Thursday, March 5, 2015
First off, please do not give in to the immediate feelings of repulsion that surely must accompany my sad, sad photograph of this recipe. It is delicious, hearty, and comforting - just one of the ugliest things I have ever made. Sausage does not photograph well.
Well, it is finally here! The month I have been mentally telling myself will solve all my winter blues has finally rolled in. Over and over the past few months, I have reiterated how the month of March was the month of hope - hope in the promise of green grass, sunny days, grilled dinners, walks on the beach, ice cream, and pure happiness. I was so giddy with excitement the night of February 28th, it was a bit ridiculous. The next morning, I woke up feeling so happy and refreshed - March was finally here!
Then, I looked outside.
Overcast, dreary, bitterly cold, with a "wintry mix" of rain, sleet, snow, and ice pummeling our area. This wasn't how I had envisioned March to be! Again, maybe my expectations for this month were a bit high - after all, I truly did not expect the weather to suddenly begin warming up...did I? Drats. Looks like we'll have to put up with a few more grumbles from Old Man Winter before spring truly arrives. You all are probably excited about that eventuality just so I will stop complaining about the weather. I feel like that is all I ever whine about. That and being gigantically pregnant.
So, we'll settle for a few more weeks of cozy meals with the fire roaring while we remain cuddled up inside trying to stay warm. This Lazy Sausage Supper is a perfect winter meal if you're stuck inside, working on a few other projects, and just feel like putting only a teeny amount of effort into dinner. I love meals that are baked in one dish (unless of course you add a side salad or something) because there is no stress about making sure all the sides are served piping hot at the same time as the main course. Plus, all the flavors mingle together perfectly - a major plus for someone like me who, unlike the other members of my little family, has always enjoyed mixing all components on my plate together to create the perfect bite (peas, mashed potatoes, and roast beef all together on the fork and then dipped in gravy - I think this is divine while my husband finds it heretical).
This sausage supper was enjoyed by everyone. My kids love sausage and we have been buying this fantastic, handmade sausage from an organic grocer in our area. The "meat guy" makes several different types and they are all delicious - my personal favorite is the Polish sausage but the brats, Italian sausage, and German sausage are all very, very good. For this recipe, we used both hot and sweet Italian sausage - the spicy for the adults and the sweet for the children. Again, no picture of elongated links of sausage is going to be attractive so you're just going to have to trust me when I tell you this was one delicious meal. We will certainly be making it again!
Feel free to serve it with a simple green salad and a bit of bread for soaking up juices. The leftovers were also great for breakfast with a couple scrambled eggs.
Lazy Sausage Supper
from Let's Dish Recipes
2 pounds of Italian sausages
1 pound potatoes, cubed (any type)
1 pound baby carrots
1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
8-12 ounces whole fresh mushrooms
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine all of the chopped vegetables in a large roasting pan. Whisk together the olive oil, minced garlic, basil, oregano and fennel seeds.Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour chicken broth around the sides of the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.
Meanwhile, brown sausages in a large skillet over medium heat. They do not need to be cooked all the way through - just lightly browned.
Remove from skillet and slice them into large chunks or just leave them as is. That's what we opted for - remember this is a lazy casserole! Remove the foil from vegetables and add sausages to pan.
Pour in balsamic vinegar and give everything a good stir. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, for 20-30 additional minutes or until everything is browned as the sausages are cooked through.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
|Practicing for her upcoming role as the "big sister" of our family. She's going to be awesome at it.|
Emma has always been my little shadow. From the time she could barely sit up, she loved to stay near me while I went about the day, performing little tasks here and there. Before she could walk, she would stand, clutching onto the edge of the coffee table with a rag clutched in her tiny fist and dust the surface for me while I tidied up the rest of the room. When I am brushing my hair, she sits at my feet and attacks her own mane with her tiny little brush. While I am taking a shower, she often tries to climb in or just waits outside until I am finished asking me every now and then: "Ok, Mommy? Ok?"
