Green Lace and Pork and a Red Sun

I have been mad with stuffing.  Like a mad scientist…but in this case a mad cook donning a floral apron .  It’s been stuffed beef, chicken, eggplant, squab, pork, calamari… i.e EVERYTHING!  Each time I stuff a dish and slow cook it, I just internally exclaim to myself that this could be my favorite recipe.  The moist and delectable filling will make you want to savor every single bite of this comfy and warm dish, as well as all other meaty stuffed delectables.

This is a very delightful and homely dish that is best served for people who will enjoy good home cooking at its purest.

The best part about the preparation in this recipe is blanching the large leaves.  The leaves are just so beautiful and pliable.  Savoy cabbage is just gorgeous, can I even say that it reminds me of a very beautiful piece of lace…but not a doily.  I really enjoy handling the Savoy cabbage not just for its pleasing appearance but also for its pliability.

Using a really good chicken stock in this recipe is very important.  For every thing that I cook I usually make a stock that takes overnight or at least 6 hours to stew and simmer because I definitely believe that a good stock is a staple item in any cooks kitchen.

Will serve 2-4

Soft Stewed and Stuffed Savoy Cabbage w/Pork & Carrots

1/2 lb pork
1/4 lb. Fatty Pork or Pork Sausage meat
1 1/2 C. Grated Carrots
1/4 C. Minced Parsley
1 C. Grated Yellow Onion
1 T Fennel Seed
1 C. Bread Crumbs
2 Med Eggs
8 Outer Leaves of a Savoy Cabbage
4 C. Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Directions:
  • Prep:
  • Pre-heat oven to 375°
  • Grate 1 1/2 Cups of carrots.
  • Grate or Fine mince 1 cup of Yellow Onions
  • Fine chop Parsley
  • Blanch leaves of Savoy Cabbage.:
* 1st : In a wide pan boil water and season with salt.  When water comes to a boil add a few leaves at a time to your water will take about 1-2 minutes per leaf.  What you are looking for when blanching each leaf is that you want them pretty pliable.  This includes the tougher part of the central rib.  When that rib looks pretty translucent take them out and let cook.
*2nd : You want a fairly flat surface to roll the stuffing. The central rib also needs some trimming, so lay your cabbage leaf face down so that the central rib is facing up.  Filet that outer part so that when the leaf is facing down, it will be able to lay flat, but be careful not to take too much off.  Still don’t understand?  email me.
Reserve 1/2 C. of Carrots and 1/4 C. of onions. Set Aside. In a medium-large bowl add both types of pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, the rest of the onions and carrots, fennel seed, breadcrumbs, 1/2 T. Salt and 1 tsp. Cracked black pepper.  Using your hands, incorporate these items till it becomes one mass.
Laying each cabbage leaf with the naturally flat rib side up (you want the filet ribbed side facing down), add about a scant 1/4 cup of filling into the middle of each leaf.  Roll as if each roll were an eggroll or a burrito…you get the point.   Begin to roll with the bottom part of the leaf (i.e the bottom of the rib) first.  Tuck then tuck both sides (left and right) and end with a neat tight roll.
Lay each individual roll in your desired dish, you can crowd them its okay.  In this case I used a 8×8 inch Pyrex which fit 8-10 nicely.  Pour chicken stock to cover.  Sprinkle reserved carrots and onions to cover.  Bake covered at 375° for 40-60 minutes.

Holiday Feast – Braised Lamb, apple bacon greens, soft polenta, cornbread dressing

Last minute Christmas feast!  I had the urge to cook…not knowing the who what and where…all that was certain was the WHY.  The WHY I wanted to cook. This was the first holiday season that I was not home with my family.  I spent the time with Daniel at his loft and cooked us endless meals.  It’s usually like that, I start cooking and can’t stop! My mind starts to move in a rapid pace, brainstorming the next flavor.  I just wanted to feed and nourish anybody that was around this holiday season with a warm and comforting meal.

This was the case for this last-minute feast.  I wanted to cook to feed but who? where ? and what would I cook? Luckily we had the fridge stocked with random ingredients.  Some leftover cornbread, fresh lamb shanks from the local butcher, and using what we had in the pantry we accomplished a very very very tasty meal.

Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks W/Herbs
♥Will Serve 4-6

3 Lamb Shanks – Cut into 1/3rds
Zest of 1 lemon – & its juice
Zest of 1 orange – & its juice
2 T. Paprika
1 T. Salt
2 Sprigs Rosemary – Fine Mince
3 Sprigs Oregano – Fine Mince
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Carrot – Large rustic cuts
2 Celery Ribs  – Large Rustic Cuts
3 Cloves Garlic –
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Bottle of Hefeweizen
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:
Rub Shanks with the next six Ingredients.   Add the red wine cover and leave in fridge for about 3 hours.
Cut Celery Carrots Onions and Garlic cloves.  Set Aside.
Heat pan till fairy hot add oil and lamb shanks.  Sear all sides until nicely browned.
While those are searing, take out your cast iron skillet (or any oven ready pot) add the cut aromatics including 1 sprig of rosemary.
Transfer seared shanks into the oven ready pot.  Add the bottle of Hefeweizen (any beer will do) and Apple cider vinegar to the pan and deglaze.

Add ½ cup of H20 to the pan; add 1 T of salt and ½ T. of pepper into liquid pour deglazed liquid into other pan.  Cover with foil and slow roast in oven at 325 for another 3.5 hours.

The combination of wine and beer balances the richness of the lamb.   The light bright hefeweizen calms down the otherwise rich and heavy braising liquid and is a beautifully unites with the citrus notes of this dish.

Slow Cooked Greens w/Apples & Bacon
♥Works well with beet greens, kale, and chard.  For this recipe I used a medley of greens. Together about 1 medium bunch of each.

1 Apple
1 Bunch Chard
1 Bunch Kale
1 Bunch Beet Greens
½ yellow onion
2 Cloves garlic
3 slices of thick bacon
3 Rounds of a lemon 1/3 inch thick
½ cup White Wine
½ Cup Water
2 T. tomato Paste
Salt to taste.

Directions:

Cut the apple into each side to leave a square core.  Slice those sides to fairly thin (but not too thin) crescents.   Set Aside. Slice onions into thin wedges, thinly slice the garlic cloves set aside.  Cut greens into 1 inch ribbons.  Combine the 2 T. of tomato paste with the ½ cup of water and thin out the paste.   Cut bacon into 1/2 inch dices.
Heat pan and add the onions bacon and the garlic when aroma is released (do not let brown) turn heat to medium add the apples cook for 1 minute.  Add the Greens and white wine.   Lightly toss and add the tomato liquid and salt.  Cover and let wilt.  When volume is reduced to ½ add the whole rounds of lemon. Cook on med-low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Cornbread Dressing
1 Carrot
2 Ribs Celery
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Yellow onion
1 Leek
1 Shallow pan  6×8  (pre-made day old cornbread) Cubes
Chicken broth
4 T Butter
Oregano
Rosemary
3 T . Dried Herb Medley (marjoram, thyme, etc)
Salt
Pepper


Directions:

Set oven to 250. Cut the cornbread into small cubes put on a sheet tray.  Oil generously and sprinkle with the dried herbs.  Lightly salt and pepper.  Toast or dry out for about 1 hour.
Dice carrots, celery, onions, and leeks.  Make sure all are about the same size.  Mince garlic.  Heat up a Saute pan, add 1/8th of a cup of oil and the butter add the carrots, onions, leeks and garlic all at once.  Sweat the vegetables until onions become slightly translucent.  Add the chicken broth.
Transfer toasted cornbread into a large  mixing bowl.  Add the liquid mixture to the cornbread.  Add the fresh minced herbs, and a bit more black pepper.  Toss so liquids and vegetables are well incorporated with the cornbread.
Transfer into a baking dish, cover with foil and cook at 350 for another hour.