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Hearty with Ham, Double Split Pea Soup

Here’s a perfect way to use leftover baked ham. This soup is incredibly substantial and richly flavored. Served with a salad and a bowl of Crispy Garlic Croutons, or a basket of hot Baking Powder Biscuits, it makes a robust lunch or Sunday supper.

Although this recipe can easily be halved, I purposely made it large because this soup freezes so well. The correct consistency of pea soup is strictly personal. I’ve seen pea soup made so thick that it almost needed a fork! I prefer a soup of medium thickness to allow the additional whole green peas, diagonally sliced carrots and chunks of smoked ham to float about on my spoon. But feel free to “fork it up,” if you must!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid
  • 2-cup ladle
  • Two 8-quart bowls
  • Food processor, heavy-duty blender or a hand-held immersion blender (also called a “stick blender”)

For the soup:

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) rich Chicken Stock
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • Meaty ham bone (shank) or 1 or 2 ham hocks, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced leeks
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups diced smoked ham
  • 1 pound frozen peas, thawed
  • Suggested accompaniment: Crispy Garlic Croutons or Baking Powder Biscuit

1) To simmer the split peas: In a 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot, bring chicken stock to a simmer, stir in green and yellow split peas and add ham bone or hocks. Bring back to a simmer, cover pot and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
Note: If using smoked ham hocks, blanch twice, uncovered, in two separate batches of boiling water, for 2 minutes each. Drain and proceed.

2) To prepare the carrots: Cut 8 of the carrots into irregular 1/3-inch slices and slice the remaining 4 carrots diagonally and keep separate. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil and place a large bowl of ice water on your counter. Add a little salt and the 4 diagonally sliced carrots and boil until crisp tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain carrots and immediately refresh them in the bowl of ice water, swishing them around with your hand until cold. Drain slices well and set aside.

3) To sweat the vegetables: Melt butter in a 10- to 12-inch deep-sided skillet. Tear off a piece of waxed paper large enough to cover the interior of the skillet and brush some of the butter on 1 side of the waxed paper. When butter is bubbling, stir in the onions, leeks, garlic, celery and the 8 sliced carrots into the skillet, coating vegetables well with butter. Add the thyme and oregano and place the greased side of the waxed paper directly on top of the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables over very low heat, occasionally lifting the waxed paper to stir and redistribute them, for 15 to 20 minutes.

4) To finish cooking the soup base: After the split peas have simmered for 1 hour, add the sweated vegetables to the stockpot and cover the pot securely. Simmer the vegetables, over low heat, for 1 hour more. Remove from heat and remove the ham bone or hocks from pot to become cool enough to handle.

5) To strain and puree the soup: Ladle the soup, in batches, into a large medium-mesh wire strainer set within an 8-quart bowl. As the strainer becomes full, place the solids into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or a blender (see the safety tip at the end of this recipe). Puree each batch of solids with a little of the stock until smooth, then transfer the pureed mixture to another 8-quart bowl. You will have finally 1 large bowl of stock and 1 large bowl of pureed vegetables. (Alternatively, keep the entire soup mixture in the original pot but remove 2 cups of the liquid. Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree all the solids and, when perfectly smooth, add as much of the reserved liquid as needed to reach the desired consistency.)

6) To assemble the finished soup: Pour the vegetable puree into empty stockpot and add enough stock to create the desired consistency. Remove any meat from the cooked ham bone or hocks; discard the bone. Add to soup salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper along with diced ham (see note), thawed peas and reserved blanched carrots. Cool uncovered to allow any grease to rise to the top; discard the grease. Place the amount that you will be serving in a smaller pot; divide the rest among labeled heavy-duty freezer containers and place in the freezer.
Note: If using ham steaks, heat a large skillet over high heat with a couple of tablespoons of butter (full or Clarified). When the fat is melted and hot, add one ham steak and sear it in the pan, over high heat, until hot and turning golden on both sides, turning once. Place on a plate, carefully wipe out the skillet and do this same procedure with the remaining ham steak. When cool, cut each steal into dice.

7) To serve: Cover and reheat soup gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot. Ladle into warmed, hefty wide soup mugs or deep bowls.Timing is Everything:

  • All the vegetables can be prepared and ready to cook 1 day ahead. Store them in the refrigerator in separate, well-covered bowls.
  • The stock can, and should, be made way ahead and stored in the freezer.
  • In addition to freezing, this soup may be fully assembled up to 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated well covered. If refrigerating the soup in a pot, pull a clean kitchen towel tightly across the top of the uncovered pot and then apply the lid. The towel will prevent any accumulated condensation from the interior of the lid from falling into the soup and diluting the flavor.

Reduced-Fat Variation

Although the flavor of this soup will be richest when using butter, to reduce the overall amount of saturated fat, omit butter and sweat vegetables in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup additional chicken stock. Alternatively, use half butter and half olive oil.

Safety Tip on Pureeing Hot Mixtures

When pureeing hot mixtures (especially in the blender), never fill the container more than half full or you run the risk of causing an explosive reaction when you turn on the motor. The heat creates a buildup of pressure in the container, causing the food to shoot up and over the top when blending. This can cause serious burns–not to mention the fact that you’ll be cleaning pea soup off your walls and ceiling for the next week!


SHOPPING LIST
At-a-Glance Reminder of IngredientsFor the soup :

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) rich Chicken Stock or low-sodium canned or boxed chicken broth
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • Meaty ham bone (shank) or 1 or 2 ham hocks, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced leeks
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups diced smoked ham
  • 1 pound frozen peas, thawed
  • Suggested accompaniment: Crispy Garlic Croutons or Baking Powder Biscuits

From the supermarket shelf :

  • Canned or boxed chicken broth, only if not using homemade
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and drained

From the produce aisle :

  • Carrots
  • Yellow onions
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Leeks

From the butcher and/or the deli department:

  • Meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 large ham steaks or smoked ham, sliced ¾ inch thick, for dicing

From the spice case:

  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano

From the dairy case:

  • Butter

From the frozen food section:

  • Frozen peas

For suggested accompaniments: See specific recipes.

