Category Archives: meat

sausage + potato + kale skillet

On Thursday evenings, you can typically find us wandering around the Gorge Grown Farmer’s Market at the HR Middle School.   We always look forward to hitting up the food carts and shopping for local goodies with our friends.   My new BFF, coincidentally,  is the dude who hands out cheese samples.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Free Sample Guy?!  Heaven.

Snoop through our basket and you will likely find tons of fresh produce, tubs of ridonkulous almond butter, and this pork sausage from Rough Swan Ranch.  My friend raved about it, so we gave it a shot.  And now, we may need to purchase a separate freezer, just so I can store this stuff throughout the winter.  This ain’t no Jimmy Dean, folks.  It is absolutely worth the few extra bucks as it: A) comes from happy pigs and B) is freakishly delicious.  It’s fair to say that we are addicted.

Technically it is labeled as “breakfast sausage”,  but I have been using it to cook up “dinner skillets” all summer long. Variations have included white cannellini beans and grilled corn.  Our garden potatoes are ready, so lately I’ve been using those.  Come this fall, you’d better believe that I’ll toss some sweet potato into the mix!   My husband has proclaimed, on more than one occasion, that THIS is his favorite meal….EVER.  It’s simple and rustic – total cowboy food.

SAUSAGE + POTATO + KALE SKILLET
1 Lb. bulk breakfast sausage (Rough Swan or any other QUALITY sausage)
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
dash red pepper flake
1 Lb. baby red or yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 bunch kale, shredded (ribs removed), yields approx. 4 cups
salt and pepper to taste

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees.  In a cast iron (I use my 10 inch), or any other oven proof skillet, brown the breakfast sausage over medium heat.  REMOVE sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.  ADD the diced onion to the pan, WITH the sausage grease (don’t look at me like that, just DO it), and saute until soft.  CRUSH the garlic into the onions, add a dash of red pepper flake, cook until fragrant.  ADD the potatoes to the pan and coat evenly with onions and garlic.  SEASON with a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then let the potatoes cook for about 2 minutes on the stove.  TRANSFER the skillet to the oven and let the potatoes bake for 18 minutes.  CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven (uh, don’t grab the handle).  ADD the shredded kale and breakfast sausage to the skillet and mix it all together.  The skillet will be HOT, so keep that mitt on!  RETURN the skillet to the oven for about 7 minutes longer, until the kale is wilted to your satisfaction (it should have some crispy edges).   BAM!   Giddy up.  

Variations:  Depending on what is in season, sub any of the following for the potatoes: white cannellini beans, roasted corn, sweet potato, etc. The sky is the limit!  

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Filed under gorge grown, meat, pork, quick and easy

MILLET BURRITO BOWL

This falls under the “best use of leftovers” category.  Lately, I’ve been addicted to THIS Spiced Millet Breakfast Bowl.  As per Sarah’s recommendation, I have been making a huge vat of millet and using it throughout the week.  As an aside, the correct pronunciation is mill-IT.  However,  I prefer to call it “mill-AY”, because I’m fancy like that.  If you would like more info on this grain (I refuse to call it bird seed, because that will only gross you out, and you should not be afraid), check out what BOB has to say about it. PS – I buy mine from the bulk section of our local store to save me some duckets.

Anyhoo.  I came home from a long ass day work, and had a serious craving for a burrito bowl.  And when I have a craving, don’t nobody wanna get in my way!  Upon perusing my fridge, I found leftovers from Sunday night’s meal of grilled flank steak…

….and knew I was in business.  Toss in the leftover mill-AY, black beans, a few other veggies, and VOILA, I was a happy girl.  I love burrito bowls because you can use whatever you have on hand, and they are always d-to-the-licious.  Last night’s shmorgishborg included the following:

MEAT:
Leftover flank steak, sliced paper thin, then doused in fresh lime juice.  Let it come up to room temp while you prepare the rest.

MILLET:
For a large vat of cooked millet: bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add 2 cups of millet, simmer covered for 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed (stores well in the fridge for the week).

In a 12 inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.  Toss in about 3 cups of cooked millet, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Heat the millet through, and adjust seasonings to your preference.  (Sidebar:  chipotle powder would be great here, but alas, I was out.)

