Wheeeeeee!

We here at Food Porn have been incredibly busy with lots of new things, but I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know that we have not forgotten about you! We have been cooking up a storm and taking lots of smutty pics, but we have not had ANY time to talk to you about it.

We miss you. We miss our conversations. We’ll tell you all about what we’ve been up to, including what we’ve been eating! But what with World Cup and Kevin starting a new job and trips to Tulsa to The Center of the Universe Festival – life is a blurry, ultra-happy fun time!

We’ll be back on track soon. Thanks for your patience! And we hope you’ve been shopping it up while the produce is on point, because before you know it, it’ll be fall and that’s when things start to change!

So, what have YOU been filling your bellies with lately? Hmm? We want to hear all about what lovely things you’ve been finding from your favorite local farmers!

And promise – next time we talk, we’ll be back to it being all about us, and of course, OUR favorite farmers!

Oh, and one more thing: with K and I’s super busy new schedule, I have learned the coolest trick for cooking eggs. This may be a no-brainer, and if it is, kudos to you, smarties. But – you can get perfectly cooked eggs in the oven.

Spray a muffin tin with no-stick spray, or grease with butter/Crisco.

Crack one egg each in to the divots (is that what they’re called?). Lightly salt and pepper, and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Viola! Perfectly done eggs ready to go on a wicked breakfast sandwich, or just to eat plain! They’re great to make ahead and microwave in the morning for a bright start to your day packed with protein and goodness. I make a rasher of bacon and a dozen eggs and I’ve got K’s breakfast sandwiches (I put them on buttermilk biscuits or english muffins) made for the week!

So, there’s your tip for speeding up your mornings. Oh – and please, please get farm-fresh eggs. You WILL taste the difference.

Food is love, y’all.

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It’s Mediterranean Night Y’all!

I am absolutely in love with food from the Mediterranean.  I don’t care if it comes from the European side, the North African side or the Middle Eastern side.  The herbs, the meats, and everything else they combine is just so wonderful.  Tonight D and I were craving something close to that, but also something that we could call our own.  We headed off to the grocery store to grab just a few things  we needed for the adventure.  After procuring some fresh mint, a couple of basil plants, garlic (you should ALWAYS have garlic on hand) and some couscous we were ready to go.  Couscous is a pasta that is found throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  You will find it in two different sizes: big and small.  The big version is commonly called “Israeli couscous” and the small version is simply called “couscous”.  For this dish I used the Israeli couscous.  I prefer it to the smaller style couscous, but then again I can go on kicks where I will only cook/eat the smaller style.

Getting back on track, what we made with our couscous is really the thing that made this a truly me and D dinner.  That’s right, we made PORK CHOPS with it!   We chose the one meat you will NEVER find in a North African or Middle Eastern restaurant and combined it with something that you always will.

So here is what you’re going to need to make this great dish, so yalla, habibi**:

2 quart (or larger) pot

large skillet

1 package (2 chops) of pork chops from Double R Farms

1 cup of Israeli couscous

1 1/4 cups of water

5 cloves of garlic

1 medium to large red bell pepper

4 teaspoons of butter

4 TBSP of bacon fat (You should ALWAYS have bacon fat in your refrigerator, always)

8 FRESH basil leaves (Check out this new local producer – Upward Harvest and grow your own!)

Leaves from 2 sprigs of mint

Kosher Salt

Black pepper

Dried dill

 

First you are going to dice your bell pepper.

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Then mince your garlic

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Now it is time to get your butter melting in your pot

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Once your butter is melted, add your diced bell pepper and let it cook for 2-3 minutes and THEN add your garlic.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then add your water.  While you are waiting for your water to boil, cut up your basil and mint

 

When cutting your basil you are going to use a knife cut called chiffonade (French meaning little ribbons).  Stack your basil leaves from largest to smallest.  Then tightly roll then up, be careful not to bruise them in the process.  Starting at the tip of your rolled basil, cut all the way down the leaves.

Congratulations – you just used a classic french knife cut.  I bet you are feeling pretty cool now, as you should.

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Since most mint in your grocery store is going to come in a little 1/4 oz package pick that one up.  Strip all the leaves off of it.  Normally I would have you cut it just like the basil, but not this time.  Just mince the mint fairly fine.

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By now the water should be boiling.  Add in this order; couscous, basil, mint.  Add a little  salt and a dash or two of dried dill.  Make sure to give it stir every 2-3 minutes for 8-10 minutes.  When the water comes back to a boil, reduce it down to a simmer.

