dinner

Short Ribs with Barbecue Gravy

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Lots of people find January a big disappointment. It can be cold and dreary and sometimes seems like a letdown after months of holidays and celebrating.

But the food is good.

I like to call January cuisine. Filling, nourishing, comforting stuff.

Like short ribs.

 

Short Ribs with Barbecue Sauce

  • 5-6 pounds beef short ribs 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chile pepper
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup ketchup 
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup beer or ale
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dry the surface of the meat with paper towels. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the meat, turning the pieces to brown them, for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned. (If the oil seems too dark, discard it, wipe the pan and add 2 fresh tablespoons vegetable oil.) Remove the meat and set it aside. Add the onions, garlic, chili pepper, carrots and celery to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the ketchup. Pour in the stock, beer, cider vinegar and soy sauce and stir the ingredients. Stir in the brown sugar. Return the meat to the pan and spoon some of the sauce over them. Place the thyme sprigs and bay leaf in the liquid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook at a bare simmer for about 4 hours or until the meat is fork tender (or place in the oven at 225 degrees).

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Plain Old Meatloaf

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Everyone piles on poor January like it's some cranky old disciplinarian. Like it's January's fault for being on the calendar when it's often cold and gloomy. Like it's January's fault that  after months of indulgence in food, gifts and various and sundry celebrations, we have to get back to some sort of normal.

But we must get back to some sort of normal of course, and we do. In January we face, recognize and take responsibility for our gluttony. It's like some mid-winter al cheyt.

So, on January's menu: simple, easy, homey, plain-old food. 

Frankly, after the Hallowe'en candy and Thanksgiving turkey with stuffing and Hanukkah latkes and doughnuts and New Year's brunch I am ready to make a fresh start. Ready for food like meatloaf.

Actually, that doesn't seem like punishment to me. Just a bit of down home, back-to-basics. I like that.

Here's my simple go-to version.

Plain Old Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup soft fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the meats in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup of the chili sauce, soy sauce, eggs, onion, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and place the mixture into a lightly oiled 9”x5” loaf pan. Spread the remaining chili sauce over the surface. Bake for about one hour or until the sides of the meat come away from the pan. 

Makes 6-8 servings

Veal Shoulder Roast with Shiitake Mushrooms, Rosemary and Thyme

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As usual we bought too much smoked fish for our New Year's weekend. So, thanks to bagels, we've been slowly using up the salmon, whitefish, sablefish and herrings every day since. Thank goodness also that my husband doesn't complain about leftovers.

Besides, it was delicious and we don't often have smoked fish in the house.

But it's time to move on.

Need meat.

This veal shoulder roast is easy, nourishing and flavorful. A good cold weather dish too. And perfect for Shabbat.

It's nice with cooked egg noodles and roasted carrots.

VEAL SHOULDER ROAST

 

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 veal shoulder, about 3 pounds
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (about 1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine

 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Soak the dried mushrooms, rinse them and cut them into shreds. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heatproof, ovenproof casserole over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Remove the meat to a dish and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden. Return the meat to the pan. Season with the rosemary, thyme and pepper. Pour in the wine. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 1-1/2 hours or until tender.

 

Makes 4 servings

Comforting Pasta Amatriciana

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When you feel let down or sad you need to do something special to help cheer yourself up.

Some people shop, some go to a spa for a facial, some exercise like crazy (when my brother was going through a divorce he ran super marathons -- 110 miles!)

To say that the election of 2016 was a disappointment for me is a huge understatement. 

I need cheering up, and my favorite coping mechanism is: eating. Mostly potatoes. So one night I had two baked potatoes for dinner.

But now I need real, actual food, a regular dinner entree. Something more substantial and also comforting. 

Pasta! 

With red sauce. AND smokey with (I use Jack's Gourmet Facon) bacon and (I used Jack's Gourmet Sweet Italian Beef Sausage) sausage. And a little gentle (chili pepper) heat.

Bucatini Amatriciana!

Yum.

