Archived entries for entree

Boiled Dinner: Corned Beef and Cabbage!

In celebration of St. Patricks Day tomorrow, I’m pulling this post from the archives about my annual Irish meal of Corned Beef and cabbage.  I made it last night and it was delish!  Enjoy…

St. Patricks Day Grub, Corned Beef and Cabbage
Originally posted March 16, 2009

A mandatory Chicago statute requires each citizen to spend the weekend of St. Patrick’s day stinking drunk. We’re not ones to break any laws here, so true to form, this past Saturday was spent in all day drinking binge downing all manner of green beer and Irish whiskey. Sunday awoke with a bit of a headache and an inability to think straight. Luckily for us, the traditional St. Patty’s day meal of corned beef and cabbage is so easy to make, you don’t need to think much. The Irish have made sure their holiday meal is perfect for those cooks who have a beer magnate in their hand and no control over their right arm. You just throw everything in a pot and boil it together. Yums.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 1 4-5 lb corned beef brisket
  • 4-5 potatoes, cut into approx. 2-3″ pieces
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into approx. 2″ pieces
  • 1 cabbage
  • water

Place your corned beef in a large soup pot. Cover with water until completely submerged. Usually the corned beef you buy from the store comes with a seasonings packet, which you can just add in. If for some reason yours doesn’t, just add 4 or 5 bay leaves and peppercorns and a bit of coriander seed to the water.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, add the potatoes and carrots. Allow to cook for 20 more minutes.

Test potatoes. When slightly cooked but not completely soft, add cabbage. Just set cabbage on top so they are mostly sticking out of water. When we place the lid back on the pot, the cabbage will be steamed by the heat of the pot.

If you don’t have enough room in the pot for the cabbage, check your corned beef. If its done, you can take it out and set it aside and finish cooking the vegetables alone. Place the lid back on the pot and allow to cook for 15-20 more minutes or until the cabbage is steamed and the potatoes and carrots are cooked.


Too hung over to style the food. Doesn’t matter anyway because this isn’t stylish food, but good peasant grub.

Slice the corned beef and side with a dollop of mustard. Smear butter all over boiled vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve and eat. Meat and potatoes is the perfect meal for when you’re overhung. You can’t get more Irish then this!

How to Prepare Venison: Delicious and Easy Venison Fajitas

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the strong gamie taste of venison, until I tasted my brother-in-law’s recipe for venison fajitas.  Jason marinates the meat in lime juice for at least 4-8 hours and this helps not only tenderize the meat but also give an added kick to punch the flavor into the awesome realm!  I’m still working on cleaning out my freezer, so yesterday, when the thermometer toped 60 for the first time in 5 months, I thought of the frozen package of venison just waiting to be grilled.  Time to fire up the Smokey Joe!

Venison Fajitas

  • 1/2 – 1 lb venison meat, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 5-6 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapenos etc.

Marinate venison:  Mix dry spices together.  Rub spices into venison meat.  Place venison meat into a glass dish.  Add lime juice until the meat is just covered.  Cover with syran wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. The more you can marinate the better.  8 hours is great. Overnight is even better!

Prep Fajita toppings:  Slice peppers and cut onion into thin wedges.  Pour 1-2 tbs olive oil over vegetables and season with salt and pepper.   Mix vegetables with hands to disperse spices and coat with oil.

Grill it up! You can grill your toppings on a real grill or over your stove top.  If using a real grill, you’ll want to put some aluminum foil down over the grate to keep your veggies from slipping down in the firey bowls of hell.  The same goes for your venison, if its cut into too small of strips.  You can also grill your toppings using a cast iron pan on your stove top.  Just place pan on burner over high.  Let pan heat for a good 5-10 mintues before using to make sure its hot!  I strongly suggest opening a window, as it can get a bit smokey!  Grill toppings until the veggies are slightly charred and meat is cooked through.

Load ‘em up: Fajita time! Now all your toppings are prepped, get your condiments, side dishes and garnishes ready.  I like serving my fajitas with rice, beans and a selction of toppings like shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and salsa.  Don’t forget to heat up your tortillas!  Serve this stuff and eat it up.

Try this recipe and I think you’ll be amazed at how easy and delicious this venison can be!

Tender Meat For Tender Moments: Pork Tenderloin

Last winter, while grocery shopping, I found this pork tenderloin on super sale and it called out to me saying “Take me home!  I would make for the perfect candle lit romantic meal.”  (I never get freaked out by talking meat).  So I did, but I never got around to actually making it.  I’m still working on cleaning out my freezer and this pork tenderloin was at the top of this list.  After 12 months in the deep freeze, I finally hauled this little guy out and got to business.  Although, I’m sure it wasn’t as great as it would have been if I hadn’t neglected the poor thing for so long, but it did turn out very well and it was a very special meal full of special tender moments.

I’d never made a tenderloin before, so it was a bit of an adventure.  Although, I went maverick on it quite a bit, I based my recipe on this food network recipe with a few ingredient additions and substitutions. I used hard apple cider as the marinade and gravy base, since the apple flavor is such a traditional pork side-kick, although you can beer as the original food network recipe uses.


Tenderloin ready to be roasted

Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Cider Gravy

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 22 oz. bottle Hard Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 (3 1/2) pound boneless pork loin, tied
  • 1 Tbs butter, sliced into tsp slices
  • 1 large garlic clove sliced
  • sage leaves
  • 1-2 Tbs butter for roue
  • 1-2 Tbs flour for roue

Evening before or morning of meal, prepare your marinade: In a sauce pan, melt butter.  Saute onions and garlic in butter until nicely browned, about 5 minutes or so.  Stir in dried spices and allow to saute and toast for about 1 minute.  Add apple cider and mustard and bring to a boil.  Allow to cool.

Marinate your pork loin: Place your raw pork loin in a container.  Pour the prepared marinade over the pork and cover.  Refrigerate 8-24 hours.

Prepare your tenderloin for roasting: Remove loin for the marinade and set marinade aside.  Using a meat tenderizer or the flat side of a cooking handle of a random tool.  Hit the tenderloin a bit to make it flatten out a bit and to tenderize the meat.  Season the tenderloin on all sides with sea salt or kosher salt and pepper.  Place the butter and garlic slices along with some sage leaves, dried or fresh, along the center of the meat.

Truss your tenderloin:  Using string, tie your tenderloin up into a circular log.  I’ve never done this before, so I sort of just winged it.  I started wraping the string around one end, and then tied it off on the bottom of the log, or the opposite side of where the meat overlaps.  I tied a knot and then bring the sting forward, holding it in place.

Wrapping the string around the meat, I pulled the string behind where I was originally holding the string forward and pulled it around, securing the string in place.  I repeated this until I got to the end of the roast.

If you didn’t get that, which I can understand, check out this video demonstrating a slip knot method, skip to 54 seconds to see the process.  My garlic, butter and sage, did squeeze out a bit when tying up, but I just slipped as much of the filling under the string again as I could.

Brown Tenderloin: Using a skillet over medium-high heat, brown all sides of the tenderloin to prepare it for roasting.  This helps trap the juices inside the meat and keep your roast nice and juicy.

Roast Tenderloin: On a baking sheet, roast tenderloin at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads about 155-160.  Remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

Make Apple Cider Gravy: While the tenderloin roasts, prepare gravy.  Take half of your marinade and place in a sauce pan.  Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat.  Meanwhile, mix together your roue paste by forking together an equal amount of butter and flour until it forms a paste.  When sauce is boiling, add the roue paste and stir occasionally until your sauce thickens to a gravy.  You can start out with just 1 Tbs of roue paste and add the second if the sauce is not thickening quickly enough.

Get Ready For Romance: Slice your tenderloin.  Serve your tenderloin with mashed potatoes and a salad or vegetable side.  Spoon your apple cider gravy over the tenderloin and your potatoes.  Get plates on table, Barry White on the stereo, light the candles and step into something a little more comfortable! This meal is definitely going to spice up your life.  Have fun!

A Quick Fancy: Roasted Cornish Hens

When your dinner plate comes complete with a whole roasted bird just for your eating pleasure, you can’t help but feel like the Queen of England (or King, depending on gender and preference of course).


Roasted Cornish Hens with potato au jus pictured here with a side of braised leeks.

The best thing about Cornish Hens are their size: small.  Everyone loves personalized portions, and because they are so small, they cook faster then their larger bird-brained cousins.  Cooking your hens over a bed of potatoes and onions adds flavoring and makes for a quick and delicious side as the potatoes roast in the au jus.  If you only have an hour or two, but still want to host your guests to a sumptuous royal feast, this dinner is for you.  And you don’t have to sell the family jewels, because this meal can be made for two for under $15.00.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Potato Au Jus
prep time: 15-30 minutes.  cook time: 45-60 minutes

  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 2 limes
  • 1 large onion
  • 4-5 potatoes sliced
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

If frozen, defrost poultry overnight in refrigerator.  Optional:  defrost the hens in a brine solution overnight.

