Friday, February 6, 2015

Meatball Parmesan

I was so busy getting this on the table, I neglected
to get a picture before guests dug into it.

I made an awesome Meatball Parmesan dish the other night for six. It was a combination of two recipes that I happened upon, a wonderful serendipity of my reading appetite.

The first recipe I stumbled upon was this one -- from an Esquire magazine article entitled “The meatball recipe to conquer all others.” Now, who wouldn’t be attracted to a headline like that?

And it is indeed quite the fantastic meatball, made from not one, not two, not three, but six different meats, at least in the version I created.

The recipe, as you’ll see when you click into it, calls for a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground veal, a pound of ground pork, and either a pound of pancetta (an Italian bacon made of pork belly meat) or a pound of cured bacon. I chose to use a half a pound of the pancetta and a half a pound of the bacon.

The other recipe I happened up was in the New York Times for Meatball Parmesan. The recipe is here.

What I did was to substitute the NYT meatballs for the Esquire meatballs.

And, though I have my own red sauce recipe, I did use the NYT recipe for the sauce.

I served it with penne pasta and salad.

This was almost an all-day affair in the kitchen. I started at 11:30 a.m. with the prep of the meatballs, and I was in and out of the kitchen until everyone was assembled for dinner at about 6 p.m.

It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughts on homemade pizza

By Paul Briand
This isn’t the first time I’ve featured homemade pizza here.
My niece’s husband (does that make him my nephew-in-law?) wrote about his Late Night Pizza in December 2011. And my daughter, Elizabeth, in August 2011 described her Grilled Pizza as “our new favorite Sunday dinner.”
I made pizza the other night, with a wheat-based crust, using store-bought dough.
A lot of folks struggle to get the dough in the shape they want. Here are a couple of tips I found helpful to getting my dough to shape perfectly into a large cookie sheet I used:

  • First, get the dough to room temperature;
  • Press it into a disk shape and use a little flour on your hands and on the dough;
  • Let gravity help you do the work of stretching the dough - hold the dough at the edges and just turn, turn, turn to let gravity stretch the dough toward the floor;
  • I placed the dough over the cookie sheet, draping about a half inch over the four edges;
  • And it rested for a few minutes;
  • Then I rolled the edges of dough over to build an edge for the crust.
This worked real well for me. I had a great looking crust with nice edging, and to the edging I brushed on some olive oil and sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese.
To the body of the pizza, besides store-bought pizza sauce and a package of mixed Italian cheeses, I added cut up pieces of chicken sausage that I had cooked on the grill, sweet onion and sweet pepper that I had grilled, and mushrooms.
It was a big hit, so big that my wife Jane said we can’t do take-out pizza anymore.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shredded Spare Ribs Over Penne

By Paul Briand

Often when I shop for groceries, I have no clue what the meals will be for the coming week.

I simply go up and down the aisles and let inspiration decide. I do a mental calculation of what’s already at home, what we haven’t had in a while, what looks good, what might go together in combination, and what ingredients I’d need to pull it off.

The boneless spare ribs looked particularly good the other day, but my thought process wasn’t to barbeque them as I normally might. I wanted to do something different and I settled on a version of pulled pork involving tomato-based pasta sauce and penne pasta.

Shredded Spare Ribs Over Penne

2 pounds boneless pork spare ribs
24 ounce jar of prepared pasta sauce
16 ounce box of penne pasta
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup low-sodium beef stock
Olive oil

1. Chop the onion and pepper into bite-size pieces and saute with chopped garlic in pan heated to medium high heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil;
2. Just as the vegetables are getting translucent, transfer them to a large baking dish;
3. In the same pan used for the vegetables, sear the ribs on at least two sides until browned;
4. Remove the ribs to the baking dish and spread among the vegetables;
5. Pour the contents of the jar of pasta sauce evenly over the vegetables and ribs;
6. Use the beef stock to rinse what’s left in the jar and pour that into the mixture;
7. Cover the baking dish with a tight seal of aluminum foil and place in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees;
8. Bake for an hour then remove from oven and remove foil to use two forks to shred the ribs into small piece of meat;
9. With the foil removed, return the baking dish to the oven and bake another half hour;
10. Remove from the oven and use the forks to shred remaining larger chunks of meat;
11. Spoon a generous helping or two over the penne pasta that’s been cooked to an al dente texture;
12. Top with Italian cheese such as romano or parmesan or mozzarella or, even better, a mixture of your favorites.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meaty Penne

First off let me say that my cooking game has been way off over the last several weeks. It’s not that I’ve stopped eating, certainly, it’s just that my effort to record some of what I’ve eaten for Eats@Home has been undermined by some changing circumstances in my professional and personal lives.

