November 24th, 2009

And The Winner Is…

another beefy hero

Recently, Whole Foods and Le Creuset co-sponsored a pre-Thanksgiving fundraiser at our Second Harvest Food Bank. For a mere $5.00 donation to Second Harvest, you got to sample quite the array of T-Day mainstays and sides, as cooked up by the Whole Foods catering department.

Tasty stuff, too–including free-range heritage bird and gravy, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin, sour cherry and pecan pies.

And, you got a raffle ticket–for which, Le Creuset donated a 5 1/2 qt. Dutch Oven as The Prize.

The luck of the draw: I won the raffle! I couldn’t believe it. Happy, happy. I was so tickled by this, I felt like a big goofy kid. Sometimes, it’s really nice to win.

The Le Creuset store manager, Joseph, let me pick out the color. I had get the Fig. Isn’t it gorgeous? This is my second raffle win in as many years (in the spring of ’08 I won 2 blueberry bushes in a drawing at our farmers market) so, I guess you could say that I’m on a roll…

the raffle prize

And, I must say that this wondrous Dutch Oven came into my possession at the most timely of moments–our Third-Thursday Community Pot Luck Dinner was coming up, and I had wanted to make some winey-frenchy-stewy dish using beef rump roast I purchased from Walnut Hills Farm. The recipe is part Boeuf Bourguignon, part Boeuf à la Mode–we’ll call it Boeuf à Ma Mode..(that’s beef, my style)

in the marinade

The heavy enameled cast iron pot went right to work, marinating the meat overnight.

Marinade (for about 5 lbs. Beef Roast)
2 cups Red Wine
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
several sprigs fresh Thyme
Salt and Black Pepper

Mix up these ingredients and pour over the beef. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning the meat at least once, after several hours.

browning the meat

The next day: Remove the beef from the marinade—save the marinade—and brown it well on all sides. While it’s browning, you can get your veggies ready.

Boeuf à Ma Mode
Marinated Beef
2 Shallots, chopped
2 large Onions, diced
3 ribs Celery, small dice
4 Carrots, small dice
2 Bay Leaves
Reserved Marinade
2+ cups Red Wine
2+ cups Vegetable or Beef Broth
1 lb. Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
2 T. Butter
Salt and Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Dark Roux
Fresh Thyme and Rosemary

sauteeing the vegetables

Sauté the vegetables in the browned drippings left by the meat–add a little more olive oil, if needed. These sturdy ones will go far in forming a rich flavor foundation for this stew, and will actually cook down so far —over time with the meat—as to almost disappear.

add broth

After you return the meat to the pot, pour in the wine and broth, and toss in the bay leaves.

Then, just cover, turn the heat down low, and forget about it for four hours. In the meantime, you can get your mushrooms ready.


Brown the mushrooms in butter, salt, and black pepper in a separate pot. Enhance with red wine.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces. (discarding any fat or gristle.)

Thicken the stock with your roux, stir in mushrooms and meat. Simmer and serve.

This rich savory stew served a lot of folks at the Third-Thursday dinner.

pot of beef tips

Delicious spooned over noodles or rice, this beautiful beef stew also makes a special, hearty meal when served with this colorful roasted winter vegetable medley. A real winner!

beefy hero

Posted in Meats/Poultry, Recipes, Soups/Stews | 9 Comments »

November 16th, 2009

First We Make a Roux

hero 1 gumbo

Periodically, as GFM readers know, I duck out of city life–if only for a few daytime hours–to clear my head, breathe in a little countrified air, and cook up something tasty with prima-donna- south-louisiana-cuisinière-extraordinaire, friend Maggie.

Seeing as we each had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, between us, we realized, were the fixin’s for a my-t-fine gumbo.

I had a pound of shrimp and a chicken breast in my freezer. Along with one lonely piece of andouille sausage, Maggie had the veggies, including tomatoes, peppers, and okra harvested from her garden.

