There were some Silvana Meats hot links left over after my birthday party (along with several pounds of coleslaw, enough hot dog buns for an army and an embarrassment of macaroni salad – guess what I was eating for breakfast all week), so the obvious next step was to make jambalaya. I’ve had great success with the gumbo from James Villas’ wonderful book The Glory of Southern Cooking, so I looked up his jambalaya recipe. I ended up following it almost exactly, except for substituting a pound of large shrimp for the crawfish (and not putting it in until the very end – why does he tell you to cook seafood for twenty minutes?) and adding two hot links, cut into small dice.
Holy moly, it was good. The rice absorbed all the wonderful flavors of the hot links and clam juice, and the texture was perfect. There really isn’t that much difference between this and a paella, except for the lack of saffron or a bottom crust. And it was really, really easy to make.
I might have thought that I could eat carrot-coconut soup with garam masala croutons for a week straight without getting tired of it. As it turns out, I was wrong. But I definitely managed it three days in a row. A few prawns in there didn’t hurt, and neither did a spoonful of sambal oelek on the third day, to liven it up. This was a leftover from a cooking class, it was awesome, and now I’ve had enough. Those croutons were really addictive, though.
I realize I haven’t been around here much, so here’s a nice sandwich to keep things going. Last Sunday we celebrated the start of the wind-and-rain season with a milk-braised pork roast studded with garlic and herbs, serving it with buttermilk mashed potatoes and a fresh arugula salad. It was a big roast, so every day this week my lunch has involved some variation on the pork sandwich – oh, the hardship. Yesterday’s version (pictured) started with a sourdough hoagie roll from the Breadfarm, spread lightly with mayonnaise and dressed with chunks of rewarmed pork, dripping with garlicky milk sauce, and a few leaves of arugula for contrast. Today’s version was the same, but with a freshly home-baked sweet potato roll in place of the hoagie. Zowie.
We had our usual end-of-summer party last weekend (god the weather was fabulous), and to my not-very-great-surprise we had tons of leftovers. The next few days, therefore, became a challenge to see how much of them the two of us could eat without getting completely sick of them. We had shrimp in tomato-chipotle sauce, grilled corn, pinto beans, grilled flank steak, raw seasoned flank steak, cornbread, raspberries, one brownie, two kinds of salsa, corn chips, enough tortillas for two more parties at least, cotija cheese, and crema mexicana. Obviously, we ate a lot of tacos for a few days.
By Monday night, though, I was feeling pretty burned out on the tacos, and we still had that whole uncooked flank steak on hand. We decided to pull out our meat grinder and run it through, then make hamburgers out of it. We did add an egg, since the flank steak made for a pretty lean burger, but it worked very well – the chile-cumin rub that had been on the steak got incorporated into the meat and tasted great. To go alongside I stripped the kernels off the remaining ears of grilled corn, then heated them gently with a few fresh tomatoes that were also left over and a bit of cilantro. With a good drizzle of crema on top and some salty cotija, this made a really nice dinner that, thrillingly, was not tacos.
Day one: thaw beef brisket and rub with BBQ seasoning.
Day two: smoke brisket for six hours with hickory and oak, mopped with vinegar and hot chile. Serve, thinly sliced, with buttermilk coleslaw, cornbread, and awesome wine.
Day three: chop up remainder of brisket and mix with a sauce composed of leftover Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ sauce, vinegar mop sauce, and ketchup. Put in a low oven for a couple of hours to make burnt ends. Pile onto homemade hamburger buns. Make a huge mess eating it. Be happy.
As I suspected, the leftover porcini-tomato sauce from the hunter’s chicken (which we ate all the chicken out of immediately) was really swell with the addition of freshly made oven-baked pork meatballs. And there was yet another reiteration for breakfast the next day, with – you guessed it – an egg on top. The effect was rather like the classic English breakfast, served in a jumble: mushrooms, tomatoes, sausage, and eggs. This is obviously a versatile sauce, and I can definitely see making it again just to go with pork.
I haven’t been doing a good job of documenting our meals lately – I blame it on our garage remodel – so here’s a sandwich from a few weeks back, to give you something new to look at. It was a collection of leftovers that worked splendidly together: steak, grilled eggplant, sauteed chard, yogurt-garlic sauce, and a puree of seasoned chickpeas, all piled onto fresh baguette. When we bit into our sandwiches, the filling squirted out into a pile on our plates and down our fronts, but it was worth it.
Taking every leftover container out of the fridge and dumping it into a soup pot isn’t always a safe technique (or a good idea), but in this case it turned out to be the right thing. We had a few braised short ribs left, and I wanted to stretch them out into a full meal. I had a few other things to use up, and I decided that soup would be perfect, with a slight middle-eastern slant to it.
I started the soup with a bit of onion and garlic sizzled in olive oil, then added a sprinkle of ground cumin and hot paprika. Half a preserved lemon went in, roughly chopped. I thawed a container of broth made from 7-spice roast chicken, so it had a bit of sweet cinnamon flavor to it, and added it to the pot, then stirred in short grain rice and let it simmer.
When the rice was almost done, I added the cut-up short ribs and their juices (including braised leeks), some roasted bell peppers left over from tacos, and some cooked asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes. A random assortment of stuff, maybe, but it pulled together beautifully in the spiced broth, with the rice as the unifying theme. Delicious, warming, and cheap.
This stroganoff was one of those dinners that naturally arises by examining a number of random leftovers: in our case, a container of lebni, a bag of mushrooms, some partial leeks and a bunch of fresh dill left from our post-Easter brunch. Combine all that with some sliced seared steak and some egg noodles and you have a really good quick beef stroganoff.
I don’t think it would have occurred to me to use lebni in a stroganoff, but I liked the effect. It’s similar to sour cream but has a denser texture and is slightly less tart. It worked great with the mushrooms and dill. Come to think of it, that would be a really nice dip or spread right there – maybe I’ll try that next time I have these particular leftovers in the house.
When we ordered our first (half) pig, we debated getting some of it cured by the butcher. In the end, partly because I am cheap frugal, we decided to get it all fresh, hams and side and all. I had been thinking we would cure some ourselves, but I’m beginning to suspect we’ll have eaten it all by the time I get serious about it. Oh, well, there’s always another pig.
But in the meantime, we have these nice big roasts of side pork, otherwise known as pork belly, the cut that is usually made into bacon. We’ve eaten it in restaurants a number of times, but this would be my first time cooking it. I decided to play it safe and make red-cooked pork belly, a classic Chinese preparation.
We’ve tried to get fresh pork belly before, at a local meat shop, but to my dismay they had already sliced it like bacon, even though it wasn’t cured. This time things worked out better, as you can see in the top picture. Isn’t that a beautiful piece of meat?
For my braising liquid, I used a combination of Molly Stevens’ recipe and our own “glazed gingery ribs” recipe. I combined chicken stock, water, brown sugar, red chile flakes, star anise, ginger, scallions and soy sauce in a Dutch oven and brought it to a simmer.