Lentil, Sausage, Potato, and Greens Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. As soon as the cold weather sets in, I make this at least twice a month.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, casing removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 leeks, chopped. You can use a regular onion if you don’t have leeks.
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes (or 5/6 small, 2 large), diced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over for rocks
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups chopped greens. I used tatsoi here, but often use kale or spinach.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown the sausage in a large pot. I prefer my enamel Dutch oven, but a stock pot works, too. Break it up as you brown it.
  2. Add in the onions and carrots. Let them sweat/get soft without burning. If you are adding other aromatics like parsnips or celery, now is the time to add those, too.
  3. Add in the potatoes and let them get a little soft, too.
  4. Add in the chicken broth. If you make strong homemade broth like I do, adding one quart of broth and one quart of water is okay, too.
  5. Add in the lentils and thyme and bring everything to a boil.
  6. Cover and turn the heat down to low.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add in the chopped greens.
  9. Simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. I usually add a healthy amount of both.

If at any point it looks like it is getting thicker than you like, add more water. If it is too soupy for you, cook it longer.

I regularly improvise on the ingredient list here. The only constants are sausage and lentils. Sometimes I leave out the potatoes. Sometimes I add parsley or parsnips or both. Sometimes celery or celeriac. Sometimes I use leeks instead of onions. Red lentils are my go-to, but I use whatever I have on-hand. Red, green, brown, yellow, black all work, but some types cook faster than others. Greens other than kale work, too. I use whatever I have on-hand: Spinach, bok choy, tatsoi, etc. In fact, in these photos I used tatsoi.

To spice it up, I love adding a teaspoon of harissa powder to my bowl. The coriander and red chili powder give it a great flavor.

A Non-Boiled St. Patrick’s Dinner

I love St. Patrick’s Day food, but I’m sick of the traditional boiled dinner. The vegetables are so bland and the corned beef is tough. The whole thing is mediocre, which is sad, because the individual ingredients are so good.

I decided to rethink St. Patrick’s Dinner this year to make something with all the traditional ingredients, done better. Here is what I came up with:

Sous vide corned beef

I usually brine my own corned beef, but I came down with the flu this year and didn’t have time. Yonkers has a huge Irish population, so I didn’t have any trouble finding good corned beef around here to cook. Instead of boiling it to oblivion, I opted to drop the temperature, lengthen the cook time, and preserve its juices by cooking it for 10 hours at 180F in a sous vide bath. I added some extra pickling spice to the bag before sealing. I let it cool for a little bit before slicing it, then served it with some of its juice.

If you don’t have a sous vide, try using a covered dutch oven in a 200F oven for 10 hours. Cover it with water and add some extra pickling spice.

Roasted cabbage with olive oil, lemon juice, and dill

I sliced the cabbage into 1-inch slices, then roasted them in the oven with olive oil for 40 minutes at 425F. I turned on the broiler for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops. When they came out, I seasoned them with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and dill.

Smashed potatoes with butter and parsley

I thought about doing mashed potatoes with garlic, but I wanted something crunchy instead. I boiled the potatoes whole for 15 minutes, cut them in half, smashed them on a baking sheet, then crisped them up with olive oil in the oven for 25 minutes at 425F. When they came out I put them in a bowl and tossed them with melted butter, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.

Roasted Carrots

I roasted the carrots. While roasted and boiled carrots have the same inside consistency, they are completely different on the outside: Roasting means carmelization. I roasted mine with olive oil on the same baking sheet as the cabbage. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper when they came out of the oven.

This was a great meal! A nice way to change up the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. I’ll probably make this again next year. I’m using the leftover potatoes and corned beef to make a breakfast hash tomorrow morning.

What I’m Doing With My CSA Shares: Week 22

This is the final week! We’re going to miss our fresh veggies over the winter. We signed up for a Winter CSA through Farm Bridge, so we won’t be totally out in the cold. They purchase fresh vegetables throughout the summer to package and freeze, then they deliver them to local pick-up spots once a month. We’ll pick up the first share in December.

What we got in our final Peace and Carrots 2017 share:

  • Potatoes – I combined these with some of the parsley from last week and made German Potato Salad.
  • Garlic – Added it to the pantry. I’m using the oldest ones first. I might take a few of these and plant them over the weekend. (They are the Rocambole variety).
  • Kale – This will likely go in some sort of kale and lentil soup.
  • Rutabaga – I used half of this, one celeriac, some turnips, some potatoes, and a fennel bulb in a root vegetable gratin.
  • Brussels Sprouts – I pulled these off the stalk and am going to roast them.
  • Celeriac – I used this, half of a rutabaga, some turnips, some potatoes, and a fennel bulb in a root vegetable gratin.
  • Fennel – I use one of the fennel bulbs in the aforementioned root vegetable gratin.

What I Did With My CSA Shares: Weeks 15-20

I’ve been a slacker and let six weeks of CSA posts stack up. For most of that time I was traveling either during the week, on the weekend, or both, so I just snapped photos and resolved to post about it later. After driving up to the Peace and Carrots Farm (our CSA provider) today for their Harvest Fest, I decided that I shouldn’t wait any longer.

Week 15

We used all of this except the potatoes in a giant salad that we took with us on road trip up to Maine. We tossed in some grilled chicken and were on our way! When we came home a week later, we used the potatoes in a breakfast skillet.

Week 16

We missed week 16 because we were up in Maine on vacation. I’m sure the veggies were gorgeous as always!

Week 17

The day we got this share we had to drive to Ohio for a birthday party, so we took one of the Long Island Cheese Pumpkins, the shishitos, and the jalape√Īos to my parents.

The rest:

  • Celeriac – I peeled it, chopped it, and put it in a veggie soup a few weeks later.
  • Garlic – We put it in the pantry with our large garlic store for winter!
  • Bell peppers ūüĆ∂- We put these in a veggie soup and cut up some for a breakfast skillet a few weeks later.
  • Broccoli ūü•¶ – We tossed the florets with olive oil and roasted them at 400F for 15 minutes, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and pecorino cheese afterward.
  • Radishes – We sliced these up and put them on chorizo potato tacos ūüĆģ.
  • Long Island Cheese Pumpkin – We intended to roast this and save it for pies, scones, and bread, but it started to rot before we could get to it ūüėĒ

Week 18

The day we got this share we drove to Virginia for a wedding, so this stuff was promptly put in the fridge for use the following week.

  • Tatsoi – I chopped this up and added it to a veggie soup the following week.
  • Delicata Squash – Roasted and topped with brown butter and fried sage.
  • Brussels Sprouts – I roasted them at 400F for 20 minutes with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Peas – I chopped these up and added them to a big pot of veggie soup.
  • Spinach – We froze this to use later this year with creamed spinach or chickpea, spinach, and ginger stew.
  • Carrots – Chopped up and put in the veggie soup.
  • Garlic – We put it in the pantry with the rest to use this winter

Week 19

  • Cabbage – Chopped up and put in a large veggie soup.
  • Fennel – Chopped in half and simmered in the veggie soup broth before all the veggies were added. It is also pretty good braised in chicken broth and eaten as a side, or shaved and put in a salad.
  • Garlic – Saved in the pantry.
  • Hot Peppers ūüĆ∂ – Chopped up in tacos and breakfast skillets.
  • Spinach – We froze this to use later this year with creamed spinach or chickpea, spinach, and ginger stew.
  • Celeriac – We saved this and it will most likely get chopped up for a soup.
  • Yellow sweet peppers – We added three of these in a breakfast skillet and will probably freeze the other one with some other leftover peppers.
  • Brussels Sprouts – We are going to roast these in a little olive oil for 20 minutes at 400F and season with salt and pepper.
  • Kale – We have a bunch of greens, so we’ll probably make a big batch of greens saut√©ed with garlic and bacon.

Week 20

  • Delicata Squash – Roasted and topped with brown butter and fried sage. Or roasted and pur√©ed into a vegetable mash.
  • Jerusalem Artichokes – These are tricky. I’ve only had them once before and I didn’t like how I prepared them (as part of a veggie mash). I talked to the farmer today and she prefers to roast them whole, so that is what I’ll probably try this time.
  • Turnips – I like them roasted and I like them diced up in veggie soup. I’ll probably do half and half.
  • Radishes – We are making flank steak tomorrow, so I might slice these and add them to a guacamole or I might make some radish slaw.
  • Turnip Greens – See below.
  • Lacinato Kale – I’ll probably take a bunch of greens I have in the fridge and saute them with garlic and bacon. Maybe some peppers, too. Though I could take this kale and make a quick breakfast with it.
  • Jalape√Īos – I’ll probably add this to some guacamole and add them to other dishes to give some heat.
  • Spinach – I’ll probably make creamed spinach later this week.
  • Sweet Peppers – We’ll use some of these in a breakfast skillet, but then we’ll chop up the rest and freeze them for this winter.
  • Celeriac – We already have one of these in the fridge right now, so I’ll probably peel this one, dice it up, and freeze it for soup.

German Potato Salad

Now that it is starting to cool down in the northeast, I’ve been craving some warm comfort food. This German Potato Salad, served hot, fits the bill. It is a completely different animal than its cold, mayo-dressed cousin.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pounds of medium red potatoes
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of course German-style mustard
  • 1 small bunch of parsley (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the potatoes into small, bite-sized wedges. Cook them in a large saucepan, covered in salted water, until the water starts to boil. Then turn the heat down to about half and let them simmer for 10 more minutes. They should be easily pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, slice the bacon into half-inch pieces. I usually keep my bacon frozen, so I remove it from the packaging and use my chef’s knife to slice through it while it is still frozen and easier to handle. Heat up your favorite large cast iron skillet and cook the bacon until it is crispy. I usually start out at 3/4 power and then reduce it to 1/2 power once it starts to brown. Once crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside. Make sure to keep the bacon grease in the pan, though.
  3. Dice the yellow onion and cook it in the bacon grease over 1/2 power, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent. Don’t let it get brown.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the cup of water, cup of vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Carefully add it to the skillet with the onion once it is translucent. Turn the heat up to full power and get the concoction simmering. Stir regularly and let it reduce by half. This takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Once the sauce is reduced, add the potatoes and bacon back into the pan, along with the chopped parsley, and toss everything to evenly coat. I like to leave the heat on during this to warm the potatoes backup a little bit in case they’ve cooled.
  6. Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are warm, the dish is ready to serve. I like to set the entire cast iron skillet on a trivet on our dining room table and serve it from there.

If you don’t eat it all in one sitting (it is a lot!), it saves and reheats pretty well. We usually eat our leftovers within a few days because it is so delicious.

An Unexpectedly Good Side Dish (or, How I Learned About Beurre Meuniere)

It was around 6pm last Friday. The huge ribeye I picked up the weekend before had been in my sous vide for 3 hours. I was ready to start making my sides: Roasted potatoes and pan-fried brussels sprouts.

I just had one problem: I only had three small¬†potatoes and one small package of brussels sprouts. I had used the rest of both earlier in the week and¬†didn’t leave myself enough for another meal. I thought I had, but I was wrong.

I have almost nothing else in the fridge. Little in the pantry. We’ve already planned to go grocery shopping this weekend. If I hadn’t already cooked the steak, I would have ordered pizza or Chinese food. But the steak is already cooked, so now I’m stuck.

I started digging through the freezer and pantry to see what I had to work with:

  • 2 bags of frozen corn
  • 1 bag of frozen green beans
  • Quinoa
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 apples, 3 pears, and 2 bananas
  • Onions
  • Butter
  • 2 bags of frozen whole edamame

Sure, I could roast the edamame with some oil and spices, but that is more of an appetizer, not a side dish for this beautiful ribeye:

IMG_7809.JPG

After about 10 minutes of furiously searching, I found something that seemed to fit the bill: Potatoes, Green Beans, and Corn with Lemon-Brown Butter Dressing from The Kitchn.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. Would a mixture of¬†potatoes, beans, and corn actually be good? I decided to go with it, though, because I had no other options. I also didn’t really have enough¬†potatoes to make the full dish, so I decided to cook a cup of quinoa to toss in the mix. As you know, I rarely follow recipes.

corn_beans

When I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. The lemon-brown butter sauce changed the whole flavor of the dish. It was delicious. Both Amanda and I ate huge helpings at dinner and we gladly ate a bowl of it as a snack a few days later.

After one taste, I decided that I want that lemon-brown butter sauce at least once a week this summer. That lemon-brown butter sauce is going to regularly grace our dinner table. I now know that it is called beurre meuniere. Parsley, shallots, or garlic make nice additions to it. It would go well with asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, white fish, green beans, or even as a light pasta sauce.

I don’t forsee us needing¬†green beans, corn, and three¬†potatoes to swoop in and save the day¬†any time soon, but I’ll definitely make this again in the future. We’re definitely making that sauce again. Probably next week.

Prep Your Corned Beef Now for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish or that into parades, so I don’t go crazy about St. Patrick’s Day. To me it is a chance to overindulge in quality cured meat.¬†Some people get excited about green beer, others get excited about corned beef.