And, the essential oil–flour–cast iron skillet. Roux!

Gumbo-making is really an easy process, but you need to allot a chunk of time for the roux. About 1 hour and 10 minutes, in this case. Once made, though, it will last a long time, and serve to thicken sauces and soups, adding that particular toasty note.

And there is something special about a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet–it just does a righteous job taking roux to deep mahogany .

step 1 flour

Maggie’s skillet almost disappears on her black stovetop!

step 2

The wooden spoon feels like the right utensil for stirring.
This is low heat, low tech, baby! Feel the love.

step 3

Oh, yez—it’s gettin’ thick.
Keep moving the flour/oil around in the skillet so that it won’t stick.
Don’t turn your back so it won’t burn—
that would spell the bitter end to the batch!

step 4

Whoo-hoo! So shiny and pretty!
Once the roux begins to really get that rich dark red-brown color, remove it from the burner. The residual heat in the skillet will continue to cook it somewhat.
Your roux is good-to-go.

The Roux
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups unbleached white flour
cast-iron skillet, wooden spoon, a little over one hour of your undivided loving attention. It’s a zen-thing.

makes about 2 cups of nice, dark roux.
Now, on to the Gumbo….

Some make gumbo with shrimp and andouille sausage.
Some make it with chicken and andouille sausage.
We decided to go for the whole she-bang,
because we could. But the beauty of gumbo is that you can take it whatever direction suits your fancy. If you want to make it with a turkey kielbasa, that’s cool, too.


Maggie maintains that gumbo should have good kick—but not be fire-breathing fierce. That’s why it is traditionally served with hot sauce on the side.

You’ll find that this gumbo will develop more heat over time—thanks to the andouille. It’s better the next day, if it lasts that long.

She also believes that no herbs are needed; if you have good stock, smoky-hot sausage, vegetables, and your brown-gold, you’ll have abundant flavor.

okra in the pot

After you’ve sauteed “the trinity,” it’s time to throw in the okra.

add the roux

Spooning in the roux: Isn’t the contrast amazing?

ready to serve

Everything Gumbo (Shrimp, Chicken, Andouille Sausage)

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
2 Bell Peppers, diced
3-4 ribs Celery, leaves included, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups chopped, roasted Okra
2 cups Tomatoes and juice
1 piece about 1/4 lb. Andouille Sausage, sliced thin
1 cup Roux
1 Chicken Breast, roasted, meat pulled, chunked, pan deglazed for chicken stock (you can use whatever piece(s) of chicken you like)
1 lb large Shrimp, peeled and deveined–reserve shells for stock
Stocks: 2 cups shrimp stock, 2 cups roasted chicken stock**
a couple of pinches or so of cayenne–you decide

Heat olive oil in a stockpot on medium and add “the trinity”–onions, bell peppers, and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the okra—frozen chopped okra from the supermarket works just fine—most of us don’t have 15 bags in our freezer harvested from our garden like Maggie does!

Then add canned tomatoes and juices. The okra will begin to cook down–adding its own thickening power. Add shrimp stock, chicken stock. Stir well, and put in the andouille sausage. It will impart smokiness and a distinctive kick.

NOW it’s time to stir in the “brown-gold”—the mixture will get all glossy. You can tweak viscosity with more or less liquid or roux.
Taste for salt, and season.
Chicken next.
Last thing: the shrimp. Stir them into the hot pot, cover, and remove from heat. This way the shrimp will cook, but won’t toughen or get mealy.

Serve over jasmine rice. Wow.

Makes over 3 quarts.

the spread_001

**shrimp stock is made quickly–like in 15 minutes of simmering shrimp shells in 2-3 cups of water with a piece of onion, lemon, celery leaves, salt and black pepper.
**chicken stock is made by simply deglazing your chicken roasting pan with 2 cups of water and scraping up all the browned bits

shrimp stock

Posted in Recipes, Soups/Stews | 7 Comments »