Friday, December 27, 2013

Baking Steel Naan


Recipe Adapted from Neelam Batra, 1000 Indian Recipes

Yield: 10 Naan
  • 7 g Dry Yeast (1 packet)
  • 5 g Sugar
  • 60 g Warm Water
  • 220 g Plain Non-fat Yogurt
  • 20 g Vegetable Oil
  • 330 g AP or Bread Flour
  • 2.5 g Kosher Salt or to taste
  • Bench Flour
  • Melted Butter or Ghee
Cooking Directions
  1. Place the Baking Steel on a shelf at the second level below your oven's broiler. Preheat the oven to 500 or 550 F.
  2. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl.
  3. When the yeast mixture is frothy combine it with the yogurt and vegetable oil. Whisk until a smooth homogenous mixture is achieved.
  4. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cover and pulse once or twice to combine.
  5. Add the yogurt mixture and process until a smooth ball is formed. It should be quite soft and a little sticky. If necessary, add a little more flour (if too wet) or yogurt (if too dry) and continue to process.
  6. Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, rotating to coat it with oil, cover with foil, and allow it to double in volume, about 1 hour in a warm kitchen.

  7. When the dough has doubled in volume, lightly flour your work surface and hands and roll the dough into a a log about 10 inches long.
  8. Cut nine 12 inch squares of wax paper.

  9. When the oven is preheated cut the log into 10 sections.
  10. Roll out each ball into an 8 inch disk. Stack each naan, separated by a piece of wax paper. Cover the pile with the damp towel.
  11. Switch the oven to broil.

  12. Stretch the first naan into the characteristic triangular shape.
  13. Carefully toss the naan onto the Baking Steel.

  14. 15 Seconds

    60 Seconds

  15. Cook for about 90 seconds. Adjust the naan's location with tongs to optimize browning.
  16. Remove the naan with tongs, brush generously with melted butter and set aside, covered.
  17. Continue until all are cooked.
  18. Serve hot.


Quantities: The original recipe is expressed in cups and teaspoons and is, perhaps, somewhat inaccurate. (If you have Batra's book, you'll see that I used considerably more yogurt.) I weighed everything out as I measured for this version. Use caution and good sense if you choose to give it a try. As always with bread recipes, the exact amount of liquid will vary somewhat depending on you flour, the weather, and the whims of Hestia.

Flour: I used King Arthur Bread Flour.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dinner the Modernist Way: Squash Soup, Flat Iron Steak and Roasted Potatoes

Well, this whole Modernist Cuisine thing has got me hooked. At first it looks like a lot of effort, especially if you come to it by way of Thomas Keller and Ferran AdriĆ . But in reality a lot of things require less effort than their conventional counterparts. This meal is a good example - the hardest part is peeling the squash - everything else is "set and forget".

Squash Soup

Recipe Adapted From Modernist Cuisine At Home
  • 500 grams Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
  • 18 grams Lemongrass, sliced thin
  • 113 grams Unsalted Butter
  • 30 grams Water
  • 5 grams Salt
  • 2.5 grams Baking Soda
  • Coconut Milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Over medium heat melt the butter in the pressure cooker.
  2. Combine the water, salt and baking soda in a small bowl.
  3. Add the squash, lemongrass, and salt mixture to the pressure cooker. Mix well.
  4. Seal the pressure cooker and cook at 15 psi for 20 minutes. If you're using an electric pressure cooker like mine, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully shake the pressure cooker two or three times while cooking to prevent sticking.

  6. Cooked Squash

  7. When the cooking time has elapsed, carefully release the pressure and transfer the contents to a blender.
  8. Blend at high speed, adding enough coconut milk to produce a smooth creamy soup.
  9. Strain through a fine sieve (this removes any woody bits of the lemon grass) and serve hot.

