This recipe for juicy brined pork chops is a variation on one I’ve been making for years. While I was in Tuscany during my DaVinci Storyteller experience earlier this fall, I soaked up the aura and sensory beauty of the place – it’s hard not to! Aromatic foliage grows wild everywhere, like bay laurel, lavender and rosemary, each of which happen to be classic and delicious seasonings for thick cut pork chops. [Read more…]
I experience New Year’s Day with mixed emotion. As much as I love holding a new calendar fresh with possibilities for the year ahead, at the same time my head is spinning trying to process the one that just sped by, seemingly faster every time. What’s up with that?
I can only think it’s what happens when we’re living a full life – each day a series of events that unfolds onto the next. But in the middle of the daily process of work and school; relationships with family, friends, dog…it becomes like a monotonous ride. Some mornings I feel like a character in Groundhog Day.
Which is why I’m grateful for the few weeks in December when I can make a plan to unplug; to spend time to nourish myself and my family, with things like mornings without an alarm clock and a schedule with absolutely nothing on it.
And food, of course. There aren’t many things that connect us like time shared around the table, especially when a large platter of spaghetti and meatballs is sitting on top of it.
I’ve shared my personal attempt at my mother’s meatball recipe on this blog before, but this latest version has become all my own. If my mom were here to sit at my table, I think she’d approve.
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 ½ pounds ground pork
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup fresh bread crumbs *
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano, Romano or Asiago cheese
- 2 eggs
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Large pinch crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or finely chopped
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 container Pomi strained tomatoes
- Pinch sugar
- Fresh ground black pepper
- To make the meatballs, put the ground meats into a large bowl. Grate the onion over the bowl on the side of a large box grater. Add the remaining ingredients (except the olive oil) and mix together with your hands or a large fork until thoroughly combined. Form into 2-inch diameter balls and arrange on a large baking sheet.
- Heat a large, deep sauté pan (12 – 14-inches in diameter) over moderate heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan completely and heat for a minute or two before adding the meatballs. Cook until nicely browned on one side; carefully turn the meatballs with tongs or a spatula to brown the other side. Transfer the meatballs to a platter.
- Drain the fat from the pan. (Note – if you don’t have a large sauté pan with at least 3 inch sides, fry the meatballs in a sauté pan, in batches if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan. Make the sauce in a separate wide saucepan or soup pot.)
- To make the gravy, place the pan back over moderate heat. Add the olive oil, onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the onions until they become very soft. If they begin to brown, add a few tablespoons of water, lower the heat and cover the pan until they’re ready.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.
- Put the meatballs into the pan, cover and continue simmering for another 10 minutes or so.
- Serve the sauce and meatballs over hot spaghetti or pasta, with plenty of cheese grated over.
*To make fresh bread crumbs, trim the crust from a large hunk of crusty peasant bread. Cut the bread into large pieces and toast 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Grind in a food processor to form fine crumbs. Keep extra crumbs in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Glamour Magazine’s cult recipe for Engagement Chicken made the rounds over the past few years, but I just got around to seeing it the other day.
I saw a promo for the new book, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, which includes this “iconic” roast chicken; reputedly the impetus for dozens upon dozens of proposals as well as what I’m guessing is an infinite number of unreported but nonetheless passionate, chicken-fueled moments.
Kimberly Bonnell, a former editor at Glamour, takes credit for the popular dissemination of the recipe.
Here’s the thing: I noticed right away that the recipe was almost the exact replica of an unbelieveably simple, ultra-classic one from the Italian cooking teacher and author, Marcella Hazan. I first came across it in 1992, when it appeared in the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a book I’d most certainly grab on the way out of my house if it was burning down.
I cut my chicken-roasting teeth on Marcella’s foolproof chicken. It’s undergone an evolution in my own kitchen; still very true to the basic original but tweaked to my taste.
Over the years, I’ve added garlic and handfuls of fresh herbs to the chicken, and reversed the oven temperature steps: Marcella starts her chicken in a preheated 350 oven, but I like to get my bird nice and hot right away to ensure crisp, golden skin – 425 degrees – before turning it down to finish roasting.
The smell that comes out of the oven while this little bird is cooking will draw everyone into the kitchen- if not begging for your hand, than at least drooling for a bit of juicy leg.
- 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken
- 5 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small head garlic, sliced in half
- 1 small lemon, punctured about a dozen times with a skewer
- 1 handful mixed fresh herb bunches - rosemary, thyme, tarragon and/or lavender are good
- Pat the chicken dry with towels and place on a small rack on a shallow casserole or roasting pan. I use a quarter-sheet pan, which is the perfect size.
- Put 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 the pepper, garlic, lemon and herbs into the cavity. Rub the remaining salt and pepper all over the skin; front, sides and back. Tie the legs together firmly with a piece of kitchen string.
- Turn the chicken breast side down, and let it sit out at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees, for at least 20 minutes.
- When the oven is hot, put the chicken in and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and carefully turn it so the breast is facing up. Put it back into the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 and roast for about 25 more minutes. The chicken will be sizzling and spitting, the legs joints will wiggle and skin should be golden and crisp. You can take its temperature if you're unsure - 160 -165 degrees before resting is my preference.
- Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest, loosely covered with a piece of aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with reserved juices from the pan and the inside of the chicken.