Recipe: Pot o' Beans

When winter arrives, I think of stews, soups and beans. Meals that warm the heart as well as the stomach. These are well-rounded meals when made with a varied mix of meats and vegetables, all of which are melded into one pot.

Today, think beans. Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure:

  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened.
  2. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside.
  3. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter.
  4. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter.
  5. Start the rice.
  6. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.

Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

Recipe: Bean Pot

We have included some budget-stretching tips in our last 2 deliveries but left one off - beans and summer peas, fortified, enhanced and flavored with our meats. Whether you like pintos, black beans, purple hull, blackeyes, navy or Great Northern beans and peas, making a big pot of beans and meats is a crowd pleaser, economical and a multi-meal treat that is good for you in so many ways. And there appears to be no significant drop-off in taste or nutrition if you choose fresh, dry, or fresh frozen. Here’s how I do it.

Back to the Bean Pot

In your bean pot, add enough olive oil and butter to keep things from sticking. Brown your meat, be that ground pork or beef, or any of our sausages cut into slices. Remove meats when cooked, and add a mirepoix (see our cooking book if that term is strange to you). I suggest diced onion, celery and bell pepper. Fresh jalapeno if you like a little fire. When the vegetables are softened, add beans or peas and stock or water. Cook at slow simmer until beans are softened. Season as you go until your liking. Pop it further with some Tabasco if you like. Enjoy as a 1 piece meal. Make a lot and cover more than one dinner. Delicious and nutritious. While it is “Carby”, these are all complex carbs so much better than pasta, white rice or other processed carbs.

Recipe: Salmon Croquettes

The home I grew up in served fish at every Friday dinner - no exceptions. So let’s talk about salmon and how it can be made palatable. What’s that you say - salmon is palatable in any form? Not to me. Always had a rotten taste on my palate. I didn’t like the smell much less the taste of salmon until I ate extremely fresh and wild salmon. And that’s hard to find these days. If it’s fresh, it is probably farm-raised, where the diet is unnatural and genetics are modified in order to import the orange color to the flesh artificially. If it’s wild, it is rare and outrageously expensive and if it doesn’t taste rotten, you just got lucky. So here’s Mom’s recipe for Salmon Croquettes. It’s the only way I’ll eat it and also the least expensive because it uses canned salmon.

Salmon Croquettes

Ingredients for 12 salmon croquettes:
 

  • 2 cups canned salmon, or you can use fresh
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes to hold it together, or you can depend on the egg 
  • and bread crumbs as a sub for the potatoes.
  • 1 ½ teaspoons anchovy paste (just buy the anchovy filets and mash them yourself)
  • 1/8th teaspoon pepper
  • 1 beaten egg, 2 if you’re not including mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • Bread crumbs

 
Directions:
 

  1. Combine all ingredients, shape, bread and fry the croquettes in a combo of oil and butter until golden brown on each side. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve and eat (fresh fruit is a good compliment to these croquettes. Think melons and peaches here. It is summer after all).

 

Recipe: Blue Deviled Eggs

The simple, inexpensive egg, coming in just below 50 cents each, must be the best Real Food buy on the planet. So I am always looking for new recipes and found this one for deviled eggs. I haven’t taste-tested it yet — I only have to look at the ingredients to know it will be good.

Blue Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs or 12 halves, hardboiled
  • 1/4th cup blue cheese
  • 2 T. Mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ t. minced parsley
  • 1/4th t. Tabasco
  • 1/4th t. celery salt
  • 1 celery stalk, diced    

Directions:

  1. Mix all but the egg white and celery together, then stuff and sprinkle celery on top. 

Notes: Check your mix first, then add 1/4th t. salt if not salty enough from the cheese. A few things I would add? A bit of minced red onion to add crunch and acid. Maybe a dash of mustard and a few bits of jalapeno for bite. Sweet relish? That might go too far. 

Now consider this: put 1 or 2 eggs with a good mixed salad for dinner. You get your protein and vegetables for an inexpensive and fulfilling dinner. Or chop up the whites with the rest of the ingredients, add to a whole grain bread for an egg salad sandwich. Has to be delicious. I’m going out for the ingredients now. Whoo hoo!

Recipe: Oxtail and Vegetable Soup

I love soup, and you should too. It is so satisfying, and there is a reason for that. It contains so much in the way of nutrients. The body knows when it is getting everything it needs in one bowl. And it only gets better when accompanied by a warm, buttery piece of bread.

There are other reasons to recommend soup as a regular entree in your kitchen and on your table. It is a place to put your leftovers. Leftovers that are on the cusp are rehabilitated in soup. That’s a much better solution than what you will do with them if left to deteriorate in your fridge. 
Soups allow you to experiment with and hone your cooking skills. Who knew that turnips will turn from bitter to sweet when combined with carrots and celery in a mirepoix? Only the soup masters.

You don’t have to anguish over a recipe book which constantly reminds you of exact measurements with your spoons and cups. Soup allows you to be an artist rather than a technician. Whoo hoo!

Here are the basic steps: make a mirepoix, find some bony meat item (or just use ground meat), add some vegetables, add some stock. Let it simmer a while. Eat and be merry. Here’s a recent example:

Oxtail & Vegetable Soup

Make a mirepoix with celery, onion, carrot, turnip and garlic. Season this stage and all later ones by adding salt and pepper at each stage to your raw ingredients. It’s much easier to get your seasonings right when you season one step at a time. When it looks right to you, it is right.

As the mirepoix ingredients begin to soften, add oxtail.
When the oxtail is brown and the mirepoix is fully cooked down, even getting a little crusty itself, add some tomato paste and stir it in, then add beef broth, potatoes, carrots, purple hull peas and allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft. Then add sliced cabbage until the cabbage is soft.

Honi and I enjoyed 3 delicious meals with just these ingredients. The only item purchased was 2 quarts of beef stock as we had run out of our own. We paid $3.98 for HEB Organic. Everything else was on hand.

 

Recipe: Asian Pork Meatballs

Nishta Mehra brings on the exotic with this recipe. She assures that the eating makes the complexity worth our while.

Nishta’s Porky Asian Meatballs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground pork (or beef)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine, mirin, or sake
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 large eggs, beaten (2 if you want firmer meatballs)
  • ¼ cup green bean starch (if unavailable, cornstarch will work just fine)
  • 1 pound bok choy, stems trimmed but otherwise intact

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the eggs, starch, and bok choy together in a large bowl and mash vigorously until well-blended. I just use my hands.
  2. Add the starch and mix with a fork (I withdraw the hands-on approach at this point because the starch makes it quite sticky). Beat the eggs and add, mixing again to incorporate. The mixture will seem extremely liquid at first -- just continue to mix and the egg will gradually absorb into the pork, leaving a thick porridge-like mixture. If you want rounder and firmer meatballs that you can shape with your hands, use two eggs instead of three. I thought this yielded meatballs that were lovely and tender, so I used three.
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a large wok, or enough to coat the bottom with about 1/2 inch of oil. Turn the heat to medium and give the oil a few minutes to warm up. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup or a large ice cream scoop, drop balls of the pork mixture into the wok in a single layer. Let sizzle in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned, then flip and cook the other side. Once the meatball is browned on both sides (it doesn't have to be cooked through), remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. You will likely have to fry in two batches.
  4. Once all the meatballs are browned, line the bottom of a large pot with the bok choy leaves. Place the meatballs on top and turn the heat to medium-low. Cover and let steam for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bok choy leaves have wilted and the stems are tender. Serve with rice!

Recipe: Pot o' Beans

Yes, you are eating the premium locally-grown-grass-fed-drug-and-steroid-free-on-organically-grown-pasture-and-forest meats in this region, priced accordingly, (that’s a mouthful!).
So how can you stretch that budget and still eat grandly? Occasionally use JVF meat as a flavor enhancer rather than the entree’ itself.