Comments (12)

Homemade Bagels

Homemade bagels are very different from store-bought bagels, which are too doughy for my taste; I always end up scooping out the center. This recipe, which I have truly labored over, produces bagels that are lighter and crisper with infinitely more flavor. I’m really quite prejudiced since I have worked on these bagels for many years, perfecting the shaping process. I’ve learned, through a lot of trial and error, that the secret to creating and keeping the correct bagel shape through rising, boiling and baking is to make the hole disproportionately large, when shaping. Because the bands of elasticity are so strong (because the flour used is so glutinous), the shaped dough has a tendency to rise up, not out. This can cause the hole to disappear if too “appropriate” looking at the onset.

As for texture, the choice is yours. The chewiest bagels are made with just water, but the taste is a bit richer with milk; a combination of the two will also produce a fine bagel. Using liquid barley malt extract instead of (or in addition to) sugar in the dough also gives bagels their unique hint of sweetness (and yeast just loves barley malt!). Look for it in gourmet or health food stores. And for best results, I bake my bagels on a large clay stone, but you can use a dark steel baking sheet instead. Please don’t be afraid to try this recipe; I’ve already made all the mistakes for you!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information. And, if making yeast bread is new for you, you can go to this page on “Food Matters A to Z,” to learn about how things work. You can also check out the previews of my Pizza video and/or my Country White Bread video to see if you’d like to watch them in their entirety. And, finally, to read my blog, which has lots of detailed “bagel making” photographs, click here.

Special Equipment

  • 5-quart mixing bowl, for rising dough
  • Wooden surface, for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Set of quarry tiles or large pizza stone or shallow dark steel baking sheet
  • Stainless steel skimmer or large slotted spoon
  • Wooden baker’s peel or a flat cookie sheet, only if using quarry tiles or a stone
  • Cornmeal Sweeper, only if making successive batches of bagels using tiles or a stone

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  • 2 cups tepid water or any combination of slightly warmed milk and water to equal 2 cups, plus 1/4 cup tepid water, for yeast
  • 3 rounded tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon liquid (not dry) barley malt extract, plus 1/4 cup sugar for when boiling the bagels
  • 1 tablespoon fine table-salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • Up to 6 cups high-gluten flour, including flour for dusting (I prefer to use “super-gluten” flour, which I purchase at my neighborhood pizza place. If unavailable, use a supermarket brand of bread flour)
  • For the boiling water bath: Boiling water, as needed, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon baking soda

Remaining Ingredients:

  • Cornmeal or a combination of cornmeal (preferably medium-ground), poppy and sesame seeds, for baker’s peel
  • Vegetable oil or spray, for baking sheet (only if not using a baking stone)
  • Glaze: 2 egg whites, at room temperature, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 6 ice cubes and a small splash of water, for baking
  • Optional Toppings
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Minced onions sautéed in a little vegetable oil
  • Dried garlic chips or dehydrated onions reconstituted in some hot water until softened

Recipe instructions:

1) To set up: Brush the interior of a 5-quart mixing bowl with melted butter and set aside for rising the dough.

2) To assemble liquid mixture: If using milk, heat in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat until just warm throughout. Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl and add shortening and 1/2 cup lukewarm water. (If the milk became too hot, let it cool until just warm.) If not using milk, pour the 2 cups lukewarm water into a mixing bowl and add the shortening (no need to melt). Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of the sugar. When yeast is creamy and starts to bubble, add to mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of the sugar or the barley malt extract, salt and black pepper, if using.

3) To complete and knead the dough: Briskly stir in enough flour, a cup or so at a time, to make dough that is not easily stirred in the bowl. Turn out the dough onto a floured wooden board and knead in a brisk push, fold and turning motion, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add only as much additional flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to your hands and work surface. As always, use a pastry scraper while kneading to scrape dough off the board cleanly as you continue to knead in a sufficient amount of flour.

4) To rise the dough: Place the dough in the buttered bowl. Brush top of the dough with more melted butter, and then cover with buttered plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour (or up to 2 1/2 hours for an extremely light and flavorful bagel). Uncover bowl and punch down dough with several swift swats with the back of your hand. Recover bowl and refrigerate dough for 4 hours or, preferably, overnight (and up to two days!!).

5) To set up for shaping bagels: Position the rack to the lower third of the oven. If using a large pizza stone, place it on the oven rack and sprinkle a baker’s peel generously with cornmeal and, if desired, a combination of seeds (poppy, sesame and caraway). Otherwise, brush or spray a large dark steel shallow baking sheet with vegetable oil and sprinkle the interior as described above. Place an (empty) heat proof pan on the rack underneath the tiles or stone. Preheat oven to 500o F at least 30 minutes before you plan to shape, boil and bake bagels. (If working with a double oven, preheat the second oven as well). Pour the prepared egg-white glaze through a small medium-mesh sieve into another bowl to remove excess coagulation. Set the glaze next to your work surface. While the oven preheats, bring one or two large pots of water to a rapid boil. Lay a clean kitchen towel on each of 2 shallow trays or baking sheets (for 10 bagels) and sprinkle the towels lightly with flour.

6) To shape bagels: Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Punch the chilled dough down, with several swift blows, until totally deflated. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Using the blade of a pastry scraper, divide the dough in half. I recommend baking only 5 bagels at a time (per oven) so each has enough space around it to bake properly. If not working with a double oven, place half of dough back in bowl, cover and refrigerate. Divide each half of dough into 5 equal pieces (for 10 in all). You’ll work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the remaining pieces covered with a towel. Shape one piece of dough into a very tight, round ball by drawing dough up and pinching it at the top. Keep pinching and pulling upward, always keeping ball on a lightly floured board to prevent sticking. The ball should be perfectly round with the exception of a little knot of pinched dough on top. Turn ball (knot side down) and flatten gently. Push your index finger through the center of dough (right where the knot was). Gently stretch the hole, while being careful not to tear the rim, until hole measures about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter (the hole will shrink after rising and baking). As each bagel is shaped, place it on the prepared towel-lined trays spaced 2 inches apart. Cover bagels with another clean towel.