Perfect Steak

Sous Vide Flat Iron Steak

Recipe by Michael Callahan
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 Flat Iron steak, about 1.25 lb
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Mustard powder
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your water bath to 130 F.
  2. Carefully trim the steak, removing excess fat and connective tissue.
  3. Combine the vinegar, garlic powder, olive oil and mustard in a container large enough to hold the steak.
  4. Add the steak and turn to coat it with the marinade.
  5. Allow steak to marinate 30 minutes.
  6. Vacuum seal the steak.
  7. Cook in the water bath for 3 hours
  8. Remove the steak from the cooking bag and wipe it dry.
  9. Quickly sear the steak, about 30 seconds on each side.
  10. Slice thin across the grain and serve hot.

Roasted Potatoes

Recipe by William Colsher
Yield: 2 servings
  • 8-10 Small "new" potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F
  2. Halve or quarter the potatoes.
  3. Combine salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes.
  4. Add the potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat with oil and seasonings.

  5. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are browned and tender.
  6. Serve hot.


Pressure Cooker: 1) Modernist recipes typically specify 15 PSI for pressure cooking. However, most electric pressure cookers (like mine) only come up to 11 PSI on their "high" setting. They work perfectly but do require a little extra time. I cooked the squash in this recipe for 30 minutes with excellent results.  2) You cannot make this recipe in an old fashioned "jiggler weight" cooker. You'll lose too much steam and the squash will burn.

Butternut Squash: 500 grams is about half a typical butternut squash. The extra can be frozen.

Coconut Milk: How much you need will depend on how moist the squash is. I ended up using almost the whole 12 oz can.

Flat Iron Steak: A typical flat iron steak is about 1.25 - 1.75 pounds. Because very little weight is lost when cooking sous vide you can get 4 "normal" servings from a single steak. After the cooking is complete you can just toss half in the freezer with the left over squash.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bonci Dough & The Modernist Baking Steel

In my seemingly endless quest to make the perfect pizza (whatever that is) I recently came across something called The Baking Steel. This is nothing more than a heavy slab of treated steel that replaces the more traditional pizza stone. It has a couple obvious advantages: 1) it will never break and 2) its enormous thermal mass means even a rather wet pizza is going to cook very quickly. The big disadvantage is cost - $99. Nevertheless...

I had made a full batch on Bonci style dough for Tomato and Black Olive Focaccia over the weekend and still had two of the dough balls in the freezer when my Baking Steel arrived. So it seemed reasonable to use one of those for my first trial.

But first, I loaded the Baking Steel into the oven on a rack at the third from the top level. This is one level lower than suggested in the guidelines the company supplies, but I was pretty sure my pizza would be quite a bit taller than is typical. Pre-heat at 550 F for an hour and then...

Bonci Dough - Full Batch

  • 1000 gm Bread Flour
  • 800 gm Tepid Water
  • 7 gm Yeast
  • 20 gm Salt
  • 40 gm Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Those quantities result in 3 big (about 600 gram), very soft dough balls. This dough is far too soft and sticky to ever slide off a peel on its own (after all it's meant to be baked on sheet pans). So I stretched one ball onto a piece of well oiled aluminum foil.

You can see from the wrinkling around the dough that it's already grabbing the foil in spite of the oiling.

Toppings were Neapolitan style: crushed tomatoes, fresh (as in made that morning) Valley Shepherd Creamery Mozzarella, a bit of crushed oregano and sea salt. Slide it onto the Baking Steel and about 10 minutes later I turned the broiler on high. After another minute I rotated the pizza and another minute later out it came:

2 inches of crispy and delicious
Yep. The Baking Steel worked exactly as advertised. Since we make pizza or some type of bread at least once a week, its worth the $99 (there's a thinner model for $79). It makes a tremendous difference in the the quality of what comes out of my oven.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Late to the Party - Modernist Mac and Cheese

Milk, Cheese, Pasta, Sodium Citrate

OK, so I'm a couple years late to this modernist cuisine party. So I decided to make a start with the famous Mac and  Cheese from Modernist Cuisine at Home. It turns out to be pretty easy and the only weird ingredient is Sodium Citrate.

