January 11, 2016 – January 24, 2016
Monday: Basque Salad (Justin Severino)
Tuesday: Polpette ala Toscana w/ Spanish Torta w/ scumble dressing
Wednesday: Soft Tofu and Vegetable Stew
Thursday: Spinach-Stuffed Pork Loin Chops
Friday: Poached Red Snapper with Black Bean Sauce
Saturday: Spaghetti Carbonara, Salad
Sunday: Soppressata from Groceria Italiana – Courtesy of Greg Stewart
Cannellini Bean Dip w/ Home-made Pita Bread
Tarted up Ricotta with crudites
Kale, Sausage, Ribs and Lima Bean Stew
Scapa Single Malt Scotch, courtesy of Rick Duffy
The only good thing about last Sunday was: 1. We got to sleep in, having attended the wildly popular 5:00 Mass at St. Scholastica the evening before. 2. Family and Friends came for dinner (we forgot to take pictures). 3. Greg Stewart, in his peripatetic luncheon activities has discovered Groceria Italiana, from which he procured an heroic hunk of home-made soppressata which he shared with us before dinner. We are talking primo cured meat here, folks. 4. Jacques Pèpin’s Kale, Sausage, Rib and Lima Bean Stew is one of the great throw-everything-in-the-pot dishes of all time. Come to think of it, Sunday was a great day in many ways. But, seriously, Toussaint?
Please Note: There are new cookbook reviews under the “Cookbook” tab, I have added Mary Stewart’s Baked Shrimp Scampi to the “Menu” tab, and, at the bottom of each week’s post there is always an “Extra” – usually a quick dish or appetizer that we love and would like to share. The posts are longish, I know, and you are busy – but that is no excuse for impoverishing your life by missing the “Extra”s. This week it’s our favorite BLT recipe.
There were many contenders, including local chef Justin Severino’s Basques salad, the poached snapper and a dynamite spaghetti carbonara, but the keeper of the week, once again is a Pèpin recipe and you’ll be happy to know, it does not involve chicken in any fashion (though you can substitute a chicken sausage for one of the heartier varieties Jacques uses, if you are an interior decorator). Just below the “Extra,” we explain how to make this wonderful dish.
Extra: BLTs. If there is a better sandwich than a BLT, it could only be found in heaven. One of our favorite things to do, having endured the choir and the whole Magilla at St. Scholastica’s 11:00 a.m. Mass, is to come home, cook some thick-sliced bacon [Giant Eagle offers a great product from a butcher in Saxonburg – it’s in the case at the meat department, not in the packaged section] and put it on a piece of toasted bread (the good stuff – Whole Food’s “Farm Bread” or equivalent) with some mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, salt and pepper. Serve with a McClure’s Spicy Dill pickle, a little slaw or salad and a Bloody Mary and . . . Just thinking about this makes me drool. In fact, this sandwich is heavenly – there can’t be anything better up there.
Here is the proper final construction for this masterpiece: spread a slice of toasted bread with mayo (generous application for me please, stingy for Beez), sprinkle some pepper on the mayo cover the bread with tomato slices (at this time of year only the “Campari” tomatoes are worth using), sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and top the tomatoes with the bacon (please note that if you have Muslim or orthodox Jewish houseguests you should rethink the brunch menu – if you have Vegan houseguests, you deserve whatever disaster ensues). Now top the bacon with lettuce – leaf is good, bitter stuff like endive, frisée or escarole works and here is one place where iceberg lettuce is perfect. Now spread mayo on the other piece of bread (not for Beez, of course), sprinkle with pepper, put it on top of the lettuce, slice the sandwich in half and dig in while watching the Steelers, or the Premier League and doing the NYT Crossword Puzzle.
Jacques Pèpin’s “Kale, Sausage, Rib, and Lima Bean Stew –if you have purchased Jacques’ Heart and Soul in the Kitchen, as I suggested, just turn to page 224, but please see the note on quantities immediately below.
Note: The ingredient quantities below create an enormous amount of food – we fed 8 with leftovers for maybe four. Cooking it required two sizeable Dutch ovens. So I would halve the amounts, if you are feeding fewer than 7.
Timing: This is a two-day recipe, if you want to do it right – the day before you cook it you should marinate the ribs to give them a kick in flavor. You can also cook it ahead, then simply heat it up before serving – and when you’ve got a group of died-in-the-wool Yinzers watchin’ em’ Stillers, you’d better be flexible with your dinner schedule. It is still tasty with ribs that are not marinated.
1 slab baby-back pork ribs
1/3 cup curing salt
5 cups (1.5 lbs.) of dried baby lima beans
10 cups of water
1 Tsp of salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1.5 lbs. hot Italian Sausage
1.5 lbs. Kielbasa
1 lb. Curly Kale (cut in halves)
1 large or 2 medium leeks, trimmed, leaving most of the green, clean and cut into 2 in. pieces (about 3 Cups)
3 cups sliced onions (big slices – 1/5 to 2”)
2 cups sliced (1 “ carrots)
2 cups slice (2”) celery
3 Tbs coarsely chopped garlic
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced (about 3 Tbs)
Tabasco – for serving
Marinating – 1 day ahead, marinate the ribs in a large plastic bag after sprinking them with curing salt and sugar. (You can get Morton’s Tender Quick curing salt from the Pittsburgh Spice Company – I didn’t have any and used about half the amount of pickling salt, which is available at G.E., as a substitute). Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning and massaging 2 or 3 times. You can skip this step and still have a tasty meal – I mean, ribs, kielbasa and sausage; who’s going to turn that down?
Rinse the beans under cold running water and put them in a large pot with the water and salt (you will need 2 pots, unless you have a giant stock pot). Bring to a boil, cover and boil gently for 1 hour.
Now drain the ribs and rinse under cold water and add the ribs and kale to the pot with the beans, bring back to a boil and cook gently, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the sausages, kielbasa, leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and jalapeno and bring back to a boil, then boil gently covered for another 30 minutes. Test to make sure the beans are tender and serve.
Divide the ribs, sausages, kale and beans among the plates (servings) and offer tabasco to any non-figure skaters in the crowd.
This is a stand-alone main dish, but some good bread, preferably home-made, would be a nice accompaniment. We were going to serve wedges of ‘naked’ pizza with it, but after our second round of drinks lost track of our cooking schedule.