Tag Archives: meat

Middle Eastern Flatbread Pizza

Ok, hold your panties for this one folks (and sorry to all of my many friends who have a problem with the word “panties” – just pretend it didn’t happen).  This one is a middle east platter with flatbread for a plate.  You just eat away until you get to the table top and then lick it clean.  Kidding – use a plate, nasty.  But I do give you permission to lick the plate clean.  Fo sho.

This simple pizza is a riff off of the Lebanese treat, manaeesh, that’s like a pizza with ground meat and sumac.  If you haven’t tried ground sumac before, it’s certainly worth a go – it’s very slightly smoky and earthy, and can be used in lamb and beef dishes for absolute fabulousness.  Rather than marinara and sausage, you’ve got hummus and delicately spiced ground beef.  Mozzarella meets the melty craving and feta adds salty goodness.  Top it all off with cool, lemony tabouleh (which you can buy or make for yourself) and you are in business.  It’s ah-MAY-zing.  And oh so easy to prep for some random guests who decide to pop in.  Because you know those good friends of yours are total randoms.  It’s all good, though.  They always bring good booze, so certainly feed them for their generosity.

Recipe for

Middle Eastern Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sumac
pinch of allspice
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 c. of hummus
1/2 c. of tabouleh
2-3 tbs. of crumbled feta
1/2 c. of mozzarella cheese
2 large flatbreads (pita, naan or even 1 large piece of Afghan bread)

Begin by sauteeing the ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain and return pan to heat.  Mix in the salt, sumac, allspice, thyme and black pepper.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or use a pizza stone) and put your flatbread on top.  Spread the hummus on each of the flat breads and top with the ground beef.  Crumble the feta on top and sprinkle the mozzarella over that.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and let hang out for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle the tabouleh on top and cut into wedges.  Serve.

 

Kitchen Soundtrack

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

Much like my obsession with collecting bolognese recipes, I love love love a good roast chicken recipe.  I adore the way in which a little love, butter or olive oil, salt, pepper and aromatics transform the lowly chicken into something worth honoring.  Crisp, golden skin and tender meat come into their own with very little effort, and a homestyle supper is on the table for loved ones without a second thought.  Or if you love them EVEN more, you’ll just tuck in with them without even leaving the kitchen.  Best of all the leftovers make at least one more meal, if not a gorgeous chicken stock.

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Herbs © Photo by Angela Gunder

My husband saw me oogling over Jonathan Waxman’s pan roasted chicken cooked in a cast iron skillet and purchased me a Lodge Logic 15″ beauty from Amazon.  It’s heavy as hell (a two-hand job) but an amazing holder of temperature and big enough for a chicken and a mess of roasted veg to boot.  It needs a name.  Like Thor.  Or maybe the Kraken.  So whenever I take it out, I’m releasing the…haha…you get it.

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Herbs © Photo by Angela Gunder

For the butterflying portion, you can certainly have the butcher do it, but it’s easy work with a nice pair of kitchen scissors.  Simply cut out the back (and save for stock) and flatten the entire mess with a little pressure on the breast bone.  Prepping the chicken in this manner cuts the cooking time way down and allows more of the surface area to come into contact with the lemon and herbs.  The whole mess forms a delicious sauce for the incredibly moist chicken, all with no fuss at all.  So basically, yes, your prayers were answered and that homecooked meal you’ve been dreaming about is here.  Now.  Go make it.

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Herbs © Photo by Angela Gunder

Recipe for

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

Ingredients
1 whole chicken
2 lemons
1 bunch of rosemary
1 bunch of thyme
1 onion, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and black pepper
good olive oil
1 bunch of tarragon
1/2 c. of chicken broth
2 tbs. of butter

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Rinse the chicken well and pat dry.  Using the poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone to remove it.  Flip the chicken over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it.  Liberally season with coarse salt and black pepper and then rub with a bit of olive oil.  Place chicken skin side down in a cast iron skillet.  Surround the chicken with the onions and top with the rosemary and thyme.  Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice over the chicken.  Tuck lemons into the pan with the herbs and onions.  Drizzle with a little more oil and pop into the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the juices of the thigh meat run clear when pierced with a fork.

