Crockpot Apple Cider Beef Stew

On October 13, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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With temperatures staying in the 90s, and mostly high 90s, this October it really isn’t feeling like Fall yet.  So, I’ve decided to have Pinterest bring Fall to me. I bought some fresh squeezed apple cider from Whole Foods last Sunday and wanted to use it in a rich, flavorful stew.

After a few searches, I came across this recipe from The Tasty Kitchen. This Apple Cider Stew had everything I was looking for except it didn’t use a crockpot and I wanted to have it cook all day while I was at work.  With some minor tweaks, I made the recipe work for my crockpot. If you want the original recipe, check it out here.

Crockpot Apple Cider Beef Stew
Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt & pepper
3 white or yukon gold potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4″ slices
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan. Salt and pepper the beef and add to the hot oil pan.  Cook for 5 minutes on each side to brown pieces. Do not crowd the pan.  Once done remove from heat.  Take a gallon size ziploc bag and add the flour, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked stew beef to the bag and lock then shake to coat the beef.

Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to the crockpot.  Pour the floured beef out of the bag and into the crockpot.  Add the liquids and some additional salt and pepper.

Cook on low heat for 10 hours or high heat for 5 hours in the crockpot.  When done, if sauce is not as thick as you’d like do the following: Combine 2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 4 tablespoons of water then pour and stir into crockpot mixture and let it cook for another 10 minutes, it doesn’t matter if it’s on high or low heat.

Serve with a hearty bread.

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Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup

On January 4, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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My wife bought me a new wood cutting board for Christmas and I found the perfect recipe to break it in.  It does make the vegetables more delectable than my bright green plastic cutting boards.  And while I don’t think I can attribute the new cutting board to this, but this recipe turned out amazing and maybe, just maybe, slicing the vegetables and chorizo on the new cutting surface may have played a small role.

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Besides exchanging gifts, the whole family exchanged germs too. The whole Christmas break was spent with a family of four sick people and what better way to get over an illness than a hearty warm soup.  Plus the addition of some spicy chorizo sausage in for good measure.

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Kale is helpful too and the starch in the potatoes helped to fill stomaches that weren’t feeling all too good to enjoy a large meal.  This dish also doesn’t use a lot of  ingredients but you wouldn’t know it with the abundant flavor it provides.

I found a simple recipe that at first I found too simple, but gave it a try and stuck to the recipe word for word. I’m glad I did.

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The soup doesn’t need any tweaking.  It has plenty of flavor and while I fought the desire to add some carrots or more onions, I decided to see how it went without my modifications.

My advice: Don’t mess with it.  Just make the recipe as is and enjoy a delicious soup.

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Full Recipe: [Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup]

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Balsamic Strawberry Chicken using a SousVide Supreme

On June 8, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Making a juicy grilled chicken is not an easy undertaking, even by someone with some serious grilling skills. It’s not difficult getting some great grill marks, but keeping the inside tender while the grill marks are forming often makes for a fairly dry chicken breast. This is where sous-vide cooking can add a guaranteed juiciness to your chicken grilling.

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Sous-vide cooking is a French method that slowly cooks vacuum sealed meat or vegetables in a water bath. It keeps meat nice and tender plus it allows for a wide range of cooking time to so the food can cook while you carryon about your day.  This worked really well for me this weekend as I spent most of the day at work. To come home to most of my meal already done was a nice way to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

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The chicken and strawberries came from the South Pasadena Farmers’ Market. The strawberries are perfect right now full of rich redness and  I found an organic Fragaria Virginiana variety. These sweet, smaller species of strawberries have a much better flavor than what you find at most grocery stores.

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This is my second dish using the SousVide Supreme and I really do like how tender everything is that comes of out of it. The slow cooking water bath technique is simple. Cutting into tonight’s chicken, even after putting it on the grill to get some nice grill marks, I could see the juices run down the chicken after slicing each bite.  Combined with the rich flavors of the balsamic strawberry sauce the meal was easy to make after a long unusual Saturday at work.

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It only took about 20 minutes to sear the chicken and prepare the sauce. It looked like I spent a lot of time on the dish, but it didn’t take away time I want to spend with my wife and boys.

Later this month, I’m competing with several other BBQ bloggers at http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousvidebbq.htm. Check back after June 25 to see what recipe I decide to enter and send me a vote if you want. As a bonus, each person who casts a vote for their fan favorite will be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to www.sousvidesupreme.com.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the SousVide Supreme to try as part of a blogger outreach program from the company.  The opinions are my own.