When there is about 6 minutes left on your couscous break out your skillet and add your bacon grease.  While you are waiting on that to melt here is what you mix for the seasoning for you chops:

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This little bowl of wonder contains kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and dried dill.  Season your chops to your taste.  You can either pack on this season mix and give it a good crust or you can lightly sprinkle your meat with it to enhance the natural flavor.  I personally am in between the two.  Just enough season that the natural flavors aren’t over powered by the seasonings.

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When the bacon fat is melted, the skillet is ready lay these beauties in the pan.  I cooked them for about 3 minute per side – long enough to be nice and golden brown before I turned them, but not long enough to over cook them. *A note about “under-cooked” pork: One of the amazing things about buying meat from a producer you know and trust is that you can truly enjoy pork that hasn’t been cooked past recognition. We know what Patrice feeds her hogs and how she treats them, so they are perfectly safe to cook to medium rare temperature. One more reason to know where your food comes from – Patrice’s hogs live happy lives and are as healthy as can be. Just look at these guys!*

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 Your couscous should already be finished, now your pork chops are finished.  I know that your entire house smells AMAZING right now.  Go ahead and plate this wonderful looking and smelling meal and dig in.  You deserve it.  You worked hard and you learned a new knife cut.  I hope that you enjoy making this as much as I did, and I know that you’ll enjoy eating it as much as D and I did.

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There you go.  Why are you still looking at this?  Your food is getting cold habibi!  Yalla, yalla!

Cheers

Chef K

 

**Yalla and habibi are two words that are very common throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Yalla is most commonly used to mean “hurry up”, but also means “come on” or “let’s get going”.  Habibi literally translated from Arabic means “my beloved”, but is used to denote any less formal relationship (e.g. friend or darling)  So what do you know you learned a little French AND a little Arabic today.

Hot brats and the American dream …

Kevin and I can’t just do a thing. We just have to take it to the next level – put our personal spin on it, you know. Go big or go home.

This year, to celebrate America’s birthday we picked the most American of foods – the noble hot dog. But not just any hot dog – the bratwurst, and of course not just any bratwursts – Double R Farms bratwurst.

I cooked up a variation of bacon jam in advance (warning – this stuff is like the crack), and grabbed some fresh baked baguettes for our buns. No simple store-bought buns for these beauties, no way.

To prep the brats for searing, we boiled them in beer, with rough cut yellow onions and 5 cloves of garlic.

The brats are done when they are firm to the touch.

We grabbed our baguettes from Lee’s Sandwiches – they make their baguettes like Krispy Kreme makes their donuts – all the time. Like, they even have the “Hot Baguettes NOW” neon sign flashing. That place is magical, I tell you.

If you lack a grill, like we do, just warm that skillet up on high and put a nice sear on ’em – don’t be afraid of a little sizzle. You’ll lock in the juice and turn up the flavor.

Cut your baguettes in half long-wise, but not all the way through – you want them like a hot dog bun, get it?

Load those puppies up with whatever toppings you like, but may I recommend the always popular mustard, onion, sweet relish combo? I personally believe in adding grated cheese to my hot dogs. But then, my belief in adding cheese and bacon to anything is only slightly less strong than my belief in gravity.

Feeling kinda basic? Slap some mustard on there and call it good.
Top that sucker with bacon jam and you won’t EVEN know what to do. But remember to wait thirty minutes before swimming. Because grandma said.

Happy birthday, America!

Food is love, y’all.

We took a bunch of pictures, but we’re too busy getting ready to blow stuff up. We’ll load them up as soon as possible!

 

Bacon is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy…

Wise words from a wise man – Ben Franklin. Except he said it about beer. Dude. Maybe bacon back in the day sucked, or something. As it is, bacon is proof enough of a karmic balance to the universe for me. And whoever thought it up – well,  let’s just say I would hug them. A lot.

So, what could be better than bacon? Bacon jam.

You read that right. Sweet and salty – heavenly delight. I made up a batch for our fancy hot dog extravaganza for the 4th of July, but really, I can’t think of many things this wouldn’t be good on.

You will need:

1 and 1/2 lbs bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 C cider vinegar
1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 C honey
3/4 C very strongly brewed black coffee
1/2 tsp. ground mustard

Sautee bacon in a large skillet until browned.