Modernist Mac and Cheese
Recipe Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home

Yield: 4 servings
  • 212 grams Milk
  • 8.8 grams Sodium Citrate
  • 228 Grams White cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 192 Grams Dry Macaroni
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain the macaroni (do not rinse) and set aside, covered.
  2. Combine the Milk and Sodium Citrate in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously until the Sodium Citrate is dissolved.
  3. Add the grated cheese to the boiling milk in small handfuls, blending each with an immersion blender until melted and smooth.
  4. Fold the macaroni into the cheese mixture.
  5. Optionally, sprinkle some panko on top and slip it under the broiler to add some crunch.
  6. Serve hot.

The Pasta: Resist the urge to salt your pasta water. Good cheese will provide plenty of flavor.

The Cheese: Buy good cheese, not a block of that orange supermarket stuff. This recipe is all about the flavor of the cheese. It is perfectly reasonable to use $15 worth of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar in this recipe. I used Flory's Truckle, made in Missouri and finished in Iowa.

The Sauce: Although this recipe looks extremely accurate, you do need to pay attention. If the cheese sauce seems too thick, add a little more milk, a tablespoon or so at a time. Know that it will thicken as it cools - a lot.

Sodium Citrate: The brand I bought is listed below. 15 bucks may sound like a lot for a food additive, but it comes to about 29¢ per batch.And there's other stuff you can use it for...

The Book: You could buy Modernist Cuisine at Home, but if you have an iOS device you can also get the "inkling" eBook version and only buy the chapters you want for $4.99 each ($79.99 for the whole thing.) The eBook is not only cheaper, it also has a number of features that make it worth while including a shopping list builder and a built in "scaler" that adjusts ingredient quantities so you can make the recipe for any number of servings.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lobster and Yellow Beet Borscht

Lobster and Yellow Beet Borscht

Adapted from Charlie Trotter's "Workin' More Kitchen Sessions"

Yield: 2 servings with plenty of left over borscht.
  • 4 or 5 (about 1 1/4 pounds) Medium Yellow Beets
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Whole Star Anise
  • 2 Whole Cloves
  • 3 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 4 Baby Red Beets
  • 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs Fresh Dill
  • 1 Large (about 10 oz) Lobster Tail or one whole lobster, cooked
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Heart of Palm, sliced diagonally
  • 1 Tbs Prepared Horseradish
  • 1 Cup Firmly packed fresh dill
  • 1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Cup Mascarpone
  • 1 Tbs Lime juice
  • 1/4 Cup Prepared Horseradish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
    I used one huge Yellow Beet

    Prepare the beets:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the yellow beets in an oven proof pan with the water, 1 Tbs. olive oil, the bay leaves, star anise and whole cloves. Season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the red beets in an oven proof pan with 1 Tbs olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Roast the yellow beets for about 90 minutes, the red beets for about 45 minutes or until they are tender.
  4. While the beets are roasting make garnishes
  5. In a blender puree 1 cup dill, the mascarpone, creme fraiche, lime juice, and horseradish. Force the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the un-pureed bits of dill (optional). Place the mixture in a small covered container and freeze.
  6. Slice the lobster tail into 8 rounds and chop 1 Tbs. dill. In a small bowl toss with the lobster and lemon juice.
  7. In another bowl, toss the hearts of palm with 1 Tbs prepared horseradish
  8. Cover both and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Make the Borscht:
  10. When the beets are cool enough to handle peel them.
  11. Cut the red beets half and set aside, covered.
  12. Chop the yellow beets coarsely and puree them in a blender with the vegetable stock. Season with salt a pepper and refrigerate, covered, until it's time to serve.
  13. Assemble and Serve:
  14. Ladle the borscht into two bowls (there will be plenty left over). Arrange the lobster and red beets artistically with some of the hearts of palm in the middle.Top with a spoonful of the dill cream mixture, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and serve.

As written this is chilled borscht. It works wonderfully warm as well.

Star anise and hearts of palm: If you happen to have a Chinese market near you, they'll have the star anise. You'll find canned hearts of palm in the Hispanic section of your local grocery store under the name "palmitos". Goya and Roland are common brands. They can be left out entirely and the dish will still be delicious, but of course Amazon's Grocery section has both.

