French Onion Soup, from an Italian Nona’s Kitchen! 

Ingredients

4-6 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter, divided

12 yellow onions. Peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch rings

1 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 -1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

6-8 cups the best quality, low-sodium beef broth

1 large bay leave

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, bundled  

1 large fresh baked loaf of French bread

4 garlic cloves- cleaned. 2 minced very fine / 2 cut in half-lengthwise

4-6 teaspoons good quality Sherry

4-6 ounces Gruyère cheese

Method

In a large Dutch oven, or 6-8 quart stock pot-melt 4 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions. 

Sauté onions until they are soften stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. 

Add the salt, black pepper and finely minced garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally-until onions are turning a deep brown and beginning to caramelize. ( Reduce heat slightly if onions seem to be browning too quickly – onions contain a large amount of sugar– and sugar can quickly burn over high heat.)

 Cook an additional 20 minutes until all onions are a deep rich chocolate brown. 

Add one cup of stock to the pot and quickly deglaze the bottom of the pan by stirring and scraping, making sure to release all the delicious flavors that are stuck on the bottom. Add the remaining beef stock. 

Tie the thyme, bay leave and fresh parsley into a bundle with twine. Add the herb bundle to the pot. 

Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered, until broth is reduced, thickened and flavorful- about 20 minutes. 

Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Heat the broiler. Cut a 1/2-inch slice of French bread for every serving of soup.

Place bread slices on a rimmed and lined baking sheet- toast bread slices in the oven until crisp, but not too brown. About 1 -2 minutes per side.

Remove from the oven and generously rub one side of each piece of toasted bread with a fresh raw cut garlic clove. Set aside.

Place oven safe bowls, or large soufflé ramekins on the rimmed baking sheet, add 1/2 teaspoon of sherry to the bottom of each, and ladle soup on top. Top each serving of soup with garlic-rubbed toast. Divide cheese among the bowls, covering the bread and some of the soup.

Carefully transfer baking sheet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 5 to 8 minutes. 

Serve hot.

Coq au Vin – French Comfort Food- A Rich and Historical Culinary Masterpiece!!

This dish though! < Big Sigh,>  Chicken cooked in a rich, velvety sauce, framed with smoky bacon & earthy flavors!  Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Julius Caesar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century when Julia Child featured coq au vin 1961- on PBS in the United States.The Kennedy Era. This French countryside stew is now seen as one of Julia’s signature dishes.


Ingredients   

1 Large whole chicken cut into 8 pieces

1/2 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as beautiful Burgundy 

1-2 cups rich full bodied chicken stock

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper 

6-8 ounce slab bacon, cut into 1/2-in. dice 

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, if needed 

1 lg. yellow onion, finely diced 

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 

20 large white pearl onions, peeled 

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 in chunks

1/2 pound  small cremini mushrooms 

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

1 Tablespoon tomato paste 

2 Tablespoon Cognac 

1 -2 chicken livers, coarsely chopped 

2 bay leaves 

8-10 fresh thyme sprigs

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350’F  degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large 8 qt. Dutch oven or heavy 8 quart stock pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate (lined with paper towels ) with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add carrots, onions, 2 t. salt, and 1 t. pepper to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes–stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly brown.

Add the garlic, cook additional minute. Add the Cognac and place the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate back into the pot. Add the red wine, chicken stock, thyme and bring to a simmer. 

Cover the pot with a tight lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is pink color –close to the bone. ( from the red wine) Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Combine 1 tablespoon of butter and combine with the flour to form a thick paste. Stir into the stew until thicken.Add the pearl onions.

 In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until caramelize and crispy brown. Add to the pot. 

Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. 

Season to taste. Serve hot with warm French Bread and the remaining bottle or Burgundy! 

Oooooooo La La!

Meatballs are all the rage! Here is one of my fun recipes you can make at home. Sunday Italian Meatballs- in a Spicy Red Sauce with Basil and Burrata!

Burrata  [boor-RAH-tuh] The name ‘burrata’ means ‘buttered’ in Italian. A delicious, rich, glossy-white, unripened cheese made by combining mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella – while the inside contains  creamy texture! 


For the meatballs:

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef or veal

2 large eggs 

1/2- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs or GF

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 onion, peeled and rough chopped

1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves 

3 cloves garlic,  peeled and cleaned

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped 

For the sauce:

6-8 cups tomato sauce or your favorite pasta sauce

1/2 cup good quality beef stock 

1 cup bold red wine 

4-5 large basil leaves, chopped

1 Tablespoon ( heaping) dried Italian seasoning  

1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

6-8 ounces of fresh Burrata cheese, cut into large thin pieces

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

To make the meatballs : 

Preheat oven to 400’ F.