But her favorite activity has always been watching me apply my makeup. I don't wear a lot of makeup - a little fill for my eyebrows (since they fall out when I'm pregnant - lovely), some blush for my cheeks, a touch of eye shadow and mascara, and maybe a bit of lipstick. She's always been fascinated watching me apply it and ever since she was about 9-months old has begged me to give her some lipstick so she can "smack her lips" after application. At first, I found it very cute but then, as she became more mobile and vocal, it became a bit annoying. She would search my room for the makeup bag which I kept stored up high in our bathroom closet. Whenever I brought it out, she would begin to fumble inside, opening containers and trying to take out the applicator brushes so she could apply the color to her face all by herself. If I was in a hurry or just not in the mood to deal with her grabby fingers, I found myself very frustrated with her. Sometimes, I would try to put the makeup on when she was nowhere in sight - quickly and discreetly- often while locked in my closet - so that I wouldn't have to deal with her.
|Emma has a fantastic sense of humor. She is always laughing about something.|
The other day, I was downstairs cleaning the kitchen and turning over the laundry. Emma and Matthew had been playing puzzles in the living room, but then Emma had wandered upstairs to her playroom. I had heard her up there playing with one of the Little People sets. I went into the laundry room to empty the dryer when I suddenly heard a "thump" from above me. It was pretty loud - and the room right above the laundry room is my bathroom. I put the laundry down and walked upstairs. I found Emma sitting in the middle of our bathroom floor with my makeup bag dumped out, the contents strewn about the floor - most of them already opened. Emma's face had a generous amount of blush applied to her little chunky cheeks, as well as a big blob of blue eye shadow on each eye. She had also opened both bottle of mascara and attempted to apply it to her eye lashes but had missed and instead stained the skin right below her lower lid as well as her eyebrows.
I was enraged. She had climbed the shelving of the bathroom closet to get that makeup bag down. In addition, she had opened every single container and half the powder and brushes were dumped on the floor in a gigantic, colorful mess. I don't have or buy a lot of makeup and she had singlehandedly ruined a good portion of my supply. That was all I could think about. I sternly picked her up and angrily told her she was never to be in Mom's bathroom without permission. I washed the makeup off her face angrily while she sobbed. Then, I put her in her crib while I cleaned the rest of the mess up. Her sobbing could be heard throughout the entire house.
|We had the pleasure of babysitting the baby of a dear friend. |
Emma would not leave his side. She's such a sweet little girl and loves the babies!
Then, as I was cleaning up the mess, I realized how perfectly endearing the situation had been in all reality. She was only trying to be just like her Mommy. She admired and loved me so much that she wanted to follow the same routine. She had even chosen the color palettes that I gravitate towards the most while applying my makeup even though she had opened every single one (probably while in search for the appropriate color). The whole situation was sweet and innocent and I should not have become so angry with her over it. Granted, she should not have raided my closet or dangerously scaled my closet shelving - that was honestly the more serious issue rather than a bagful of ruined makeup - but I wish I had been more gentle in my handling of the situation. She is my little shadow - and she will watch and imitate everything I do. That in of itself is humbling and makes me want to be better for her sake so that someday she does not grow up to make the same mistakes I commit on a daily basis!
I wish I had captured a photo of her "made up" little face that day. Every time the memory of it floats through my head, I give her an extra squeeze and a kiss. She is so sweet, innocent, and precious and I am so very blessed to be her mother.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
In my post last week about take-in meals for families with new babies, I featured a couple pictures from the meal I brought to a dear friend of mine recently. I received a few emails requesting the recipe for the muffins pictured and have decided to post it. They were simple, delicious citrus poppy seed muffins from Dorie Greenspans's cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. I utilized some of the delicious lemons and oranges that my Grandmother sent from California in the recipe and they were fresh, sweet, and tangy. We were pretty sad to bid the majority of the batch farewell as we dropped them off with our friends, but luckily I did make a double batch so we could enjoy a few muffins!
Paul and I ate these for dessert a couple nights in a row, but they would also be a welcomed breakfast addition or afternoon snack. Really, do you need an excuse to eat a delicious muffin? I don't think so.
