Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sunday morning I got up in the mood to cook.

And cook I did.

I don’t know what possessed me to make stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears to go with our over-easy pastured eggs and chocolate-laced coffee, other than the fact I had mushrooms and asparagus in the fridge (Beloved was bemused, as well – “My wife got up this morning and made appetizers for breakfast!”), but it was all really tasty, if a little odd.

I’m not a huge mushroom fan – they’re one of the few foods I have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about – but I have to say that these were absolutely delicious.  We enjoyed them so much that I am going to make them for our annual employee holiday party this year.  It helps that they’re just drop-dead easy, too, and can be assembled ahead of time and baked later.  They also reheat beautifully.

Note:  The chorizo I use is really a chorizo-spiced ground pork; we get it from our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  A traditional Mexian chorizo is going to be pretty fatty and probably won’t hold together very well as a stuffing.  However, making it yourself is really quite easy – this recipe is a good one.

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms. These tasty morsels can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked just before serving.

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Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]homemade Mexican-style chorizo[/url]
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound large white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil.
  2. Gently but thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a damp towel. Remove and finely chop the stems; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped mushrooms stems until they have given off all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, about 7 to10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  5. In a large bowl, gently mix the chorizo and mushroom/onion mixture until well combined. Stuff each mushroom cap with the chorizo mixture, mounding it attractively, until all of the sausage has been used.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the mushrooms have softened and the chorizo stuffing is cooked through.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 250 calories, 21g total fat, 49.1mg cholesterol, 563.2mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 12.5g protein

Creamy Turkey and Kale Soup

We get two turkeys a year from our poultry farmer – the first in the summer and the second usually a day or two before Thanksgiving.  Last year we roasted the summer turkey and canned it; I used the meat all winter long in soups, stews and casseroles.  It was incredibly convenient.

This year, we decided to break it down into its different parts, the way we do our chickens, and freeze them.  In the end, we were left with one bag containing just the wings – well, actually, a wing-and-a-half; it apparently suffered an accident in the processing.  Which was fine, but it left me wondering what to do with one-and-a-half turkey wings.

Our garden was also full of surprises this year, as we had all sorts of plants pop up that we never actually planted.  Not weeds, either, but actual food, mostly in the form of tomatoes and winter squash  (thank you, Mr. Compost).  Among the winter squashes, which was mostly butternut and spaghetti, we found a lone kabocha.  After Beloved picked it, it sat on my kitchen counter and, well…stared at me.  For about two weeks.

Kabocha squash makes marvelous soup, and since we’ve had quite the cold snap up here lately, it finally occurred to me what I could do with the turkey wings:  roast those suckers and put the meat in a nice, hearty soup with some of the kale that was also overflowing in our garden.  So one evening last week I roasted both the wings and the squash while cooking that night’s dinner, in anticipation of the next night’s dinner.

It worked like a charm, too, making the following evening’s meal a snap to put together.  What surprised me, though, was how much meat was on those turkey wings; I got a full 2 1/2 to 3 cups off of them when it was all said and done.

The soup turned out marvelously; rich and creamy, warm and comforting, it was simply delicious.  It was also incredibly nutritious, a serving providing 36% of your daily recommended amount of potassium, 561% vitamin A, 227% vitamin C, 28% vitamin E, 50% niacin, 47% vitamin B6, 692% vitamin K, 31% phosphorus, 25% magnesium, 43% manganese and 47% selenium.

If nothing else, it will leave you feeling quite smug, knowing you ate something that was so good for you.

Note:  You can, of course, use leftover cooked chicken if you prefer.  This also reheats very well.

Creamy Turkey and Kale Soup. An easy and hearty cold weather soup that is as nutritious as it is delicious.

Click the image to enlarge

Creamy Turkey and Kale Soup
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium winter squash, such as kabocha, roasted
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces (about 1 pound)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small stock pot or enameled cast iron Dutch oven, melt the ghee over medium-low heat and cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook another minute more.
  2. Stir the roasted squash into the pot and increase the heat to medium; season lightly with salt and pepper and continue cooking until the squash is heated through. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock until the soup is smooth.
  3. Add the turkey, kale and red pepper flakes (if using) to the soup; simmer until the kale is tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 350 calories, 10.9g total fat, 70.6mg cholesterol, 429.5mg sodium, 1272.5mg potassium, 34.5g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 8.6g sugar, 30.7g protein

Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child.  She revolutionized the way the United States not only cooks, but views, food, and collectively we owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Beef Bourguignon, that gorgeous peasant dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions, is arguably her seminal recipe; you can barely think of Julia Child without thinking of Beef Bourguignon, and vice versa.  And for good reason – it is most likely the best beef stew you will ever, ever eat.  Julia herself wrote in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, “[It is] certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.”

Who am I to argue with that?  Why would I argue with that?  I don’t disagree with her at all.

This is a somewhat streamlined version of the recipe that appears in MTAOFC.  The most notable deviation from the original is the substitution of tapioca flour for wheat flour and ghee for butter; nor do I bother with the traditional bouquet garni or thickening the sauce.  But while the list of ingredients is long, and the instructions seem longer, it’s not a difficult dish by any means – just rather time consuming.

With 607 calories, 31 grams of fat and over 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving (and I’ve increased the servings to 8 from the original 6), this is not “diet food” by any stretch of the imagination.  But who cares?  Julia certainly didn’t, and neither should you.

Beef Bourguignon. The classic French dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions.