Remove from skillet and drain all but 2-3 Tbsps of fat from skillet – reduce heat to medium.

Sautee onions and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent.

Add remaining ingredients and increase heat to medium high. Bring it all to a boil and while stirring boil hard for 2 minutes.

Return the browned bacon into the mixture, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. If it starts to look a little thick – add water, 1/4 C at a time until the mixture is thick and syrupy.

Remove from heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.

Transfer entire mixture to the bowl of your trusty food processor and pulse until kind of smooth-ish, in a jam/spread kind of way.

Serve warm to people you love.

Especially good on toast with a fried egg, and as a condiment on almost any sandwich.

Food is love, y’all.

Can you smell the freedom?…

We are getting ready to whip up some delicious, 4th of July-inspired awesomeness with our own, international twist.

Thanks to food provided by the lovely Patrice Whittle, owner of Double R Farms and raiser of the most delicious pigs in America and a mouth-watering suggestion from my brother Mitch Green, griller of all things, we are going to celebrate this great country the right way. By taking locally-grown, okie-proud ingredients and throwing it the melting pot with food traditions from all around the world – kinda like America, amiright?

So stay tuned for our AMERICAN EXTRAVAGANZA a la Team Green-Eaton. And bring your own damn beverages. We’re too busy drinking in the freedom.

At current tally – we are representing at least 4 culture’s culinary traditions in this one – and they day is young!

Food is love, y’all. And this is a damn fine place to be. Happy Birthday, America!

High pizza pie in the sky hopes…

This is the easiest pizza recipe in the damn world. Daunted by yeast? Worried about over-working the dough? Fear not. I’m here for you.

This does require a food processor. Seriously, best decision ever. I love mine so much. It’s nothing fancy – a straightforward Cuisinart, and it gets the job DONE.

Best part — You’re looking at about one hour from raw ingredients to done!

For the crust:

1 & 2/3 C AP Flour

1/4 C Corn Meal (Pssst: Shawnee Mills is local! Get it at Buy For Less!)

1/2 tsp salt

2 & 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 TBSP honey (LOCAL!)

2/3 C warm water, between 105-115 degrees

1 tsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp to coat dough while proofing.

1 gallon size ziploc bag

 

Dissolve yeast and honey in warm water – let sit about five minutes to bloom – it’ll be frothy.

While your yeast is blooming, combine flour and salt into bowl of food processor and pulse once to mix.

When yeast has bloomed, turn on processor and add water+yeast mixture and 1 tsp olive oil. Dough will come together quickly – continue mixing for about 30 seconds.

With oiled hands, remove dough ball from mixer and cover entire surface of ball with the oil on your hands – only about a tsp.

Place in ziploc and seal – keep in warm area to let rise, about 45 minutes minimum. Dough will continue to rise the longer you leave it out – you can retard the process by putting it in the fridge – it will keep for 2 days.

If you do put it in the fridge, you will want to let it return to room temp before you work with it – leave it out for about 20 minutes or so, or warm it up with your hands,  careful not to overwork the dough, this will make it tough.

Now, you are ready for the fun part! This recipe will make two very thin to medium pizzas or one pan pizza.

For thin crust – sprinkle corn meal or flour on a sheet of parchment paper and gently pull and press crust into the desired thinness – I use a rolling pin to get a cracker-thin crust, or just my hands to make it a little thicker. Be patient and go slow – this isn’t a race and dough can be fragile. But don’t be intimidated, if you develop a hole, patch it and move on. It doesn’t have to look perfect – most of mine aren’t even round!

preheat oven to 350

And now the toppings!

Throw on any damn thing you want on that pizza! The night that we did this, we scored some BEAUTIFUL fresh spinach from Dustin at 10 Acre Woods farm, and combined it with some local bacon pieces I had pre-cooked and fresh mushrooms with a sprinkling of mozzarella. It was heaven!

Use the parchment paper to transfer the pizza into the oven onto the pizza stone, or to the pizza pan and then into the oven. Easiest way to transport a floppy, soon-to-be crispy heaven pizza.

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Perfecto!

For a Chicago-style deep dish, line a 8 or 9″ cake pan with a little cornmeal and stuff all that gorgeous dough in there. Cover it with a smattering of sauce, load it with toppings and cheese and sauce again and bake it for about 20-25 minutes.

You’ll think twice about take out, next time. See? Easy as pie! (Maybe they were talking about pizza pie the whole time.)

Food is love, y’all.

 

“Easy as pie” is not said to make you feel inferior…

Pie crust. I used to only buy them pre-made from the grocery because I was so convinced of their difficulty. It was only when I purchased the Baked book by Matt Lewis that I realized that I might be psyching myself out. My lovely mother-in-law confirmed it when she said, “You just have to do it.” True story.

I had also just obtained a food processor from a neighbor, and that sealed the deal. I am now a pie-crust making fool!

And with a few choice words of advice that echo in my head whenever I am feeling daunted by a particular technique or recipe – “Devon, cooking is mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” I have a feeling my dad got that one from his mom. I love it.

So, let’s make some pie crust, shall we? Because after that, I am going to show you how to make buttermilk pie, so there’s your incentive.

Also – I am going to blow your mind a little, again: Crisco. Yup, I said the “c” word, again. I am ever so thankful to Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman and one hell of a cook, for cluing me into that dirty little secret. Using half shortening, half butter will result in the flakiest most perfect crust ever. I took the Baked boys recipe, tweaked it ever so slightly, and viola – the fear is banished.

For a single pie crust – you will need a food processor. (I will, however, walk you through another way sans processor at the bottom – my mother swears by it and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it.)

You will need:

1 1/4 C all purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt (if you are using salted butter, reduce this by half – eyeball it, it’ll be okay)

4 TBSP cold butter, cut into small-ish cubes (I rarely have unsalted laying around and haven’t had a disaster yet.)

4 TBSP cold Crisco, measured best you can with measuring spoons – no need to try cubes – way too annoying.

5 TBSP of ice cold water.

In the main bowl of the food processor – combine flour, salt and sugar.

Pulse for 20 seconds to thoroughly mix dry ingredients.

Slowly add the crisco and butter while the processor is on until the the mixture obtains the texture of a coarse meal. There will be a few pea-sized chunks of butter, but for the most part, it should be smooth and, well, coarse.

Like so:

This can also be achieved with your bare hands – you want to press the butter and flour together,  using the flour as a buffer between the butter and your fingers. Crust the chunks of butter and crisco until there are no more chunks, and then you have it above.

When you have achieved this result, pulse the meal at 39 second intervals while slowly adding the ice water. There is a magic moment when the dough goes from a powder to a ball, and it happens very quickly – STOP RIGHT THERE. You’ve just made pie crust!

Dump entire ball onto a well-floured surface, and with floured hands press into a flat disc. wrap in wax paper and put in a ziploc bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (You can leave it there for up to 24 hours, and freeze it for 6 months). This step is to ensure that the fats have a chance to firm up again after being worked with.

The only thing that you can really do to screw it up from here is to overwork your dough. Pie dough is not necessarily a delicate creature – but manhandle it as little as necessary when rolling it out.

When you’re ready, roll into a roughly circular shape and gently place in your pie plate with the edges overlapping. There are a variety of ways to make your crust edge pretty, but the simplest is to pinch between your thumb and forefinger to make a scalloped edge. Remember: this pie is so good, the only person that is going to care about what it looks like is YOU. You made it with love — and that’s what makes the difference.

You have now mastered pie crust! Pat yourself on the back, and realize that the expression “easy as pie” is really not a taunt.

My recipe is a bit of Martha Stewart, a bit of Baked and sheer experimentation.

I also recently remembered my mother’s super easy fool proof microwave version – In a microwave safe pie plate, liquify 8 TBSP of Crisco and butter. Quickly add your flour, salt and sugardirectly to the pan and mash into a crust shape with a fork. That’s it. But please, at least try the other method.  I firmly believe that when you master a thing, then you are allowed a cheat. But, I won’t judge you either way.

Quick shop local tip – if you are in Oklahoma, Shawnee Mills, Hiland Dairy and Braum’s Dairy are local. They are easily obtainable, and worth the extra $.60 – they are usually on sale at Buy For Less (my favorite grocery store here in the metro) anyway. Shop local – it’s good for your soul. That said, you should scour the Oklahoma Food Coop website now that you have your membership and order farm fresh dairy there! I appreciate that it takes a little more planning – baby steps.

Now, whatever are you going to put in your pie?

The question is really, how are you ever going to decide where to start? May I suggest one? How about buttermilk – it’s easy, simple, and you might just feel like you went to heaven with your first bite.

Check it out over here.

