M. Andrew Gordon

Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

Last Minute Substitutions Yield Grand Results

In Beef, Main Dish, Soups and Stews, Uncategorized on March 2, 2011 at 9:40 pm

As I awoke on Sunday morning, I had a hankering for a richly spiced stew, possibly a curry or perhaps some Moroccan-inspired flavors.  That Lena would be coming back from running a 10K in the snow also made a hearty stew seem like a great idea.  Lamb stew really got me intrigued but when I went to the grocery store (I didn’t feel like making a special cross-town trip to a butcher), all of the lamb seemed excessively priced for the cuts available.  Enter the first substitution: boneless beef sirloin filets for lamb.  At this point, my thoughts began to drift back into the curry realm, and I started salivating thinking about beef rendang.  But I am nothing if not stubborn and I decided to try out the beef in a Moroccan-styled stew.

As I started chopping onions and cutting meat, I had every intention of serving this stew over rice.  But when I realized that I had several potatoes taking up space on the shelf, I decided that I’d try my hand at gnocchi.  Substitution number two turned out to be a smart one, as the soft, doughy gnocchi were the perfect accompaniment to this stew.

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Leftover Brunch

In Beef on February 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm

On Monday morning, thanks to George Washington having been born on the 22nd, I was left not driving to work but staring into the refrigerator in search of breakfast.  Or maybe it was brunch.  A container of leftover oxtail stew needed to be eaten.  And there was half of a day-old baguette on the counter.

There it was, before my very eyes.  A savory french toast – two pieces of bread with a layer of oxtail stew between, soaked for an hour in eggs and milk – fried and topped with a poached egg.  It was damn good, but I’m sure I’ll never have anything like it again.

Pickled, or soused, salmon

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Sauces, Seafood, Side Dishes on February 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm

As I went into the planning phase of last Saturday’s dinner, I kept coming back to a common theme: pickling.  It’s been a hot culinary topic of late, with numerous local restaurants offering house made pickles.  I have also been reading Momufuku, the eponymous book by chef David Chang, and there are a number of delicious looking pickle recipes in that book.  Chang is a fascinating chef and a real proponent of pickling.  In addition, I have been spending my spare time at Lena’s apartment reading East Coast Grill’s Chris Schlesinger’s book Quick Pickles which immediately won me over when I read about a pickled rhubarb that is recommended as an accompaniment for soft shell crab.  So pickling has been fascinating me of late.

One dish that I had been thinking about was a soused fish.  Generally, it is a white fish that is braised in a pickling liquid and or fried and then set in a pickle brine for some amount of time.  Neither of these were quite what I was looking for so, after consulting with the good folks at New Deal Fish Market when I was picking up the fish, I decided to brine some salmon, serve it over celery root puree, and top it with salt-pickled cranberries inspired by a recipe in Momufuku.  Sadly, it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture!  The dish was paired with Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager, a fairly low alcohol lager with a nice crisp hop finish.

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Brunching Presley Style

In Baked Goods, Dinner Party, Pork on January 26, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Blogging is a labor of love, something that is easy to let slide when work becomes busy, commutes turn into hours-long slogs, life takes unexpected twists and turns, or the holidays make everything busy as hell.  In many ways, it’s not unlike the common refrain about diets being hard to hold onto during the holiday season (though rest assured there will be no pseudo-healthy mumbo-jumbo in the pages of JustAddBacon).  In a nutshell, it is just easy to get distracted from the mission behind blogging.

Since my last post, way back in dying days of autumn, there has been some good cooking that could have made its way on here.  Off the top of my head, I created a savory pumpkin bread pudding, a cranberry ice cream, a pork-plantain stew, savory baked French toast, beef and bean stuffed shells, and a host of dishes for a Tiki-themed dinner party* that were worth blogging about.  Lena and I also ate some awesome dishes, notably half a pig’s head, and had an amazing dinner at East Coast Grill.  There was also a trip to Kentucky that allowed me to delve into some old family recipes.

This past Sunday saw a litany of good food to blog about.  In my ongoing effort to host at least one sizable dinner party per month, I had shaken things up and decided a brunch would be a fun diversion.  What would be even more fun would be creating a menu based on the life and times of Elvis Presley.  Known for his outlandish excesses of his later years – stories abound of the King and his Memphis Mafia boarding his private plane, the Lisa Marie, and flying to Denver for Fool’s Gold sandwiches, a glorified peanut butter-and-jelly with bacon, or flying in dozens of donuts.

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Salmon with Cannellini Beans and Citrus Salad

In Main Dish, Side Dishes on January 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

One of my favorite pairings with salmon for a long time has been cannellini beans.  Often confused with navy beans or Great Northerns, cannellinis are kidney-shaped with a thin skin and have a pleasant nutty flavor and retain their shape pretty well.  I find the flavor is a nice foil to the assertively sweet flavor of salmon or trout.  In the past I’ve cooked the beans with garlic and onion, but the other night I was thinking about essentially just heating them and adding garlic and onion that had already been cooked.

