Sunday, May 3, 2020

Cooking for Kids during COVID-19: Skillet Chicken Enchiladas




Hey there, Lusaka Daily Boosters, and welcome to all my regular readers, too. So glad you're here. 

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I'd share a family-friendly recipe with you that'll bring a little Fiesta into your house. (Printable recipe card is below, with pics of the "process" below!)

This one was a HUGE hit with the kiddos, and is a great use of pantry products, as well as using only ONE POT! (Even if you make your enchilada sauce yourself!) Hope you enjoy it and let me know how it goes!

If you want more info on my Zanahorias en Escabeche (Pickled Carrots), head on over to my Instagram Account @ChefAlaina!

Skillet Chicken Enchiladas

Skillet Chicken Enchiladas

Yield: 4-6
Author:
Prep time: Cook time: Total time:
Sometimes, you just need some TexMex amiright?!?! But man, it’s not really all that fun to sit there rolling enchiladas, making it “just so”, spending HOURS in the kitchen…blegh. Let’s make this easier. Oh, but still flavorful and yummy!! Enter skillet enchiladas. Let’s do this. And your way! (i.e., with what’s in the fridge and pantry already--look in the "notes" section for substitution guidelines.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced/pressed (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chile powder (for medium spice; use less or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin OR, in place of dried herbs/spices, use 1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning mix
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 lb raw chicken breast, cut into thin strips OR 2 Cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 can Enchilada Sauce OR 1 Cup homemade enchilada sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained OR 1 Cup prepared salsa
  • 1 can Black Beans, drained (optional)
  • 1 small can diced chiles (optional--not needed if using salsa)
  • 2 large (8"+) or 4 small (6"-) tortillas, flour or corn, chopped into the size of tortilla chips
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, or a mix
Garnish Ideas
  • Fresh chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped Raw Onion or Scallions (Green Onions)
  • Fresh Tomatoes, small-diced
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado or Guacamole
  • Crispy Tortilla Strips (crumbled)
  • Fresh or Canned Chiles, chopped
  • Black Olives
  • Lime
  • Tahini

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil, then add chopped onion and garlic until tender and aromatic, about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Add seasonings (herbs/spices or Taco Seasoning) to skillet and stir, about 30 seconds.
  4. Increase heat slightly, season chicken strips lightly with salt and pepper and add to your skillet. Cook until no longer pink on the outside. (Chicken doesn't have to be cooked all the way through at this point.) If using pre-cooked chicken, simply add to skillet and toss to coat with seasonings before proceeding.
  5. Pour Enchilada Sauce into your skillet, along with canned tomatoes (drained) OR salsa and mix well. 
  6. Add in black beans and can of mild chiles, if using. 
  7. If sauce is too thick, add 2 Tbsp of water. Taste your sauce and add salt or pepper if you like.
  8. Add tortilla pieces to skillet and mix in with everything else. (If your skillet is not oven-safe, this is the point at which you would transfer everything to a baking dish.)
  9. Top your skillet or baking dish with shredded cheese.
  10. Put your skillet or baking dish in a 350F oven until your cheese is melty and your enchilada sauce is bubbly.
  11. Garnish with desired toppings and serve!

Notes:

Other Options for Meat/Vegetables: - Use ground beef or chicken (1 lb raw or 2 C cooked), follow instructions above. - Vegetarian Ideas: Sliced Mushrooms OR chopped Zucchini, add to cooked onion/garlic and seasonings, sautéing until tender and most liquid has evaporated. Cubed Butternut Squash OR Cubed Potatoes OR Cauliflower Florets, add to cooked onion/garlic and seasonings, stir well, then cover your skillet, turning down the heat a little, and allow to steam until veg is tender, stirring occasionally.

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I made my own enchilada sauce, then used the
same pot for my enchiladas. Saute onion and
garlic in olive oil.

After sauteeing your onions and garlic, add in
your spices, slice your chicken breasts, and
season with salt and pepper before 
adding to skillet.

Cook your chicken until just cooked on the outside.

Add in your enchilada sauce, tomatoes, chiles,
and black beans.

After adding in your chopped tortillas and
stirring, top with cheese and pop in the oven
for about 10 min at 350F.
Your finished product, after melting in the oven and
adding all the delicious toppings!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Cooking for Kids during COVID-19: Homemade Pierogies

This is my second post in my series "Cooking for Kids during COVID-19", but what I really should have called the series is "Cooking WITH Kids" because that's pretty much my goal here. Get those kiddos in the kitchen, teach 'em all about math and other important life skills, and have some fun times together. I pray these are the memories younger kids will bring out of this time...extra time with moms and dads, getting to eat sugary cereal (my kids), and a sense of having pulled together as a family.

On a more practical note, I have also found that in my family, with my pickier eater (my daughter), she has always been more eager to eat things if she knows exactly what's in them (i.e. saw the raw ingredients before transformation), and especially if she helped cook it. I hope this works for you, too! I will also apologize that both recipes I have posted are sort of "projects", but please bear with me. I'll post some shorter/easier recipes in the near future. :)

 For today, let's dive into this fun project...Polish Pierogies! As you know, every culture has their own version of a "dumpling" of sorts, and I think this is one of the easiest ones to make at home with on-hand ingredients. Plus you add potatoes, sauerkraut, bacon, and caramelized onions?!? Heaven!!!

Don't be deterred by the addition of sauerkraut...first, I include a recipe for "quick" sauerkraut below in the case you don't have any in the cupboard, but you could also use sauteed cabbage or different shredded/sauteed vegetable, shredded cheddar cheese, or nothing extra at all. And the sauerkraut taste is not strong in the finished product, so it shouldn't "offend" the kiddos. Alternatively, there are countless other recipes on the web for various pierogi fillings...mushrooms, meat, even fruit, so you can get creative!
I can't stop looking at these pictures of my daughter helping me make these pierogies...what joy it brings me to see her in the kitchen, especially because she WANTS to be there AND we didn't even fight! :) Hope you enjoy the time with your kiddos and let me know how they turned out!
Yield: About 36 pierogies, 6-8 servings
Author:
Potato and Sauerkraut Pierogies with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

Potato and Sauerkraut Pierogies with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

This traditional Polish specialty is easier to make than you think, and a real family pleaser! Get the kids in the kitchen to help you roll and stuff, then enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor!

Ingredients:

Quick Sauerkraut (double or quadruple this recipe if you want some leftover for hot dog topping or a side dish!)
  • 1/4 head green cabbage (about 3/4 lbs), outer leaves removed, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt, like kosher salt
Pierogi Filling
  • 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 tsp table salt, plus extra for boiling
  • 1 1/4 C sauerkraut, homemade or store-bought, drained and chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Pierogi Dough
  • 2 1/2 C (13 3/4 oz) bread flour [OR 12 1/2 oz AP Flour]
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water [for egg wash to seal pierogis]
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Topping
  • 1/2 lb bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • [If you prefer to make this recipe vegetarian, omit bacon and use 4 Tbsp butter instead of the bacon and its rendered fat, and add 1/2 tsp salt with onions.]

Instructions:

How to cook Potato and Sauerkraut Pierogies with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

Quick Sauerkraut
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cabbage, vinegar, salt, and 3/4 C water. 
  2. Cover and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 30-35 minutes. (If bottom of pan starts to brown, add 2 Tbsp water.)
  3. To store, refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Filling
  1. Combine potatoes and 1 Tbsp salt in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. 
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and cook at vigorous simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander. 
  3. While still hot, combine potatoes, sauerkraut, butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in bowl of stand mixer. 
  4. Fit mixer with paddle and mix on medium speed until potatoes are smooth and all ingredients are fully combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Transfer filling to a flat dish and refrigerate until fully chilled, about 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Dough
  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt together in clean bowl of stand mixer. Add sour cream and egg and yolk.
  2. Fit mixer with dough hook and knead on medium-high speed for 8  minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Transfer dough to floured bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Assembly
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. 
  2. Roll dough onto a lightly floured counter until about 1/8" thick. (Be sure not to use too much flour as pierogi won't seal otherwise.)  IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE ROLLING OUT YOUR DOUGH, let it rest on the countertop for 5-10 minutes, then come back to it. After a good rest, it will be less likely to "bounce back".
  3. Using a 3" biscuit cutter, cut as many circles as you can from your dough.
  4. Place 1 Tbsp chilled potato filling into the center of each dough round. 
  5. Using your finger, rub egg wash over half of the circle, then fold dough over the filling to create half-moon shapes and pinch edges firmly to seal. Transfer to prepared sheet.
  6. Gather dough scraps and re-roll, cutting more circles and repeat filling instructions, until all dough is used.
  7. Cover pierogi with plastic and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 3 hours. [Alternatively, pierogis can be frozen at this point in a single layer on a sheet tray. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to a month. Boil from frozen according to instructions below, adding about 2 minutes to boiling time.]
Topping
  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain, leaving 4 Tbsp bacon fat in the pan. (Drain off any extra. If you don't have 4 Tbsp, add butter.)
  3. Add chopped onion to pan and decrease heat slightly. Cook onion, scraping bottom of pan to release caramelized bits often, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. (If the bottom of your pan starts to turn dark, reduce heat. If you can't scrape up all of the caramelized bits, add just a splash of water which will help to loosen them.)
  4. Once onions are caramelized, add bacon back to pan and keep warm over low heat.
Cook Pierogi
  1. Bring 4 qts water to boil in a large pot. 
  2. Add 1 Tbsp salt and half of pierogi to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Using spider or slotted spoon, remove pierogi from water and transfer to skillet with caramelized onion.
  4. Return water to a boil and cook remaining pierogi, transferring to skillet once cooked.
  5. Add 2 Tbsp cooking water to pierogi in skillet, increase heat to medium low, and stir gently, adhering bacon/onion mixture to pierogi. Transfer to platter and serve.
Did you make this recipe?
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Friday, April 3, 2020

The Definitive Slow-Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken Recipe, plus Homemade Ranch Dressing

My husband hates sauce. Yep, pretty much most sauces. He'd rather have dry meat than delicious gravy. Plain chicken than roasted barbecue wonderfulness. I don't know! Who doesn't like gravy?! He's weird! I can't explain it. And it makes me sad, particularly since I can make him any sauce his heart could desire, and it would probably be darn good. But alas, he is who he is. (He says it has something to do with texture, but still....wha?!?!)

There is one sauce, though, that he absolutely loves, and it's buffalo sauce. This is no gourmet sauce, obviously, but he loves it. So it gives me a thrill to make him something with it. (Oh, but he doesn't like chicken wings...that's another story. YES, I'm still married to him! Back to buffalo...) When we were in Iraq, they used to serve these highly processed shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches at the dining facility, and they were his absolute favorite thing served there. When you're in a situation like that, you've got to find comfort and peace in something---and as far as it came to food, these chicken sandwiches were it for him. I think all of you can probably relate to that these days, as you're in your kitchen whipping up family favorites while stuck at home isolated from COVID19.
His favorite buffalo sauce

Since my husband doesn't have a lot of food-related memories that bring him comfort (whereas I have about 3 million...), I always come back to Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. He is a wonderfully supportive husband who provides useful feedback on every dish I make and enthusiastically eats whatever I cook (even if he doesn't like it, frankly), but not very much makes him go "I'm excited about dinner," other than these sandwiches. So of course, they were on the top of my list of things to make with the chicken breasts I had in the freezer.

Now, as you may already be thinking, there are literally COUNTLESS recipes for Shredded Buffalo Chicken on the internet. Why in the world would I bother publishing another one? I didn't plan to...I figured I'd just follow one of the countless examples out there and call it a day. But one after the other disappointed me...some were literally just buffalo sauce and chicken. Uh, no...at the very least I knew you needed to add some butter in there--that's a restaurant trick. They ALWAYS mix their buffalo sauce with butter. Don't leave it out! Some of them suggested adding in spices...I liked that idea, so I decided to incorporate it. But practically every single one suggested you cook the chicken for 7 or 8 hours on low in the slow cooker. This, obviously, is a problem........

PLEASE, I beg of you, NEVER TRUST a recipe that has you cooking chicken parts (especially breasts) in the slow cooker for anything longer than 3 or 4 hours on low. Even dark meat doesn't need that long to cook. Sometimes you only need 2 hours--this is why you should own a food thermometer and check the internal temp of chicken for doneness. (Only if you're cooking a whole chicken slowly would you EVER need nearly that much time.) And if a recipe suggests the high setting of a slow cooker for chicken, run away. This also applies for LEAN cuts of pork (like the chops, even on the bone).

Here's the skinny:
"Low and slow" is another word for Braising, which is typically what a slow-cooker is used for. Braising (which you'll learn if you follow the link to my other blog post), is typically used for cooking TOUGH (inexpensive), FATTY cuts of meat. Cooking the meat at a low temperature for a long time allows all the collagen and the fat to break down into gelatin, which gives braised meats their luscious, tender texture and makes them so irresistibly flavorful. What do chicken parts and lean cuts of pork NOT have???? Collagen and fat. For that reason, cooking them for a long time, even at a low temperature, just dries them out. If you cook chicken breasts for 8 hours, all you'll end up with is chalk. There. I've said my piece.


Frank's "Heat Index"
So here's my recipe for Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken. When I make this, I usually serve it on buns as sandwiches the first night. With the leftovers, I'll either make Buffalo Chicken Dip (which is just the chicken mixed with a whole mess of cheese served with tortilla chips....yummmmmm...yeah, my husband won't eat that because, cream cheese) OR (something he will eat) hearty salads with lots of vegetables--especially tomatoes, carrots, celery, and red onion--and cold or room temperature Buffalo Chicken, with ranch or bleu cheese dressing. You could also shred some carrot, mix it up with the leftover chicken, and use it as fried Egg Roll filling, dipping in ranch or bleu cheese. Heaven!

Hope you enjoy this recipe...I will say this one might be a bit spicy for the kiddos, depending on their comfort level. Sometimes serving it with ranch or bleu cheese dressing on the sandwich is sufficient to tone down the spice, along with a glass of milk. But if that's not their cup of tea, you can always just cook chicken breasts with barbecue sauce in the slow cooker and get the same result. But not longer than three hours! :)


Slow Cooker Buffalo Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Buffalo Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Yield: 6-8 sandwiches
Author:
Prep time: Cook time: Total time:
This is the definitive recipe for tender, spicy buffalo shredded chicken...perfect for sandwiches topped with bleu cheese or homemade ranch dressing (recipe included here!), and scroll to the bottom for ideas for leftovers!

Ingredients:

Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix (makes a small jar; amounts needed for recipe indicated below)
  • 5 Tbsp dried minced onions
  • 7 tsp parsley flakes
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Homemade Ranch Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp ranch dressing seasoning mix
  • 1 C mayonnaise
  • 1 C buttermilk, sour cream, or plain yogurt
Buffalo Shredded Chicken
  • 2 lb (900g) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 Tbsp ranch dressing seasoning mix
  • 1-12oz bottle buffalo wing sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot (recipe for homemade version found here), divided
  • 1/4 C (2 oz/56g) butter
  • 6 hamburger or hoagie rolls

Instructions:

