Weeknight Chicken Thigh Piccata

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A chicken piccata so easy you can enjoy it on the busiest weeknight!

No great story about this one. Weeknight. Tired. Hungry. That about does it. I won’t lie, I probably eat way to much pork and beef.  So, it was an odd thing that I was craving chicken (umm…that NEVER happens).  Being that it’s hotter than Hades, I sifted through my brain’s taste buds for something yummy but not requiring a lot of cooking time and could be served over something easy, like salad. Piccata it was. Now the trick was to make a piccata without flour. I’ve seen folks just grill it up or pan fry it naked, but I rather like the faint little coating on the super-thin chicken. I drew on my experiments with flourless fried green tomatoes and snatched up the quinoa flour out of the cabinet.  It was perfect. Quick, juicy, tasty, and done in 15 minutes. That’s a weeknight meal I can get behind.  And it’s pan sauce serves as a salad dressing. Win, win!

This recipe is only for two thighs since I was flying solo…just multiply for how many thighs you have.  Feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts–I just prefer thighs since they don’t dry out like chicken breasts can.  If you feel you need more dressing, either make more sauce or just drizzle some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice over your greens. It’s that simple!

  • 2 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Oil for frying (I like a tab of butter and a TBSP of olive oil for 2 thighs)
  • 1/4 cup of quinoa flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium works best)
  • 1 TBSP dry sherry
  • 1 TBSP finely diced onion (red onion here)
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP minced capers, 1 tsp caper juice
  • Salad of choice (I like arugula and spring greens, a wee bit of onion, and tomato. Microgreens would be great!)
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Place your chicken of choice between parchment or freezer paper.

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Pound to beejezus with the flat side of a mallet until about 1/4 inch thick. Even thickness is key.

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Flattened chicken thighs aren’t as ‘pretty’ as boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I think their flavor is superior. Sure, trim the fat if you’d like…but it fries up nice and adds some flavor.

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Salt N’ Peppa (yes, you may sing it) your chicken friend.

Place your boneless, skinless meat in between parchment or freezer paper. Pound the bejeezus out of it with the smooth side of a meat mallet until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Dredge through quinoa flour and shake off excess. Quinoa is a seed rather than a grain like wheat, and contains no gluten. It’s parent plant is related to beetroot, spinach, and tumbleweeds (how’s that for a family tree?!). It’s not a gut irritant and is often called a ‘superfood’ due to an abundance of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Dredge through quinoa flour for a super light dusting.

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Fry up your chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Don’t overcook though…no one likes a rubber chicken. Unless you’re a terrible comedian.

Place in pan and cook until one side is golden brown. Flip and cook until other side begins to brown. Be sure chicken is cooked completely through (thighs may remain a bit pinkish but should not be translucent in any way).  Remove chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

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Do up your sauce…onion, sherry, stock, capers, and lemon. Reduce to thicken.

Add onion and sweat until translucent.  Add dry sherry to deglaze pan. Add stock and capers and simmer until reduced by about 1/2.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Swirl to combine.

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Mmmmm mmmm..that sure is some tasty chicken!

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Enjoy over salad with the sauce as dressing or place over zucchini noodles, pasta, or with side of your choice.

Slice chicken or place chicken thighs over salad and drizzle sauce over the top (I think slicing works better on salad). Dig in.  This dinner’s so quick you might even have time to clean the kitchen AND relax before heading off to bed!

Feel free to eat over pasta with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or serve over zucchini noodles if that’s your bag.  It’s good any way you can get it!

Growing Microgreens at Home–Update

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OK.  In my last microgreens growing post I said I was lazy.  And things worked out fine. I lied. A little. So, I had some packs of seeds from the Big Box Garden Store and decided I’d grow them as microgreens since their season was out here now that it’s Hotter than the Hinges of Hell.  I learned some lessons I thought I’d pass on..

1.  I am not a poor gardener…those seed packs DO NOT germinate.  I don’t know if it’s that they’re not organic or that they’ve been on the shelves too long. But I’ll never buy them again.

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Big Box Garden Store seeds at lower left, HandyPantry.com organic seeds at top right. Ummmm….yeah, there’s a difference.