Why IS it called “Chess Pie”? …

I have sought the answer to that question ever since I discovered the pie, which I admit, was later in my life than most. Oklahoma is southern, most would claim, but this pie is the provenance and special claim of those living below the Mason-Dixon line.

Once I did discover it, I was hooked. I had to figure out how to make this extremely indulgent pie. With some trial and error — and getting over my fear of making pie crust, I have finally perfected it. Although I will say that Steven Kovash who owns Istvan Gallery claims to have a near-hundred year old recipe that will knock my socks off. If he ever shares, trust me — you’ll hear about it here.

First, I have heard many a theory on why this pie is called “chess pie”, as well as it’s origin. There is a camp that believes the word “chess” to be a bastardization of “cheese”through the game of telephone that is oral history. The theory I most like to believe is far simpler – “chess” being a southern drawl-y way to say “chest”, which is where you would keep this particular pie – the acid content prevents the need for refrigeration.

A pie chest looks like this (I want one so badly!)

pie-safe-01How cool is that? You can pick them up sometimes practically for a song, if you know a thing or two about restoring/refurbishing furniture.  I digress.

This pie is rich, sweet and really easy to make. I often wondered how it originated, as it calls for such luxurious ingredients, but then I read somewhere that it is basically a “poor woman’s substitute for cheesecake”, and that makes a little more sense. This pie is so good, it might bring tears of joy.

For the pie filling:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (way optional – I hate it and leave it out.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (again, optional – go easy)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter (I’ve been known to use salted with no catastrophic results.)

Place pie crust you made in the previous post in oven with collar to protect the edges for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove when golden brown and let sit for 10-15 minutes

In a small skillet melt butter over med-high heat until most of the surface bubbles are gone and butter is completely melted.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and eggs with a whisk or hand mixer until completely combined. Whisk in buttermilk and melted butter. Add nutmeg and cinnamon if desired.

Pour into pie crust and replace collar for crust edge.

Bake at 350-375 for 20-25 minutes, until the center is firm and not jiggly.

If desired, sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon, but it is just as good without, possibly better.

Let stand until cooled – slice and serve.

Food is love, y’all.

 

 

 

Meat and Potatoes, Food Porn style…

Never underestimate the value of a good, old-fashioned crock pot.  I know what a lot of you are thinking, “Chef Kevin YOU own a CROCK POT?”  The answer to that question is not only YES, but why the hell wouldn’t I? Remember, D and I are fairly busy people.  So instead of waiting around for three or so hours for a nice delicious pot roast with all those potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery to get finished, I’ll do a little prep work the night before and throw it all in the crock pot in the morning.  By the time we get home that evening, BAM dinner is ready.

Today, though, I’m gonna change the way you normally think of pot roast. Instead of using a typical beef chuck roast or the supermarket pre-packaged pot roast kit (for the record, I hate those damn things – truly god awful they are).  Today I am using a Boston Butt, a.k.a pork shoulder.  That’s right, the cut of pork that is most often used to make pulled pork or carnitas.  I’m making a pot roast out of it.

If you are one of those people who are all “I hate pot roast”, “Pot roast is always so dry”,  or my favorite “My mom used a crock pot for EVERYTHING” then I am possibly going to blow your mind and hopefully change it in the process.  Now – on to the food!

You are going to need the following:

1 medium to large skillet

1 Crock Pot.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to cook food. (We actually scored ours at Aldi Grocery store on sale, and we just love it. It does everything we want it to do with easy clean up.)

2 lbs Boston Butt cut of pork bone in — MUST be from Double R Farms.

7 small No.1 Russet potatoes — skin on

1 whole yellow onion

1# unpeeled carrots

4-5 celery stalks with ends trimmed off

12 oz Chicken stock or broth – making chicken stock is easy, we’ll cover that some time soon, but store bought is perfectly fine. We’ll walk you through it when we roast a whole chicken coming up later this month.

Spices that you should always have on hand:

Kosher/Sea salt to taste*

Fresh ground black pepper to taste*

Garlic powder to taste*

Cumin to taste*

Here is what all your veggies should look like prior to using.  Notice the tops of the carrots cut off and the base of the celery.

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The very first thing that you are going to want to do is to score (cut lines in the meat just below the surface – about 1/4″) your Boston Butt on both sides and SEASON IT on both sides.