When the chicken is finished,  remove from the skillet to a platter and let rest.  Put the skillet on the stove and heat.  Add the chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  When the sauce thickens a bit, add the butter.  Strain the sauce and set aside.  If you feel diligent, you can also pick out some of the roasted onions.

Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with the sauce.

pappardelle

Pappardelle con Cinghiale

My time spent in Orvieto, Italy, much like the experience of many students studying abroad in college, was all about turning my preconceived notions on their proverbial heads.  I never imagined that following up on a random postcard in my mailbox for a summer “arts” program in the heart of Tuscany would lead to a series of revelations in terms of ingredients, cooking and collecting food memories.  Up until that point, Pizza Hut wasn’t a four letter word, ice cream and gelato could be considered one in the same, and a bottle of wine per person wasn’t considered a reasonable lunch.  But all of that was thrown out the window, and I was utterly spellbound by all of the tastes and sights and experiences surrounding me.  I discovered fava beans, pasta cooked in red wine, tomato-less bolognese, fresh porcini mushrooms and young white wines with ne’er an additive or preservative.  I ate gelato after every meal, and sometimes as my meal, choosing flavors that tasted riper than fresh fruit.  I learned that in Italy, I couldn’t leave the table before finishing the bottle of grappa or limoncello plonked there by the owner, much like a child forced to eat their vegetables before clearing off.  I even taught an Italian movie star to do the robot while simultaneously doing an impression of Julia Child.  I was officially living the life. Continue reading

Spicy Bucatini with Wild Boar Meatballs

Meatballs have been getting a lot of play lately.  From the incessant features on the Meatball Shop in NYC, to the meatball entrepreneur Joey on America’s Next Great Restaurant and his “Saucy Balls,” it’s as if ballmania has struck and there isn’t an end in site.  For me, though, meatballs have always played a part in my collective food memory.  Although I never got to know my Sicilian side of the family in person, their customs and traditions were passed down to me through my grandmother and mother.  Making a sauce, or gravy as it’s truly called, involved frying off scores of homemade meatballs, and I’d stand close by for the chance to snag a taste.  Apparently the tradition of searing all of the meatballs but one, and then cooking the last one through to give to someone you love came from my grandmother long before I learned it from my mother.  I like to think of my mom as a kid, indulging in the perfectly seasoned and seared meatball as the most loving of gifts in that it was rooted in tradition.  No kids of my own, I have been known to carry on the tradition with my husband – he himself grew up in a part-Sicilian household as well, and where my fam was doling out tastes of meatballs, his was doing the same thing with his mother’s expertly cooked chicken cutlets.  It’s only fitting that we’re together and I can carry on a legacy of culinary “sharing means caring” traditions.

For those in the know, the secret to a good meatball is a good crust on the outside and a tender, juicy center.  Although I’ll still sear off a meatball or two in a pan with olive oil, I’ve since converted to the baked meatball camp.  You still get the lovely outer crust and it’s a whole hell of a lot less messy since you don’t have to tend to these over a greasy stove top.  Because these babies were a part of my dinner party, the Feast of the Seven Boars, I used a combination of traditional ground beef and the less traditional but gloriously flavorful, wild boar.  If you can’t get your hands on any boar, feel free to substitute ground pork or veal.  Depending on how much time you have, you can simmer these the normal way on the stove in a lovely bath of San Marzano tomatoes OR you can take your sweet time and allow them to bubble away in a crock pot for a few hours OR you can be impatient and cook them in a pressure cooker for a mere 20 minutes.  Any way you cook them, you’ll be treated to a perfectly tender treat meant to be served atop a delicious mess of pasta – maybe some bucatini with a heavy dose of crushed red pepper.  Or you could just eat them straight away and skip the pasta.  It is tradition, you know.

Recipe for

Spicy Bucatini with Wild Boar Meatballs

Ingredients
3 lbs. of ground wild boar (or pork or veal)
1 lb. of ground beef
1/2 an onion, finely minced
6 cl. of garlic, finely chopped
1 c. of grated locatelli
1/2 c. of chopped parsley
1 c. of bread crumbs
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tbs. of crushed oregano

1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
3 large cans of whole san marzano tomatoes
1/2 c. of chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
salt to taste
handful of torn basil leaves
1 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of butter
1 lb. of bucatini, perciatelli or similar long pasta

Preheat oven to 450°.  In a large bowl or a standing mixer, blend the meat, onion, garlic, parsley, eggs, crumbs, salt, pepper and oregano until thoroughly mixed.  Wet hands and form 1/4 c. of the meat mixture into round balls.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

In a large pot, add the tomatoes and crush gently with a spoon.  Add the garlic, chicken stock and salt and stir.  Add the meatballs and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes – longer if you can stand it.  When the meatballs are just about finished, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Toss with a cup or two of the meatball sauce, olive oil and butter.  Toss the basil leaves in the hot pasta to wilt and top with some of the meatballs.  Serve with grated cheese and extra crushed red pepper.

Quick Caldo Verde

Like Italian Wedding Soup, Caldo Verde is a celebration of meat, greens and broth, with the star carb as tender, simmered potatoes.  This soup is as hearty as it is easy to make, and a great use of winter kale when in season, cheap and plentiful.  The soup, Portuguese in origin, traditionally uses linguica for the sausage, but I’ve made this in a pinch with kielbasa, andouille, chorizo and even Bruce Aidell’s chicken sausage.  Regardless of what ingredients you employ, you can expect a warm, nourishing bowl of comfort that is both simple to prepare and good for you.

Recipe for

Quick Caldo Verde

Ingredients
3 qts. of chicken stock
6 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 lb. of mild sausage, removed from casings
1 bunch of fresh kale, ribs removed and chopped
1 tsp. of black pepper

Bring quarts of chicken stock to a boil.  Toss the potatoes, garlic and kale into the pot.  In a sauté pan, brown the sausage until crumbly and no longer pink. Drain the grease from the sausage and add the meat to the soup. Simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the stock pot until the potatoes are loosely mashed. Serve.

Savory Meat Pie

From empanadas to pasties to pastel, the world loves a good meat pie.  This version, though similar in construction to the French Canadian tourtiere, is all its own – a hearty blend of meat, vegetables and spices that produce a pie that looks gourmet.  And yet, it only takes a few minutes of actual work – the meat becomes meltingly tender from simmering in milk and wine for a little under an hour, which you can leave bubbling away while you take care of other things.  Not a bad deal at all.

I use all beef in this version, but the pie holds up to absolutely any type of protein or game.  Pork works exceedingly well, as does bison or buffalo.  Venison, too.  You can even make a blend of what you’ve got on hand – ground turkey would be exceedingly happy in this pie when combined with beef or pork.  When you seal up the pie, you brush it with a simple egg wash to elevate store-bought pie crust to photo-worthy culinary majesty.  Truly, it’s a couple of little tricks that make this pie something worth keeping on hand for a rainy day.  Comfort food at its best :)

Recipe for

Savory Meat Pie

Ingredients
2 lbs. of ground beef
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme

1 tbs. of worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. of ketchup
1/4 tsp. of allspice
1/8 tsp. of cloves
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of dried sage

2 c. of milk
1/2 c. of dry white wine

1 c. of bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 tbs. of milk or cream
2 pie crusts (can be store bought)

In a dutch oven, brown the beef (or ground meat of your choosing).  When it’s no longer pink, add the onion, celery and garlic and stir.  Add the bay leaf and thyme and let cook until the vegetables start to release liquid, which should take about a minute.  Add the worcestershire sauce, ketchup, allspice, cloves, salt, white pepper, black pepper and sage and stir.  Pour in the milk and white wine and let simmer away on medium heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 45-60 minutes.

Take the meat off the heat and let cool slightly.  Stir in the cup of breadcrumbs and let sit while you prepare the pie crust.

In a 9 inch round cake pan that’s at least 3 inches high (this is a deep crust pie) and grease with cooking spray.  Press one of the crusts on the bottom and sides of the pan.  Tear a slight bit of crust off the second pie crust and press into the pan so that there is more dough to cover the entire pie pan.  If you have slight tears, mend them by easing the dough together to repair.  Take your meat mixture and stir in two of the eggs.  Pour the meat into the pie crust.  Top with the second pie crust and crimp the edges.  In a small bowl, beat together the remaining egg with the milk or cream.  Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash.

