Archive | Meat RSS feed for this section

King Ranch Casserole

12 Sep

Out of all of the recipes I’ve made for Project Pastry Queen, this is by far the most “Texan”.  Full of southwestern flavors, this is an extremely hearty casserole!  I admit I don’t love corn tortillas, so already this recipe was at a disadvantage in terms of going into my permanent recipe box, but the flavors all even out quite nicely and, while not my favorite PPQ recipe, it’s certainly one to pull out when your Texas relatives come to visit.

In typical Emily-fashion, I had a few forehead slapping moments.  I try to do my food shopping economically but also locally & organic when I can which means that I ended up going to three different grocery stores (which was not my intention).  Most of my basic ingredients came from Trader Joe’s, because they have the best prices, the local food co-op (appropriately called “The Co-op”) for my veggies, but then I still had to go to Von’s to get the poblano peppers because the co-op strangely enough had no chile peppers whatsoever.  So I’m happily cooking away and I’m to the part of the recipe where I start assembling the casserole when I realize with a jump–this is a chicken casserole…I didn’t buy any chicken today!  I blame it on the way the recipe is worded and arranged, since I didn’t make my own chicken stock, but in the end I can’t believe I didn’t put 2 and 2 together and remember to actually buy chicken.  All’s well that ends well.  I’m just glad I live only 2 blocks from the supermarket.

The whole roasting poblano peppers routine may seem really tedious, but I promise, learn now because one of my favorite recipes ever (and I mean EVER) uses roasted poblano peppers and you’ll be glad you have the technique down when I finally post it.

Also, I’ve been very slowly working towards liking mushrooms.  It’s an uphill battle, for sure, but I think that smelling the mushrooms simmering in butter was a turning point for me.  They smelled truly delicious.

Interesting Fact: this recipe is named for one of the biggest ranches in Texas but….it’s a ranch, which means beef, not chicken.  The ranch is just as confused you probably are about why the casserole got named after them.

Update: I have to say that while I wasn’t the biggest fan of this recipe at first, I’m loving the leftovers!  I think the flavors just needed time to meld in the fridge overnight.  This Home Plate‘s version for PPQ looks delicious with sides of salad and black beans–I know what I’m adding to my plate tomorrow night with the last bit of casserole!

King Ranch Casserole
The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
10-12 servings

  • 1 roasted chicken, meat shredded
  • 3 poblano chiles, roasted and diced (Rebecca suggests New Mexican green chiles, but they’re pretty difficult to find)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (or do what I did and buy a bag of pre-shredded Mexican mix cheese which includes both Monterey Jack and Cheddar and is half the price of buying two blocks of the cheeses and shredding yourself)
  1. Roasting the Peppers: Turn the oven to broil and while that’s heating up, slice the poblano peppers in half, clean them of stems, seeds, and ribbing, then lay the pieces on a cookie sheet, skin side up.  They should lay as flat as possible–just squish them.  Slide the cookie sheet under the broiler element as close as it can go.  In my oven, there’s a little drawer in the bottom so I can slide them right up underneath the flame.  You want the skin to turn black and bubbly, which in this case doesn’t mean it’s burned, but instead means less work for you.  You really do want every inch of that skin bubbly because if it’s not, it just means you’ll have to put the peppers back in the oven (so leave it on after you take the peppers out, just in case).  Leave the peppers under the broiler for about 5 minutes.  When you pull them out, put them in a paper bag so they can sweat for 5 minutes.  Pull them out (they’ll be cool) and peel the skin off the peppers.  If you leave the skin on, it’s kind of like finding pieces of plastic wrap in your food.  The skin will come off pretty easily.  If there is still skin that won’t come off, just slice that part of the pepper off and put it back under the broiler for another 5 minutes.
  2. Making the Filling: Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic.  Saute on medium-low heat about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour in the pan, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until the white of the flour is no longer visible (I doubted it but it happens, I promise).  Whisk in 3 cups of chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.  Whisk in the cream and stir in the diced roasted chiles.  Add the tomatoes (juice and all).  The cream sauce will be nice and thick.
  3. Assembling the Casserole: Place 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a wide bowl so that you can lay 6 tortillas in the bowl flat and covered with the chicken stock.  Wait a few minutes while you get everything else ready.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13″ baking dish with butter.  Line the bottom of the baking dish with tortillas.  Rebecca suggests 6 per layer, saying that a thick layer of tortillas means it will be easier to cook, but I used fewer since I don’t like corn tortillas.  (Put the next 6 tortillas in the bowl of chicken stock.)  Cover the tortillas with half of the cream sauce.  Add half the chicken and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Add a second layer of soaked tortillas (and put the last tortillas in the bowl to soak), the remaining cream sauce and chicken and another layer of cheese.  Top with the last layer of tortillas and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  4. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes until hot, bubbling, and lightly browned on top.  Remove the casserole from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serve.
Advertisements