7) To boil the bagels: Add 1/4 cup sugar and the baking soda to the pot of boiling water. Bring 1 tray of risen bagels over to the stove and carefully lower 2 to 4 bagels into the water (one at a time). Bagels should be able to sit freely in the water without touching and will expand in the water. Once the bagels rise to the top of the pot, continue to boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, turning with a large round slotted skimmer or a large slotted spoon. After bagels have cooked on the second side, remove them with spatula (draining water) and drain on a kitchen towel (smoothest side up). Repeat with the remaining bagels

8) To glaze and top the bagels:  Place bagels (again, smoothest side up) on the prepared baker’s peel or baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, paint boiled bagels with egg-white glaze. Don’t worry if the glazed bagels seem wrinkled; this will smooth in the oven. When all of the bagels have been boiled and positioned on the peel or baking sheet, brush tops and sides of bagels once more with glaze. Sprinkle the desired toppings on each bagel or just glaze and leave plain. (Try not to let the glaze fall into puddles around bagels or into hole as this makes bagel dough stick to the peel. (Having the egg whites at room temperature and straining, helps remove their clumsy gelatinous quality.)

9) To bake the bagels: Just before baking, place the ice cubes and a few tablespoons water into a cup and pour this into the pan that sits below the baker’s stone. If using tiles, place baker’s peel all the way to the back of the hot oven and with a swift jerk; remove the peel, leaving the bagels on the hot tiles (or place baking sheet on hot oven rack). Reduce oven temperature to 450o F and bake for *25 minutes (see note); turn oven off and allow bagels to sit there for 5 minutes. Open oven and allow bagels to sit in oven for 5 minutes more. Remove bagels to wire racks when uniformly golden and crisp. Cool thoroughly before storing.

Note: If working with a convection oven, bake the bagels at 450 for 20 minutes. Keep the rest of the instructions the same.)

10) To prepare the oven for the remaining batch of bagels (if not using a double oven): Before reheating the oven to 500o F, sweep away any excess cornmeal and seeds from the tiles and onto a baking sheet to discard, using a cornmeal sweeper. (This is to prevent burning and smoking.) Preheat the oven, boil, and glaze, top and bake remaining bagels as described above.)

11) To store: Store cooled bagels to be served on the day of baking in a paper bag. Store the remaining bagels in a jumbo-sized, heavy-duty plastic bag, at room temperature. Bagels also freeze well in well-sealed freezer bags. To thaw, remove from the freezer the night before and allow bagels to thaw, overnight, in the sealed bag.

Bagel Chips

Don’t throw away your day old-bagels! Instead, slice, butter and bake them for a delicious cracker! Using a sharp serrated knife, cut bagels into 1/4-inch slices; lightly spread them with softened butter (or extra-virgin olive oil) mixed with herbs of your choice, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Place on a wire rack set inside a shallow baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375o F oven until crisp throughout and golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin. (Bagel chips made with olive oil and dried herbs will be less perishable than those made with butter and fresh herbs.)


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For a batch of bagels:

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  • 2 cups tepid water or any combination of slightly warmed milk and water to equal 2 cups, plus 1/4 cup tepid water, for yeast
  • 3 rounded tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon liquid (not dry) barley malt extract, plus 1/4 cup sugar for when boiling the bagels
  • 1 tablespoon fine table-salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • Up to 6 cups high-gluten flour, including flour for dusting (I prefer to use “super-gluten” flour, which I purchase at my neighborhood pizza place. If unavailable, use a supermarket brand of bread flour)
  • Cornmeal or a combination of cornmeal (preferably medium-ground), poppy and sesame seeds, for baker’s peel
  • Vegetable oil or spray, for baking sheet (if not using a baking stone)
  • Glaze: 2 egg whites, at room temperature, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 6 ice cubes and a small splash of water, for baking
  • Optional Toppings
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Minced onions sautéed in a little vegetable oil
  • Dried garlic chips or dehydrated onions reconstituted in some hot water until softened

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Solid vegetable shortening
  • Sugar
  • Fine table salt and black peppercorns
  • High-gluten bread flour (preferably a “super gluten” flour from the pizza shop and, if not, you can go to: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ for a large assortment of types of flour)
  • Cornmeal (medium-ground)
  • An assortment of seeds (sesame, poppy, caraway)
  • Dehydrated minced onions (plain or toasted)
  • Dehydrated minced garlic
  • Vegetable oil (only if not using a baking stone and if using sautéed fresh onions as a topping for the bagels)

From the produce aisle:

  • Yellow onions (if using a fresh onion topping for the bagels)

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Milk (only if planning to use milk in your bagel dough)

From the refrigerated section:

  • Active-dry yeast
  • Eggs or just whites (for egg-white glaze)

Specialty ingredients:

  • Liquid barley malt extract (available in all health food stores and in some well-stocked supermarkets.)
  • Pretzel salt (optional as a topping): You can find this at this website: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/

Comments (17)

Prune and Raisin Refrigerator Bran Muffins

These muffins are small, incredibly moist and absolutely the best-tasting bran muffins I’ve had yet (and I’ve never met anyone, at any age, that didn’t adore them). This recipe is purposely large so you can keep the batter in the refrigerator for (at least) three weeks and create fresh-baked muffins in the morning, afternoon or anytime you choose. As a matter of fact, this batter seems to bake even better when it’s cold–straight from the fridge! And, although most muffins are at their best on the day of baking, the texture of these stay perfect for days… This recipe is a real winner.

Special Equipment

  • 6 and/or 12-cup standard-sized muffin tins, preferably nonstick
  • Paper muffin liners
  • Electric mixer
  • Batter whisk or wide blending fork
  • Medium-sized ice cream scoop, holding 1/4 cup liquid (optional)

Ingredients

  • Vegetable spray, for the muffin tin
  • 4 cups bran cereal with raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1 quart (4 cups) cultured buttermilk
  • 2 generous cups bite-sized pitted prunes, halved or quartered, or larger pitted prunes, cut into the size of large raisins
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 level tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 (rounded) teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the optional topping:

  • Mix granulated sugar with toasted wheat germ, in the ratio of 1 to 2 (use half as much sugar to wheat germ). Per each 12 muffins, you will need about 1 scant tablespoon sugar with 2 scant tablespoons of wheat germ.