The seasoning mixture is a very simple but also very great mix. With a good cut of meat, you really don’t need to be that heavy handed with spices. I use a combination of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic power, and cumin powder

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Forgetting to season your protein is one the most common and yet most easily correctable mistake that people make while cooking.  Even I forget to do this sometimes. Season both sides of the meat and you’re ready to rock.

 

I like Boston Butts and I cannot lie...

Scored and seasoned – ready to pan sear

 

The reason you score your meat is to get the seasoning into the meat and not just on the outside. Seems simple, but makes a big difference, mainly because of thickness and fat content.

You other muggles can't deny...

Put your skillet on a  medium-high to high heat and add 2 teaspoons of oil.  Allow the skillet (and the oil) to get hot — hot enough that water dropped in the skillet dances —  then add the meat.  You want it to get a good sear on both sides.  The color you want is a nice golden brown or as  dear friend of mine puts it, “You want it GBD, Golden brown, and delicious.”  In order to get the best sear cook it for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Searing it not only adds a nice color to it but it also locks in all the juices.  You want the juices. Trust me, oh yes, you want the juices.

You can cut your veggies any way you like.  This is how I prefer mine for this dish.

Carrots cut on at bias:

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Celery cut it straight across:

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Cut your onion in half from the root to the top and then slice it julienne**:

Onions in a pot.

This is what julienned onions look like, with explicit instructions at the bottom of the post.

 

And finally, the potatoes!

I cut mine into eighths.  It gives you pieces that won’t break down entirely while cooking and still gives you a good sized bite of potato.

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Now, chuck it all in your crock pot on low (and yes, “chuck” is a professional and technical term).  Add  your chicken stock.  Don’t worry if you only have chicken broth.  They are the exact same thing.  If you don’t have either then just use water, but you are going to want to up your salt slightly to taste.  Put the lid on your crock pot and away you go off to work.  Trust me: a crock pot on low will completely cook everything while you are at work.  Since there is a fair amount of prep that goes into this recipe I suggest that you do it the night before.  If you are doing this on a day off or on a weekend, do it at the start of your day.  This way you can do all of your day off/weekend errands and not have to worry about rushing to get dinner made.  You also don’t have to worry about it being over cooked.

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Now you’ve come home from a long day of work, or an exhausting Saturday of errands, kids soccer, Home Depoting/Lowesing (depending on your preference), garage saleing, or a trip to the Brooks Farm Market to see Patrice, Dustin, and all the other lovely people down there.

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You walk in the house with your arms full of some amazing, sustainably grown, local food from farmers who you know — who they are and where their farms are located, and you are greeted with the most wonderful smell.  The smell of a ready to eat pork pot roast and veggies.  You just stand there for a moment taking in all the beautiful smells, and then you dig in!

 

See? Pot roast isn’t boring.  It is wonderful, simple, and delicious.  It was a mainstay when I was growing up and I still love it to this day.  Give this recipe a shot and I bet you you’ll love it too.

Cheers!

Chef K

*As you can see by the picture I mixed the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin together in a small bowl.  I do this to make sure that I don’t get more of any one seasoning than another into the mix, which can happen if you apply each one seperately.

** To Julienne is a culinary knife cut in which you cut the item, usually vegetables, into long, thing strips.

 

 

So what do you get when you give…

Chef Kevin a lot of fresh local food and tell me to cook it and tell you all about it?  Well, I’ll tell you, you get some amazing food.   We were handed 1.5 pounds of Italian sausage and stalks of broccoli by two of our lovely farmer friends: Patrice Whittle who owns Double R Farms with her husband, Rory Whittle, and Dustin Green, who owns 10 Arce Woods along withRichard Vreeland.  They said to make something up and write about it,  so we did.  After some discussion between Devon and I, a plan was hatched and it turned out to be a delicious plan.

Considering the request that the recipe wasn’t very time consuming I started to think along the lines of a pasta dish.  Pastas have a fairly short cook time and you can get the entire dish done while you are waiting on the water to boil and the pasta to cook.  Another thing that I love about pasta is that it is a great vehicle for ingredients that are the star of the show.  For some people the combination of the sauce and pasta is the main attraction in a dish,  for me, the star is  what you combine WITH the pasta and the sauce.  Don’t get me wrong: the sauce is a VERY important supporting cast member, just like the pasta.  You could have the best Maine lobster, the finest foie gras in a dish garnished with the freshest winter black diamond truffles, but if your pasta and sauce combination do not complement the other items your dish won’t be good.  Also, pasta dishes are very filling and great source of “quick burn” carbohydrates.