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Beef Bourguignon
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 2” cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/homemade-tomato-paste/” target=”_blank”]tomato paste[/url]
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • Braised Onions
  • 24 white “pearl” onions, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/ghee/” target=”_blank”]ghee[/url]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. In a 9” to 10” oven-proof enameled Dutch oven or casserole, fry the chopped bacon in the olive oil over low heat until slightly browned and most of the fat has been rendered out. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Dry the beef well with paper towels. Increase the heat to high and cook the beef, a few pieces at a time, until well-browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and add the carrot and onion to the pan, cooking until the vegetables begins to soften and brown. Pour off any remaining fat.
  4. Return the beef and bacon to the pan with the vegetables and season wit the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the tapioca flour and toss to lightly coat the beef. Set the the pan, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 4 minutes.
  5. Toss the beef and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove the pan, and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Stir in the wine and beef stock; add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, then cover and place in the oven. Braise the beef for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  6. While the beef is in the oven, prepare the onions, mushrooms and potatoes.
  7. [b]For the onions:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and sauté the onions, for about 10 minutes, stirring or rolling the onions frequently so they will brown as evenly as possible and taking care not to break the skins. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper and stir in the beef stock and herbs. Cover and simmer over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender, but still retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the bay leaf and the stems of the parsley and thyme. Set aside.
  8. [b]For the mushrooms:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer, taking care not to crowd them, and sauté, stirring or tossing frequently, until they have given off their liquid and are nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  9. [b]For the potatoes:[/b] scrub the whole new potatoes gently under running water. Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil; add a tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Boil until fork tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, carefully slice each in half. Set aside.
  10. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a large saucepan. Wipe the Dutch oven or casserole with a clean paper towel and return the meat to the pan; stir in the onions, mushrooms and potatoes. Skim as much of the fat from the sauce as possible and return to the pan with meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the stew is completely heated through, and serve.
  11. Nutrition (per serving): 607 calories, 31.1g total fat, 141.8mg cholesterol, 883.8mg sodium, 1437.4mg potassium, 22.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3.5g sugar, 44.7g protein

Chicken Cacciatore

I’m running a bit late this morning – we’re trying to recover from a weekend of College Student At Home.  Let’s just say it’s going to be a few weekends before THAT happens again.

How did Bill Cosby put it?  Oh, yeah…BRAIN. DAMAGE.  And we simply can’t afford it – college is cheaper.

Seriously.

Anyhoo, today’s recipe is so very good that I’ve made it twice in as many weeks – and I don’t even care for Italian food all that much.  This dish is simply stunning, nor is it difficult to make.  And while it isn’t a quick recipe, it certainly takes much less time than many braises.

You can use a whole chicken, cut into pieces, if you prefer – I just used drumsticks and thighs because that was the first thing I grabbed out of the freezer.  I also used a jar of tomato sauce we’d recently canned, along with fresh tomatoes from our garden but a 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes would work well if you don’t want to peel, seed and chop them yourself.

This was excellent served over Japanese sweet potatoes mashed with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the same fresh herbs used in the cacciatore, but it would go equally well with regular mashed potatoes, rice, polenta or even pasta, if you’re so inclined.

Chicken Cacciatore. This rustic and satisfying dish is classic Italian cuisine at its finest.

Click image to enlarge

 

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium; add the peppers, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth, capers and herbs. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer; cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 418 calories, 18.8g total fat, 140.7mg cholesterol, 397.7mg sodium, 1100.4mg potassium, 21.6g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 11.3g sugar, 32g protein

 

Beef Liver with Apples and Onions

This is one of those dishes that, if you’re a fan of organ meats, make you want to sing hosannas to The Gods of Liver.

Yeah.  It was good.

Really, really good.

Now, having said that, I’m a tad prejudiced because I’ve always liked liver.  Beloved, on the other hand, did not – I practically had to force him to eat it the first time I made it for him (up until that point, the only time I got to eat it was when I ordered it at a restaurant).  These days, he has a very different attitude towards offal, and we eat liver, both beef and chicken, on a fairly regular basis, and enjoy odd bits such as tongue, heart, jowls and sweet breads as often as we can.

It’s all good.  And good for you.

Of course, how you cook liver has a lot to do with how palatable – or in this case, delicious – it is.  Over cooking it will turn it into a mealy, nasty piece of shoe leather.  Cooking it to a nice medium, leaving it delicately pink in the center, makes it tender and tasty.  Beef liver also tends to be pretty strong flavored, especially compared to calf and chicken liver, but soaking it for a couple of hours in milk, coconut milk or some sort of marinade greatly mitigates that.

Anyhoo, this recipe came about because 1) apples are just now beginning to come into season and B) I needed something to do with the leftover white wine from a couple of nights prior.  I have to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the dish turned out, and Beloved simply devoured it.    It was simply marvelous served over a roasted parsnip puree.

Fall is right around the corner.  This is a good thing.

Beef Liver with Apples and Onions. A great variation of Liver & Onions - the sweetness of the apples and onions pairs well with the earthiness of the offal.

Click the image to enlarge

Beef Liver with Apples and Onions
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces sliced bacon
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large firm sweet apples, such as Gala, cored, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound beef liver, cut into 2-inch by 1-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off the fat, reserving 4 tablespoons.
  2. Return 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat to the pan and add 2 tablespoons of the ghee. Cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and beginning to turn golden. Add the apples and continue cooking until the fruit is a light gold color. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, and wine; increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking for 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a plate or dish and keep warm.
  3. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee and bacon fat over high heat. Pat the liver dry, and sprinkle it lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the liver, turning it frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is browned but still slightly pink in the center.
  4. Divide the liver between four plates and top with the apple and onion mixture. Crumble the reserved bacon over the top, garnish with the chives and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 441 calories, 28.5g total fat, 361.7mg cholesterol, 318mg sodium, 539.7mg potassium, 16.6g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 8g sugar, 27g protein