1) To set up: If planning to bake some or all of the muffins right away, preheat the oven to 400 F. (If using a black muffin tin or a convection mode, preheat to 375o F.) Spray the tops of one or more 6- or 12-cup nonstick muffin tins with vegetable spray and line the cups with paper liners.

2) To assemble the batter: Place bran cereal, wheat bran, buttermilk and cut prunes into a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Set aside so the cereal has a chance to absorb the buttermilk. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream shortening with brown sugar and molasses. Add eggs, 1 at a time, combining well after each addition. Add vegetable oil and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and mix once more. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the swollen bran mixture. Stir well. Pour the flour mixture on top of the wet ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, gently but thoroughly combine the batter.

3) To bake: If including the topping, mix the granulated sugar with wheat germ and set aside. (I often make a larger batch and store what I don’t use in the refrigerator, covered. That way, when I want to make more muffins, using the cold batter, I already have my topping made.) Generously fill a medium-sized ice cream scoop with the batter and place uniform portions into each muffin cup, filling just to the top. Alternatively, use a spoon to fill each cup. Sprinkle the topping generously over the muffin batter. Place into the preheated oven and bake 22 to 25 minutes; if using a black muffin tin, after 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for 2 to 5 more minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up) if the tops are becoming overly brown. If using a convection mode, bake at 375F for the entire time. Muffins are done when they reach just a bit past the top of the tin, are a deep brown color, and a toothpick will come out just clean when inserted into the center. (Don’t over-bake; the muffins will continue to cook from residual heat, once removed from the oven.)

4) To invert, cool and serve: Remove tin to a wire rack and place another rack on top. Invert muffins onto the wire rack and let them cool upside down (These muffins will not have large domed tops.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

5) To store the batter: If not baking all the muffins at once, place the remaining batter into a heavy-duty container with a tight-fitting lid. Label and date the container and refrigerate. Spoon directly from the refrigerator into prepared muffin tins and bake as directed. The batter should remain good for at least 3 weeks under refrigeration. Also, if you ever run out of batter when filling your tin, just fill the empty cups 3/4 full with very hot tap water and your muffins will bake just fine.

6) To store leftover muffins: Once cool, the muffins can be placed on a tray and covered with plastic wrap. Store at room temperature (they will stay moist and perfect for days, but won’t last that long!)


SHOPPING LIST for Prune and Raisin Bran Muffins

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

Ingredients

  • Vegetable spray, for the muffin tin
  • 4 cups bran cereal with raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1 quart (4 cups) cultured buttermilk
  • 2 generous cups bite-sized pitted prunes, halved or quartered, or larger pitted prunes, cut into the size of large raisins
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 level tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 (rounded) teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Comments (3)

Baking Powder Biscuits

Unlike yeast dough, which requires tough and persistent kneading by the cook, hands that touch biscuit dough have to be much gentler. For the tenderest biscuits, each kneading movement must be lighthearted and superficial, with the goal of just making the dough cohesive enough to be rolled (or patted) out. Homemade biscuits are usually a bit irregularly shaped after baking. Resist the temptation to work the dough aggressively, in the hopes of making the dough smooth. Most people would take a lopsided biscuit over a tough one any day. Whether sitting next to a mound of hot scrambled eggs at breakfast, or sharing the spotlight with a succulent roast chicken at dinner, these biscuits quickly become a family tradition, and one that always instills a wonderful sense of comfort and warmth.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • About 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • Additional all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, to glaze biscuits
  • Softened butter and/or jam, for serving

1. To set up: Line a thin, flat cookie sheet with ungreased parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. To assemble the dough: Place the biscuit mix into either a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the cubed butter and, if not using a machine, cut the butter into the dry mix, using a hand-held pastry cutter or your fingertips. If using a food processor, pulse the diced butter with the dry mix. Either way, blend until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the heavy cream into the bowl of dry ingredients.

If working with a food processor: add the cream to the work bowl and give it several quick pulses, just until the dry mix is thoroughly moistened and able to be turned out and handled.

If making biscuits by hand: Use a wide blending fork to, gently but thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients without overworking the mixture. As some of the flour becomes moistened by the cream, push that section of the dough to one side of the bowl and continue, until the dough resembles a moist, shapeless mass. (If dough seems too dry, add the remaining tablespoon or so of cream.)

3. To cut biscuits: Turn the mass out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very gently, about 8 or 9 times, until it holds together (see the introduction of this recipe for more information.) Using a wooden rolling pin or a lightly floured hand, roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible, using a “straight down, up and out” motion. Lay the rounds on the prepared baking sheet and gather the scraps so you can gently knead them just to smooth the surface. Pat or roll the dough out again and cut out more rounds.

4. To bake: Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and place the sheet into the center of the preheated oven until they have risen high and turn light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot, with softened butter and/or jam.

5. If you don’t have the pre-assembled Baking Powder Biscuit Mix:

For each batch of biscuits:

  • Mix 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk well and follow the rest of the recipe

Timing is Everything The unbaked biscuits can be prepared 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, covered well with plastic wrap. For best texture, bring the chilled dough close to room temperature before brushing with butter and baking.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the mix:

  • 14 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups prepared Baking Powder Biscuit Mix (or see below for single recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • About 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • Additional all-purpose flour, as needed, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, to glaze biscuits
  • Softened butter and/or jam, for serving

From the supermarket shelf:

  • 1 10-pound bag, plus 1 5-pound bag unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine table salt
  • Baking powder
  • Jam (for serving)

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Heavy cream

Watch the Video.

Comments (1)

Chicken Stock – Liquid Gold!

