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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chili Verde with Sausage and Butternut Squash

I'm always looking for ways to use the other half of that enormous butternut squash that's still in my fridge. Well, you know me and all things chili...throw in the kitchen sink. But this is a special one -chili verde. And it has three key ingredients that I absolutely love: tomatillos, sausage, and hominy. Let me be clear about something though, I had never cooked with hominy before I made this and I actually didn't even know what it was and always wondered. I thought it was a bean (??). But it's not. It's corn. It's like eating boiled corn nuts. I will never turn back.

Tomatillo Base
1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed
5 jalapenos - deveined and seeded to your own tolerance of hotness
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onion, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro

1 yellow onion roughly chopped
1 lb sausage meat out of the casing
1 1/2 tsp oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can of hominy, liquid included
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cups diced butternut squash

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and onion on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Broil until softened and slightly charred, turning once. Let cool to room temp. Put the cooled veggies in a blender temp and puree with the cilantro.

2. As the broiled veggies cool, heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up as you go. Spoon out most of the excess fat and add the garlic.

3. Add the blended tomatillo mixture, hominy (and liquid), cilantro, and squash. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender.

Pork Medallions with Soy/Maple Drizzle and Sweet Potato Mash

Fall weather is here...and so is comfort food. Meat and potatoes, please! In the summer I grill everything, in the winter you'd think I roast. But I don't. It takes to long. I braise or sear, depending on if I have four hours or 15 minutes. Maybe when Jack's 15 years old and eating like a horse I'll have a reason to roast a three pound hunk of beef. Anyway, this is from Cooking Light and is super easy and quick (should take 20-30 mins, prep included) and still gives that "slaved over an oven" vibe that a comfort meal kinda needs.

Maple Drizzle
2 tsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Pork Medallions
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1lb pork tenderloin cut crosswise into 12 medallions
Dash of salt, garlic powder, pepper

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper

1. Start with the potatoes - add potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 10 min or until the potatoes are soft and mashable.

2. While potatoes are cooking, heat a large pan over medium high heat. Arrange the pork on a plate or cutting board and gently press each with the palm of your hand to flatten them a bit. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic salt. Add oil to the pan and cook the pork, about 3 mins per side. Remove and let rest for about 5 mins.

3. Drain the potatoes, mash them and add butter, milk, salt and pepper.

4. Make the drizzle - melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add lime juice, maple syrup, soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir together the water and cornstarch and add to the sauce to thicken. Drizzle over the pork and serve with potatoes.

Orange Marmalade

I have a million memories of my grandma Jeanne, but there are a few things - certain sounds, tastes, sights, and smells that immediately bring her back. The smell of roasting beef, the sound of cards shuffling, horseradish, old fashions, the sight of a perfectly sharpened pencil resting on a NYT crossword puzzle, and orange marmalade. We didn't really eat much orange marmalade growing up but at grandma's house, it was what you put on toast. And it was always homemade. I started making it myself a few years ago, usually around the holidays when the cold weather sets in and the oranges and grapefruits are starting to get good. After marrying an Irish guy, I realized that orange marmalade is something that should must be in the fridge at all times, with a dozen on reserve at all times because you never know who will stop by and leave with a jar.

This is based on Alton Brown's recipe. I like to make mine with a little grapefruit to add a little extra zing.

4-5 oranges - use juice oranges not navels, thinly sliced on a mandoline, seeds removed, and chopped
1 grapefruit, thinly sliced on a mandoline, seeds removed, and chopped
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
6 cups of water
3 lbs plus 12 oz sugar

1. Put the oranges into a large pot (8-10qt pot). Add the lemon juice and zest and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently for about 40 minutes - fruit should be very soft.

2. While the oranges are cooking, sterilize the jars and lids in a large pot of boiling water for five minutes. Remove and let dry.

3. Place a small plate in the freezer (so that you can test the consistency of the marmalade later).

4. Bring the orange mixture back to a full boil over high heat and add the sugar. Mix continually until it reaches 223 degrees on a candy thermometer and it's dark in color. It will take quite a while to get dark - wait until it does or you'll have soupy marmalade/failed batch. It should be bubbling up quite a bit, play with the heat if you need to but keep the temp as high as possible and let it thicken.

5. Test the readiness by putting a teaspoon of marmalade on the frozen plate. Wait 30 seconds - if it sets and gels, you're all set. If it runs, keeps cooking.

6. Pour the marmalade into the jars using a funnel. Top and seal the jars.