I’m sorry I’ve been MIA. I’ve been a bit emotionally self-indulgent lately and much to my dismay, haven’t been feeling the creative pull. I didn’t get to tell you about the French Toast Casserole or the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic!
The french toast casserole was a delight to prepare and again, with french toast, I love recipes that call for some night before preparation. All I had to do in the morning was pop the dish in the oven. I loved how the brown guar totally caramelizes the bottom of the french toast when it’s baking. I decided to dollop some extra butter and sprinkle some dashes of cinnamon and sugar on top before baking as well – good decision. The top of the toast had just the right amount of crispness to it. (I’m not partial to either soggy or overly crunchy french toast). I prefer a happy medium. Anyway, this is something I will definitely be making again, so thank you Virginia Willis!
As for the chicken, my boyfriend and I have made it twice now. It’s savory, juicy and will make you fall in love with garlic all over again. We liked to mash some of the roasted garlic and spread it like butter on some toasted bread and also pour a little of the au jus over the potatoes we served it with. It was yummy. This dish is so easy you will almost feel guilty, because it is sure to provoke a raving reception among your eaters. I will edit this post soon and include the recipe for it (it can’t be found online, so I will have to hand copy it out of my mom’s Bill Neal Cookbook).
Now, let’s talk about Ragu.
There’s something about ragu. It’s a good thing my 1 1/2 year vacation from red meat is over with and I can enjoy things like ragu and the occasional hamburger. I have to say though, I think I missed the ragu more than the burger, and I want to share with you two of my favorite ragu recipes. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of these dishes but just take my word on them…please?
The first one comes from (please don’t judge me), the actress and the mind behind the blog Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow. Her recipe for Turkey Ragu is surprisingly low-maintenance and will make your kitchen smell like the best Italian restaurant on earth (and for several hours). As long as you have a few hours for this glorious concoction to simmer, you’re set. It’s the perfect thing to cook on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Spooned over a nice bed of rigatoni and topped with a sprinkle of shredded parmesan, accompanied by some good old crusty bread – it’s my kind of a meal.
1 lb. ground organic turkey (room temperature)
2 15 oz. cans plum tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans Italian chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 medium or 3 small brown onions, peeled and diced
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp. fennel seeds
salt and pepper
1 cup red wine
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1. put a big glug of olive oil in a big sauce pan over medium-low heat
2. Add carrots, onion, garlic and let cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Add red pepper flakes and bashed-up fennel seeds.
4. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat, add olive oil and the ground turkey and throw in the rosemary. Really let it get a lovely deep brown on all sides and then add it to the soffritto scraping all of the bits from the pan in.
5. Season with pepper and fleur de sel (I like one mixed with Herbs de Provence) and stir well.
6. Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to a boil and then add one cup of red wine (not one so cheap you wouldn’t drink it, a good wine makes a good sauce!).
7. Let it boil away for a few minutes. Turm the heat down to low and partially cover the saucepan. Let it blip away slowly and gently for a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring often.
Serve with rigatoni and freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan.
*as found on Epicurious, submitted bygretchentseng*
As for my other favorite Ragu, this recipe is from Jamie Oliver uses the traditional beef and I have to say so far, it is the best ragu I think I’ve ever had. Gwyneth Paltrow’s is excellent and amazingly enough, you don’t miss the beef, because the turkey suffices just fine, since it is infused with aromatic rosemary, fennel, red wine and soffrito. However, this recipe is even better I think. Maybe because it’s more involved. Maybe because Jamie Oliver knows a little more about cooking than Gwyneth does. Either way, I strongly encourage you to make it. Your taste buds will thank you.
PAPPARDELLE WITH BEEF RAGÙ
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes with pressure cooker, 3 1/2 to 4 hours without
1 3/4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, in 2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
2 sprigs sage
1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
2 cups Chianti
1 28-ounce can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
1 pound pappardelle
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
1. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place an uncovered pressure cooker or oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add Chianti and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, and if using pressure cooker, 1/2 cup water. Secure lid and pressure gauge of pressure cooker, and follow manufacturer’s instructions to bring contents of pot to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes. If using Dutch oven, simmer, covered, in a 275-degree oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
3. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Remove pressure cooker from heat, or Dutch oven from oven. After pressure has dropped in pressure cooker, follow manufacturer’s instructions to remove lid. Using two forks, finely shred meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
4. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste, then drain well. Return pasta to pot, and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
5. To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of orange zest and rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.
Yield: 6 servings.
*note: personally, I leave out the orange zest…but that’s just me*