Bake in a 375° for 25 minutes or until the top is gloriously golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

porcupine2

Porcupine Meatballs (Italian Beef Meatballs with Rice)

Nope, no bits of real porcupine in this one.  Just a good ole-fashioned Italian meatball recipe with the inclusion of rice – imagine the filling for stuffed peppers as a standalone dish.  That’s the goodness that is this porcupine free recipe.

This one holds a very special place in my heart as it is, on record, my first memory of ever cooking anything by myself.  As a means of breaking me into the long line of great female cooks in our family, my grandmother and mother purchased me a cookbook for kids when I was 9 or 10.  I remember pouring through the pages, wanting to be a part of the group of kids in the test kitchen pictured creating and devouring the many recipes.  I particularly like the cooked dishes – the idea that I could be responsible for more than a PBJ cut with a cookie-cutter was exhilarating.  One of the recipes, called “Porcupine Meatballs” was particularly interesting to me and seemingly edible for the family, so my mom said that it’d be a good one to start with. Continue reading

Ginger Lemon Chicken © Spice or Die

Grilled Ginger Lemon Chicken

If you haven’t heard me say this enough, I love my Vo.  She’s such a light and inspires me on a daily basis to laugh at the world and revel in every second.  And on top of her being one of the kindest, most generous souls that I’ve ever met, she cooks like an absolute dream.  Tell me if it gets any better than that, because I couldn’t see how it could.

This recipe is of her invention, and I have to say that when I first heard the ingredients, I couldn’t imagine the taste profile that was ginger and lemon.  Ginger and lime, sure, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the lemon.  Well, upon tasting this chicken for the first time, I was schooled in the greatest of ways.  It was a revelation – bright, spicy, sweet and savory all at once, it immediately became my new favorite way to treat chicken.

Since then, I’ve served this chicken grilled, baked and pan seared.  Works perfectly with each preparation.  When I serve this to friends, I have to make inordinate amounts because it is consumed with such vigor, I run out like it’s nothing.  I’m not surprised, though.  Vo has always been an expert, and has yet to steer me wrong.  All I can say is that when you enjoy this chicken, make it for those in your family (immediate and extended) that inspire you on a daily basis and need a bit of a thank you in culinary form.

Recipe for

Grilled Ginger Lemon Chicken

Ingredients
1 whole chicken, cut up
juice of 2-3 lemons
2 cl. of garlic
4 in. of ginger root, peeled and minced
4 tbs. of olive oil
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
3/4 tsp. of salt

In a food processor, blend all ingredients except for chicken until a smooth paste.  If you don’t have a food processor, chop ginger and garlic finely and whisk with with other ingredients (except for chicken) until a smooth sauce.  Add chicken to a large bowl and pour marinade over chicken.  Let rest for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Heat a grill or grill pan to smoking hot.  Turn down heat to medium low and place chicken on grill, skin-side down.  Cook for 15 minutes until skin is browned and crisped up.  Flip chicken and cook for another 17 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.  Let rest for 5 minutes to redistribute juices and then serve.

Lemon Chicken Shish Kebab

I really love making shish kebab – it’s always praised effusively when made for friends and that pay off comes with very little work.  Buy a bunch of veggies and a little meat, let them hang in some herbs and spices, thread on skewers, grill or broil and call it a day.  This marinade could not be any easier, and best of all, is made with such common pantry staples, you don’t have to do any special shopping ahead of time to get this one on the table.

The best part is that you can absolutely do what you like when making this – if you prefer red meat to chicken, substitute cubes of beef tenderloin or tender lamb.   Like seafood better?  Try this recipe with cubes of swordfish threaded on skewers, separated by bay leaves instead of the vegetables.  It makes a hearty, savory alternative to the traditional red meat or chicken.  And of course, you can bypass the meat altogether and just go with the veggies alone.  Use whatever assortment of vegetables that look the best in the grocery, or are on hand in your fridge – eggplant and squash also make excellent additions.  It’s all good!

Serve these gems with a squeeze of lemon and a side of fluffy rice or pita.  No fuss, no muss and people will swoon for the fresh preparation and bright ingredients.  It’s such a winner, you’ve just gotta try it.

