Pot Roast

DSC_0034I love how this pot roast turns out. I do not love scrubbing the dutch oven after, though, so this is a special treat in our house.

Lightly flour the sides of a pot roast. I like to get one that’s 3-4 lbs. because it fits well in my dutch oven. Choose a cut that fits your cookware! After you flour both sides, sprinkle a hefty amount of salt and then crack some pepper on each side. Lightly brown each side of the roast (about 5 minutes over medium-high heat) and remove to a plate. Lower the heat to medium-low.

Make thick cuts of 4 yellow onions so you have some chunky rings. Caramelize these in your dutch oven in about 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. You’ll get some of the flavor from the beef on the onions and have fewer pieces to clean. Once the onions are translucent, add 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn the stove off.

Scrape the onions to lie across the bottom, sprinkle lightly with salt, and place your roast on top. Using a small can of tomato paste and a butter knife, ice the roast as you would a cake. Add two paste-cans worth of water or beef stock to the dutch oven. This won’t cover your roast, but should cover the onions to help keep them from burning. If two cans isn’t enough to get the liquid up to the roast line, add more. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Place one quartered carrot into the onion mix where there’s space.

Place the dutch oven lid on and put into a 350 degree oven. Cook approximately 1.5 hours, checking every 30-45 minutes and adding water/broth as needed. Remove the roast, slice, and put back into the dutch oven. Push the roast into the liquid. If the roast is not 3/4 covered with liquid, add more. Replace the lid. Cook another 1.5 hours, checking your liquid levels regularly. If you don’t want to slice it, don’t- just keep checking your liquid levels and cook for about 3 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or something else starchy and delicious for sopping up that flavor.

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Shepherd’s Pie-rogi

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This recipe is a bit of a love letter to my parents. My dad’s family has deep Polish roots, my mother’s has deep English roots. Both countries are mocked for their culinary traditions, but I’ve always found the food to be pretty tasty and always comforting. Seemed only natural to combine them!

For the dough:

Combine 3 cups flour, 1 large egg, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 cup warm water. When the flour is fully incorporated, the dough should not feel wet or sticky. If your dough feels wet or sticky, add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time. When the dough is fully incorporated, knead using your hands for about 8 minutes. Let rest in a bowl at room temperature for about an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound of ground beef. Traditionally, Shepherd’s pie uses lamb but it’s not something I regularly buy. I go with beef and most folks can’t tell the difference. After the beef is browned, add 1/2 diced white onion, 1 Russet potato, peeled, cubed and boiled in salted water until soft, 1 cup frozen peas, 2 large carrots, shredded, 2 cloves minced garlic, 6 ounces tomato paste, 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

When the filling has cooled, roll out the dough fairly thinly. Use a 3″ cookie cutter to cut rounds of dough. Dollop a tablespoon of filling on one side, then fold over and crimp together using your fingers. When your perogies are all folded and crimped, drop into boiling salted water. Boil for five minutes after they rise to the surface, then remove from the water. Finally, lightly pan fry them in 3 tablespoons of oil or butter. Alternatively, lightly brush with olive oil and air-fry until golden brown. The combination of boiling and frying creates a chewy but crispy texture and it’s the best of both worlds.

Faux Pho Empanadas

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I’d been toying with the idea of pho and empanadas for a while before finally getting around to finding the star anise and testing them out. I’d predicted correctly that they’d be delicious!

For the dough:

Mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 egg, 1/3 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. It should form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound ground beef, then add 1/2 diced white onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the zest of two limes, 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a light simmer and continue simmering approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the sauce:

Blend together 1 bunch lemon basil leaves (approximately 1 cup), about 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 4 jalapenos, seeds and tops removed,  green onions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

When everything is thoroughly chilled and cooled, break off 1/4 cup sized pieces of dough, shape into a ball, and roll out into a flat circle. Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling. Roll over the edges and crimp using a fork or your fingers. You can get pretty fancy with how you secure your empanada edges. I have not gotten that fancy. Brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of water) and cook at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You can use an air fryer at this step if you have one. Serve hot with generous helpings of the dipping sauce.

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Farro Salad

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Bring two cups of chicken stock to a boil, add one cup of rinsed farro. Reduce to simmer, cover. Cook 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once cool, add 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, four diced green onions, 1/2 an English cucumber, diced, 4 pepperoncini, diced, 3 tablespoons finely cut mint, and one tablespoon olive oil. Stir to combine.

You can add diced chicken if you feel so inclined.

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Irish Stew

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Pair with cream cheese gnocchi in lieu of mashed potatoes for a twist.

In a heavy skillet cook 4 slices of diced bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a stewpot, reserving the bacon fat. Do not put the stewpot over heat just yet. Season 2 1/2 pounds cubed boneless beef chuck with salt and pepper, then sear in the bacon fat over high heat, approximately 5 minutes each side. Place beef in stew pot with bacon.

Turn skillet heat down to medium, cook and stir 2 diced onions until lightly browned, or about 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Add 15 ounce can of Guinness or other dark beer into the skillet and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour cooking liquid from skillet into stew pot. Stir in 6 ounce can of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons thyme, 3 shredded carrots, 3 stalks finely chopped celery, 3 small bay leaves, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon black pepper and enough chicken broth to cover everything.

Bring stew to a gentle simmer, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer until beef is fork-tender, about two hours.

Remove cover and bring to medium-high heat. Remove bay leaves. Bring stew to a low oil and cook about 15 minutes, or until stew has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

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Gooey Gnocchi

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Put 2 unpeeled large Russet potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by at least two inches and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot and simmer the potatoes until they are completely tender and easily pierced, about 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool to the point that you can handle them. Peel. Cut in half crosswise and pass through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Let cool until almost at room temperature.

Flour a flat surface. To the potatoes, add one egg, 1/2 bar of cream cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix with your hands until it starts to clump together. Press against the bottom of the bowl until you have a uniform mass. Transfer to floured surface and knead by hand for about 30 seconds. Tear off a portion and roll out into a rope. Cut every 3/4″ to make individual gnocchi. Drop into boiling salted water. When it rises to the top, it’s done!

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