Sunday, September 27, 2015

Creamy Penne Pasta with Sausage

This dish is a total sausage-fest, dudes.

Sorry, I just couldn't help saying that.  Those responsible have been sacked.  Anyhoo, this dish is just something I whipped up one night when I didn't have a lot on hand nor did I have anything planned.  It came about pretty dang great, for a quick dish, anyway, so I decided to add it to my repertoire.

Creamy Penne Pasta with Sausage

1 Lb Penne Pasta, Cooked Al Denté
12 Oz Smoked Sausage (or what have you)
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
6 Oz or so Crimini Mushrooms or Similar, Sliced
1 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Italian Dressing
1.5 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
4 Oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet.

We had some store-bought smoked sausage on hand, so that's what I used.

It ain't bad, but it ain't exactly ambrosia either.  Use what you like.  Some hot Italian sausage would be great.  Andouille?  C'est Bon!  Chorizo, Muy Bueno.  Shoot, buy some fresh sausage and smoke your own.  Whatever you do, just make sure it is something you and your guests like.

Slice sausage into quarter inch thick disks.

Sauté these in the oil for a couple minutes a side, just to wake 'em up a bit.

Remove from skillet and reserve.

Dice your onion.

Slice your mushrooms.

Add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and do the same.

Add the white wine and stir to break up any browned bits.  Simmer until the wine is reduced by a half.

Next up, the Italian dressing.

Use whatever kind you like.  This is one of them there secret ingredients.  Adds a little zing to the dish.

Add the heavy cream and reduce heat to low.

Let simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently.  During this time, add the Italian seasoning.

This isn't something I use a lot.  I generally prefer to make my own blends of herbs for whatever dish I'm making.  But someone once brought this seasoning to my house and left it, so I keep it on hand now and use it in times like these, when I'm being lazy, or just when I'm going for a 'general' Italian flavor without putting too much effort into it.

Return sausage to the sauce and warm through.  Add the Parmesan at the very end and stir.

Serve over the pasta with a little extra Parmesan on top.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mini Salisbury Steaks

Salisbury Steak has sort of had a bad rap over the years, most likely because most of us first encountered it in it fetid school cafeteria form, or else maybe as a frozen hockey puck of a steak in a Swanson TV dinner.  Things like this can tarnish an otherwise good reputation.  But truth be told, Salisbury Steak done right is a pleasure to be had.  Now, I know, we are using the term ‘steak’ here a little loosely—after all, this ain’t a prime, butcher-cut filet mignon, it’s ground beef, but seasoned and sauced correctly, this baby will satisfy. 

I first encountered a good—hell, I’ll even say great—Salisbury steak when my wife cooked one for me early in our marriage.  I remember when she mentioned that she was making Salisbury steak, I sort of cringed, thinking of those TV dinner ‘gems.’  But of course, her steak was wonderful, and opened me up to the possibility that things can be better than their lowest common denominator. 

I’ve never attempted to make Salisbury Steak—hers was so good that I’ll leave that dish to her, but here’s a different version that I half-stole and bastardized into my own that I present to you now:  Mini-Salisbury Steaks. 

The original recipe I started with made Salisbury Steak meatballs, but I decided that if I pressed ‘em flat into little disks (or ‘steaks,’ by cracky) then they might cook a little more evenly, and thus, the ‘mini’ Salisbury Steak was born.  I hope you’ll enjoy it:

Mini Salisbury Steaks

8 ounces egg noodles
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Gravy

2 cups beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Start some water boiling for the egg noodles.  Add the ground beef to a bowl and then add the breadcrumbs, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, egg yolks and salt/pepper, 

Mix thoroughly.  

Then take a palmful portion and pat out into a patty about two inches across.  

Place this on a tray or plate and continue making patties until all the meat mixture is used up.  

Melt butter in a skillet.  

Sauté the patties, a few at a time, 

until they are slightly seared and cooked through.  

Reserve patties and keep hot.  

Add addtional butter if necessary to skillet, then sauté your onions.  

Until they are soft and slightly browned.  

Add the rest of the ingredients from the 'gravy ingredients list' except for the cornstarch and parsley.  Simmer for a few minutes, then mix the cornstarch with an ounce or two of warm water, then pour this in the gravy to thicken.  

Serve the mini Salisbury steaks over the egg noodles with plenty of the flavorful gravy and some flakes of the minced parsley.  

Until next time, 


Sunday, August 23, 2015

North Woods Bean Soup

I found this soup in an old Cooking Light magazine and have been enjoying it lately.  It's light enough for summer, but hearty and warming enough for autumn and winter.  Now normally I don't go in for "lite" cooking, as you can tell from reading this blog, but this is one case where a relatively light recipe actually has some flavor.  So, I guess even the Eat'n Man can eat light once in a while.

Now, I don't know what is particularly 'North Woods' about North Woods Bean Soup, but I like the name.  It brings to mind many pleasant excursions I've made into the North Woods of Maine and New England, and there's something ever so pleasant when your food has you thinking pleasant thoughts before you've even tasted it.

The North Woods of Maine.  Inviting?  Yes!

North Woods Bean Soup

1 Cup Carrots, Cut into Quarter Inch Pieces
1 Cup Chopped Onion
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
7 Ounces Turkey Kielbasa, Halved and cut into 1/2-Inch Pieces
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Teaspoon Italian 2easoning
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
2 16 Oz Cans Great Northern beans
4 Oz Fresh Spinach Leaves

This dish uses Turkey Kielbasa as its protein.

You can replace it with a nice, hearty, smoked beef sausage, but the soup won't be as light.  I like it both ways, but the smoke flavor is definitely a plus.  And remember, you could smoke that turkey kielbasa yourself and keep it light but flavorful.

Dice your carrots,

And your onion and mince the garlic.  Add them all to a good sized stock pot.

Slice the kielbasa in half length-wise, then cut these into half inch pieces.

Add them to the pot.

Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes.

Add the Italian seasoning and black pepper.

Now, normally I don't go in for premixed seasonings, preferring instead to mix my own on the spot, but this dish is simple, and premixed seasonings were made for stuff like this.  They don't get used much in my kitchen, but this is one instance where they do.

Sauté this for a minute or two, then add your chicken stock.

Now, this is one place I departed from the Cooking Light Recipe.  They call for fat free, low sodium chicken broth.  Now, regular chicken broth is pretty low fat anyway, but I like the salt, and I'd end up adding it to the soup anyway, so I just get regular chicken stock.  One advantage of the salt free broth, though, is that you can control the amount of salt, so if you want to go that route, knockyaselfout!

Add the great northern beans.

What makes these beans northern?  I don't know.  Same as with the soup recipe (North Woods, remember?)  Maybe it's the great northern beans that make this soup northern?  In any case, they are lovely beans.

Let this simmer for 20 minutes for so, then remove two cupfuls, making sure to get plenty of the beans.  Process these two cups of soup in a food processor until a thick pasty liquid forms.  Add this back to the soup.  Stir until it is nice and thickened.  Add the spinach and cook just long enough for the spinach to wilt.

Serve immediately, maybe with some crusty bread or similar.

Until Next Time,

See you in the Woods...


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

For the past few years, August has been soup month here at An Eat'n Man.  Why?  Who knows?  Perhaps it's because come August, we're so hot here in Texas that a big honkin' Five-Dollar-Fill-Up of a meal just puts us off, and something light is in order.  Or perhaps it's that Augustus Caesar, founder of Rome and namesake for the month of August, was a big lover of soup.  (actually, I can't back that up with paperwork)  Maybe it just happened.  I got nothin.'  Perhaps, just as they say at the end of crappy 1950s Sci-Fi movies, there are some things man just was not meant to know.

Well, one thing I do know is that this Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup is light and tasty and perfect for a hot August night.  Give it a go.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, Diced
2-3 Stalks Fresh Lemongrass, Sliced Thin
3 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Tumeric
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
12 Cups (96 oz) Chicken Stock
1 Fresh Green Chile, Chopped, (or 1 can (4 oz) mild green chiles)
2 Tablespoons Thai Fish Sauce
2 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons (Plus More for Garnish) Fresh Cilantro, Chopped

Dice the onion,

Then the lemongrass.

Sauté both in the oil until they are soft and beginning to turn golden.

Add the crushed garlic cloves and simmer for another two minutes.  Add the cumin, tumeric and lime juice and simmer another minute.  Add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a good simmer.  Add the chiles.

Note, use a chopped fresh chile if you have it.  I didn't, so I fell back on my pantry goods and used some canned green chiles.

Add the fish sauce at this point as well.

Add the chicken breasts.

Note--astute readers of this blog may note that in the previous post I sort of ragged on the idea of boiling chicken.  Well, that hols true, except when you are making soup.  See, boiling the bird leeches flavor from it--when you're done you've got a bland bird and all the flavor is left in your boiling medium.  Of course if you are making soup, that's not an issue, because your boiling medium is staying with the bird.  Also, the way we are doing things here, not only is the chicken's flavor preserved in the boiling stock, but the flavors of all the things we are boiling the chicken with are sort of imbued into the chicken by reverse-osmosis or magic or whatnot.  It's a double barrel win-win for flavor, folks.  Oh, one thing more.  Make sure to use bone in, skin on chicken breasts.  Lots of flavor in dem bones and skin that you will extract.  You can discard the bones and skin later on.

Boil the whole concoction until the chicken is cooked and tender, 35 minutes or so.

Remove the chicken breasts.

Let cool slightly (or wear food prep gloves) and then shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Add the shredded chicken back to the soup, then chop the cilantro

and add it to the soup.

Finally add your coconut milk.  Simmer 10 minutes for, stirring frequently until the coconut milk is combined through and the soup has returned to a simmer.

Serve immediately with a little extra cilantro for those that wish it.

Until next time,