When creating a homemade pantry, if I was looking for the first thing to make that could provide countless opportunities to quickly concoct something soothing and delicious, I would absolutely vote for homemade stock. Whether you want to make a pot of soup, simmer a rice pilaf, throw together a fast yet full-flavored pan-sauce, or slow-cook classic roux-based gravy, homemade stock is one of those truly pivotal components essential to the quality of a finished dish.

When making chicken stock, I like to add a large stewing hen that’s been sawed in half by my butcher. Although not necessary, because the flesh is more mature, a stewing hen naturally adds more depth of flavor.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

If you check out my Chicken Stock video and Chicken Soup video, you’ll learn why (and see how) to make a few different types of stock in advance so it’s always available in the freezer. This is really the only way to, at whim, get a great bowl of chicken soup on the table–in a hurry!.

After simmering and straining, the greasy liquid needs to chill so the fat can congeal on top.

After chilling, the fat is easy to remove.

Special Equipment

  • 16-quart stock pot
  • Long-handled skimmer (optional)
  • Wooden spatula, for deglazing (optional)

For chicken stock:

  • About 6 to 8 pounds assorted bony chicken parts, skin left intact (backs, necks wing tips, feet, etc.) and, if available, a cooked chicken or turkey carcass
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 large stewing hen (optional) with neck and gizzard (no liver), well rinsed
  • About 16 cups assorted scrubbed and cut up aromatic vegetables: large unpeeled yellow onions, root ends removed, leeks, carrots, celery, unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • A few sprigs parsley
  • Generous pinch crumbled dried thyme (optional)

1. To brown boney parts with onions: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the rinsed and well-dried bony chicken parts lightly with salt and toss them with some chopped onions. Place the chicken (skin side up) and the onions on 2 shallow baking sheets and roast in the hot oven until the onions and chicken are deeply golden and caramelized, about 30 minutes. (If roasting on two racks, position them on the upper and lower third levels of the oven and switch the baking sheets half way through roasting.)

2. To deglaze the pan(s): Remove the baking sheets from the oven and scrape all the browned ingredients into a tall 16-quart stockpot. Working with one at a time, place a baking sheet directly on the stove burner and pour in some boiling water. Turn the heat to low and, using the flat edge of a wooden spatula, scrape any caramelized bits of chicken and onions off the bottom of the sheet.

3. To assemble the stock and simmer: Carefully pour this flavorful liquid into the stockpot and add the remaining ingredients, along with enough cold water to generously cover the solids by at least 2 inches. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, with the cover ajar, for 2 hours, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Carefully remove the hen (if using) and allow it to become cool enough to handle. Remove the meat, set aside for another use, and return the skin and bones to the simmering broth along with some more fresh vegetables. Continue to simmer with the cover ajar for 1 more hour. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer, very gently, for another 1 to 3 hours to reduce and concentrate the flavors. During this time, occasionally press down on the solids to extract any remaining goodness.

4. To strain, cool, de-fat and store the stock: Allow the stock to cool with the solids, off the heat. Place a large sturdy triple mesh sieve over an extra-large bowl and strain the stock into the bowl while you discard the solids from the colander. Clean the stockpot and pour the stock through a fine-mesh sieve back into the pot. Clean the bowl and pour the strained stock back into the bowl and cover well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the stock for 48 hours to allow all the fat to solidify and rise to the top of the bowl.

Use a large shallow spoon to scoop off the thick yellow layer of congealed fat on top of the chilled gelatinous stock. At this point you can either season the stock with salt and pepper to taste and use it now, in your recipe, or divide it among labeled heavy-duty freezer container and freeze it for future use. (Don’t season the stock until you know its ultimate use.) You can also reduce it further which will concentrate the flavors even more (see timing and storing information below). Again, don’t salt the liquid until after simmering to avoid over seasoning.

Timing is Everything

Stock can be refrigerated for up to three days before using, if kept very cold.

Stock can and should be made well in advance and kept in securely covered tubs of different sized in the freezer. Stock freezes perfectly for at least 6 months. Always boil thawed stock for a solid minute before eating. (And yes, you can refreeze leftover stock once it’s been thawed, re-boiled and cooled.)

If freezer space is an issue, after removing all the fat, reduce the stock to ½ its original volume (or even less) and, once cool, freeze. To use the thawed stock “concentrate,” add an equal amount of water.

If you don’t want all your plastic tubs to be in the freezer, once the stock is frozen, pop it out of its container and place the frozen stock in a sealed heavy-duty plastic bag. Place back in the freezer until needed.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • About 6 to 8 pounds assorted bony chicken parts, skin left intact (backs, necks wing tips, feet, etc.) and, if available, a cooked chicken or turkey carcass
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 large stewing hen (optional) with neck and gizzard (no liver), well rinsed
  • About 16 cups assorted scrubbed and cut up aromatic vegetables: large unpeeled yellow onions, root ends removed, leeks, carrots, celery, unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • A few sprigs parsley
  • Generous pinch crumbled dried thyme (optional)

From the produce section (assorted vegetables):

  • 2 large bunches carrots (or 2 bags)
  • 6 large yellow onions
  • 4 large leeks
  • 1 large head celery
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley

From the meat department:

  • 1 large stewing hen (with neck and gizzard)
  • 6 to 8 pounds of bony chicken parts (wings, wing tips, necks, backs and feet)

From the spice section:

  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Dried thyme (optional)
  • Salt (kosherb

Watch the Video.

Comments (45)

Homemade Applesauce

This smooth, spiced and not-too-sweet version of applesauce is just wonderful and the perfect accompaniment to potato pancakes. Macintosh apples make the best applesauce both, for their willingness to quickly surrender their texture and because of their rosy color, which gives the finished applesauce a beautiful pink hue. Leftover applesauce will stay great for up to three weeks in the refrigerator—although it won’t last that long!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information. And, I hope you’ll read my blog about what I learned, philosophically, after reflecting on a fabulous day of apple picking . You’ll also “see” how to make the best batch of applesauce I ever made.

Special Equipment

  • Sturdy fruit wedge cutter (optional)
  • 6 to 8-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid
  • Large medium-mesh wire strainer or food mill
  • Nutmeg grater
  • 3 pint-size or 1 quart and 1 pint-size jars with screw-top lids or heavy-duty plastic containers with lids

Ingredients:

  • 11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1)To cook the apples: Place unpeeled apple wedges (including the cores) with the apple juice or cider and the cinnamon stick(s) in a 6-to 8-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir. Cover and bring the mixture to a full simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the apples until very tender, stirring and mashing frequently, 15 to 20 minutes.

2)To assemble the applesauce: Position a medium-mesh wire strainer or a food mill over a large bowl. Transfer the cooked apples, in batches, to strainer or food mill and force through into the bowl beneath, leaving the skins, cinnamon sticks and any seeds behind. (A flat-edged wooden spatula works perfectly when pushing apples through a strainer.) Discard what’s left in strainer or food-mill and repeat with the remaining cooked apples. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Cool the applesauce to room temperature, divide among jars or plastic containers and secure them with lids. The applesauce will keep perfectly for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

3)To serve: Enjoy the applesauce chilled or slightly warmed.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup apple cider or another favorite brand of regular apple juice
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

From the produce aisle:
11 large Macintosh apples

From the supermarket shelf:
Granulated sugar
Pure vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks
Whole nutmeg (or use pre-ground nutmeg)

From the refrigerated section:
Apple cider (or use regular apple juice)

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

11 large Macintosh apples, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup apple cider or another favorite brand of regular apple juice
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/3 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
1 scant teaspoon pure vanilla extract

From the produce aisle:
11 large Macintosh apples

From the supermarket shelf:
Granulated sugar
Pure vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks
Whole nutmeg (or use pre-ground nutmeg)

From the refrigerated section:
Apple cider (or use regular apple juice)

Comments (5)

Garlic Confit With Cracked Pepper and Herbs

This is one recipe that I prepare every week (without fail) and use it almost every day. Whole garlic cloves, still in their papery skins, simmer away, at the barest bubble, in extra-virgin olive oil that’s laced with dried red pepper flakes, cracked black peppercorns, fresh basil and crumbled dried Herbs de Provence. If your stove doesn’t have a very low simmer mode, I suggest using a “flame-tamer” to protect the integrity of the oil. You might need to adjust the timing a bit. I use the oil to brush on meat, fish, poultry and vegetables before (and even after) grilling, roasting or pan-searing. I also serve the garlic-scented oil with the tender nuggets of cooked garlic (still in their skins) in small bowls, at the table. We squeeze out the garlic meat onto slices of crusty bread, and drizzle some of the oil on top and finish it off with a light sprinkle of coarse salt.

I hope you love this condiment as much as we do, and remember, any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For garlic confit:

  • 3 or 4 whole heads garlic, broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • large sprig of fresh basil (with stem attached)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

1. To simmer the garlic cloves: Place them in a 1-1/2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and add enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the cloves by 1 inch. Crack open black peppercorns, using either a mortar and pestle or, lay the peppercorns on a sturdy work surface and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Give the peppercorns several swift whacks, until most are split open. Add the cracked pepper and dried pepper flakes, if using, to the oil and place the pan over very low heat.

After about 5 minutes, you’ll see the oil begin to bubble. Let the oil and garlic simmer extremely gently for 10 minutes, uncovered. Don’t let the oil simmer too briskly or the garlic might burst and actually jump out of the pan (I once found a few cloves clinging to my kitchen ceiling!) Add the basil sprig and let cook for another 5 minutes (Again, the word “cook” seems too aggressive should only barely move.) Add the Herbs de Provence, if using and remove from the stove.

2. To cool and store: Let the garlic confit cool and then remove the basil. After you’ve used what you need for that day, store the rest in the refrigerator, in tightly covered jar, to use throughout the week. For best flavor and ease of use, bring the oil to room temperature, before using.

SHOPPING LIST

TO MARKET, TO MARKET FOR GARLIC CONFIT

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For garlic confit:

  • 2 whole heads garlic (or more), broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

From the produce section:

  • Whole heads garlic (Buy several, making sure that the heads feel meaty with cloves that are full and plump. Avoid those with dry, puckered papery skins or green spouts, since this indicates old age.)
  • Fresh basil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

From the spice section:

  • Herbs de Provence (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Whole black peppercorns (optional)

Watch the Video.

Comments (2)

White Bean and Garlic Dip

No, I’m not crazy for listing ten cloves of garlic in this smooth, silky and oh-so-savory bean dip. When you cook garlic very slowly in hot olive oil, the flavor becomes much milder than when eaten raw. Of course, if you want to use less garlic, you certainly can–that’s one of the benefits of home cooking–it’s personalized! When covered securely, this dip stays great sitting in the fridge for a few days, so it’s a dip that can take care of you and your guests all through the weekend. Wide strips of sweet red bell peppers and endive, standing decoratively in separate pretty dishes or stemmed glasses, make colorful (and nutritious!) accompaniments.

For something crisp and wonderful to use as a scoop, try some delicious Savory Garlic Pita Chips, which also can be made well ahead. Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor

For the bean dip :

  • 3 generous tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (19 ounces) can, plus one can (9 or 10 ounces) white cannelini beans, drained
  • 10 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but highly suggested)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Conventional Cooking

1) To assemble the dip:Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and, when warm, add the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and reduce the heat to low. Sauté very gently, until tender but barely colored, 5 to 8 minutes, occasionally stirring with a flat edge spatula to redistribute. Stir in the thyme, parsley and red pepper flakes (if using), and let heat for a few seconds, just to release the herb’s flavor. Drag the pan to a cool burner. Pour the drained beans into the food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the sautéed garlic and any surrounding olive oil and the lemon juice. Purée until smooth. Add salt and black pepper to taste (mixture should be well seasoned).

2) To store and serve: Scrape the bean dip into a crock and chill, well covered, until 30 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh vegetables and Savory Garlic Pita Chips.

