Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rillettes de porc maigres (French charcuterie: pork rillettes pate)

Pork, salt, pepper, a splash of water and a little time on your hands. Yup, that's all you need to make this traditional French charcuterie dish: Rillettes

If you don't know what Rillettes is, it is pretty much a pate made out of confit pulled pork. How amazing does that sound?? 

And let me tell you, as a French national, I can vouch for this recipe: it tastes exactly like the stuff you pay big money for at the supermarket or your butcher's :)

Here goes!

INGREDIENTS (this batch gave me two tureen-fulls and a little extra I put in a 1/4pint mason jar):
- about 1.5 lbs pork belly (remove rind, but keep as much fat as you can)
- about 1.5 lbs pork shoulder
- 0.5oz salt (15g)
- pepper, a sprig of fresh thyme
- water

- Trim and dice the fat of the pork belly, and dice the shoulder and belly meats into large 1 1/2" cubes
Note: Since this recipe does not use extra lard, it is important to use at least one piece of meat that does contain a fair amount of fat. That's why pork belly is a piece of choice when making Rillettes.
- Heat a large deep pot and render the diced belly fat on medium-low heat (you don't want to uber-crisp it, just render enough fat to brown the diced meat later)
- Once the fat is rendered, add the shoulder and belly and brown on all sides. Add the sprig of thyme, and cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the juices start releasing from the meat
- Add a little water so that the meat is just covered, add the salt and some pepper to taste
- Cover with a lid, lower the heat to very low, and let simmer for at least three hours or until the meat falls apart
Note: make sure to stir often so that the meat does not stick to the bottom
- when the meat is ready, it will fall apart. The juices will be reduced and the flavors out-of-this-world concentrated. Transfer the cooked meat and juices into a bowl, remove the thyme sprig and let cool for a few minutes
- with two forks, separate the meat (just like you would pulled pork)
- transfer the meat into a Terrine, and press down so the liquid almost covers the meat
- refrigerate for at least 4 hours before eating and serve on a piece of crunchy rustic bread, with cornichons and a glass of red wine.

- Take that first blissful bite and you'll realize that with very little effort you've managed to land in Heaven otherwise known as French Apero!

Spaetzle (European pasta-like dumplings)

Nothing simpler than these little drops of deliciousness known as Spaetzle.

They are a typical European pasta-like dumpling dish, best served slathered in butter (what else?) with stews such as Hungarian Paprikash and Goulash or even German Sauerkraut and Wurst. So good! They truly are the best comfort food ever!

INGREDIENTS (for 2 people):
- 250g AP flour
- 1 egg
- 1 glass of water (about 200ml)
- a pinch of salt

- mix all ingredients well (try to avoid any lumps) until the batter is tacky and a bit on the runny side and transfer to a pitcher (this will make the pouring a bit easier)

- using a large-holed colander, sieve the batter and dump the droplets in a pot of boiling salted water

- the Spaetzle are cooked when they float to the surface

- drain and serve topped with butter

- Enjoy!!

Goulash (Hungarian beef stew)

Today is Saturday, aka Cooking day en la casa de Poupette! :D

Spring is definitely around the corner (or has it actually -and thankfully- passed that corner already?!), and I feel like this is probably one of the last days I can cook this hearty stew before it gets too warm and sunny to even want to have the stove on for three hours...

"THREE hours!", you'll say... Why, yes. It is a rather lengthy recipe, but this Hungarian goulash is very much worth your time in the kitchen.

I say Hungarian goulash, but I should really say Poupettized goulash, for I added canned tomatoes and mushrooms to the dish, and those ingredients are notably absent from the original recipe... Goulash, fortunately, is one of those dishes which you can tweak to your own liking and style of cooking; not unlike Ratatouille, or Chili.

Here's my take on this delicious simple and easy-on-the-wallet stew. Enjoy!!

- 2.5 lbs of beef chuck, in 1" cubes
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 3 medium onions, chopped finely
- 4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 2 cups of beef broth
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 3 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a dollop of sour cream and flat leaf parsley for decoration

- in a large pot, saute the onions in the olive oil on medium heat, until transparent

- take off the heat, add the paprika powder and mix well

Note: add the paprika off the heat, otherwise the spice will burn when in contact with too much direct heat and become bitter
- put back on high heat, add the beef cubes and coat well with the onion-paprika mix

- add the beef stock, tomatoes, red pepper, mushrooms, salt and pepper

- bring back to a boil, cover and let simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours on very low heat (lowest you can get without the flame going out)

- when the meat is tender, remove lid and let the sauce reduce and thicken on medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking

- serve piping hot, on a bed of your starch of choice: boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, egg noodles... In my case, I made Spaetzle: European pasta-like dumplings (recipe will follow soon). Delicious!

Jó étvágyat!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fish and shrimp risotto

This is more of a what-ever-can-i-come-up-with-to-empty-the-pantry-and-the-freezer kinda mishmash recipe, but it works!

I was craving tomato rice the day I made this recipe, and since I had a TON of frozen fish (that I got for a bargain at the supermarket), I decided to incorporate this maritime ingredient into a risotto.

I made this quite a long time ago, but never really had the time to edit it into a blog entry. Since my next recipe will take another couple of days before I can post it up, I decided to tackle that one and have it ready for you for the weekend.

Hope you'll like!

INGREDIENTS (for 2 to 3 people):
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
- 1 15oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 to 3 cups of water (use 2 and then add more if needed)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic, slivered
- 2 lbs of mixed fish and peeled deveined shrimp, cubed (I used frozen shrimp and fish that I thawed and drained, my personal fish mix was cod, tilapia and flounder)
- salt, pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese to taste

- in a skillet, heat a glob of olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic until transparent. Do not let it brown.

- add the rice, and coat with oil. Cook for a minute or so on medium-high heat, until the rice is opaque and bright white. Do not let it brown.

- add the wine and a ladle of water, and stir until the liquid is absorbed.

- add the tomatoes and their liquid. Stir until the liquid is absorbed.

- add the rest of the water ladle by ladle, stirring until each ladle has been absorbed before adding the next one, until the rice is almost cooked through (about 25 minutes)
- when the rice is a few minutes shy of being done, add the shrimp, fish cubes, salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes (or until cooked through)

- finish with a healthy dose of grated parmesan cheese

- serve hot, sprinkled with italian parsley

- Enjoy!