How to cook Slow Cooker Buffalo Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Ranch Dressing
  1. Stir all Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix ingredients together in bowl. Combine ingredients for salad dressing in a large jar and shake well or mix briefly with immersion blender. Refrigerate until ready to use; keeps for about a week.
  2. Set aside 3 Tbsp Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix for buffalo chicken, and store the remainder of the seasoning in an airtight container (such as a small jar) for another use.
  3. Be sure to label your container with rations for making dressing or dip! For ranch dressing: 2 Tbsp seasoning + 1 C Mayonnaise + 1 C Buttermilk/Sour Cream/Plain Yogurt. For ranch dip: 2 Tbsp seasoning + 2 C Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt.
Buffalo Shredded Chicken
  1. In slow cooker, layer raw chicken breasts and 3 Tbsp Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix. Pour 3/4 of the jar (9oz) of buffalo sauce over chicken breasts, reserving 1/4 jar. (3oz)  Cut butter into four pieces and scatter over sauce.
  2. Cook on low for about 3 hours, stirring once or twice, until chicken is cooked through (165F internally). It is not advisable to cook the chicken longer as it will just lose moisture and get chalky. As soon as chicken is fully cooked, remove it from sauce to a cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle. Shred chicken breasts and put back into sauce, allowing it to warm back up and absorb some sauce. (If cooking chicken in advance, allow sauce to cool at the same time breasts are cooling. Combine chicken and sauce and refrigerate until ready to serve, heating up gently on the stovetop.)
  3. Before serving, add remaining 1/4 jar of sauce to chicken if desired, or just serve alongside sandwiches.  Pile buffalo chicken onto buns, topped with Ranch Dressing.
  4. **This recipe can also be made completely on the stove top! Simply combine ingredients as indicated above over med-high heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 30-40 min, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Cool and shred chicken as indicated above, but give shredded chicken and sauce the chance to "meld" for at least 15 minutes over very low heat before serving.**

Notes:

Don't forget these creative ways of using your leftovers! - Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip: Mix 1 1/2 C buffalo shredded chicken with 8 oz cream cheese (softened), 1/2 C ranch dressing, and 1 C shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese. Place in small baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2-1 C more shredded cheese. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted and top is starting to brown. - Loaded Buffalo Chicken Salads: Make a hearty salad with greens, shredded carrots, celery, cucumber, red onion, and tomatoes. Spoon Buffalo Shredded Chicken onto top middle of salad and dress with Ranch Dressing, garnishing with croutons and cheddar cheese if desired. - Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls: Shred one large carrot and mix with about 2 C cold Buffalo Shredded Chicken. Fill 8 eggroll or springroll wrappers with about 1/4 C mixture each and fry in canola oil at 350F for about 3 minutes each, turning to fry all sides. Drain and cool slightly on paper towels, then serve with Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @chefalaina on instagram and hashtag it #theglobalfork
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Cooking for Kids during COVID-19: Beef and Cabbage Hand Pies


Hey there everyone...coming to you from Zambia during COVID-19 lockdown.  
This is a tough time for us all, and this is a time to take the most important things in life seriously: our health, our families, how we spend our time...this disease has been a reminder that nothing in life is certain, so we better make our time count! 

I hope I will have time throughout this period--while I'm not able to cook for my catering clients--to reach out to you more through this blog. I have never posted as much as I would like; my excuse being life and work and kids. Because of this, I hopped over to Instagram (find me @ChefAlaina on IG) where I can post "quick" snapshots of what's coming out of The Global Fork kitchen and connect with you there. But here I can explain to you a bit more of what's going on over here, and let you get to know me better.

You probably know about me that that one of the ways I express myself is through food, and indeed it's one of the ways I show love. As my mom taught me to do and always says, "Dispense love through the kitchen..." I think this rings true with a lot of people, and why cooking--while wholly necessary--has also become an escape for people during this difficult period. And while many out there are trying their hand at baking bread for the first time, or testing themselves with difficult dishes they've never had time to try (which is great!), many of us are also trying to bring families together over food.  
And this means, of course, that we can't neglect the kiddos!

