Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dutch oven roasted Brussels sprouts with apple cider

Last week I reduced a half-gallon jug of Barsotti unfiltered apple cider down to little less than two cups. A cup of the cider reduction was used to prepare apple cider mahogany sauce. With a bit over one-half cup remaining in the refrigerator, I though it would nicely enhance the Brussels sprouts that I'd recently purchased.

DUTCH OVEN ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH APPLE CIDER

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
4-6 lemon slices
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
6 tablespoons apple cider reduction
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Pre-heat a 10-inch Dutch oven with charcoal briquettes for 450-degrees (6 charcoal briquettes under and 21 on lid). In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, lemon slices, bay leaves, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, salt and pepper with olive oil until coated. Pour Brussels sprouts into the Dutch oven. Roast about 30 minutes or until Brussels sprouts begin to brown. Do not burn.

Combine stock, cider reduction and mustard. Set aside. Remove coals from lid and arrange into a neat pattern under oven, being careful not to dump ash on Brussels sprouts. (You can place Dutch oven over camp burner if desired.) Pour braising liquid over Brussels sprouts. Cook over medium-high heat until braising liquid reduces and sprouts are tender. Serves 4 to 6 portions.

Ideally, most of the braising liquid should evaporate, leaving wonderfully tender Brussels sprouts. You need a lot of heat to accomplish this so don't fret if some of the liquid remains. It's good stuff!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple cider mahogany sauce

Apple cider mahogany sauce may take several hours to prepare. But the rewards are great, both in terms of great seasonal flavor and pleasant aromas that waft through the house as you reduce apple cider into syrupy goodness.

This article is really about two sauces. First, you must reduce unfiltered apple cider to about 25 percent of its original volume. Once reduced, you can prepared the apple cider mahogany sauce.

While you can prepare sufficient quantity of the apple cider reduction for your current recipe project, I like to reduce a half-gallon or more at a time. This gives me a supply of syrup to use as I see fit.

Use the cider reduction as a stand-in for maple syrup or honey in almost any recipe. Let your imagination be your guide. The recipe for apple cider mahogany sauce is included below. Three weeks ago I braised pork butt in cider reduction and chicken stock and served it with roasted carrots.

My next project is to prepare Brussels sprouts by first roasting with caraway and mustard seeds, then braising in chicken stock and cider reduction. The cabbages will be good alongside bratwurst, fried potatoes and homemade sauerkraut.

To prepare the reduction, boil unfiltered apple cider (I use Barsotti cider) over high heat until reduced to one-fourth its beginning volume, stirring occasionally. Skim surface build up as it collects. Allow as little as 45 minutes and as long as two hours to complete the reduction. The quantity being reduced, size and shape of the saucepan and heat setting determine how long it takes.

Brush cider mahogany sauce on grilled pork chops (pictured above) or sautéed chicken breasts. Dip sliced tri-tip (roasted to medium doneness) or smoked brisket in the sauce, quickly sear on griddle and place on toasted French roll. You can use the sauce to glaze your favorite cuts of lamb, pork, poultry or fish.

APPLE CIDER MAHOGANY SAUCE

3 slices bacon, diced small
1/2 cup medium sweet onion, diced small
1 cup apple cider reduction
1 cup catsup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

In a medium saucepan or skillet, sauté bacon and onion until onion is tender. Drain bacon drippings from skillet. Add cider reduction, catsup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme. Adjust seasoning. Makes 2-12 to 3 cups.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Hamburger Stroganoff

Just about every hamburger stroganoff recipe on the Internet contains the same ingredients: ground beef, chopped onion, sliced white button mushrooms (canned or fresh), all-purpose flour and a can or two of condensed cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup.

Some recipes add garlic. Most recipes are seasoned with salt, ground black pepper and sweet ground paprika. And I've seen a few that suggest a tablespoon or two of tomato paste or catsup.

This is the recipe that I grew up on. I didn't know there was any other kind until my first visit Hong Kong on the USS Cocopa in the 1972. A group of us visited a European restaurant on the Kawloon side of Victoria Harbor. Stroganoff was the perfect comfort food for this sailor away from home for the first time. Instead, the waiter surprised me with traditional stroganoff. The sauteed strips of tender beef in a light sour cream based sauce were amazing.

Hamburger stroganoff may not resemble the dish that carries Count Pavel Stroganoff's name. But it's pure comfort food. The rich mushroom flavor and creamy tanginess of the sour cream warms the belly and reminds me of home.

HAMBURGER STROGANOFF

You can use most any condensed cream soup in the pantry. My mother always used cream of celery. I like the mushroom soup because it adds a nice mushroom base to the dish. Substituted sliced crimini mushrooms for the white buttons if desired.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1 cup (8 ounces) lowfat sour cream

Place ground beef in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until meat is browned. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until just tender. Drain off any excess fat in the skillet. Blend flour, salt, paprika and black pepper into beef. Immediately stir in condensed soup and milk into mixture.

Cook over low heat, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Thin the stroganoff with extra milk if it's too thick. Stir in sour cream and heat through. Serve hamburger stroganoff over mashed potatoes, steamed rice or egg noodles.

The recipe yields about 4-1/2 cups. Serves 6 (3/4-cup) portions.