Monday, December 21, 2009

Forget the Salad: Red Beans with Meat

"A pot of beans flavored with meat--sometimes just what you want." True. This recipe is not for the faint of heart--it includes both ham hocks and sausage. I was hoping it'd be like the beans at Margon, my favorite Cuban spot in NYC.

I didn't soak the beans, so they took forever (at least I think that's why they took so long). It works like this: you take the beans, cover them with cold water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and add the ham hock. I was using a trotter from Flying Pigs' Farms, purveyors of the finest pork I've ever had. It cost about four dollars, and was worth five times that in flavor. Easily.


While that simmers, brown the sausages all over in a skillet, pricking them to release fat. When they're nicely colored, and there's a good bit of grease in the pan, remove them and cut into small chunks (it's cool if they aren't totally cooked, they're going right back in a few minutes anyway). Sautee onions, garlic and red peppers in the sausage grease until soft, then remove, add the sausage back to the pan, cook it through until it's all nice and brown, then return the onion mixture back to the pan with thyme, bay leaves, allspice and tomato (I used canned, which worked great). Stand over the pot, trying not to eat all of this mixture with a spoon.


So now the meat in the beans should be pretty soft, and you can take it out and chop up the meat and return it to the beans if you like. When you do, also add in the sausage and veg mixture. From there, it's "anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether you soaked [the beans]." Apparently, though, it's more like 4 hours if you didn't soak the beans. Lesson learned, Bittman!


Enjoy with anything, really. I paired with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey, and Orange, a salad we forgot to serve, and family friends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Remember Thanksgiving? It Happened.

It was weeks ago already, and I've been totally missing in action ever since. Probably because I just came out of the resulting food coma. I know, I know, it's halfway to New Year's already, but I'm just now getting around to posting a wrap-up of the big day.


Ari, my cousin, made the turkey. He's been doing this for a few years now, and he's really good at it. Look at that turkey thigh! It's moist as can be. And I got a wing, which is always fun, because, you know, it's like a chicken wing, only HUGE.


I made the stuffing I talked about earlier, doctoring up some Whole Foods' brand stuffing mix with Dipaola turkey sausage (IT'S THE BEST) and a ton of fresh celery and onions. It was really good, just what I was hoping for.

I also made a bunch of roasted root veggies: blue potatoes, purple carrots, shallots, and jerusalem artichokes mixed with a ton of fresh rosemary and minced garlic, pimenton, salt and pepper. What could go wrong? Nothing, that's what.


There was also a lentil salad I brought along. It was really good--lentils cooked in vegetable stock, some chopped up carrots and shallots, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper, mixed just til combined. This one's great to take to a party because it keeps really well, and it tastes even better if you make it a few days beforehand.

I also made an incredibly large--3+ gallons--batch of the Potato Leek Soup, a recipe that I've now made more times than I can count. How can just three ingredients come together to be so rich and satisfying? It's particularly good for tiding people over while various sides go in and out of the oven in preparation of the big feast.


So, that was Thanksgiving! Thanks to Aunt Susan and Uncle Jay for hosting everyone (I believe there were about 300 of us in total) and to everyone who brought or made some form of deliciousness, and especially to Mom for decorating the tables and making everything so pretty (that's her handiwork pictured above). I am truly thankful for such a large, loving family that I genuinely look forward to spending time with. And that's to say nothing of how thankful I am for all of you out there reading this. There's more on my list, but those two will have to do for now. Hope you all had a great holiday, and good luck with all the Christmas, Hannukah, New Years', and whatever else parties you all have coming up!