Tag Archives: stew

Pork Stew with Prunes and Armagnac

Here is an in-your-face stew, which says to the cold winter season: Bring it on. Nothing is bashful about this stew. Fortified with wine and spirits, perfumed with rosemary and juniper, this is a hearty slow-cooked wonder and a perfect vehicle for pork. The key ingredient, of course, is the Armagnac, a French brandy derived from grapes, in which inky prunes macerate, before the whole lot is dumped into the stock. Just be sure to pour yourself a little to enjoy before and after this rich and warming meal.

Pork Stew with Prunes and Armangnac

Serves 6.

20 prunes
3/4 cup Armagnac brandy
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds pork shoulder meat, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle full bodied red wine
2 bay leaves
1 bouguet garni: 4 juniper berries, 3 rosemary sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs, handful of parsley leaves

Combine prunes and Armagnac in a bowl. Let sit at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or oven-proof pot with lid. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Sauté in batches, without overcrowding, until brown on all sides. Transfer meat to a bowl. Add bacon to dutch oven and sauté until the fat renders. Add carrots and onion. Sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Return meat to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add prunes with Armagnac, wine, bay leaves, bouquet garni, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is very tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Remove from oven and taste to check seasoning. Remove and discard bay leaves and bouquet garni. (Stew may be prepared up to two days in advance. Warm over low heat or in a 300 F. oven before serving.) Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.

Red Wine and Chipotle Braised Beef Short Ribs

chipotle short ribs

~ Red Wine and Chipotle Braised Beef Short Ribs ~ 

I’m not going to lie to you: These ribs take 2 days to make. Now don’t roll your eyes, and remove that finger from the keyboard poised to click away. Just hear me out. I promise that if you make these ribs, you will be one very happy cook. Your family will be eternally grateful. Your guests will be impressed. And you will be rewarded with a deeply flavorful, warmly spiced, tender and rich meal. The only people who might not be pleased will be your neighbors, because they will have to live through a day of incredible aromas wafting from your kitchen window, making their stomachs rumble, while knowing full well they are not coming to dinner.

Now if none of this is enticing enough, here is some good news: While it takes 2 days to make these ribs, most of the time your are doing nothing. Well, hopefully you’re doing something, but nothing related to this recipe. During this  time, the ribs will take care of themselves, braising in the oven or sitting in the refrigerator. You will  be actively involved in the beginning, when you brown the meat (a very important step, I might add, which will make you feel useful), then when you reduce the sauce (which technically your stove will do for you), and then prettifying the stew for serving. Your biggest hardest most tortuous task will be…waiting. But consider that a gift in this era of clicks and instant gratification – the celebration of process and patience yielding intoxicating results. All of the time invested is for good reason: to tenderize the beef to a supple version of itself, and to infuse the meat and stew with knock-your-socks off flavor. So go ahead and give it a try. Start on a Friday and eat it over the weekend. And feel free to double the amount so you can freeze extras for another day or have a party. It might be a good time to invite the neighbors over.

Red Wine and Chipotle Braised Short Ribs

If you have the time (and patience) rub the short ribs with the spices the  night before browning to develop the flavor. The chipotles in adobo will add a nice kick of heat to the braise. Serves 4 to 6.

Dry rub:
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

4 pounds short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup chipotles in adobo
1 bay leaf
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Vegetables:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping cup peeled baby shallots or pearl onions
1 carrot, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Day 1: Combine the dry rub spices in a small bowl. Arrange the ribs on a rimmed baking tray. Rub the spices all over the ribs. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before browning.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof pot with lid or a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the ribs in batches on all sides without overcrowding the pan, about 8 minutes. (This step is very important, so take the time to do it well). Transfer to a plate or bowl and repeat with remaining ribs.

Drain off all of the fat from the pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil, the chopped onion, chopped carrot, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring up any brown bits in the pan, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika, and coriander and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, tomato paste, chipotles, and bay leaf. Return the ribs and any collected juices to the pot. Add the beef stock. If the ribs are not completely covered with the liquid, add more stock as necessary. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake until the ribs are very tender, about 3 hours, stirring once an hour. With tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ribs to a cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove any remaining bones (most will have fallen off) and cut away any of the tough gristle.

Return the pot to the stovetop and bring  the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by about half and thickened to a sauce consistency, 10 t0 15 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl, pushing down on the solids to extract flavor, then discard the solids. Return the beef to the sauce, submerging completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: One hour before serving, remove the ribs from refrigerator and turn on the oven broiler. Scrape away any congealed fat collected on the surface of the stew. Gently rewarm on the stovetop over medium-low heat to liquefy the sauce. Carefully remove the meat from the stew and arrange in a baking dish. Broil the meat until dark brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, the sliced carrots, and a pinch of salt. Saute until crisp tender, about 2 minutes.

Bring the sauce to a low simmer. Add the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Add the onions and carrots. To serve, divide short ribs between serving dishes or shallow bowls. Ladle the sauce over and around the meat. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.

Note: To freeze the ribs, prepare all of the Day 1 steps. On Day 2, scrape off the congealed fat, and then freeze. To continue, defrost the stew in the refrigerator overnight. One hour before serving, proceed with broiling the meat and the remaining steps.

Mushroom Barley Kale Soup

barley kale soup

~ Mushroom, Barley and Kale Soup with Miso ~

We are entering the indulgent time of year with parties and holidays stretching into the months ahead. As fun as that may be, it’s important to have a few simple and restorative recipes up our sleeve for nourishing dining. This soup may be prepared within 30 minutes, and it’s brimming with health and good flavor. Quick cooked carrots and kale hold their shape, color and nutrients, humble barley adds fiber and minerals, and umami-rich mushrooms and miso promise second helpings.  If you are looking to indulge, this is one meal where you won’t feel any guilt.

Mushroom, Barley and Kale Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces sliced assorted wild mushrooms, such shitake, cremini, cepes
1 cup barley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale (lacinato or curly) tough stems removed, leaves torn in bite size pieces, about 4 cups
1 tablespoon red miso paste

Heat the oil in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots mushrooms and carrots and saute until carrots are bright in color and crisp tender and the mushrooms just begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Add barley and stir to coat. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in kale. Simmer until kale turns bright green and wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in miso. Taste to check for seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh thyme.

Kale and Farro Soup

kale squash farro tastefoodxx

 ~ Kale and Farro Soup ~

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions, but if I did, it would be to get my kids to eat more kale. Do you think they’ll notice the kale in this stew?

January is not only bowl-month in our home, it’s kale month. Bowls of nourishing soups and stews are perfect for the cold weather and a comforting alternative to the highfalutin presentations of Christmas past. And kale is everywhere right now, flamboyantly in season touting deeply colored emphatically shaped leaves, towering in piles on market shelves and tables. Good timing is all I have to say. Kale is a superfood, packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, and an excellent way to jump start the new year in good health. And why hold back with just one nutritious ingredient? Kale teams up with farro, a nutty ancient grain packed with protein and fiber and chunks of  vitamin-rich butternut squash in this healthy, hearty soup.

Kale and Farro Soup

Either curly green or lacinato kale may be used for the soup. Remove tough ribs from leaves before chopping.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1  (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1  (2-inch) chunk of rind of Parmigiano cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped green kale
Grated Parmigiano cheese

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add farro and stir to coat. Add chicken stock, squash, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in kale leaves; simmer until kale brightens in color and just wilts, about one minute. Discard Parmigiano rind. Ladle into bowls and grate cheese over the soup. Serve immediately.

More bowl food? Try these recipes:
Lentil Soup from TasteFood
White Bean, Chicken, Sausage Stew from the Kitchn
Chicken, Farro, Shiitake Soup from TasteFood
Roasted Root Vegetable Bisque from Eat Live Run
Black Bean, Sausage, Butternut Squash Chili from TasteFood

 

Shellfish Stew with Red Wine and Fennel

cioppino fish stew tastefood

~ Shellfish Stew with Red Wine and Fennel ~

Enough with the meat already. It’s time to lighten things up. January is the month of bowl-food in our home. Fancy holiday meals, featuring ribs and roasts, sauces and reductions, have taken a New Year’s time out, replaced by vessels brimming with steaming soups and stews, risottos and and noodle concoctions. And while meat is welcome, right now I am craving the lightness of fresh seafood. Served in a bowl, of course.

Shellfish Stew with Red Wine and Fennel

Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, with juices
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups medium-bodied red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, or to taste
18 littleneck clams (or mussels)
18 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
6 to 8 large sea scallops
2 cooked crabs, legs cracked, flesh removed from bodies

Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and fennel. Cook, stirring until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If necessary add a spoonful of sugar. Add clams. Cover pot and cook until clam shells open, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and sea scallops. Cook, partially covered until just cooked through. Add the crab legs and meat. Continue to cook until thoroughly heated. Discard any unopened clams. Serve in warm bowls garnished with parsley. Accompany with crusty baguette or garlic bread.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla

~ Chicken Tortilla Soup ~

This soup is all about leftovers. We roasted a whole chicken for dinner the other night, and ended up with a lot of meat. When this happens I’ll use the leftovers in a soup or stew, prepared with a homemade stock from the carcass.  The vegetables are inspired by the odds and ends in my vegetable drawer (fennel and carrots) matched with a few must-haves (onion and garlic) and pantry staples (canned Italian plum tomatoes and black beans). I spiced up the stock with warming southwestern spices in defiance of the dreary drizzle outside, and finished the soup with a shower of shattered tortilla chips, which happened to be leftover in the bottom of their bag – too small for swiping through a bowl of salsa.

