Toast half a whole grain panino, slather it with hot paprika-laced mayonnaise, stuff a spinach and red onion omelette with Aleppo pepper in the middle, and you’ll be back to your grant proposal in 20 minutes. Or 25 if you feel the need to blog about it.
This post contains two recipes which, when combined, yield a very nice pot of chili for four. I recommend doubling the bean recipe and setting half aside so that you can throw together quick dinners of tacos, huevos ranchers and the like throughout the week.
Spicy Black Beans
- 1/2 pound black beans
- 1 tablespoon lard, bacon drippings or other pork fat
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (or epazote if you’ve got it)
- 2 dried chili de arbol (or substitute cayenne pepper to taste)
- salt and pepper
- Add the beans to a large pot along with enough water to cover them by a few inches. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour or more.
- Add the pork fat, onions, garlic, bay leaf and oregano. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for one hour.
- Add the whole peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 30-60 minutes until the beans are quite soft and the cooking liquid has thickened. Remove bay leaf and chilis, transfer beans and cooking liquid to another container, give the pot a quick rinse, and move on to the next recipe.
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili with Hot Beef Sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 links hot beef sausage, sliced into discs (If you can get your hands on Lewis Waite Farm‘s version, I recommend doing so because YUM. But any kind of spicy sausage would yield a great dish.)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried chipotle and/or smoked habanero powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Trust me on this; it’s your secret weapon.)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 batch spicy black beans (see above)
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large pot. Fry your sausage slices in two batches, allowing them to brown and crisp in places.
- Remove the sausage, lower the heat a bit and add your onions. (If there wasn’t much fat left from your sausage, you could add a little more olive oil at this point.) Saute until starting to soften, then add in the spices and cook stirring constantly for one minute. Do the same with the tomato paste.
- Dump your reserved beans and sausage into the pot along with the cider vinegar and enough water that everything is just submerged. Let simmer for 30 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes. Let simmer for another hour. You can add water as you go if needed, but the goal is more of a thick sauce than a broth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
I served this garnished with thinly sliced scallions, avocado slices and some Greek yogurt to counterbalance all of that heat.
Last week was a doozy. I worked late on Friday and arrived home in need of some whiskey and a comforting meal–in that order. Fortunately, the night before I’d thought to defrost some of Lewis Waite Farm‘s most excellent kielbasa and soak some flageolet.
Flageolet are a lovely pale green bean used in rustic French cooking, including cassoulet. I had a classic cassoulet once and it was delicious. Saveur’s recipe calls for duck fat, ham hocks, pork shoulder, pancetta, duck confit legs and pork sausage (that last one being optional) and, by my rough estimate, takes about eight hours. While I am not averse to spending an entire day cooking, eating such a heavy meal at 4:00am seemed ill-advised. The recipe below will yield a rich, comforting meal for a crowd in under two hours.
Working (Wo)man’s Cassoulet
- 1 pound flageolet, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons pork fat (or olive oil)
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 healthy pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 quart concentrated pork stock (See Going Whole Hog for the recipe. Chicken stock would also suffice, though I might throw a little bacon in at the beginning.)
- 1 pound kielbasa, thinly sliced
- 1 very large carrot, cut into small cubes
- 1 very large daikon radish, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300.
- Melt a tablespoon of pork fat in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste, herbs, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for another minute. Then add your pork stock plus enough water to cover the beans, turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Melt the other tablespoon of pork fat in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the kielbasa slices in batches, searing on both sides. Dump these in with your beans. Stir in the carrot and radish along with some black pepper.
- Pop a lid on your beans and tuck them into the oven for 30 minutes—or until your empty whiskey glass compels you to go back into the kitchen. Take the pot out of the oven and check on your beans. If they aren’t yet tender, let them go a little longer. If they yield easily to your teeth, stir in the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to 350 and place back in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes—or until you’re in desperate need of something to soak up the whiskey.
I live in a 600-square foot apartment. From the front door, you can see straight through my entire home and out the bedroom window. Should you want a little air, it’s two flights up or two flights down. As I type this, I’m watching a neighbor across the alley preparing dinner. (Looks like pasta again.)
My kitchen is small but efficient. I’ve pulled off dinner parties for 12 and a surprisingly rocking baby shower for 30. But there’s no way a whole pig is going into my Easy Bake-esque Ikea oven. Sometimes you have to leave the cooking to professionals.
Last Sunday an intrepid group of friends risked life and limb in the name of pork. With snow and ice coating the ground and another storm on the way, we boarded a northbound train along the Hudson. By the time we made it out of the tunnels, the flakes were coming down hard. We disembarked at Dobbs Ferry into a glittery wonderland and hiked up a steep hill. As we rounded the corner, we caught sight of yellow light spilling out of the lone sign of life. It was The Cookery and we were there for their Pig Dinner.
We warmed up with a round of cocktails before tucking into some delightful swine and wine. The first course was a sunny side up egg atop some luscious braised kale, which was paired with a dry Gewurtzraminer that did a nice job of cutting through the fattiness. The first course was a hit, despite the fact that some in our party were surprised that it was not fried egg and tail.
As they cleared our plates, the wait staff offered sobering instructions. When the lights flickered, we were to clear the way. A few minutes later, the lights flickered and our pig emerged on the largest cutting board I have ever seen. They placed the animal in the center of the table, where the chef made short work of breaking it down into edible parts.
