Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Old Man Winter {Red Bean & Bacon Soup}

Baby, it's cold outside. Maybe not so much for my northern friends and Ohio family, but for Oklahoma and for this thin-blooded girl in particular, I'm a freezin'. I can't seem to get enough soup. This version of red bean and bacon soup is particularly yummy as it's gently pureed - making all the ingredients that my sometimes picky offspring might turn their nose up to (celery, etc) unidentifiable. With bacon sprinkled on top, who can resist? Sneak the good stuff in under the bacon, ha. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

Red Bean & Bacon Soup

1 lb. dried red beans, soaked according to package directions
1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 cup chopped onions (about 2 onions)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about three stalks)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
6 cups chicken broth 
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes

Cook chopped bacon in the bottom of a heavy post over medium heat until crisp. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add to your pot the onions, garlic, bay leaves, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Cook and stir about five minutes until onions are soft.  Add the celery, carrots, beans, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour or until beans are tender. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, roughly breaking up the tomatoes - if you choose not to puree the soup, go ahead and chop the tomatoes. Since I pulse it in the food processor, it is unnecessary to chop the tomatoes. Stir to combine the tomatoes and their juice into the soup. Discard the bay leaves. In small batches, pulse the soup in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Just a few pulses to keep it with some rough texture, not completely pureed. Return to pot and heat through. Serve topped with sour cream and chopped bacon. Sprinkle a little parsley fro good measure.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gimme Goulash

We recently had the opportunity to travel to Austria for a week-long adventure in performing arts and while there partaking of authentic cuisine topped my to-do list. We managed to find  dining experiences off of the beaten path and especially enjoyed restaurants where no one spoke a word of English. Since our German linguistic skills were limited to mostly enunciation ability with little knowledge of actual meaning, we  were able to clearly state what we wanted from the menu without actually knowing what we were going to get. Thank you, UCO, for German diction class. A few times the "surprise" meal was a little questionable, but after assuring myself the restaurant would not be in business if people were dying, I ate what arrived at my table with only slight hesitation. I'm still not sure what all I consumed in Austria, but I didn't die. So there's that. 

One thing we particularly enjoyed was authentic goulash. Typically made with an egg noodle accompaniment, my american-ized version sports potatoes - you could easily substitute 8-10 oz of  radiatore pasta or if you're feeling really adventurous, whip up some egg noodles from scratch. 

As most good things begin, cook half a pound of diced bacon in the bottom of a heavy pot. Nice and crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Keep the meat coming, and add 2.5 pounds of cubed chuck roast to the piping hot bacon grease and brown. You do not need to cook the meat through at this point, just brown it and remove, again with a slotted spoon. Add it to your bowl of bacon and set aside.

Next, add 4 onions (chopped) and four cloves of minced garlic. Every since reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, I hesitate to mince garlic in a garlic press as this is a big no-no in the Bourdain world.  Nonetheless, I press, mince, and ask forgiveness from the fowl-mouthed celebrity chef. Cook and stir onion/garlic mixture in meat drippings until nearly translucent. 

Stir into the onion mixture 1/3 cup flour and 3 Tbs paprika. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. The longer you cook flour, the more starchiness cooks out.

Add to the pot a 6 oz can of tomato past that has been mixed with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar...

Cook and stir together for about 2 minutes. This mixture will be very thick an goo-like. Stick with me, it gets better. 

Now add two red bell peppers (chopped) along with 5 cups of beef broth and 4 cups of water. You could use straight beef broth for the entire liquid portion, but as beef broth is a bit stronger than other broth (and since there are so many other strong flavors in this dish) mix the beef broth with water to tame it a bit.

Also add about 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed. At this point, you could substitute 8-10 oz. uncooked small pasta in place of the potatoes. 

Return the bacon and beef to the pot. Stir together well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes.

Serve it up with your favorite vino on a cold winters night.

Hearty Goulash

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
2.5 lbs boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS paprika
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 oz. can tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
4 cups water
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed

Cook bacon in the bottom of a heavy pot until crispy; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add meat to pot and cook until browned. Remove with slotted spoon and add bacon. Set aside. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until tender. Stir in flour and paprika; cook for about 2 minutes. Add tomato mixed with the red wine vinegar and stir/cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Whisk in broth and water; add red pepper and potatoes, return meat to the pot as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes. Enjoy!