So enough of the boring stuff full of the hows and whys that led us here – it’s time to get to the fun part, THE FOOD!  Here is the great part about this recipe: it only took about 45 minutes for everything.  If you are in a time crunch you can use some short cuts (I’ll note them along the way) which will cut it down even faster.

WARNING: I don’t measure the amounts of salt, pepper, oil or water when I cook.  I am a professional chef.  I am trained and I have over 20 years experience.  I season everything to my palette.  Taste everything as you cook and you’ll be fine.  If there is an amount listed before an item then use that amount unless you are adjusting for more people.  This recipe will feed two with some left over (hooray for leftovers!)

Here is what you’re going to need:

1.5 pounds/4 links of  mild Italian sausage (from Double R farms is REQUIRED)

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1 pound of spaghetti – we highly recommend Della Terra Pasta, made by our friend Chris Becker. You can pick it up from Deb Willis, who owns Windeater Acres while you’re picking up your pork and produce! You can also get it at Urban Agrarian, Olive & Co., and Whole Foods Market. You’ll be so glad you did, but in a pinch any old dry spaghetti will do. We were in a pinch.

1/2 of yellow or white onion diced (I prefer yellow)

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5 cloves of garlic, minced

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6 Roma tomatoes, or 6 small Hot house tomatoes, rough chopped

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Florets of 3 stalks of broccoli

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Vegetable oil

Kosher salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

6 quart pot

Large skillet

A sharp knife (or a cleaver if you’re me)

Now to the fun bit:

Fill a 6 quart pot 3/4  full with cold water and place over a medium-high heat.  I put mine on one of the back burners so I can keep an eye on it but still do everything else.   Add in the following order: 2 tsp of kosher salt and 2 TBSP of oil.  Put your skillet on medium-high heat and add about a 2 TBSP of oil and let the skillet heat up. Once the skillet is hot, put in your whole sausage links.

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Cook the sausage until both sides a brown and the sausage is slightly firm but NOT cooked all the way through – about 5 minutes.

Remove the sausages from the pan.  After the sausages have cooled enough for you to handle them – slice them to your desired thickness.  Since I’ve spent years working as a cook and a chef I always think in terms of what is going to make the best presentation,  I sliced mine like this:

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Leave all the fat that cooked out of the sausages and the oil in the pan – you’re gonna need it and it makes everything else taste soooooo good.  If there are small pieces of  sausage that stuck to the bottom on the skillet while you were browning –  don’t worry – that’s called “fond”, it will come up when you add your onions to pan.  Now you’re going to add your diced onions to your skillet:

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Cook your onions for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn translucent. That’s when you’ll add your sliced sausage:

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Right about now your water should be boiling for the pasta.  This is where you can really show off for the family or that special someone that you have in your life.  Add the spaghetti to the boiling water.  Remember that as it is cooking you are going to need to stir it so it doesn’t stick together or get over cooked.  There is nothing worse than over cooked pasta, except jarred, pre-minced garlic and I’ll go into that later.

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Now back to the sauce.  Remember: you didn’t want your sausages cooked all the way through.  You want them to finish cooking with everything else.  Let the onions and sausages cook for about 5 minutes and then add your rough chopped tomatoes.

Here is the first of the short cuts I promised:  if you are short on time you can use 4 cans of chopped tomatoes.  In order to get similar results you’ll need to drain the juice off of two of the cans.  If you have the full 45 minutes then use fresh tomatoes.  This time of year – use fresh tomatoes.  Right after you add the tomatoes add your minced garlic.  If you’re curious, the reason you add it now (instead of with the onions) is that overcooked garlic will make the whole dish taste bitter, and that is the absolute LAST thing that you want.

Speaking of garlic, here is another short cut – which you should only use if you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to press down on the garlic, say – an injured wrist. But they make a tool for that. I will also come to your house and press your garlic for you – I feel that strongly enough about it.

