Gemelli with Milk-Braised Pork Ragu

Gemelli with Milk-Braised Pork Ragu

RecipesPeter Sanagan

Gemelli, the Italian word for twins, is a spiral-shaped pasta like a tight fusilli. It works very well with meat ragus, as the sauce gets into the narrow folds of the pasta, reinforcing the overall flavour of the noodle. Braising meat in milk is a very old technique – the acidity of the milk helps break down the protein, and the fat gives the sauce a smooth mouthfeel. You should use very fresh milk, and not let it come to a hard boil, or else you risk curdling the milk. If the milk curdles though, have no fear. It will not influence the finished sauce other than looks.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 ½  lbs                ground pork
1 ½ tsp                 salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp                    pepper, plus more to taste
pinch                    ground clove
pinch                    ground nutmeg
3 tbsp                   white wine
1 ½  cup               chicken stock
1 ½ cup                milk
½ lb                      oyster mushrooms, torn into strips
1 cup                    frozen peas
1 tbsp                   butter
2 tbsp                   Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, plus more to top the pasta
1 tbsp                   Italian parsley, chopped
2 cups                  gemelli pasta (or substitute with fusilli or penne rigate)

Method

  1. In a work bowl, mix the ground pork with the 1 ½ tsp salt, the ½ tsp pepper, the clove, the nutmeg, and the white wine. In a saucepan over a medium heat, brown the seasoned pork, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until the meat is slightly browned.
  2. Add the stock and the milk and reduce the heat to low. Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by just over half. The ragu should be saucy, not soupy or completely dried out. If the liquid evaporates too much, add in a little extra stock.
  3. Add the mushrooms and the frozen peas to the ragu and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the peas are completely defrosted. Turn the heat off and add the butter, Parmigiano, and parsley to the pan, stirring vigorously to emulsify. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  4. Bring a large pot with at least 2 quarts (liters) of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gemelli and cook until al dente, or just cooked through. Drain and toss with the ragu.
  5. Serve immediately, and top with a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano, if desired.
Chicken Saltimbocca

Chicken Saltimbocca

RecipesPeter Sanagan

Saltimbocca is a Roman dish, traditionally made of veal cutlets draped with prosciutto and sage and fried until golden. For this recipe, I am taking boneless skinless chicken breasts and giving them the same treatment for a finished dish that is a little lighter, but still big on flavour. Serve these with a simple green salad, a pasta, or some steamed vegetables.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, each breast filleted in half to make four cutlets
salt and pepper to taste
8 sage leaves
4 slices of prosciutto
1 cup flour (for dredging)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Using a mallet or the side of your knife, lightly pound the chicken cutlet so they are a uniform thickness.
  2. Season each chicken cutlet with salt and pepper, going a little light on the salt (as the prosciutto will be salty enough).
  3. Lay 2 leaves of sage on one side of each cutlet. Lay the prosciutto on top of the sage, covering one side of the cutlet like an eclipse (timely!).
  4. Spread the flour out on a plate, and dredge each side of a cutlet, tapping off any excess flour. Set the dredged cutlet aside on a clean plate and repeat with the remaining 3 cutlets.
  5. In a large pan on medium high heat, melt the butter with the oil. When the butter starts to foam, place the cutlets in, prosciutto side first, cooking until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Work in batches if the pan can only fit two cutlets at a time. Turn the cutlets over and finish the cooking (about another 3 minutes). Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.
  6. Saluti!
    Garlicky Lamb Leg Recipe

    Garlicky Lamb Leg Recipe

    RecipesBrian Knapp

    This recipe, abridged from Cooking Meat, is based on a couple of French country recipes I’ve played with over the years. You start it right after breakfast, it cooks slowly while you go about with your day, and you finish it when your guests show up. Easy-peasy.

    Serves 8 to 10

    Ingredients

    1 (6–7 pounds) bone-in leg of lamb, aitch bone removed (ask your butcher)
    Salt and pepper
    1 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
    4 bulbs garlic, split into whole, peeled cloves (30–40 cloves)
    6 rosemary sprigs
    2 cups Beef Stock
    2 Tbsp lemon juice