Those that cook often for the younger set know very well...the constant challenge is getting them to eat balanced meals. Not only are kids notoriously picky, but it seems like their preferences change daily...one day they like meat, one day they don't. All of a sudden you're getting them to eat vegetables, and in a week nothing green can touch their plate! I was trying to think of a technique and recipe that might help you guys overcome this, and I thought of one of my favorite little kiddos in the world, Micah, who LOVES Jamaican Beef Patties (which are actually spiced ground beef, tucked into turmeric-flavored dough). Now that sort of dish may not be up every kid's alley, but it reminded me of this simply fact:  
Kids LOVE hand pies! And the best thing about it is, if you have pre-made puff pastry or are able to get one pastry recipe down, you can make any type of hand pie you like, even sweet versions! 

I LOVE that my daughter wanted to help!
She did an amazing job!

I took the lead for this recipe from a Cook's Country recipe for Bierocks...the recipe you see below is very close to the Cook's Country recipe, with just a few notes of my own and suggestions for your own substitutions.






My kids absolutely ate these up...you can tell from the pictures! I served them alongside simple roasted Brussels sprouts--another kid favorite! I'll admit that three out of the four of us also added a bit of mustard...oh man the acidity of the mustard paired with the richness of the filling was exactly what these needed!




Ground Beef and Cabbage Hand Pies

Ground Beef and Cabbage Hand Pies

Yield: 12 hand pies, approx. 6 svgs
Author:
Hand pies of all sorts are hugely popular with kiddos--and for good reason! Delicious filling surrounded by soft, flavorful dough is super enticing and also fun to eat.

Ingredients:

Filling
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • salt/pepper
  • up to 3 Tbsp of your favorite salt-free seasoning mix
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, shredded (about 4 Cups)
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 8 oz (2 C) shredded cheddar or gouda cheese
Dough
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C water
  • 6 Tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 Cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar
  • 3 1/2 - 3 3/4 C (17 1/2 - 18 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Egg Wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Instructions:

How to cook Ground Beef and Cabbage Hand Pies

For the Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 200F; turn oven off once it reaches temperature.
  2. Grease a large bowl. 
  3. Combine milk, water, butter, and sugar in a 2 C measuring cup.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix 3 1/2 C of the flour, yeast, and salt on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, slowly add milk mixture and single beaten egg until incorporated and dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and continue to mix until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. If after 4 minutes the dough still looks wet and sticky, add 1 Tbsp more flour at a time until the dough clears sides of bowl. (It's ok if it still sticks to the bottom.) Transfer dough to greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in still-warm oven (with hot pads under bowl and door cracked) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For the Filling
  1. While the dough is rising, make your filling.
  2. Heat 2 tsp oil in Dutch oven over med-high heat until just smoking. Add beef plus salt and pepper to taste, and/or 1 Tbsp your favorite salt-free seasoning mix. Break up pieces with a spoon and cooking until liquid is mostly evaporated and meat begins to sizzle, 10-15 minutes. Drain meat in colander and set aside.
  3. Add 2 more tsp of oil to empty Dutch oven and heat over med-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in drained beef, cabbage, and chicken broth. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, stir, and add 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce. Taste the mixture, adding 1-2 more Tbsp seasoning mix, if desired, and/or more salt/pepper. Continue to cook uncovered until liquid is completely evaporated and the mixture begins to sizzle, 5-7 more minutes. 
  4. Transfer cooked mixture to bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally, until no longer piping hot, about 15 minutes. Stir in shredded cheese and continue to cool. (Once room temp, can be transferred to refrigerator until ready to assemble hand pies.)
Assemble and Bake:
  1. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper or Silpat liners. Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter and divide into 12 equal (2 3/4 oz) portions using a knife or bench scraper. Form dough pieces into balls, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest 5 minutes.
  2. Working with 1 ball at a time, roll out into 5 1/2" rounds with a rolling pin. Transfer 1/2 C (3 oz) of filling to center of round, and use hands to compact filling. Stretch the edges of the dough up over the filling and pinch/twist together to form a bun. Arrange 6 hand pies, seam side down, on each prepared sheet tray, about 2" apart. Cover again and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. While rising,  adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375F.
  3. Brush hand pies with egg wash and bake both trays at once, 22 to 25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets half way through baking. Hand pies should be a lovely golden brown. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving, or serve at room temperature.

Notes:

This recipe can absolutely be modified to suit your family's needs--or what's in your refrigerator! Mince your chosen protein and vegetables and saute them with your chosen seasoning--just be sure that you don't have a lot of liquid left in your mixture as this will affect the end product. If using vegetables with high water content like summer squashes, chop them fine and saute until browned with little liquid left.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @chefalaina on instagram and hashtag it #theglobalfork
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Monday, December 30, 2019

Slow Cooker Pork and Mushroom Risotto - Except don't use your slow cooker!

Ah risotto, my love...what a perfect dish. Warm, comforting, delicious, and best of all versatile. Risotto is one of those dishes you can clean out the fridge and make...these are the types of dishes I love!

Now risotto is not generally considered a main course...Italians usually eat it as a “primo piatto” or first course (after the antipasti but before the main course, “segundo piatto”). Primo piatto usually consists of some type of pasta, soup, or polenta, and rarely contains meat. But I love preparing risotto as a main course, both with and without meat, because a) I don’t often find myself cooking multi-course Italian feasts (although I have!) and b) I always want to eat an entree’s worth of it!

For this dish I wanted to incorporate braised pork with mushrooms and creamy risotto...doesn’t that combo sound delicious? There are plenty of “pork risotto” recipes on the internet, but most of them call for quick-cooking cuts like pork loin or chops. I was envisioning silky, tender braised pork and how well that would pair with perfectly al dente but creamy rice. Oh, and I wanted to use my slow-cooker. More on that in a minute....

Mise en Place
Ok, so I knew I wanted the pork...the mushrooms...the Arborio rice...what else? Well, onion and garlic of course...lemon...parmigiano reggiano...but what to make it POP?! Parsley?? Sure...but that’s still sort of boring. OHHHH...gremolata!! And fried pancetta! Bam. I’ve got my dish. Oh and I remembered I’ve got this fantastic mix of dried mushrooms in the pantry...that sure would help the mushroom flavor stand up to the long cooking time of the pork and infuse that flavor into the meat....yes!!!

Now let's get to the part about NOT actually using the slow cooker. I thought, what could be easier than risotto in the slow cooker? It only takes about 90 minutes to cook, you don't have to do all that stirring that you normally do...what could go wrong? Turns out, a lot. My risotto dish came out flavorful, delicious, comforting...but the consistency? It was NOT right. It was clumpy. It was sticky. It was NOT true risotto, which should glide easily from your spoon to your plate like a wave: "all'onda" as the Italians say. So here's my advice to you...cook your risotto the traditional way, in a pot, and just commit yourself to 30-45 minutes of stirring. It's worth it. You'll love it. Your friends and family will call you their hero.

My pictures here show my slow cooker because that's how I made it, but the instructions below tell you how to make the risotto in a pot on the stove. I recommend using a heavy pot like a dutch oven, but any large pot (not a small sauce pot) will do.

Braise your Pork
Fork Tender, Silky, Delicious!

If you want to make this recipe a little less "hands-on", you can braise the pork in your slow cooker or in your dutch oven (in the oven) and make your gremolata during the day, and then cook the risotto in the evening. No need to wash the dutch oven in between...you can use it through all the steps and benefit from the fond and flavor you build up in it from start to finish.

ALSO!!! Scroll through to the bottom to see how you can use up your leftover Risotto!!!! BONUS!






Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Yield: 6-8
Author:
This recipe combines silky braised pork with mushroom risotto, topped with a citrusy gremolata and fried pancetta.

ingredients:

Braised Pork
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1/4 C mixed dried mushrooms
  • 1/4 C dry Italian white wine
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder/butt or blade steaks
  • 1 C chicken stock (homemade or no-sodium)
Gremolata
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 C flat-leaf parsley (loosely packed, a large handful)
Risotto
  • Reserved solids and liquid from braising pork (see instructions below)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms (aka baby bellas), sliced
  • 1 3/4 C Arborio rice (short grain, starchy)
  • 1/2 C dry Italian white wine
  • Chicken stock, amount depends on how much cooking liquid you have left over from pork (total should be 4 Cups)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
  • 100 g thinly sliced pancetta
  • Lemon, cut into eighths

instructions:

How to cook Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Braised Pork (using the slow cooker is okay for this part):
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a dutch oven, or in your slow cooker if it has a sauté function, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 more seconds.
  4. Stir in dried mushrooms well, then turn up heat and add wine. Simmer until wine is mostly evaporated.
  5. Season pork generously with salt and pepper (use less salt if your stock is already salted), and rub with paprika. Brown all sides of your pork, without crowding your pan if you have multiple pieces, about 3 minutes per side. Redistribute solids in pan and place pork on top, then pour chicken broth over everything.
  6. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover your pot and transfer to the oven (or transfer contents to your slow cooker, if using, and set to low). Cook pork until fork tender, 45 min - 1 hour in the oven or 3-4 hours in the slow cooker on low.
  7. Once pork is ready, remove meat from pot and shred with two forks. Set aside.
  8. Strain cooking liquid into fat separator or into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Set aside both the liquid and the solids, separately.
  9. DON'T BOTHER WASHING YOUR DUTCH OVEN! You can use it for making your risotto.
Gremolata
  1. Place all listed ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chopped and combined, but still chunky. You can also chop all of this together on a cutting board with a chef's knife for the same result.
Risotto
  1. In previously used pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced fresh mushrooms, stir initially, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring. After 3 minutes, stir mushrooms with wooden spoon and scrape up browned bits in the bottom of your pan. Continue cooking mushrooms until tender, about 2 minutes more. Add reserved solids from braising pork and stir to combine everything.
  2. Lower heat to medium. Add rice to pot and stir well to coat grains. Toast for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high again, and add wine. Bring wine to a boil and cook until almost completely evaporated.
  4. Combine pork cooking liquid with enough chicken stock to equal 4 Cups. Lower heat to medium again. Add 1/2-1 Cup of liquid at a time, stirring well to incorporate all ingredients and to release the starch from the rice. When most of the liquid is absorbed, add more liquid and stir stir stir to continue releasing starch and helping rice to absorb liquid. Continue this pattern until your rice is completely tender, starchy, and your liquid is absorbed. You will use 3-4 Cups of liquid total, but if more is needed, use more.
  5. Once your rice is tender, take off the heat and stir in most of the grated cheese (leaving a little to garnish with). Cover to keep warm.
  6. Fry your slices of pancetta in a small non-stick skillet until crunchy.
  7. Put risotto onto individual plates or a large serving platter (not a bowl!!!) and sprinkle with a bit of shredded cheese. Top with desired amount of gremolata, then crumble prosciutto on top. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
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Created using The Recipes Generator
Delicious braising liquid and more mushrooms that we'll use for our Risotto...

Beautiful, Simple, Fresh!

Toasting the Arborio Rice after sauteeing fresh mushrooms...
You can't forget the wine!



Combine braising liquid and stock = 4 Cups

Fried Pancetta seals the deal

Gorgeous and delicious!


So you've eaten your fabulous Italian meal and you have leftover Risotto...what to do?? Why, make Arancini of course! Arancini are rice balls coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Traditionally from Sicily, they were flavored with saffron (hence the name "little oranges" in Italian), but in your kitchen, anything goes. Arborio rice is best for arancini because it's already starchy and sticks well together.

Simply chop your leftover braised pork into fine pieces, and stir well into your leftover risotto. Add eggs (1 egg at a time) and breadcrumbs (1/3 Cup at a time) until your rice mixture sticks together well and can be formed into 1 1/2" balls. Coat rice balls with more breadcrumbs, then refrigerate for an hour. (You can refrigerate these for longer--up to overnight--but you'll need to roll them in more breadcrumbs before proceeding.)

Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt. Serve as an appetizer topped with some gremolata, or alongside a crispy salad as a meal.

Frying your Arancini

Another delicious family meal, or something to impress your friends!