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken

Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 6 Hours 30 Mins Total Time: 4 Hours 50 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 cups strawberries, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, mined
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine, Chianti or Cabernet work best
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Seal chicken breasts in vacuum bag. Heat the vacuumed chicken in a SousVide Supreme at 146 degrees for 4-6 hours. 
  2. Heat the grill on high.
  3. In a small sauce pan on medium-high heat add olive oil, garlic and shallot and cook for about 4 minutes, careful not to burn. Add 1 cup of strawberries, thyme, bay leaf and balsamic vinegar for about 3 minutes reducing vinegar by half. Add red wine and chicken stock and reduce by half for about 7 minutes. Smash the strawberries in the pan using a potato masher or fork to crush strawberries while leaving some small chunks. Reduce pan heat to low.
  4. Remove chicken from SousVide Supreme and pour a small amount of balsamic strawberry sauce over breasts to coat before placing on grill.
  5. Grill chicken on each side for about 7 minutes each side to get some nice grill marks.
  6. While on grill, add the rest of the strawberries to the sauce and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes before serving.
  7. Plate the chicken adding the rest of the sauce to the chickens.

Chicken in Wine & Dijon Reduction

On July 28, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I’ve been hotel living now for over two weeks and this recipe is my most adventurous to date. It also presented me with a bit of a dilemma in the middle of cooking when I suddenly realized I didn’t have a wine bottle opener. Fortunately, the hotel provided serrated knife which I then used to not pop the cork, but rather to plunge the cork into the bottle.  Oh well, I did get the cup of wine I needed plus enjoyed a nice Riesling with my meal.

I have also found that my $6 purchase of Ziploc plastic containers was a brilliant decision.  They work well as mixing bowls or in this case when I needed a small bowl to hold some dijon mustard I needed to “brush” on the chicken pieces.  Brush is sort of what I did, but with no brush I improvised using a the back of a spoon to spread the mustard over the chicken pieces.

This was the first time I used the Extend Stay’s pan since it had sides that worked well for a liquid reduction instead of using my sauté pan or 4 quart pot.

A little about the ingredients…

I bought some pasture raised chicken from the Studio City Farmers’ Market a couple weeks back at the Dey Dey’s Best Ever Chicken stand. They sell half chickens which is a good choice for this recipe, since there is not a lot of room in the cooking pan.  Cooking times are a bit longer at the hotel with an electric stove top and the thin pan, but the results are great as you can see in the photo with the browned skin and meat falling off the bone.

In the end, this was a great success that didn’t really take any special tools other than a wine bottle opener.  My spoon “brushing” method worked well too.

Chicken in Wine & Dijon Reduction
Serves 2

1/2 whole chicken, bone-in split
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 shallots, finely diced
1/3 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

If your breast is thick be sure to add 3 or 4 slices with a knife into the thickest area to help reduce cooking time. Brush the chicken pieces with the dijon mustard. Heat olive oil in pan at medium-high heat adding chicken pieces when hot.  Cook each side for about 15 minutes turning often being careful not to burn.  When flipping the chicken brush some more dijon mustard on to coat fully before turning. Meanwhile dice the shallots.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and add the shallots cooking for 1 minute then deglazing the pan with the wine.  Add the chicken stock and return the chicken to the pan.  Let this cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat letting the liquid reduce by half.  Turn the chicken throughout to coat the sauce over the chicken pieces.

Finally remove the chicken from the pan and finish the sauce by adding the butter and some salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with a side dish or two.

Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie

On March 18, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Thank you FoodieChats. If you are not familiar with #FoodieChats on Twitter, I highly recommend you join the weekly chat held every Monday night at 8pm EST.  The group’s Facebook page posted a Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Gordon Ramsay that looked quick and flavorful so I decided to give it a try.  Here is the video rapidly showing how to make it:

 

Boil 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes in a pot of salted water.  Let them cook for about 10 minutes and start cooking the meat filling while potatoes cook.

First you begin with a pound of ground beef and a 1/2 pound of ground lamb. Cook it down, not letting it burn or get dry. Using a grater mince 1 1/2 medium size carrots and a small red onion and 2 cloves of garlic.

 

Let that all cook for about 3 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of worcester sauce, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme. Let that combine and reduce until the wine is reduced by half for about 3 more minutes.  Then add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Let that cook down until the liquid is evaporated.

Once evaporated, spread the meat mixture into casserole dish.  Your potatoes should be ready by now and you can mash them with some milk, butter and 1/4 cup of Parmasen cheese.

Now spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture using a cake knife to make it smooth.  Using another 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmasen cheese spread that on top of the potatoes and then “fork” the potatoes to give it small peaks. Place in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes checking for a nice light brown top, no burning.

Will serve about 4 people.

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