Archive for February, 2012

Chicken Liver Pate

Posted: 2012/02/10 in Uncategorized

Yeah, it’s further homage to the humble clucker. Don’t eat organ meat? Well Pluck You!

Pate is something that’s deeply satisfying…maybe long ago our caveman ancestors spent a few lazy afternoons bashing mastodon livers into paste with their clubs. Unfortunately they had no fresh chewy baguettes to rip up and spread with the pate…I suppose a filthy all-purpose finger or animal bone for the more fastidious had to do. When you think about our current horror of germs…and I have seen women (annnnnd some men) actually scream out loud at a small dark smear on a toilet… hysteria fanned by our ‘scientists’ and NBC…it’s astounding the human race thrived. Of course if you read Clan of the Cave Bear…which was a Martha Stewartish prehistoric manifesto…you might think it was all real nice and cave people washed all the time in that glacier fed lake and used wildflowers for shampoo. Maybe they did…after all we’re still here. What do I know? Ok back to the chicken. Most chickens processed for meat in America are doomed to a horrific existence in battery cages until they’re plump enough for electrocution and mutilation and plastic wrapped and then delivery to our supermarkets.  Sometimes you get a pack of chicken breast I swear to god must be from a turkey on steroids.  Other times you get some that must have been from puny chickens who spit up their growth hormone pills or something.  Ok…the liver. I believe once an animal gives up its life for our food we should be obligated to eat as much as possible of it to show some respect.  Don’t worry I am not taking that to the extreme, no feet, no eyes, no fatty bumhole.  When buying the chicken livers you will find them conveniently packaged in plastic tubs near the chicken bin at your market. If you have some access or enough energy to toddle off to a shop where they manage specialty meats ask the butcher for a couple pounds of fresh livers – he has them because he spent half his day cutting up whole chickens.  Mostly he will be happy to get rid of them.  Oh I should have mentioned earlier – if you do not have a food processor or nice blender there is no way you can make this particular recipe.

Ingredients:

2 Lbs. chicken livers

1 cup butter

1 large Vidalia onion

Bit of salt and pepper

Pinch of cinnamon powder

Roughly chop the onions.  In a large skillet melt the butter. Drop in the onions and on a low flame sweat them until they are translucent (3 minutes) then add the drained livers and salt and pepper. Let the whole mess cook over a low flame until the livers are cooked…stir about at times to prevent any crisping of anything.  If you are in any doubt about the liver being done slice on open. If you see a light pink center …uh the pink of a pretty peony…not barely cooked tenderloin…its fine. Remove from heat and wander off for 5 minutes to let it cool down a bit. If you have a food processor, dump everything in adding the pinch of cinnamon powder and turn it on. If you are using a blender you will have to do this in smaller batches.  It takes about 2 minutes to make a silky pate.  At this point you should taste it so you know if you have salted it enough for your palate.  Try to resist the urge to just keep eating it. If you have a bowl you are using just pour your pate in there and cover with plastic wrap. If you are using a mold with the intent of turning it out of the mold at some point – line whatever container/mold you are using for the pate with plastic wrap which overlaps all the edges. Pour your pate in the mold and fold the plastic wrap over until it’s sealed. Refrigerate. I usually do this overnight to make sure it’s perfectly set.  To serve you can just uncover and flip onto a serving plate.  Here you can exercise some creativity. Sprinkle the pate with finely chopped parsley or cracked pepper. Even if you manage to recreate yer lump of pate into a Faberge Egg your guests will demolish it like brutish proletariat in minutes.

There!!! That’s it. I like it best with fresh buttery smelling baguette chunks…or Carr’s Table Water Biscuits. I have seen a mania for using croissants but personally although I love the taste of croissants all those oily crumbs falling everywhere drive me…yah have to keep licking yer fingertip and pick up every one of them…which distracts you from eating more pate.

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Sugo

Posted: 2012/02/04 in Uncategorized

This is known to non-Italians as tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce. The permutations are endless. In my family a pot large enough to wash the dog in was kept simmering night and day on the back burner. Whole chickens and hard boiled eggs were betimes dropped in. To be fished out later for a snack or base for Cacciatore or something. There was always a fresh loaf of Italian bread near the pot. So you could tear off a chunk and dunk it in the sauce.  Kind of like the potato chip of Italians. You don’t believe me? Watch an Old Italian dunk his bread in a glass of wine while waiting for his dinner. No real Italian can pass a pot of sugo on the stove and not dunk bread. It’s more reliable than a DNA test.

Ingredients

1/2 pound mild Italian bulk sausage

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

2 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tomato paste

1 Large can of chopped black olives (this is my personal favorite)

3 cups water

1/4 cup sugar (use this judiciously – add a bit at a time as the sauce cooks according to your taste)

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil

1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano

(All herbs are best fresh but sure go ahead if you only have dried…)

Cooking:

Cook sausage and ground beef in a large skillet (I’d include Dutch Oven but who has those really) over medium heat 6 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until beef and sausage are no longer pink. Drain fat and set aside. Get out your largest pot and combine all the ingredients, cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.  I do this on a low flame for hours and hours until I think it looks thick enough. REMEMBER to keep tasting this sauce and adjusting for your personal tastes. The sugar relieves the acidity of the tomatoes but too sugary and it’s icky. And you can add stuff like sliced mushrooms, truffles, chopped tomatoes, more garlic. I have an auntie who drops a bit of butter in to make the sauce silky.

So try the sauce – make it your own and serve over your favorite pasta. A tip on cooking pasta: Use a large enough pot – don’t cramp your noodles; NEVER add olive oil to the boiling water in an effort to prevent sticky noodles – this just ensures your sauce will slide right off those same noodles; and this is super important never ever wash the drained noodles in cold water. Also about the cheese, Parmesan or Romano…fresh shaved is best but otherwise if you get the shaker try to get one without fillers. Now!  Eat you’re so skinny…..

Been Meaning to Clean That

Check back here for diner events.  My pies are worth it. Tra

This is an easy slow cooker dinner. Definitely NOT for people who like to poke, prod, drip sweat on or personally finger every inch of the ingredients as much as possible. Yeah you know the type…ubiquitous on cooking shows. Personally I hide my slow cooker/crock pot. It’s shameful. I own $3000 worth of copper pots from Switzerland. But I also like a hot meal that cooks itself while I am out running the streets buying unnecessary things and tanking up on espresso every few blocks…ok ok mostly I am sleeping or roughing up my cats.

 Ingredients:

1lb of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 3)

2 Tablespoons Butter (notice I did not specify unsalted cause that’s a huge affectation considering 99% of recipes go on to direct you to add salt anyway)

2 cans Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

1 ½ Cup of Chicken Broth (buy the chicken bouillon paste and mix with water – never buy that canned broth – it smells like 4 inches up a dogs bum)

½ Cup White Wine

1 Medium White Onion, diced

8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms – any sort but Portobello give it a nice rustic look

½ Cup Sliced Carrots

Bisquick Mix

 

Place thawed chicken in crock pot and top with butter.  Add everything else. Cook on High for 4-6 hours or Low for 8 hours.  Resist the urge to peek inside or stir…go watch TV or nap or dust your CDs or something if you’re the obsessive compulsive type (otherwise slow cooking is NOT for you).

 

Remove chicken from slow-cooker and shred with a fork after about 4 hours. One hour before the finish time follow the directions on the Bisquick box for dumplings and using a couple spoons drop nuggets of dough in the hot mix and recover. Continue to cook on High for 30 minutes.    Serve hot (like I have to tell you this). If guests are blighting your doorstep for dinner – be sure to put everything in your nicest covered tureen and hide the crock pot.