Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Craig Claiborne's Beef Stew

Yield:  8 servings

Time: About 2 hours

It would be hard to find a simpler meal than Mr. Claiborne’s hearty beef stew, which goes beautifully with buttered noodles and a stout glass of red wine. A small scattering of cloves adds a floral note to the gravy, augmented by just a little thyme, and the combination pairs beautifully with the carrots you add near the end of the cooking process, to prevent them from going mushy in the heat. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the finished dish, of course, a nod to the past that rewards in beauty and flavor alike.


  • 4 pounds lean, boneless chuck steak
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups water (or beef stock) 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 6 sprigs parsley, tied in a bundle
  • 6 large carrots, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed and scraped


  1. Cut the meat into two-inch cubes.
  2. Using a large skillet, heat the oil and add the beef cubes in one layer. Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring and turning the pieces often, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat the meat evenly.
  4. Add the wine and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the water. Add the cloves, bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Cover closely and simmer for one hour.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the carrots into one-inch lengths. If the pieces are very large, cut them in half lengthwise. Add them to the beef. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Serve the stew sprinkled with chopped parsley.

NOTES from other cooks

Trust your instincts on this one. Cook the beef in batches, cook the onions and garlic alone and then add the flour to the onions and cook to make a well browned roux before returning the beef to the pot. Allow most of the alcohol to cook off after adding the wine as it thickens. I went for adding rich flavor and used a cup of beef stock in place of the water.

I made the following changes to the base recipe:
I used 3 cups of wine (cab sauv) and 1 cup of beef stock
I let the alcohol burn off for quite a while (maybe 15+ mins)
I roasted some mushrooms and added them when I added the water
I cooked the whole thing about 30-60 mins longer than directed
I added potatoes and celery when there was 30 mins left
I added some extra thyme at the very end

Add fresh cranberry beans at the same time as the wine.

Add dumplings on top.

Serve this over mashed potatoes.

Add some tomato paste and more liquid if it's too thick.

Use a DASH of cloves, rather than whole cloves.


from New York Times Cooking

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

Yield:  2 heaping cups, for about 6 servings and 1 1/2 pounds pasta
Time:  At least 4 hours

After the death in 2013 of Marcella Hazan, the cookbook author who changed the way Americans cook Italian food, The NY Times asked readers which of her recipes had become staples in their kitchens. Many people answered with one word: “Bolognese.” Ms. Hazan had a few recipes for the classic sauce, and they are all outstanding. This one appeared in her book “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cuisine,” and one reader called it “the gold standard.” Try it and see for yourself.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • cup chopped celery
  • cup chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground beef chuck OR you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef 
    (Harter House Boston Burger is 60% beef and 40% Pork)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table 


  1. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.
  4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
  5. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

Notes:  Lisa added garlic and basil and used San Marzano tomatoes. (San Marzano canned tomatoes are available at Harter House in the World Flavors section.) Those always make a difference when it’s not tomato season. It was delicious. I simmered it for a very long tine. Probably closer to 4 hours than 3.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Best Baby Back Ribs

I LOVE good ribs.
This is easy, because it's all done in the oven.
Give it a try.


1 rack of pork baby back ribs.
Dry rub (you can use whatever spices you like, but definitely don't leave out the brown sugar)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon or less of cayenne pepper (unless you
like it HOT)
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
mix it all up.


Prep the ribs:  On the back of the ribs will be a very thin but very tough membrane that you must remove. You can't really see it well, but trust me that it's there. I usually use a knife to pry up a corner of the membrane, then I just pull it down the entire length of the ribs. Sometimes it tears and you have to try a few times, but you definitely don't want to skip this step. 

Once the membrane is removed, put the dry rub all over the ribs (both sides) and rub it in. The meat will take on some of the colors in the dry rub and look a little reddish.

Wrap the ribs in some heavy duty tin foil and let them hang out in the fridge til you're ready to cook them.

Cook the ribs: At 250 degrees, place the ribs wrapped securely in tin foil onto a cookie sheet (sometimes juice/fat can escape the tin foil) and place them in the oven. cook for 2 hours. After 2 hours, pull them out and open the tin foil to take a look. At this point you can add a little apple juice on top of them, but that's not really necessary. Re-wrap them, and put them back in for another 1/2 hour. Pull them out again and open the tin foil completely.

At this point you can brush some BBQ sauce on them, or leave them the way they are. Crank up the heat to 350 and put the ribs back in the oven with the tin foil open. After half an hour, they're done! You can always do this last part on a BBQ, but watch the ribs and make sure they don't burn from the sugar.

Italian Sausage Stromboli

I LOVE Italian Sausage.  I LOVE any type of Stromboli, and we never get tired of this recipe.

Start with pizza dough, then cooked Italian sausage, lots of mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of pizza sauce.  You can add sauteed peppers, olives, ham, pepperoni or any other topping that suits your fancy.

Just like pizza, the possibilities are endless.  Then roll and bake.  You can serve this with a salad for a 30 minute meal or alongside veggies and dip as an appetizer. 

Ingredients you’ll need:
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1lb spicy Italian sausage
1/2 cup pizza sauce, plus more for dipping
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 - 13.4 oz. refrigerated pizza crust (such as Pillsbury Classic) or 1lb homemade pizza dough

1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium stove top saucepan, saute the onion in a couple of drizzles of olive oil for 3 minutes until soft.  Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the Italian sausage and cook until no pink remains.  Drain any excess fat from the pan and remove from the heat to cool.  This can be done ahead of time for a time saver.   Drain well and refrigerate if making in advance.

To assemble:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.  On parchment paper, stretch the dough into roughly a 10 x 13 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Arrange the cooked sausage on top, then drizzle with the pizza sauce.  Top with the remaining shredded cheese, and begin to roll starting from the widest edge.  Arrange seem side down on the prepared baking sheet.
For the topping:
Brush the top and sides with melted butter, then sprinkle the seasonings on top.  Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  [Tip: All of the seasonings can be adjusted to suit your taste.]
Bake for 18 minutes then allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into 1 inch slices.  Serve with additional pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.  Yield: 12 pieces

Italian Sausage Stromboli
Serves: 12