That said, here is a recipe for Meaty Penne from Giada De Laurentiis that caught my eye.

On Fathers Day, I was lounging with my daughter Elizabeth in the Connecticut home she and her husband John recently bought. She lounges by watching the Food Network (like father like daughter) and Giada was putting together this wonderfully rich red sauce that included chorizo sausage and Genoa salami.

“I’ve got to try that,” I said to Elizabeth.

The combination of the cherizo (a Portuguese pork sausage) and the salami caught my attention, but so did the mix of carrot with onion, as well as the topping of arugula that wilted into the steaming mass of cooked penne and red sauce.

A note about the arugula: Known for its pungent, peppery flavor it is a classic topping in traditional northern Italian dishes. But it’s strong and can be a put-off to some people. I’d suggest spinach as a substitute for those folks. Also, I added a diced green pepper to this dish - can never have too much green.

Here it is courtesy of and as prepared by Giada:

1 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
One 3-ounce piece Genoa salami, diced
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1 cup finely grated Parmesan

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chorizo over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up the chorizo into 1/3- to 1/2-inch pieces with a wooden spoon, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain on paper towels and cool.

Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions. Cook until the vegetables are tender but not at all brown, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the salami and tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook gently until the flavors blend, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the arugula and basil. Stir until wilted.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta into a serving dish.

Add the chorizo sauce to the pasta. Toss to combine, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce.

Top with the Parmesan and serve.

Here’s a printable form of the recipe.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Baked Fish with Browned Bread Crumbs

By Paul Briand

My son in law Jeremy came home from a recent fishing trip with a catch of pollock.

It is a white fish, like cod or haddock, but with meat that I think is a little more dense and rich that holds up really well to baking.

He gave me two fillets and I cooked them up using a recipe that my mother has been using for baked haddock for years.

Here’s my version:

Two fillets of white fish (pollock or haddock), about a pound each
Half a cup of prepared breadcrumbs (I used a half and half combination of Panko and traditional)
Half stick of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Three cloves garlic crushed
Quarter cup of white win (Pinot Grigio works fine)
Squeeze of lemon for garnish

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and place fillets in large glass baking dish;
2. Pour wine over fish and dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside;
3. In a frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter;
4. Once butter starts to bubble, add the crushed garlic and the breadcrumbs;
5. Constantly stir as the breadcrumbs immediately soak up the butter and the breadcrumbs start to brown;
6. Remove breadcrumbs from heat and use a spoon to evenly cover each fillet;
7. Place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the fish starts to flake;
8. Serve with a garnish of squeezed lemon.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

By Paul Briand

This is a wonderful recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit.

I would describe it as a stew, but the fact that it bakes for so long in the oven puts it more in the category of a bourguignon, but with pork instead of beef.

The recipe calls for beef ribs, but I substituted pork ribs. They were a little harder to handle to cut up, but, when done, the meat fell easily from the bone.

It is rich and it is full of flavor, helped in heaping amounts by the Cabernet Sauvignon that slowly cooks down in the pot.

5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (or pork ribs), cut crosswise into 2- inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups low-salt beef stock

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and season short ribs with salt and pepper;
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch;
3. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of drippings from pot;
4. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes;
5. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes;
6. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes;
7. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven;
8. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours;
9. Transfer short ribs to a platter;
10. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard;
11. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper;
12. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Honey Spice Chicken Thighs

By Paul Briand

I had some chicken thighs in the fridge, and did an online search on how I might prepare them.

Here was the most interesting of what I saw: Honey Spice Chicken Thighs from the BudgetBytes blog.

I did not add the heat of the cayenne as indicated, bowing to my wife’s palate, which tends toward less heat than I might normally add.

What I liked about this blog was how it broke the meal down by ingredient to cost. In total, according to its calculations, this meal cost a total of $5.13

8 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds worth)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and in a small bowl, combine everything except the chicken thighs until combined;
2. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs if desired. Place the chicken thighs either on a roasting pan or a baking sheet covered with foil;
3. Brush the honey spice mixture over the surface of the chicken thighs, using about half of the total honey mixture;
4. Roast thighs for about 20 minutes;
5. Remove thighs from oven and brush on remaining honey spice mixture;
6. Return chicken to oven and roast for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Click here for recipe card.

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