Chile Chocolate Braised Short Ribs

Short Ribs

There’s nothing more comforting and heartwarming on a crazy cold day than braised short ribs with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. Can we say heaven in a bowl?

These short ribs take a while to make but they’re worth the wait (I promise!) – I made them a little bit spicy with dried chile peppers, garlic and onions, fresh rosemary and thyme, and a chipotle infused olive oil (I love 7 Barrels brand!) along with a dash of cocoa powder (the super intense Dutch red kind made by Guittard is my fav). They’re braised in broth, a full bottle of red wine (you’re welcome), and topped with fresh parsley.


Once they’re done cooking they will be falling off the bone – then I made a reduced sauce with a knob of butter at the end to make it super silky and delicious. I served these with roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower (simply roast them in olive oil and sea salt on 375 for about 45 minutes, tossing them every 15 minutes until crispy and delicious), but I recommend serving them with some creamy mashed potatoes or egg noodles as well (or even some crusty French bread) to mop up that delicious spicy-savory-chocolate-chile-wine sauce. OMG.

Go ahead, indulge. You can always work it off tomorrow. Besides, a big bowl of comfort food and Netflix is more fun anyways 🙂

Chile Chocolate Braised Short Ribs

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 6-8

A classic Winter comfort food dish, these delicious braised short ribs are made with chile peppers, chocolate, red wine and lots of fresh garlic, onions and herbs. Super savory and tasty, served with roasted veggies, and either mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Ingredients

  • 2 large dried chile peppers, stemmed and deseeded
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 5 1/2 pounds center cut short ribs, on the bone
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle olive oil (or regular EVOO if you prefer less spicy)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Dutch red cocoa powder (Guittard)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 small onions, chopped
  • One bottle red wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot or Cab Sauv)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme)
  • Knob of unsalted butter (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • Roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts, for serving
  • Mashed potatoes or egg noodles, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust rack to lower third.
  2. Cover chopped chile peppers with boiling water and let sit, covered for about 20 minutes until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle short ribs on both sides generously with kosher salt and pepper and let rest to room temperature about 15 minutes while peppers are soaking.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook short ribs in batches, searing evenly on both sides until golden brown crust forms (about 7 minutes per side/15 minutes per batch).
  5. Once all short ribs are seared, place on a platter tented with foil and set aside.
  6. In a blender or food processor, add the chiles, water, stock, tomato paste, cocoa, garlic, onions, and a little dash of salt and mix thoroughly together until smooth.
  7. Pour the red wine in the Dutch oven and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan (deglazing the pan) and turn heat up to high bringing to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then reducing heat to a simmer, letting wine reduce by half (about 20 minutes).
  8. Add the pureed chile-onion mixture, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs to the pot and boil together for a few minutes. Return the short ribs to the pot, cover tightly with a lid and braise in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender and falls off the bone.
  9. Place the ribs back on to a large platter and tent with foil to keep warm while making the sauce.
  10. Put the Dutch oven on the stove and heat over medium-high for another 10 minutes or so until sauce thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and add a knob of butter into the sauce to make it extra silky and smooth.
  11. Add the ribs back into the sauce and coat thoroughly. Serve on plates with sauce on top along side roasted veggies and mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley and additional salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

You can also substitute hard cider or a dark lager beer for the red wine.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2017/01/24/chile-chocolate-braised-short-ribs/

 

3-Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

It’s the holidays and we all know what that means..time to cook and bake, and eat all the delicious treats of the season..like this savory
3-Cheese Butternut Squash Tart with Bacon. Can we say yay?

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon


It’s so easy to make with some store-bought puff pastry because who has time to make their own with so many goodies to make and presents to wrap? And delicious holiday food to eat?

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

It’s got a gorgeous crispy, buttery crust topped with ricotta and Parmesan and Gruyere cheese, roasted butternut squash with maple syrup and of course, bacon. Then it’s topped with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and some fresh thyme along with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Sounds pretty perfect to me. 

