Posts Tagged ‘oregano’

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara

April 17, 2011

For those who have been reading this blog, there is no need to reiterate my love for carbonara. When you put pasta and bacon together, let’s face it, you just can’t go wrong.

It isn’t surprising that when we spent a few weeks in Italy last spring, this was the dish I was seeking out most. It is more common in the Umbria and Rome area (although you can find it many other places). So I knew when we arrived in that region, I wouldn’t need to look at menus very long.

We had spent a few days in our Villa by Spoleto and had decided to take a side trip to the religious mecca of Assisi (45 minutes away). It is a beautiful town, filled with amazing stone buildings, commanding views, and a spiritual aura. We had just visited Minerva and someone must have been scouring down on me because (I am convinced), because it was the one time on the whole trip that I didn’t cover my shoulders in the church. As we exited the building and went down the marble steps my clumsy feet just couldn’t get it together – and I slipped down the stairs. O Madon! No matter what country you are in – when you fall onto marble, it hurts like nobody’s business. So, after going to the pharmacia and showing the clerk, who got us appropriate bandages and some neosporin looking stuff (at least we think that is what it was), I needed a pick me up.

My husband joked that for me, carbonara, a glass of wine and a scoop of gelato will make anything better! (the truth is, he is right!) So we set out down some less traveled paths to find the perfect resting place. We saw a little restaurant, unassuming and filled with locals, and knew we had found the place.

The carbonara in Assisi, Italy

This was my first official carbonara of the trip and I barely needed to look at a menu to know what I would have. I took one bite and knew it was the best carbonara I had ever tasted in my whole life. The sauce wasn’t overly creamy, it had an amazing saltiness, and was filled with pancetta. There was something intangible in that dish – something that set it apart. Not sure if it was the state of shock I was in from my fall, the glass of wine I had to wash down lunch or the food itself.

So, when I started seeking out the perfect carbonara recipe upon my return, I did lots of research on the traditional way Italians make it. Much to my surprise, a common ingredient is anchovies – and I knew at that moment that it was the little fish that had made it into my dish that day.

Now, my husband claims to not like anchovies, yet I knew when you cook them in olive oil they actually disintegrate so you don’t bite into them, yet they infuse your sauce. So, I gave it a whirl.

Hands down it was the best carbonara I have had outside of Italy. I made my own tagliatelle (my new favorite past time) but you could surely use any spaghetti or fettuccine you would like. I also added a bit of pancetta – because let’s face it, everything is better with pancetta.

So nothing can quite compare to the throbbing pain in my knee, the refreshing wine out of a jug, the views of St Francis and the Italian language surrounding me. But, this dish at least transports me, just a little bit, to the land that invented carbonara.

Thanks to Food and Wine for this amazing rendition of an Italian classic. If you don’t like anchovies, still give it a whirl – just cut back on the amount a bit. They might just surprise you!

SPAGHETTI WITH ANCHOVY CARBONARA
Serves4

12 ounces spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 2-ounce can flat anchovies, drained and chopped
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
Pancetta (optional)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil with the garlic and anchovies and cook over moderately high heat until the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes. (If using pancetta, add and cook until cooked through.) Add the red pepper, zest, oregano and parsley, then add the pasta and toss to coat. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with the reserved cooking water and add to the pasta. Cook over low heat, tossing until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Poblano Albóndigas with Ancho Chile Soup

March 12, 2011

Our soup season is slowly coming to an end, so I was hoping to crank out a few batches of this warming comfort food before spring and the grill take over. This recipe was in Bon Appetit and the moment I saw it, I knew I had to try it.

Soup itself can sometimes not be considered a meal (a la Seinfeld) but this hearty soup has meatballs, rice and fried tortilla strips. Sounds like a meal to me!

It is work, so I would do it when you have a little time (like the weekend) but it is well worth the effort. The smoky flavor of the poblanos and ancho chile powder with the tangy punch of the lime and cilantro make this dish layered in its flavors. And – hint – make extra of the fried tortilla strips because they are fantastic! (also, I sprinkled some salt on them after I took them out of the oil for extra flavor).

The wonderful thing about this dish is not only is it amazing the first time around, but it makes fantastic leftovers. Go ahead and make the full batch, and give yourself lunch for the next few days.

So, as warm, hearty soups start trickling out of your recipe mix as the weather gets warmer, try this one before you put your dutch oven to rest.

POBLANO ALBONDIGAS WITH ANCHO CHILE SOUP
4 servings

Meatballs:
2 large fresh poblano chiles (9 to 10 ounces total)
1 pound ground beef (15% fat)
1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated onion
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder or pasilla chile powder* (do not use blended chile powder)
9 cups low-salt beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice

Toppings:
3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Chopped fresh cilantro

Meatballs:
Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Char chiles over direct flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag and steam 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and peel chiles, then chop finely (should yield about 3/4 cup).

Place chiles in large bowl. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet.

Soup:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion with any juices and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 1 minute. Add broth and oregano; bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to very low, just below bare simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

Stir zucchini and rice into broth. Increase heat to medium and drop in meatballs, 1 at a time. Return soup to simmer. Cover and cook gently until meatballs and rice are cooked through, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat to avoid boiling, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season soup with salt and add more lime juice by teaspoonfuls, if desired.