The day of: preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice your potatoes.  Since we’re roasting these, you want them to be thick enough to hold their shape.  You can see I’ve cut mine in the pictures above to be about 1/4″ thick.  In your roaster, mix the potatoes and onions with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil, 1/2 tsp thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Lay the potatoes and onions out evenly.  Set aside to prep the hens.

Rinse the defrosted hens in cool water and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.  Lightly salt and pepper the cavity.

Take your limes and remove a tsp of zest from each and set zest aside. Using a skewer or fork, puncture a few holes in the lime throughout.  Stuff lime into the cavity of the hen along with a few slices of onion.  Rub salt and pepper on the outside skin of your birds.

To finish the bird, you can truss the hens with string in traditional fashion.  However, I have a bunch of bamboo skewers left over from our wedding bar, so I’ve just been using these to skewer the birds together.  First I skewer the cavity shut.  Then above that, I skewer the left leg and then through the Pope’s Nose and then through the right drum stick.  Finally I pull the two wings above the bird and skewer them together as well.  Easy!  Finish the birds off with the lime zest sprinkled on the skin.

Set hens over the potatoes in your roaster.   Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes.  At 30-40 minutes, I like to brush on a bit of fruit jam or syrup to act as a quick glaze and give the hens a nice color.  Remove hens from oven when a meat thermometer inserted near the thigh reads about 150-160 degrees and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.

While your hens are roasting you can finish your dinner off with a quick side like the braised leeks pictured above or steamed broccoli.

This is easy and delicious.  Perfect for special occasions.  I made this for Ira’s birthday and we both ate like kings!

What? Pierogi Lasgana! That’s Right. You heard me.

I love pierogies! My favorite flavor of this Polish pasta pleasure is potato and cheese.  Yummerz!  Why not take these same ingredients and put it in another loved format?  Lasagna.  Yes, please.  Here’s our recipe.

Pierogi Lasagna with Kielbasa

  • 9-12 sheets of Lasagna noodle
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 c. mashed potatoes (made with salt and butter)
  • 1 large smoked kielbasa, sliced (…or not, if you’re vegetarian)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 red and/or green pepper (or substitute roasted vegetables like red pepper and zucchini as seen in the post photographs)
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 lb Swiss cheese


First layer of noodles and mashed potatoes.

1)  Make your mashed potatoes. You can use instant potatoes if you wish, but I always like freshly mashed: ~6 potatoes, boiled and mashed with at least 1/4 c. each butter and milk, salt and pepper.

2)  Boil Lasagna noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop your noodles in.  Cook until almost al dente but still firm.  (Noodles will cook more when lasagna bakes).  When done, drain water.  In a bowl, mix noodles with olive oil and salt.  Set aside.


Roasted vegetables with grilled onions layered with kielbasa.

3)  Grill vegetables.  Thickly slice onions and peppers.  In a saute pan or cast iron pan, grill vegetables until cooked and slightly charred.

4)  Make horseradish sauce.  Mix sour cream, horseradish, black pepper and salt.  Set aside.


5)  Assemble lasagna. In a greased 12″ x 9″ cake/casserole pan, layer 3-4 lasagna noodles on bottom.  Spread 1/3 of mashed potatoes over noodles.  Spread half of your grilled and/or roasted vegetables and half of your sliced kielbasa .  over mashed potatoes.  Top with 1/2 of your horseradish cream sacue.  Layer with 3-4 more lasagna noodles and repeat previous layer.  Top with with your final noodles, and the last of your potatoes.


6)  Bake Lasagna. Place lasagna to bake for 30 min. at 350.  After 30 min, remove from oven, top with your Swiss cheese, sliced or grated.  Replace in oven and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.

7)  Eat and enjoy.  This is the best part!  The best parts of a pierogi meal in one, easy-to-eat package.  Besides being a delicious dinner it also reheats to make a kickass lunch.  This meal will destroy people’s brains and tastebuds, all at the same time.  Two for the price of one!