The Beets: The original recipe calls for "medium beets". I figure that means about 4 ounces each. Our market had the giant ones you see in the pictures at a bit over a pound each. So one of those was enough. The "baby beets" I used came from our garden. If you can't find little ones you can cut a "regular size" one into 8 wedges.

The Dairy: Large grocery stores will have both the creme fraiche and mascarpone in little plastic tubs. Even the miserable Giant in our neighborhood had 'em.

The Lobster: Live lobster is often on sale, at least here in the north east. One medium sized lobster will yield enough meat for 2 servings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock
Workin' More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter

  • 1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Carrot
  • 1 Cup Chopped Celery
  • 1 Cup Chopped Fennel Bulb
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Parsnip
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tsp. Whole Black Pepper Corns
  • 4 Quarts Water
Cooking Directions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Strain the mixture into a clean pot.
  4. Simmer on medium low until reduced to 2 quarts.
  5. Cool the stock and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Anyone who's ever tried to use store-bought vegetable stock needs to try this recipe.  It's simple, easy to make, and everything in it is readily available. And unlike the stuff from the store, it actually tastes good.

This is a base recipe that will appear in a number of posts in the near future.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder
Recipe by Adapted From Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home

In remembrance of Charlie Trotter, September 8, 1959 - November 5, 2013

  • 3 - 4 Ears Sweet Corn
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 oz. Bacon, julienned
  • 1/2 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 Small Potato, diced
  • 10 Large Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and halved cross wise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut the kernels from the corn, reserving the cobs.
  2. Place the cobs and bay leaf in a stock pot with two quarts of water, Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Combine the cream and half the corn kernels in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cream is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
  4. Puree the corn and cream mixture. It will be very thick. Set aside, covered.
  5. In a medium saute pan cook the bacon until it begins to crisp. Add the potato, onion, and remaining corn and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook until they begin to turn pink.
  7. Add the shrimp mixture to the cream and stir to combine well.
  8. Add enough corn broth to achieve a pleasing consistency. In my case It took about 2 cups.
  9. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors, season to taste and serve immediately.

Charlie Trotter is probably best known for his complex restaurant cuisine, packed with exotic ingredients and served with intensely flavored emulsions, foams, and oils. In this he was certainly in tune with his time. In 1988 Trotter was introducing complex degustation menus in Chicago just as Ferran AdriĆ  was taking sole charge of the kitchen at elBulli.

In 1990 Trotter published "Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home", a collection of relatively accessible recipes that any reasonably skilled home cook could easily reproduce (as this post shows). Free of exotic ingredients and well suited to mid-western tastes, the book nevertheless is a fine introduction to the concepts (and some of the techniques) Trotter used to develop his cuisine.

Whether or not he would have opened another restaurant is a question that will never be answered but the chefs he helped train, his books, television series, and of course his flavors will remain.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gabriele Bonci's Broccolini And Mortadella Pizza

The long awaited English translation of Gabriele Bonci's book on pizza finally arrived last Tuesday. So I spent the rest of the week browsing through the recipes trying to decide on which to try. Broccolini And Mortadella won out.

The first step (and by far the most time consuming) is making the dough. That process is documented in detail in the book and on many other blogs, so I'll skip it here. I made a full batch of the white dough recipe: 

White Pizza Dough

Recipe by Gabriele Bonci

  • 1 Kg. Bread Flour
  • 700-800 gm. Water
  • 7 gm. Instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 20 gm. Sea salt
  • 40 gm. Olive Oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine the flour and yeast, mixing well.
  2. Add the water and mix until a shaggy mass forms.
  3. And the remaining ingredients and mix for a few minutes until well combined. The dough will be rather wet.
  4. Let the dough rise, covered for 1 hour.
  5. Dump the dough onto a very well floured surface and gently shape it into a rough rectangle with a short side nearest you.
  6. Fold the top 1/3 of the rectangle down to the center and press it down gently.
  7. Fold the bottom third up over the center and press it down.
  8. Turn the dough 90 degrees, re-shape the rectangle and repeat the folding.
  9. And do it again.
  10. And again.
  11. Put the dough back in it's bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Repeat the folding and resting 3 more times.
  13. After a final resting divide the dough into 3 or 4 equal balls and place them in the refrigerator in lightly oiled bowls and covered tightly in plastic wrap, overnight.
  14. The dough balls may also be frozen or simply allowed to rise in a cool place until you're ready to bake.

