LAMB MEATBALLS, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

One of the things I don’t like to do in the kitchen is peeling hazelnuts. The other is frying stuff. Not for concerns with fat intake, which don’t bother me even slightly, but for the mess it makes on the stove and the lingering smell in the kitchen. It probably explains why I ended up getting an air-fryer. Wait, who am I trying to fool? I have a weak spot for cooking gadgets…  Anyway, whenever I find a method that circumvents the need for frying stuff, I am on it. Most recipes for meatballs insist you must brown them on a frying pan. Not this one. And the result is a super tender lamb meatball, that seems to soak the flavor of the tomato sauce better than traditional versions. Plus, the fact that it cooks unattended in the crock pot is a bonus. After forming the meatballs, your work is pretty much done.

SLOW-COOKER LAMB MEATBALLS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground lamb
1/3 cup almond flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
grated zest or 1/2 large lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
fresh parsley leaves, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 + 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Gently combine the lamb, almond flour, beaten egg and yolk, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

​Put the tomatoes and red pepper flakes into slow cooker. Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Form the meat mixture into meatballs, make them slightly bigger than golf-ball size. Drop them gently in the tomato sauce.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours, serve with any side dish you like. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe works better with larger meatballs, so they don’t turn into mush through the long cooking. Two make a very nice portion for dinner, so by cooking a full batch we can have either a repeat dinner later in the week, or… my favorite thing: leftovers for lunch!

You can use breadcrumbs instead of almond flour if you prefer. I tend to go with almond flour because it’s lower in carbs and I like the slightly nutty taste it gives to the meatballs. On my second time making this recipe, I added Sriracha to the ground lamb mixture. If you like some extra heat, give it a try.  I bet gojuchang sauce could be a winner too.

But, before I leave you….

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

(October 2009)

 

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SLOW-COOKER POT ROAST WITH POTATOES, CARROTS AND FENNEL

The Instant Pot is the most recent obsession of cooks everywhere. As a lover of all gadget things, I’ve been seriously tempted to get one, but decided against it. My rationale for swimming against this current is that a regular pressure cooker does the exact same job, with the advantage of heating up faster and achieving higher final pressure (at least my model does).  I always use a skillet if I need to brown meat before cooking under pressure, so the saute feature of the Instant Pot doesn’t appeal to me. Its surface is smaller, I much rather stick with my 12 inch skillet for that. Then there is the slow-cooking capability. From what I heard, it does not compare to a regular slow-cooker and more often than not your tried and true recipe for the trusty old crock pot needs to be tweaked. I also think the size and shape of the classic slow-cooker are more appropriate for the type of stuff I cook in it. Think large pieces of pork shoulder, baby back ribs, or several little pots of custard things for crème brûlée. The only feature of the instant pot that cannot quite be matched by other gadgets is the yogurt making. But, do I ever make yogurt at home? Not really. So there you have it, the Bewitching Kitchen will go on Instant Pot-less. And today I share with you a pot roast made in our crock pot, melt-in-your-mouth tender, with the delicious addition of fennel, that absolutely makes this dish. Don’t omit it. By all means, if you own the Instant Pot, put it to use. My feelings won’t be hurt…

SLOW-COOKER POT ROAST WITH POTATOES, CARROTS AND FENNEL
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or oil of your choice)
1 bone-in chuck roast, 4 to 5 pounds
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), halved
2 fennel bulbs, cut in large pieces
6 carrots, peeled, and cut in large pieces
1 shallot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water
fresh parsley, to serve (optional)

Mix the spices in a small bowl, crushing the fennel seeds lightly. Rub the dry rub all around the beef.  In a large skillet, heat the oil and brow the meat on all sides. As the meat browns, place the potatoes, carrots, fennel, shallots and celery inside your slow-cooker. Season them lightly with salt.

When the meat is golden brown, transfer it to the slow cooker, placing it on top of the veggies. Deglaze the skillet with a little water, and transfer the juices to the slow-cooker. Add the beef broth and water. Set it on low for 10 hours, you can also cook on high for 5 to 6 hours, but I really prefer the texture of the meat when cooked low and slow.

Shred or cut the beef in serving pieces, and enjoy with all the veggies. It is even better when prepared one day in advance.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This was very good served over mashed cauliflower, my to-go veggie of choice for a low-carb side dish. I made the pot roast the day before our dinner, and re-warmed it gently on the stove top, adding fresh parsley right before indulging in it. The exact same recipe could be made in the pressure cooker, probably taking around 30 minutes in high pressure. Still, there’s something to be said about coming home to a house that smells like dinner is waiting for you with open arms. Even if you will place it in the fridge for a day…  Leftovers are as amazing as one would expect!

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I SAY TOM KHA GAI, YOU SAY TOM KHA KAI

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot for all things language. Frustration took place as I tried to figure out the correct spelling for the name of this delicious Thai soup. It is often tricky to go from a language such as Siamese  to something that would convey the correct pronunciation in English. After a lot of searching around, I found a video that made me even more puzzled. In the video, they spell it as Tom Kha Kai, but when I listen to the girl my ears detect a clear sound of G for the third ideogram, making Tom Kha Gai my preferred way to spell it.  You can listen for yourself and decide. Click here and fast forward to 1 min and 50 seconds. No matter how you decide to spell it, this is a delicious and very simple soup with all the contrasting flavors that are typical for the cuisine of Thailand.

TOM KHA GAI
(adapted from Marta Stewart)

1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, bruised with back of a large knife
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 piece of ginger, about 1 inch long, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dried galangal powder
salt and pepper to taste
zest and juice of 1 lime, separated
1/2 Serrano pepper, sliced thin
1 + 1/2 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into strips
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced thin
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 can (about 13 oz) full-fat coconut milk
fresh cilantro leaves

In a slow-cooker, combine chicken stock, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, galangal,  lime zest, chicken and mushrooms. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ hours (or on low for 4 hours). Add coconut milk and shredded carrots, and cook on high 30 minutes longer (or on low for 1 hour). Stir in lime juice and cilantro leaves.  Serve topped with additional fresh cilantro, if desired. You can also save the soup without the coconut milk and carrots, and add those when re-heating on top of the stove for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked.

Serve while pretty hot, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice right on the bowl to brighten up the flavors even more.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Fishing out the lemongrass…

Comments: What a delicious soup!  Oddly enough, I am not too fond of shiitake mushrooms in stir-fried preparations, even if they are quite popular in Oriental recipes. Something about their texture turns me off a little. But in soup or risotto, I love them. They do impart a lot more flavor than regular mushrooms do, and in this soup they are definitely a must.  Lemongrass is also a favorite flavor of mine, and we are lucky to have a very healthy lemongrass plant growing in our backyard. When I need it, I go out with a pair of scissors and cut a stalk very close to the ground.  The smell is just amazing…

I made this soup on a Sunday and as so often happens, it was my lunch three days in a row. I ran out of cilantro on day 2, but it was not a big deal. At all. Adding the coconut milk at the very end of the cooking time together with the carrots make sure that the carrots retain some of their bite, and the coconut flavor seems brighter than if it cooked for hours from the beginning. Little details matter, especially when using the crock pot. That dump and forget approach is definitely not the tastiest path…

No slow-cooker? A regular pan will work, just keep the soup at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through, then add the coconut milk and the carrots for a while longer.

 

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BEEF GOULASH, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

I realize it’s not the time for goulash, at least not where we live. But, having just spent a week in Colorado. I also realize this classic Hungarian dish could come in quite handy mid-August.  Highs of low 60’s in the middle of the day, cooling down to 40-something in the evening? That’s goulash-friendly all the way. Come to think of it, using the crock pot in the summer is a pretty nice way to approach cooking. And yes, I’ve been known to enjoy a hearty beef stew in Kansas at the height of the summer and not even feel awkward about it. It is not a common meal for us during this season, but when I get that craving for comfort food, I listen to my body and go for it.

 

CROCK POT BEEF GOULASH
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

2 medium shallots, minced
1/8 cup sweet paprika
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Minute tapioca
2 bay leaves
1 piece of boneless beef chuck (4 to 5 pounds),  cut into 1½-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Season the pieces of beef with salt and pepper and reserve.

In a small skillet, heat the oil, saute the shallots until translucent, add the paprika, tomato paste, garlic, and caraway seeds. Stir until fragrant, transfer the mixture to the slow-cooker. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, tapioca, and bay leaves. Place the seasoned beef  over the sauce, mix it to coat the pieces.

 Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low. Discard bay leaves. In a bowl, combine 1 cup hot stew liquid with sour cream, then stir the mixture into stew. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you happen to own this product reviewed a while ago by Mimi, definitely put it to use in this recipe. I have used it in the past, but ran out of it and completely forgot to re-order, Not the type of ingredient easy to find where we live.  As to the recipe, do not get pre-cut stew beef. It is simply not the same as getting a beautiful, marbled piece of chuck roast and cutting it yourself. Especially using the crock pot for so many hours, it makes a difference in the texture of the meat.  The packages sold at the grocery store are usually cut too small and often go through some process to tenderize them. No bueno.

I have a confession to make. After enjoying goulash as it was meant to be enjoyed, over a hot, delicious bowl of buttered noodles, I’ve been known to push the boundaries of fusion cuisine. Leftover goulash going on a date with a corn tortilla might sound a bit odd, but… I find it truly delicious. And if you crumble feta cheese on top, you won’t be hurting my feelings… I might do the same later…

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

 

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BRISKET TACOS: ANOTHER ONE FOR THE OMG FILES

Apologies to my vegetarian friends, this one is all about the meat. Brisket, in a very simple preparation, cooked in the crock pot for hours, until the connective tissue surrenders in all its glory. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. A small can holding a simple ingredient that imparts so much flavor and just the right amount of background heat. Love it. I found this recipe online and did a quick cut and paste of the ingredients, promptly forgetting to write down the link. Proper credit is not possible at the present time, if I ever find it again I’ll edit the post to include it. However, I modified the recipe a bit, so here’s to hoping that my crime is not worthy of too heavy a punishment. The recipe makes a ton of meat, which for us means leftovers galore. You can always have a taco party and invite ten of your best friends over…They can bring their pets too.  It will be a huge batch of taco-happiness!

SLOW-COOKER BRISKET TACOS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 bacon slices, cut in pieces
2 shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 beef brisket, trimmed, about 4 pounds
1 cup chicken broth
2 canned chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Place bacon and chopped shallots in a 6- to 8-qt. slow cooker. Stir together salt and pepper; sprinkle over all sides of brisket. Place brisket over the bacon/shallot mixture.

Process broth and all ingredients except apple cider vinegar in a blender  until smooth; pour mixture over brisket. Cover and cook on low for  7 hours or until brisket is fork-tender. Transfer brisket to a 9- x 13-inch baking dish; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, reducing it for about 10 minutes. Stir the apple cider vinegar. Coarsely shred the brisket, add the sauce and mix. Serve over tortillas, or white rice, with your favorite toppings.  I served with avocado slices and crumbled Cotija cheese. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Didn’t I tell you it made a H.U.G.E. batch?  I tell you another thing, it was better a couple of days later. The interesting thing is that the heat of the chipotle peppers seemed to dissipate a little instead of getting stronger. Maybe it just permeated the dish in a more uniform manner. That’s probably the case.

You can enjoy it over tortillas. Corn, please, the flour ones are so heavy you will have to lay down and spend a few hours thinking about the Big Bang, the Heinzenberg’s Uncertainty Principe, and how on Earth could you feel so stuffed…  You can serve them wrapped in a sturdy Romaine lettuce (messy but good), or over white rice. You can go for the kill and indulge on a nice helping over polenta. Just be ready for that Big Bang frame of mind. Yeah, brisket and polenta. It could conceivably kill me…

Next on my list? Short-rib Tacos. Go visit Karen’s site, and be ready to swoon!

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