In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a food processor add the carrot, onion, parsley, garlic and basil. Pulse until completely processed into a fine mince. Add to the meat mixture and combine everything and distribute vegetable and spices well throughout the meat mixture 

Using your hands, portion  with a small potion controller ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, roll into 4 dozen- 1 inch, balls. Or 2 dozen- 2 inch, balls. 

Place meatballs on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat a large  high-sided skillet on medium-low and add butter and olive oil. Heat until butter is melted. Add onions and sauté until translucent, add mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes add garlic, and cook an additional one minute. Add tomato sauce, stock, wine and Italian seasoning. Allow sauce to cook mushrooms through and thicken about 30 -45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Once meatballs are out of the oven, gently add them to the sauce; spoon the tomato sauce generously over the meatballs. Place the Buratta randomly in the tomato sauce and over the meatballs. Cover and continue cooking on medium-low for 5 more minutes or until the cheese has melted into the sauce. 

Add chopped basil and chopped fresh parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve meatballs over ancient grain, pasta or spaghetti squash.

Eat! 

Yay, Slow Cooking Season has Arrived! Try my Families Favorite, Slow Sunday Chicken Chile Verde!

There’s a bit of prep up front- but this makes the final flavors all worth the extra effort! 

Ingredients:

2 lbs. tomatillos, husked (paper skins, removed) and cut in half

4 lg. poblano or anaheim peppers, cut in have seeds and stem removed

1-2 jalapeños, (depending on your spice preference)

4 garlic cloves peeled

2 lg. red plum tomato cut in half, core & seeds removed

1 lg. red bell pepper, de-seeded cut in half

1 – 4 oz. can diced green chiles, medium heat-drained

1 bunch cilantro, rough chopped 

Juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 -2 Tablespoons, ground cumin

2 teaspoons, dried oregano

1-2 teaspoon, ground white pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon, ground cayenne pepper

Kosher salt & ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup chicken stock 

4-6 chicken breasts, boneless -skinless,  cut in half horizontally 

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated for garnish  

Sour cream for garnish ( optional) 

1 bunch scallions cleaned and chopped on diagonal for garnish

Red radish sliceed paper thin for garnish

Flat leaf parsley, chopped fine for garnish

Crushed white corn tortilla chips, for garnish 

1-2 avocados diced, for garnish

1 Lime, cut into wedges

Method

Place tomatillos cut side down, poblano peppers, jalapeños, tomato, red bell peppers and garlic cloves on a lightly sprayed foil-lined large baking sheet or char on the outdoor grill.  

If using the oven- place under the broiler setting for 8-10 minutes or until the tomatillos and peppers begin to roast and blacken. If you don’t have broiler in your oven, you can put the oven at 425′ F. However the best option is to use an outdoor grill and char until the vegetables are blackening and deflating, about 10-15 minutes on high, constantly rotating. 

After charring, Immediately transfer the poblanos, jalapeños, tomatoes and red bell pepper into a few gallon sized plastic food storage bag and zip tight. Steam the vegetables in the bag for about 5 minutes  to release some of the skin – now remove from bag and scape and excess skin that didn’t just steam and peel off. Discard, skin and clean away any seeds or interior veins. Work over a bowl to reserve any additional juices. 

Add tomatillos and any reserved juice to a blender. Pulse to process into a purée, adding stock as need to thin out chunks. 

Add garlic, green chiles, tomato, red bell pepper along with the cilantro ( reserving some chop cilantro for garnish) lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and additional stock. Blend the ingredients until they are well combined and become a thick soup-like consistency.

Add chicken and diced onions to an 6-8 quart *stockpot or your slow cooker.

Pour tomatillo-chile sauce all over the top of the chicken and stir to combine. Cover and cook on medium high stirring occasionally for 3 1/2 hours or set to low on your slow cooker. Process for 6- 7 hours. ( * if cooking in stove add an additional stock to cover). 

Before serving, remove chicken with a slotted spoon, and shred with a fork. Add back to slow cooker and mix in to combine. Taste, adjust flavor with salt and pepper. 

Serve in individual bowls topped with with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, scallions, radish, cubed avocado, chopped parsley and a lime wedge. 

Pair with warm corn tortillas.

Serves 4-6.