Matthew, my suspicious eater, was very unsettled by the poppy seeds. In general, he tends to pick out most seeds and nuts that he finds in his salad, cereal, or baked goods but he found the process of removing every single poppy seed from his muffin too laborious and decided to just eat the darn thing. He declared it delicious. I told him he needs to stop thinking his mother is trying to poison him and just eat what is placed in front of him without apprehension.
I could eat these all the time. They are probably my favorite muffin ever - well, maybe tied with blueberry. Do not skip the glaze. I actually prefer adding the glaze while the muffins are warm. I poke holes in the warm muffins with a toothpick and then slowly spoon the glaze over so it seeps into the muffin. Dorie says to frost them after they are cooled, but I love the glaze so much that I really want that sugary flavor to soak into the rest of the cake.
Citrus Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted barely from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Note: You can completely omit the orange zest and just make Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Of course, you probably didn't need me to tell you that!
For the Muffins:
2/3 cup white sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream (full fat only!)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the Citrus Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or a mix of lemon and orange juice)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line all 12 molds of a standard muffin pan with muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and citrus zest together with your fingertips until the sugar becomes moist and you can really smell the citrus oils being released (heavenly!!). Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and melted butter together until well blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir everything together just until blended. A few lumps are fine - be careful not to overmix!
Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are barely golden and a toothpick comes out clean with the exception of a few moist crumbs. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing the muffins from the pan. Let cool completely.
While the muffins cool, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add more powdered sugar if you want a thicker icing; add more juice if you want to thin the icing out. Drizzle over the muffins. Use ALL the glaze!
Friday, February 20, 2015
We have been living in Antartica for the past week. The temperatures have been well below zero and the wind chill was -30 today. Negative thirty degrees! It felt every bit that chilly when I was dragging the kids in and out of the grocery store today because of course neither the fridge nor the pantry was stocked. It felt like my skin was being pelted with little nails as the cruel breeze blew completely through my warm winter coat. Emma would just clutch onto me as tight as she could while screaming: "No blowing! No blowing! AHHHHHH!" But we are about a month away from the first day of spring. March is the month of hope in the promise of warmer months ahead.
In the meantime, soups, stews, and casseroles are still the best thing to be eating when the weather is so brutally chilly. If you are anything like my husband, you cannot finish off a bowl of soup without a generous helping of warm bread slathered with butter for dipping. Paul's favorite meals are probably the same ones he will be served in a nursing home someday - tomato soup and bread, chicken soup and bread, potato soup and bread, clam chowder and bread, and (if he's feeling really crazy) salisbury steak so soft and mushy you can practically get by without chewing and...you guessed it....bread.
I have a million different bread and roll recipes, but I keep coming back to this for both its simplicity and because Paul has declared them the best rolls in the world. Of course, he would dip white sandwich bread in his soup if I did not have a fresh batch of rolls on hand, so maybe that's not the highest praise. But, I agree that these are pretty awesome. They are easy to throw together, fun to shape, and even more fun to eat. The kids are always stealing warm rolls off the tray as the batch cools down which simultaneously irritates and delights me. Maybe it only irritates me when they try to feed one to the cat who sniffs at it fastidiously before sauntering over to his usual spot on the carpet to resume grooming his backside.
We like these served with salted butter or honey butter. They are pretty fantastic plain too!
Lion House Rolls
from Mel's Kitchen Café
2 tablespoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
5-6 cups flour (this is never measured - just add enough to form a soft dough)
If using active dry yeast, combine the yeast and water in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes to proof. If using instant yeast, there is no need to proof. Simply add the yeast and water together with the other ingredients as detailed below in the bowl of a standing mixer and proceed with the recipe.
Add the sugar, butter, salt, dry milk, 2 cups of flour, and egg. Using the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, beat until well combined - about 1-2 minutes. Add enough flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the dough and "ball up" on the paddle attachment. At this point, stop the mixer and scrape the dough off the paddle and replace it with the dough hook. Continue to knead the dough while adding more flour (about 2 tablespoons at a time) until a soft, slightly tacky dough forms. This might take a while, so be patient. Allow the mixer to knead the dough about 5- 10 minutes or until it feels soft, supple, and springs back when squeezed. Dump the dough onto the counter, knead it briefly into a large, tight ball and then place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
Once the dough has doubled, separate it into two portions. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll into an approximate rectangle about 11x14 inches. Brush the top generously with melted butter and then, using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise. Then, slice the dough into 5-6 strips across so you end up with 10-12 small rectangles in total. Roll each rectangle up like a snail and then place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the roll resting on it's open edge. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
Cover the rolls tightly with plastic and allow to rise until doubled - about another 45-60 minutes. As the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When ready to bake, remove the plastic and bake one pan at a time for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. You could also slather the warm rolls in additional melted butter if you're feeling super indulgent.
Try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.
Note: If you need help visualizing the shaping process, Mel has a photo tutorial on her website.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The greatest gifts I received after delivering both Matthew and Emma were the outpouring of meals and snacks from friends and family to help sustain us throughout the first couple weeks as we adjusted to life with a newborn. Every time a meal was brought over, it was such an incredible blessing because it freed us up to completely focus our energy on welcoming the new baby into our family instead of trying to figure out what to make for dinner. It was also fun to try out some yummy recipes that were staples in the households of our friends! Because I appreciated this gesture so much, whenever one of my friends has a new baby I try my best to offer them the same courtesy with a "meal tray" full of goodies.
I have made a take-in meal quite a few times and normally end up doing a variation on the same meal both because it is easy for me to transport and a pretty good crowd-pleaser. I try to pack everything in a tight box so I can simply hand it off to the family once I arrive. I also always use disposable trays and plates so the poor new mother does not have to figure out when to return my plates! That helps a lot. My take-in meals always consist of:
1) A hearty main dish - normally a casserole of some sort. I have been making Baked Spaghetti the last few times because it is both easy and incredibly delicious.
2) A salad of some sort - I have made an Antipasto Salad, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Caesar Salad, etc. depending on the tastes of the individuals receiving the meal.
3) Some type of bread - rolls, French bread, garlic bread, whatever! Everyone loves bread!
4) Some type of dessert - usually something super portable and freezable in case the family would rather save them for later. Brownies, cookies, fruit bars, muffins, quick breads, or slab pie are all great options. Recently, I have been opting more for muffins or a quick bread because of their versatility: they can be used as a dessert, snack, or sweet breakfast treat!
5) A gift for the newborn (optional) - I like to especially throw in a gift for first-time parents or if the newborn is a different sex than the other children in the household.
|My suddenly shy little sous chef during the making of our most recent take-in meal.|
The best part about bringing a meal to families with new babies? Getting a first peek at the adorable new baby. The photos in this post are from a meal I brought to friends who adopted their second child a couple weeks ago. They had been waiting for that second baby for a long time and they suddenly received a call one morning and brought home their daughter that same evening! And she is the tiniest, most petite, beautiful baby I have ever seen!! She is such a lucky little girl to be part of that family - she will be loved and treasured her entire life by her mommy, daddy, and big brother.
Do you have a favorite meal you like to cook for families with new babies? I'm posting the recipe below for the Baked Spaghetti casserole because it is truly a favorite family recipe and one that I make so often that I really should share it. It's nothing fancy - just really good comfort food! Since I have a sensitivity to lactose, I normally make the casserole with Greek yogurt cream cheese instead of regular and it is every bit as wonderful and doesn't upset my stomach quite as much as the regular cream cheese. I also like to top the casserole with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese - but really whatever you have on hand will probably be delicious!
This post is linking up for Tuesday Talk. Head on over to Sweet Little Ones to check out all the other posts!
Baked Creamy Spaghetti
adapted from Plain Chicken
1 pound hot or sweet Italian Sausage
12 ounces spaghetti noodles
1 28-ounce jar pasta sauce (I love using a savory sauce like Parmesan Romano)
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded cheese (Mozzarella, Parmesan, or a mixture) - more if you're into cheese!
Remove the Italian sausage from the casing and cook in a pot over medium heat until done being sure to break the sausage apart into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain the sausage and then return it to the pot. Add the pasta sauce and stir to combine. Cover and keep warm over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the spaghetti noodles. Let cook until al dente according to the package directions.