Celebration-worthy.

Kosher Pasta Amatriciana

  • 4 ounces kosher beef or lamb bacon, chopped
  • 3 ounces kosher Italian style sausage, diced
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, chopped (or use canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound cooked bucatini

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over low-medium heat until lightly crispy. Add the sausage and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the meats are browned. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the olive oil into the pan. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the garlic, cook briefly, then add the tomatoes, parsley and red pepper. Return the bacon and sausage to the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour over the pasta, toss and serve. 

 Makes 4 servings

 

Barbecue Meatloaf

Daylight savings time ends this weekend and I always have mixed feelings about that.

I hate that it gets dark so early and that there are so few hours of actual daylight. On the other hand, I like the crisp autumn weather -- not too hot, not too cold.

I hate that it's too cold outside for me to cook something on the outdoor grill. On the other hand, I love the comforting, warmth-giving dishes I make in the crockpot and the oven.

So I've been thinking about meatloaf.

It's a winter-sort-of-dish.

But because of the barbecue sauce, this one lingers with memories of the summer gone by.

A perfect dish for transitioning to days without daylight savings time.

 

BBQ Meatloaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground veal or turkey (or use more beef)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup beef or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

  

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, cook briefly and set aside in a bowl to cool. Add the beef and veal and mix gently to combine ingredients. Add the eggs, stock, breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper and mix gently to combine ingredients. Place the mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan. Spoon the barbecue sauce on top. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until the meat has come away from the sides of the pan (thermometer should read 160 degrees). 

Makes 6-8 servings

Chicken Fried Steak

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Several years ago my daughter Gillian and I drove from Chicago through some of the border states on our way back home to Connecticut.

We had a grand old time that included a (tasting) tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

We also heard Grandpa Jones sing at the Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville.

One of the most astonishing things we witnessed were the thousands of people Christmas shopping in July in the malls in Gatlinburg (with motel accommodations priced at $39/night so you could shop till you dropped for more than one day).

Slowly we made our way through the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains. That was truly glorious.

And, last but not least, we saw -- everywhere we looked -- a lot of people eating chicken fried steak.

For breakfast!

Chicken fried steak for breakfast!

I love understanding local cuisine and sometimes even trying it. Somehow chicken fried steak smothered with gravy and accompanied by mashed potatoes and biscuits for breakfast seemed a bit much.

But that didn't stop me from trying it at home.

For dinner, of course.

Chicken fried steak, made properly (in the border states), is made with round steak. I substituted skirt steak. Anyone who has eaten skirt steak understands it can be tough, but you can pound it to make it more tender.

Or, you can use rib steak, but I think that's a waste for this particular recipe because, really, this kind of dish is about the fried, not the fabulous beef. If you do use rib steak though, be sure to slice it thin.

We didn't mind the chewiness of the skirt steak. Like fried veal or chicken cutlet, the outside is crispy and the inside moist and flavorful. The gravy is an indulgence.

Glad I tried it, but I wouldn't serve this for breakfast!

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 2 pounds skirt steak, approximately
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 teaspoons water, beaten together
  • vegetable oil
  • use 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour for gravy
  • 1-1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup soy or rice milk (or more chicken stock)

Preheat the oven to warm. Cut the meat into smaller portions and set aside. In a dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper and salt and whisk the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. In a bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined. Remove 3 tablespoons of the seasoned flour and set it aside separately. Press each portion of meat in the seasoned flour, coating the surface completely. Coat the meat portions with the egg, then coat again with more of the seasoned flour. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot enough to make a bread crumb sizzle immediately. Fry the meat portions a few at a time, leaving plenty of space in the pan, for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels and continue with the remaining meat. As the portions are cooked, place them on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. When all the meat is cooked, discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the reserved seasoned flour and whisk into the fat, cooking over low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the stock and whisk until a smooth, thickened sauce has formed. Pour in the milk and whisk into the sauce. Remove the steaks to plates and serve covered with some of the gravy.

Makes 4 servings