2.  Some seeds you *might* have to soak. Beet seeds did squat for me no matter how much I loved them or wanted them to grow.

3.  Beware the millipede. If your soil is kept outside you may have critters that are determined to escape (come on now, I surely am not the only one that re-purposed the dog-chewn kiddie pool that blew into my yard like a gift from Trashistan Heaven as a garden soil holder!).  Maybe let the container with soil sit out for a day or just wear your best critter-stomping flip-flaps about the house for a bit after you bring it in.  Try not to think you’re Tippi Hedren in some twisted garden version of The Birds. Try. Try.

Will keep ya updated with new finds as I go! The top of the dryer looks like a lush jungle, so there should be loads to report soon!

Tea and Molasses-Brined, Pecan-Smoked Pork with Peach Salsa

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Too good! Tea and molasses brined, pecan smoked, Boston Butt with peach salsa. You never had it so good!

Whew! That’s a mouthful! I really can’t shove any more Southern things in one recipe.  Tea, Molasses, Pecan, Pork, and Peaches. Seriously….love! Love! Love! Now, some of you may think this is a big ol’ pain in the rear…brining overnight, long hours on the smoker. Well, first, it’s totally worth it.  Just trust me on this one.  And second, almost nothing makes me happier than tending a smoker all day (I’m so jealous of my buddy at work, Brad’s, awesome smoking ability that I have to practice, practice, practice!).  It’s a great excuse to kick back, have an adult bev-er-aghe, and relax.  Listen to the birds, hang out with Charlie-dog. Watch the grass grow. Whatever floats your boat. Now, some say smoking meat is an art.  And I guess the fact that every BBQer has their own process and recipe for brines and rubs does make it a bit of an art. But there’s also a science to it. For this beauty, ya gotta go low and slow until the fat and connective tissue break down and move the meat from a dense, tough wad into a loose, tender delight!

Now, supplies. You need a non-reactive container large enough to hold the meat and brine. You need a smoker. Now, if you don’t have a smoker, you can still brine this beast and let it roll in a 225 degree oven.  You won’t be sorry.  I digress back to smokers…I use an electric one. Yes, gasp, electric. It’s what I started with when I had no experience, and frankly, I kept it out of being partly comfortable with it and partly lazy.  The idea of tending coals to keep an even temperature completely ruins my put the meat on and ‘watch the grass grow’ philosophy.  Last thing, you need wood chips (unless you’re doing the oven thing).  I used pecan, but apple or cherry would work great too.  Just no big, heavy ones like hickory or mesquite.

Now go get yourself a 5 pound pork Boston Butt and a 6-pack of Woodchuck Cider and come on back….

For Brine (heat all components together and let cool completely, or take my lazy way and mix together until dissolved):

  • 2.5 quarts water
  • 8 ounces molasses
  • 8 ounces Kosher or Pickling Salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 TBSP black tea leaves
  • 1 TBSP dry rosemary
  • 1 TBSP black pepper

For Rub (process in food processor until you reach sugar-nut-spice dust):

  • 1 TBSP flavor-neutral oil for coating meat first (gives rub something to stick to)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1 TBSP dry rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

For Peach Salsa

  • 4 peaches, slightly unripe
  • 1/2 jalapeno, cored and deseeded, chopped fine
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse your Butt (ahhhh….I couldn’t help it!). Place brine in large enough container to hold brine with meat submerged…a gallon Ziplock does the trick.  Let ‘marinate’ and sit overnight, in the fridge, or at least a few hours.

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Pork’s in the brine!

Fire up your smoker according to your smoker type and wood chip preference–pecan chips were used here and 2 Woodchuck Ciders were used as the liquid to keep things from drying out.

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Get your smoker rollin’ before you’re ready to put the meat on…I find that keeps a bitter taste from forming with the first massive smoke production.

After brining, remove pork, discard brine, and rinse well to remove some salt. Pat dry with paper towels (or kitchen towels if you want your Hubbs to give you scornful looks!).

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Porky-pork is ready to go…you can see here how the brined portion is a bit darker that the close end that was sticking a bit above the brine solution.

Coat pork in oil lightly. Cover all visible porky goodness in the rub.

