Meatloaf- it doesnt have to suck

-I know, I know, your mother made meat loaf on Wednesdays and it was covered in gloppy
ketchup and you did not learn to cook so that you could go make loaves of meat. Got it.
However, the simple fact remains, as my grandfather used to say when I was in chef’s school and
throwing balsamic reduction and tarragon in everything, “Honey, a man likes a tune he can
whistle.” So true, Poppa. Therefore, I present to you a flavorful, juicy meat loaf. Magnificent
alongside scalloped potatoes. Even better in a sandwich. (Recipe in index)
I let it get to just warm before slicing thickly and serving atop white sandwich bread with
mustard and white cheddar. I can’t even whistle (I can’t—not a single note—so I gave up my
goal of being a Native American tracker early in life) and I know this is a lunch to sustain
anyone—whether they are roofing or getting ready for a parent-teacher conference. Make it
today. It’s delicious!
To be clear, I am not roofing. I tried to put the stickers in the right spots on my Barbie
townhouse when I was eleven and learned right then that construction was not for me. Unlike
me, Killian can do anything he decides to do. It’s one of the many irresistible things about him.

Meatloaf:
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
3//4 cup cracker crumbs from saltines—finely ground
1 large onion finely diced-sautéed for about ten minutes over very low heat—just until
softened. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic—cooked with the onion. Allow to cool a bit off of the
heat.
1TBL prepared horseradish (not the creamy mayo type stuff)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
For glaze:
1 TBL horseradish
1 TBL brown sugar
4 TBL ketchup- don’t need to measure- just squirt, stir, and eyeball.
Pour the milk over the cracker crumbs—once they are soaked through, combine all
remaining meat loaf ingredients. Spray a 10” Bundt pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl,
combine 1 TBL horseradish, 1 TBL brown sugar and 4 TBL ketchup. Spoon into the bottom of
your Bundt pan and lightly spread it around. Press the meat mixture into the pan and then place
the Bundt pan into a large roasting pan. While the oven preheats to 350 degrees, bring the kettle
to the boil. Pour boiling water around the Bundt pan and carefully hoist the whole shebang into
the oven. Forty minutes later, remove from its sauna and allow to cool in pan for at least ten
minutes. Using oven mitts that you have never liked anyway, lay a plate a top the meatloaf and
flip it over—gingerly loosen the pan and allow the glaze that you very cleverly put in the bottom
of the pan to ooze down over your crown of meatiness. Be careful with this—there might be
grease that oozes out of the upended Bundt pan and you don’t want to get burned.

Cooking a Proper Ham

Cooking an honest to God Ham

One of the banes of human existence is that  humans all too often use one word to describe two different things.  This is the sort of philosophical meandering that has driven people far smarter than I into a state of drooling in a fetal position.  So we are going to nip that in the bud and proceed to cooking a proper ham.  Most of what you think is ham isn’t, or at least it’s a very inferior sort.  If it is bubble gum pink and swimming in a slimy liquid, it’s a “city ham” or a “juice packed ham”(shudder). And those things are ok, but should the opportunity to get a proper dry aged ham arise, (Smithfield is the most famous American brand) stop at nothing to procure it. You know those nightmare scenes that happen every year on Black Friday- the ones where someone assaults or pepper sprays fellow shoppers to get the last  “My Mama loves me more than yours loves you” baby doll, or “Let’s kill everybody” video game? Those are shocking horrible instances of unacceptable behavior… but  such activity to get a Smithfield is totally understandable.. If you are going to jail it shouldn’t be over something stupid, people.    Follow the directions to the letter- most dry aged hams that you can get your hands on won’t need the soaking and scrubbing that our grandmother’s hams did.   Put it in a pot. Submerge it in liquid- i tend to use half chicken broth and ½ water. Allow it to barely simmer for 15 minutes a pound.  Skim off the gray nasty foam.    If time is on your side, allow it to cool in the liquid. If not, I absolve you.  Remove the ham and lay it on a roaster- you can score the rind, and add cloves, (although if you are going to do that go all the way serve it with broiled grapefruit a la’ Hazel and Jim’s wedding.) A glaze requires something sweet, brown sugar, maple syrup, something tangy, mustard is a favorite. Combine.  See how easy that was?  Spread it over your ham and slam it into the hottest oven you can muster for 15 minutes.  You will serve this in thin, salty sweet, pale pink ribbons.  The south knows its way around a swine… so biscuits are the perfect accompaniment.  It can also be the centerpiece of a charcuterie smorgasbord, to mix cultural dining patterns.  Serve on a board with appropriate slicing apparatus, tart pickles, cheeses, and crudité.  

