Tag Archives: one pot wonder

Osso Bucco

For the holidays I usually like to splurge a little and do a premium piece of meat for my loved ones.  However, I find crown roasts or cuts of that nature pretty intimidating because what if you have everyone over, hungry and ready to sit down but the middle is still totally raw?  Braised meats are totally in my comfort zone because they can be made ahead to avert a crisis and they are really satisfying.  For a special occasion, like say Easter, my answer is osso bucco.  This Italian braised veal shank dish is a classic for a reason – the meat is unbelievably tender and luscious and then you get the benefit of having the bone you can scoop the marrow out of.  Now I know veal is sort of controversial but you know what is more so?  Rabbit – my mother served it once on Easter and I locked myself in my room thinking she was serving the Easter bunny for dinner!  The quality of the meat here is key.  I got mine at Harvey’s in Union Market which is excellent but any good butcher should carry osso bucco shanks.  Make sure to specify osso bucco otherwise you could get a whole shank which is basically the leg (I would call ahead a day in advance and ask them to set them aside for you).  Osso bucco should be cut about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick and ideally the butcher will tie them for you, if not I suggest doing that when you get home.

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Having them be tied helps keep them together during the cooking process but you will see once they have braised for several hours they literally fall off the bone.  And that bone!  If there are any marrow fans in your family they will be so excited to see this – make sure to serve a nice crusty bread on the side so people can slater it with the marrow.  Since it’s a long braised dish but I want it to be sort of springy I suggest adding what the Italians call a gremolata to the top.

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It’s essentially an herb topping made with lemon zest, garlic and parsley that adds a bright punch to the meat.  If you are having lots of folks over make this several days in advance, let it cool and then pop the whole thing, pan and all in the fridge and then reheat over low heat.  I cannot think of a simpler way to impress the family for a special occasion.

Osso Bucco (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a speacial occasion meal
Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a lid, microplane or rasp (optional), fine mesh strainer (optional), butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 veal osso bucco shanks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick) tied with butchers twine if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped very finely (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Salt and pepper the veal then dredge in the flour (i.e. dunk it in, get it covered in flour then shake off the excess).

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Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot add the veal and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for 5 minutes more and then remove the veal to a plate and set aside.

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Lower the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Splash in some of the wine to deglaze the pan (i.e. get up the nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan) then add in all the rest of the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes.

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Stir to combine.  Nestle the veal back into the pan – the liquid should come up about halfway up the shank, if not add more stock or wine.  Tie the herbs together with butchers twine and add to the pot or just toss them in separately.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven.

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Cook for 1 hour, then carefully, using tongs, flip the veal and cook for an additional hour.  After 2 hours the meat should be very tender and falling off of the bone.  Fish out the herbs and remove the veal to a plate.  If the shanks were tied, cut off the string.  If you are going rustic serve the shanks with the sauce as is, for a more elevated dish use a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables from the sauce (I served it on the side in a gravy boat with some poured over the top for presentation).

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The osso bucco can be served right away, stored in the fridge for several days and then reheated on the stove top or frozen for 3 months (make sure to freeze the shanks in the sauce).  If you would like to serve the osso bucco with gremolata on top, combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl then sprinkle on top.

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Osso Bucco

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a lid, microplane or rasp (optional), fine mesh strainer (optional), butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 veal osso bucco shanks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick) tied with butchers twine if you have it
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest from 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped very finely (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Salt and pepper the veal then dredge in the flour (i.e. dunk it in, get it covered in flour then shake off the excess).  Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  When hot add the veal and cook for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook for 5 minutes more and then remove the veal to a plate and set aside.  Lower the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions start to soften.  Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Splash in some of the wine to deglaze the pan (i.e. get up the nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan) then add in all the rest of the wine, the beef stock and the can of tomatoes.  Stir to combine.  Nestle the veal back into the pan – the liquid should come up about halfway up the shank, if not add more stock or wine.  Tie the herbs together with butchers twine and add to the pot or just toss them in separately.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the oven.  Cook for 1 hour, then carefully, using tongs, flip the veal and cook for an additional hour.  After 2 hours the meat should be very tender and falling off of the bone.  Fish out the herbs and remove the veal to a plate.  If the shanks were tied, cut off the string.  If you are going rustic serve the shanks with the sauce as is, for a more elevated dish use a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables from the sauce.  The osso bucco can be served right away, stored in the fridge for several days and then reheated on the stove top or frozen for 3 months (make sure to freeze the shanks in the sauce).  If you would like to serve the osso bucco with gremolata on top, combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl then sprinkle on top.

