First the ribs… After a seemingly early spring thaw, winter came back with a vengeance bringing super cold temperatures and another load of snow. Ribs at our house are typically slow-cooked outside in a wood-fueled smoker, but not during the winter. When I checked out at the grocery store with my rack of spareribs, the cashier commented that only a devoted “super-griller” would be willing to stand outside that day and cook ribs. I was happy to respond that I’d be making ribs in the oven!
These ribs cook in a savory caramel sauce that starts by melting sugar, a step that used to terrify me, but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with. The sauce is rounded out with some beer (I used stout) and bourbon along with other savory ingredients.
The ribs, cut into 3- or 4-rib portions, are coated in the sauce and then baked in the pot for a couple of hours, turning occasionally. The pork became meltingly tender, practically falling of the bone.
I opted to serve these “French-Style” with plain white rice, though when Howard read the open page of the cookbook, he wished I’d chosen the suggested Mashed Potatoes. Even though mashed potatoes probably would have been tasty, I thought the rice was the perfect platform for spooning some the sticky sauce.
We both enjoyed the ribs. It’s exciting have new winter option to cook when the smoker is buried under a pile of snow.
Two weeks ago, I made the Wheatberry Salad with Radicchio and Root Vegetables. We had just returned from a week in Florida, and though I made this dish on time, I couldn’t get it together to write about it.
I love roasted root vegetables. Fall and winter, a steady supply of them fill the refrigerator and a “make shift” root cellar. I’m getting to the end of my stockpile, but I roasted a combination of watermelon radish, celery root, parsnips, and carrots, a colorful medley. Radicchio is something I’ve only eaten in salad, so throwing chopped radicchio on top of the root vegetables in the oven for a few minutes to wilt was a new trick.
My salad was based on farro because I’m enamored with Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro. The farro is parboiled so it really does cook in just 10 minutes, though I forgot to add a bay leaf when I cooked it for this recipe.
The farro and vegetables are tossed together with a dressing made tangy by the addition of pomegranate molasses. You’ll notice that I didn’t add the pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate seeds in this salad would have violated Howard’s rule prohibiting the mixing of fruit with savory. Also, pomegranates just went out of season here, so I couldn’t find any anyway.
I served this salad as a side with roasted chicken thighs. Another hit that will be repeated.
Finally, there’s the Merveilleux, on the schedule back in February. This was a dessert that just didn’t want to get made. David Lebovitz challenges anyone who doesn’t like meringues because they’ve never tried a merveilleux. I like meringues. The problem is that I’m not a big fan of whipped cream. I really dragged my feet on this one. When I first set out to made these last month, I was out of confectioners’ sugar. Earlier this week, I restocked and made the meringues. When I got ready to make the whipped cream filling/coating, I found that the whipping cream was spoiled. Off to the store again.
I whipped up the cream with a tinge of espresso powder, making it reminiscent of tiramisu. To construct the merveilleux, I sandwiched the cream filling between two meringues, slathered the outsides with more cream, and rolled them in chocolate, before chilling them for a couple of hours. This is one recipe where I wish the book had included a picture. I still have no idea what merveilleux are supposed to look like.
Howard renamed these “Merv Griffins” because it’s easier to say. Neither of us were fans, obviously because we don’t care for whipped cream. I made a half batch of five, so hopefully I can find three friends to share the remainder with before they get soggy.
If you don’t have My Paris Kitchen in your cookbook collection yet, you should add it. So many of these recipes are winners. If you want to try any of these recipes yourself, you can find Pork Caramel Ribs on page 187, the Wheatberry Salad on page 240, and Merveilleux on page 281.
To see what my friends thought of these recipes, check out their posts from Cook the Book Fridays.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Erin go bragh!
If there was ever a week where I needed comfort food, this might have been it. When the world as I’ve known it seems to be crumbling around me, cooking is a welcome distraction, and the results offer a modicum of comfort and nourishment to our table. This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, Coq au Vin, a hearty braised chicken dish, fit the bill.
I’ve probably eaten Coq au Vin in a restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever made it myself. When I visualize it, I imagine chicken cooked in white wine. I was surprised to see that in this recipe, from David Lebovitz, the chicken is cooked in red wine. A little planning is required as the chicken along with some herbs and chopped vegetables needs to marinate overnight in a full bottle of wine.
Our chicken part of choice are chicken thighs. Rather than enjoying our favorite pieces during one meal and less favorite parts for subsequent meals of leftovers, I opted to use 8 chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces.
When it’s time to cook dinner, first the chicken is browned. Then, mushrooms and lardons of bacon are crisped. Then the herbs and chopped vegetables from the marinade get a turn. Finally, the wine is poured into the pot and the chicken simmers for an hour. In the meantime, pearl onions are simmered separately.
According to David Lebovitz, classic coq au vin is thickened with chicken blood, an ingredient that probably isn’t easy to find at your local grocery store. Not at mine either. The alternative offered, cocoa powder whisked into some of the cooking liquid, makes a more appealing addition.
I served the chicken in wide shallow bowls over egg noodles with a full complement of silverware. Forks and knives to eat the chicken and a soup spoon to catch every last drop of the flavorful sauce.
Coq au vin hit the spot as comfort food. I will double the mushrooms and onions if I make it again. Though I cooked this on a weeknight, I’d say that coq au vin is more of a weekend meal. It would also be better shared with company than reheated for several nights in a row.
As one more effort towards distraction, yesterday I helped raise the relocated hoop house at Lexington Community Farm, my happy place. After we moved and set up the hoops, I held the ridge pole up until the farmer could tie it in place while we bolted it in place. I can’t wait until next month when I can start working in the greenhouse again, as the seasonal cycle repeats. What fun!