Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oktoberfest Lager Stew

I love being organized. 

I fight this notion in some parts of my life because I don't want to make the effort to get organized. When it comes to food, there is no fight.  During the week, I want a meal waiting for me when I get home. I don't want to piece together a sandwich, or prepare an out-of-the-box/can combination.  I want something satisfying, nutritious and exciting. Many of the recipes I've tried via this blog have filled these requirements and Oktoberfest stew sounded like it had potential. As the weather begins to turn, the thought of a hearty stew with crusty, butter-laden bread sounded too good to resist. The cider vinegar and lager gives it some punch and the broth seemed to get more flavourful over time. A made a batch on Sunday and really enjoyed the leftovers throughout the week. I recommend adding this to your to-do list.

Adapted from:

Serves 6

  • 1 T olive olive
  • 400 g package of beef sausage, slice into bite size chunks
  • 1 1/2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 1/4 t ground caraway seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup German-style lager
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sausage, allowing it to brown well. This should take about five minutes. Stir in the onions so that they caramelize in the heat, about two minutes. Toss in the cabbage letting it soften and then add the pepper, caraway seeds and salt, mixing well. Add the garlic, stirring until it becomes aromatic and then include the lager, letting it sit for about three minutes until the liquid has reduced. Combine the stock, potatoes and carrots and bring the stew to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and let the pot simmer for forty minutes with the lid partially on. After forty minutes, add the vinegar and parsley and serve. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Figs & Polenta

I cannot reduce sauces. I boiled the crap out of this sauce and still couldn't get it to the consistency required. This isn't the first time, but this time I didn't have the energy to fake it and add a corn starch mixture so at least it looked like I knew what I was doing. If you have any advice, I'm all ears.

Ok, let's move on to this dish's evaluation. This is my first experiment with instant polenta (only had the ready-made produced before) and I liked the result. I would guess my reaction had something to do with the pound of parmesan I added to it, but let's not begrudge our perky polenta. Searing the tenderloin definitely helps retain more moisture, so my resulting pork was lovely. The red wine sauce and fig combination was also notable. I deviated from the recipe for a few reasons: one, it was in Polish. Thanks Google translator for getting most of the recipe converted to English, but there were a few key areas where I had to guess what was happening next. Two: I couldn't get my hands on any fresh figs. Caramelizing dried figs didn't sound like a good fit, so I ended up sautéing them with onions, which was a decent trade off. Two thumbs up from this end. Hope you enjoy this entree too!

Adapted from:

Serves 4


Pork Tenderloin

  • 350 g pork tenderloin sliced into four steaks
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 T olive oil

Fig & Onion Melee

  • 4 dried figs, halved
  • half an onion
  • 1 T olive oil


  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Pepper to season


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 T mascarpone cheese
  • 1 t olive oil
  • salt to season

For the Pork

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the pork well with salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutes. Place in the heated skillet, searing each side for about 2-3 minutes. Place in a baking dish, in the oven for about 10 minutes.

For the Melee

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a minute. Combine the figs, mixing well until they soften, about 4 minutes.

For the Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sauce has thickened and is about a third of the original volume. Add the figs and onions to the sauce before serving.

For the Polenta

Bring the milk and water to a boil. Slowly pour in the polenta, stirring continuously. Once the polenta is added, turn off the heat and add the parmesan and mascarpone. Finally, add the olive oil and season with a little salt. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Grapes, Herbed Potatoes and Wilted Swiss Chard

This year's Thanksgiving wannabe meal at the Laughren-Eder residence is spatchcock chicken. What is spatchcock chicken you ask? Sadly, it's not as embarrassing as it sounds. Spatchcock is a bird that's been flattened before cooking by removing the backbone. There is likely a reason for this method, but I don't know what it is. Anyways, I like the idea of having fewer bones to contend with, so this particular recipe got my vote. 

I've mentioned on a few occasions that I am not a careful cook or particularly with it for that matter. Preparing for this meal supported my theory yet again. While shopping for the meal's ingredients, I happened upon some beautiful kale and bought that for the Swiss chard recipe. Kale is NOT Swiss chard. Please remember this when you find yourself romanced by other greens. 

From: Chatelaine Magazine (October 2012 p. 241)

Serves 6-8

Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Grapes  

  • 2 whole chickens, each about 1kg
  • 2 T butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 kg red seedless grapes

Position racks in centre and lower third of oven. Preheat to 375F. Have a large roasting pan and a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment ready. Wash chickens and pat dry with paper towels. Place one, breast-side down on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone from end to end and remove. Flip chicken breast-side up and open like a book. Press firmly on the breastbone with your palm to flatten. Repeat with other chicken.

Mix butter with salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Loosen skin of each chicken at neck-cavity end with a finger. Spread 1/2 tsp butter mixture under the skin, reaching in as far as possible. Gently push 2 or 3 sage leaves under skin on each side of breast, keeping leaves flat. Rub skin all over with remaining butter mixture.

Arrange chickens side by side on roasting pan. Slice heads of garlic in half horizontally. Place between chickens. Using a potato masher, gently mash half of grapes just until the skins burst and scatter around chickens. Divide remaining grapes into 8 clusters and lay on prepared baking sheet.

Roast chickens in centre of oven until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165F, about 1 hour. Roast grape clusters in lower third of oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Move chickens to a cutting board. Cover with foil to keep warm. Remove garlic from pan. Pour mashed grapes and pan juices into a medium saucepan. Squeeze in garlic flesh. Mash grapes and garlic into sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Gently boil, stirring frequently until sauce is slightly reduced, 5-10 minutes. Skim excess fat from sauce. Cut chicken into 8 portions and serve with grape clusters and sauce.

Smashed Herbed Potatoes

  • 2 kg large Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Quarter potatoes, then cover with cold water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. 

Whisk oil, Dijon and salt in a large bowl.

Drain potatoes and cool slightly. Break up potatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the oil mixture to the potatoes, mixing well. Toss in the parsley and serve.

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Capers
  • 1 kg Swiss chard
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 T capers
Cut stems from chard, discarding and tough ends. Slice into two-inch pieces and slice the leaves into one-inch wide strips. 

Heat a one-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then chard stems and the salt. Cook the stems until they are almost tender, about five minutes. Add the leaves and continue to cook for about three minutes or until the leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.