Roll Dough

First, defrost and roll out your dough. Cut 1/2 inch strips around the edges to double up to make a pastry border and brush it with egg wash. Pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

RoastSquash

Next, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper, and some garlic powder over the butternut squash, then drizzle it with some maple syrup and roast it for about 15 minutes.

Bacon

Cook that delicious bacon, drain and set aside to crumble on the tart later.

Ricotta

Whip up your ricotta with an egg, salt and pepper and some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Add Ricotta

Spread it on top of the tart pastry evenly. (Repeat all steps with the second pastry throughout.)

Add Cheese

Top it with some of that luscious grated Gruyere cheese.

Top w/ Squash

Place the roasted squash on top along with the bacon. Sprinkle some fresh thyme on top.

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

Then simply bake it for 30 minutes on 375 F, then drizzle it with some balsamic glaze, cut into squares and devour!

3 Cheese Butternut Squash & Bacon Tart

Yield: Makes 2 tarts, serves 12.

Serving Size: 1 tart square (6 per tart)

This delicious savory tart features three luscious cheeses (ricotta, gruyere and parmesan) along with crispy bacon and roasted butternut squash and thyme. It makes a great appetizer for the holidays!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 ounces frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 packages butternut squash, precut into 1-2" cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6-8 slices bacon
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or cream
  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • Balsamic glaze, for garnish
  • fresh thyme, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Roll out 1 piece of puff pastry into a large rectangle. Cut a 1/2 inch border around the edges and place the strips on the edges of the pastry sheet to create a border crust. Prick holes around the pastry to avoid puffing.
  2. Beat 1 egg and brush the pastry edges and repeat same procedure with second pastry sheet; chilling both for 1/2 an hour in the fridge.
  3. While pastry is chilling, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Cut the butternut squash into small chunks and drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and set aside.
  6. Cook bacon according to package directions and drain on paper towels. Crumble once cooled and set aside.
  7. Reduce heat in oven to 375.
  8. Mix the ricotta cheese with one beaten egg, parmesan cheese and additional salt and pepper.
  9. Remove pastry from the fridge and spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the tops of both.
  10. Sprinkle with shredded gruyere cheese and crumbled bacon.
  11. Top both pastries with the butternut squash and sprinkle with some fresh thyme.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed around the edges.
  13. Cut into squares after cooling on a rack and serve warm.
  14. Garnish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top and additional fresh thyme if desired.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2016/12/14/3-cheese-butternut-squash-tart-w-bacon/

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

Gosh I love the holidays.

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

Wishing you a great one!

3 Cheese Butternut Squash Tart w/ Bacon

Now back to that tart I just made… 😉

Wine-Braised Chicken w/ Bacon, Veggies & Herbs

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies & Herbs

As the weather cools down in the late fall season, there’s nothing I love more than cooking a big one-pot comforting dish on a Sunday afternoon. One-pot dishes are so easy to make, and the enticing smells from the oven are enough to wipe out any winter blues that might be coming on. Welcome my Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs. 

KitchenAid 6 Qt Ceramic Dutch Oven


I love making hearty braised dishes with meat and vegetables because they’re easy and so good, especially in my KitchenAid® 6.0Qt Cast Iron Cookware. It’s big enough to make a meal for a crowd, and it’s enameled with cast iron inside which makes it the perfect vessel to cook slow braised dishes, roasts, stews, soups, chilis and any one-pot meals. It even has a grill pan inside the lid! How cool is that?

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs

My Wine-Braised Chicken has tons of goodness inside: chicken thighs, shallots, bacon, cipollini onions, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme, bacon and carrots. It’s slow-cooked into a big pot of deliciousness with white wine, chicken broth, and then a reduced  au jus cream sauce served over the top.

Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs

This is such a delicious and easy recipe to make and it’s pure comfort food perfect for a chilly Winter day. The best part is you only have to cook and clean in one pot, which is awesome. (More time to snuggle under the blankets and watch movies by the fireplace!)

I’d love to hear what you would make in your KitchenAid® Cast Iron Cookware by experimenting with my recipe. Would you use a different meat, like beef or pork? What vegetables would you substitute or add? Would you try a different sauce for the recipe?