Chicken Tortilla view

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Season and spice the soup to your taste. Ideally it should have a little heat, but since our family is divided on what constitutes “spicy”, I pass a bottle of hot sauce around the table so everyone can fire up the soup to their taste. Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large fennel bulb, fronds and bottom removed, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons pasilla chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (28 ounce) can chopped Italian plum tomatoes with juice
3 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Tortilla chips
Diced avocado, optional
Hot sauce

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and sauté until softened, 2 minutes. Add carrots, fennel and garlic. Sauté 3 minutes. Add jalapeño, cumin, chile powder, paprika and coriander. Cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and partially cover. Simmer 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add sugar if necessary. Stir in the chicken and black beans. Continue to cook until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with tortilla chips and avocado, if using. Pass the hot sauce.

Lambs + Clams Round 2: Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oyster Croutons

Lambs + Clams Contest – Round 2
Ingredient Challenge: Rappahannock River Oysters and Clams

It’s not often, er, ever, that I receive a box of East coast shellfish delivered to my California front door – that is until 10 days ago when a special delivery box arrived with 4 dozen pristine oysters and middle neck clams from Rappahannock River Oysters in Virgina. They were as fresh as could be, cold and moist, smelling of seaweed and sand. A taste of the East lay at my feet. This was simply not fair.

~
While I now live in California, and before that called Europe my home, I am a New Englander at heart. And I miss it. This is evident by how I gravitate to environments and sensations that remind me of a place I haven’t called home since 1991. I crave 4 distinct seasons, and reminisce wintry blizzards, humid summers, and the smell of fallen leaves with chimney smoke hanging in the air. I seek vignettes suspiciously similar to a traditional New England setting, old structures and neighborhoods steeped in history, creaking with wood, lined with cobblestones. And the sea must never be far away. Nothing epitomizes New England to me more than the seashore – especially on a chilly foggy day laden with mist, with the cries of seagulls and the clanging of buoys punctuating the sound of the wind and waves.

So there I was, a week ago, with 2 nets of memories before me in the form of shellfish, still moist from their beds, gritty with sand, smelling of brine and salt. It transported me to New England, and I knew that I would have to do them justice. I headed to my kitchen – the heart of our family home and life, no matter the coast or the country. The place where I go to recreate memories, carry on traditions and evoke sensations of time and place.

The oysters and clams were ridiculously fresh, and I knew I had to get to work fast. (OK, I admit a few oysters were instantly slurped straight up with a squeeze of lemon and dash of Tabasco. Hey, you would’ve too). I thought about how to create one recipe showcasing both oysters and clams, drawing inspiration from the East coast, while embracing my adopted West coast sensibilities – with a touch of the Mediterranean. I am a fan of chowders and cioppinos, and I decided on a stew, with layers of flavor and texture. It’s autumn after all, the season of layers – layers of clothing, layers of bedding and layers of nourishing, sating ingredients in our meals.

Each ingredient would stand out yet complement the whole of the stew, with a balance of sweet, smoke, heat and brine. I addressed each ingredient separately before uniting them, taking care to prevent a muddle. I browned the chorizo slices first for color and flavor. They would be added to the stew in the end, preventing softening and loss color by overcooking in the soup. Their legacy, the flavorful oil, remained in the pot infusing the stew with heat and smoke. I sautéed planks of sweet butternut squash in the oil. This step ensured the squash were thoroughly cooked and slightly caramelized. The chunks would be added in the end, like the chorizo, avoiding excessive mushiness and preserving their brilliant saffron color. Roasting the red pepper coaxed out its natural sugars and imparted another layer of smoky flavor to the soup. The clams cooked in the stew, opening and releasing their briny juices in the stock. Finally, I fried the oysters, first soaked in buttermilk and Sriracha, then rolled in cornmeal, ensuring super-crispy results with a playful bite. They would garnish the stew as a riff on croutons one might add to a Mediterranean seafood stew with a definite nod to the American south. A spoonful of saffron scented aioli added a creamy finish to the soup with the kick of heat.


Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oysters Croutons

Serves 4.

Aioli:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce

Oyster Croutons:
16 shucked oysters
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Stew:
Extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 small butternut squash, cut in chunks, approximately 1 1/2-inch square, 1/2-inch thick
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 sweet red pepper, roasted, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch julienne
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
12 to 16 middle neck clams
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

For the aioli:
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

For the oysters:
Place the oysters in a small bowl. Whisk buttermilk and Sriracha in a separate bowl. Pour over the oysters to cover and set aside. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper together in another bowl and set aside.