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Have a roasting pan with an elevated roasting rack ready.
    2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and rub in the 2 Tbsp of oil. Place the lamb on the roasting rack and set the roasting pan in the oven. Roast until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the lamb from the oven, and turn down the oven temperature to 250°F.
    3. In an ovenproof casserole dish just large enough to fit the leg of lamb, heat the remaining 1 cup of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and fry until the garlic starts to release its aroma. Place the browned lamb leg on top of the garlic, then add the stock over and around the lamb. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and place in the oven. Roast for 7 hours, or until fork tender.
    4. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and carefully transfer the lamb to a serving platter (it will want to fall off the bone) and cover with aluminum foil while you make the sauce.
    5. Using a ladle, skim off and discard as much fat as possible from the top of the roasting juices (without removing the brown juice). Discard the rosemary stems (the leaves will still be in the pot—that’s ok).
    6. Place the casserole over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Strain the roasting juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot, using the back of the ladle to push the cooked garlic through, puréeing it as you do so. Scrape the underside of the strainer, ensuring all the good bits of garlic get into the sauce. Discard the solids from the strainer. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, season to taste, and pour into a gravy boat.
    7. To serve, remove the foil from the lamb. “Pull” chunks of the lamb away from the bone, slice, and serve on a platter, setting the garlic sauce alongside.
    Corned Beef and Parsley Sauce

    Corned Beef and Parsley Sauce

    Brian Knapp

    “Raw” Corned Beef is simply beef (in our case brisket) that has been brined in a solution of salt, sugar, curing salt, and spices. After seven days, the brined beef is ready to be cooked. Here is my recipe (abridged from Cooking Meat), for the whole process, although at this stage in the game I assume you’ll want a pre-brined brisket and skip ahead to the poaching part.

    Have a safe and happy St Patrick’s Day everyone!

    Corned Beef and Parsley Sauce
    abridged from Cooking Meat

    Serves 8

    Corned Beef

    Ingredients:

    4-5 lb beef brisket, from the flat end

    4 L water
    4 whole garlic cloves
    1 ¼ cup g salt
    ½ cup  granulated sugar
    3 tbsp curing salt
    3 Tbsp pickling spice (divided)
    1 large carrot, cut in large dice
    1 celery stalk, cut in large dice
    2 garlic cloves
    1 tsp whole black peppercorns
    2 bay leaves

    Parsley Sauce

    Ingredients

    1 cup milk
    ¼ onion, thinly sliced
    3 whole cloves
    2 dried bay leaves
    1 Tbsp butter, cold
    2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    1 cup hot braising liquid from the corned beef
    1 cup finely chopped curly parsley
    2 tsp English mustard powder

    Method

    To brine the beef, see steps 1 and 2. If just cooking a pre-brined beef, skip to step 3.

    1. In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the garlic, salt, sugar, curing salt, and 2 Tbsp of the pickling spice, whisking to dissolve the salts and sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
    2. Place the brisket in a nonreactive container and cover with the brine. Set a small plate on the brisket to weigh it down and keep it submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 7 days, checking periodically to make sure it’s still submerged. If needed, place another plate on top to weigh it down further.
    3. After a week, discard the brine and soak the brisket in cold water for about 2 hours, changing the water every 20 minutes to rinse off the excess salt.
    4. Place the brined beef in a pot large enough to hold it without crowding, cover with cold water, and add the remaining 1 Tbsp pickling salt, the onions, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Do not add salt. Bring the brine to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and allow to gently simmer until the meat yields when pricked with a fork, about 4 hours. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
    5. While the beef is simmering, prepare the parsley sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk with the onions, cloves, and bay leaves. When the milk begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes to infuse.
    6. Melt the butter in a separate pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir vigorously to blend. Allow this roux to cook just until golden, about 5 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then very slowly and gradually whisk it into the roux, until the sauce is emulsified.
    7. When all the milk has been added, whisk in the hot braising liquid. Add the parsley and mustard powder, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and purée in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Pour the lovely green sauce into a gravy boat.
    8. To serve, slice the corned beef and arrange on a serving platter. Serve hot with the parsley sauce alongside.
    Changes to Loyalty Program!

    Changes to Loyalty Program!

    News & EventsBrian Knapp

    We have important news for our loyalty points members. We are updating our loyalty program to better serve all our customers. The main reason for this update is so our customers can easily accumulate points and access well-deserved rewards across all our stores and online – something that has been a challenge up until now.

    Over the next two weeks we will be changing over to our new loyalty program, where every dollar spent equals 10 points (currently it is one point for every dollar spent). Once you reach 5000 points, you will get $25.00 off any purchase of $25.00 or more.  If you currently collect points when purchasing with us, your current point balance will be transferred to our new program, and the value will be reflected. For example, if you currently have 350 points, it will be reflected as 3500 points in the new system. Otherwise, the reward goal will stay the same.

