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The Best Pasta Sauce EVER

26 Oct

My husband and I modified a recipe for pasta sauce that originally appeared in the Pink Adobe Cookbook. The Pink Adobe is a lovely Sonoran restaurant in Santa Fe, along the Old Santa Fe Trail. I HIGHLY recommend you check it out if you’re ever in the area.

This tomato-and-meat based pasta sauce is incredible and excellent atop Rotini noodles. Don’t skimp on the simmering time – it’s needed to develop the full depth of flavor that all of the herbs and spices provide. Trust me, you’ll never crack open a jar of Prego again!!!

Preparation time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves six

Ingredients:

– 1 lb lean ground beef
– 1/2 lb ground pork
– 1 TBSP worcestershire

– 2 stalks of celery, diced
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 1 cup beef broth
– 24-28 oz canned crushed tomatoes (whichever the largest size is in your grocery store)
– 12 oz (two six ounce cans) tomato paste
– 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
– 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
– 1-2 tsp chili powder (depending on how spicy you like your sauce)
– 1 generous pinch EACH of dried oregano, marjoram, rosemary, basil, cumin, thyme
– 1 bay leaf
– salt and pepper to taste

– grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Brown ground beef and ground pork with the worcestershire in a medium skillet. Drain thoroughly.

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until shimmery and saute the onion, garlic, and celery until just transparent. Add the beef broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cheese), plus the cooked ground beef and pork. Stir to combine.

Bring to a LOW simmer and cook, covered, for one hour. Stir occasionally, and add splashes of beef broth, dark beer or red wine if the sauce seems too thick.

Dig around and try to find and remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve over your pasta of choice and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Eat entirely too much. Unbutton top button of pants. Lay on the couch and groan.

Leftovers the next day are PHENOMENAL.

Prime Rib Roast (Standing Rib Roast) with Au Jus

26 Dec

We first made this for Christmas 2009, and it came out so well we that might never go back to our traditional lobster dinner at Christmas (or at least, not for a few years). I compiled this recipe/method from several different sources. In summary, the roast is marinaded for 24 hours before cooking, then rubbed with a paste and seared at a high temperature to seal in the juices and give it a nice crust, before reducing the cooking temp to roast slowly for the remaining cooking time. The result is nicely pink prime rib steaks that fall away from the bone. It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, trust me!

Ingredients:

One well-marbled butcher-tied standing rib roast (keep it tied, don’t remove the twine!):
– 6 people – three rib roast – 7-8.5 lbs
– 8 people – four rib roast – 9-10.5 lbs (this is the size I usually make – it repeatedly feeds six hearty servings with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day)
– 10 people – five rib roast – 11-13.5 lbs
– 12 people – six rib roast – 14-16 lbs
– 14 people – seven rib roast – 16-18.5 lbs

Marinade:
1 1/4 cup dry red wine (I personally prefer cabernet sauvignon)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup water

Rub Paste:
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
(do not salt the roast prior to cooking, it dries it out!)

Basting Liquid:
1 cup beef broth or stock
1/4 cup dry red wine

Au Jus:
Juices from the roast
2 tbsp of fat from the juices (discard remainder)
3 cups beef stock or good quality beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Tools/Utensils:
One large, high sided (about three inches) roasting pan, no rack necessary
One instant read meat thermometer (absolutely required!)
One flat whisk (recommended)
One VERY sharp carving knife (absolutely required, serrated works best!)
Two large meat forks

Instructions:

1. 24 HOURS before cooking the roast, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Place the roast inside a very large tupperware container with a lid. Pour the marinade over the roast, flip it a few times to coat, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Turn the roast several times over the 24-hour period to evenly marinate the meat.

2. TWO HOURS before putting the roast in the oven, remove it from the refrigerator, pat it dry, place it in the roasting pan you’re going to use, cover it loosely with tinfoil, and allow it to sit out on the counter. The meat will cook more evenly, and more quickly, if it’s put into the oven at room temperature.

3. When it’s time to put the roast in the oven, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, mix together all of the ingredients for the rub paste. Thoroughly rub all sides and both ends of the rib roast, then place it bone side down/fat side up in the roasting pan. Place it in the oven and roast at 450 for fifteen minutes.