Timing is Everything

  • The bean dip can be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.
SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 3 generous tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (19 ounces) can, plus one can (9 or 10 ounces) white cannelini beans, drained
  • 10 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but highly suggested)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (19 ounces), plus 1 can (9 or 10 ounces) white cannelini beans

From the spice section:

  • Black pepper (preferably whole, to grind at home)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

From the produce section:

  • 3 heads garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 juicy lemon

Comments (111)

Lamb Pot Pies (with a Turkey or Chicken Variation)

Whenever I serve these piping hot pot pies to my family, everyone at the table is initially so quiet– since we’re all so busy plowing through the crisp pastry, uncovering all sorts of savory goodies inside. Usually, it’s not until we reach the half-way mark in our individual dishes, that we come up for air and chat as normal. If you’re in the mood for beef or veal instead of lamb, just substitute an equal amount of cubed chuck or veal shoulder and use all beef or veal stock, in the sauce. And, speaking of stock, although it’s OK to use store-bought puff pastry on top, please use homemade stock in the sauce, since it really will help make these pot pies better than all others. For your convenience, I’ve also provided a “turkey or chicken” pot pie variation at the end of this recipe. Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 6 individual, oven-proof crocks (each with a generous 2- cup capacity)
  • Large round (plain or fluted) pastry cutter; although I call for a 6-inch cutter in the recipe, the ultimate size will depend on the size of the individual crocks. You’ll need to cut pastry out to exceed the top (all the way around) by 1 inch (You can also simply cut out a 6-inch parchment template and use the tip of a sharp knife to trace and cut out pastry rounds)

Ingredients for the pot pies:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds lamb stew meat (from the shoulder or neck), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pure olive oil, as needed, for browning the lamb
  • 8 cups lamb stock (simmer browned lamb bones in chicken stock, strain and defat) or combine beef with chicken stock
  • 1 pound new potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 8 ounces fresh pearl onions (or use frozen pearl onions, thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (packed) cleaned, thinly sliced, leeks (use the white and light green)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme)
  • 1/4 cup thick creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1 generous cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole cherry tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1/2 recipe Quick Puff Pastry or 1 pound frozen store-bought puff pastry, thawed
  • Glaze: 1 egg, mixed with 1 teaspoon water and strained
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)

1) To marinate the lamb: Place the meat into a large nonreactive dish and pour in the red wine. Scatter the onion wedges over the top, separating them into strips. Use your hands to help coat the meat with the wine and to disperse the onions. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours, occasionally stirring to redistribute.

2) To brown the lamb: First place a medium-mesh sieve over a mixing bowl. Pick the meat out of the wine and drain the pieces on a large doubled sheet of paper towels. Pat meat dry, then sprinkle the pieces with salt and black pepper. Pour the wine through the sieve and discard the onions. Reserveall of the wine. Heat a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided 12-inch skillet over high heat and, when hot, add a thin layer of olive oil. When the oil is hot, brown the lamb, in batches, until deeply browned on all sides (be patient and don’t crowd the pan). Transfer each batch of browned meat to a tray, as you continue to brown the rest. When finished, dump out any oil from the pan, but don’t wipe out the interior. Deglaze the pan, over high heat, with the reserved wine, reducing it to a syrupy 1/2 cup, and reserve.

3) To simmer the lamb: Bring the stock to a boil in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the reduced wine into the stock, along with the browned meat and bring the liquid to a brisk bubble. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the meat, covered tightly, until meltingly tender, but not dry, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Using a large slotted utensil, transfer the meat to a big bowl. Bring the stock to a rolling boil, over high heat, uncovered. Add the diced potatoes and set your timer for 10 minutes. After 4 minutes have elapsed, add the carrots and cook them with the potatoes until the timer sounds. Meanwhile, position a medium-mesh wire sieve over an empty 2-quart bowl. When the timer goes off, pour the stock into the sieve, allowing it to capture the vegetables. Place the drained vegetables into the bowl with the cooked meat. Leave the stock in the bowl, for now.

4) To cook the pearl onions with the mushrooms: First boil the raw onions for 7 minutes, then drain them and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Slice off the root end of each onion and slip off their skins. Heat a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed, deep-sided skillet over high heat and, when hot, add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook them, over high heat, until tender and starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the pearl onions and cook, until any released liquid from the mushrooms totally evaporates and the onions are turning golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Empty the onions and mushrooms into the bowl with the meat and other vegetables. Put the pan back on the stove, without wiping out the interior.

5) To make the sauce and assemble the pot pies: Melt the butter in the same 12-inch skillet, over medium heat and, when hot and bubbling, stir in the leeks. Reduce the heat to low and cook the leeks until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high and stir in the flour. Cook the vegetable-based “roux,” stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add only 6 cups of the hot stock and bring it to a brisk boil, uncovered (freeze the rest for another recipe). Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and creme fraiche (or cream) and simmer 3 more minutes. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Fold in the peas and cherry tomatoes and season again with salt and pepper.

Spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into six individual oven-proof crocks, dividing equally. Let the contents cool completely. Meanwhile, roll out your puff pastry, 1/8-inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 6 rounds to fit the top of your crocks and cut out a decorative 1/3-inch-wide vent in the center of each round using a tiny pastry cutter (or a thimble). Apply a round of pastry to the top of each filled crock and press the edges of dough onto the outer sides of the rim, helping the dough to adhere. Refrigerate the dishes, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to bake.

6) To bake: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Assemble your egg glaze. Remove the pot pies from the refrigerator and uncover them. Place the crocks on a large shallow baking sheet. Brush the pastry with the egg glaze and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds, if using. Bake the pot pies until the pastry is golden, very crisp and the filling is visibly bubbling through the vents, 35 to 45 minutes . Serve them right away.

Timing is Everything:

The pot pies can be fully assembled and topped with pastry one day ahead and kept refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap. Don’t apply the glaze, however, until just before baking.


