Saturday, October 25, 2008

French Onion Soup

Today I made a batch of French Onion Soup. This is my favorite soup of all time (being French Canadian). My father usually orders this when he eats out and it is offered. Even though this soup only has 6 ingredients (for the basic soup), it is the technique that makes it exquisite. I have read, but not verified, that French Onion Soup was the very last meal that Julia Child ate before she passed away in 2004.

I make this recipe in my 13 quart La Creuset enameled cast iron dutch oven.

Slice 10 pounds of onions. Coat dutch oven with olive oil and heat. Add onions. Basically, the pan should be full to the top with onions. Turn heat to high. the idea now is to cook the onions until they are browned and caramelized and about 1/10 their original volume. You will notice that there will be a considerable amount of juice that needs to be cooked out. Today this took me about 2 hours. I have include some pictures of the progress. At this point I add 1/4 cup sugar and this helps the onion during the final browning process. When the onions are dry and the bottom of the pan is browning it is time to deglaze the pan with 1 cup of dry sherry. Bring to boil. Now add 3 quarts beef stock and 3 quarts chicken stock (low sodium), bring to a boil and you are done.
Now, you can eat as is (as Steve is doing right now) or serve it with the classical garnish, a topper of a toasted crouton (toasted sliced day old baguette) and then sprinkled with shredded Gruyere (Swiss) cheese and placed under the broiler until brown and bubbly.
In Julia Child's words, 'Bon Appetite!'

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mom Major's Sweet Wings

Get the biggest, plumpest chicken wings you can find for this recipe. Also try switching the maple syrup with honey.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare 3 pounds of chicken wings: Cut off wing tips (save for a stock), cut the wings in two at the joint. Place wings in a single layer in a glass (easier to clean) baking dish (make sure it has at least a 1 inch side so that the juice does not overflow into oven). Use more than one dish if needed, do not overcrowd pan. season wings with salt & pepper.

Mix together:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup

Pour over wings, toss to coat, rearrange in single layer.

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour turning and basting every 20 minutes.

This may seem like a long time to cook wings but it will make the meat fall off the bone, render out most of the fat, and give it a great dark color. If the wings are really big you may need to cook for up to 1 1/2 hours. These are good hot or cold.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Leek Casserole

I think the original inspiration for this came from a recipe I saw in 'Taste of Home' magazine. I love leeks but never seem to use them enough. When prepping leeks slice them in half lengthwise, with the root in tact, and wash thoroughly under cold running water to get all of the sand out.

Butter a two quart casserole and preheat oven to 350.

Prep and slice 1 bunch of leeks. Slice 2 large shallots and 1 red onion. Saute all and put into casserole. Saute 1/2 pound mushrooms and add to casserole. Add 3 fresh thyme sprigs to casserole. Season with black and cayenne pepper.

Mix 1/2 cup low fat sour cream and 1/2 cup non dairy creamer. Pour over leeks.

Mix 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over casserole.

Bake for 30 - 45 minutes.

Jimmy's Chili

This recipe is mostly about the spice mixture that I use to make the chili. Make sure the spices you use are less than 1 year old. Throw out those old ones that have been lurking in the back of your cabinet for the past decade. I switch up the protein, I typically use all ground turkey these days.

Spice Mixture
8 Tbsp chili powder
5 tsp Coriander
5 tsp Cumin
3 tsp Granulated Garlic
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp cayenne

To Make Chili:

Pick through and wash 2 pounds of dried beans (use what ever kind you like, kidney beans have the most fiber). Soak in cold water overnight, drain.

Chop (large dice) 1 large onion and add to 7 quart crock pot.

Brown 1 pound of cubed round steak in saute pan. Add to crock pot. To same pan brown 2 pounds ground beef (or turkey). sprinkle with 1/2 of spice mixture and mix in well. Add 1 small can of tomato paste. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add mixture to crock pot. Add soaked beans. Add 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Add 1 diced fresh hot pepper (or more depending on amount of "heat" desired). Sprinkle with remaining spice mixture. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

You can substitute 4 15 ounce cans of beans for dried beans.

Turkey Marsala

I haven't added anything in a while so I thought I would plug in tonight's dinner. I got home late from work and wanted to get dinner ready in about 30 minutes (not that I'm competing with Rachel Ray).

Season 3/4 cup flour with several grinds of black pepper, 2 tsp. granulated garlic, 1 tsp thyme, and 1/2 Cayenne pepper.

Lightly pound out 1 pound of turkey breast cutlets and dredge in the seasoned flour.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil & 1 tbsp butter in 10" saute pan. Saute cutlets 2 minutes on each side (do this in 2 batches). Remove to plate lined with paper towel, keep warm in oven.

Drain excess oil. Add 1 large minced shallot and 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms. Saute on high for about 5 minutes. Season with pepper, thyme, and granulated garlic. Add 3/4 cup Marsala wine. Bring to boil and reduce by 1/2. Add 1 cup beef stock, bring to boil. Add turkey back to pan and baste with sauce. (sauce will still be loose at this point) Simmer for at least 5 minutes. Just before serving reduce heat to low and add 1 tbsp of butter (cut into pieces) and swirl into sauce. Do not boil sauce as the butter will break.

Serve over rice or noodles (we had it with Kashi tonight) and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

The sauce for this dish is thickened by reduction, the flour from the sauteed turkey, and lastly the final liaison of the butter. This dish also works well with chicken or veal.