I have a deep affinity for crackers. Not gourmet varieties, or even homemade, but good old plain Jane everyday crackers, be it Captain’s wafers, or saltines, and especially any kind that comes two-to-a-pack.
I don’t think anyone needs a reason to like crackers but my fondness, I am certain, begins with my childhood memory of inexpensive family restaurants and sit down pizza joints that bring cracker baskets to the table instead of bread. I love the cracker basket and who in their right mind doesn’t? They hold something for everyone after all. Remember those crunchy breadsticky thingys, the sesame rounds, or the oblong townhouse crackers shaped like flattened capsules all wrapped up, by twos, in cellophane.
Wandering along my merry way as we do in life, I eat crackers. I eat crackers without much thought. I eat Club crackers wrapped in thinly sliced bacon and then baked, I learn it is okay to drink a martini with saltines topped with pickled bologna and American cheese because they are a match made in heaven, I will never forget having Georgia cracker salad and realizing it is nothing more than a tomato, mayo, whitebread sandwich on steroids, and my favorite, I use all kinds of crushed crackers as croutons for my salad. To this day every time I walk past a stick of butter I can’t help but want to drag a saltine down the length of the stick before popping it into my mouth, the perforations at the edges of the cracker leaving the soft butter to look like a perfectly raked zen garden.Continue reading →
This is the Midwest and we like baked potatoes and we aren’t ashamed to say so. Loaded baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, simple baked potatoes, in my part of the country it is un-American not to like them. For that matter, how good is a baked potato on those nights when they are what you crave? Truth is we like all kinds and cooked lots of ways. That is what is so good about this soup, it can be dressed up or kept very basic but no matter what at the dinner time it is nothing short of delicious. Continue reading →
What you need to know about lentil soup is everyone has their “simple” version. Knowing this, it reminds me how easy it is to get a nutritious hot bowl of soup to the table. It also tells me that it must taste really good if there is a reason to keep publishing simple lentil soup recipes, and we do keep publishing them and it does taste good.
The hardest part of making this soup is cutting the vegetables, which with the exception of the potatoes, can be done up to two days in advance as long as the vegetables are stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The recipe calls for four types of lentils but the truth of the matter is, I had just a small portion of different kinds of lentils I needed to use up. It so happens that the different textures and subtle flavor differences in the legumes was a welcome addition but if you don’t have but one kind of lentil in the house the soup is still really good.
And here is the secret, soups depend on good broth but sometimes the broth isn’t strong enough. Without a good broth soups come off as watery and bland and no amount of salt is going to change this. This fact, and this fact alone, is enough of a reason to keep bouillon cubes in the pantry, or some sort of stock base, that can be used more as a seasoning then as an actual broth. The idea is to taste the soup after it has cooked and if it comes off as a little flat you add a quarter teaspoon or more of stock base or break off a small piece of bouillon cube to kick up the flavor. Add the base to the pot, let the it dissolve, stir, and taste again. Keep adding a small piece if needed until the soup is delicious. Get the picture? It works, makes the soup more exciting, even if it is a dirty little secret.
4 Lentil Soup(makes 6 servings)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, small dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1 large celery stalk, small dice
3 medium yellow potatoes, cubed
1 cup lentils, a mix of beluga, du pays, yellow, and red
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 cup crushed tomatoes
vegan sodium free bouillon cube
5 cups homemade vegetable stock or no-sodium vegetable stock
2 handfuls baby spinach
1.Place a 3 1/2 quart (3.5l) enameled Dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil. Once the oil is warm add onions, carrot, celery, and garlic.
2. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir, and sauté the vegetables until they are soft, about 3 minutes
3. Add oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Stir again and add potatoes and lentils. Stir. Add tomatoes, broth, and bouillon cube. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper.
4. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
5. Remove the lid, taste the soup, and add any seasoning necessary. Add 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach and stir it into the soup. Once the spinach is wilted, ladle up bowls of soup and serve.
Just about anything can be cooked in a pressure cooker. It does lots of things well. Stews, roasts, soups and one pots all come to the table hot and delicious. Even so, what really keeps the pressure cooker on the stove top is the basics. A pressure cooker cooks beans, grains, rice, and stocks effortlessly and it cooks them perfect every time. A pressure cooker is a natural in the kitchen. Not only that, as everybody knows, the pressure cooker saves time and when it comes to cooking beans it saves lots of time.
We live in a world of bean myths. A world where bits of anecdotal information is passed from one generation of cooks to another. Dried beans carry suitcases full of informational baggage around with each and every pound. But what is truth and what is fiction and how should it all be sorted out?
There are a lot of choices when it comes to the kinds of beans you choose to cook. There are all the traditional beans -‑ black, pinto, garbanzo, navy, and kidney but there are also limitless kinds of heirloom beans with fancy names like Tiger Eye, Eye of the Goat, and Snowcap. There are even more.
When combined with a grain, more often then not rice, beans make a complete protein. This makes beans one of the least expensive healthy foods to put onto the stove. Combine them with a few spices and herbs and it becomes a flavorful dish the whole family will love.
To buy the best beans frequent a grocery that has a high turnover of dried beans. The newer the bean the better it cooks. Beans that have been around for a long time might not ever soften no matter how long you cook them. It pays to pay a little extra for good quality beans.
There are other legumes too. Split peas, lentils, and field peas cook up just as wonderfully in a pressure cooker as any of their cousins mentioned above. These legumes don’t need any kind of soak either, they can go right into the pot and cook in no time at all.
To Soak or Not to Soak?
This is a personal question. It is up to the cook whether or not to soak the beans overnight. In pressure cooker you do not need to soak the beans but there may be reasons why you want to.
One reason would be how are the beans going to be used. If they are to be pureed soaking isn’t necessary but if they are to be left whole a pressure cooker often splits beans leaving them cracked. If this is important then soak the beans.
Under pressure dried beans are cooked in minutes. Not something that can happen when they are cooked traditionally. The question becomes one of digestibility. If the beans are soaked a good deal of the gas causing chemical, phytic acid, is leached out into the soaking water which is discarded and fresh water is then added for cooking. If gastrointestinal issues are a factor presoaking is mandatory.
So while you can eliminate the soaking water when pressure cooking here is another reason it might not be a good idea. Almost any presoaked bean cooks in 10 to 14 minutes in a pressure cooker. That is what is amazing. Cooked delicious beans in such a short amount of time!
A Quick Soak
If you should forget to soak you beans you can still get a pot of beans to the table with a quick soak. Simply put the amount of beans you want to cook into the pressure cooker and for every 1 cup of beans add 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and lock on the pressure cooker lid. Bring to pressure and set a timer for 2 minutes. When the timer sound turn off the heat and let the beans sit for 20 minutes or until the pressure has released. Drain the soaking liquid and proceed.
There is an old wives tale about salt and beans. It says that salting beans extends their cooking time and makes the beans tough. It does not. Salting beans is paramount to great tasting beans. It is best to salt them during the soak time. About 2 teaspoons of salt per 4 cups of water is sufficient.
Foaming is always a concern when using a pressure cooker. Foam carries particulate which can lodge and clog the pressure valves. It is best to add a tablespoon of oil or fat to the cooking liquid. This will help to prevent foaming. It is also best to use a natural or cold water release beans for the same reasons.
When To Add Acids
Tomato sauce and vinegars are often added to beans for flavor. The acids in these products can cause the beans to toughen and take longer to cook. It all depends on how much you add. A can of tomato sauce is going to affect the cooking time, a tablespoon probably not. Nevertheless, it is always best to add any of these products toward the end of the cooking time.
There is no good reason to add baking soda to beans.
A Simple Pot Of Beans
2 cups pinto beans, rinsed and picked over for debris soaked in 8 cups of salted water for 4 hours to overnight
1 small yellow onion, peeled, small dice (about 3/4 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 TB.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
[1/2] tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Drain the beans into a colander and strain. Rinse the beans.
Place the beans into a 6 quart (5.51l) or larger pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 1-inch (2.5cm) about 5 or 6 cups.
Add onion, cloves, garlic, salt, bay leaf, and pepper to the pot. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat (traditional)/high(electric).
Lock on the lid, bring the pressure to level 2(traditional)/high (electric). Set a timer for 10 to 12 minutes.
After the time sounds either perform a natural or quick release. Serve or cool and refrigerate beans until needed.
Spring always seems rushed. It’s as if we spend months climbing a mountain called winter, and when we finally reach the peak, we’re so grateful that we run as fast as we can down the other side — past spring and directly into summer. It’s even true for the vegetables we’re attracted to — the fleeting cool weather crops that are harvested and eaten before spring has truly begun. Continue reading →
To be honest I lost interest in New Year’s Eve a long time ago. If memory serves me, the last New Year’s Eve I celebrated was sometime late last century. For that matter, I am not sure what year it was that I last made it to midnight.
It doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate, I do, I am just not in a rush to do so as the bell tolls. I guess I prefer to ease into it casually, like when my eyes pop open after a good night’s rest.
But let me just add: I am skeptical of New Year’s too. Maybe because we try to inject new vigor into failed promises, or because we also act as though eating a particular meal, either cleansing or lucky, is going give the rest of the year promise. The whole holiday feels dubious to me, with one exception: collard greens.
As always, combine collards with beans and rice and you can feel as though you are entering the new year at a low with nowhere to go but up. But there is another way of looking at it too. In my family, collard greens are not a one-hit wonder only to be served once during the year. Nor are they a fad. They are steadfast and as honest as the day is long. Sure you could hang out with the pretty people and eat kale, but kale isn’t collards. Neither are mustard or turnip greens. For me, because they are like the brainy girl who likes to read, collards are far more interesting. So much so that you want them around all year and with collards around there is no need to go up.
But, as always, sometime between Christmas and the new year I will put on the horsehair shirt, become all monkish and reflective, and try to set a direction for the new year ahead. I can assure you, in the kitchen, collards will act as a reliable compass.
Five Kitchen Resolutions for the New Year to Make You a Better Home Cook
1. Try to follow fewer fads and learn more technique. Take collards, for example. I had always simmered them in the typical manner with pork, pepper flakes, and liquid. While I still love cooking them this way, it wasn’t until I learned to pot-roast them vis-à-vis Thomas Keller that I picked up a new technique. And, I might add, one I am grateful to have in my tool kit.
2. It has been a battle this year with getting the kids to eat what is put in front of them, but, rather than forcing them to try new things, I am going to make more kid-friendly meals (that doesn’t mean junk) with the expectation they eat other meals without complaint. I also have this notion that if I feed them exotic foods all the time they will have to deal with the law of diminishing returns in that they will become bored with food. I also suppose I want them to have things left to explore and look forward to as they grow older.
3. Break out of your routine and explore other cuisines more often.
4. Choose three new dishes to master and do so. You know some say it takes cooking something a thousand times before you really understand how to cook it. While this might be a little extreme, I do like to be able to cook a dish multiple times and have it turn out the same each time. This takes practice.
5. Search out and explore five new ingredients.
Pot-Roasted Collard Greens ( Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home )
8 cups collard greens, stems removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch squares, then rinsed twice and dried
1/2 cup bacon lardons
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 300˚ F.
Place a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat. Add the bacon and let it start to render, then add the butter.
Once the butter has melted, add half of the greens. Season them with a heavy pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir and turn under the greens so they are coated with fat. Add the rest of the greens and repeat the seasoning and turning.
Cover the pot with the tight fitting lid and slide it into the oven. Roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the lid, and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Put the lid back on and let the collards set until ready to serve.
Each year I look forward to making this recipe with the first broccoli from the fall garden. I’ll make it several times from mid-autumn to early winter. It requires but a few humble ingredients which, when combined in the soup pot, are as satisfying as knowing you have an uncommitted hundred dollar bill in your pocket.
As with many soups of few ingredients, it requires attention to detail, your best technique, as well as quality ingredients. But if you are anything like me, you find as much enjoyment in the process as the reward.
The process for me starts with chicken stock made from scratch. I use old hens from my flock each year to make my stock, but any bones would work great. From the carcasses I make a very richly flavored stock which I preserve by canning. I use the homemade canned stock for many soups throughout the cold months. I urge you, if you don’t already, to learn how to make good stock even if you don’t preserve it by canning.
The next step for me is in my garden. I walk the rows of heirloom broccoli looking for tight, almost purple in color, florets. I give them a delicate squeeze for firmness and if they make the grade I get out my pocket knife and cut the stalks. It doesn’t stop there: there are the firm, yellow-fleshed potatoes and the pungent basil leaves stripped from thick, late-summer stalks.
All the ingredients are laid out on the counter top. I have an urge to stick close to Marcella’s original recipe, I want her book close at hand and set it next to the cutting board. Even though I have made this recipe from memory I want to make it as Marcella has it written. I like to do this occasionally, to refresh my memory and taste.
I clean the vegetables. With the exception of the potatoes, I cut everything and collect up the ingredients setting them neatly on a sheet tray. Then I move them close to the soup pot so they are at hand.
I came late to Marcella’s books in my cooking, even then it took time for her to grow on me. She was a champion of home cooking and I was more interested in preparing fancy and complicated restaurant food. I never met her; even so I often call her Marcella as if I knew her. I bet lots of people do this.
We did have a conversation once through social media. She called me out on a picture of a branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass. I had this fancy picture, a great photograph of the fish on a bed of greens with prosciutto and I posted it. I received lots of positive comments and likes. Then later that Saturday night Marcella asked me, “What are you doing to this poor fish?”
She may as well have rolled up a wet kitchen towel and snapped me on the ass. She called me out. What proceeded from the sting was a weekend-long exchange of messages, me going to the grocery to get another branzino and her teaching me how to simply poach the fish in aromatics and serve it with a simple aioli. Her recipe was by far the better.
What was important wasn’t that she taught me how to cook a branzino, or that she shared a recipe with me, but that she reeled me in. In one fell swoop she made me realize the importance of simple home cooking, that making restaurant food at home is silly, often wasteful and that great home cooking isn’t about chasing trends and being a foodie but more importantly how to cook wholesome good food for your family.
It might have taken culinary school to make me a chef but in a single Saturday night Marcella turned me into a home cook.
Freshly dug potatoes.
Fresh from the garden broccoli florets.
Broccoli and potato soup
Marcella’s Broccoli and Potato Soup (adapted from Marcella Cucina)
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 cups yellow onion, julienned Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon) 2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, medium dice 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets, no stems 3 1/2 cups stock, chicken or vegetable 6 smallish fresh basil leaves, torn 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
In a 3 1/2-quart heavy-bottomed pot, combine the olive oil and half the butter. Place the pot over medium heat. Once the butter begins to melt, add the onions. Season them with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Saute the onions until they become golden. Don’t rush this step and adjust the heat as necessary to keep them from browning too fast. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the potatoes. Stir them to coat with oil and let them sizzle away for a minute or two. Add the broccoli and do the same as you did with the potatoes. Add the stock.
Bring the stock to a boil. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning. Go easy on the salt though because the Parmesan has lots and will act as seasoning as well.
Simmer the soup until the broccoli and potatoes are tender. The broccoli is not going to remain vibrant green, but if it is good broccoli it won’t be olive drab either.
Once the potatoes have cooked through, add the parmesan, the remaining butter, and the basil. Stir to combine and serve with more black pepper.
It is shortly after all the present opening hullabaloo, when I look up from cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half, that I see the look on Vivian’s face. I catch a glimpse of disappointment in her eyes and it is very clearly the look of self pity caused by not getting everything she wants for Christmas.
I know exactly how she feels. I remember the first time I felt the same way. I also remember the shame I felt for being selfish and while I know which feeling is right at her young age, I am still not sure which feeling is worse.
Oddly, I guess with age I have come to have similar emotions about New Year’s.
For instance, each year when I take stock of myself in the time between Christmas and January 1st, I am always looking back in disappointment at the things I wanted to happen but didn’t, the things that went wrong, or the things that I will have to deny myself to make the coming year presumably better. It seems silly.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out to me that I am a very blessed person, and really, I want for nothing. Well, I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, and proudly I have lost a lot this year, but a few more wouldn’t hurt. Even so, I don’t really need to deny myself. I just need to eat differently. Continue reading →
Paella to me is the ultimate one pot meal. It also is the time of year where I am not ready for a stew but want something more substantial than the usual summer fare. Paella is a great answer. Although paella is considered Spanish I think this one is more Mediterranean. I use Italian sausages but fresh chorizo would be good, the important part is that the sausage isn’t dry cured or it would just be drier in this case. I also use arborio rice, but you could use the Spanish version of this as well.