Recipe for

Lemon Chicken Shish Kebab

Ingredients
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cl. of garlic

whole mushrooms (white or crimini)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 onion
cherry tomatoes
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs. of olive oil
black pepper
1 tsp of salt

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes and place in a tupperware.  On a clean cutting board, loosely chop garlic and then sprinkle the kosher salt on top.  Using the blade of your knife, drag it across the garlic to mash it into the salt, forming a paste.  Add garlic paste to chicken, along with the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Stir well and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge and let rest on the counter while you prep the veggies.  Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel and place in a bowl.  Add your cherry tomatoes to the bowl.  Cut red and green pepper into 1 inch chunks and add to the mushrooms.  Next, cut onion into 1 inch chunks, making sure to keep the slices of onion together as best you can.  Set aside, separate from the mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes.  In the veggie bowl, add the lemon zest, olive oil, black pepper and salt.  Toss to combine flavors.

Get out some skewers – if you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water first to prevent them from burning.  Thread the chicken and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating between meat and veggies.  Place skewers on a tray to hang out while you continue to assemble the shish kebab.

Lightly grease a grill or a grill pan with canola oil or Pam for grilling and heat to smoking.  Turn heat down to medium and cook kebabs until veggies are charred and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes per side.  Serve.

Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs)

If good Sicilians love the joys of a meatball, then it’s no surprise that good cooking Sicilians know how to whip one up with class.  Consider me a fan, nay a fanatic, of the meatball.  So much so that I love them in all shapes and forms, from the Vietnamese variety as delicious Bo Vien in a steaming bowl of pho, to this recipe for piquant albondigas, Spanish meatballs flavored with paprika and cooked in a red pepper and sherry sauce.  For you red sauce fanatics out there, this one is a lovely change of pace.

Albondigas are often found as part of tapas, a collection of small plates of both hot and cold nibbles hailing from Spain.  These are served in sauce in a small clay dish with nary a bit of pasta or rice as accompaniment.  As such, you’ll probably want to get a good-quality, crusty loaf of bread to use to sop up this absolutely delicious sauce.  Throw in a dish of garlicky olives, manchego cheese, marinated mushrooms, and manchego cheese for a simple Spanish spread.  Or make a few other cooked tapas, like a Tortilla Española (a simple Egg and Potato omlette) or Pollo al Ajillo (chicken sauteed with garlic and sherry), and feast like a champion matador minus the unnecessary bull-slaying.  Olé!

The real trick to these guys, as with most meatballs, is to sear them very well before plunking them into your sauce of choice for slow-cooking.  Doing this allows the meatballs to keep their shape, seal in the juices, and allow them to become meltingly tender after cooking.  You want them dark brown before adding to the sauce to keep things awesome.  And for you, I want nothing less than awesome.

Recipe for

Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs)

Ingredients
1 lb. of ground pork
1 lb. of ground beef
3 cl. of garlic, minced
3 tbs. of chopped flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs. of fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
2 tsp. of salt
1/4 of a large onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. of bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. of worchestershire sauce
2 tbs. of olive oil

24 oz. jar of piquillo peppers, drained (can use roasted reds instead)
1 16.5 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of sherry
salt and pepper

1/2. c. of chicken broth
1/2 c. of dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Add pork, beef, garlic, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, onion and worchestershire sauce to a large bowl and mix well.  Mix in egg and bread crumbs and set aside.  Wash hands well and then wet them thoroughly.  Scoop out about 2-3 heaping tablespoons into your hand and roll into a ball.  Place on a plate and continue to roll meatballs.

To a food processor or blender, add the piquillo peppers, the tomatoes with juice,two tbs. of olive oil and the sherry.  Pulse until smooth.  Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly.  Pour mixture into a dutch oven and put over medium-low heat to simmer.

Heat the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet.  In batches, brown the meatballs on all sides, making sure to sear them well.  As they finish, add them to the piquillo pepper sauce.  When all meatballs are browned an the skillet is still hot, carefully add the white wine to the pan.  As the wine reduces, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken broth and continue to reduce by half.  Pour liquid into the pot with the piquillo sauce and meatballs.  Cover dutch oven and place into the oven.  Bake for 40 minutes, checking after a half an hour to make sure that the sauce hasn’t thickened too much.  If it looks as if there is no liquid left, add a 1/2 c. of water, recover and cook for the last 15 minutes.

To serve, remove albondigas to a dish and top with the piquillo pepper sauce.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.