Coq au Vin (French Fricassee of Rooster)

I think its safe to say that we’ve all heard of coq au vin. This is a classic French dish with two big players: chicken and red wine. Well, a correction to that: not just any kind of chicken, but when properly translated, rooster and red wine.

Coq au Vin

This dish isn’t a quicky–like any other stew, it requires slow cooking and a tough protein that will stand up well to slow cooking. Just like how you wouldn’t make a beef stew from filet mignon (and if you do, please don’t tell me), coq au vin should not be made from an everyday, tender chicken. You want a tough bird that will release a ton of flavor (which is what will give the sauce an incredible flavor) and maintain its form after long periods of cooking, so this is why you would opt for something like a rooster or stewing hen if you have the option (plus, they’re typically cheaper–bonus!). Is… click to read more…

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Lamb Steak over Israeli Cous Cous with Cranberry Sherry Mint Sauce

When I found myself with a cut of lamb known for having an incredibly tender texture (the top round roast–it comes from the upper hind leg), for some reason, steak was on my mind rather than the usual roast. I’d never had lamb steak before, so I thought that this could be a fun change–I’d just give them a quick, buttery pan sear (since its not grilling weather at the moment) and top it off with a simple sauce. Being autumn and all, cranberry seemed like a great thing to focus on sauce-wise–and like pork, lamb with fruit always makes me happy.

Lamb Steak over Israeli Cous Cous with Cranberry Sherry Mint Sauce

The lamb was indeed very tender. The resulting steaks had a crisp, buttery, exterior with a juicy and just-a-little-pink interior (random aside: why aren’t lamb steaks more common?!)–very tasty. The cranberry sauce I made to go with this was very similar in style to click to read more…

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Soutzoukakia Smyrneika with Olives (Greek Lamb Meatballs)

I discovered this dish at one of my favorite Greek food blogs and knew I had to try them one day. Until I can pony up the cash for a trip to Greece, cooking more Greek food at home will have to do. The dish is charming, rustic, and man does it hit the spot: lamb meatballs in a sauce of tomato and olives.

Soutzoukakia Smyrneika with Olives

I was very tempted to add a little more here and there to pump things up a bit, but resisted the urge and am glad for it. The ingredients make this sound simple in flavor, but it is really to the benefit of the final product–the sharp flavor of cumin cuts through the distinct, delightful lamb flavor, which all just sings in a mellow, but perfectly complementary sauce focused on tomato and olive (lamb and olive is a combo that… click to read more…

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is one of those pasta dishes with an enticing name that doesn’t get enough attention. A quick glance at the ingredients tends to paint it as a simple, almost ordinary pasta dish…and don’t get me started on the many “alternative” versions of this dish out there that include things like bacon or prosciutto (a dead giveaway that you should be looking for a different recipe). The humble appearance of this dish aside though, it is really incredibly flavorful and one of the most uniquely flavored pasta dishes I’ve had the pleasure of eating. The success of this dish is pretty much entirely dependent on one magical ingredient: guanciale.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

As I’ve discussed before, guanciale is a dry-aged, cured pork jowl that is mind-blowingly simple to do at home (and probably easier to do yourself compared to finding it stocked in any grocery stores). The stuff packs a punch and delivers a… click to read more…

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Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

Every time of year brings memories of a few dishes with it that we all quietly pine for. Autumn and butternut squash is that mystical combo for my wife and I. In general, butternut squash soup is a pretty simple and straightforward thing, but to keep this from becoming something we grow tired of, I like to change it up every time I make it. In this case, I wanted a light starter as a prelude to a bigger dinner, but still something big and bold on flavor.

Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

This soup was a delicious way to start a meal. It looks deceptively simple (like any other butternut squash soup), but has a surprisingly complex flavor. The pear added an almost unnameable but distinct tangy sweetness while the peppers and assortment of spices lent an incredibly full flavored back drop to the whole experience. I didn’t want to… click to read more…

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Roast Pork Belly with Garlicky Thyme Gravy

Have you ever had pork belly before? If you’re not sure, perhaps a simpler question will answer it: have you ever had bacon before? Bacon is a cured, (often) smoked, and then thinly sliced pork belly…so that should give you a vague sense of what this cut of meat is about. It can be a tough cut so it requires a bit of time to cook properly (low and slow is the way to go…I could keep rhyming), but when done right, it is incredibly rich and flavorful–oh and the roughly 50% fat striated throughout the meat also doesn’t hurt. This is the cut of meat for pork lovers who aren’t afraid of a succulent meal (if you’re strictly a chicken breast and/or pork tenderloin type, this might be a stretch).

Roast Pork Belly with Garlicky Thyme Gravy

For this particular preparation, rather than braising the belly (commonly done in an Asian style), I chose to roast mine.… click to read more…

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