrrazy.

Let it cool a bit before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla