Stretching Your Food Dollars – Virtually Free Stock

 stock

Good food is expensive. If you grow it and/or raise it yourself you know how much hard work it takes to put food on your table. A little part of me dies inside when I toss out the bits and pieces of unusable food – even if it is going into the compost or out to the chickens. But I’ve learned that I no longer have to waste anything. I can make stock from all the leftovers. I love homemade stock, but again, I’m not a fan of using perfectly good food – and a lot of it – to make a big batch of it. This is the perfect meeting of the two – no waste of food leftovers and no need to use the good parts.

Scraps

The parts that you wouldn’t eat anyways get used to make more food which makes this virtually free to make. Onion and garlic skins and trimmings, the outer leaves of cabbage and the cores, carrot ends, leafy ends of celery, winter squash skin, corn cobs, pepper tops and cores, the tough, woody stems from herbs like rosemary and thyme  are just some of the vegetative parts you can add. We also like to throw in carcasses and bones from roasted chickens, turkeys, and rabbits and old stewing hens can go in whole (pull the meat off  after cooking and use it for later meals). You can just do vegetables if you want, or you can add other types of meat and bone, such as beef or pork. You can even mix the types of animals you use if you want.

There are some things you don’t want to add, however, to your stock. Avoid really starchy foods like potatoes and sweet potatoes. Don’t use toxic or fatty vegetable parts either – like avocado skins and pits or tomato tops (but feel free to add tomato skins or cores).

As you cook normally you will collect all the trimmings and put them in a bag and freeze them. This allows you to collect a large amount of scraps to make a big batch of stock. You can also do smaller amounts and make just enough stock for a pot of soup but since time is at a premium for some us it works better to do big batches and then pressure can the stock for later use. You can also freeze the stock if you have plenty of freezer space, which unfortunately is also at a premium for us. 1 gallon freezer bags work great for this. You can also use some types of mason jars to freeze the stock in but it takes longer to defrost them. With gallon freezer bags all you need to do is heat the outside enough so that it slips out of the bag into a large pot. The other benefit of freezing the stock rather than pressure canning it is that you can skip the step of refrigerating it so you can skim the fat off. Just cool it down first before putting it into containers (don’t want to melt the bag or stress the glass more than necessary).

water

Once you have enough scraps put them in a large stock pot and add just enough water that the scraps are nearly covered. We use a big 7 gallon stock pot so we wait until we have a LOT of scraps. You can choose to add salt now, later, or not at all. I like to wait until it’s almost done so I can taste it. The amount of salt will depend on your personal preference and how much stock you make at once. It isn’t necessary though if you are concerned about your salt intake.

A good stock is going to take several hours to make. Turn the heat on high and get it up to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer on the stove for several hours – usually about 8 hours. Occasionally add more water as needed. You will know it’s done when the carcasses completely fall apart and the stock has a good flavor. Taste it occasionally and when you like the flavor it’s done. Allow it to cool and then with some large tongs start pulling out the larger pieces of scraps to discard. If you use whole animals you can start putting the meat from them in another bowl. Once all the large scraps are out, line a colander with cheese cloth and strain the remaining broth to get out all the small bits and pieces you couldn’t remove with the tongs.

Once strained you can freeze or pressure can it. If you pressure can, put the stock in the fridge for at least 24 hours. You want the fats in it to solidify so you can skim them off. You can skip this step if you are only doing vegetable stock.

Since I’ve started making my own stock I’ve found that I no longer have to buy it because the scraps we produce are enough to make stock regularly. Bonus is that it’s healthier because there isn’t any MSG (or MSG by another name) and you can control the sodium.

Share

The Best Turkey You’ll Ever Eat!

It’s November and we know what that means! Thanksgiving will be here any day now so I’m reposting this recipe because it IS that good. Last year we did this with our own homegrown turkey, which we will do again this year. Super moist and flavorful, this turkey is sure to please your guests.

———————————————————————-

turkey

I have finally perfected our Turkey Recipe! It takes some preparation, but in the end it was more than worth the effort!

This recipe will work for a 16-25lb turkey. Make sure the bird is completely thawed the day before you plan to cook it because brining it requires at least 12 hours. It’s even better if you can brine it for longer. We’re doing ours for a full 48 hours.

Ingredients:

For Brine:
1 gallon unsweetened apple juice
3/4 cup salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6-8 slices of ginger
2 Tbs peppercorns
2 Tbs allspice berries
2 Tbs whole cloves
2 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir in salt and sugar. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

We use a large orange “water cooler” that we have designated just for brining similar to this one:
Unwrap the thawed turkey, remove the giblets and place neck end down into clean cooler. Pour cooled brine over the bird. Add water until the bird is completely submerged. Add a bunch of ice on top to keep cool. Put lid on cooler and leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours (just make sure it’s staying cold).

For Roasting:

1/4 lb butter (1 stick) cut into pats
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbs chopped fresh Thyme
2 Tbs chopped fresh Oregano
2 cups chicken broth
Olive Oil

1. Remove bird from brine and let brine drain out of cavity. Don’t rinse bird.
2. Coat roasting pan with olive oil and place bird breast side up in it.
3. Using your hands separate skin from breast and legs. Rub the chopped herbs onto the meat.
4. Place the cut pats of butter under the skin in various locations, including the legs. Pour chicken broth over bird.
5. Cover bird with lid of pan or foil and place in a preheated oven at 350 deg.
6. Roast for two hours basting every hour. Remove foil and allow bird to brown, basting every 20 min.
7. Continue to roast bird until interior temp reaches 165 deg. Can range from 1-2 additional hours depending on whether the bird is stuffed. Make sure when taking the temp that the thermometer is through the thickest part of the breast and is not touching bone.

This recipe will give you an incredibly moist flavorful bird that is amazingly tender.

Share

Missing in Action and my Great-Grandmother’s Onion Celery Dressing

I haven’t been around in awhile. For 4 months to be exact. I have been neglecting my blogging duties. I lost my writing mojo and I was short on time. That doesn’t mean I stopped doing what I do. We’ve been gardening like crazy and we still have the critters. Actually, we’re about a 3-4 weeks away from baby goat arrivals. Circumstances changed and we found ourselves short on time. But summer chores are seriously waning so it’s time we get back on the horse.

DressingSo with that I will start with one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes – the Stuffing, or in this case, the Dressing. This is a recipe my mom has made for as long as I can remember, which she got from her grandmother – my great grandmother. My great-grandmother called it her Celery Onion Dressing, but this is so much more than just onions and celery.

We don’t stuff the turkey with it, which is why we call it dressing since we serve it on the side. You could stuff a turkey with it, but just remember that it will substantially lengthen the time you have to cook the bird to ensure that it’s all safely cooked through.

When I asked my mom for the recipe she told me she didn’t actually have it written down and just made it from memory. In my opinion, these always seem to be the best recipes, especially when my mom is involved because she is seriously one of the best cooks ever. I’m not joking either. She’s never made a bad meal and she can pull out all the leftovers in the fridge and make the best meal you’ve ever eaten in your life. Of course she’ll never be able to repeat it again, but you know the next meal will be just as delicious. Even though she always did this recipe by memory she humored me and wrote it down.

  • 1 large round loaf of sourdough or French bread
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 3/4C chopped mushrooms, chopped. Button, crimini, assorted is best add some shitakes if you have them.
  • 1 lb of spicy (HOT) sausage, Italian is great
  • About 5 stalks of celery chopped
  • 4 – 6 large cloves of garlic minced
  •  6 – 8 eggs whisked
  • 1/2 –  2/3 C melted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 c chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • chicken broth
  • nuts, cranberries or apples (optional)

1. Cut the loaf of bread into 1/2″-1″ cubes the night before and put in a warm oven (a pilot light is sufficient) until cubes are hard.

2. Don’t chop vegetables too fine or the dressing lacks texture.

3. Saute the sausage first then add the onions, mushrooms, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent and the sausage is cooked.

4. Mix bread cubes with the sautéed sausage and veggies then add melted butter, eggs, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, curry powder, Thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, and whatever other spices you might like and fruit and/or nuts if you want. Then add enough chicken broth until the mixture is quite moist but not mushy.

5. Put the stuffing in a casserole covered and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.

Share

The Best Freaking Turkey you will EVER taste!

It’s November and we know what that means! Thanksgiving will be here any day now so I’m reposting this recipe because it IS that good. This year we have our own homegrown turkey and I can’t wait to do this with it.

———————————————————————-

I have finally perfected our Turkey Recipe! It takes some preparation, but in the end it was more than worth the effort!

This recipe will work for a 16-25lb turkey. Make sure the bird is completely thawed the day before you plan to cook it because brining it requires at least 12 hours.

Ingredients:

For Brine:
1 gallon unsweetened apple juice
3/4 cup salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6-8 slices of ginger
2 Tbs peppercorns
2 Tbs allspice berries
2 Tbs whole cloves
2 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir in salt and sugar. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

We use a large orange “water cooler” that we have designated just for brining similar to this one:
Unwrap the thawed turkey, remove the giblets and place neck end down into clean cooler. Pour cooled brine over the bird. Add water until the bird is completely submerged. Add a bunch of ice on top to keep cool. Put lid on cooler and leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours.

For Roasting:

1/4 lb butter (1 stick) cut into pats
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbs chopped fresh Thyme
2 Tbs chopped fresh Oregano
2 cups chicken broth
Olive Oil

1. Remove bird from brine and let brine drain out of cavity. Don’t rinse bird.
2. Coat roasting pan with olive oil and place bird breast side up in it.
3. Using your hands separate skin from breast and legs. Rub the chopped herbs onto the meat.
4. Place the cut pats of butter under the skin in various locations, including the legs. Pour chicken broth over bird.
5. Cover bird with lid of pan or foil and place in a preheated oven at 350 deg.
6. Roast for two hours basting every hour. Remove foil and allow bird to brown, basting every 20 min.
7. Continue to roast bird until interior temp reaches 165 deg. Can range from 1-2 additional hours depending on whether the bird is stuffed. Make sure when taking the temp that the thermometer is through the thickest part of the breast and is not touching bone.

This recipe will give you an incredibly moist flavorful bird that is amazingly tender.

Share

Tom’s Spicy Tomato Sauce

Tom and I’s first date he made me dinner at his apartment. It was a simple yet tasty dinner but I was most impressed that not only that he could cook but also that he enjoyed it. One of his best dishes was spaghetti sauce from scratch. Everyone who ever tries it raves about it.

Over time his recipe has improved. Fresh herbs and homemade sauce from our garden replaced the commercial sauce and dried herbs. The season really depends on all that we put in it. During the winter we don’t have peppers, zucchini, or eggplant available. So instead we just add more onions and mushrooms.

The secret ingredients in this sauce are the hot sauce and the sugar. Tom didn’t really want me to share, but then why would you make this recipe if it was just so-so?  The hot sauce adds some heat along with some extra acid. We generally like to use Tapatio. I think Tabasco would be too vinegary for this sauce though.

  • 4 c tomato sauce
  • 1 c tomato paste
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1 c water
  • 1lb sausage, removed from casings or ground meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, cut in half and sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Hot Sauce
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh Oregano
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


1. In a hot dutch oven over medium high heat add oil and then sausage. Break up sausage while it cooks. Add garlic, herbs and hot sauce and continue cooking until sausage is browned.
2. Deglaze with the red wine.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetable are tender and the sauce has thickened.
4. Serve over fresh pasta or add to a lasagna (I’ve been known to eat it on it’s own).

Share

Mmmmm….Crockpot Chili

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a non-canning recipe so I figured I was overdue.

With this cold weather it’s nice to sit with a bowl of comfort food. I love chili but I really don’t make it enough. We have a ton of dry beans that we’ve grown so there really is no excuse for not making it. Yes, I put beans in my chili, which I know some of you would consider blasphemous. I’ve done it this way since I learned how to cook. My mom has done it this was for as long as I can remember. And I will probably always add beans to my chili.

I don’t like to heavily rely on meat to make my chili, well, meaty, so beans are added. Of course, it does take some planning ahead because you’ll need to soak the beans overnight. You could skip the soaking, but it will have to be cooked on the stovetop at a higher temperature for quite awhile.

As for the meat, we’ve got a freezer of goat and it seemed like some goat ribs would be a fantastic addition to this chili. Goat can be difficult to find so feel free to substitute it with lamb.

The night before in a large bowl cover 2 cups of dry beans with water. Add enough water so that there is at least an inch of water over the beans.

The next morning in your crockpot combine:

2 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups tomato sauce
1 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt
12 oz roasted green chilies, chopped
1 lb goat ribs

Turn your crockpot on high and leave it until dinner. The meat should be falling apart. Most chili powders are mild so it won’t really be a spicy chili. If you want it to have some kick add some hot sauce. Serve with fresh chopped onion and sour cream.

Share

Monday’s Guests – Rabbit Liver Pate

Today’s post comes from Kitty over at Havenscourt Homestead. She graciously gave us some of this delicious pate this weekend to try out. I’m a fan of liver in general sauteed up with some garlic – yum! But if you don’t like eating liver you may still like pate. 
————————————————————————-
Rabbit Liver Pate
Mention liver to most people and you’re bound to get one oftwo answers:  YUMor ICK!  In my experience, liver has had moreof an ick factor.  I’m not sure why.  I think it’s just a texture thing along witha very strong flavor.  Or maybe it’s becauseI grew up with a father that loved to coat liver with flour and cook it withonions, then expect us children to eat that awful smelly stuff.  What can I say?  I was a kid. I didn’t like broccoli either.
Enter adulthood and I discovered pate.  Mmmmm… Rich, smooth, creamy, deliciouspate.  I immediately loved it.  Little did I know it was basically my fathersliver and onions pureed and served cold with crackers.  But pate is expensive in the store, so Ididn’t eat it too often. 
Fast forward to my homestead.  Now that I raise the bulk of my own meat, Ihave lots of liver.  Putting it in thestock pot with the bones and such just seemed to be a waste.  So I decided it was time to try my hand athomemade pate.  Liver is verynutritious.  It’s a good source ofThiamin, Zinc and Manganese, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin A,Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, PantothenicAcid, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium. 
After searching the internet for recipes, I settled on onefrom Hoyt Archery.  It seemed simple andcontained herbs that I like and had on hand. I especially liked that it called for soaking the liver in milk.  I had heard that this made the liver muchbetter tasting.  And I just happened tohave fresh raw goat milk in the refrigerator. Of course I also had 2-1/2 lbs of fresh rabbit liver, much more than therecipe called for.  So I multiplied allthe ingredients by 2-1/2 and got down to it. 
LiverPate
1pound liver
1 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup brandy
Place the liver and milk into a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  I actually let mine soak overnight.  When you are ready to start cooking, put theliver in a colander and drain well.
In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat melt fourtablespoons of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often,until they are soft and pale.  You don’twant to brown them.  Once the onions aresoft, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.  Again, do not brown it.  You just want the wonderful aroma.  This should only take a minute or two.
Carefully add the liver to the onions.  Then add in your spices.  This recipe uses thyme and bay leaves.  But you could use just about any spice youlike.  I tend to cut the salt in halfwhen I cook.  I find that most recipesdon’t need as much as they call for.  IfI feel something needs more salt when I’m done, it’s easy enough to season itafterwards.
Gently stir and sauté until the liver is browned on theoutside, but still slightly pink in the inside. I test this by simply slicing a bit of the liver using the slotted spoonI’m cooking with.  At this point, Ithought it smelled wonderful.  I wasready to grab a fork.  I honestly don’tknow why I didn’t enjoy this aroma when I was a kid.
Once browned, remove the skillet from the heat.  Pour on the brandy.  Don’t forget to have a nip for yourself!  Return the skillet to the heat and light thebrandy.  *POOF* Flambé!  What can I say?  I’m a pyromaniac.  I love to flambé!  Besides, the flames only last for a minute orso until the alcohol is burned off.  Butif you have guests that have never seen it, they’ll be most impressed.
Continue to cook until most of the liquid hasevaporated.  The liver should be cookedthrough, but it should still be tender. Again, test it by slicing into it to make sure it’s brownthroughout.  Remove the skillet from theheat and allow the liver and onions to cool slightly.  Remove the bay leaves.
Carefully spoon the liver and onions into a foodprocessor.  Depending upon the size, youmay have to do this in batches.  Pureethe mixture until smooth.  Cut theremaining butter into small pieces and add them to the pate.  Pulse to blend.  Don’t worry about over processing at thispoint.  You want everything to be smoothand blended together.
Taste your creation. If you need to adjust any of the seasonings, now is the time to doit.  Just be sure to pulse the mixture tomake sure any additions are thoroughly blended in.
Before packing your pate into a mold or other container, oilthe mold with a little olive oil.  Thishelps to prevent it from sticking.  Youcan also use plastic wrap.  Since I had avery large batch, I used a 9” loaf pan. I lined it with plastic wrap and then used a paper towel to wipe theinside with olive oil.  Next, cover thepate with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the surface to eliminate as muchair as possible.  Air will cause thesurface to discolor.   This doesn’t hurtthe flavor or freshness of the pate.  Itjust doesn’t look as nice.  Pop it intothe refrigerator until it is firm, at least 6 hours.
One great thing about pate is that it freezes well.  So if you’ve made a large batch like I did,simply slice it up, seal it, and freeze it. I have a vacuum sealer.  If youare freezing any meats, I highly recommend buying one.  It sucks all the air out of the package andseals it up perfectly for freezing.  Imade each package about 4-5 ounces which is a good serving size forentertaining.
To serve, simply unmold it onto a plate and addgarnish.  Pate is great with crackers,flat bread, or toast.  Serve it with yourfavorite cheese and a glass of wine. Once you realize how quick and simple it is to make, you’ll never takepotato salad to a potluck again!
Share

Not-So-Green Chili Stew

Remember the Red Roasted Tomatillo Sauce? Here’s what you do with it.

So I promised this recipe when I posted the Red Roasted Tomatillo Sauce recipe and I just kept forgetting to post it. Well, here it is finally.

My mom taught me how to make the first version of this back when I was in college. It became a staple for me because it was tasty and easy to make. It was originally made with canned enchilada sauce, canned green chilies, pork, onions and potatoes.

Over time the recipe obviously evolved substantially.  It made it’s largest change when we wanted to make it one day and didn’t have any enchilada sauce but plenty of tomatillos – which we simply threw in the food processor. For that recipe you just replace the sauce with 2 1/2 lbs of tomatillos, 4 tsp chili powder and 4 tsp cumin.

Even though we’ve eliminated all of the commercially canned ingredients, this is still a surprisingly easy recipe to make.

Not-So-Green Chili Stew
1 quart of Red Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
1/2 lb pork loin, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 c nixtamel or hominy
1/2 lb roasted green chilis, remove skins and seeds and chop
1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 c chicken broth
2 Tbs oil
Hot sauce to taste
Sour cream and/or cheddar cheese

1. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and add oil and then pork and garlic. Cook until pork is browned.
2. Deglaze dutch oven with chicken broth.
3. Add remaining ingredients except sour cream/cheese and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender.
4. Serve topped with sour cream and/or cheese.

Share

Making Rabbit Sausage

Mmmmm, rabbit

 We’ve got so much rabbit and so very little freezer space right now, with more rabbits on the way. We needed to do something with all this rabbit and let’s face it, I’m getting a little tired of just braising it.

Rabbit’s a very lean meat and can be quite tough if it’s not cooked right, which usually means either cooked very quickly or cooked for a very long time at a low heat. Since Tom is rather squeamish about rare or even medium rare meat, we have to go with the long cook time.

Grinding is a great way to deal with tough meats

However, there is another way you can prepare tough meat. Tough cuts from any animal whether it’s beef, pork or rabbit lend themselves very well to grinding.

Not really wanting to make rabbit burgers and being that the current Charcutepalooza challenge is stuffed sausages I decided that rabbit would be the meat of choice for this challenge.

Pork fatback

But of course it wouldn’t just be rabbit. Because sausage needs 25-30% fat I needed to add pork fatback. But I didn’t stop there. My goal was a very flavorful sausage so it had to have asiago cheese and porcini mushrooms. But wait! It needed something more! Garlic! Yes garlic.

Unfortunately, Tom proclaimed that it smelled like a foot. He said the cheese smelled like a foot. The mushrooms smelled like a foot and now the fridge smells like a foot. Tom does NOT like stinky cheese, which, in my opinion, is quite a shame. I’m hoping this recipe works for him.

Unfortunately we’re out of fresh garlic, but we have some really good dried garlic. So here’s my recipe:

Rabbit Sausage with Porcinis, Asiago and Garlic

2 Whole Rabbits (3-3 1/2 lbs each), deboned and cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 1/4 lb pork fatback, cut into chunks
1/2 lb Asiago cheese, cut into chunks
1.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tbs dried minced garlic
3 Tbs Kosher salt
10+ feet of pork casings (optional)

1. Rehydrate mushrooms in 2 cups hot (not boiling) water. Put mushrooms in water into fridge overnight to chill.

2. Drain mushrooms reserving 1 cup of liquid. Return liquid to fridge.

3. Combine everything but the liquid in a large bowl and put in freezer until very cold, just short of freezing solid. Also freeze the detachable parts of meat grinder that will be coming into contact with the meat.

