French Onion Soup is a classic. When I was much younger, I frequented a restaurant that had a terrific French Onion Soup. I even remember going to this restaurant on a first date. I remember using the French Onion Soup almost as an excuse to ask her out.
“Do you like French Onion Soup?”
“Yes. I suppose.”
“Well, let me take you to this restaurant I know that makes an amazing French Onion Soup.”
“I don’t know. I don’t date guys I meet in bars.”
“I’m not asking you to marry me or anything. It just French Onion Soup.”
She agreed to go and try the soup and the rest they say is history. I married her 15 years later but that’s a story for another time.
I was talking originally about soup. A French Onion Soup that I just made recently…although I took a few short cuts…Shhhh. See the recipe below.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
French Onion Soup
Serves 3 to 4
4 Spanish Onions (cut in half and sliced thin)
8 cups water (or no salt beef stock)
3 tbls. Olive oil
4 tbls. Butter
1 package of Lipton onion soup mix (no salt beef stock)
4 bouillon cubes (instead of salt)
½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce (I use Lee and Perrins)
½ tsp Soy Sauce (I use low Sodium)
½ tsp Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet
4 slices of French bread
½ cup Gruyere cheese grated
½ cup Mozzarella
Over medium heat brown onions in olive oil and butter. Add water or beef stock. If you do not have beef stock on hand, add the onion soup mix. Add 4 bouillon cubes instead of salt. Add ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp soy sauce and about ½ to 1 tsp of gravy master for a deep rich color. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Toast French bread slices under broiler.
Add bread to bowls as shown below. Add soup. Mix the two chcese together in a bowl then top off with ½ cup of mixed cheese. Place under broiler until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
Serve hot with a red Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley.
Drawn or Clarified butter is more of a technique more than a recipe. Drawn butter I assume comes from the fact you are drawing out the “good” cooking butterfat from the butter and removing the milk solids. These milk solids are the things that burn in the frying pan or bottom of a pot and make the butter taste nasty.
Restaurants do this in large quantities and store it in the refrigerator. I do it with a couple of sticks of butter at a time. It also tells you how good the quality of butter is your buying. The more liquid (butter fat) you have from a stick of butter left in the end then the solids and water was in you butter to begin with.
1 to 4 sticks of butter
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Do not let the butter boil. Cook until butter begins to foam on the surface. Reduce heat to low; continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until most of foam has sunk to the bottom of the pan. Do not stir or disturb butter as the milk mix back into the butter making it cloudy. Using a spoon carefully skim any remaining foam from surface. SLOWLY, pour off (or ladel) the clear clarified butter to a bowl leaving behind the solids at the bottom of the pot. Strain the remaining butter at the bottom of the pot in a second bowl, using a fine wire-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate out the solids.
If you buy reusable cheesecloth discard any solids, wash, and dry the cheesecloth.
In the end, what you’re left with is pure butterfat. It will not have that rich, buttery flavor as whole butter; it also does not turn rancid in the refrigerator, either. It will last refrigerated for several months. Now you can have it on hand when you need it.
I know this does not sound very exciting. It is more of a treat really as opposed to a vegetable that is served with an entree. Artichokes are good if you want a nice glass or two of Chardonnay or Pinot and chat with friends over an appetizer. You could follow this up with a nice small cheese course, like say Burrata with grilled vegetables and a balsamic glaze.
You could also make them stuffed. The artichokes that is, not your guests. Besides, taxidermy, other than in a museum, is a little creepy, if you ask me.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Serves 3 to 4
Big Pot with lid
2 cups water
Place a vegetable steamer into a large pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, cut the stems from the artichokes to leaving about one inch of stem. Lay each artichoke on its side, and cut away the upper third with a sharp knife (I use a sharp serrated knife). With kitchen shears, remove the prickly leaf tips from each remaining leaf. Remove any brown leaves from the lowest row closest to the stem.
Place the artichokes in the pot of boiling water on a vegetable steamer. Cover and let steam 30 minutes to an hour depending on size. The chokes are done when the leaves come off easily and the heart is tender when pierced with a tip of a paring knife.
Remove from pot and serve hot with melted drawn butter.
This is not just an entree it’s a meal. Maybe, even a Sunday dinner. As you can see in the picture, I hope. There is the chicken of course, your protein. There is the stuffing, that is your starch. Then there are carrots, the “veg”. Then there is the gravy (shown further down). For me, it is the chicken gravy that ties it all together. In essence, its three recipes, that I am posting in total today. Right here, from my kitchen to yours.
Happy cooking, happy eating, happy drinking!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Let’s start with the Stuffing. We all had it for Thanksgiving (in the U.S. anyhow) and we all miss it now but who the hell wants that big ass bird called a turkey again in our freezer right now! Much less taking up all that room in the fridge with all those leftovers, YIKES! Not me! I need the room for beer and wine.
Nope, no big birds here. I purchased an “Oven Suffer” chicken roaster that was just a bit over 6 pounds.
I start this meal by making the stuffing to stuff into this bird.
1 bag or box of your favorite seasoned cube stuffing mix
1 stick of butter
1 cup of chicken broth or (1-cup water, 1 heaping teaspoon Better then Bouillon chicken stock)
2 large celery stalks (finely diced)
1 large carrot (finely diced)
1 small onion (finely diced)
Into a large pan sauce pan, I melt a stick of butter. Then add the carrot, celery and onion. Simmer over low heat just until the onoin is translucent. Add 1-cup of chicken stock. Simmer the vegetables about 4 minutes. Just until they are barely tender.
While the vegetables simmer, get out a large bowl. Put the stuffing mix into the bowl. After the vegetables have cooked just a bit pour that yummy goodness over the dry breadcrumb cubes and toss lightly like a salad. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap at let stand 2 to 5 minutes steaming so the cubes of bread absorb all the liquid. After 2 to 5 minutes, toss again with a fork and its ready to stuff into that bird.
You can cook any extra stuffing you can’t get into your bird in a greased loaf pan for 45 minutes. Right next to you chicken.
Stuffed Roasted Chicken
Serves 3 to 4
Large Roasting Pan
1 chicken 6 to 8 pounds
1 stuffing recipe completed
The rest of the one-pound bag of carrots.
A large stalk or two of celery
1 large onion
Butter softened or Margarine (I use Margarine) (a squeeze bottle of Parkey when I can find it)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
I begin by removing any gizzards or neck that may have come with the chicken. Now normally I do not rinse chicken but because I am stuffing it, I run cold water through the inside. It is critical however that there is nothing around the sink that could be splashed by yucky chicken water. We do not want anyone getting sick from that. When done you should wash your sink and counter with hot soapy water.
Place your rinsed chicken in the roasting pan a dry it well with paper towels. (This can all be done while you vegetables are simmering for your stuffing)
Standing the chicken on its neck, I salt the inside of the chicken.
Now you can stuff that bad girl with that yummy the stuffing.
Coat the outside of the bird with butter or margarine. Then I season it with a light sprinkling of salt, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.
Add two cups of water to the bottom of the pan.
Place the chicken in the 325 degree oven at bake for an hour and a half.
Peel and roughly cut up your remaining carrots from the one-pound bag. Peel and roughly cut one large onion. Wash and roughly cut two large stalks of celery.
Remove the chicken, pan and all, from the oven. Baste you bird with the juices from the bottom of the pan. Don’t forget to add a little basting to the stuffing too. Now add the vegetables to the bottom of the pan. Add more water only if necessary to keep it at about one to cups in the pan.
Pop it all back in to the oven. Continue to bake it at 325 degrees for an hour and a half to two hours or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees. (see gadget list for digital thermometers)
Remove the chicken to a carving plate. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and let rest while we make our gravy. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a bowl.
Prepare the Chicken Gravy recipe next. That is your third recipe for today.
2 cups chicken stock
Pan drippings (1 cup to 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Pour hot chicken stock into the chicken roasting pan and stir, losing and removing anything that is stuck to the pan. I think the French did this just so the pan was easier to clean in the end but that could just be me.
Pour the chicken stock from the pan trough a strainer and into a measuring cup. Discard what is in the strainer. Save what’s in the measuring cup for the next step.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook flour four to five minutes until the flour and butter become very pale tan, the color of varnished maple wood.
Slowly whisk in the chicken stock to the flour while over medium heat. As it returns to the simmer. Add a little more of the chicken stock until you reach the perfect consistency. The sauce with be at its thickest each time it comes up to a simmer. Stop add stock when you have a gravy thickness you prefer.
Taste. Add salt or pepper to taste.
Remove the stuffing from the chicken to a microwave safe bowl. Cover with platonic wrap and poke a few holes. Heat for a minute or two to make sure it is good and hot.
Carve up the chicken and serve with gravy, stuffing and the vegetables.
Unlike most of my recipes I do not remember where it was I first had a hot steamy bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. Perhaps is was at a restaurant or maybe even at a catering hall during a wedding, nah, too corny. Wherever it was, I liked it. I do remember one place in particular that had a very good recipe. This place was deli/caterer with a few table. They made great sandwiches and had wonderful soups. They used to make Italian Wedding very often. They unfortunately, are no longer around so now I have to make it myself.
Because of the cold weather that we have been having here in New York, I have been making a quite few soups and stews. I thought I should share some of them with you. Unfortunately, for my coworkers I have been reluctant to bring any “extra” soup to work and share it. I have been trying to follow the best practices for social distancing. A chef NEVER wants people getting sick from standing around pot ladling out soup. Perhaps as things start improving I can bring them all in a large pot of this soup or maybe the stuffed cabbage. Wouldn’t that be a gas! (Scrunchy face)
Well that’s all the time I have for bad puns this morning. I hope you at lease enjoy the soup even if the jokes aren’t any good.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 ½ to 3 quarts chicken broth
2 cups baby spinach – rinsed
1 cups baby Bok-Choy
1 cups escarole – rinsed and cut
1 cup seashell pasta or large white Couscous
3/4 cup diced carrots
3 chicken bouillon cubes
In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, basil and onion. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and set aside.
In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling and add meatballs and carrot. Return to boil a cook for 10 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink inside. Add the spinach, escarole, pasta. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for at least 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
Extra chicken broth is sometimes need to reheat leftovers when the pasta has absorbed all that yummy stock.
This is a dish both my sister in-law and I have been trying to make now for years but have never did it. Every time we eat it out at our favorite Jewish delicatessen we both say, “We have got to make this.”
So here it is, sister in law. My recipe for the stuffed cabbage I dropped off to you the other night.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
Serves 4 to 6
12 large cabbage leaves off a large head of cabbage
1 lbs. ground beef
2 sweet pork sausage about 1⁄4 lb ground pork
1⁄2 cup rice, made with beef broth and
1 tablespoon butter (1 cup rice when cooked)
1 egg beaten
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons onions, grated
1 ½ tablespoons celery, mined
1 ½ tablespoon shredded carrot
½ cup cabbage, shredded
1 can of Campbell’s tomato soup
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ can of water
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Coarsely slice remaining cabbage for bottom of pot
1. Cut 12 large leaves off of a head of cabbage, cover leaves with boiling water, let stand until leaves are limp (2-3 minutes); then drain OR core cabbage head, and boil cabbage until leaves are tender enough to remove easily (10-15 minutes), very carefully remove 12 large leaves (You may have to peel the outer layers first and then return the cabbage to cook and continue peeling the leaves until all are done); then drain.
2. Mix together the beef, pork, rice, egg, milk, seasonings, and grated vegetables.
3. Put 1-4 tablespoons (depending on the size of leaf) of meat mixture in center of each leaf; tuck in sides and roll to cover meat. Repeat until all the meat is in cabbage leaves.
4. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Add some of the sauce to just cover the bottom of the Dutch oven, then line the bottom of the pot with the remaining sliced cabbage, that had been sliced into ¾ to 1 inch strips.
5. Next, add 1/3 of the sauce on top of sliced cabbage then layer in the stuffed cabbage rolls and add 1/3 of the sauce between each layer, making sure the cabbage is seam side down in the Dutch oven. Cover top layer with sauce. Cover pot and simmer over low heat about an hour or until the cabbage it tender with tested with a fork.
I always prefer homemade soup to anything I can get in a can or even a “Bread Place”. I just doubled this recipe just recently to make it for a small lunch crowd. I served it with a thick crusty bread and butter. Too bad it was a warm day, but everyone still seemed to enjoy it. I don’t know how well it reheats. There is usually nothing left.
The only thing I was missing at lunch was a half of a roast beef sandwich, or a Cuban panni! Next time!
4 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups milk
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of celery soup
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water (or Belgian wheat Beer)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
In a large soup pot, cook broccoli in broth until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together milk and condensed celery soup. Blend cornstarch with cold water, then stir into soup mixture. Pour into the pot with the broccoli. Cook over medium heat, stirring steadily until thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese, and simmer, stirring until hot. Do not boil.
NOTES: This is one of those once a year recipes I must make.
This IS a recipe I have been eating since I was a child. These were always a favorite with my sister and brothers. God, I still remember vividly how my brother would make a lake using mashed potatoes (and so did I). Then we would have mom fill it with gravy. I can even still smell all the black pepper he used on his potatoes. This was all way before the movie Close Encounters of the Third kind too!
Here is my mom’s recipe. This is one I watched her make forty or fifty times at least.
One big ass pot
5 lbs. of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 stick of Butter
½ cup half and half
¼ cup whole milk
5 Cloves of roasted garlic (optional)
Peel and cut potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Cook potatoes in boiling water about 20 minutes. Test potatoes with fork or metal skewer for doneness. Drain potatoes (in colander) and then return to pot. Add butter in tablespoon size pieces; add cream, milk, roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. Using an electric mixer starting on low, beat the potatoes until there are no lumps. Add cream and milk slowly as not to cool off the potatoes to fast or slash out while mixing.
NOTES: My mother never used half and half just whole milk. She alos never used roasted garlic. I find the ½ & ½ gives it a nice extra richness. I don’t make mashed potatoes every month so I can splurge on the extra butter and cream. I only use roasted garlic when making Prime Rib or a Standing Rib roast or leg of lamb.
You can make you own beef gravy of you so choose or you can “doctor up a jar of Heinz brand Anjou gravy simply by adding a can of sliced mushrooms to it and a tablespoon of butter for extra richness. You could buy McCormick’s powdered gravy mix and repeating the steps above.
If however, you are feeling adventurous or simply do not like the idea of serving anyone jarred gravy here is a traditional recipe for a basic brown sauce.
2-1/2 to 3 cups of Beef Stock (see beef stock recipe upon its availability)
3 tablespoons of butter (or pan drippings)
3 tablespoon of flour
1 shallot minced
Heat butter and/or pan drippings to a medium size saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons flour and 1 shallot. Cook over medium heat until flour golden brown. Slowly add warm beef stock while whisking. After each ½ cup allow sauce to come to a bubble. Once bubbling this will be the sauces maximum thickness. Keep adding beef stock until desired thinness if reached. Strain to remove and lumps. Serve immediately, the sauce with thicken more as it cools.
As a child growing up my mother never made meatloaf. When I asked why it was because she thought my older brothers and sister would not like it! How many delicious things did I miss-out-on because they were so dam picky? The answer to this question I will never know. She did finely make it for both my brother and myself. It was served with mashed potatoes, gravy and canned shoestring green beans from DelMonte that I added tabasco too try and spice it up. My brother liked his with just plain tomato sauce over the top.
I don’t know how old I was when I had my first ever meatloaf sandwich. I am not even sure it was at home or at a local deli.
I have now spent my entire adulthood making it at least once a year but the irony is that my own son dislikes it. He dislikes anything beef in general.
Since he is away at college, this is what we had for dinner Sunday.
To me the best thing about meatloaf is the hot meatloaf sandwich the next day. It must include extra gravy on the sandwich, a large dill pickle on the side and a bag of plain old-fashioned potato chips.
I know this dish is not for everyone but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Especially for lunch!
3 lbs. 80% lean beef chop meat – some people perfect meatloaf mix (equal parts ground beef, pork and veal)
3 large eggs
1 small onion diced
½ cup of milk or water
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, add: 3 lbs. ground beef, 3 eggs, 1 small onion that has been diced, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1 ½ cups of seasoned breadcrumbs, ½ cup milk or water, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional), a dash of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients are even distributed.
Place in a baking dish. I prefer a metal pan to a glass Pyrex dish. I think the meatloaf just browns better. Shape ground beef mixture into a loaf. Cover with a layer of Heinz ketchup.
Spread sliced onions around the edges or just outside the loaf (not on top). Sprinkle onions with olive oil. Season onions with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 150 – 160 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for ten minutes.
NOTES: Serve with mashed potatoes, beef gravy and zesty shoestring string beans.