While the noodles cook, place the cream cheese, garlic cloves, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl and mix as best you can to combine. When ready, drain the pasta noodles reserving a bit of the pasta water. Immediately pour the hot noodles over the cream cheese and begin stirring and tossing to completely coat the pasta with the cream cheese mixture. If you need to, add a bit of the pasta cooking liquid to facilitate the process. Just do the best you can to distribute the cream cheese evenly.
In a 13x9 pan, pour a thin layer of the meat sauce, making sure that the bottom is covered. Add the noodles and spread evenly to the edges of the pan. Pour the remainder of the meat sauce over the top and top with the shredded cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving (we almost never do - Paul is usually picking at it before it even leaves the oven). Serve!
Make Ahead Note: The casserole can be prepared through assembly, allowed to cool, and then refrigerated until ready to bake. Add an extra 15-20 minutes to the baking time if cooking straight from the refrigerator and keep it covered with foil for the first 20 minutes or so.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
As I detailed in an earlier post, Valentine's Day is a special anniversary for me and Paul. We normally like to spend the evening together with some sort of special date - and we've done everything from a fancy dinner out, takeout and a romantic comedy, to cooking a fun meal together after the kids have been put to bed. Whatever our plans may be - we always enjoy one another's company reminiscing and laughing. Except for perhaps that Valentine's Day two years ago where everyone had the stomach flu. That was gross.
While we reserve the evenings for romance, the morning and day are spent with our other two Valentines - the kids! The night before, Paul and I decorate the table to make it look all pink and obnoxious in honor of "love day" (as Matthew calls it). We then set out valentines at each place setting - the little Ninja Turtle valentines that Matthew made, a couple small gifts for the kids, a love note from me to Paul, and a love note from Paul to me. Then, I love to cook a special breakfast for the family as soon as we get up. I am crazy and like to personalize the dishes to suit the taste preferences of each member of the family: Cinnamon French Toast for Matthew, Fruit and Yogurt Smoothies for Emma, and Eggs Benedict for Paul. Everyone tries a little of everything and it's a pretty darn delicious meal!
After breakfast, the kids opened their valentine's gifts. Emma received a Winnie-the-Pooh wooden puzzle. She's been starting to get into puzzles because she watches Matthew put them together all the time. She loved it. Pardon the shirtless child in the pictures. She was all sticky and gross after breakfast so we just let her run around half naked.
Matthew received (and I warn you that this sounds very lame) a Ninja Turtle Pez dispenser. Matthew has been eyeing the Pez dispensers at our grocery store for over two months, especially the Michelangelo version. Since he has never had Pez and does not yet realize that Pez is the worst tasting candy on the face of the earth, I figured he would love to receive the desired Michelangelo dispenser and plenty of refills for Valentine's Day. He loved it. We are limiting him to three packs of Pez per day (which is excessive in and of itself) and even after gobbling the candy down, we've found him playing with his dispenser as if it were actually a super-cool, fun, innovative toy. So, I think he's happy!
Other than that, we did some exercise as a family, gave the kids a bath, built a couple puzzles, and watched the blizzard that has been dumping snow on us since the wee hours of this morning. It's really nice to just enjoy spending time together doing nothing really too spectacular except enjoying one another. This holiday is a great reminder to us that we should be showing those close to us how much we care for them on a daily basis and not just one day out of the year.
Paul and I are looking forward to going on a special date tonight and the kids are really, really looking forward to spending time with the babysitter!!
How did you spend YOUR Valentine's Day?
Thursday, February 12, 2015
A perfect day according to Emma would be filled with two activities: taking baths and eating. When Emma wakes up in the morning, the first thing she asks for is a bowl of cereal. After she has sufficiently stuffed herself (she normally has a couple bowlfuls and a banana), she then declares her desire to bathe. However, I know better than to stick Miss Bubbles into the tub before 6pm when my husband is not around to reinforce me when it comes time to remove her from the bath water. Emma would stay in the bath all day if I let her. When I have finally had enough of watching her splash, play, drink bathwater, and practice her "swimming", I have to brace myself for the fight that normally ensues when I try to get her out. She screams, she kicks, she wails bloody murder, and her newly cleaned, naked, wet, chunky body is so slippery and difficult to hold onto that I fear dropping her onto the bathroom tile. Not only that, when I do finally wrestle her into the room to dress her, she continues her fight and I practically have to sit on her arms and legs to pin them down so I can put her diaper and clothes back on. It's a nightmare. This is why Emma only bathes when Paul is home. Then, there are two of us to wrestle with her afterwards.
Matthew, on the other hand, normally protests the bath. We practically have to threaten him with promises of "no bedtime story" or "no art supplies for a week" before he finally (and sulkily) will bathe. Once he's in, however, we have a hard time kicking him out too. He's normally easier to evict than Emma - we just drain the bathwater after Emma has been taken out and before long he gets too cold to stay put. The same trick does not work on Emma because, unlike Matthew, she has figured out how to stop the water from draining.
As mentioned above, in addition to her fastidious bathing habits, Emma would also prefer to spend the majority of her waking hours eating. She eats large, prolonged meals where she remains happily in her high chair chewing away on whatever I have placed in front of her. However, it just seems like she never actually gets full! I much prefer her eating habits to Matthew who barely eats enough to sustain a sparrow some days. Lately, he has been refusing breakfast in the mornings. What is wrong with this child?
Earlier in the year, we tried a sample of this Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Oranges at Wegmans. The chefs at Wegmans are fantastic with trying to teach their clientele how to cook in new, exciting ways and experiment with different flavor combinations they might not yet have had the opportunity to experience! On this particular day, they were doing a cooking demo on pork shoulder and trying to showcase various ways it could be prepared other than your typical BBQ pulled pork. We sampled this recipe and LOVED it. So savory from garlic and pork with a mild sweetness from the oranges and fennel. Paul was especially enamored with it! We got the recipe from the chef and have had the pleasure of enjoying it at home for dinner!
|This is what the roast typically looks like after coming out of the oven.|
When we make it at home, the only thing we do differently is make a gravy out of the drippings. I like my sauces thick, so serving just the "jus" didn't cut it for me. To make the gravy, we defatted the drippings and then made a simple roux using equal parts butter and flour. Once golden and bubbly, we whisk in the defatted pan juices along with a touch of chicken broth and let the gravy bubble for a bit until it is thickened. Off heat, season to taste with salt and pepper. Fabulous.
This is great served with roasted root vegetables (think carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips) or a comforting bowls of mashed potatoes with peas! Emma definitely approves of this meal as the perfect ending to a perfect food-filled, bath-laced day!
|Then again, watching Curious George is pretty high up there too!|
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Oranges
from Wegmans Menu Magazine, Winter 2011
3 Yellow Onions, halved, peeled and sliced thinly
2 Naval Oranges, with the peel on, sliced thinly
1 (7-10 pound) Pork Shoulder (mine are always a bit smaller)
1 Tablespoon Fennel Seed
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
The day before you want to serve, combine the onion and orange slices in the bottom of a roasting pan. Score the marbled side of the pork shoulder by cutting 3/4 inch deep marks with a very sharp knife. You should make a "diamond pattern." Do the best you can. The point is to pierce the fat layer so that the rub will penetrate the deeper into the pork.
Season the pork on both sides generously with salt and pepper. Then, rub the fennel seeds and garlic all over the surface of the pork. Place the pork, fat side up, on top of the oranges and onions in the roasting pan. Cover the entire pan tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the roast. Cover the roasting pan tightly with a layer of foil and place in the oven. Roast for 7-8 hours or until very tender.
Remove the roast from the oven, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and cover with foil. Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, ladle the hot juices that have collected at the bottom of the roasting pan into a fat separator. Reserve the defatted juices (the au jus!) to serve with the pork. You may also reserve the onions for serving alongside the pork. Alternatively, you can make a gravy out of the pan drippings if desired.
Serve pieces of the pork alongside some mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or turnips with a generous splash of the au jus (or gravy) over the top!