The pig came with a red wine that escapes me at the moment and some stellar seasonal vegetable dishes. But all eyes were on the succulent meat and the skin, which has taken on a candied quality during a final blast of high heat. We ate with abandon, as if we were desperate to ensure our fair share of the meat. Within 15 minutes, everyone was easing into a pork coma. Turns out eight people are no match for even a modest 35-pound pig.
The wait staff left us to contemplate a sparkling Moscato and a surprisingly refreshing maple panna cotta while they divvied up the leftovers. And so, less than two house after arriving in Dobbs Ferry, we found ourselves slip-sliding our way back down the hill, aluminum pans of meat and bones in hand. It is a good thing there are no wild dogs on Metro North. I made it back to Brooklyn around 11:00pm. It had been a long and booze-laden weekend. It was all I could do to shove the meat into the refrigerator and the pork bones into a baggie in the freezer before climbing into bed.
A few days later, I found myself working from home in a desperate bid to push a couple of grants proposals out by the end of the week. It was a cold and nasty day–at least from what I could glean from my view of the alley and various social media posts. For breakfast, I fried up some of my pig meat with a small onion and added some scrambled eggs for quick and delicious breakfast tacos.
But my real focus was the bones lurking in my freezer. With a whole day at home, I had time to make some serious bone broth. I threw the bones into a roasting pan and popped it into a 350-degree oven. An hour later, I added a couple of quartered onions plus some roughly chopped and slightly limp root vegetables I found hiding out in the back of the crisper.
After another hour, my bones and vegetables had taken on a rich brown color and were ready for the stockpot. I added enough water to cover everything, brought the pot to a boil and then lowered the heat until I had a very slow simmer going. I also threw in a couple of bay leaves and 12 black peppercorns for good measure. My pork stock simmered for eight hours, requiring nothing but an occasional stir and a little more water when the liquid started to get low. Before bed, I strained the liquid into a glass container, let it cool and popped it into the fridge.
My patience yielded about a quart of unctuous concentrated pork stock. It was the texture of Jell-O and topped by a nice layer of pork fat, which I reserved for a future use. Half of the stock went in the freezer (I’m thinking ramen) and the other half went into a pot of flageolet the next night. More on those later.
I’ve lost track of how much snow has fallen on New York City this winter. This morning’s commute was a sloppy one–and we’re supposed to be getting two more rounds before the week is through. My office has been a comedy of errors since the new year. Today an air conditioning hose burst while workers sanded the outer wall, creating a dusty haze that found me grabbing for my inhaler and sending everyone home early. And so, three hours after arriving at the office, I was slogging back through the slush.
I took a different route than usual so that I could swing by Whole Foods to pick up a large can of olive oil. Dreading the wet subway ride home, I roamed the aisles for a bit. The guy behind the fish counter was fervently pushing the wild Alaskan sockeye, which was on sale. My craving was so instantaneous and intense that I have to believe I’m suffering from some sort of deficiency.
I haven’t been eating much fish as of late, in part because last semester’s foray into the world of collapsing fisheries left me a bit freaked. But a quick check of Seafood Watch confirmed that wild sockeye is one of the better choices. I arrived home an hour later, popped the fish into the fridge, changed into pajamas, and spent the afternoon emailing and editing while the snow continued to fall.
By 6:00 I was ready for dinner. I had lots of root vegetables from my CSA share and some collard greens that were already looking a little sad when I bought them a week and half ago. Some of the larger outer leaves seemed salvageable. Wild salmon is much leaner than farmed, containing about half the fat but roughly the same amount of protein. I’ve found that it dries out quickly as a result, so I hatched the notion of wrapping the fish in collards to hold the moisture in during cooking.
Collard-Wrapped Salmon with Winter Roots
- 2 large collard leaves (or four medium-sized if that’s what you’ve got)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (butter is fine too)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced pole-to-pole
- 4 small daikon radishes, cut into large matchsticks
- 4 small parsnips, cut into large matchsticks
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 8-ounce wild sockeye salmon filets
- salt and pepper (including white pepper if you have it)
- Rinse the collards and steam in a lidded pan for 5 minutes or so, adding more water as needed to prevent scorching. You want the leaves to be pliable and dark green. Remove from the pan and spread out to dry.
- Rinse out the pan, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and bring up to medium-low heat. Add the red onion and sauté until it starts to brown around the edges. Add the parsnips and daikon radishes along with 1/4 cup water and pop the lid back on. When the vegetables have started to soften, remove the lid and cook off the water, allowing things to caramelize. Sprinkle with zest, salt and pepper. (I find that white pepper really complements the sweetness of parsnips, but it’s all good.) Remove to a plate or, if your pan is big enough, just slide them to the side.
- Rinse and dry your salmon, sprinkling both sides with salt and pepper (black in this case). If your collard leaves are small, slice each filet in half lengthwise. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan, still over medium-low heat, and cook the salmon for two minutes per side, starting with the skin down if you’ve got it.
- Spread the collard greens on your work surface and spoon half of the vegetable mixture into the center. Top with the salmon, skin side up. Fold the sides, top and bottom of the collards over the salmon as you would a burrito. Flip and place gently into a baking dish lightly greased with coconut oil.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes and serve immediately.
This recipe makes enough for two hungry people, so scale up or down accordingly. You could easily swap in different vegetables–leeks, fennel, potatoes, carrots, etc.–based on what you have on hand.