4. Reassemble meat grinder and run meat mixture through and into a bowl set in ice (I use the bowl to our stand mixer). I use the smallest die that came with the grinder.

5. Using my stand mixer (mine is the smaller Kitchen Aid mixer so I have to do this in batches), I quickly mix half of the ground meat adding 1/2 fo the reserved mushroom liquid to evenly distribute the spices. I repeat with the second half and then combine it all in one large bowl. Don’t overmix or you’ll end up with an emulsified sausage – mix just enough to distribute everything evenly.

6. Cook a small patty to check and adjust seasonings as needed. Return to the freezer to chill again.

7. You can choose to stop here and use it to make breakfast sausage or you can stuff it into casings.

I have to admit, or more like my husband has to admit, smelling like a foot can sometimes be a very good thing. The porcinis I feel are a bit overpowered by the garlic and asiago though, so I think next time I’ll save my money and omit them.

So what did we do with the sausages? We’ve added them to spaghetti sauce and lasagna. We’ve eaten them on homemade rolls with homemade sauerkraut and eaten them as snacks when out and about. I even add them to soup. Sometimes you don’t need a special recipe to use them because they are the special recipe.

Share

Pasta a la Carbonara with Leeks and Arugula

Sometimes you don’t know you’re looking for something until you find it.
Sometimes you’re just minding your own (or everybody else’s) business mindlessly surfing through facebook when a friend of yours posts a recipe to another friend of yours saying “we need to make this” and you can’t not look, because hey, it’s food and both of those friends know good food when they see it (or read about it) and all of a sudden your dinner plans have DRASTICALLY CHANGED. And also you feel a little like you just stuck your nose in something that was not for your nose. But still. Sometimes these things happen.
And sometimes that’s awesome.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted this recipe, and I was immediately smitten. The flavors reminded me a lot of an eggs en cocotte recipe (served over sauteed asparagus, leeks and bacon) that I have always loved, and the method (similar to a pasta a la carbonara) was something I had been meaning to try for a while.
So this weekend I picked up leeks at the farmer’s market. And, because I have a massive aversion to parsley in most dishes (mostly, everything but these), I picked up some arugula. I figured heck, why not? The recipe called for a lot of cracked pepper, so maybe the green tanginess and spiciness of arugula would be just the thing to kick up the mild softness of the leeks and garlic.

When I’m right, I’m right.
…also, usually kind of smug. But it’s OK to be smug about good food choices.
The pasta was PERFECT with this sauce. The sweet, mellow flavor of the long-cooked leeks and garlic blended with the salty crispness of the bacon and the crunch of the raw arugula and the rich heartiness of the egg to make something greater than I could have imagined.
This one’s going in the recipe box, for sure. You know, after I post it on facebook.
Pasta a la Carbonara with Leeks and Arugula
(adapted from the New York Times)
8 oz of any dry pasta (I like linguini/fetuccini for this)
4 thick strips of smoky bacon, cut into pieces
3-4 medium/large leeks, sliced into thin rounds and thoroughly washed/drained
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 c fresh baby arugula
1 very large (or 2 small) eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet, brown the bacon bits until they are just starting to crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and toss the leeks and garlic into the pan drippings (add more bacon grease or olive oil if they start to stick). Cook the leeks slowly over low-to-medium heat until they are very soft and golden (about 30 minutes).
In another pot, bring a large amount of lightly-salted water to a boil and start your pasta cooking. You want it to be al dente right when the sauce is pureed and ready to go back in the pan.
NOTE: it is very important that the pasta be hot when the sauce is added, as the heat of the pasta and reserved cooking liquid are what cooks the eggs and makes this a safe dish to serve. Even with our fresh backyard eggs, I am very careful to thoroughly wash the shells before cracking them, and to being them to a safe temperature before eating them.

Transfer the softened leeks into a blender or a food processor (my blender does a better job of pureeing than my cuisinart) along with most of the arugula (save a little bit to chop for garnish) and the raw egg. Blend until the sauce is thick and a bit foamy. Add a tiny bit of water if the arugula won’t blend down on its own.
Transfer this puree back into the large skillet (off the heat) with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and the (drained but not dry) pasta. Toss to combine, making sure the sauce thickens and the strands of pasta don’t stick together too much.

Serve this pasta on a large serving plate (or individual bowls) with a sprinkle of chopped arugula, some bacon bits, and fresh cracked pepper and salt.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share