If you absolutely have to use pre-minced garlic, (and did I mention,  I HATE JARRED GARLIC?) use 5 teaspoons of it drained and rinsed.  The solution that it sits in will alter the taste of this dish if you just spoon it out of the jar. So, in short: don’t. But if you must, safety first.*

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So now you have you pasta cooking in the pot and your sausages, onion, tomatoes, and garlic all in the skillet.  This is where I added salt and pepper for the first time.  Don’t try to season your dish completely at this point.  As the tomatoes cook they release their juices and as those juices cook, they evaporate.  In the culinary world, this is called “reduction”.  Say it with me kids: RE-DUCT-ION.  Reducing the liquid in any dish causes the flavors to concentrate.  If you try to add all of your seasonings now then you are going to have a dish that going to have too much salt and pepper flavor which is going to overpower everything else.  When you add your salt and pepper, I suggest that you have a small bowl or jar for your salt and a pepper mill on hand. Fresh black pepper is a must for any cook – even the disposable mill, it does make a difference.  When I season I grab roughly 2 teaspoons of salt and “rain” it down over my dish.  This is to make sure that the salt is evenly distributed.

Now that you have the first round of seasoning, give it a few good stirs and then grab a spoon and give it a taste.  This will give you a gauge of how much more, if any, you need to season the sauce. A good cook is constantly tasting as he/she goes – it’s the only way to be sure the finished product is to your liking, and every palette is different.

Now grab your broccoli florets and dump them in the skillet.  You do not need to blanch (slightly precook by dropping into boiling water), the broccoli.  I rarely blanch my broccoli for a dish like this – the broccoli has enough time to cook and besides, I DON’T LIKE MUSHY BROCCOLI!

By now your pasta should be done.  Pull a couple of pieces out to taste.  If you can bite through it and there is only the slightest amount of  “crunch” then it is ready.  Turn off the heat and strain the water.  DO NOT RINSE IT IN COLD WATER.  Place your colander back in your pot and run hot water over the pasta while tossing it with tongs or the spoon you used to stir it.  This will help to keep it from sticking.  Let the water fill in the pot until it is full.  Leave the colander in the pot with the pasta.  You can also throw some butter or oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking together. Cook the sauce for 5-8 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  TASTE the liquid.  If it needs more salt or pepper then add it at this point.  Also if you have FRESH herbs like basil or thyme (pronounced “time”), now is the time to add it.  I always add fresh herbs at the end.  If you are using dried herbs, add those at the beginning.  They need to re-hydrate in the liquid in order to release their flavor.

The sauce is done, right?  Well, technically you are right, but – as soon as you turn the heat off, add 3 tablespoons of COLD salted butter.  NO MARGARINE IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR BUTTER!  Two things:  this is a French finishing technique called “monte au buerre”, which means: “finish with butter” (Impress your friends!). First, it adds a velvety texture to the sauce, and it is GLORIOUS, secondly, it slightly thickens the the sauce.

Now all you have to do is plate it.  I like to plate things  for D and I when I cook.  The reason I do it is because I have a vision of how I want it to be presented.  To answer your question now: Yes all Chefs are that controlling when it come to our food.  We always have a picture in our mind of how we want the dish to look at the end, even when we have only just decided on what we are going to make.  So with out any further ado, may I present to you, your dinner:

 

 

And there you have it folks Italian sausage and Broccoli over pasta.  I cannot recommend using any other Italian sausage other than the ones we picked up from Patrice from Double R Farms.  She can be found at the Farmers Market at S.W. 2nd and Klein (near the Old Farmer’s Market building) every Saturday morning.  Dustin or Richard from 10 Acre Woods are also there every Saturday morning, along with quite a few super cool local producers. Both of them sell their products through the Oklahoma Food Coop – and as I mentioned in a previous post, you cannot beat it for value and availability of local food.  It is becoming a lot easier to get locally grown food here in the 405, and it taste so much better than the mass produced, factory farmed crap that you find in supermarkets.  So, get out there and meet these amazing farmers and buy their stuff and cook with it.  If you need ideas or have questions about anything – email us at kevinlovesdevon@gmail.com or post it to the comments below.  We’ll be more than happy to help you out!

I have World Cup to watch so CHEERS!

Chef K

*FURTHER DISCLAIMER, (A few more words about pre-minced garlic): There is really never an excuse for not using fresh garlic. It is one of the most simple, incredible ingredients in the known universe – so versatile, so delicious. If you don’t know the wonders of fresh garlic, we really will come to your house, or at least call you on the phone to go over it with you. Because if you don’t know how to use it – you really need to re-consider cooking for yourself. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be comfortable asking – there are no stupid questions, including “why should I use fresh garlic?”, and that’s what we’re here for. To prevent tragedies like “jarlic” (jarred+garlic=garlic get it?) Got it?