Starting with a good dose of olive oil, I slowly cooked the garlic and onion over low heat so that the oil just barely simmered.  I added some crushed red pepper for a shot of heat and a slice of Meyer lemon for a little acidity and sweetness in one shot.  For those unfamiliar with the Meyer lemon, I think they are completely worth tracking down for their somewhat unique flavor.  Essentially, it’s a lemon you don’t mind eating.

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Peking Duck

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Poultry on December 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Cooking Peking Duck is no joke and not something one should undertake on whim.  The trouble is that there is a time-honored technique which is difficult to adhere to in the modern American kitchen.  It requires pouring a boiling hot orange syrup over the bird to flash-cook the skin, then hanging the bird for days.  Yes, days.  Although the FDA warns against such activities as they have to worry about nasty little microbes.  This drying process allows the skin to crisp better when the duck is roasted, sweating out moisture.  The duck is then roasted at a high temperature to achieve the desired golden brown skin which is the hallmark of Peking Duck.

I made mine by having the duck dry in the refrigerator for several days before hanging in the open air for a lengthy afternoon session in front of a fan.  None of the diners reported feeling ill.  And I ate leftovers for several days afterwards.

Peking Ducks; the wire trusses allowed me to hang the birds to dry before roasting.

Peking Duck with homemade pancakes

Rabbit ragout

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I’m not sure the first time I ate rabbit.  I can remember the first time I cooked it, three or four years and two apartments ago.  My roommate and I braised the rabbit in a mustard-cranberry lambic mixture and for some reason, even though I can not recall the specifics of that meal, I just flat-out fell in love with the flavor of rabbit.  Since then, I seek it out anytime I see rabbit on a menu, which thankfully is becoming more common.

This particular course for the dinner party was partly inspired by reading chef Peter Davis’s Fresh and Honest.  Davis is the chef at Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge and one recipe in the book had caught my eye (well, many have, but in particular): a grit cake topped with a mushroom ragout.  There is something I love about the idea of grits that are allowed to cool and harden enough to be served as a cake and the mushroom ragout sounded absolutely delicious.  But when planning my menu I realized that I wanted to have meat in one dish (there was going to be octopus in one course but no terrestrial meats elsewhere).  Ox tails seemed like a good item for this, as they could be braised until tender, cooking down and making its own stock around it.  Surprisingly, I had a little trouble finding ox tails, which I hadn’t been planning on.  I thought about using duck but, again, was thwarted by availability as finding just legs of duck was not easy.  I wasn’t sure the breast would make the best ragout anyway.

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Japonesa squash ravioli

In Dinner Party, Main Dish, Side Dishes on October 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I have written at great length about my love of the abobora japonesa, a wonderful specimen of squash, its warty green skin hiding the stunningly delicious interior.  It offers a more intense squash flavor than butternut with a dense texture similar to a buttercup squash.  Unlike many squashes, it can really stand on its own with little help from butter, brown sugar, maple, etc.  When I conceived this dinner, born on the idea of crafting a ravioli from scratch, the japonesa came to mind immediately as offering a unique filling for the ravioli.

To round out the filling, I knew I would want some other flavors (despite the squash’s inherent deliciousness) and would need something to thin out the texture for ease of filling the ravioli.  Caramelized onion provides additional sweetness and depth; fromage blanc, a simple fresh cheese, gives the filling a more creamy texture; chile and cumin powders give some heat and spice; and a touch of porter (just add beer!) lends some additional caramel notes.  It just so happened that there was a growler, or 64 ounce bottle, of Cambridge Brewing Company’s Charles River Porter in my fridge and as I poured myself a glass, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head: a small addition of porter would really be good in the squash filling!

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Octopus confit with mussels and beans

In Seafood on October 26, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I have been wanting to cook octopus confit for about a year, waiting patiently for the right moment.  Octopus has long been one of my favorite foods to cook and ever since I had a grilled octopus dish at Ceiba in Washington, D.C.  That grilled octopus haunts my dreams and not because I envision a ghostly mollusc out to seek revenge with charred tentacles but because the delicate flavor and that wonderful grilled smokiness was so damned delicious.

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A quick and different dinner for a Tuesday night

In Main Dish, Poultry, Soups and Stews on October 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

A fairly quick dinner for a weeknight, made a little quicker by buying a pre-peeled butternut squash, not something I normally do.  The paprika, chile powder, and chile pepper give this stew a significant dose of heat.  If you’re not a fan of spiciness, I would omit the chile pepper.  This would also be delicious with coconut milk in place of some of the chicken stock.

Chicken-Butternut squash-Chickpea Stew

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs chicken breast, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 chile pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine half the paprika, chile powder, and cinnamon.  Coat chicken.
  2. Heat half the olive oil in large pan.  Add chicken and cook until browned all over.  Remove to a plate.
  3. Add remaining oil and cook squash until starting to brown and beginning to soften, about 8 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook for about five minutes.  Add remaining paprika and cumin, stirring to combine.  Cook for an additional five minutes.  Return chicken and squash to pan.
  4. Add chile pepper, chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Add chickpeas and cook for five minutes.  Stir in lemon zest and champagne vinegar.  Serve with cilantro, salt, and pepper.