CHILI LIME DRESSING:
This part is totally optional, but I like a little dressing on mine (it eliminates my need to slather everything in sour cream…. not that I’m judging – if that is what you want to do, go for it!).  I also eyeball my dressings, so use this as a guide and make changes as needed:
1/3 cup canola oil, 2 teaspoons agave, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, juice of half a lime, salt to taste.  Whisk it together well and adjust.  (I also added a dash of cider vinegar to mine, just to give it some kick)

VEGGIES: 
The sky is the limit.  Here is where you can really get creative with whatever you have available.  I vouch for the following:  diced heirloom tomatoes, rinsed black beans, corn, fresh cilantro, green onion, diced yellow bell pepper, a bit of finely shredded lettuce, and a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese just to make things fun.  I assure you that avocado would have been invited to this party as well, but I was out.  Sigh.

Avocado or not, it was scrumdiddlyumptious.  Super light and fresh, without giving me the dreaded “gut bomb” that I sometimes experience after such a meal.

Oh.  And did I mention that it’s MAY?!  I can smell dirt and freshly cut grass.  Yessssss!  Bring.  On.  Summer.  That is all I have to say.

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Filed under dressings, meat, mexican, quick and easy

Grandma Dottie’s Tomato + Horseradish Pot Roast

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately:  Grandma Dottie was batsh*t crazy.  Don’t let her charming name fool you, people, the woman was N-U-T-S.  We can all admit to having a bit of “crazy” lurking around somewhere in our DNA, and my paternal grandmother is responsible for mine.  Those of you who are shuddering, while you conjure images of some sweet little Nana, can stop right now.  I assure you that there was nothing sweet –or little –about Dottie.

Garish moo-moo’s, plastic go-go boots, and “creative” religious beliefs aside, my grandmother was nothing, if not a fabulous cook (I must give credit, where credit is due, after all).  To this day, the mere thought of her baking powder biscuits makes me drool profusely.  So for that, Grandma Dottie, I thank you…. 

While it’s true that she never won “Grandmother of the Year”, Dottie could cook a mean pot roast.  As a kid, Lin-babes worked hard to lure me into eating anything having to do with red meat.  Remember Randy’s meatloaf scene from A Christmas Story?  That was me.  Dottie’s pot roast changed all of that.  It was like a gateway to my becoming a full fledged carnivore.  Oh…and the gravy that it yields? Forgetaboutit.  Amazeballs.

I present you with my attempt at recreating Dottie’s masterpiece (my dad may argue that Chicken Curry was her piece de resistance, so for the sake of argument, we’ll get to that dish another time)….

CRAZY ASS DOTTIE’S POT ROAST:
1 Whole(3-3 1/2 pound) Chuck Roast
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Carrot
1 Sweet Onion, Chopped Fine
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Beef Broth (plus more if needed)
4+ Tablespoons Horseradish (TJ’s makes a spicy one!)
1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
Salt + Pepper
1 1/2 Pounds Assorted Root Vegetables, Cubed
(carrots, WHITE sweet potato, red potatoes, etc)

1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.   Pat the roast dry with paper towels, then salt and pepper the heck out of it.  In a dutch oven, heat 2 TBSP of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Brown all sides of the roast, only slightly browning the top.   Transfer roast to a plate. 

2.  Add chopped carrots and onion to the pot and cook until softened.  Add garlic and thyme.  Stir in beef broth, scraping up all the delicious bits on the bottom of the pan.  

3.  Return roast and accumulated juices to the dutch oven, and slather the top with horseradish–you want a thick layer.  GENTLY pour the tomato sauce over the top of the roast, making sure not to disrupt the horseradish.  Add a bit of water or broth to the pot so that the liquid comes about half way up the roast.  

4.  Cover the pot and cook on the lower bottom shelf for 2 hours.  After 2 hours, nestle the the root vegetables around the roast and spoon some of the cooking juices over them.   Cover and return to the oven for another hour.  Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.   (Total cooking time for a 3+ pound roast = about 3 hours)  

I like to shred mine up a bit, and discard any marbled fat pieces.  Make sure to get as much of the tomatoey horseradish goodness onto the meat as you can.  Spoon a little of the cooking gravy over your root vegetables (white sweet potatoes are the BOMB with this roast), then say a little prayer for my Grandma Dottie and dig in!!!