Patrick’s Irish Stew

Growing up in an Irish family in Boston, you pretty much take it for granted that everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  I didn’t realize until I left the nest that EVERYONE celebrates St. Patrick’s day.  And who could blame them?  The Irish are the friendliest people you will ever meet, love to drink, eat, dance and have a good time.  No wonder everyone wants to be Irish!  St. Patrick’s day is a terrific excuse to have a party or at the very least a nice tall Guinness.  However, I had to take my celebrations to a whole new level when I met my husband, Patrick.

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In Adare, Ireland

Every March 17th I make this incredible soda bread made with brown butter and rosemary and have plenty of Irish whiskey and beer on hand to share with our friends.  This year I thought my man should have his very own stew with all of his favorite things included.  Jameson, Guinness and coffee pretty much fuel Patrick so I added those to a hearty beef stew and came up with the perfect way to celebrate this year.  Sláinte!

Patrick’s Irish Stew (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my hubby
Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a cover, butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure all of the pieces of beef are around the same size, if not cut them until they are.  Sometimes I am lazy and buy the precut stuff (or it is on sale) but often they are all weirdly shaped.  It’s worth taking the time to cut them all the same so they cook at the same time.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes.  In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot add half of the beef cubes, making sure not to crowd them.  Let them cook about 5 minutes and don’t mess with them much or they won’t get brown.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and add the remaining beef cubes, repeating the 5 minutes then flip and 5 minutes more routine.  Add the second batch to the plate and toss in the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes and then add in the chopped onion, leek, carrots, garlic and butter.

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Leeks, onions and carrots = the Irish flag!

Salt and pepper everything.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the onion and leek have softened.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute until all the flour is absorbed.  Add the Jameson and let cook for 1 minute.  If you have butchers twine tie the herbs together and add, otherwise just toss them in.  Add the beef broth, Guinness and coffee and stir to combine.

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Bring to a simmer then cover and put it in the oven.  Cook for an hour and a half, stirring once.  At the very end fish out the herbs then stir in the frozen pearl onions and frozen peas and cook for a minute or two more either in the oven or on the stovetop until they are heated through. The stew can be served right away, kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for several months.

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Patrick's Irish Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
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Special Equipment:  large dutch oven with a cover, butchers twine (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds of beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of Guinness
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Salt and pepper the beef cubes.  In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot add half of the beef cubes, making sure not to crowd them.  Let them cook about 5 minutes and don’t mess with them much or they won’t get brown.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and then remove them to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and add the remaining beef cubes, repeating the 5 minutes then flip and 5 minutes more routine.  Add the second batch to the plate and toss in the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes and then add in the chopped onion, leek, carrots, garlic and butter.

Salt and pepper everything.  Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the onion and leek have softened.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another minute until all the flour is absorbed.  Add the Jameson and let cook for 1 minute.  If you have butchers twine tie the herbs together and add, otherwise just toss them in.  Add the beef broth, Guinness and coffee and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer then cover and put it in the oven.  Cook for an hour and a half, stirring once.  At the very end fish out the herbs then stir in the frozen pearl onions and frozen peas and cook for a minute or two more either in the oven or on the stovetop until they are heated through.  The stew can be served right away, kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for several months.

Chicken Marsala Risotto

One pot dishes are made for the winter time – they are so warm and comforting (and easy cleaning goes with every season).  I love a good risotto but it can seem like a lot of starch to constitute an entire meal so I decided to think of a way to incorporate some leftover chicken I had.  By using marsala wine instead of the normal white wine and adding in sautéed mushrooms, this easy weeknight risotto becomes plenty filling.  The basics are all the same (in case you need my risotto rules again here they are).  One deviation is stirring in some extra marsala at the end of the cooking.  I found that too much of the flavor was lost when you just use it at the start and by adding a dash at the end you get that sweet savory wine flavor burst.  And remember, don’t scrimp on the fresh grated parmesan at the end!!