Share your take on this Wine-Braised Chicken recipe on the KitchenAid Instagram page using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECIPE AND STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS ON THE KITCHENAID BLOG!

Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Honey & Thyme

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme


I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some red grapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and some thin cut Italian ham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.

I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.

Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge

Ingredients

  • 1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Honey for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
  3. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
  5. Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
  6. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Notes

You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2015/04/17/rustic-pizza-with-ham-grapes-shallots-cheese-honey-thyme/

 

A LOVE-ly Spinach, Artichoke & Ricotta Tart

Spinach, Artichoke & Ricotta Tart
Spinach, Artichoke & Ricotta Tart

With all the cooking I’ve been doing lately, I’ve decided to mix it up and experiment with some baking.  I’m obsessed with savory tarts and quiches – perfect comfort food for this cold Winter we’re having in New York. I also haven’t played with puff pastry too much, so I though a free-form Spinach, Artichoke & Ricotta tart would be fun to make for my sweetie on Valentine’s Day.

This recipe is fairly easy to make and healthy with all the veggies loaded on top. The light and creamy ricotta base has lemon zest, thyme and fines herbs to give it a bright, fresh flavor. It’s topped with sautéed fresh spinach and artichokes with a little bit of garlic and chile flakes, and I also used a combination of two flavor-infused oils by Tavern Direct – one with Lemon and Pepper, and the other with Chile Pepper and Garlic to give it a little more kick. You could also substitute the veggies with some zucchini and yellow squash and some shallots or sweet potato with bacon and kale. The tart is topped off with four shredded Italian cheeses, then  baked to a flaky, golden brown perfection. I used a frozen puff pastry, which is convenient to use, but if you prefer you can make your own puff pastry dough, which is a bit more time and effort but delicious all the same – Martha Stewart has a great recipe on her site. This scrumptious, savory tart is great served with a green salad and a crisp glass of white wine.

Ingredients


1 15 oz container Ricotta cheese
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tbsp fines herbes, dried
1 egg yolk
Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil (can substitute lemon, garlic or chile-infused oils for more flavor)
3 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 pkg frozen artichokes, drained and chopped into large chunks
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (add more or less to adjust heat)
1 puff pastry sheet
1 cup shredded Italian cheeses (Fontina, Parmesan, Romano, Mozzarella)
Kosher or Sea Salt, to taste
Fresh ground garlic and black pepper seasoning, to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Ricotta and Lemon and Herbs
Ricotta and Lemon and Herbs

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, thyme, fines herbes, lemon rind and egg yolk until smooth. Set aside.

Spinach and Artichokes
Spinach and Artichokes

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach and saute until it begins to wilt, another 1-2 minutes. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 1 additional minute. Remove from heat, cover with saucepan lid and set aside.

Floured Pastry
Floured Pastry

Roll out pastry dough and sprinkle with a little bit of flour. Score around the edges with a sharp knife to make a 1 inch border and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Garlic Butter Wash
Garlic Butter Wash

Melt the butter and minced garlic on the stove or in the microwave for about 1 minute. With a pastry brush, coat the entire pastry sheet with the garlic butter.

Ricotta Mixture on Tart
Ricotta Mixture on Tart

Spread the ricotta mixture within the border on to the pastry sheet.

Spinach and Artichokes on Tart
Spinach and Artichokes on Tart

Top with spinach, artichoke, garlic and red pepper topping.

Sprinkle Four Cheese Topping
Sprinkle Four Cheese Topping

Scatter the grated cheeses over the entire tart and season with salt and pepper or garlic pepper seasoning to taste.

Flaky, Buttery, Creamy Goodness
Flaky, Buttery, Creamy Goodness

Place the tart in the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for about 5-10 minutes.

Slice and serve warm with a green salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Delectable.

Serves 6.

Bistro-Style Beef Stew w/ Red Wine, Smoked Paprika and Orange Zest

Beef Stew with Red Wine
Bistro-Style Beef Stew with Red Wine, Smoked Paprika and Orange Zest

On a recent excursion to Williams-Sonoma, I discovered some lovely braising bases that piqued my interest. I wanted to make a hearty beef stew and thought the Beef Stew Braising base would be a perfect starter for my masterpiece. This hearty blend of ripe tomatoes, fire-roasted red peppers and premium dark beer has a rich, complex flavor and is a great base for the beef stew with your own additions. I simply added some crispy bacon, sauteed shallots and garlic, chunks of potato, carrots and beef. I then added some additional flavor by stirring in some hearty red wine, a sprinkle of orange zest and smoked paprika, along with some herbes de provence and fresh thyme.

The orange zest gives the stew a hint of bright flavor, and goes well with the smoky paprika, red wine and shallots. I also added a sprinkling of Awake-a-Steak seasoning – a robust blend of gourmet spices and fresh roasted coffee. The result? A rich, hearty, deliciously slow-cooked pot of goodness – perfect for a chilly Winter day. Just let all the ingredients braise in the pot in the oven to release the savory layers of flavor into a thick beefy stew that is sure to warm your toes. Serve the stew in large soup bowls along with crusty French bread to mop up the sauce, complemented by a big glass of red wine (Cotes du Rhone or Cotes de Provence are a perfect match and also used in the stew). Now this is what I call comfort food – Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 – 4 lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
5-6 slices thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 large shallots, quartered
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large chunks
4 large carrots, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 8.5 oz jar Williams-Sonoma Beef Stew Braising Base
1 cup red wine (Cotes du Rhone)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
4-6 strips of orange zest
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp Awake-a-Steak Seasoning (Instant Gourmet)
2 tsp herbes de Provence
1-2 tbsp dried fines herbes (or fresh chopped chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives), for garnish
5-6 springs fresh thyme, for garnish

Preparation


Place a rack in the lower position of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Preheat a large saute pan and get a Dutch oven prepared to cook the stew.

Seasoned Beef

Carve the roast into 1 1/2-2 inch chunks, trimming any large, visible pieces of fat. Place the beef chunks in a large baking sheet lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Carrots, Veggies and Spices

Peel and cut the potatoes and carrots into  1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks.

Shallots, Garlic and Orange Peel

Peel and quarter the shallots and chop the garlic cloves. Shave 4-6 strips of orange peel with a peeler, slice into finer strips if desired.

Bacon

Fry the bacon slices until crisp and drain on paper towels, set aside until cooled. Chop or crumble into 1/2 inch pieces.

Sauteing Shallots and Garlic

In the same saute pan, saute the shallots in 2 tbsp bacon drippings over medium-high heat until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the minced garlic along with some salt and pepper, and saute for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, removed shallots and garlic and set aside with the bacon.

Sauteing Beef

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and saute the beef in a single layer in batches, being careful not to crowd or overcook, approximately 10 minutes per batch, until beef is browned on all sides. Add additional oil as necessary in between batches. When all beef is sauteed, transfer to a large Dutch oven.

Mixed Ingredients

Add the bacon, shallots and garlic, orange zest, herbs and spices to the Dutch oven with the beef.

All in Pot

Add the carrots and potatoes and stir together.

TomatoPaste-Sauce

Add the tomato paste, red wine, water and Beef Stew Braising Base to the pot and stir all ingredients together and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and place the lid on top. Transfer to the oven and bake until beef is fork-tender for about 3 hours.

Stir Stew

Stir the stew after about an hour, and then again after 2 hours, recovering the pot with the aluminum foil and lid.

Stew is Done!

Check the stew for desired consistency: if the stew is too thick, add an additional 1/4 cup of water to the last 15 minutes of cooking. If the stew seems too thin, make a slurry of flour and water and whisk into the stew for thickening. Season the finished stew with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Bistro-Style Beef Stew

Garnish with a sprinkle of fines herbes and sprigs of thyme. Enjoy with a loaf of crusty French bread and a big glass of hearty red wine (Cotes du Rhone). Fantastique!

Serves 8.

Other Beef Stew Recipes you may enjoy:

Paula Deen’s Old-Time Beef Stew

Pioneer Woman’s Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika

Epicurious Irish Beef Stew

Jacques Pepin Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Martha Stewart Beef Stew

 

A Taste of Tuscany

Eggplant Crostini

Tuscany is probably one of the most beautiful and scenic regions of Italy and the most popular places to visit, known for its rolling hills, mesmerizing sunsets,  rustic landscapes, vineyards, farmhouses and olive groves. I have not had the opportunity to visit there yet, but I love the cuisine and it’s first on my list when I plan my next trip to Italy (hopefully sometime next year!)

Tuscan cuisine is a simple and earthy way of cooking, which centers around fresh and local ingredients from the farming region such as olive oil, greens, poultry, beans, beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, and sausages. Crostini is a famous antipasti which are little toasted breads spread with toppings such as olive tapenade or chicken liver pates. Bruschetta is also a popular antipasti made with rustic bread, fresh chopped tomatoes and garlic. Other popular dishes from the area are Panzanella (bread salad), Minestrone soup, Pasta Fagiole (cannelloni bean and pasta soup) and Ribollita.

Because of the ample farm land in Tuscany and areas surrounding Florence, there is a large production of olive oil, grapes and wine, and a variety of fruits and vegetables and herbs such as pears, oranges, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, spinach and beans – all main ingredients in Tuscan cooking. Risotto is an earthy dish that incorporates many of these vegetables and cheeses from the region. Fennel is another ingredient often used in salad and sautéed with meat dishes. In Florence, Pecorino (a salty sheep’s milk cheese) tends to have herbs, garlic and red pepper added for flavor and is served shaved in salads or as cut in chunks served with grapes, olives and rustic breads like Foccacia bread with rosemary and olive oil.


Almond and Anise Biscotti and Oranges in Marsala Glaze are standard desserts and most of the wine that originates in the area is Chianti, aged in small oak barrels. Another popular white wine is Vernaccia, ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied, made in a small medieval town known as San Gimignano.

The following is a sampling of some of my favorite Tuscan recipes that use rustic and earthy ingredients originating from a Tuscan Cooking class I took at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. If you’re interested in learning more about Tuscan cooking there are a variety of cookbooks sold online, as well as cooking excursions in Tuscany with local chefs and other sites dedicated to Tuscan cooking.

Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom stock:

½ lb. cremini mushrooms

½ lb. white button mushrooms

½ lb. shitake mushrooms

2 quarts chicken stock

½ c. dried porcini mushrooms

4 tbsp butter

3 oz. Madeira wine

Risotto:

3 tbsp butter

2 shallots, finely minced

4 c. Arborio rice

¾ c. white wine

Mushroom stock (reserved)

1 tbsp. minced chives

1 tbsp. Italian parsley

¼ c. grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the mushroom stock, wash and trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the stems and slice the mushroom caps for use later in the recipe. (Make sure to dust of the dirt first and don’t soak the mushrooms).

Combine the chicken stock, stems, dried porcini mushrooms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve the liquid for the risotto.

Heat a large sauté pan and add 4 tbsp of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze the Madeira and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the mushrooms. (Try to let the Madeira glaze sit, don’t stir).

For the risotto, heat a wide pot or rondeau (flat bottom pot with tall sides) over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir the mixture together to coat the rice with the shallots and butter.

Add the white wine, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Begin adding the mushroom stock, a large ladleful at a time. Continue to add the mushroom stock (slowly and continuously), stirring constantly until the rice is just cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 mins. The rice should be slightly al dente but have a creamy consistency and not dry.

Stir in the reserved mushrooms, the remaining tablespoon of butter, chives, and parsley. Top off the risotto with Pecorino Romano and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

Pork Chops with Fennel

Pork Chops with Olives and Fennel

¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 pork rib chops, bone in

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed

1 c. white wine

2 fennel bulbs, cored and quartered or cut into eighths

6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped

¼ c. Gaeta olives, pitted

1 spring rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it turns brown, and remove the garlic. Season the pork chops with salt and add them to the pan. Cook until one side is brown, then turn and brown the other side. Remove and reserve until later. Add the fennel seeds to the pan and cook for 1 minute (toast them lightly to release oils and flavor, watch closely to not  burn them).

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with wine. Return the pan to the heat and cook until wine nearly evaporates. Add the fennel pieces, tomatoes, olives and rosemary.

Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the pork chops back to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove the chops and if liquid is too runny, reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.

This recipe can also be made with veal chops, and for extra flavor and to ensure juicy chops that won’t dry out, soak them in a brine overnight made out of 2 quarts of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of salt and throw in some chopped up herbs such as rosemary or thyme.

Makes 4 servings.

Pollo alla Toscana

Pollo alla Toscana (Tuscan Chicken)

2 c. dried navy beans, soaked overnight (or canned beans drained and rinsed)

1/3 c. diced slab bacon or pancetta

2 (4 lb.) chickens, cut up into 8 pieces each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Flour for dredging

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 celery ribs, diced small

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup white wine (dry and crisp, such as Chablis)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp. freshly minced rosemary

3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp freshly minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Discard the liquid.

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add the rinsed and soaked beans. Cook them until they are soft, but not mushy. Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Cook the bacon in a large rondeau or Dutch oven until just browned. Using a slotted spoon put the bacon on paper towels to drain, reserving the fat in the pan.

Pat the chicken pieces dry, season with salt and papper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the bacon fat over high heat and when it is hot, add the chicken and cook, in batches, turning the pieces once, until the skin becomes golden brown and crisp. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with the wine. Return the pan to the heat and bring it to a boil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reduce by 1/3. Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, add the beans, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, and 2 cups of the reserved beans cooking liquid (liquid should come half way up the pan, use more or less accordingly). Cover, place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and most of the liquid has absorbed. You may have to add more liquid if it looks dry.

Season with salt and papper to taste and garnish with parsley.

Makes 8 servings.

Cipolline Onions

Cipolline Agro Dolce (Caramelized Cipolline Onions)

2 lbs. Cippoline onions

6 tbsp sugar

½ c. red wine vinegar

8 sage leaves

¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.

Blanch the onions for 2 minutes in boiling water. With a slotted spoon, immediately remove the onions and place them in ice water. Remove when cool and peel removing the stem and first layer of skin.

In a large baking dish, mix the onions, sugar, vinegar, sage, olive oil, and salt making sure that onions are coated evenly (this makes a lot of liquid so you don’t need to use it all).

Bake in the oven for approx. 60 mins, or until the onions are well caramelized. Make sure to turn the onions and watch them while in the oven, taking care to not let them burn.

Makes 6 servings.

Pear and Fennel Salad

Pear and Fennel Salad

2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into thin slices

8 cups mixed salad greens (red leaf, Bibb, Boston and Radiccio), washed and dried

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

3 red Bartlett or Bosc pears, cut in half, cored and thinly sliced

Combine the fennel with the salad greens. Refrigerate until ready to toss.

When ready to toss, add the salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently and arrange on individual plates or a platter. Top with the pear slices and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Glazed Oranges and Biscotti

Oranges in Marsala Glaze

6 large navel oranges, peeled and pith removed (save one peel with pith removed)

¼ c. sugar

¾ c. sweet Marsala wine

½ c. Cointreau (orange liqueur)

12 mint leaves

In a small saucepan with boiling water, simmer the orange peel over high heat for 5 mins; drain and set aside. When cool, slice into julienne strips.

Separate each orange into sections, removing all membrane between sections. Place sectioned oranges in a large bowl, cover and chill.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, Marsala, and Cointreau. Bring to a boil over medium heat until the mixture has reduced by half or until it becomes syrupy. Add orange peel strips to the syrup and chill. To serve, spoon orange sections into individual dessert dishes. Top with Marsala glaze. Garnish with mint leaves.

Tip: this dessert is delicious topped over Vanilla ice cream and served with Almond and Anise biscotti on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Other Tuscan recipes you might enjoy:

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Peach Bellini

Crostini with Roasted Eggplant

Olive Tapenade

Chicken Liver Pate

Pasta e Fagioli

Minestrone

Ribollita (Bread Soup)

Bistecca alla Florentine (Tuscan Steak)

Almond and Anise Biscotti

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