Afternoon Delight: Seafood and Wine

To finish up our series profile on Isaacson and Stein, nothing would be better then to show a little party which sprung from a visit there. Last Friday, my friends Meena and Anki (in town from Paris) wanted to hang out, but I needed to do a bit of blog work. Well, we, at Forkable, love to multi-task, so why not hit two birds with one stone! I&S is such a fun place to visit, I brought them along with me and let them peruse the goods while I got a few photos.


Searing our scallops for a delishous afternoon treat.

After I was done, we walked around and picked out a few morsels to bring home to snack on. Of course, our eyes were bigger then our stomaches and we ended up leaving with a bag full of shrimp, scallops, mussels and ahi tuna steaks. OH DELISH! We weren’t complaining.

The wonderful thing about the seafood, is it can be prepared very easily in no time at all. We got the tuna in a soy-miso-vinegar marinade and set it aside in the fridge. Anki, quite diligently worked on de-viening the shrimp, while Meena prepared a garlic butter for the scallops. Meanwhile, I got the mussels steaming with white wine and butter. Once we were ready, we got two pans fired up on the stove, we seared the scallops-rubbed in garlic butter, and the tuna with a miso rub.


Shrimp a la flambe!

Once these were done, we quickly added some more garlic butter to the pan with the scallops, and did a quick saute with the shrimp. We added some lemon juice and a bit of rum (Anki wanted to start a fire!) and finished them off with a dramatic flambe. At this point, the mussels were done, we finished up the toast we had under the broiler, and we took our fest outside to nosh!


Anki makes sure Meena’s not running on empty. What a decadent spread!

What a luxurious afternoon! Only 20 minutes of cook time in the kitchen, $12 each for the supplies, and we were eating like kings. Yum. We had so much fun working together and our Garlic scallops, Tuna steaks, mussels in a white wine butter dipping sauce, and shrimpies a la flambe were c’est magnifique! . Can you get any more decadent?


Lets play the game “what would you pay for this plate at a restaurant”? More then $12. I think that’s a big yes!

Well we also had raddishes with salt and lime, fromage de gruyere (we’re putting on french airs to impress Anki), sun dried tomatoes and my homemade pickled green beans. We had a great time from start to finish, and in true french form, quite a bit of wine was drank throughout the process. Sorry the pics are a bit blurry. What can I say. Que sera sera. Oh wait that’s Spanish. Hmm. C’est la vie! There we go. Who said “Amurican’s” were ignornt.

Succulent Ceviche with Whitefish

Ceviche blew my mind the first time I heard of it. The idea of “cooking” with no heat seemed so exciting; that because of the delicate tissue in seafood and fish, when you soak it in a high acid solution, often lime juice, the acid will break down the cell walls and “cook” the meat.

I love the delicate succulence of sushi and sashimi, and this same quality, often lost or diluted when cooking, is so wonderfully preserved in ceviche. Each bite is a burst of subtle juiciness infused with the tartness of the citric marinade. Nothing can be more satisfying on a warm summer day then this fresh cool dish!

Because this dish is all about the delicacy of the meats, you want a fish which has a more subtle flavor. As awesome as this dish is, it can be made horrible with a strong fishy flavor. Gross gross gross! So stay with a whitefish and you won’t be sorry. Although, we are very frugal here, this is a dish which needs good quality fish. It can be made with some cheap farm raised tilapia, but I would suggest going to your local fish monger or grocer and asking for a good fillet cut. I’ve made this with wild stripped sea bass as well as the Peruvian Corvina sea bass for the Polynesian meal, and the better the meat, the more beautiful this dish becomes. So don’t skimp. That’s my advice.

The marinade needs to be high enough acid content in order to “cook” the fish. I tried making it with marinades higher in wine content then citrus juice or vinegar but the meat was a bit raw, even after soaking for 8 hours. SO my recipe sticks with the traditional technique of being mostly citrus juice with some additional flavors. Many recipes call for cutting the fillets up into small bite size chunks, which make the soaking time much less, but I like keeping the fillets larger because I feel as though the meat retains the fresh texture better. So with no further ado, on to the recipe.

Recipe: Whitefish Ceviche

Ingredients

    • 1-2 lb of fillets of whitefish
    • 10 limes
    • 1/2 c. white wine
    • 1/2 c. sweet vinegar (rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, etc)
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 tomato, diced
    • fresh fruit, diced
    • salt
    • pepper
    • optional: papaya seeds, black tea

Instructions

  1. Prep fillets: Take each fillet and cut in half or in thirds (for large pieces). If the fillets have differences in thickness, trim any thicker areas to create a uniform thickness. Place the fillets between parchment paper and gently pound to lightly tenderize the meat. Don’t beat it, just to slightly mush it a bit.