4. After fifteen minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and finish cooking for the remaining time.

5. Baste the roast every half-hour with the broth and wine.

6. Cook until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F with the instant read thermometer. APPROXIMATE times are as follows, but always use the thermometer reading over the cooking time. Start checking the temperature of the roast a half-hour before the end of the cooking time indicated below:

7-8.5 lbs – 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours
9-10.5 lbs – 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours (for a four-rib roast mine is usually at 120 degrees F right at two hours)
11-13.5 lbs – 2 1/4 to 2/3/4 hours
14-16 lbs – 3 to 3 1/4 hours
16 to 18.5 lbs – 3 1/4 to 4 hours

7. When the thermometer reads 120 degrees, remove the roast from the oven, place on a cutting board or rimmed cookie sheet, and tent tightly with foil for 15-20 minutes. The roast will continue to cook slightly as it rests, so it’s important to remove the roast from the oven at 120 degrees internal temperature.

8. While the roast is resting, make the au jus. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a measuring cup to allow fat and juices to separate. DO NOT clean out the browned bits from the roasting pan, they’re what give the au jus color and flavor. Place the roasting pan over two burners turned to medium heat. Pour in two tablespoons of the fat (discard the rest), the roast juices, the beef broth, and the wine. Using a flat whisk, scrape up all the browned bits from the pan and incorporate into the liquid. Simmer on medium heat for about five minutes to slightly thicken the au jus. Remember, au jus is NOT thick like gravy, it’s more broth-like. Once thoroughly mixed and heated through, pour au jus from the pan into a gravy boat.

9. To carve the prime rib roast, cut off the twine holding the roast onto the bone. Using a large meat fork, stand the roast on its side with the ends of the bones facing upward. The bones should fall away from the roast itself (like opening a book), held onto the meat at the base (or “spine” of the book). Slice the bones away from the base of the meat so that they separate in one piece together. Save the bones for nibbling on, or making soup.

10. Slice the roast across the grain to whatever thickness you prefer. Serve on large plates and drizzle with au jus. Offer prepared horseradish on the side.

Recommended sides: mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables (asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli), baked potato soup, green salad.

A Cheese Sauce for Everything

17 May

This is a great, flexible recipe for cheese sauce that goes with, well, just about anything. Pour it over vegetables, mix it with refried beans for a great dip, pour it over pasta. It’s very cheesy without being too thick or overpowering. And, as you can tell by how everything is “two”, it’s WICKED easy to double or halve.

Makes about four cups.

– Two cups shredded cheese – a cheddar or cheddar/colby/jack mix is good. Basically, you want a hard cheese, not a soft cheese
– Two cups milk – whole or 2% is fine. Heck, you could even use half-and-half if you’re feeling especially decadent. I usually use 2%. I wouldn’t recommend skim.
– Two tablespoons salted butter
– Two tablespoons flour
– Two egg yolks, lightly beaten (discard the whites or use them for another purpose)
– Two tablespoons Worcestershire
– A dash or two of paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour and butter are completely mixed, creating a roux.

Very slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour/butter mixture is completely dissolved into the milk. Allow the mixture to warm and thicken for about one minute, then gradually whisk in the egg yolks (you don’t want the milk to be too hot or the egg will cook upon contacting the hot liquid, which is, well, gross). Keep whisking and allow the mixture to get hot, about two minutes.

Gradually add in the cheese a little at a time, whisking constantly, until it’s all incorporated and melted. Add the Worcestershire, paprika, salt and pepper, whisk and allow the mixture to become hot, but not simmering or boiling, which will curdle the milk.

If the mixture is too thin, add another handful of cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little bit of milk. You can also add other spices – cayenne pepper works well, for instance.

Pour over whatever needs some extra cheesy goodness, and enjoy!

Giblet Gravy

25 Jan

(From “Great Good Food” by Julee Rosso)

All reserved drippings from roasted turkey, defatted; 2 tbsp. fat reserved
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups Giblet Puree (see below)
Chicken broth or water as needed
1/4 cup Marsala cooking wine
Salt and pepper

In large skillet or turkey roasting pan, heat reserved turkey fat over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over hot fat and stir well to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly add giblet puree until thickened. Stir in skimmed turkey juices. If gravy is thick, thin it with a little broth or water. Bring gravy to a gentle boil and cook for five minutes. Just before serving, stir in Marsala wine, and add salt and pepper.

Giblet Puree

Giblets (not the liver) from the turkey
2 cups coarsley chopped celery stalks and leaves
1 cup coarsley chopped onions
1 cup coarsley chopped carrots
5 sprigs fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and add water to cover. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Allow to cool, remove neck meat from bone and discard bone. Chop giblets. In a blender, process the giblets, vegetables and broth in batches until smooth.