Toppings:
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add half of tortilla strips. Cook until crisp, gently separating strips with tongs, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer strips to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, adding more oil if needed.

Ladle soup and meatballs into bowls. Top with tortilla strips and cilantro.

Peruvian Grilled Chicken (pollo a la brasa)

July 14, 2010

When I saw this recipe, I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t sure exactly what Peruvian food entailed. Latin American, yes, but each country always has its own influence, its own specialty and its own regional cuisine. After my two weeks in Italy, I learned that even two regions in the same country are rarely alike.

So when I saw lime, cumin, paprika – I nodded my head. Sure, those all made sense. But then I saw soy sauce….huh? Apparently there are many large Japanese and Chinese communities in Peru, and hence they have influenced the cuisine. Seemed like an odd combination so I thought I would try it out.

I don’t know if it was the 24 hours in marinade, the slow cooking on the grill (you leave it on longer on the side without a burner on) or the flavorful combination of ingredients, but it is amazing! Very juicy, great taste, and a perfect, easy grilling meal. I served it with some Spanish beans and it made for an easy weeknight dinner (just don’t forget to throw it in the marinade the day before).

Thanks to Gourmet for this great keeper!

PERUVIAN GRILLED CHICKEN

Makes 2-4 servings

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), quartered (or a package of chicken thighs, like I used)
Accompaniment: lime wedges

Marinate chicken:
Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and oil in a blender.

Put chicken in a large sealable bag and add marinade. Seal bag and marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Grill chicken:
If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood). When coals are lit, dump them out along opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of coals (the size of the quartered chicken) in middle. When you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over coals for 3 to 4 seconds, coals will be medium-hot.

If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, then reduce heat to medium-high.

Discard marinade, then pat chicken dry. Oil grill rack, then grill chicken over area with no coals (or over a turned-off burner), skin side down first, covered, turning over once, until cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes (add charcoal to maintain heat).

Chipotle Butter Steak and Poblano, Potato and Corn Gratin

March 31, 2010

Those who read this blog, know I love a simple steak with flavored butter melted on top. So, when I read this recipe for chipotle roast chicken tacos, I knew that the butter recipe (intended to be rubbed under chicken skin then roasted) would also be great on steak. Not to mention the smokey chipotle will marry perfectly with the steak.

I paired it with a poblano, potato and corn gratin – and it was a great twist on a traditional steak and potatoes. Thanks to Bon Appetit for the potato recipe and for inspiring my steak recipe!

CHIPOTLE BUTTER STEAK
Serves 4

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves plus 3 fresh oregano sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in resealable plastic bag with mallet
4 flank steaks

Using fork, mix butter, all chopped herbs, chipotle chiles, and crushed coriander in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Cook steak (grill, stove or oven) until done as desired. While steak is resting (at least 10 minutes), place dollop of butter on top, so it melts.

POBLANO, POTATO, AND CORN GRATIN
Serves 8

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 large fresh poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, cut into 2×1/4-inch strips
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup coarsely grated Oaxaca cheese or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups half and half
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub 9 1/2-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish or cast-iron skillet with 2 teaspoons oil. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano strips and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange 1/3 of potato rounds, overlapping slightly, in prepared pie dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of poblano strips over, then 1/3 of corn and 1/3 of cheese. Repeat with 1/3 of potatoes, 1/3 of poblanos, 1/3 of corn, and 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining potatoes, poblanos, and corn, reserving remaining 1/3 of cheese. Place pie dish on rimmed baking sheet.

Whisk half and half, flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Pour over potato mixture in pie dish; press potatoes to submerge. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle remaining cheese over gratin. Continue to bake gratin until potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Oregano and Lime Roasted Chicken Breasts

March 28, 2010

I don’t think I am alone when I say that despite the guilt comes with it, eating the skin on chicken might be the best part of the bird. It tends to accumulate all of the flavor and gets crispy and juicy.

However, in attempts to eat a bit healthier, I always thought the skin was a luxury – a reward for a good week of healthy eating. And, it always was a treat that made me feel a bit guilty after the fact.

Yet Cooking Light Magazine has told me to leave the guilt behind, and I have to say I love the way they think. They say a 12-ounce bone-in, skin-on chicken breast half contains just 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 50 calories more than its similarly portioned skinless counterpart. That being said, I think I can enjoy a little chicken skin without feeling like I must compensate with adding another mile onto my run.

The flavor in this dish is fantastic – and I didn’t even let it sit for 4 hours (I only had 2 to give) so I am sure if you have the patience, it would only get better. The tequila sounded a bit odd, but I didn’t taste an alcohol taste – just a fun, bright Latin American flavor.

Thanks to Cooking Light for this one!

OREGANO AND LIME ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS
Serves 4

Chicken:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons grated lime rind
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauce:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tequila
1/2 teaspoon lime juice

To prepare chicken, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Loosen skin from breast halves by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub the oregano mixture evenly under loosened skin of each breast half. Arrange chicken breasts in a shallow dish; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Add chicken to pan, skin side down; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over, and transfer to oven. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings; set chicken aside, and keep warm.