Chicken Marsala Risotto (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: all in one meal
Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, warming over low heat
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts

Over medium high heat in a large saucepan melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms and season with pepper (but not salt).  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms have softened and are beginning to brown.

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Spoon out the mushrooms and set aside.  Add the olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium.  Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add 1/2 cup of the marsala wine.  Use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the marsala wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.  After about 25 minutes, add the mushrooms and chicken to the pot and start checking the doneness of the rice.  It will probably take another 5 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (it’s tender with just a little bit of bite to it) stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of marsala and cook it for 1 minute more so most if not all of the wine is absorbed.  Take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed and serve immediately.

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Chicken Marsala Risotto

  • Servings: 4-6
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, warming over low heat
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts

Over medium high heat in a large saucepan melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms and season with pepper (but not salt).  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms have softened and are beginning to brown.  Spoon out the mushrooms and set aside.  Add the olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium.  Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add 1/2 cup of the marsala wine.  Use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the marsala wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.

Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.  After about 25 minutes, add the mushrooms and chicken to the pot and start checking the doneness of the rice.  It will probably take another 5 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (it’s tender with just a little bit of bite to it) stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of marsala and cook it for 1 minute more so most if not all of the wine is absorbed.  Take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed and serve immediately.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Confession here – I am a hoarder.  A hoarder of chicken carcasses.  Until today only my husband knew this about me, the poor man has to dig through bags of frozen chicken bones to get to the ice cream in our freezer.  Thing is, I think you should start hoarding them too.

impressive collection no?

impressive collection no?

Left over chicken bones, scraps of onion peel, sad dried out carrots from your veggie drawer – they can all be turned into pure gold.  Homemade chicken stock is 100% better than anything you can buy in the store and the best part is it’s practically free.  The only real investment is time but it’s totally worth it.  Anytime you roast a chicken or grab a rotisserie from the store, save any parts you don’t eat.  It goes without saying save the bones but also keep any extra meat you don’t eat, the skin – basically everything should all go into a plastic freezer bag.  When you have carrots or celery that are looking a little less than pristine, throw them into a bag as well (throw them in with the chicken if you want).  Once you have critical mass, approximately 4 chicken carcasses, or when you can no longer navigate around them in the freezer, then its time to carve about 4 hours out of a weekend to babysit a pot of stock.  You throw everything into a pot, cover with water and soon enough your entire home will smell absolutely amazing.

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Some recipes for homemade stock call for whole uncooked chickens but that just seems like a waste to me.  Tons of flavor comes from the bones and the leftover ones have the benefit of already having been roasted, which gives the stock a deeper flavor.  I use a pretty basic mix of celery, carrots, and onions but you can throw in other left over veggies as well.  Just be careful because whatever you put in, that flavor will be imparted.  Sometimes if I have fennel hanging around I toss that in and my stock will have a slight anise hint to it.  I wouldn’t use anything too strong like a broccoli or anything too soft like a zucchini.  You can also use different herbs, dill is really nice, as is marjoram but I would steer clear of rosemary as it’s a bit too strong.  Once you have the stock the sky is the limit on how to use it – obviously as a base for soups and stews but I also like to use it to deglaze my pan when cooking, to cook rice or couscous in, or to braise meat or veggies.  It will last in the freezer for a long time, about 8 months but I guarantee you will use it up well before that.  I do keep boxed chicken stock on hand just in case but it is a total bummer when I realize I don’t have any homemade stuff left and have to resort to the box – the flavor, richness and viscosity is totally different and inferior in my humble opinion.  With fall on its way its time for yummy, comfort food and this chicken stock is the best place to start.