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Brown sugar, pecan, herb dust. Or rub. Whatevs.

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Lump-o’-meat covered in rub. Yeah, I got nothin’ witty about that!

Place your Pork-Masterpiece-In-Progress, Lunp-O-Meat close to the braising liquid (closest rack) and close up your smoker.

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Pork is positioned and ready to go…commence to watching the grass grow!

Feel free to indulge in your excess Woodchuck as things are brewing. On further introspection, you may have needed a 12-pack. After 2 hours, lift the lid and quickly dampen the meat with its drippings. Get back to your Woodchuck. In another hour, repeat. Repeat again in an hour (we’re up to four hours for those who have spent too much time with chain saws or too much time ‘catfish noodling’ and are missing the appropriate number of counting appendages).  Now, your pork should be sitting at about 160 degrees.  It will stall there and make you depressed that you will never get to eat that porky goodness. Don’t distress. We’re gonna fix that with a ‘crutch’.

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‘The Crutch’. This helps the meat reach the appropriate temperature to break down all the fat and connective tissue to produce a super-tender, juicy HUNK-O-MEAT! Oh…excuse me…I lost control of my senses for a minute there….

Remove the meat from your smoker and quickly wrap it in two layers of foil with a bit of liquid in the bottom. Seal super tightly. Put it back in the smoker and go, go, go until the internal temp reaches 190-200 degrees. ONLY THEN, remove your Early Christmas Present from the smoker and let it rest for about 30 minutes or so before shredding.

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Oh…My…Goodness. I’m not gonna lie…I debated clutching this thing like a lost pup and running into the wilderness just to prevent The Hubbs from having some. That. Good. You can see where we got all sortsa impatient and nibbled off of it before it’s photo shoot.

You can place the wrapped lump in a cooler for up to 4 hours and it will stay warm (as if you’re gonna be done before any guests arrive).

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Awww…aren’t those pretty peaches. Cut ’em up people! It’s salsa time!

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Peach salsa Yo!

Now, for the peach salsa. Just mix up your diced peaches, onion, and jalapeno.  Add your brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taaa-daa! Done!

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Now that’s dinner!

Serve pork with salsa and creamy grits, salad, or side of choice. Certainly creamy grits are my favorite choice!

If your will is made of steel, save some pork for chile rellanos or awesome omelettes!

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

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A simple summer meal…little mess and less work leaves plenty of time for socializing!

Oh, the humble flank steak. I first fell in love with the flank (or similar skirt steak) with my friends Matt and Jen out west.  We’d belly up to marinated and slightly charred steak with grilled green onions and loads of guacamole, imbibe in a few margaritas, and commence with great conversation and loads of laughter. It was tender, flavorful, and simple.  Yet totally delicious. If I wasn’t at an establishment, I wouldn’t think twice about licking my plate! Every single time I have it I think of them and dearly wish The Hubbs would sincerely work on that Transporter we’ve been dreaming about for years. That was Mojo, or Asada, style.  Since then I had the pleasure of dining on flank steak with chimichurri at Trattori Lucca with my friend Mike, his wife Karen, and a handful of new friends. Wine, outrageous conversation, and loads of laughter ensued. Frankly, the servers, bartender, and owners started crowding near the table waiting on us to leave. So, I like to blame the steak for all of the fun. The Hubbs and I ventured to make our own and yep, madness ensued then too. I’m pretty sure it’s the simplicity of the dish that lets both cook and cohorts get down to the real business of chillaxin’. So, gather a few ingredients, a few friends, and be prepared for some great memories!

Chimichurri is a simple concoction of fresh parsley, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, crushed red pepper, and cumin. Sometimes fresh basil or oregano may be added.

 

  • Flank steak, number of pounds to fit your party (we used two pounds)
  • Chimichurri sauce (used this same recipe with added onion, doubled, with some reserved as dressing for two pounds of steak)
  • Salad or grilled zucchini to serve with

 

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Preparing the chimichurri.

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Chimichurri…looks unimpressive, but it’s sooooo good!

Prepare chimichurri via linked recipe directions.

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Coat the steak, or place in ziploc with 2/3 of the chimichurri.

Place steak in ziploc and cover with about 2/3 of chimichurri.  Pour yourself some wine, get comfortable, and begin shenanigans while steak marinates for about an hour.

Fire up the grill to super-molten-hot. Remove steak from chimichurri, scrape off excess, and place on lava grill. Sear about 7 minutes on one side, flip and sear again for 5 minutes or so. Optimally you want the steak to end up medium-rare. Remove from the grill, tent in foil, and let rest about 10 minutes.

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Seriously make every effort to not dig in right away! Let it rest and reabsorb the juices.

Slice thinly across the grain.

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Slice thinly across the grain. This helps the steak to not become a chewy mess.

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Almost ready!

Serve with your choice of sides–we prefer a simple salad, fresh guacamole, and the reserved chimichurri. Micgrogreens work well with this dish too. Grilled zucchini works well too.

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A simple salad (and maybe fresh guacamole and a margarita!) is all you need.

This is a great dish that will impress, but has little effort. It’s perfect for gatherings or nights where you’d rather focus on your company than stirring and sweating over a stovetop.  Now go grab your wine and get some great friends…and dig in!

Growing Microgreens at Home

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The wonderful world of microgreens!

For some time I wondered what those precious little sprigs of greenery were perched atop my dishes when I was out and about eating.  Some looked like pea shoots, others like clover, some purple, others red-tinged.  And the flavor from each was distinct and super-concentrated.  I was quite intrigued. Then, during a foray into sprouting, I discovered the microgreen. What exactly is a microgreen you ask? Technically it is a tiny green used for visual and flavor in dishes.  Being intrigued, I set out to see how these little buggers were ‘made’.  After much interweb digging, I ordered myself a hydroponic kit and set to work. Well, that was a failure.  The trays were too big for one or two people to get through before they dried out (or grew mold).  And I just couldn’t feel good about throwing out the growing mat after each ‘crop’. Bearing my Grandaddy’s predilection for liking to grow little things in little containers and a strong inkling  not to be deterred, I tried the same trays with organic soil. Equal failure. Mold, rot, and dry soil.  How was this so when they made it look so simple all over the interwebs? Then I stumbled onto the perfect solution. The humble grocery store lettuce container (I also like to blame this re-purposing phenomena on Grandaddy since his yard was full of blue Folgers coffee cans sprouting various experimental plants). You know the ones that your organic arugula, super greens, and baby kale come in? Yep. Those ones. That simple.

This is super easy, great for small places, and requires very little monetary input–dirt, seeds, and reusable container. And don’t worry, that 1/4 pound baggie of seeds may be $12 but it lasts a great, long while.  Best yet, they add so much flavor to my daily salad that my dressing has simply become a drizzle of oils (any combination of olive, avocado, macadamia, walnut, almond, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, or herb-infused oils).  Other than imagining I’m tearing through a Fairy Forest like Godzilla, these things are fantastic! So, over-active imagination aside, microgreen growing is every bit fantastic!

I start a new container every other day or so and that keeps me in mounds of microgreens for my daily lunch salad. There’s a certain satisfaction about watching them grow—a little, simple success in getting the seed to hatch and unfurl.  And I can’t help but think of my friend Holly who is quite ingenious in growing herbs in small spaces–this adds a whole new landscape to small space and indoor gardening.

 

  • Re-purposed lettuce containers, as many as you’d like
  • 3 or so inches of organic soil per container
  • Seeds (try Johnny’s Seeds for great variety)
  • Fine mist spray bottle
  • Filtered water (or not, I really can’t tell a difference!)

 

First things first, the websites and videos will tell you to titer your water to a pH of 6. They’ll tell you this essential. Lies! Forever I spent bent over like a mad scientist titrating my filtered water.  Then it hit me. Mother Nature doesn’t titrate water pH. And frankly, that step turned this simple, natural act into a pro-duc-tion.  And I’m kinda lazy when it comes to that sort of thing. They also said to soak certain seeds. Yep. Not doing that either. I mean, you’re not creating DaVinci-style microgreens for restaurants. They’re for you…to eat.  In my experience, it just didn’t make a difference. So I’m not durrin’ it!

I digress. Get yourself a some old lettuce, tomato, or mushroom containers.

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Re-purposed containers. The ones with hinged lids work great—no losing the lid! For those wanting to try seed varieties, use the tiny tomato packages with hinged lids and get sample packs of seeds.

And some little packs of seeds. Definitely try Johnny’s Seeds for variety.

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Get yourself some seed packs…I’ve even used packs of radish seeds from last season. Great way to use up the supply of seeds for that monstrous garden I never got around to planting!

Put a 3 or so inch layer of soil in your container. Even it out with the back of a spoon.

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Place your soil and get it fairly even. No need to be perfect here, people. Just no big divots where seeds will settle en masse.

Dampen the soil with water. Sprinkle your seeds in an even layer on top and press them gently into the soil.

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Sowing the harvest!

Spray the seeds and top/lid of container to moisten.  If you’re using an old styrofoam mushroom container, find a lid like a washed styrofoam meat tray, and use it as the top.  The seeds need a few days of relative darkness to sprout (remember, don’t get too freaky about total darkness, as Mother Nature does shine a little sun on the buggers when in a natural setting).

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Just like in nature, keep these little buddies moist.

Place your dampened lid, and cover with a densely-woven kitchen or hand towel.  This is to mimic the darker conditions the seeds experience in nature when you cover them with soil.

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Simulating Mother Nature’s darkness to induce sprouting.

And…now wait. Depending on the seed, it takes about 3 or so days to get sprouting and a bit of height. You’ll want to mist the inside of the lid daily or so to keep a bit of moisture in your container. When you get the first set of leaves and they are about 3 inches, take the lid off and let some sunlight in.

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A little bit of height and the first set of leaves indicate the time to let a little sunlight in.

In another 2 days or so, I start mowing them down with some scissors near the soil line. For sunlight, I place mine on a shelf near a window in the laundry room.  You can experiment with letting them grow a bit longer to where they get their first set of ‘true leaves’, but I can be as impatient as I am lazy. So, eat ’em when you’re ready.

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Half-mowed microgreens. Just cut near the soil line. Be careful not to bring the dirt with you. Or hey, your immune system might thank you for ingesting a wee bit of organic dirt!

If you don’t use them up quickly and the soil starts to dry out, tilt the container and water near the edges, letting the water flow towards the center of the soil.  You don’t want them soaked, but drying out will kill them in a skinny minute. Watering ‘overhead’ can induce mold and rot, so avoid that method.

These buggers are great on salad, in sandwiches, or as garnishes on cold or warm dishes. The possibilities are endless! Bonus?  You get the daily magic of creating food out of wee tiny seeds without having to go total Farmer Joe. And for you parents…can you say ‘summer project’?  Let those little kiddos learn about how their food grows AND let them tend some tasty treats for you.  You’re welcome!

Play with how long you let them grow, what types of seeds you use, and how often you start a new batch to find what suits your needs. You won’t be sorry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit Ragout

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Rabbit ragout with quinoa dumplings. Super satisfying but light enough for warm weather. And super easy!

So I found myself with a rabbit from and was debating on what to do with it. Then memories of a divine rabbit ragout I had at Glass Onion came to mind. Being that ragout is a one dish dealio, I figured it was good for doing mid-week and would only get better as I picked on it over the next few days. I won’t lie, I totally picked the wrong time to delve into this dish. No, not because it was difficult or time consuming. Mainly because I had just watched Miss Potter, a movie about Beatrix Potter and all of her furry friends, including Peter Rabbit. Yeah, that made dismembering the ol’ rabbit a wee bit harder. Images flashed of that cute little bugger in his tidy blue jacket, chewing on perfect little carrots was really gettin’ to me.  I won’t lie, I think I told that rabbit ‘sorry’ about 100 times. Then, I realized I’d feel worse if I wasted the rabbit and got on with my business. The one good thing that comes from getting real about where your food comes from is you end up being all the more thankful for it.  So, if you find yourself with some rabbit and really want to appreciate your food sources, get on with making this dish. You could also substitute chicken (or veal for the adventurous; or beef in winter) if that makes you feel a little better!

  • 4 pound rabbit, cleaned and cut into pieces
  • Oil, for searing (coconut oil works well)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, and juices
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or marsala
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa flour (or omit and it still is delicious)
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Heat oil in large skillet or dutch oven. Dredge rabbit pieces in quinoa flour for a light dusting.

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Sear dusted (or bare) rabbit until golden brown or a good crust forms to seal in juices.

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Now we’re talking!

Sear until golden brown on all sides. Remove rabbit from pan and drain on paper towels.

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Add vegetables to pan and cook slowly until caramelized.

Add carrot, celery, and onion and cook until well caramelized (brown, but not burnt). Add 1/4 cup sherry or marsala and deglaze pan. Add tomatoes and tomato paste.

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After you’ve made the base for your sauce, sink your rabbit back down in there for its braise.

Sink rabbit back into sauce, place lid, and put in 350 degree over until rabbit is fork tender, about 30-45 minutes (alternatively, heat sauce and rabbit until slightly bubbling and place in 175 degree oven overnight with lid slightly ajar, or about 8 hours).

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Serve with its veggies and sauce, or serve over quinoa pasta or zucchini noodles.

Serve with rabbit, vegetables, and juices or over pasts (quinoa pasta or quinoa dumplings!) or zucchini noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley.  Serve with Amarone wine.

Totally Divine Duck Liver Mousse

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Duck liver mousse..it’ll make you rethink liver! Served here with Dijon mustard, strawberry-balsamic reduction, and pecans.

Oh. My. Stars. You will want to try this no matter how much anything with the word ‘liver’ conjures images of shoe leather and palate-fumigating funk. I didn’t start out as a fan of liver. Even worse, my mind flashes images of those little blue-labeled cans of potted meat that my great-grandmother would eat (and you too, Shane!).  God bless her, she was a Depression Era gal and had grown to like it…but it just has never been my fancy if ya know what I mean.   Frankly, the 1950s version of liver (pan-fried with onions)  generally doesn’t look that appetizing either, totally funks out your house, and can taste horrendous. I was always wanting to eat liver…mainly due to memories of being a tiny tot sitting atop my Memaw’s washer (yes, in the days of simpler and functional houses, it was right next to the stove) watching her fry up liver in bacon fat and onions. Her version is the only calf’s liver that has ever tasted good.  Fried chicken livers abound in the South, but many are waaaay to funky for me to choke down.  Then I tried Glass Onion’s chicken liver mousse. It was a total deal changer.  I was hooked and began searching out ways to fit in some liver.  Seriously, eating just the prime cuts of an animal was starting to work on my conscience and I had found many ‘rooter-to-tooter’ foods were fabulous.  Further, I knew if I could teach myself to eat anchovies or pancreas and thymus (sweetbreads), for Pete’s sake, I could find a way to eat liver.

This duck liver mousse came on the heels of getting a boat load of duck livers from Wishbone Heritage Farms and having some dangerously good duck liver mousse at Glass Onion (if you haven’t been there, run…do not walk…and get yourself some good eats pronto).  This started with Chris Stewart’s basic chicken liver mousse recipe an added caramelized onions, a bit of bacon fat, and some sherry. You could easily substitute a port jelly on top during the cooling stage or just serve with a cherry compote or strawberry preserves and some great mustard. Pickles, pickled veggies (green beans or okra like the Glass Onion serves it), and pecans (as FIG does) work well too.

  • 1 pound of duck livers
  • 2 cups of buttermilk (for soaking livers)
  • 3 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 5 farm fresh eggs
  • 3 tablespoons rendered duck fat (yes, I keep a stock in my fridge, can substitute melted and cooled butter)
  • 1 large onion, caramelized with 2 TBSP bacon fat and 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 2 TBSP Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp curing slat (can leave this out, top of mousse will turn a bit brown)
  • 1 TBSP ground white pepper

 

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Soak livers in buttermilk for an hour or so (or overnight) to reduce any bitterness.

Soak livers in 2 cups buttermilk for an hour or so (can do overnight) to reduce funk. Drain and rinse. Pulse in food processor until smooth.

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Add the eggs, salts, pepper, caramelized onions, and blend until smooth.

Add eggs, duck fat, caramelized onion, kosher salt, curing salt, and white pepper. Pulse until smooth.

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Add 2 cups of the heavy cream.

Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream and pulse a few times. Push through fine sieve (bouillon strainer works well!).

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Straining through a fine sieve to get a super smooth texture.

Whisk in remaining 1 cup heavy cream.

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Whisk in remaining 1 cup cream and pace into ramekins in hot water bath.

Place in ramekins (mine filled 6), and place in roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with boiling water and place in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until mousse is firm but jiggles in middle.

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Lift these guys out carefully and chill completely.

Lift ramekins out carefully and cool completely. Add your favorite accoutrements:  French bread crostini, pickled vegetables, mustard, cherry compote, strawberry preserves, rhubarb jam, pecans, or roasted walnuts. Pour yourself a big ol’ glass of Suaternes wine and go to town. You’ll be delightfully surprised how much you might like liver!

Gluten Free Fried Green Tomatoes

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See that fried green tomato poking out? Yep….I ate the other ones too fast to take a pic! Yeah…they’re that good!

I love, love, love me some fried green tomatoes.  You can find green tomatoes all summer long, but especially in the spring. What a testament to not wasting food….or is it a nod to Impatience? After all, green tomatoes will turn red given the chance. They’re simply the unripe versions of their ruby-red brethren.  In fact, I have a red tomato, once green, sitting on my windowsill at this very moment.  The difference between a red and green tomato is the green is firm and tart. They make a great sandwich, a fantastic pickled relish, and a great accoutrement to fried eggs and pimento cheese.  Usually you find them coated in wheat flour or corn flour or a combination of both.  I set out to find a version that would let me ‘get my eat on’ without wheat or corn. I tried several different substitutes–almond flour, rice flour, quinoa flour, and coconut flour.  I thought almond flour would come out on top since it had performed well for me with making a crust for tomato pie, but no such luck. Quinoa flour worked like a dream–fried up nice, stuck to the tomato, and didn’t leave a huge aftertaste.  Rice flour didn’t stick and coconut flour tasted terrible. If you don’t have a wheat or corn issue, feel free to use 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 corn meal.  So here ya go, fried green tomatoes…gluten-free!

  • Green tomatoes, as many as you need, 2 or 4 slices per person
  • Quinoa flour
  • 2 eggs, scrambled/whipped
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toppings–red pepper chutney, fried eggs, pulled pork, blue crab, hollandaise, remoulade sauce, etc.

Wash, dry, and slice your tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Melt coconut oil in pan at medium high heat (Mama’s cast iron works well).  Dip tomato slices in egg, dredge in quinoa flour. Place in hot oil and fry until underside is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and fry again until opposite side is golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Serve with your choice of accoutrement–my favorite is a fried egg and remoulade or jalapeno pimento cheese and pulled pork.

Easy Chile Verde….or just Damn Good Pork

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Chili verde with jalapeno pimento cheese (Palmetto Cheese brand), fried egg, and a fried green tomato!

My love affair with pork…it’s a long-standing one.  Frankly, it’s in my blood being a Southerner and all.  I like it all…bacon (bacon!!!!), pork loin, smoked pork, pulled pork, cracklins’…you name it, I love it. Chili verde, simply braised pork chunks in a green chili and/or tomatillo sauce,  is some seriously good pork eats. I frankly have never had a bad chili verde.  It really goes well with ev-e-ry-thing. Slap some on a fried egg or fried green tomato or make yourself a little taco salad with a chipolte dressing.  Roll that goodness up in a burrito (or lettuce or kale wrap) or throw it in some soup (white bean chili!). It pairs super well with jalapeno pimento cheese (what the hell doesn’t???). Or my favorite….straight off the fork! Good news is this recipe is super easy and can bypass any slicing and dicing.  It even cooks while you sleep! My kinda business. Now you know where the ‘slap it on a fried egg’ comes in…waking up to a house full of porky goodness begs one to immediately fry up an up an egg and go to town while standing over the kitchen counter in your housedress. Yep, it’s that good.  Here goes…

Easy Chili Verde

  • 5 lb Boston Butt (do not remove fat pad)
  • 1 jar green salsa (as spicy as you like it)
  • 2 cups Mojo Crillo marinade (get the ‘crillo’ since it has no MSG)
  • crock pot

Rinse pork. Throw it in the crock pot fat side up (for Pete’s sake, don’t cut the fat off!!). Toss in the whole jar of green salsa and 2 cups of Mojo Crillo.

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Dressing up the pork!

Put the lid on your crock pot and set it on low and let it simmer away overnight.  I usually set mine on low for 10 hours and it’s perfect.  You can get all fancy and add sliced peppers and onions in the beginning–they’ll add flavor, but will completely break down. Not to worry.  Shove the juices (after cooking) and peppers/onions through a fine sieve and you have yourself a serious sauce. Plunk the pulled pork/pork chunks back down in that sauce and you’re in business! If you want to keep the peppers and onions intact, you’ll have to wait and add them a few hours from the end.

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Too delicious!

Now go forth and slather your porky goodness over whatever you can think of—you won’t be disappointed.

Noodle-less Lasagna

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It is possible–tasty and noodle-less!!

I mostly gave up all wheat and grain products about 3 years ago (um, you still need to celebrate birthdays people!).  For the most part, I haven’t looked back because I feel so much better.  It’s pretty easy to find substitutes for crackers (cucumber rounds, red peppers, vegetable crackers), but living without pasta can get a bit difficult.  I found ways to use vegetables for spaghetti, but often missed a big ol’ pile of lasagna. That is until I used butternut squash as the lasagna noodles.  If it is sliced thin enough, you don’t even notice it.  You get to enjoy your lasagna and not roll around the next day with joint pain, puffy fingers, and a headache (seriously, no one likes a wheat hangover!).

Don’t worry, this is super easy and you can pick up a handheld mandolin for super cheap.  If you’re trying to cut down on carbs, increase your vegetable intake, or are gluten intolerant, you’ll be super pumped to get your hands on this lasagna.  You won’t regret it!

 

  • 2 medium or 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (spinach or kale would work too), blanched
  • 32 ounce container ricotta (or make your own)
  • favorite lasagna sauce/filling (I prefer a Bolognese)
  • 2 cups mozzarella
  • 2 cups aged Asiago

 

Peel your butternut squash. Slice in half lengthwise.  This might require you rearing back and hacking the knife into the middle of the squash and then beating it on the cutting board until the knife runs through.  Hey, that’s at least what I do!  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  Cut each half in half again crossways to make two smaller pieces.

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Your ‘noodle-less noodles’ in the making.

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All sliced up!

Now get to slicing–CAREFULLY–with the mandolin (these things can take a fingertip off in a skinny minute!).

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‘Noodles’!

Place your slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or so, flipping once about 1/2 way through.  You want them to be soft and to release some liquid, but not be mushy. They’ll cook more later.

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Put a little ‘glue’ in the bottom of your casserole dish.

Place a bit of your sauce (Bolognese–you won’t be sorry!) in the bottom of your casserole dish.

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Layering your junk. Get creative, use different cheeses, or veggies. Got nuts!

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Again, get creative! Here is a noodle-less lasagna layered with fresh mozzarella.

Layer your slices in a single layer, overlapping slightly.  Spoon about 1/3 of the ricotta on top.  Layer 1/3 of the swiss chard.  Spoon about 1/2 of your sauce (Bolognese!) on top.  Layer again with squash slices, ricotta, chard, and sauce (Bolognese–are you getting the hint?).  Repeat one more time.  Top with cheeses.

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Layer it up!

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and the cheese is just starting to brown.

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This is the molten lava stage–do not…I repeat…do not dive in. You will regret it 100% and then not be able to taste anything for days.  Trust me, I am impatient!

Practice all restraint and patience to avoid cutting immediately as it is molten lava right out of the oven and will burn the bejesus out of your mouth.  I speak from experience.  No throwing your head back, rolling the molten food around in your mouth, and huffing while trying to exclaim explicatives and laughing at yourself.  You.  Can.  Do.  This.  Just wait.  Your patience shall be justly rewarded, I promise!

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Holy Lasagna! It is good, good, good!

Slice after about 10 minutes and dig on in.  No blistered mouth in site….just eye rolling and a happy stomach!