    Soak the fish in salt water:
    In a bowl of salt water, soak the bowl for 10 minutes or so. This will give the fish a quick brine and help infuse the salt into the meat.

    Tenderize the meat: Remove the fish from the salt water and lay out in glass dish. Lay each piece of fish out so they don’t overlap. Sprinkle fish with salt and freshly cut pepper. You can use smashed papaya seeds instead of pepper. Optional, you can also sprinkle the meat with dried black tea which helps give a nice subtle bitterness to the sweet taste of the fish. Cover the dish in syran and place in the fridge.

    Prep marinade: Squeeze limes for fresh lime juice. Mix juice with wine and vinegar. Set aside. Dice onions, tomatoes and any fresh fruit. I used papaya and mango. The fruit helps infuse a sweetness into the fish.

    Assemble ceviche: Remove dish of fish out of the refrigerator. Cover with 3/4 of the diced onion, tomatoes and fruit, reserving 1/4. Pour the marinade so it just covers the fish. Recover and chill.

    Flip fish: After 15 minutes, remove the dish from the fridge and flip the fish. Cover and chill. The fish will probably need to sit between 6-8 hours in the marinade to be fully prepared. Check back every couple hours to flip the fish, maybe two or three times.



    Plate the fish
    : When you check the fish, take a piece and slice into the center. You’ll want it to be white all the way through. If its still pink at the center, it needs a bit more time. When its done, remove the fish from the marinade. Cover with the remaining fresh onions tomatoes and chopped fruit.

    Serve, eat, yum!

Cooking time (duration): 30 (8 hours total)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet (other): Reduced fat

Meal type: breakfast

Culinary tradition: Persian

Recipe by on.
Microformatting by hRecipe.

How To Roast A Leg of Goat and Be Awesome!

Goat is a bit exotic. If you want to impress people. Exotic always works. So, roast a leg of goat and you’ll be awesome. Guaranteed. That’s a Forkable promise. You can also go off about how difficult it is to make goat and how its often tough, and then when people bite into the moist juicy meat this recipe will easily provide you, everyone’s brains will explode. Maybe that should be the title of this post: How To Make Everyone’s Brains Explode with Goat. Hmmm Anyway, onto the recipe.

If at any point during this recipe you ask Why? – here’s your answer.
_________________________________________________________

Roasted Leg of Goat

  • a 4-5 lb leg of goat, bone and all
  • seeds from a large mature papaya
  • 1-2 Tbs kosher salt
  • 2-3 large onions for roasting
  • -for the marinade-

  • 20 limes, juiced
  • 1 c. rum
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 2 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2-3 large beets
  • -for the dry rub

  • 2 Tbs dry ginger
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs coriander
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs sumac
  • chopped fresh mint
  • head of garlic
  • fresh ginger knuckle- 2″ or so.


  • 1) Go out and purchase a fresh leg of young goat from your butcher.

    The night before you serve:

    2) Trim the roast. The roast may be covered by a hard white surface tissue. If so, you’ll want to trim this off. I found this to be a bit difficult, but just do your best to remove as much as possible without hacking apart the roast. Put your fingers underneath the tissue and see if you can work it away from the flesh and cut it off that way. Trim off any extra fat deposits. Reserve for later.

    3) Rub smashed seeds and salt on the leg to prepare it for the marinade. Take your papaya and cut in half. Take the seeds from half the fruit and using the flat end your knife, smash them until you can see the white insides. Mix with a few tablespoons of salt and rub over your meat. Chill while you make your marinade.

    4) Assemble your marinade. Freshly squeeze your limes. Mix lime juice together with your rum, wine, olive oil and brown sugar. Place your leg roast in your roaster and pour the marinade over the leg. Wash and peel your beets, slice and place the slices in the marinade with a few slices on top of the roast.

    5) Cover the roaster with cellophane and chill overnight. Check your roast every few hours to flip over. You don’t need to get out of bed in the middle of the night. Relax. It’ll be ok, just don’t forget to flip it at least once or twice. Now, go have a drink. You need it.