Homemade Chicken Stock (printable version at the end of the post)

Special Equipment:  large stock pot

  • at least 4 chicken carcasses with meat and skin attached – frozen or fresh
  • 2 onions cut in half – peels and all
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half – peels and all
  • at least 3 carrots cut in half – unpeeled (sensing a theme?)
  • at least 3 stalks of celery cut in half
  • several bay leaves – dried or fresh
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • decent size bunch of parsley
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
  • approximately 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • water to cover

Get the largest pot you have, I use my grandmother’s old lobster pot, and throw everything but the water into the pot.  It will probably be an awkward fit especially if the chicken carcasses are frozen but once the water is in and it starts to get heated up, everything sort of slumps together so don’t worry.  Fill the pot with water, just to the brim, so you can actually carry it over to the stove (this is why my dream kitchen has a pot filler).  Set over medium high heat uncovered and wait for it to boil – depending on how big your pot is and how much water you have in there it can take up to 45 minutes.  Yes it looks like a mess but trust me.

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Once it has come to a boil turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering – you don’t want a lively boil, just a handful of small bubbles reaching the surface.  Sometimes you will get a foam on top like in the picture below, I just skim that off and toss into the sink.

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Cook like this for 3-4 hours checking on it occasionally to make sure it’s still simmering.  Sometimes you might need to adjust the heat up or down during those hours as the simmer can fall flat or it can be going too hot.  I stir it a couple of times as well just to move everything around but it doesn’t need much babysitting.  After 3-4 hours the liquid will be nice and golden.  I then use a strainer scoop to pull out the big chunks of chicken and vegetables and toss them.  When it’s mostly liquid pour through a fine strainer or line a regular strainer with cheese cloth.  My last batch produced 4 quarts and 4 pints but really its hard to gauge exactly what the result will be.  After the liquid has cooled put it in the fridge and you can keep it there for several days or transfer it to the freezer for the better part of a year.  Depending on how much skin and fat were on your chicken carcasses, there may be a solid layer of fat that settles on the top once it’s cooled.  That makes it pretty easy (though gross) to scoop it off the top.  Also once chilled the stock will take on a sort of gelatinous consistency and that is a good thing.  The gelatin in the chicken bones is what causes that – once its been heated again it will go back to its liquid form but it’s a good way to tell the truly homemade stuff versus the thin boxed stuff.

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Servings: 6-8 quarts
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Special Equipment:  large stock pot

  • at least 4 chicken carcasses with meat and skin attached – frozen or fresh
  • 2 onions cut in half – peels and all
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half – peels and all
  • at least 3 carrots cut in half – unpeeled (sensing a theme?)
  • at least 3 stalks of celery cut in half
  • several bay leaves – dried or fresh
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • decent size bunch of parsley
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
  • approximately 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • water to cover

Get the largest pot you have and throw everything but the water into the pot.  Fill the pot with water, just to the brim so you can actually carry it over to the stove.  Set over medium high heat uncovered and wait for it to boil – depending on how big your pot is and how much water you have in there it can take up to 45 minutes.  Once it has come to a boil turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering – you don’t want a lively boil, just a handful of small bubbles reaching the surface.  Sometimes you will get a foam on top, I just skim that off and toss into the sink.  Cook like this for 3-4 hours checking on it occasionally to make sure it’s still simmering.  Sometimes you might need to adjust the heat up or down during those hours as the simmer can fall flat or it can be going too hot.  I stir it a couple of times as well just to move everything around but it doesn’t need much babysitting.  After 3-4 hours the liquid will be nice and golden.  I then use a strainer scoop to pull out the big chunks and toss them.  When it’s mostly liquid pour through a fine strainer or line a regular strainer with cheese cloth.

Corn Risotto and my Risotto Rules

To me cooking is like therapy – I can stop thinking about everything else in the world and just focus on turning raw ingredients into great food.  I like the ritual of cooking classics and I like the fun and excitement of cooking new things.  Of course the result itself can often serve as its own sort of remedy, especially comfort food.  Risotto is one of my favorite therapeutic meals because the method is so soothing and the meal itself is creamy and soft and lovely.  I have been toying with the idea of making a corn risotto for a while so when we were on the Eastern Shore of Maryland a couple of weeks ago I made sure to pick up some super fresh ears from a farm stand.  The sweetness of the corn is such a good match with the creaminess of the risotto.  Here I made my own corn broth using the cobs of the corn going into the risotto.  I think this really bumps up the corn flavor but it also adds about 40 minutes to the process.  You could either make the broth the day before and just store the kernels in the fridge or skip that step all together and use chicken or veggie stock you have on hand.

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One common misconception about risotto is that there is actual cream in it – there isn’t.  Ok maybe some recipes include it, and I am SURE it wouldn’t be bad, but it’s just not needed.  The special aborio rice used in risotto is really starchy so as you slowly cook it with stock the starch is released and creates its own creaminess.  Whether you are making corn risotto or another kind there are certain rules of the road that you should follow to ensure the right texture.  Once you have learned the basics risotto can really become a vehicle for any ingredient you would like.

ACC’s Risotto Rules

  1. Use aborio rice.  This Italian short-grain rice is made for risotto – some recipes recommend carnaroli rice but I have tried it before and it just doesn’t get the same result as aborio.  You can really find this rice in most supermarkets these days in the Italian section, but if not there are plenty of it to be found online.  I do not have a favorite brand but if someone does please chime in.
  2. Do not use a risotto mix.  These things are lunacy!  It’s basically aborio rice with dehydrated flavorings included.  I am all for mixes that taste good and actually save you some time but you still have to do all the work with these and the taste is just never going to be as good as something you can put together yourself.  Trust me.
  3. Go with shallots over onions.  If all you have is an onion then by all means but I think shallots are a much softer and sweeter flavor that works well in risotto.  And who can say no to a lavender colored onion??
  4. Make sure to toast the rice and coat with fat.  Once you have sautéed the shallots in butter and or olive oil make sure to add the rice and stir it around.  This will help toast the rice a bit, giving it more flavor, and also coat it in fat.  This will help the grains of rice stay separate and in tact during the cooking process.
  5. Wine!  Make sure to add a splash of wine first before you start with the broth.  Usually you should use a dry, crisp white but sometimes it’s fun to use red and end up with pinkish risotto.
  6. Keep your broth warm.  You do not want to add cold broth to your risotto as it will cause the rice to seize up and it will not take on the broth as well, taking longer and resulting in uneven cooking.  In a separate saucepan keep your broth over low heat and make sure its close for easy ladeling.
  7. Stir, stir and stir again.  Part of the magic of risotto is that starchy goodness that comes out of the rice.  The best way to move it along is to constantly stir.  Some people find this annoying but as I said I think it’s pretty relaxing.  You can certainly walk away from the pot to pour yourself a glass of wine or give your arm a rest but don’t go too far.  If you don’t stir it won’t get really thick and you run the risk of the bottom burning.  If you get the temperature right risotto really only takes 30 mins max, so not that much stirring.
  8. Don’t over cook.  Make sure you keep the temperature pretty moderate while you are adding the broth so the rice has time to absorb the liquid.  I keep a fork handy so I can continuously check the doneness of the rice.  It’s supposed to be al dente with a little bit of bite to it but heck since you took the time to make your own you can call it done whenever it reaches the doneness you like!

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Corn Risotto (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the miles and miles of corn fields on the Eastern Shore
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 ears of corn – kernels cut off and cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, unpeeled cut in quarters
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled cut in half
  • 1 celery rib, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 a bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups of chicken or veggie stock if not making the corn stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • chives

If you are making the corn stock put the corn cobs (kernels removed) in a large pot with the onion, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover with 6 cups of water and then bring to a boil.  Cover and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  When its done strain the liquid into a smaller saucepan, removing all the solids.  Warm the stock over low heat.  If you are not making the corn stock at this point add the chicken or veggie stock to a small saucepan and warm over low heat.  In a high sided skillet melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil and increase the heat to medium to medium high and add the corn kernels.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  The sugars in the corn will start to caramelize and crust up the bottom of the pan which is fine, just don’t let the corn burn (if you need to turn down the heat).

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Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil and butter.  Reduce the heat to medium low again.  Splash in the wine and use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.