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Filed under family recipe, meat

PENNE AL CARNE DI SUGO caffe mingo



As I froze my butt off on the chair lift yesterday, all I could think about was THIS recipe.  It is one of my favorite dishes, from one of my favorite Portland restaurants.  A few years ago, a friend phoned me when Caffe Mingo shared this recipe in the RSVP section of Bon Appetit magazine.  We were pretty excited about the whole thing.   It is so simple and hearty–the perfect winter meal.  

PENNE AL CARNE DI SUGO 

Serves 6 people (or 4 pigs like us)
3 Tb butter, divided
1 2.5 to 3 pound boneless chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large red onion, halved, thinly sliced
Half of a 750ml bottle Chianti (drink the other half!)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 C. brewed espresso
1 pound penne or other ridged pasta
Preheat oven to 400.F
1. Melt 1 Tb butter in large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook beef until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to large bowl.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 Tb. butter to pot and melt. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
3. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine, tomatoes with juice, and espresso. Bring to boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
4. Braise beef until tender, about 2 hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl. Using 2 forks, shred beef. Return beef to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pasta: Cook in pot of heavily salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Divide pasta among 6 shallow bowls, spoon meat sauce over, and serve with freshly grated parmesan.  
Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.

Original Recipe found here.  
photo credit THE OREGONIAN

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EASY BEEF ENCHILADAS

This recipe is an amalgam inspired by America’s Test Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Ree Drummond offers the following disclaimer at the beginning of her post:

First, an important clarification: The Pioneer Woman Cooks is not meant to be an encyclopedia of innovative gourmet recipes. It is a reflection of what is going on in my kitchen day in and day out, whether that’s necessarily thrilling or not.

I would like to echo her sentiment.  There is nothing fancy going on here,  other than my need to satisfy a mad craving for enchiladas after a long day at work.   I regret that I don’t have worthy photo documentation of this process,  mostly due to the fact that:  A) pictures of hamburger are gross and B) I was so hungry that I just wanted to get it on the table.

I have walked past “El Pato” on the international shelf at the supermarket countless times, but I had never actually cooked with it.  I am grateful to “P-Dub” for showcasing El Pato’s spicy tomato sauce, as it will now be a staple in my pantry.  (I should also point out that El Pato is Spanish for “The Duck”,  so as a former Oregon Duck, I felt a certain kinship with this brand.  I also happened to watch the Ducks kick the living crap out of  solidly defeat the UCLA Bruins while I ate these enchiladas.  It was a good night.)

This picture doesn’t really do them justice, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: they are heavenly.

EASY BEEF ENCHILADAS
serves 4 – 6 (depending on hunger level)
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed 
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp corriander
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne 
salt to taste
1 pound lean, good quality ground beef
1 1/2 cups (divided) “El Pato” spicy tomato sauce
1 tsp brown sugar (I like mine heaping, but reign it in if you don’t like sweet and spicy together) 
1 2.25 oz can sliced black olives, drained and divided
1 can refried beans (warm them in a sauce pan so they are easy to spread)
mexican blend cheese 
8 soft taco sized flour tortillas
preferred toppings 


preheat oven to 400 degrees
beef filling: 
HEAT the oil in a large skillet.  COOK the onion and 1/2 tsp salt until softened.  ADD garlic and spices, stir until onion is evenly coated and garlic is fragrant.  STIR in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.  ADD 1/2 cup of the spicy tomato sauce and allow to simmer until thickened.  STIR in brown sugar (optional).  ADD 1/2 of the black olives.  SALT to taste.


assembly: 
COAT a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray.  NUKE the tortillas for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave.  PLACE a spoonful of heated refried beans down the center of the tortilla.  ADD 1/3 cup of beef mixture over the beans.  SPRINKLE cheese over the beef and beans.  ROLL the tortillas tightly, burrito style, and place seam side down in the baking dish.  SPRAY the rolled enchiladas lightly with cooking spray and cover evenly with remaining El Pato tomato sauce.  SPRINKLE with cheese and remaining olives.

bake:
COVER the baking dish with foil.  BAKE, on the middle rack, at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. REMOVE foil and continue to bake for another 5 minutes, until the edges are nice and crispy (my favorite part).  REMOVE from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

toppings (all optional): 
DRIZZLE more tomato sauce over the top.  DOT with sour cream.  SPRINKLE shredded lettuce, diced tomato, avocado, and cilantro over the top.  DIG in.

