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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Creamy Chicken, Gnocchi and Spinach Soup

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Joe, you finally get a copy. Earlier that it comes in the mail, too! You won’t see it until October, but I’ve done what I could.

Brown 1 pound Italian sausage in a Dutch oven, do not drain. If you are skipping the sausage, instead drizzle two glugs of your favorite olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 2 large shredded carrots.Stir to coat. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add 6 cups chicken stock, 2 cups diced chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 3/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. If you want to add a bit of heat, add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes here. Bring to a boil. Add 2 packages of gnocchi, boil 4-6 minutes until gnocchi rises to the top and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Add 1 cup chopped fresh spinach and cook an additional 2 minutes to wilt the spinach.

Slowly stir in 2 cups of half and half (one cup of half and half if you’re trying to cut extraneous calories). Keep the mixture from boiling, as the cream will separate if it gets too hot.

Serve immediately.

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Chicken Stock

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To a large stock pot add the bones of one chicken, 2 quartered onions, 3 quartered carrots (scrubbed but not peeled), 3 chopped ribs of celery, 1 large leek (quartered with the greens and ends discarded), 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, 4 sprigs fresh parsley, 3 small bay leaves, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 3 cloves peeled garlic and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Cover all this goodness with water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep simmering, partially covered, for 8-10 hours. Check in on it often and add water as needed. Pour through a colander and use as you normally use broth.

If you’re in a hurry or don’t want as full a flavor, you can remove the mixture from the heat when it begins to smell and taste like chicken (about three hours). If you do this, I recommend adding another teaspoon of salt.

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Chicken Dumpling Soup

Chicken Dumpling Soup

For the soup:

Heat 4 tablespoons of EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups cubed butternut squash, 3 medium carrots thinly sliced into rounds, 2 ribs chopped celery, and 2 leeks (halved and the whites cut into thin slices). Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Nestle in 3 bay leaves and a bundle of parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary among the vegetables. Partially cover and cook about ten minutes, stirring once about half way through. Deglaze your pan with 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock. Reduce until almost dry, remove bay leaves and herb bundle. Add 3 cups chicken broth, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

In a sauce pan, melt 3 Tbs salted butter over medium heat. Whisk in 3 Tbs flour until combined. Whisk in 3 cups of milk (unflavored almond or otherwise), 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Cook until thick enough to coat a spoon then add to simmering broth mixture. Add 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken. Zest 1 lemon into mixture. Keep simmering for approximately 40 minutes.

For the dumplings:

Combine 2 1/4 cup Bisquick and 2/3 cup milk. Drop dough by spoonfuls into simmering soup. Cook 10 minutes uncovered then 10 minutes covered. If there isn’t enough space in the Dutch oven, you can cook the dumplings in another pot with 5 cups of chicken broth.

Serves 4-6.

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