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After about 25 minutes I start checking the doneness of the rice but usually it will take closer to 30 or 35 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (it’s tender with just a little bit of bite to it) take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Top with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Corn Risotto

  • Servings: 4
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 ears of corn – kernels cut off and cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, unpeeled cut in quarters
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled cut in half
  • 1 celery rib, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 a bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups of chicken or veggie stock if not making the corn stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • chives

If you are making the corn stock put the corn cobs (kernels removed) in a large pot with the onion, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover with 6 cups of water and then bring to a boil.  Cover and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  When its done strain the liquid into a smaller saucepan, removing all the solids.  Warm the stock over low heat.  If you are not making the corn stock at this point add the stock to a small saucepan and warm over low heat.  In a high sided skillet melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil and increase the heat to medium to medium high and add the corn kernels.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  The sugars in the corn will start to caramelize and crust up the bottom of the pan which is fine, just don’t let the corn burn and if you need to turn down the heat.  Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil and butter.  Reduce the heat to medium low again.  Splash in the wine and use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.  After about 25 minutes I start checking the doneness of the rice but usually it will take closer to 30 or 35 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (its tender with just a little bit of bite to it) take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Top with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Chicken Cacciatore

When I was little my dad used to make a dish I called “saucy chicken.”  It usually had some tomatoes in it, onions and garlic for sure and the rest I can only vaguely remember.  It was always a little different and it was always good.  25 some odd years later I realize I make something pretty similar to this myself and it’s basically a riff on chicken cacciatore.  It becomes home to whatever you have in your fridge that would add flavor – have wine, throw it in, maybe capers or olives, perhaps basil or parsley. wpid-20150526_185703.jpg I am pretty sure he never based it off of a recipe (and if he did, pipe up dad!) and my version doesn’t really either – it’s just an amalgamation of delicious italian ingredients that all cooked together are pretty much going to be good.  Cacciatore is supposed to mean “hunters chicken” because it’s stewed and comforting but as long as you include lighter ingredients there is no reason why it can’t be a summer or year round meal.  I served it over pasta with a green salad but it would be great with rice or even garlic bread for dunking.  As I was cooking I kept having to remind myself to write down what I was doing so I could actually post a recipe because its such an organic thing to just start throwing in things that I think will taste good.  This freezes really well so make the whole recipe even if just for 2.

Chicken Cacciatore (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   too many to count from Marcella to Giada to my pops

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 bone in skin on chicken breasts – lately these have just been massive at the grocery store so I suggest one breast per two people (cut them in half) but you can scale up to 1 breast per person if they are normal sized or you are super hungry!
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced (red is traditional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional but nice touch)
  • 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon calabrian chili paste or red pepper flakes
  • 3 sprigs of basil (approximately 10 leaves), chopped
  • 1 pound pasta (or other side like rice or polenta)
  • shaved parmesan or pecorino to serve

In a dutch oven or large skillet with a lid heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  In a shallow bowl mix flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breasts (dredging is a fancy way of saying toss the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess).  Brown the chicken in the pan, 3 or so minutes per side until they are golden, then remove and set aside.  Add a little more oil if you need and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes until softened, being careful not to burn the garlic (turn down the heat if needed).  Add the white wine and tomatoes to the pan and use that liquid to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. wpid-20150526_183811.jpg Nestle the chicken breasts back in the pan then raise the heat till it starts boiling.  Once its at a boil, cover the pan and lower the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 30-40 minutes depending on how large the chicken breasts are, turning the chicken once during cooking.  Slice into the chicken if you need to check to see if its done.  While the chicken is simmering its a good time to make the pasta if that’s what you are serving it with.  Once the chicken is done I like to serve it over the pasta with chopped basil and shaved parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Chicken Cacciatore

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 bone in skin on chicken breasts – lately these have just been massive at the grocery store so I suggest one breast per two people (cut them in half) but you can scale up to 1 breast per person if they are normal sized or you are super hungry!
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced (red is traditional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional but nice touch)
  • 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon calabrian chili paste or red pepper flakes
  • 3 sprigs of basil (approximately 10 leaves)
  • 1 pound pasta (or other side like rice or polenta)
  • shaved parmesan or pecorino to serve

In a dutch oven or large skillet with a lid heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  In a shallow bowl mix flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breasts.  Brown the chicken in the pan, 3 or so minutes per side until they are golden, then remove and set aside.  Add a little more oil if you need and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and fennel seeds.  Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes until softened, being careful not to burn the garlic (turn down the heat if needed).  Add the white wine and tomatoes to the pan and use that liquid to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom.  Nestle the chicken breasts back in the pan then raise the heat till it starts boiling.  Once its at a boil, cover the pan and lower the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 30-40 minutes depending on how large the chicken breasts are, turning the chicken once during cooking.  Slice into the chicken if you need to check to see if its done.  While the chicken is simmering its a good time to make the pasta if that’s what you are serving it with.  Once the chicken is done I like to serve it over the pasta with chopped basil and shaved parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Swiss Chard Pasta

Pasta and cream – oh you are so yummy but oh so bad for me.  Honestly any kind of carb covered in any kind of cheesy or creamy sauce is something I can get on board with, but know I should limit.  So what if you add a ton of dark leafy greens and lean white meat chicken to the mix?  Still not healthy?  Ok fine maybe not healthy but this one pan meal is super satisfying, delicious and not nearly as bad for you as it tastes.  A scant 1/2 cup of cream for 4 servings means only 2 tablespoons of cream per person, which is the smae amount you probably sloshed into your morning coffee anyway.  My mom passed this one down to me (though I have taken some creative liberties) and I loved it from the first time she made it for me.  If you have never cooked with swiss chard before it’s that beautiful green you may have seen at the market with the vibrant red or multi colored stalks.  Most recipes will tell you to just use the leafy parts and cut out the tougher stems but I love their flavor and the bite they give to this pasta.  If you want to mellow them even more you can add the stems first and then the leaves later so you cook them down more.  The red from the chard stems also turns the onions pink which is just fabulous in and of its self.

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The key to chard or really any green is making sure its nice and clean.  Grit can easily find its way into greens and the last thing you want to do is chew down on sand when you are eating.  Prewashed and bagged greens help with this but for all other greens I really like a salad spinner.  It’s an easy way to get them clean and can double as a storage vessel for greens in the fridge.  When you come home from the store just wash the greens, run them through the spinner (I have and really like this one) and then keep in the fridge, they will last a lot longer and be ready to use when you want them.  For this and most recipes where you want to wilt down greens I also like to leave just a little water still clinging to the leaves – this will help create some steam in the pan and move along the wilting process.  This is a really fast dinner, made more substantial by the addition of chicken but it could easily fill vegetarian folks up without.  And the smell of the onions cooking in butter…mmmmm so good.

Swiss Chard Pasta (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my mom
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 8 ounces penne or other short cut pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 to 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, chopped or shredded into bite size pieces (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet.  While butter is melting also bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and cook the pasta while making the sauce.  When the butter is melted add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Start adding the swiss chard in handfuls, tossing with tongs if necessary to wilt the greens and get them all to fit.

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Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chard down until wilted, about 5 minutes, then throw in the white wine and allow it to all cook out, about 2 to 3 minutes.

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…to this!

When the pasta is ready toss it in the pan along with the red pepper flakes, the nutmeg and cream (and chicken if including it).  Toss the pasta and sauce together and let cook together for a couple of minutes more allowing the cream to coat the pasta and the flavors to meld.

Swiss Chard Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 8 ounces penne or other short cut pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 to 2 rotisserie chicken breasts,  chopped or shredded into bite size pieces (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet.  While butter is melting also bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and cook pasta while making the sauce.  When the butter is melted add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Start adding the swiss chard in handfuls, tossing with tongs if necessary to wilt the greens and get them all to fit.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chard down until wilted, about 5 minutes, then throw in the white wine and allow it to all cook out, about 2 to 3 minutes.  When the pasta is ready toss it in the pan along with the red pepper flakes, the nutmeg and cream (and chicken if including it).  Toss the pasta and sauce together and let cook together for a couple of minutes more allowing the cream to coat the pasta and the flavors to meld.

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