24 January 2011

veal and wild mushroom ragu

This is based very closely on Marcella Hazan's recipe in Marcella Says...

I don't think the exact proportions of the different varieties of mushrooms are essential; however, you do want both dried and fresh, as the dried provide an earthy richness that makes the dish much more interesting.

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
2-4 oz sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms
8-12 oz fresh cremini mushrooms
8-12 oz fresh white button mushrooms
olive oil
1 c finely chopped shallots
4 T butter
1 c finely chopped onion
1-1 1/2 lbs ground veal
1 c dry white wine
1/4 c dry vermouth
6-10 fresh ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

The day before, put the dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms in a heat safe container (I use a 3-cup glass measuring pitcher) and pour very hot or boiling water over them. Let soak overnight. Do the same for the tomatoes if they are very dehydrated. If not, maybe soak for an hour or two before preparing.

When ready to prepare, remove and discard the fresh shiitake stems. Brush mushrooms with a damp cloth as needed to clean them, then slice very thin.

Strain dried mushrooms, pouring liquid into a bowl to set aside. Wash the soaked mushrooms, and cut any oversized pieces into bite-sized ones. Pour the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or paper towel to remove grit and dirt.

Heat the olive oil over medium high in a 12" saute pan, and add the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until colored a deep gold. Add the soaked mushrooms, cook for a minute or two, then add the soaking liquid and cook until liquid has evaporated.

Once liquid is gone, add as many of the fresh mushrooms as will fit, and sprinkle with salt. Turn them over once or twice to coat well, then turn the heat down to medium/medium-low. When the mushrooms have released some liquid and shrunk in bulk, add the remaining mushrooms. Cook, turning over occasionally, until they are very soft and all liquid has evaporated; this will probably take about 90 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, when mushrooms are cooking, put the butter and the chopped onion in a second saute pan. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it begins to brown. Add the ground veal, crumbling it with your fingers or a fork, and turn to coat well. When the meat has browned lightly and uniformly, pour the wine and vermouth into the pan, and add salt/pepper to taste.

Once the wine has bubbled away completely, add the sundried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible (on your smallest burner). Cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Once both meat and mushrooms are finished, empty contents of both pants into a large bowl, and stir gently but thoroughly to combine.

Wipe both pans clean. Divide the meat-mushroom mixture between both pans, and cook on medium low for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. If not using the sauce the same day, empty the contents of both pans into the bowl, cover and refrigerate. Reheat gently but thoroughly before using.

You can refrigerate the finished sauce in a tightly sealed container for 5 days, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Bring to room temp before reheating.

02 January 2011

fried black eyed peas

adapted from a recipe I found in the paper, and inspired by the fried black eyed peas at Relish, in Roswell

16 oz dried black eyed peas (although, if you're Sherm, use chick peas)
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half lengthways
1 celery, cut in half lengthways
1/2 onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
1-2 t Old Bay seasoning (could use any spicy seasoning blend, such as creole)
canola oil, at least a few quarts
other seasonings to taste

Rinse and drain the peas, pick through for stones or other debris.  Put in big pot and cover with cold water.  Let soak overnight.

In the morning, add the celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf and seasoning to the beans and water, and simmer until peas are almost done (done but still a little firm), usually around 40 minutes.  Drain and chill.

When ready to fry, heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy, deep pot to 350 degrees.  Fry peas in batches, using a slotted spoon to transfer them to hot oil.  Be careful not to put too many in, because of the high moisture content, the oil will bubble up significantly when you add the peas.  The oil will drop in temp with each batch, so let it heat back up before doing the next batch.

Fry each batch around 2 minutes, until peas are starting to brown a bit.  Remove with a slotted spoon onto a strainer or paper towels to cool.  Sprinkle with salt and other seasonings of your choice.  Creole seasoning is good, as is lemon pepper.