    The Day You Serve:

    6) Figure out what time dinner is and schedule cooktime. Once you have dinner time scheduled, figure out the timing of your meat. It will take about 3 hours with the dry rub, 20 min. or so on the bbq and ~90 minutes in the oven. It will be fine to sit for up to an hour after removing from the oven and still be warm. You’ll want to get the dry rub on your meal about 5-6 hours before dinner time.

    7) Remove the leg from your marinade. Reserve about 4 c. of the marinade for later.

    8) Insert your lardoons. Wait, what are lardoons? Well, I can see you didn’t read my previous goat article. That’s okay. I forgive you. Lardoons are just a fancy way of referring to the fat we trimmed off earlier. Take your roast, and make a few deep incisions into the meat- an inch or so. Stuff these incisions with any trimmed fat as well as a garlic clove and a thin slice of fresh ginger each.

    9) Get your dry rub on. Mix your ingredients for the dry rub. Feel free to edit or substitute any of the seasonings on my dry rub. Its not that important, just the salt, sugar and some spice. Take the seeds from the second half of the papaya and smash them the same way you did above. Mix the seeds in with the dry ingredients. They will bind the spices together into a paste. Smear that stuff all over the meat. This is always my favorite part!! Wrap it up in cellophone and chill in the fridge.

    10) Heat up the grill. 30-45 minutes before you’re ready to start this roast off, get your grill fired up. Figure out your timing based on your grill. We have a very small smokey joe which takes forever! But you may have a fancy stainless BBQ with burners, sinks and an attached swiveling lazy boy. If so, recline back and press the fire button on your remote control.

    11) Preheat Oven. While you’re messing with the grill, have the ol’ ball and chain preheat the oven to 325. If you don’t have an ol’ ball and chain, do it yourself, dummy!

    12) Grill it! Once that fire is HOT: get that roast on there, face down first. We’re grilling it first to sear it, so only give each side about 10 minutes, more or less until the surface is blackened.

    13) Roast it! Have the roaster ready to go at the side of the grill. Fill the roaster with 2-3 large onions quartered to rest the roast on so the meat doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan while its in the oven. Once the meat is done on the BBQ, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and get that pup into the oven. Keep an eye on the thermometer. Once it gets to 130 degrees, probably after 90 minutes or so, remove from the oven.

    14) Let it rest! After it comes out of the oven, tent it by taking a sheet of aluminum foil and loosely folding it over the top of the leg roast. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. While it sits, you’ll notice it will go up to about 140 degrees, which is EXACTLY what we want. Nice- medium rare!

    15) Carve it. I wish I could give you better instructions on how to carve, but I can’t. I suck at this! I’m told the only way to learn is to practice, so I’ll just have to keep at it. Its sort of depressing to make such a beautiful food item and then hack it apart, but oh well. Here’s a guide to carving a leg of lamb which may help you. I wish you luck.

    Eat it sucka! This of course is always the easiest part. Hopefully you have some people to eat it with. Make sure you tell them how long and hard you worked on this thing. Well, I hope it wasn’t actually hard, but make them think it was. Its great when people drool all over you with compliments. Suck it up. You’ve earned it. You just made a goat! Ha!

    -PS- Don’t you dare throw that bone away! Stick it in your freezer to save for stock. There’s another long hard winter in front of you and you’ll need some broth. I guarantee it.

    Left Over Remix: Frozen Cheese Makes Fabulous Lasagna

    Yes, you can freeze cheese, as we talked about in the last post. Moving on. What did I do with the left over cheese from our wedding? Well, since, frozen cheese should be melted, a big batch of lasagna.

    Lasagna is a quintessential comfort food which is always a crowd pleaser. If you’ve ever eaten one, you can probably make it. The basic recipe is a simple layering technique using noodles, sauce and cheese. A large pan can as easily be made as a small one, so making it in bulk to supply a weeks worth of lunches can save you time and money.

    I often take liberties with my recipe substituting anything and everything from tortillas instead of noodles and bbq sauce instead of a marinara. However, to use up my frozen left over provolone cheese along with a jar of last fall’s roasted marinara I have left in the pantry, I decided to make the “classic” version of this recipe, which is usually comprised of layers of lasagna noodles, a meaty tomato sauce, layers of melty cheese and a cottage cheese/ricotta layer mixed with egg which acts as the glue which holds the dish together.

    Before you learn to run you learn to walk, so lets walk through this classic recipe so later we can adulterate it all we want!