**note:  if you have left over tomato sauce, seal it in a ziploc bag and freeze it for future use! 


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ARMENIAN DOLMA

It may not seem obvious upon first glance, but the woman pictured above was a total badass.  My heart swells with pride when I remember the woman that she was and, more importantly, where she came from.  The following excerpts are based on the eulogy given by my great aunt, in memory of my great grandmother–the heart and soul of our family:


Aslig Potoian was born in 1905 in Keghi, Armenia.  In 1912 her father left the homeland for America to establish himself and then send for his family.  Before he could accomplish this, the war of 1915 broke out.   Aslig, her mother, sister, brother, and neighbors fled the Turkish massacre for neutral territory.  Along the way, she lost her mother and sister to illness and her baby brother drowned while trying to cross a river.  Aslig, left an orphan, was taken in by neighbors who helped her get to an aunt living in Constantinople.  She remained with her aunt for six years until her father, having learned of her survival through neighbors, sent for her. 


Aslig arrived to America through Ellis Island.  She met her father in Spokane, Washington where he was working for the railroads.   There, she met and married Soghoman Karagavourian.  Soghoman, a highly educated man in Armenia, worked as a railroad supervisor in America.  Together they raised five children.


Her son, called Garabed, is my grandfather.   You may ask yourself how all of this is relevant for a blog dedicated to cooking and recipes?!  Well, as it turns out, my obsession with food may be deeply rooted in my DNA.  Great grandma Aslig cooked for the men on the Spokane railroad and my grandfather and his brothers went on to open a restaurant in southwest Washington.


My fondest memories of my great grandmother are of her enduring strength and love, her impish laugh, and of course, her cooking.  The following is a dish that we often eat at family gatherings. Technically this dish is called Armenian Dolma, but we have always referred to it as Sarma.  The measurements are approximations and ingredients may vary depending on preference.  This one, however, tastes like home to me….



ARMENIAN DOLMA (SARMA) serves 4-6


meat mixture: 
1 small onion, finely chopped
2.5 – 3 pounds hamburger, ground lamb, or a combination (I prefer hamburger only)
3/4 cup long grain white rice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest 
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
 salt and pepper
COMBINE in a large mixing bowl, careful not to overwork the meat.  ADD a liberal amount of salt and pepper.


1 cup tomato sauce
5-6 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
COMBINE in a small mixing bowl.  SPOON mixture into the hamburger, mixing in the desired amount.


*Cover the meat mixture with saran wrap, refrigerate for an hour or more to soak up the flavors.    



vegetables:
1 green bell pepper, lid removed, hollowed
3 to 4 zucchini,  halved and hollowed (cut the stem off, but leave the ends intact) 
1 head cabbage, blanched in 1 inch of boiling water until leaves are pliable
1 jar brined grape leaves (my aunt swears by California grown leaves), rinsed, spread over towels





assembly:
STUFF the bell pepper and zucchini with meat mixture (this will require you to get your hands dirty, as it is difficult to pack the zucchini without splitting them open)



rolling cabbage and grape leaves: 
PLACE leaf smooth side down, vein side up.  CUT any stems off.  ROLL a small handful of meat between your palms and place just above where the stem has been removed, fold the bottom protruding edges of the leaf up over the meat. FOLD the left then the right edges of the leaf over the meat, then roll to the top edge of the leaf to form a tight cylinder.   



Using a large dutch oven, or oven safe pot with a lid, pack vegetables tightly, placing grape leaves and cabbage seam side down.  POUR approximately 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce over the top.  ADD enough water to completely submerge the vegetables.  SLICE one lemon over the top of the packed veggies and juice (you may also cover with extra grape leaves or zucchini stems for added flavor) COOK at 325 degrees for 3 hours (or up to four, as the rice needs to completely soften).


*If there is room, consider packing oven safe plates over the top of the veggies, juice, and lemons before placing the lid on the pot.  This keeps everything tightly packed and submerged during cooking.  






Traditionally, Armenian Dolma is served with madzoon, or plain white/greek style yogurt and Armenian Rice Pilaf.




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