Slow Cooked Pork Pasta

The kids are very happy today.  There is nearly 6 inches of snow on the ground so they got a snow day.  Granted back in my day we wouldn’t have had the day off!  I literally walked up hill both ways.  Not sure if we’re getting soft or just more safety conscious.

I did take a short video of our lovely snow storm but it turns out in the past few months WordPress decided to not let the lowly plebs upload videos anymore.  But you can see it on Instagram if you wish.  I guess this means I really need to get off my duff and upgrade the site!

We’re making progress on the room we are reworking.  Got the primer on the walls and picked up the flooring this weekend.  So I needed an easy dinner to put together with the kids coming back for the week.

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Doing a slow cooked pork dish fit the bill.  Because of what we had going on I had time to toss everything into the baking dish and that’s about it.  If you have more time, brown the pork before you put it in the dish.  However, if you don’t have time it will still be delicious.

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Add a half a large red onion, finely chopped, with a few cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped to the baking dish.  Then add a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of red wine.  Season with sea salt, pepper, some red pepper flakes, and a couple of teaspoons of oregano.  Bake at 300F/150C for several hours until the pork is tender and falling apart.  Taste halfway through to adjust the seasoning.

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Toss in the pasta and serve.  Grate with a hard Italian cheese and enjoy.  This is a very easy flavourful dish to make when life is crazy busy.  And of course a nice glass of red wine goes nicely with this.  🙂

 

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Rustic Red Wine Lamb Stew

It was no surprise last week that I got to the point of being really tired of turkey.  Given that it is a large bird, you have to be very creative with leftovers to use it up.  I needed something different!  It was a raw and rainy day so it also had to be comfort food.

Red wine lamb stew 1 2015

I had some stewing lamb to use so I thought a red wine stew would do the trick.  Very often the stewing meat comes in large pieces so I cut them down to smaller pieces.  Makes it easier to eat.  Dredge the meat in flour and season with sea salt and pepper.

Red wine lamb stew 2 2015

In a large saucepan heat up some olive oil and start browning the lamb.  While that is browning, cut up a scallion and a few cloves of garlic.  Finely chop up a small handful of rosemary.  Add it all to the saucepan.

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Cook for a few minutes more then add about a cup of good red wine.  Bring to a simmer and add a couple chopped mushrooms.

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Add 3 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Keep it on a low simmer for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop and the meat to get nice and tender.  Closer to dinner time add either potatoes or pasta.  I chose pasta for this stew.  I also added some sliced carrots.  I didn’t add them at the beginning because I don’t like mushy carrots, just like I don’t like mushy peas!

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Add buttered rustic toast and it was a great bowl to enjoy in comfy pjs and a bit of tele.  I’m not complaining about the raw rainy day though.  This winter has been mild so far, may it continue!  Saves on the heating bills.  🙂

Red Wine Chorizo

The first flurry of the holidays, Thanksgiving, is past and we’re into the flurry of activity getting ready for Christmas.  Our son was all excited once the meal of Thanksgiving was over because that meant the Christmas songs could start playing!  I swear that kid would play those songs year round, crazy kid.  Egg nog is pretty much the only thing that we do Christmas wise before December.  Well, that and the cards.

I normally use Shutterfly for the cards and family photo books.  This is the last year I’ll do that for the cards. Couldn’t use that site for the book because they took away a lot of features I like to use.  So I am trying to learn Blurb.  A big feature I like is to use my photos as a faded background.  Blurb doesn’t do that either but I can fade them using GIMP.  Just a bit of jumping through hoops to get the book done.  So that is getting pushed out to the New Year.  But I hear Blurb is good for creating books like cookery books so I figure now is a good a time as any to learn.  I am curious which software of Blurb to use so I’d be interested in feedback.

The recipe I’m showing here was done for my husband’s birthday to go along with the jerk chicken I made.  It came from a book my family found for me at the annual library sale.  It is called Tapas by Susanna Tee.  I found an easy recipe for chorizo simmered in red wine.  Something easily eaten at a party.

I would recommend finding good quality chorizo.  We found average chorizo and it didn’t absorb the wine during the marinating stage as well as it should have.  No worries, it came out in the end.

Wine chorizo 1 2015

To start, always pick a good wine.  Never use cooking wine or plonk.  If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with!

In a saucepan, bring to a boil about a cup of the red wine.  Then cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl big enough for the sausages.  Prick the sausages and marinate overnight.

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When you are ready to cook these, slice the chorizo into pieces.  Add them to a skillet.  Warm a couple of tablespoons of brandy then pour into the skillet.  And, this is the fun part, light it up!

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As fun as this is, be careful.  Not all flame is visible and you don’t want to get burned.  You can see in the picture the sausage didn’t really suck in the wine.  I suspect, better chorizo would do that.  Once the brandy has cooked off add the wine you used to marinate the sausages.  Simmer on medium heat until the wine has reduced quite a bit.

To serve, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the chorizo.

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This is a great dish for a tapas meal, party, or potluck.  And it is very easy to make which is always good.  🙂

Rabbit and the Need to Strangle a Cock….

4am.  Still dead of night as far as I am concerned.  Cock-a-doodle-doo!  My husband then rolls out of bed to close the ceiling window because I’m too short to reach it.  Every morning the bloody thing would go off.  And it would go all day.  There is another one down the road that answers but that is more muted.  Ours was about 10 feet from our window. I say was as this morning it’s been quiet.  I’m wondering if coq a vin is on the menu next door.  If I never hear another cock-a-doodle-doo I’ll be a happy camper.

On my list of ingredients to cook while here in France was rabbit.  So off to the market we went in search of one.  

 
We were successful.  Good thing I asked the head be removed.  An unfortunate thing about the kitchen we’re using, aside from a very anemic oven, is the knives are very dull.  We’ve tried sharpening them without a whole lot of success.  Which made butchering this rabbit quite the chore!  My MIL helped as I had to wrestle it to submission.  I ended up removing the legs and then took what I could of the remaining meat to add to the sauce.  I didn’t want to waste the rest of the rabbit so when my MIL suggested making a quick stock I went in that direction.  In a saucepan I covered the rabbit in water, added a shallot, salt and pepper, and thyme.


Bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Once that is done heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the legs of the rabbit.

  

While that is happening, prep a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some fresh rosemary.

  
Remove the rabbit legs and set aside.  Sauté the onions and garlic until they soften.  Add some of the rabbit stock to simmer with the onion and garlic.

 
Add the rabbit bits and rosemary and sauté for a few more minutes.  I bought some local mushrooms at the market which were really nice.  I sliced a few and added them the the skillet.  Again add some stock.  About half a cup or 4 ounces each time.

  

Chop up a few tomatoes.  I also had a can of diced tomatoes that needed to be used.  Toss these in and add 4-8 ounces of red wine.  Bring to a simmer and add the rabbit legs to finish off cooking.

  
The tricky bit is not to over cook and toughen the meat.  In fact after simmering awhile there was still a bit of rabbit on the larger leg that wasn’t cooked through.  We still had plenty of meat to go round.  

 
The sauce with the stock was really nice.  Not sure if I’d cook a lot of rabbit going forward.  It was nice but not something I would crave.  But I can cross this off the bucket list so to speak.  

Today is packing day as we have a long journey home.  I’ll miss this place.  I’ve loved the food, the sightseeing, working on the language, and the leisurely meals.  No one rushes you and it’s perfectly fine to have a glass of wine or two with lunch.  And I could eat bread here with minimal side effects.  It’s been fabulous!  But back to reality I’m afraid. 

Homemade Sausage Ravioli with Arrabiata Sauce

For Father’s Day we like to cook my husband dinner.  Just like they do for me for Mother’s Day, we come up with a menu and the kids help out with the food prep.  It was such a gorgeous weekend.  We finally got some tennis in.  We managed to get a few volleys back and forth so we felt good about that.  Plus we made a dent in the garden chores.

For my birthday my kids had given me a ravioli form so I wanted to try it out.  I need to practice with it but I did make homemade sausage ravioli and as my husband loves spicy sauces I did an easy arrabiata sauce.  This meal did take a few hours so it is definitely a weekend deal.

I started with the ravioli stuffing as it had to cool before mixing it with cheese and stuffing the pasta.  Finely chop half a cup of onion and 4 cloves of garlic.  I also grabbed thyme from the garden.

Sausage Ravioli 1 2014

In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute the garlic, onion, and a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme.  After the onion has softened add 1/2 a lb of Sweet Italian sausage or Hot Italian sausage.  Whatever you have on hand.  Add 1/3 a cup of nice red wine.  Cook until the meat is cooked.

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Set aside to cool.  Prep the homemade pasta and let it rest.  Once the sausage has cooled mix in half a cup of ricotta cheese and half a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  After the pasta has rested roll it out in sheets.  Place one sheet on the ravioli mold and create the dents.

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Fill with the sausage mixture.

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Coat with beaten egg. Place another sheet over the sausage mixture and then roll over the pasta.  I struggled with this bit.  I had to use a pasta cutter to separate the individual raviolis.  And it was a struggle to keep the air out.

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Chill the ravioli in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.  For the sauce saute onion and garlic in olive oil.

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Add 1/2 a cup of the same red wine used for the sausage.  Add crushed or diced tomatoes.  I could have used a 14 oz can but I used a 28 oz can and it was a bit much but my husband loves sauce so it didn’t go to waste!  Bring to a simmer and add a few teaspoons of red pepper flakes as well as salt and pepper to taste.

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Add a handful of basil near the end of cooking to the dish.  Start cooking the ravioli at this point in boiling salted water as it only needs to cook for about 4 minutes.  Once it is cooked add it to the sauce.

Sausage Ravioli 9 2014It knocked our son’s socks off but we all loved the simple sauce with the ravioli.  And we got to eat outside and enjoy the lovely evening.

Slow Cooked Lamb with a Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Earlier this year I cooked my first piece of lamb with a mushroom rub with a shoulder cut.  I had commented that while the flavour was amazing the meat didn’t come out as tender as I would have liked.  There were a few recommendations stating that a shoulder cut should be slow cooked.  As we had more shoulder cuts that is how I chose to do it this time.  The results were much better with really tender meat.

Preheat the oven to 275F/135C

I salt and peppered the lamb then heated up a skillet with olive oil to sear the lamb.  Sear both sides for about 4 minutes each.  If it is a thicker piece then do it for longer.

Slow cooked lamb 1 2013

Chop up several cloves of garlic and some fresh rosemary.  We have a plant that survived all winter so I was able to use that.  And for someone that is horrible with houseplants, this is huge!

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In a shallow baking pan put in 1 cup stock of your choice.  I used turkey stock and added the garlic, rosemary, and the lamb.

Slow cooked lamb 3 2013

I decided to use this red wine as it’s a great drinking wine.  Not very mellow so I think in hindsight I would choose a mellow Italian but this wine was really good with the roasted potatoes and parsnips I served with this.

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I added about 3/4 cup of wine to the dish.

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Cover and slow cook for about an hour and a half.  If it is a thicker cut cook longer until it is done the way you want it.

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Remove the lamb and over with tin foil and keep in a warm place while you finish the sauce and the rest of the dinner.  I put the plate on top of the toaster oven that I was roasting the veg in.  Pour the liquid into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Add a bit of flour to some water and add to the sauce to thicken.  Because the wine was a strong flavour I added a bit of veg bouillon to give a bit of depth to the sauce.  Reduce down.

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Once the veg is done, plate and drizzle the sauce over the lamb.

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I really enjoyed this dish and will definitely experiment with the slow cooking of this meat.