Saturday, August 27, 2016

White Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce traces it's origins to the late 1790's in Bologna, Italy. The primary ingredient of Bolognese Sauce is meat...typically some combination of veal, pork and/or beef. Bolognese is typically a red sauce, thanks to the addition of tomatoes to the dish.

I absolutely love Bolognese Sauce. But you don't find many people cooking it, or at restaurants out in the wild. It's a labor intensive dish that requires hours of simmering in order to get it right. My favorite Bolognese sauce recipe eliminates a lot of the labor, but still requires eight hours of simmering in a slow cooker. You can check it out here:

Today's recipe is a totally different take on Bolognese Sauce. It's a tomato-free recipe served at Locanda Verde, a modern Italian taverna inside Robert De Niro's Greenwich Hotel. Chef Carmanelli simmers ground veal and pork in white wine and half-and-half, creating a velvety cream sauce to toss with the pasta. It's every bit as labor intensive as it's red sauce counterpart, but the results are well worth the effort.

For Bolognese Sauce, any pasta will do. However, I am partial to the big wide ribbons you see in the photo. They are called pappardelle. It's not always something that grocery stores carry (it's more of a specialty item). I buy mine in bulk (Garofalo brand) from Also, this recipe calls for ground veal...which is also difficult to find at most grocery stores. You can have your butcher grind you some, or, do as I do: I find that ground, grass-fed beef is a sufficiently mild enough substitute for veal in this recipe.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
2 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
3 strips of bacon, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped white mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped celery root
1/2 pound pappardelle 
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

  1. In a large casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the veal and pork and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nearly cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook over moderate heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole, until evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the half-and-half and chicken stock to the casserole, then stir in the thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, garlic, crushed red pepper, nutmeg and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper. Bring just to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms and celery root and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. 
Stir the vegetables into the Bolognese sauce, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced just slightly, about 25 minutes longer. Discard the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and sage leaves. Season the Bolognese sauce with salt and black pepper and keep warm over very low heat. 
  5. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and cooking water to the Bolognese sauce and toss over moderate heat until the pasta 
is well coated, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a large, shallow bowl and serve right away, passing Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.

Wine pairing: Chianti

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Carne Asada

If I had to  give a theme to my cooking this summer, I would have to call it "Great Things to Put into Flour Tortillas". At any given time I've got 60 flour tortillas in my fridge. They are great for a quick, healthy meal after my noon workout... a little leftover beef or chicken, lettuce, onions and a squirt of Sriracha...all tucked into a small flour tortilla.

I posted last month about one of my all-time favorite tortilla dishes, Slow Cooker Barbacoa Shredded Beef. That recipe was a gift from the gods. Today's recipe is a gift from Roy Choi. He is from Los Angeles and is credited with creating the Korean Taco Food Truck craze that the entire city is obsessed with.

In 2010, Roy was named as one of the "New Best Chefs" by Food and Wine magazine. In the history of the magazine, he was the first food truck operator to be given that distinction. His Carne Asada recipe is a true mash-up of Mexican and Korean flavors. While I like putting the meat in my flour tortillas with some Pico de Gallo, this recipe is so good that it can stand on it's own. Thanks, Roy!

Pico de Gallo:

2 jalapeños
1 medium tomato, cored and cut into quarters
1 small yellow onion, cut into quarters
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/3 cup fresh orange juice (juice of 1 orange)
3 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
1/4 cup mirin
One, 12-ounce can of Budweiser or other lager beer
2 pounds of flank or skirt steak
2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Preheat the broiler. Place the jalapeños on a cookie sheet or in a skillet with an ovenproof handle and put them under the broiler until their skins begin to blacken and bubble. (You can also do this by putting the peppers directly over a burner on your stove or on a grill.) Pull the stems and seeds from the jalapeños and discard them; skin the peppers and put them into a food processor.
  2. Add the tomato, onion, garlic, sugar, ancho chili powder, black pepper and salt to the bowl of the machine and pulse to combine. Add the cilantro, the fruit juices, mirin and beer. Process again until smooth.
  3. Transfer the marinade to a large, nonreactive bowl and submerge the steak in it. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
  4. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  5. When all coals are covered with gray ash and the fire is hot (you can hold your hand 6 inches over the grill for only a few seconds), remove steaks from marinade, drizzle with olive oil and place on the grill directly over the coals. Cover grill and cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes on the other side. Remove steak from grill, tent with foil and let steak rest for 5 minutes. Then slice into thin strips against the grain and serve.

Pairing: Cerveza por favor.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oven Roasted Potato Hash

When I grill steak, my favorite side is a generous helping of buttery hash browns. But I also am quite partial to hash browns' bigger, stronger brother...hash. Hash browns are typically made with shredded potatoes while hash is made from diced potatoes. And while you are certainly welcome to dice your own potatoes, I like to cheat.

If you slide over to the refrigerated section of your grocery store (same place you find Dairy), you'll find Simply Potatoes. They've taken all the trouble out of it and pre-diced them for you. Grab two bags and 90% of the labor in this recipe just disappeared.

I love hash because it's big and hearty and it has a lot of really different flavors. I was ecstatic to find this new hash recipe in last Sunday's New York Times. This Sam Sifton recipe looked so good, I made a special trip to the store to get all of the ingredients. Bacon, butter, taters, onion, bell pepper, cheddar cheese and scallions.

And the recipe had something I had never come across when cooking hash. Sam created an awesome sauce to finish the dish with. It was a delightful blend of sour cream, lime juice and chipotles en adobo. It was the best tasting hash I have ever had! This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.


For the Hash
4 slices of thick sliced, smoked bacon
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, or 2 bags "Simply Potatoes Diced Potatoes"
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3 scallions, sliced thin, green parts only

For the Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced


    1. Preheat oven to 400º.
    2. Put the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place in the oven and cook the bacon through — until it is chewy and going to crisp — approximately 15 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. There should be a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan. If there is more, discard it.
    3. Add the butter to the bacon fat, then put the potatoes, onions and red peppers onto the pan and stir to coat. Spread the potatoes, onions and red peppers out evenly across the pan and return it to the oven for 20 minutes.  Then take it out again and use a spatula to turn everything over. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are beginning to crisp, then turn them once more and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice and minced chipotles en adobo, to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
    5. When the potatoes are well crisped, take the pan out of the oven. Increase oven temp to 450º and turn on "Convection Roast" if your oven has that function.
    6. Season the hash with salt and pepper. Dice the reserved bacon and scatter it on top of the potatoes, then top with the shredded cheese. Stir to combine, and return the pan to the oven until the cheese has melted, about 3-5 minutes. Tip into a mound on a serving tray, drizzle with the sauce, garnish with the scallions and serve.

    Pairing: Given that I am serving this hash with a steak, I'd reach for a big, bold Malbec. 

    Saturday, August 6, 2016

    Steak and Poblano Quesadillas

    I am an unashamed carnivore. The staple of my carnivore diet is steak. I could eat steak seven nights a week and be a very happy camper. However, there are certain factions in my household that will say absolutely horrible things to me like "Could we have chicken tonight?" How sharp is the serpent's tooth than that of a thankless spouse? Do they not see the boundless delight I when I went shopping last Thursday and found bone-in New York Strip Steaks for $6.99 per pound?

    In order to make people feel like they are not eating steak seven nights a week means you have to change up how you present it. Grilled rib-eye one night. Steak Caesar salad the next. Maybe a little steak jello for dessert the next night. The recipe I am sharing today is a favorite because you can actually hide the steak deep in the tortilla. "Why, yes, thank you. I found this new marinade for chicken and isn't it great? Almost tastes like steak! "

    Before I get into the recipe, I want to share a little secret I have for you. I have a really good fajita rub recipe. The problem is it's a little tedious. I keep promising myself I am going to make it in bulk, but the reality is that I have only done that once in my 64 trips around the sun. So I started doing some research on the Interwebs. I'm a huge fan of a company called Obie-Cue as they make a delicious rub called Steakmaker. The guy that owns Obie-Cue is a 3-time World BBQ Champion from Grand Prairie, TX. My research took me right back to Obie-Cue and their rub called "Fajita Fabulosa".

    I ordered a bottle from Amazon and couldn't wait to try it (thanks to all the great reviews). I tried it out a couple of days later and the reviews were right. Absolutely great stuff straight out of the bottle. My fajita rub composition time just went from ten minutes to zero. Authentic fajita taste and all I have to do is unscrew the cap. This is the real fajita deal. It would probably go great on chicken, too....but here's to hoping I never find out. Oh, the horror.

    One, 16-ounce New York Strip Steak
    1 heaping tablespoon Fajita Fabulosa
    2 medium poblano chile peppers, stems removed
    Four, 10-inch flour tortillas
    2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
    1 lime, cut into wedges


    1. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat.
    2. Remove steak from refrigerator and apply rub to both sides of the steak. Let steak rest on the counter for 1 hour.
    3. Grill the steak directly over the coals, with the lid closed, for 5 minutes per side.  At the same time, grill the poblano chiles directly over the coals until evenly charred on all sides, 7 to 9 minutes, turning as needed. 
    4. When steak is done, remove it from the grill and tent with foil and let it rest for a minimum of 5 minutes. After it has rested, slice the steak into thin strips.
    5. When peppers are done remove them from grill and let them cool. Then remove charred skins (discard). Roughly chop the flesh.
    6. Lay the tortillas in a single layer on a work surface. Evenly divide the steak, chiles, and cheese over half of each tortilla. Fold the empty half of each tortilla over the filling, creating a half circle, and press down firmly. Grill the quesadillas over the coals with the lid closed, until well marked and the cheese is melted, 4 to 6 minutes, turning once. Allow the quesadillas to cool for a minute or two before cutting into wedges.  Serve with lime wedges.

    Pairing: You know the drill. It's Mexican, so I'm pairing it with my very favorite Cerveza.