Caprese Burgers

2 Sep

So the boyfriend and I desperately needed a night out.  The solution?  The Counter, a fantastic build-your-own-burger joint, has the best Tuesday night dinner around.  For the price of one of their normal burgers, you get 4 mini burgers designed specially by the chef and 4 mini beer pairings.  The fact that you don’t have to choose just one meal and get 4 very different burgers AND 4 different beers is just phenomenal.  This week the chef created a bacon cheeseburger with potato chips (as a burger topping) and stone ground mustard, a burger with blue cheese, celery slices and buffalo sauce, a southwest burger with corn & black bean salsa, chipotle aioli and fried jalapeno slices and….a caprese burger.

I carefully took only one bite of burger and one sip of the matching beer before moving on to the next, moving in a slow circle around the plate.  And even though I enjoyed all of the burgers immensely, this caprese burger was something special.  It was one of those things where you hit yourself over the head and say “why didn’t I think of this?!”  It was so good, in fact, that after only one bite, I borrowed the boyfriend’s fancy phone to email myself the list of ingredients.  It was so good that the very next day I found myself hungrily craving a full size caprese burger and, let me tell you, when I get a craving like this, it HAUNTS me.  So there was nothing else to do but recreate the burger at home and have caprese burgers two nights in a row.  These are so easy to throw together yet look so impressive that I can’t wait to make them for friends–great for this weekend’s last ditch effort at holding on to summer, Labor Day!  So with out further ado…

Caprese Burgers
Serves 4
Inspired by a Mix-It-Up special from The Counter

  • 4 burger patties
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • arugula
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (I used heirloom tomatoes, since it’s just barely still summertime)
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices (will come in a single ball the size of a baseball)
  • 1 recipe balsamic reduction (see below)
  • 1 recipe pesto spread (see below)

Balsamic Reduction

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pesto Spread

  • 2-3 packed cups fresh basil leaves (1 large box of basil from Trader Joes is only $1.99 and is the perfect amount!)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan.  Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and let it continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.  Turn heat off to let it cool until your burgers are ready.  The vinegar will turn very thick and should coat the back of a spoon.
  2. In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, salt and olive oil and pulse until you have a fine paste.  Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Turn your oven on to 500 degrees and place the hamburger bun halves face-down in the oven to toast while preparing your burgers.
  4. Grill or fry the burgers in your preferred method.  I found I didn’t even have to season them due to the strong flavors in the balsamic reduction and the pesto.
  5. Stack your burger: Bottom half of bun, burger patty, arugula, mozzarella slice, chopped tomatoes.  Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the tomatoes.  Spread a thick layer of the pesto on the top bun and drop it on top of the burger.  Voila!

It seems that everyone’s tastes are different when it comes to this burger–the boyfriend literally brought the pot of balsamic reduction to the table so he could keep slathering it on his burger while I couldn’t get enough pesto and would spread a little extra on each bite of burger.  The roommate happily ate hers without any extra additions at all.  So that means the solution is just to bring all the sauces to the table to let everyone choose for themselves!

Poulet en Cocotte

19 Jun


Poulet en Cocotte is French for “Chicken in a Pot”, which is hardly a very appetizing name–but at least the chicken is delicious!  The first half of the recipe is pretty hands-off and the sauce in the second half is simple as well.  I actually made this chicken and the sauce last for a whole week of leftovers…and now that I’m writing about it, I’m craving it again.  Would it be bad to have chicken for 2 full weeks in a row?