    We are rolling out these changes in two phases:

    Phase one will start this Wednesday, March 13th online, so if you place online orders, you will see this change on Wednesday.

    Phase two will happen at all three stores on Tuesday, March 19th. The staff at the stores will be able to help you and answer any questions starting that date.

    We are very excited about this update, as it will make the shopping experience much smoother for you. There will also be opportunities for you to earn extra points and get rewarded more quickly – stay tuned for that as well!

    Thanks everyone, I truly appreciate your loyalty!

    Peter

    Homemade Hamburger Helper

    Homemade Hamburger Helper

    RecipesBrian Knapp

    Homemade Hamburger Helper
    adapted from Cooking Meat

    I have fond memories of eating Hamburger Helper when I was a kid. So much so that I bought a box to enjoy as an adult. Some memories are best left in the past. However, I still like the idea of a quick and easy meat sauce that can poured on top of short pasta, so here’s my version of Hamburger Helper. You and your kids will notice a difference!

    Serves 6

    Ingredients:

    1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt (divided)
    1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
    1 medium onion, cut in medium dice
    ½ tsp pepper
    2 garlic cloves, finely diced
    1 pound ground beef
    1 Tbsp paprika
    1 pound pasta of your choice (small noodles work best)
    1 (10 ounces) can chopped tomatoes
    2 Tbsp tomato paste
    3 Tbsp sour cream
    1 cup grated cheddar cheese
    ½ bunch green onion, chopped

    Method:

    1. Fill a large pot with water, add the 1 Tbsp of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
    2. While the water is coming to a boil, set your biggest frying pan over medium heat and add the oil. When it’s hot, add 1 tsp of salt, the onions, and pepper. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow the onions to cook, stirring every minute or so, for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes.
    3. Add the beef, then turn up the heat to medium. Using a spoon, mash the beef with a spoon so it browns all over. Stir in the paprika and cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes or until the beef is no longer red.
    4. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    5. Stir the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste into the beef mixture and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
    6. Stir the sour cream into the beef mixture and turn down the heat to low. Stir until the beef is well coated and saucy, then add the drained pasta and cheese, stirring well to allow the cheese to melt into the sauce.
    7. To serve, scoop the hamburger helper into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Ta-dah!
    Recipe of the Week: Choucroute Garnie

    Recipe of the Week: Choucroute Garnie

    RecipesBrian Knapp

    This simple Alsatian dish, abridged from my book “Cooking Meat”, takes some time to make but it is rustic comfort food at its best, and truly celebrates many of the cuts the pig offers us. On the next cold night, invite some friends over and throw this popular French bistro dish in the middle of the table with a baguette, some good mustard, a jar of gherkins, and plenty of Riesling. You’ll be a star.

    Serves 8 to 10

    Ingredients

    2 Tbsp butter (divided)
    ½ pound sliced bacon, cut in 1-inch dice
    3 large onions, thinly sliced
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 large smoked ham hock , 1 ¼ lbs, cut in quarters (ask your butcher to cut it on the band saw)
    1 small head Savoy cabbage , shredded
    1 herb sachet (1 Tbsp juniper berries, 10 thyme sprigs, 6 bay leaves – all tied in a cheesecloth or a tea-ball)
    2 cups sauerkraut, drained
    2 cups dry white wine
    4 smoked pork chops
    4 large good-quality smoked pork sausages
    4 weisswurst (found at German/Eastern European delis)
    4 pork wieners (hot dog–style)
    1 pound mini potatoes, washed
    1 Tbsp sliced chives
    Salt and pepper

    Method:

    1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter with the bacon. Add the onions and garlic and sweat until translucent.
    2. Add the pork hock, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover the pot. Sweat for 15 minutes, then add the cabbage and herb bundle. Stirring frequently, cook for 30 minutes, or until the cabbage is translucent. Add the sauerkraut and wine, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
    3. Turn the heat off the cabbage and keep warm. Using a pair of tongs, remove the ham hock and cool slightly. When cool to the touch, discard the skin and the bone, and shred the meat. Add the shredded hock meat back to the pot with the smoked pork chops, smoked sausages, weisswurst, and wieners. Cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes.
    4. While the meats are steaming, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the mini potatoes and boil until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot, and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and the chives. Season with salt and pepper.
    5. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the chops, smoked sausages, weisswurst, and weiners to a cutting board. Slice them into attractive, bite-sized pieces. Taste the cabbage, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
    6. To serve, pile the cooked cabbage and hock-meat stew onto a large platter and arrange the smoked meats on top. Serve with the mini potatoes.