Here’s one of my favorites and it’s a complete meal in a pot. The only meat you need pull from your freezer is a couple of links of sausage. And the bonus: you will make several meals all at once.

JVF Pot o’ Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sausage (brats or Italian)
  • a medium onion (I like yellow)
  • a bell pepper
  • a stalk of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a big carrot or 3 skinny ones
  • fresh parsley
  • a small box of fresh mushrooms
  • chicken stock (more than a can but less than the 32 oz. size)
  • ½ pound fresh frozen Navy beans (or blackeyes, crowders, purple hull. HEB has very fresh frozen ones this time of year in the fresh produce section. Central Market has them unfrozen from time to time)
  • 2 cup of rice (makes 4 cups cooked rice) Wild and brown mix, or “Cajun Grain” is best.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A dash of Louisiana hot sauce

Procedure:

  1. Chop onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Begin saute’ in butter and olive oil until slightly softened. Slice carrots in fairly thick coins. Hold aside. Slice the mushrooms. Saute’ them in butter. Slice the sausage and add to the vegetable mirepoix you are sauteeing. When the sausage is half-cooked and the vegetables are softened, add the peas and cover with stock about a ½ inch above the peas. Add the carrots immediately and bring to a simmer. Saute’ the sliced mushrooms in butter until slightly browned. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and butter. Start the rice. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the carrots and beans are softened. Turn off fire, add a dash or more of hot sauce stirred in, cover and allow to sit about 15 minutes while it all melds. Serve over rice garnished with chopped fresh parsley. See the photo on Facebook.
  2. Store remainder in fridge because it’s even better the second and third time around. Can it get any better than this? One meat, butter, chicken stock and 8 vegetables in one pot, packed with protein, carbs, a little fat and lots of vitamins and minerals. We are eating grandly on a budget, folks. Live the dream of good food!

Recipe: Pan-Seared Pork Chops

If you have read the JVF Simply Simple Cooking Book, you know that it is a beginners’ guide rather than a recipe cookbook in the traditional sense. It is meant to give you some ideas about the principles of cooking and turn you loose to give it a try. From there you can expand to more elaborate methods. So here is one of those elaborations brought to us from Shannon Hayes, a friend and correspondent from her farm in New York. While I haven’t tried it, I only need see the ingredients and method to know it must be delicious. Use it for any of the pork chops or medallions found in your cooler.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops

Serves 2-4

This recipe is taken from my most recent cookbook, Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Guide to Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies, and Living Deliciously. I never had very good luck turning out a consistently juicy and tender pan-cooked pork chop until I came across this technique, adapted from Bruce Aidell’s Complete Book of Pork. Now I have success every time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in pork rib or sirloin chops, 1¼-inches thick
  • 3 large cloves fresh garlic, 1 minced and 2 peeled but left whole
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, 2 melted, or 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 cup Meat Broth
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Blot the chops dry. Stir the garlic, thyme, black pepper and salt into the melted butter. Brush this on the chops and allow them to come to room temperature.
  2. Put the whole garlic cloves and broth in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer until the garlic is soft and the broth is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Meanwhile, heat a skillet that is large enough to hold two pork chops without crowding them over a medium-high flame.
  3. Add the remaining butter or lard and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chops and sear 2-3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook 2 minutes longer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. The chops should still be sputtering. If you don’t hear this sound, the heat is too low, and your chops run the risk of sweating, which causes them to dry out. Once you hear a gentle sizzle, cover and cook until the chops reach an internal temperature between 145-to-160-degrees, depending on how done you like them, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chops to a platter and allow the meat to rest while you prepare the pan sauce.
  4. Using a fork, thoroughly mash the softened garlic into the reduced broth. Return the skillet to a medium flame. Pour in the garlic reduction and bring it to a simmer, gently scraping up the browned bits from the pan. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by one third. Stir in the bourbon, simmer a minute more, then whisk in the mustard and cream. Pour over the chops and serve.