Two 600 gm. dough balls

I'm already pretty familiar with Bonci style dough and knew that it would take about 600 grams to fill my small jellyroll pan. So I divided the full batch into three balls: 2 for the pizza and 1 went into the freezer for next week. Those two went into a couple large bowls for the final fermentation. Since I would be using them in just a few hours I put them out on our rather chilly porch instead of overnighting them in the refrigerator.

Broccolini And Mortadella Pizza Filling

Recipe by Adapted from Gabriele Bonci

  • 250 gm. Broccolini or Broccoli raab, Chopped
  • 125 gm. Mortadella
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
Once the dough is made the process is simple.

Stretch one ball so it fills the pan. That's an aluminum 1/4 sheet pan about 10.5 x 15.15 inches.

That's Broccoli Raab
Spread on the chopped broccolini, lightly dressed with olive oil and a little salt. I used broccoli raab, which is a lot more leafy than broccolini.

Stretch the other dough ball and place it on top. Bake at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Carefully lift off the top crust and give the broccolini  spritz of lemon juice, then layer on the Mortadella.

Put the top back on and let it cool a few minutes, then slice and eat.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tomato Focaccia

A couple weeks ago I dried some of the last San Marzano Tomatoes from our garden and canned them in olive oil. (And it looks like we'll have enough to make another batch this week or next.) "Sun" dried tomatoes can go in a lot of different dishes, but it's been a while since I made focaccia so here's how it goes...

The night before you plan to bake, start a batch of Bonci Pizza Dough and pop it in the 'fridge for it's first fermentation.

The next day pull the dough out of the 'fridge and let it stand at room temperature for a couple hours. Turn the dough out on a floured counter top, perform the first "fold over", and return the dough to it's container for an hour to rise again.

Arrange the Tomato bits

After forming the rectangle for the second "fold over" gently press about half a cup of chopped "sun dried" tomatoes into the surface.


And fold...
Complete the "fold over" and return the dough to it's container for an hour to rise again.

An hour later complete the third fold over.

Stretch to fit

Another hour later, lightly oil a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan and your hands. Carefully lift the dough onto the pan. Gently stretch the dough so it fills the pan as evenly as possible. This batch was made with only 400 grams of flour so it's a little small. A full batch will fill a 10x15 inch pan.

Cover the pan and preheat your over to 500 degrees.

Oil, Salt & Oregano
After an hour has passed (yes that's 4 hours of rising) brush the dough carefully with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little sea salt (or Kosher salt as I used here). A sprinkle of crushed oregano and into the oven it goes for 12-15 minutes.

Let it Cool
That all there is to it - it's not really that much effort even - just a few minutes scattered through a rainy afternoon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

Recipe by William Colsher
Yield: 2 servings

    For the Mushroom Ragout

  • 1 lb. Assorted Mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup Diced Onion
  • 4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs Chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tbs Chopped Thyme
  • 1/4 cup Dry Marsala
  • 1 cup Beef or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 cup Cream
  • 1 Tbs Julienne Basil

  • For the Polenta

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup Corn Meal
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Cooking Directions
    Make the Mushroom Ragout

  1. Clean the mushrooms carefully. Feel free to rinse them in running water. (Alton Brown dispelled the myth of the "mushroom sponge" years ago.)

  2. Halve or quarter large button or Cremini mushrooms, de-stem and slice Shiitakes, roughly chop oyster mushrooms. The pieces should be fairly uniform and about twice as big as you want then to be in the final ragout.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold the mushrooms in one batch.
  4. Saute the onions until they become translucent.

  5. Reduce! Reduce! Reduce!

  6. Add the mushrooms to the onion mixture, salt lightly and saute over medium heat until the mushroom liquid has reduced to a syrup.
  7. Lower the heat and add the garlic. Saute about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  8. Add the parsley and thyme and saute another minute, mixing well.
  9. Add the Marsala, deglaze, and reduce to a syrup again.
  10. Raise the heat and add the stock. Simmer until reduced by half.

  11. Add the cream and continue to simmer until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
  12. Set the mushroom ragout aside off heat, covered.

  13. Make the Polenta

  14. In a medium saucepan whisk the corn meal into the water or stock and bring it to a boil over high heat, whisking continuously, until it begins to thicken.
  15. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the corn meal is fully cooked and creamy.
  16. Stir in the Parmigiano.
  17. Taste the mushroom ragout and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  18. Divide the polenta between two bowls, top with the mushroom ragout, sprinkle on the basil and serve immediately.

I tend to prefer using beef stock to accentuate the meaty flavor of the mushrooms. Nevertheless, this recipe can easily be a very filling Meatless Monday main course by using vegetable stock. In that case I'd suggest heating the stock and adding half an ounce of dried Porcini mushrooms to it 15 minutes before starting. Then lift out the Porcinis, strain the stock, and add both in step 9.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stuffed Potatoes

Stuffed Potatoes
Recipe Adapted from: Jerusalem A Cookbook


    For The Tomato Sauce

  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 120 grams Onion, finely diced
  • 80 grams Celery, finely diced
  • 70 grams Carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small Red or Green Chile

  • 1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Sweet Paprika
  • Pinch Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Caraway seeds, ground
  • 28 oz. Can Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Tamarind Paste
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Sugar

  • For The Potato Stuffing

  • 500 grams Ground Beef
  • 200 grams Coarse Bread Crumbs
  • 120 Grams Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 20 Grams Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1.5 Kg. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled, halved, and cored
  • 2 Tbs Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Clean and dice the vegetables and herbs for both the sauce and stuffing and measure out the spices. If you're using canned whole tomatoes, empty them into a bowl and crush them. Having everything ready before you start to cook will make everything much easier.
  2. Over medium heat warm the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer.
  3. Add the sauce vegetables and saute until they are softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce spices and cook for a few minutes more until the mixture is very fragrant. Be careful not to allow the mixture to scorch.
  5. Carefully add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. 
  6. Brink the mixture to a boil, stirring, taste for seasoning, and set aside, off the heat.
  7. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, cinnamon, eggs, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  8. Mix with your hands until the ingredients are well combined.

  9. Peel and halve the potatoes, then core them using a melon baller. Reserve the scraps for another use. (Submerged in water, they'll keep in the refrigerator overnight.)
  10. Stuff the mixture into the potatoes, ensuring it is well packed, leaving no spaces.

  11. As each potato is stuffed settle it into the tomato sauce.

  12. When all the potatoes are in place, add a little water to bring the liquid almost to the top of the stuffing.
  13. Bring the whole thing to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 60-90 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked and soft.
  14. Allow to cool slightly before serving, sprinkled with the chopped cilantro.

It's a little hard to believe, but this recipe is only a little harder than making meatloaf. The only slightly exotic ingredient is the tamarind past and even that's available almost everywhere.

Obviously, this recipe makes a lot. The saute pan I used could only hold a little more than 2 pounds of potatoes. As a result I had about a third of the stuffing left over. It's in the freezer for now and will probably turn into a braised meatloaf in a week or so.

The Saucepan: The pan in the pictures worked fine but even at a low simmer there was a more or less constant drip onto the stove top. It would have been a huge mess on a gas range. Next time I'll make it in a deep "dutch oven".

Potatoes: You really do have to use Yukon Gold or a similar waxy potato. Starchy types like your regular russet baking potato will fall apart during the long simmer.

Vegetables: Dice 'em much finer than I did.  The ones in the pictures are a bit on the rustic side. They're fine in the sauce, but they're hard to mix evenly with the ground beef and bread crumbs.

Bread Crumbs: Do not under any circumstances even consider using the ones that come in a can or bag. Just grab a loaf of crusty bread when you're buying the rest of the ingredients and make then yourself. You can easily save stale bread in the freezer and when you have a bunch of chunks just toss them in the food processor, pop the crumbs in a low oven for a few minutes to dry them out and then refreeze.


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