     

     

     

    Chicken and Rice Soup with Ginger

    Chicken and Rice Soup with Ginger

    RecipesBrian Knapp

    At this time of year, when winter’s grip is loosening but still hanging on, I like to make food that will warm my bones and give me the energy to push through to spring. Chicken soup fits the bill, and while I generally make a chicken soup or broth with bones, using chicken legs can increase the flavour and body. Legs have skin and fat, which carry extra flavour, and has a good amount of meat that can be shredded from the bone to add to the soup. I recommend using whole legs in your next soup!

    Chicken and Rice Soup with Ginger

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    4                           whole chicken legs
    1                           large onion, peeled, and cut into quarters
    6 cloves                garlic, peeled
    2 knobs                ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (each “knob” should be                                     thumb-sized)
    2                           carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
    1                           celery stalk, washed and roughly chopped
    1 tbsp                   salt
    1 tsp                     peppercorns
    2                           bay leaves
    2 cups                  cooked rice (jasmine works well, but you can use any type)

    Method

    1. Place all the ingredients (except for the rice) and a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover the ingredients by an inch.
    2. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1.5 hours, skimming the surface of the soup often to remove impurities.
    3. Cool the soup down for 2 hours, or until the chicken is cool enough to handle. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and reserve the liquid in a clean pot.
    4. Using your clean fingers, separate the skin and bone from the chicken leg meat. Add the meat to the strained broth. Discard the remaining solids from the strainer.
    5. Add the cooked rice to the broth and chicken meat and bring back to a simmer. Stir and serve immediately.
    5-Spice Roasted Duck Breast

    5-Spice Roasted Duck Breast

    RecipesBrian Knapp

    Millions of people will be celebrating Lunar New Year tomorrow, and with that celebration comes much feasting. There are the traditional dishes, such as Longevity Noodles, Steamed Whole Fish, and Sweet Rice Balls, but perhaps my personal favourite is Peking Duck. I love ordering this at restaurants because of the multi-course aspect: the crisp skin is commonly eaten first while still hot, followed by the carved meat that one wraps in thin crepes, and sometimes also served with more of the meat chopped and used in a fried rice. The rich flavour of the duck meat and the shattering crispiness of the skin are heavenly. However, true Peking duck is a very challenging dish to make at home. The preparation involves blowing air into the whole duck to separate the skin from the meat, then blanching the whole duck before hanging them to air dry to tighten the skin. The hanging duck gets brushed with honey and spices before left to dry for 24 hours.  The final step is roasting in a preferably wood burning oven until the skin is lacquered and the meat to fully cooked.

    As much as I like to try to make everything myself, this is one of those dishes that is just so much better at a restaurant that knows what they’re doing. However, there’s nothing holding us back from replicating the flavour of Peking duck at home with some spices and a duck breast. Is it authentic? No, it is not. Is it delicious? Absolutely.

     Five-Spice Roasted Duck Breast with Chive Crêpes

    Serves 4

    Ingredients:

    4                           duck breasts
    to taste                 salt
    1 tbsp                   Chinese Five Spice Powder (approximate amount)
    2 tbsp                   honey, warmed to liquify

    Chive Crêpes:
    2                           large eggs
    1¼ cups               milk
    1 cup                    all-purpose flour
    1 tbsp                   vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
    Pinch                    salt
    1 tbsp                   minced fresh chives

    For Serving:
    1 cup                    cucumber, sliced into thick matchsticks
    1 cup                    green onion, thinly sliced
    to taste                 hoisin sauce

     Method:

    1. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score the skin of each duck breast in a crosshatch pattern at ¼-inch intervals. Score only the skin so the fat can escape while rendering, not the meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sprinkle lightly all over with the five-spice powder. Set the duck, skin side down, in a large frying pan, place over medium-low heat, and allow the duck to warm and cook slowly for about 10 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, prepare the crêpes. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk vigorously until a smooth batter forms. In a small non-stick frying pan, heat a little oil over medium heat, using a paper towel to spread the oil around the base of the pan. When hot, add a stream of the batter until it just coats the bottom of the pan. Allow the batter to set (about a minute), before flipping to finish cooking for another 30 seconds or so. Transfer the crêpe to a plate and cover with a clean towel. Repeat the process until all the batter is used.
    3. At the 10-minute point, turn the duck breasts over and brush each skin with the honey. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the duck breasts to a plate and allow them to rest.
    4. To serve, thinly slice the duck breast and arrange on a platter. Serve with the warm crepes, the vegetables, and the hoisin for dipping/spreading. Enjoy!