To prepare sauce, heat reserved drippings in pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and 1/4 teaspoon cumin to pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken broth, 1 tablespoon tequila, and lime juice, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 2/3 cup (about 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Serve with chicken.

Roast Pork Shoulder Cubano

January 24, 2010

If you are like me, I get most of my meat from the large grocery chain in the area, but then find excuses to frequent our local butchers. There is something about our local butchers I love – they know so much about meat and seem to always have what you are looking for. Not to mention it is always fresh.

This was one of the rare times they did not have the meat I was looking for. This recipe calls for bone-in fresh pork arm picnic shoulder with skin. And, I wasn’t the only person looking for the impossible that day – apparently someone had called earlier with the same request!

So, in exchange for the perfect cut of meat, my butcher gave me something he said would hold up to the long cooking times. It was a leaner meat, but I suggest you stick to a fattier cut so it holds the moisture better. Regardless, this recipe, with some dirty rice and beans, was a winner! This one was from the Gourmet cookbook.

One more thing to note, if you half or quarter the recipe like I did, you might want to keep the same numbers on your liquid ingredients so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of your dutch oven, or babysit the pork a bit more than usual if you have to pull it out in advance of the full cooking time.

Enjoy!

ROAST PORK SHOULDER CUBANO
Serves 8

1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (8 pound) bone-in fresh pork arm picnic shoulder with skin (if you can find it, or get something your butcher tells you is similar)
3 cups water
6 tablespoons distilled white or cider vinegar

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together 3 tablespoons lime juice, garlic, 2.5 tablespoons salt, oregano and cumin in a small bowl. Pat pork dry. With a small sharp knife, make 1-inch long by 3/4-inch deep incisions 3 inches apart all over the pork. Push about 1/2 teaspoon garlic mixture into each incision and rub remainder on meaty ends not covered by skin.

Transfer pork, skin side up, to a nonreactive roasting pan and pour remaining lime juice around it. Roast, uncovered, until most of juice has evaporated and brown bits are beginning to form on bottom of pan, about 30 minutes.

Stir together water and vinegar in a bowl and pour around pork. Cover pan tightly with foil or lid and roast for 1 hour.

Using a small ladle or baster, baste meat only (not skin) with pan juices. Cover and roast for 1 hour more.

With a sharp knife, gently loosen skin from meat without cutting through the skin and leaving fat layer attached to skin and, using a spoon or baster, baste meat under skin with pan juices (if your cut of meat has skin). Roast pork, uncovered, basting meat, not skin, every 20 minutes until skin is crisp, about 1.5 hours more (about 4 hours total roasting time). Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Skim fat from pan juices.

Cut pork into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve with skin and pan juices.

Pork Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce

October 5, 2009

CHIPOTLE MEATBALLSWhen the weather gets cold, I love a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. So, when I saw this recipe on a PBS show (Everyday Food), I thought it was an interesting twist. I love the unique flavor the chipotles provide, and it gives the traditional spaghetti and meatballs a different personality.

I personally love to bake the meatballs vs. frying them in a skillet (I tend to get a better shape and overall cooking temperature). But, this recipe would work either way (it was originally written for pan frying). I also cut back on the onion (1/2 an onion vs. a full onion) because it seemed like a lot in comparison to the meat. But, feel free to add more!

PORK MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 medium onion, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 small zucchini, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cooked rice and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine pork, onion, zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well with a fork. Form into 16 (2-inch) balls; transfer to a plate, and place in freezer until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and chiles in a blender; process until smooth, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook until brown, turning often, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs. Or, preheat oven to 375-400 and place meatballs on jelly roll pan. Bake until cooked almost all the way through.

Add pureed sauce and return all meatballs to a skillet on medium low (the same skillet you cooked the meatballs in if you pan fried them). Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro, as desired.

Summer Chicken Parmesan

August 1, 2009

IMG_1065For those who know me, know I love to cook seasonally. And, one of my favorite winter dishes is chicken parmesan, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel right in the summer. A bit heavy, a bit rich and a bit out of place.

So when I stumbled upon this Bon Appetit recipe they call “new chicken parmesan” I knew I had found the summer solution to one of my winter favorites.

This dish can be served with whichever side you would like, but I love the traditional pasta with olive oil.

SUMMER CHICKEN PARMESAN
Serves 4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce container grape tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese in water, drained, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 500° F. Whisk first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Place tomatoes in medium bowl; mix in 2 tablespoons garlic oil, then oregano and crushed red pepper. Add chicken to large bowl with remaining garlic oil and turn to coat.

Place 1 cup Parmesan in pie dish. Dip 1 side of each chicken piece into cheese to coat; arrange chicken, cheese side up, on 1 half of large rimmed baking sheet. Scatter tomatoes on other half of sheet.

Roast chicken until just cooked through and firm to touch, about 10 minutes. Arrange mozzarella slices atop chicken. Return to oven; roast until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer chicken and tomatoes to 4 plates. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.


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