Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pan Fried Pumpkin and Sausage Ragout over Creamy Polenta

Clearly I modified it by adding tasty tasty sausage

1/4 cup neutral oil like grape seed or canola
2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 pound sweet sausage (hot would be fine)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons minced fresh chile or hot red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup red wine, vegetable stock, or water
3 cups chopped or canned tomatoes (use homemade tomato sauce to save some time)

Grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly chopped parsley

Put a few tablespoons of oil  in a deep large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium high heat. Add the sausage to the hot pan and cook on both sides until almost done, 8 minutes per side or so. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Working in batches, add some of the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper. Brown on each side; about 10 minutes total. Transfer to plate and continue cooking the rest of pumpkin, adding more oil as necessary. 

When all pumpkin is cooked, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and add onion, garlic and chile. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add wine and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of pan. Let liquid boil off and thicken, then stir in tomato and its juices. Bring the sauce to boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 10 minutes. 
Slice the sausage into bite size pieces and return it and the pumpkin to pot and let mixture come back to boil. Cover and turn the heat to a simmer. Cook, turning once or twice until the sauce has thickened more and pumpkin is tender, but not mushy, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with some  Parmesan and  parsley. 

I served this over Creamy Polenta and it was delicious. This polenta recipe has become my favorite. The cream cheese makes it so light and fluffy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blue Cheese Crackers

My mom told me about these and I absolutely had to make them, immediately. It just so happened that I had planned on making steak salads for dinner and thought these would be a great addition. I was right.
The original recipe came from Ina Garten, AKA The Barefoot Contessa. The original recipe is below

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and Stilton together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature

I made one change, and I am very happy with it. Kerrie is allergic to walnuts so they were never going to work, I thought about almonds and pecans as well. I ruled out pecans because all I had was a can of mixed nuts and I wasn't going to go pick them all out. Almonds sounded OK but I thought I wanted something with a stronger flavor to counteract the blue cheese. I finally settled on my favorite rye crackers. I crushed them up and rolled them just as with the recipe above. Delicious.
I served them crumbled up like a crouton on top of a sliced steak salad and some crispy parsnips. the slight soft cracker with it's blue cheese punch went great with steak and parsnips.