2 bell peppers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 chicken legs, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Italian sausages
2 chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 onion, julienned
1 fennel bulb, tops trimmed, core removed and sliced very thinly
1/4 cup garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 cups warm water
pinch of saffron, crumbled
3 Roma tomatoes, cut in half from top to bottom, and grated, large whole of a box grater, leaving the skin behind
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups arborio rice
1 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced into thin rings
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Sometime during the day or when ever you have time, turn a gas burner to high. If you don’t have a gas burner turn your oven to broil and place a rack at the highest level you can. Char the peppers, top, bottom and all on sides. The idea is to char or blacken the skin without cooking the pepper through.
Place the peppers into a container with a lid. Set aside for at least 20 minutes. Crumble the saffron into the warm water.
If you roasted them properly the skins will easily peel right off with out running them under water.
Peel, seed and core the peppers and then julienne them into thick strips.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 16 inch paella pan or a 14 inch saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and once it is hot add the chicken, skin side down, and then the sausages. Brown them thoroughly and then remove them to a plate. You do not want them to cook all the way through. They will finish cooking in the oven so you just want to brown them.
Turn the heat to medium and add the onion and fennel. Season them with healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until they start to soften. Add the garlic, aleppo pepper and bay leaves, once fragrant add the white wine and grated tomatoes and cook for a minute or two letting the alcohol burn off. Add the saffron water and rice. Season again with a healthy pinch salt and pepper. Gently shake the pan to level out the rice. Place the chicken into the pan and arrange the red peppers around the chicken.
Bring to a boil, place the pan into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. Cut the sausages in half. Once the timer goes off add the sausages and place the pan back into the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
Once the timer goes off remove the pan from the oven and place a clean towel over the top. Let the dish rest for five minutes, remove the towel and garnish with parsley and green onions, then serve.
Chili is great, and a favorite, but sometimes it is nice to find an alternative. This is a nice change for sure. The sourness of the tomatillos cuts the richness of the pork while still letting the pork taste rich. The other thing about the tomatillos is the juice from them thickens the broth. The whole thing comes together easily and could even be pulled off on a weeknight by the ambitious.
2 tablespoons lard
2 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
1 lb. tomatillos, paper skins removed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon dark chile powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
one 14.5 ounce can yellow hominy
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
toppings: more cilantro, shredded cabbage, lime wedges, red onion, sour cream and cheese
1. Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos onto a sheet tray with sides, they will exude lots of juice, and broil them until they are charred nicely. Remove them from the oven and turn the oven off.
2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the lard over medium high heat in a 3 1/2 quart Dutch oven and add the pork. Brown it deeply on all sides taking care not to not to burn the fond forming on the bottom of the pot and reducing the heat if necessary.
3. After the pork has browned remove it from the pot to a plate. Add the onions to the pot and saute them until they start to become tender. Add the garlic, chili powder, tomatillos with all their juice, and the tomato paste. Stir to combine and let the mix become fragrant.
4. Add the pork, and accumulated juices, back to the pot and enough water to come just to the top of the pork. Let the pozole come back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
5. Simmer until the pork is tender, about an hour, then add the hominy and the chopped cilantro and cook another 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with additional toppings and lots of home made corn tortillas.
I don’t know why I haven’t made this lately. I developed this recipe for a fish and seafood class I used to teach at the local culinary school. It might seem bell-less and whistle-less but don’t let it fool you. It is a workhorse soup that is deeply satisfying in a working class bar sorta way. It can easily be whipped up right out of the pantry. Take note not to get carried away with the horseradish. It is subtle in the amount given, just enough to be a mysterious secret ingredient, but if you add more it takes over.
Makes 8 six ounce servings
2 eight oz. bottles Bar Harbor clam juice
2 six oz. cans Bar Harbor clams, drained, chopped and juice reserved
4 ounces bacon, diced
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, peeled and small dice
1/2 cup leek, white part only, small dice
1 cup celery, rinsed and small dice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/8 heaping teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups yukon gold potatoes, peeled and 1/2 inch dice
28 ounces Pomi brand chopped tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1. Place a 3 1/2 quart heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and render the fat until it is crisp tender, not crunchy.
2. Add the onion, celery and leek. Saute the vegetables until they are tender but not browned.
3. Add the garlic, celery seed, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes. Saute until they become fragrant. A minute or so.
4. Add the clam juice and reserved juice. While you are waiting for the broth to come to a boil taste it and, depending on how salty the clam juice is, season it with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
5. Once the broth is boiling add the potatoes, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes then add the tomatoes and clams, bring to a boil again then reduce the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning, then simmer until the potatoes are done, about 20 minutes.
6. Just before serving add the horseradish making sure to thoroughly stir it in.
I like to use a wok for these kinds of dishes. Besides everyone should own a good wok. By good I am not talking about those little non-stick thingies hanging from the wall at the five and dime. Those aren’t even big enough to make a half order of fried rice for a toddler.
What I am talking about is wandering down to your local restaurant supply store and heading for their wok section. They have blue carbon steel woks that are cheap, will last forever, are non-stick by nature and come in all sizes. I have seen one big enough that I could take a hot bath in it if I wanted but all we are looking for is a 16 to 18 inch wok. That is the measurement from one side of the rim to the other. It will seem huge but when you go to make fried rice for a family of four it all the sudden won’t seem big enough.
I use a wok for deep frying, making stews like this, fried rice and countless other dishes. It is the shape of the wok that makes it work so well.
In the end you can use a heavy bottomed pot, cast iron pot or enameled Dutch oven to make this. I just happen to like a wok.
I serve this with rice and peas and pot roasted collard greens. Roti is a must.
Island style curry powder:
1 tablespoon each, whole cumin, coriander, black pepper, anise seed, and brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon ground tumeric
1. Toast all the seeds and berries until fragrant in a skillet placed over medium heat. Remove them from the pan and let the spices cool.
Once cooled place everything including the turmeric into a spice grinder and grind to a fine grind.
For the curry:
peanut or canola oil
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on or off your call
2 yellow onions, about 3 1/2 cups, julienned
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup fresh garlic, peeled, trimmed and sliced thinly
4 to 6 tablespoons curry powder
8 to 10 fingerling potatoes, peeled and chunked
6 to 8 sprigs of thyme
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
if you want to add heat add habanero, jalapeno or whatever diced hot pepper you want.
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1. Place a wok or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Add the drumsticks or thighs and brown them on all sides. Then remove them from the pan to a plate.
2. Add the onions and more oil it needed and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the ginger, garlic and curry powder (if you want heat add peppers now). Cook until fragrant.
3. Add the stock and water. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the potatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper
4. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover, stir now and again and simmer until tender. About 30 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
It is the time of year, at least for me, where I have remnants–odds and ends–coming from the garden. A few rebellious plants refusing to be defeated by a light frost are still putting forth small amounts of tender vegetables. The real fall plants, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts haven’t yet committed to blooming. In my garden basket I have Silver Queen sweet corn, okra, and a few green peppers.
I make purloo, a simple but very satisfying one-pot of vegetables, rice and some sort of meat (meant more as a seasoning then an entree.)
Purloo is a dish of economy. It is a dish of diversity. It is a dish that tells many a family history simply by ingredients the cook chooses to use. It is of Low Country origin. Most likely a slave dish. It is meant to serve many and it is meant to be comforting. It is.
1. Heat the oven to 400˚ F. Place a heavy bottomed 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add enough oil to the pot to barely coat the bottom.
2. Once the oil is hot add the onion, pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft but not brown.
3. Add the thyme, basil, marjoram and garlic. Saute, being careful not to brown the garlic, until they become fragrant. Add the okra, corn and turkey. Season the purloo again with salt and fresh ground pepper. Taste and adjust any seasoning necessary.
4. If the pan seems dry add a little more oil. Then add the rice and stir it around to coat the grains with the oil. Add the broth.
5. Grab the pot by the handle and give it a sharp shake so everything evens out and is distributed evenly. Bring the broth to a boil.
6. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and slide the whole thing into the oven. Immediately turn the heat to 325˚ F.
7. Set a timer for 35 minutes. At the end of thirty five minutes remove the pot from the oven, remove the lid and using a tasting spoon check the rice to see if it is done.
8. If it is not done, cover the pot and return it to the oven for 10 more minutes.