For the stew:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices, in batches, and brown on both sides, turning once. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the squash, in batches, to the skillet and pan fry until golden on both sides, turning once. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onion. Sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper, garlic, paprika and red chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until somewhat thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add clams. Cover pot and cook, shaking occasionally, until clam shells open, about 10 minutes. (Discard any unopened clam shells). Add salt to desired taste.

While the stew is simmering, fill a large heavy saucepan with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 350 F. Remove the oysters from the buttermilk, shaking off any excess liquid. Dredge in cornflour. Fry in batches, without overcrowding, until golden and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel

Ladle the stew into warm serving bowls. Top each bowl with 4 oysters. Spoon a little saffron aioli into the center of the soup. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Clam Chowder

~ Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme ~

I happened to have some left over clams this week. While you scratch your heads and think, who and why would anyone have left over clams, – I’ll just say that they were the delicious vestiges of the next round of the Lambs and Clams Contest, sponsored by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. For more details on that, you will have to tune in next week for my official post and submission. Until then, let’s talk leftovers. More specifically, let’s talk chowder.

I don’t know about you but when the weather chills down, I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of piping hot, creamy chowder – blame it on my New England roots. So, this week, as the temperatures dropped and we had a deluge of rain, I found myself in the possession of some lovely clams,  and I made this chowder. Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Typically, onions and potatoes accompany clams in a chowder. In this soup, I’ve also added leeks, celery root and turnips, which add flavor to the creamy broth, while maintaining a nice white color theme.

Clam Chowder
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large black radishes or 1 medium white turnip, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and fry until fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, celery root and potatoes. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Add milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil then simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

Harvest Vegetable Soup

Finely fall has arrived in California! When I am not doing my happy dance, then I am making hearty soups and stews exuding warmth and spice – just like this:

Harvest Vegetable Soup
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 15-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup bulgur or farro
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2-inch chunk of Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano rind
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves, tough ribs removed
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 minutes. Add fennel and butternut squash. Saute 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, bulgur, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and cheese. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until vegetables and grains are tender, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the kale and simmer briefly until brightened in color and wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Serve garnished with grated cheese.

If you like this, you might enjoy these warming recipes from TasteFood:
Lentil Soup
Minestrone
Black Bean, Sausage, Butternut Squash Chili

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Egg and Chick Peas

Yes, I know it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s also hot in Tunisia, from where this recipe gets its inspiration. Shakshuka is a traditional Tunisian breakfast composed of simmered tomatoes, peppers, aromatics and poached eggs. It’s meant to be spicy which is a nifty DIY method for keeping cool in the Saharan heat. (The more you sweat, the more you cool off). As for me, I’ll take anything spicy for the sake of spice, regardless of temperature and geography – especially when it’s screams comfort food like this. The Tunisians call shakshuka breakfast, but I’ve added sausage, kale and chickpeas (why hold back?) and prefer to call it dinner. It’s delicious as is, served with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and yolk. For a complete meal, spoon prepared couscous into shallow serving bowls. Make a well in the center of the couscous and ladle the ragout and and egg into the center of the couscous. All you need as an accompaniment is green salad, chilled wine – and a fan.

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Eggs and Chick Peas

Prepare this in a 10-inch deep skillet and serve family-style at the table. If you’re feeling fancy and are lucky enough to have cute individual skillets as pictured above, then prepare the ragout in one large skillet or pot. Before adding the eggs, divide the ragout between individual skillets placed on the stovetop over medium heat, and add one egg to each skillet. Serves 4 to 6.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 pound hot Italian or chorizo sausages, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 large garlic clove
6 ounces (small bunch) Tuscan/Lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1 32-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce, to taste
4 to 6 large eggs
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages. Cook, turning, until brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer sausages with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard the oil from the pan – do not rinse out the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onion to the skillet. Saute onion over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits, until onion begins to soften, 2 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and cumin. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add kale and cook, stirring, until leaves brighten in color and begin to wilt. Return sausages to the pan. Add tomatoes, chick peas and salt; stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If desired, add harissa or hot sauce to taste. Simmer, partially covered, over medium-low heat, to slightly thicken and allow the flavors to develop, 15 to 20 minutes. Make an indentation in the ragout with a spoon. Crack one egg in a small bowl. Gently slide egg into the indentation. Repeat with remaining eggs, taking care not to overlap the eggs. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks remain runny, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon ragout with one egg into individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve with crusty bread or prepared couscous.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Lamb Stew with Raisins and Honey from TasteFood
Spinach Gratin with Hardboiled Eggs from Simply Recipes
Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup from TasteFood
Baby Kale, Mozzarella and Egg Bake from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata from TasteFood
Egg and Cheese Strata from Leite’s Culinaria