For Turkey or Chicken Pot Pies: Forget the marinade ingredients. Using all the same size saucepans, substitute 6 cups chicken stock for the lamb stock and bring it to a brisk boil over medium-high heat (uncovered). Add the diced potatoes to the stock and set the timer for 10 minutes. After 4 minutes have passed, add the carrots and continue to boil. When 6 minutes have passed (4 minutes left), add 4 stalks of trimmed celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick, and cook until the timer sounds. Pour the stock through a sieve, positioned over another bowl, to drain the vegetables and retain the stock. Place the cooked vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Cook the mushrooms in a 12-inch skillet, as directed in the main recipe and add them to the bowl of vegetables with the pearl onions and the peas (omit the cherry tomatoes). Make your sauce as directed in the main recipe, increasing the creme fraiche to 1/2 cup, and pour the sauce over the vegetables. Season well and fold in 5 to 6 cups of diced cooked turkey or chicken. Apply the pastry to the top of your baking dishes, then glaze the pastry and bake, as directed in the recipe featuring lamb.

SHOPPING LIST for Lamb Pot Pies

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

Ingredients for the pot pies:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds lamb stew meat (from the shoulder or neck), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pure olive oil, as needed, for browning the lamb
  • 8 cups lamb stock (simmer browned lamb bones in chicken stock, strain and defat) or combine beef with chicken stock
  • 1 pound new potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 8 ounces fresh pearl onions (or use frozen pearl onions, thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (packed) cleaned, thinly sliced, leeks (use the white and light green)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme)
  • 1/4 cup thick creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1 generous cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole cherry tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1 pound frozen store-bought puff pastry, thawed
  • Glaze: 1 egg, mixed with 1 teaspoon water and strained
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)

 

Comments (1)

Crispy Skillet Cornbread

This recipe is pretty basic, except for the addition of sautéed chopped onions. But to this, you may add a myriad of other ingredients, depending on your mood and who you are feeding (see variations). For the most interesting texture, use medium-ground (not fine) cornmeal. And cultured buttermilk is the secret ingredient to making the best-tasting, crispest, (yet incredibly tender) cornbread. (Buttermilk is the secret to so many different recipes that I’ve lost count!) Using an old-fashioned, well-seasoned cast iron skillet ensures the crispest, most authentic results. Today, you can even buy pre-seasoned cast iron pans. In a pinch, a heavy round cake pan will do. Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Wide blending fork or batter whisk
  • Sifter or triple-mesh wire strainer
  • 10 1/2-inch (1 1/2-inches deep) well-seasoned or pre-seasoned cast iron skillet or heavy 10-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep)

For the cornbread batter:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-ground yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cultured buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter or solid vegetable shortening
  • Softened butter, for accompaniment

1) To set up: Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet or heavy cake pan on the center shelf of the oven. (If using a cake pan, brush or spray the sides with flavorless vegetable oil.) Preheat the oven to 425o F.

2) To sauté the onions: Heat a small skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter. When melted and bubbling, add minced onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add some freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat and set aside.

3) To assemble the batter: Place cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a whisk, combine well and then sift into another bowl. Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl; add lightly beaten eggs and cooled sautéed onions and mix well. Pour buttermilk mixture and sautéed onions into the bowl with the dry mixture and add melted butter with another grind or two of fresh black pepper. Using a wide blending fork or a batter whisk, gently combine mixture until there are no dry pockets.

4) To bake: Place clarified butter or solid shortening into the preheated pan while it remains in oven. Close oven door and allow the fat to liquefy and become hot (1 minute). Open the oven door and carefully (using oven mitts!) pull the rack holding the skillet toward you. Using a rubber spatula, somewhat quickly (so the oven doesn’t cool) pour cornmeal mixture into the hot skillet (the batter should sizzle furiously). Push the pan back into the oven and close the door. Bake until firm but not overly dry and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile warm your serving plate.

5) To invert and serve: Carefully remove pan from oven and run a knife around its circumference. Place a flat cookie sheet or a wire rack over the top and invert bread onto rack. Immediately invert once more onto a warmed serving plate so bread is right side up. Cut into wedges and serve hot with softened butter.

Timing is Everything

  • The dry ingredients can be mixed, sifted and left in a covered bowl days before needed. Just give a good swish with a whisk to combine and lighten before assembling.
  • Although batters leavened only with baking soda should be baked soon after being assembled, this batter can be fully combined, covered and left at a comfortable room temperature for up to 1 hour before pouring into the preheated skillet. Or, for best results, simply combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another and refrigerate the latter–hours ahead. Add the sautéed onions to the wet ingredients and allow them to sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before combining wet and dry ingredients (along with melted butter) just before baking.

Cornbread Variations

The sautéed onions can be omitted. Or, while sautéing the onions, add 1 or more of the following: 1/3 cup minced red or green bell pepper; 1 chopped, stemmed and seeded jalapeño chili pepper and/or 1/3 cup chopped hard sausage (andouille, or pepperoni, or chorizo, with the casing removed); you can also sauté 3 pieces bacon, until crisp, drain and coarsely chop. Then sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings instead of the butter and add chopped bacon when assembling butter. Another variation is to sauté 1/3 cup crumbled fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage in a bit of olive oil until golden; pour out any accumulated fat and add onions and 1 clove of minced garlic.

Clarified Butter
To clarify butter, slowly melt 2 or more sticks of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably one with a spout) over low heat, without stirring, until totally liquefied and the milky residue that’s fallen to the bottom of the pan becomes light golden and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from heat and let the butter settle for 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh skimmer or a small shallow spoon, remove any white foamy substance that sits on top of the butterfat. When no milky solids remain on top, carefully pour the pure, yellow butterfat through a fine-mesh skimmer or a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, leaving any toasted residue behind. Expect to lose up to a quarter of your original volume, after straining. Store clarified butter in the refrigerator in a securely shut container for up to 6 months.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the cornbread batter:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-ground yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cultured buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter (see recipe) or solid vegetable shortening
  • Softened butter, for accompaniment

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Medium-ground yellow cornmeal
  • Baking soda
  • Fine table salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Black pepper

From the produce aisle:

  • Yellow onion

From the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case:

  • Buttermilk
  • Unsalted butter (for the batter, to clarify and for serving)

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