    Classic Lasagna
    for 9″ x 12″ pan, makes 12 – 16 servings

    • 16 sheets of lasagna noodles
    • 1 quart of marinara
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 16 oz. container of cottage cheese
    • 2-3 large eggs
    • 1 Tbs Italian seasonings -or- 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and basil
    • 2 lbs of cheese (sliced or shredded)
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 375.

    Season ground beef with a sprinkle (1/4-1/2 tsp) of salt and pepper.

    Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.

    In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, Italian seasonings, and eggs. I also sometimes add Parmesan cheese into the mix if I have it around.

    Bring a large pot of water with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil to boil. Boil lasagna noodles until they are slightly soft on the surface but still hard at the center. They should be flexible enough to bend but not tear easily. You want them not fully cooked because they will finish cooking while the lasagna bakes.

    Drain boiled noodles. If you pour a small amount of olive oil on the noodles, this will help them from sticking together.

    Mix ground beef together with marinara.


    lasagna with slices of defrosted cheese.

    Assemble your lasagna: In a 9″ x 12″ pan, layer the bottom of the pan with 4 sheets of noodles. Then layer with 1/3 of marinara and meat sauce and then with 1/3 of cottage cheese and egg mixture. Top with slices or sprinkles of 1/4 of the cheese. Place 4 more sheets of noodles on top and continue layering until three layers are complete. Top with your final 4 sheets of noodles and top with the last amount of cheese.

    Place lasagna in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Place pan on a baking sheet while baking to collect any overflow if the lasagna bakes over. or until cheese is golden.

    Eat up!

    $10 Designer Meal: Stuffed Shells with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

    My chest freezer has become a despairing land of forgotten foods. I can never pass up a good sale. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any immediate need for it, into the freezer it goes. Once that door slams shut though, out of sight out of mind, like the skirt steak I got on super sale for $1.75 lb over a year ago (….OOPS!). It’s been hanging out for quite a while in my guilt complex next to the duck breast which I finally took care of at Easter. The steak seemed sad, missing its once feathered friend, so I decided to send it the same way and maybe they could meet somewhere in the hereafter.

    From its long stay in the frozen hinterlands, I was concerned about the meat being tough which can be a problem with fresh skirt steak. One neglected food deserves another, so a bottle of red wine which had turned to vinegar from months of sitting in windowsill would work for a marinade, and help tenderize the meat.


    Baked shells with apple chutney sauce.

    The Gorgonzola, left over from salad night would go well with the beef. In walking through my pantry, I pulled some large pasta shells which I could stuff and bake. For a filling, blue cheese is a bit strong on its own, so I would have to tone it down using a milder cottage cheese or ricotta. I just needed a sauce. A tomato sauce didn’t sound right, but when I passed some jars of apple chutney, I knew that was the ticket. All in all, I only had to run out for the ricotta which I found at the corner store (just as cheap as the cottage cheese!). Here’s how it came together.

    Apple Chutney Conchiglie with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

    • 16 large pasta shells
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 8 oz. Gorgonzola blue cheese
    • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 12 oz. ricotta cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 2-3 c. apple chutney
    • 1 lb. skirt steak
    • 1-2 cups red wine
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Marinate the steak in wine; chill for 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, boil pasta shells al dente in boiling water with olive oil.

    Mix 3/4 of the Gorgonzola with the tomatoes, thyme, ricotta cheese and eggs.

    Stuff each shell with filling and place in a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon apple chutney over shells. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

    15 minutes before shells are done, remove steak from marinade. Rub both sides with salt and pepper. Saute on a cast iron grill over high heat. (3-5 minutes). You can use a regular pan if you don’t have a grill. Flip to cook second side, and drizzle cooked side with the remaining blue cheese.

    Slice steak and serve over baked shells. I sided my dish with steamed broccoli. As a quick tip, I kept the water boiling from the pasta shells and placed the broccoli in a bamboo steamer over the boiling water while I was cooking the steak. After steaming for about 10 minutes, I drizzled with butter, salt and pepper.

    Arrrh, this was so good! (So good, I turned into a pirate for a second). I was super happy with how well the steak turned out, especially considering how long it sat in the freezer and how crappy the wine was. This meal cost about $10 in all, if you don’t include the ingredients for the homemade chutney. Now lets play my favorite game: “how much woud you pay for this plate at a fancy restaurant.”



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