Just Say No to that grocery store corned beef. With a small amount of effort, you can do much better. Have you ever brined a chicken? Curing your own corned beef isn’t much different. I’ve made it twice and I’m always surprised at how easy it is.

Curing your own corned beef at home

I use Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for the pickling spice and his method for curing the corned beef. If you don’t have all of the spices needed for the pickling spice and need to go buy some anyway, Penzeys’ is a good alternative. Don’t go for that stuff in the grocery store. Head over to his site and follow his curing instructions. Then check back here for cooking instructions.

The process takes about five days, so you’ll need to plan ahead a little bit, get your ingredients now, and make some room in your fridge, but the result is more than worth the effort. I’m going to start curing mine about a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but if you need to make yours earlier, it should keep in the fridge. You’ll still want to remove it from the brine after five days, though.

Cooking the corned beef

How to cook the corned beef is where I depart from Ruhlman. Simmering it for a few hours produces okay results, but cooking it at a lower temperature for a longer period of time keeps it tender and succulent instead of dry and flaky.

The best way of doing this is vacuum sealing it in a bag and cooking it in a sous vide water bath for 10 hours at 180F.

If you don’t¬†have a sous vide circulator, the second best way of achieving this is with a slow cooker/crock pot. If yours doesn’t have a temperature setting, the “Keep Warm” setting will get you close to where you want to be, but you’ll also need to monitor it throughout the day with a thermometer and adjust the heat as necessary. You still want to aim for a cooking time of 10 hours.

Sides

You’ll notice above that I don’t cook potatoes, carrots, and cabbage with the corned beef. While boiling them all in one pot is simple, the trade-off is that each individual item isn’t as good as it could be. Since you are probably still craving potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for your St. Patrick’s Day meal, here is how I recommend cooking¬†them:

Leftovers?

If you have leftovers, make my Corned Beef Hash for breakfast on Saturday!

IMG_9662

Breakfast Skillets

Breakfast skillets are the “Weekend Special” here at the Grimmett Apartment. Simple and delicious.

Breakfast Skillet

  • 1/2 lb of bacon, chopped
  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the bacon and fry it in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove it from the skillet when it is crispy, but retain the grease. Put in the diced potatoes and start frying them in the bacon grease, still on medium high heat. Flip them over after 10 minutes, turn the heat down to medium, and add in the onion and hot pepper. Fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the bacon back in and sprinkle the paprika, salt, and pepper over the top. Turn the heat up to medium high again and cook for another 8 minutes to crisp everything up.

I like to eat this with soft soft-scrambled eggs, but it is great on its own, too. Wash it all down with a strong cup of black coffee.

Bacondiced potatoespeppers and onions

Variations include:

  • Sausage instead of bacon
  • Tossing in veggies you have left in the fridge that you don’t know what to do with
  • Leeks or green onions instead of regular onions
  • Adding kale
  • Adding cumin for an entirely different flavor

Breakfast Skillet

Corned Beef Hash

Corned beef hash is my favorite diner food. Some days though, you just want to hang out in the comfort of your apartment instead of trudging down to your local diner. You can probably make this brunch¬†staple better at home, anyway. Let’s get started.

Corned Beef Hash

  • 1.5 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 4-5 potatoes, depending on size
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lb cooked corned beef, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the bacon fat in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (you can sub olive oil if you don’t have any). Wash and cut the potatoes into a small dice and add to the skillet. Leaving the skin on is fine. Fry until the potatoes are fairly brown (~15 minutes), then mix¬†the diced onions, diced pepper, and chopped corned beef into the skillet. Season with the salt, paprika, and black pepper. Turn up to medium high heat and cook another 8-10 minutes, only flipping everything once with a spatula so that everything starts to get crispy.

Corned beef hash is best served with over-easy or slow-poached eggs, but is great by itself, too. Wash it down with some quality coffee and you are well on your way to a good day.

Most of the time I make this with leftover corned beef. I can’t think of a better way to use it.¬†I’m particular to curing my own corned beef, which is much easier than you think. If you want to try curing it yourself, Michael Ruhlman’s recipe is the one I recommend. If you are using a store-bought corned beef, mix up a batch of Ruhlman’s pickling spice (also at that URL) to cook it in. Better spices make a world of difference.

All the fancy home curing aside, I’ve also been known to cook up a batch of hash with half of a leftover sandwich from Carnegie Deli. Use what you have on hand. That’s the Cook Like Chuck way.

Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet