Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Recipes: Lentil soup; Corned Beef

Okay, here they are!  As you may know, I'm experimenting with my slow cooker.  I'm tapping into the Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. The lentil soup recipe was not available online with a subscription, but a version was posted by Emily George on Happy Hollow Farm and I've tweaked it.  As usual, I've noted my changes in parentheses to offer #foodallergy substitution options. Enjoy during the cold months.

Recipe #1!

Ultimate lentil soup (with Swiss chard) from Slow Cooker Revolution

From Cook’s Illustrated: The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.
Why this recipe works:
After some preliminary testing for our slow-cooker lentil and Swiss chard stew recipe, we decided that large brown and green lentils did the best job of retaining their texture, shape, and flavor through the all-day simmer. As the lentil and Swiss chard stew recipe progressed, we realized it needed more flavorful components to boost the lentils and chard, which, admittedly, tasted pretty thin. After testing a variety of additional ingredients, we most liked the earthiness of mushrooms—in particular, meaty portobello mushrooms pumped up with dried porcini.

PREP-AHEAD TIPS: You can store the following ingredients together, with the exception of the chard leaves:
1. Cook the onion-chard stem mixture as described in step 1, then transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate; prep the chard leaves and refrigerate.
2. Prep the carrots and refrigerate.
3. Prep the portobellos and refrigerate.
4. Pick over and rinse the lentils and refrigerate.

Serves 6 to 8
Be sure to choose large green or brown lentils and avoid red lentils or lentils du Puy, both of which will overcook. Carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles and then rinse.

•    2 medium onions , minced
•    4 medium garlic cloves , minced (I used shallots)
•    2 TBS Extra-virgin olive oil (for serving, optional)
•    1TBS tomato paste (omitted this)
•    1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, rinsed and minced
•    1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves , or 1 teaspoon dried
•    Salt
•    4 cups vegetable broth (I used half water and half white wine since most premade broth includes carrots)
•    4 cups low sodium chicken broth
•    4 oz. bacon (about 4 slices)
•    1 pound carrots , cut into 1-inch chunks  (omitted the carrots)
•    12 ounces portobello mushroom caps , gills removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I used criminis, which are mini portobellos to go even more low-maintenance)
•    7 ounces brown or green lentils (1 cup), rinsed and picked over
•    2 bay leaves
•    8 oz. Swiss chard , stems and leaves separated (see illustration below); stems cut into 1/4-inch pieces and leaves chopped coarse

1.    Microwave onions, garlic, oil, tomato paste, dried mushrooms and thyme in a bowl, stirring occassionally until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  (Or you can do this on the stove).
2.    Stir both broths, bacon, carrots, fresh mushrooms, lentils and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until the soup is thickened and the lentils are tender, 9 to 11 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 5 to 7 hours.)
3.    Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the chard leaves, cover, and continue to cook on high until the leaves are wilted and tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add more olive oil to taste and serve.
Technique: Preparing Chard
Hold each leaf at the base of the stem over a bowl filled with water and use a sharp knife to slash the leafy portion from either side of the thick stem or hold the leaves, stacked, on a cutting board and run the knife along the sides of the stem.
Technique: Removing the Gills from Portobello Mushrooms
It is necessary to remove the black gills from the portobello mushrooms because they made the stew muddy in appearance. Using a soup spoon, scrape and discard the dark-colored gills from the underside of each mushroom.

Recipe #2!  Seriously, this could not be easier!

Corned Beef and Cabbage/New England Boiled Dinner from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 corned beef, 3-5 lbs
1 bay leaf
1 head of garlic (I subbed with shallots)
3 dried cloves
10 peppercorns
5 allspice berries or 1-2 pinches of ground allspice
1 onion
small head of cabbage, quartered
4-6 small red potatoes
small bunch of baby turnips or 2-3 turnips, quartered
(a reader also suggested adding corn on the cob and green beans, yum!)

1. Put the corned beef in a large, heavy pot and cover with water.  (If the beef is not salted, add some salt here.)
2. Add all the spices, and the onion. Bring to a boil, skimming foam off the surface.
3. Turn to a simmer and cover (or put in a slow cooker and cover, cook on low). After 2 hours (for a small piece or 3 hours for a larger one), start testing with a thin knife if it's easy to pierce through the meat. This should be pretty loose, not like a steak!
4. If the pot is big enough, throw in the remaining vegetables in the last 30 minutes (turn to high if using the slow cooker).  If not, take out the corned beef, then boil the veggies separately.
5. Slice corned beef across the grain, serve with some veggies and broth.  Correct seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.

No comments: