Rao’s Restaurant in NYC is perhaps best known for its Lemon Chicken, a dish that recently inspired my friend and co-worker, Annie Petito, when developing her “Skillet-Roasted Chicken with Lemon Sauce” for Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve never eaten at Rao’s, but was so impressed by the bold lemon flavor of their chicken, that when I recently saw a recipe for their classic Italian meatballs, I thought I’d give them a try. I was not disappointed.
Beef & Veal
This post is less about a recipe than it is about a concept of a meal. I whipped up this steak salad a few days back from a great variety of goodies in the fridge, it was the perfect meal for a warm spring evening. Once I had everything arranged on the platter I drizzled a quick homemade balsamic vinaigrette over the whole shebang and served it up with a crispy artisan loaf fresh from the oven. As simple as this dish was, I was amazed that so many at the table commented on how they never think to make a salad like this as a way to use up leftover meat.
As much as I've enjoyed pho over the years, up until now I'd never made it myself. Now that I've seen first hand how easy and truly delicious this Asian soup can be when made at home, I certainly won't be waiting years before making it again.
The other day when I was at my butcher shop buying the skirt steak for our last post, I bought a little extra planning to toss it in the fridge after cooking and slicing it a few days later to use in this pho. As I always share with my students, cooking extra one day with a planned left-over meal in mind is smart weeknight meal planning, and with a recipe like this pho in your repertoire, it's a tasty plan as well. Left-over pork, shrimp or chicken would all be awesome in this dish.
Now that the sun is shining again after a week's worth of much needed rain, I'm in the mood for a delicious grilled dish, and this skirt steak certainly qualifies as that. Those of you who are Suzanne Goin fans may recognize this recipe as a slight adaptation of one from her gorgeous cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques. It's a book I've owned for a year or more, but am just starting to cook from now….silly me for waiting so long.
Goin is a chef of impeccable taste and extraordinary technique, yet what strikes me most about her food is how real and unpretentious it all feels. I can't wait to cook more dishes from this fabulous book.
This big trough of awesomeness is a slight adaptation of a recipe I saw recently in Fine Cooking magazine, which is fast becoming one of my favorite food publications. In my continuing effort to purge the fridge of long held condiments I decided to try this dish as a means to polish off some cerignola olives and peppadew peppers we had lying about. Yeah….this baby was a two-fer in our quest to pare down the number of bottles, cans and plastic tubs we've accumulated over the past year.
While it meay be that we turned to this dish as a fridge cleaner, we'll go back to it again and again (and again, if Arthas has anything to do with it) because it flat-out rocks with salty, sweet and umami tastes in perfect balance. Those of you feeling the urge to run screaming from this cottage pie because just seeing the name is dragging up memories of grade-school lunch ladies serving you a dish of the same name, DON'T. This dish is as far a cry from the cottage pie of your elementary school youth as Barbara Streisand is from Ke$ha.
Do I make myself clear?
I'm not a big fan of rules.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of anarchist or anything. I do believe in the rules that govern a civil society, and I'm not by any stretch a bad boy that flaunts our society's rules, or think myself above the consequences of breaking them.
It's food rules that I have a problem with.
Peyton and I rolled a bunch of these meat bombs the other night, inspired by a bag of basil marinara sauce I found in the bottom of our freezer (I know what you’re thinking…enough with the freezer food already!) I’m starting to get concerned that the thing is bottomless.
The last time we crafted meatballs, we whipped up some chevre stuffed lamb beauties, but this time were in the mood for something a bit more traditional. I didn’t have a recipe handy, but recalled seeing a gorgeous looking meatball recently on my friend Rose’s great blog, The Bite Me Kitchen, so we went there for a look see.
What immediately struck me about Rose’s post was the photo of her large, solitary meatball, nestled into a deep pool of marinara, and topped with melting burrata cheese. I love the impact of serving one huge ball, rather than a few smaller ones, and the topping of melted cheese (we used a fresh mozzarella as we couldn’t find any burrata), makes for a very dramatic and tasty dish.
Making the balls takes just a few minutes, then a combination of cooking techniques; a quick bake, then a longer braise, renders the meatballs nicely browned, perfectly tender, and absolutely delicious. Serve these with Rose’s marinara, the one detailed below, or your favorite from scratch recipe.
Peyton and I used my kitchen scale to measure out six of these monsters to ensure no one cried foul, or felt ripped off by getting a ball any smaller than everyone else at the table….you must be careful about these things, you know. The marinara we used was leftover from the braciole we made earlier in the season.
Enjoy! – Steve
Monster Meatballs with Basil Marinara Sauce
- 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 large egg
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 lb ground veal or ground pork
- Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
- Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, ground meat, and blend well.
- Using wet hands, form the mixture into 3-inch balls. Place on baking sheet (freeze balls on parchment lined sheet that you're not eating, then transfer to ziplock bag).
- Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning once.
- Add to sauce. Simmer, covered, 1 hr until tender, spooning sauce over and turning occasionally.
- Just before serving, top with burrata, fresh mozzarella or parmesan and cover the pan for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.
- Serve in shallow bowls or over pasta for a more filling meal.
CHEERS – STEVE
Hey everyone, I'm excited to share with you all that another one of my recipes has been chosen as a finalist by my friends Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, and the rest of the gang over at Food52! Last week's contest was for our "Best Recipe with Horseradish", and for it, I whipped up a little party snack that riffed on the flavors of the classic dish of prime rib roast with horseradish sauce.
This recipe is quick, easy and delicious! It dresses up well for company as a party treat, or accompanied by some spuds and a green salad, makes for an interesting twist on things the next time you're hankerin' for a steak for dinner.
For those of you who have never visited Food52, shame on you….what are you waiting for? It's a terrific food community that "crowd sources" its recipes by holding weekly competitions looking for participants' best dishes using the week's key ingredient. Winners gain eternal fame by having their recipes published in the annual (they are now working on their 2nd cookbook) Food52 Cookbook.
For the full recipe, click HERE and see the dish on Food52. Once there you'll be able to read what Amanda and Merrill have to say about it, as well as see how beautifully the site's photographer, Sarah Shatz shot their test version. If you think it looks tasty in the photo above, you'll REALLY want to try it once you see Sarah's photo. While you're there, and if you find the recipe worthy, please take the time to VOTE for my dish, I'd really appreciate it! Voting ends at midnight, next Tuesday the 12th, so hurry on over there now!
Thank you in advance for all your support.
Cheers – Steve
In our continuing effort to rid the freezer of winter’s bounty, a few nights ago we made these really fantastic short rib tacos. The ribs we had in the deep freeze were a variation on the ones I normally make, Daniel Boulud’s classic French ribs braised in red wine. They were an Asian variant that I whipped up as a change of pace, the recipe for the ribs can be found here. We ended up reheating and devouring a bunch of them after skiing last weekend, but still had a few that made the trip home in the cooler, and that were crying out to be put to creative use.
When I was a kid, my Mom made “New England Boiled Dinner” fairly frequently, though she generally made it with a picnic ham, as corned beef was a little trickier to come by. Almost everyone I know cooks this dish on St. Patrick’s Day, so I’ve always assumed that it is a traditional Irish dish. It turns out that’s not quite the case, and most folks living in Ireland wouldn’t recognize this bugger at all. Our associating this dish with the Irish has more to do with its adoption into their culture by Irish-Americans, many of whom landed here in New England and have made this dish a staple of their cuisine.