Ham and Potato Scallop

A scallop of potatoes layered with ham is a very good way to use up ham leftover from a buffet. This is a tricky proposition. Ham is expensive grocery real estate. You certainly don’t want to throw any of it away. However, ham is one of those things that sits out on your buffet. There will be bits and pieces that have been passed on and touched. There are things in life that we can choose to not face head on.  So we will choose an application that will result in the thorough cooking of these leftovers.

Scalloped potatoes are one of those things that sound simple, but aren’t.  I know, I know your great grandmother threw casseroles of potatoes layered with flour and milk and they were a thrifty family favorite. Your grandmother had two advantages that you do not have.  1-She was feeding genuinely hungry  people who didn’t know any better. And-2- even more importantly, they  didn’t have cameras on their cell phones. A simply tossed together “scallop” of potatoes will consist of dull greying potatoes slices afloat in a grainy amniotic fluid.  We are going to avoid these pitfalls.

For this application you will need large potatoes, preferably pf the russet persuasion. Time for some brutal honesty, by the time these potatoes are cooked in milk and coated in cheese and pork, they have ceased to be a   vegetable they have moved into a nether state, where they exist as soothing ballast.  They won’t retain enough vitamins to dust a fiddle with anyway. The peels must therefore go. I am sorry, I try very hard to be peel friendly… just won’t fly this time.  I’d go with 1 large potato per person, plus an extra one, per  five guests. (So if you are serving five you need six spuds, if you are serving ten you need twelve). Slice them thinly and put into a an oven safe pot.  Pour whole milk over them, liberally salt and pepper and simmer until no traces of resistance remain. Individuality has its  place in a free society, but scalloped potatoes is not that place. Undercooked potatoes are a scourge.  When soft, remove some potato slices to your prepared casserole(by which i mean thoroughly sprayed with cooking spray), layer with finely chopped slivers of ham- continue – layer, potatoes, ham and grated cheddar(I’d go for a sharp white, myself)  Repeat until your pan is full, or until you are sadly out of potatoes.  Pour in some of the milk you boiled the taters in- almost to the surface, and cheese lavishly.  Hot oven- *375 for 30 minutes. Warm, cozy and showcases the flavor of good ham.

Grapefuit Chicken

There is definitely something to be said for winter food… And here in Alaska we say it a lot.  When you need warmth and succor nothing quite does the trick like a hearty stew glistening with red wine gravy. Although a close second would be Italian sausage bubbling in tomato sauce piled high atop cheesy polenta.  My stomach seems to be on a roll…Somewhere in the top five is chicken and dumplings.(reminder: I am from the midwest and chicken and dumplings means  hefty noodles- not fluffy biscuit type  drop dumplings.  If that offends you-start you own blog…  Those have their place,  I’m sure but they do not belong in the upper pantheon of the  comfort food rotation.  Warmth inducing as it may be, there is a danger of coziness to blending into stodginess.  The closeness  of  an eiderdown can move from warm and soothing to muffling. When you feel your palate deadening from a surfeit of rich food, action must be taken. Nothing will do the trick quite like cleansing lift of citrus.

 I ran out of lemons the other day… I know I am shocked too…   Since a trip to Costco is an all day endeavor for me, I had to make do.  I emptied the cabinets, while i was trying to decide which vinegar to use to spring my tastebuds from their seasonal doldrums. A container of juice packed grapefruit segments rolled off of the counter.  Even I,heathen that I am, recognize a gift from the almighty when it falls literally at my feet.

 

 The result was chicken breasts with sauteed grapefruit.  It literally looks like jewels on your plate and sends your tastebuds into hand stands.

 

 Begin with

Two whole chicken breasts- cut into thin cutlets (lay your hand flat- do you hear me FLAT on top of  the chicken and work your knife through the meat, parallel to your hand. Cut each breast in half longwise and then  do the same to each half.  Very cold chicken will make this process a bit easier.  Go slow.  Now season your escallops with salt and white pepper- you can use black, but it will not be as pretty.   Part of the point of pink food is prettiness.  Swirl a pat of butter around a saute’ pan. NO cast iron- you will be making a delicious acidic pan sauce and the citrus will not only leach iron ito your sauce-it will literally taste rusty- it will pit and damage your pans… You have been warned. Heed me, for I know of whence I speak.  I may or may not have(I totally did) destroyed a cast iron pan that had probably accompanied a female antecedent of mine on a covered wagon. A batch of balsamic vinegar glazed  veal chops did what hailstorms, scurvy and age failed to do.

 Give your chicken a quick saute’- you want it golden and brown… Set it aside, you may need to do this in batches- remember we never crowd the pan… A crowded pan will not cook that much faster than two batches  will, and it  will give you rubbery seized up poached, chicken.  Not what we are aiming for here.  Now into the pan juices add the grapefruit juice and cook down until its syrupy.  Add a little dollop of heavy cream and swirl your pan around like the superstar chef you are…. Return the chicken and the grapefruit segments and make sure everything is warm all the way through- over low heat.  Unusually for me, i find that rice or potatoes aren’t the best accompaniment. Oh pick your jaw up- you’ll catch flies like that…….  The best way to proceed  is to lay it on a bed of fresh spinach.  The heat will gently cook the spinach.   Now serve forth, pretty as a preppy’s spring break in Palm Springs.

 

White Chili

 

 

 

Don’t love the name—love the dish.

 

when Hugh was missing,I made a triple sized batch.  figured you might not be feeding waves of searchers. This would be perfect for a super bowl party or a nippy Monday night when you need sustenance, but not stodge.

2 lbs chicken thighs

3 medium onions

6 cans small white beans

Chili powder, cumin

Chicken broth-carton is better than canned

Chili add ins—corn chips, grated cheese, diced jalapeno’s, sour cream

 

I described this recipe in the blog post called “Friends and Fond” for those of you who prefer a more standard ‘recipe’ presentation—here goes.

Cut the thighs into small cubes and brown them over fairly high heat. Do this in batches. Between batches, rinse the pan with a bit of chicken stock and pour the fond/broth mixture into the pot you will cook the chili in, along with the cooked thighs. Do NOT scorch the fond. After the chicken is done, sauté the onions until soft. Add onions to big pot. Add beans and spices. Pour on enough stock to get the “chili” consistency. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. More is fine. Stay warm and enjoy. Serve with assorted chili add ins.

Bea’s roast beef sandwiches

 

 

More a way of life then a recipe

 

Toast some onion rolls. Combine about 4 Tbl mayo with 1 tsp grated horseradish. Use this to mixture to “butter” your rolls. On each sandwich put several slices of thinly carved medium rare roast beef. You’ll want to sort of fold them so that they are in “ruffles” and don’t just lay there like a carnivorous pancake. Now, if you are going to eat immediately, add some sliced tomatoes and butter lettuce. Iceberg is all wrong for these sandwiches. Apply salt and paper. If you are taking these monstrosities to consume elsewhere, bag the veggies and assemble sandwiches when you are ready to chomp

Chicken roasted with lemon and olive

 

 

Grated rind of one lemon

2 fresh lemons juiced

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved crosswise

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

15 oil-cured olives, pitted and sliced

1 large shallot, sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

 

Preparation

 

Preheat oven to 400°.

 

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Shake to coat chicken. Marinate 15 minutes at room temperature. Arrange chicken mixture in a broiler-safe 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano and the next 4 ingredients (through shallots); top with lemon slices. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven. Preheat broiler to HIGH.

Place chicken 3 inches from broiler element; broil on HIGH for 3 minutes or until chicken is browned and done.