A word of warning: part of what makes this recipe so easy is that you don’t brown the chicken first and the chicken isn’t going to brown very much in the pot, so you’re going to end up with a relatively light colored bird.  Cooks Illustrated is always on this obsessive quest for browned crispy skin on chicken and turkey but, truthfully, I don’t particularly care one way or the other so this recipe suits me just fine.

Poulet en Cocotte
recipe slightly modified from The Best International Recipe cookbook
Serves 4, or a week of leftovers for 1

  • 1 roasting chicken (approx 5 lbs), giblets discarded
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Make sure the chicken doesn’t have giblets hiding inside, and if there are, pull them out and discard.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil, shallots and garlic cloves to a large Dutch oven and lay the chicken on top, breast side up.
  2. Cover and bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the center of the breast, about 1 hour. If you don’t have a meat thermometer of any kind, use your best chicken-judgement skills: make sure the meat is not pink and the juices run clear.
  3. Tip the chicken to drain the juices from the cavity back into the pot you roasted it in. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest while finishing the sauce–I promise it will stay piping hot for a loooooong time.
  4. Pour all the cooking juices into a fat separator and set aside to settle, about 3 minutes.  I don’t have a fat separator right now, so I just put it into a measuring cup, let it settle, and then spooned the fat off the top as best I could. Pour the defatted juices back into the pot and stir in the wine, broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup, 5-10 minutes.
  5. Off heat, remove the bay leaves, whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Full disclosure: I don’t actually love onions and shallots, so I spooned the shallots out of the sauce at this point. But I don’t suggest this unless you’re just picky like me.

If you’re serving this for dinner for more than just yourself, carve the chicken up and serve the sauce in a gravy boat. If it’s for a less formal occasion (i.e: me standing over the kitchen counter at 11pm on a Sunday night), let the chicken cool (so you don’t burn your fingers…learn from my example) and tear it down into pieces directly into the tupperware. Dip pieces of chicken into the pan of gravy as you are breaking down the chicken, pop directly into your mouth and voila: dinner!  Don’t forget to save the sauce, too–it’s what really makes the chicken worth eating all week.

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

30 May

I’ve been making this marinated skirt steak since I was in high school and, truthfully, I have never found a marinade that even comes close to this.  That said, I have to give credit to my little sister, who was more ambitious in the kitchen before I was, for finding this recipe from Martha Stewart.

The recipe is so easy that after making it once, you won’t even need to look at the recipe again or even measure ingredients for that matter–just adjust to your own tastes (for example, I’m a huge garlic lover.  Martha only calls for 2 cloves).  I’m sure this would be great to throw on the grill, but I’ve always just put it under the broiler in my oven and loved it. When you think about it, 5 minutes throwing together the marinade, plus 3 minutes per side in the oven, there’s never really a bad time to make this…so what are you waiting for?

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak
Recipe modified from Martha Stewart
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  1. Trim skirt steak of excess fat.  My supermarket is very inconsistent–sometimes very fatty pieces (hidden from view, of course) and sometimes very lean.
  2. Place steak in a shallow Tupperware container, stab it all over with a fork, and add all of the ingredients.  Shake!
  3. According to Martha, you can let it marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes, but I usually throw this all together in 5 minutes or less the night before and then throw it in the fridge overnight.
  4. Set the oven to “Broil” and line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.  Place the steak on the sheet (I make sure to grab all those garlic slices and roast them too!).  This steak, because it’s so thin, cooks FAST so don’t walk away!  3 minutes per side is all you need for the thickest parts to be medium rare.
  5. Pull the steak out and cover with tinfoil (I promise, it will stay blazing hot) and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.  If you get anxious and don’t let this time pass, you will have a MESS all over your cutting board and your meat won’t be as juicy as it could have been, which is a shame.

Enjoy!  (Also awesome as cold leftovers…some people have to grab an Oreo every time they pass the cupboard…I have to grab a slice of this steak whenever I pass the fridge)

%d bloggers like this: