March is a favorite month of mine. Many famous book, poetry and music all refer to March such the idiom; “In like a lion out like a lamb.” Which as many of you might know refers to the weather of March and how it is freezing in the first weeks and noticeably, “supposed to be”, warmer in the last. This however is not always true. I have seen snow in New York City just before Easter back in the seventies and again the eighties. Then there is the famous expression by some guy named Will; “beware the ides of March.” Which back then, March 15th was considered Roman tax day. I wonder why the United States chose April 15th?
I digress, March is a wonderful month filled with food. There is Saint Patrick’s Day, in which here in New York, we celebrate with and overabundance of corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes that is made in a very large pot. This is a recipe I will be making and sharing with you all now.
I always prepared this this meal on March 17th, regardless of it falling on a Friday during lent. As a matter of health, more so then anything else I choose to eat fish every Friday during lent. It give me a good excuse shall we say, “to make all these terribly stinky dishes that smell up my house all day.” Those are my wife’s words, she prefers me to cook fish OUTSIDE whenever possible. She would have me cook the corn beef outside if I could. Therefore, I should be posting a few fish dishes this month. Including but not limited to, fried flounder, stuffed flounder, fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, potato wrapped sea bass, and the ever-popular tuna salad, to name a few. After all, there are only like seven weeks until Easter and I am forced to stop cooking MOST fish recipes in the kitchen of my home.
Let get to the first recipe we discussed, Corned beer, I mean BEEF. (ugh a corny joke)
Saint Patty’s Day Corned Beef
Serves 4 to 6
1 Extra Large Stock Pot
2-3 thin cut corned beef brisket (I like the Freirich brand)
2-3 stalks celery
2 heads of cabbage
12 oz. Bottle Beer (Guinness Harp or Sam Adams October fest if you have it)
1 whole clove garlic (peeled)
6 – 8 pepper corns
1 tbsp. pickling spice or seasoning packet from corned beef
5 lbs. Red Bliss Potatoes or small white potatoes
Frozen corn on the cob
In an extra large stockpot, add corn beef with juice from package (and the spice packet). Add enough water to cover corned beef. Add one 12 oz. bottle of beer, preferably NOT dark, perhaps one you are serving with dinner (Sam Adams Oktoberfest I saved from the fall). Add carrots, celery, and onion that has been cut into large pieces. Add the whole clove of garlic. Cook on low 2 hours. After cooking the meat two hours you can now add potatoes and the cabbage. Turn heat to high. Return to a boil. Now lower heat and simmer one hour longer. Remove meat to cutting board to rest. Test meat for doneness to see if it is tender, meat should pull away will a fork. If it still too chewy cook it longer!
When the meat is done cover and let rest. It needs it. Turn the heat up to high on potatoes and cabbage to boil and add the corn. Cook corn in the same hot water for the recommended time on package. When corn is ready it will also be “seasoned”, slice meat and serve with cabbage, potatoes, corn.
Serving suggestion: Serve with bakery fresh rye bread, whipped butter and a nice spicy brown mustard like Guldens.
NOTES I don’t remember ever eating corned beef with my mom until I was a teenager. I don’t think anyone else in my family liked it back then. Everyone except my sister who ate with her eggs for breakfast but let’s save that recipe and story for another time. See St. Patrick’s Day Menu or SPRING
NOTES: Remember corned beef shrinks when you cook it. Why? I don’t know! It just does, so buy extra, plus I have a few recipes for that leftover corned beef that you DON’T want to miss out on!
I made turkey burgers last night. The recipe is below. I do recommend these. I’m not saying make these just as a healthy alternative, or not because ground turnkey is cheaper then beef right now but because they taste DAM good! Enjoy.
The Drunken Chef
4 Brioche hamburger buns
1 package ground turkey
1 large whole egg
1 celery stalk
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Begin by heating a large pan over medium heat. Butter the inside of four hamburger buns. I prefer Brioche buns for this. Now place the buns in the HOT frying pan and cook. You are frying them like a grill cheese sandwich. This will make all the difference to the taste of your burger in the end.
Once your buns are toasted and removed to plates peel and slice an onion.
Fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat.
While the onions are cooking, mince 1 carrot, and 1 celery stalk. I use my Pampered Chef chopper for this.
Right after the onions have cooked (begin to brown) I return them to the cutting board and chop them up finely using a large chef’s knife.
Return then onion to the hot pan on medium heat. Add the carrots and celery. Cook on medium heat for two minutes. Adding more olive oil if necessary to keep them from sticking to pan.
Mince 1 clove of garilc. Add garlic to the onion mixture in pan and continue cooking one more minute.
In a medium size bowl. Place the ground turkey. Add 1 lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper to taste (but don’t taste it). Mix in the onion mixture a little bit at a time (1/8th ). Dumping all of the hot onion mixture, all at once, will cook your eggs and you will have scrambled eggs and raw turkey, ewe, you don’t want that.
Now that all the vegetables have been carefully mixed into you turkey, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan and heat it over medium heat until its hot again.
Form a meat ball and press into the pan forming a round patty using a fork or back of a spoon. Repeat with one or two more meatballs but do not over crowd your pan. The burgers will not brown but will steam. They will be good, but not perfect.
After frying burgers on one side without moving them (This is how the brown) for two to three minutes. Flip burgers over and continue to cook on the other side for two minutes. Adjust temperature under pan so the burgers cook through WITHOUT burning yet turning a nice brown like a burger should. Test the burgers with an instant read meat thermometer. They will be done at 160 degrees. They start getting dry after that.
Remove burgers to bottom bun and “dress up” you burger however you like. You can add more grilled onions (if you made extra) or lettuce, tomato and a slice of red onion or cold slaw, pickles or just ketchup or hot sauce. It all up to you. It’s your burger!
Server with a cold beer and French fries or waffle fries.
This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. How bazar and I can not believe I have not posted this yet.
9 inch pie shell top and bottom
1 package frozen or canned artichokes
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or chopped garlic
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
8 oz. package mozzarella cheese
salt, pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut artichokes in half, brown in a pan with a little olive oil, add garlic and set aside. Beat eggs in a large bowl and then add all other ingredients. Fold in artichokes hearts. Pour into pie shell. Cover with top crust and pinch together sides. Add slits to the top crust with a pairing knife and brush with milk. Bake at 350 for one hour.
Cut into wedges and serve warm. Makes and excellent first course or appetizer and pairs nicely with a wine wine like a Pinto Grigio.
NOTES: This is a favorite recipe for Thanksgiving and so portable to bring to someone’s house. So easy to make.
Now that you have your French onion soup recipe. Let’s use some of that for THIS recipe! I call it the French dip burger and it’s the perfect meal for watching a football game! For a large crowd watching the big game, check out my cheeseburger sliders recipe too!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
French Dip Burger
Serves 3 to 4
Grill or Cast Iron Pan or frying pan
2 pounds of 80% lean ground beef
4 Brioche Bun’s (I found mine at COSCO)
2 Spanish Onions (sliced thin)
8 slices of provolone
4 tablespoon of butter
2 tables spoons of olive oil.
Ketchup to taste
Preheat your cast iron skillet or whatever frying pan you are using.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and a tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is sizzling, add you sliced Spanish onions. Cook until they just start turn brown.
In the meantime, while you onions are cooking, start forming the hamburger patties. I love using a hamburger press for this. You can find these on Amazon for under $15. Mine cost $9.99.
I lay a piece of plastic wrap inside the bottom half of the press. Add a large “meatball” and warp it LOOSELY in the plastic. I “Press” with the top piece of the Press to from a perfect hamburger. You looking to make your hamburgers all relatively the same size and weight so they cook evenly. After the burgers are made, it’s now easy to wrap them up tight and store the extras in the refrigerator or freezer because the plastic is already there!
Stir you onion and push them to the edge of your pan. With you pan on medium high heat. Butter your buns.
Then toast your buns like a slice of grilled cheese in the center of that pan.
Once you buns are all nice and toasty place one or two burgers into the center of your pan. Fry for about 5 minutes and flip. Stir you onions. Place 2 slices of provolone on top of the burgers and cook for 4 minutes.
Cover and cook one more minute or just until cheese is melted. Your burger should be medium rare depending on it’s thickness. Adjust your cooking time to desired doneness.
Move the cooked burgers from the pan to the bottom half of the bun, place onion on top. Serve open for guests to add condiments like salt, pepper or ketchup.
Sever with hot French Onion Soup in a 10 once ramekin or small Pyrex bowl to dip the burgers into.
The salt, pepper and Ketchup can be served on the side. (this burger does NOT require mustard, just sayin.)
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.