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Whole Lotta Chili

Whole Lotta Chili
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Whole Lotta Chili
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until it renders some fat and is just beginning to brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  2. Add the chicken and turkey sausage to the pot and cook until they are cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and jalapeno to the pot and cook until the onions soften and everything smells wonderful.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir to blend it in. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the chili sauce and stock along with the chili powders and oregano. Stir in the green and poblano chilis. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
  6. Add the rinsed and drained beans to the pot and let everything simmer another 15 minutes.
  7. Increase the heat to a low boil. Shake the masa harina with a half cup of water in a jar until it is well blended. Stir the mixture into the chili and continue to stir until it thickens.
  8. Give it a taste and adjust the ingredients as needed. Serve.
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Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy

I am a firm believer that a slow cooker has a specific place in the kitchen of love. That is in the realm of soups and chili and now gravy. While I am not overly fond of large (or small)pieces pf meat prepared this way, I do find that soups, chili and other “liquidy” recipes work well. I do also like the convenience of setting and then forgetting these long cooking recipes.

Soups and chilies benefit from long slow cooking. With a slow cooker to keep an eye on things, the cook is able to go about life without the burden of being constantly available to stir and adjust the heat. At times that can feel like a life changing occurrence.

I had never thought to make Sunday Gravy in the slow cooker. I rather enjoy the process of stirring and tasting and adjusting. It brings back wonderful memories of my father making his gravy, meatballs, and sausage. Please, journey back with me by clicking on this link:

More Memories From the Kitchen of Love 

Back to the present and the slow cooker. This recipe takes the heart of my father’s recipe and introduces it to elements of the classic Bolognese Sauce. San Marzano tomatoes replaced my father’s Tomato paste and puree, though a good amount of tomato paste was needed to pay respect to the bolgonese.

I used meat that I had in the freezer; in this case two spicy Italian sausage links and a bag of “meat bits”. The bits were mostly chicken, remnants of trimmed thighs and breasts, but there were a few pork scraps as well.

I browned the meat and onions before adding them to the cooker. We all know that a slow cooker can’t brown things. Which in my opinion is one of the factors that contribute to the watered down taste. In this case it was worth the time because the flavors were really there. The tomato paste also had a chance to cook out a bit before jumping into the “hot tub”.

I originally planned to let the sauce cook 6 – 8 hours. It wound up going closer to 10. That was a good thing. It resulted in a thick rich sauce that was wonderful. I strongly suggest waiting until the next day to eat this. The aroma that is created in the house will make that difficult but be strong, I guarantee that the wait will be worth it. You have my permission however, to dip a chunk of bread into the pot to check for proper seasoning. That’s where the salt, pepper and perhaps a bit of sugar listed in the recipe come in.

Serve this over your favorite pasta. I chose spaghetti (Papa D’s favorite). I also used my mother’s technique of serving. A ladle of gravy in the bottom of the bowl with a sprinkle of cheese. Half of the pasta and another ladle of gravy, a quick toss, then repeat. Top with two generous ladles of gravy and a generous sprinkle of cheese and bring it to the table. 

I don’t know if my father would have embraced the slow cooker. Back then I think he was as concerned about the process as the product. I do believe that if he were around now he would approve of this take on his prized recipe.

Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pour the tomatoes into a 5 -6 quart crock pot. Use a potato masher or your hands (if you want to be one with the tomatoes) to crush the tomatoes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a bit of the olive oil. Crumble the sausage meat into the skillet. Discard the casing. Brown the sausage lightly. When it is barely cooked through add it to the slow cooker.
  3. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and add the finely chopped chicken meat. You want this to brown, so if you need to, do it in two batches. Again we are looking for some color and barely cooked. Add this to the cooker as well
  4. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. cook these until they are just getting translucent and lightly browned.
  5. Add the tomato paste to the onion mixture along with a splash of stock. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.The onions should be coated and the mixture should be a lovely russet color.
  6. Add this to the cooker along with the parsley and Italian herbs. Stir everything together and cover the pot. Set the temperature on low and let it go. 8 -10 hours should do it.
  7. When you feel that it can't get any more wonderful, turn off the pot. If it seems to thick, add a little more stock. .
  8. Cool slightly. Divide the gravy into 3 containers. Freeze 2 and put the other one in the refrigerator for dinner tomorrow.
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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cut squash in half and the remove seeds. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the cut sides of the squash as well and place cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The shell should give slightly when pressed with a finger. Turn right-side up and allow to cool a bit.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the onion and cook for 1 -2 minutes. Crumble the sausage into the pan and add the garlic. Cook 5 - 7 minutes until the sausage is cooked, stirring often.
  3. Add the tomato paste and raise the heat to medium high. Stir to coat the sausage mixture. Cook for 3 minutes adding chicken broth as needed to prevent scorching.
  4. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat
  5. In a small pan heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Add the spinach and Italian herb blend. Cook stirring frequently until the spinach is wilted. This should take 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Combine the ricotta, egg, garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons of the Romano cheese in a small bowl. Stir in the cooled spinach.
To Assemble
  1. Use a fork to loosen the squash threads slightly. Divide the ricotta mixture between the two squash halves. Spoon the sausage mixture on top of the ricotta. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of Romano Cheese. Top each half with the Italian cheese blend.
  2. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. If you prepared and assembled ahead of time increase the cooking time to 30 minutes or so. The mixture should be bubbling slightly.
  3. Turn oven to broil and cook until the cheese is light golden, about 2 -3 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
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Italian Beef Stew

DIGITAL CAMERABeef Stew warms the heart and fills the stomach. It’s a comfort food that that can even be romantic when shared with the one you love. This takes a bit of time, but it is worth every minute and step.

 

Italian Beef Stew
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An Italian-ized version of classic Beef Stew. Make it your own with wine, vegetable, and aromatics choices.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Italian Beef Stew
Print Recipe
An Italian-ized version of classic Beef Stew. Make it your own with wine, vegetable, and aromatics choices.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Before you begin cooking, put your cooking vessel in the oven. Adjust the rack so that the covered pot will fit and slide in and out easily. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a 5 -6 quart dutch oven. Add the bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is brown, but not crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the pan and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  3. Cut the meat in 1-1/2 inch to 2 inch pieces. Dry on paper towels for at least 10 minutes (this helps the meat brown). Season the meat with salt and pepper just before browning.
  4. Brown the meat in batches turning to brown all sides. Put the browned meat into a bowl. If the pot is becoming dry, add additional olive oil. Set the bowl of browned meat aside.
  5. Add the chopped onions, garlic, and carrots to the pot and begin to cook over medium low heat. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often for 3 or 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pot.
  6. Add the cup of red wine and stir to loosen the browned bits and de-glaze the pan. Continue to cook for a few minutes until things are smelling beautiful. Add the beef stock and water, (and a little more wine if you want). Bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Add the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cook until the mixture returns to a simmer. Once it is gently simmering, cover it and place in the oven. Cook covered for one hour.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven and add the onion wedges and sliced garlic. Mix gently, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and add the mushrooms. Stir to gently combine. Cover and return to the oven.
  10. Check the meat after 45 minutes or so. The meat should be fork tender, but not falling apart. When the meat is perfect, remove the pot from the oven.
  11. Add the lemon juice and olives. Stir to incorporate. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl or ladle into individual dishes. Sprinkle with the parsley.
  12. This can be served as is with crusty bread or on top of your starch of choice; pasta, polenta, farro, etc.
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Mama D’s Pulled Chicken

DIGITAL CAMERAA chicken version of the pork classic. It cooks in a Slow Cooker in five hours or less. resulting in a beautiful mound of succulent chicken that is perfect in a sandwich, a quesadilla, even all by itself. Make it as spicy as you’d like it by adding any chili powder or spice that tickles your fancy.

For a change of pace, try Mama D’s Poutine recipe below.  It’s Carolina meets Canada in a really tasty way.

Mama D's Pulled Chicken
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Mama D's Pulled Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Trim chicken thighs of as much visible fat as possible. Layer in a 5 - 6 quart Slow Cooker coated lightly with non-stick cooking spray, placing the onions and garlic in between the layers.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Pour over the chicken, onion, and garlic. Move things around so that the chicken is evenly covered with the sauce.
  3. Cook on the low heat setting for 4 - 5 hours. The chicken should be very tender and just starting to fall apart. Remove the chicken to a heat resistant cutting board. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken into uniform pieces. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the slow cooker. Raise heat to high and tilt the cover slightly. Cook an additional 20 - 30 minutes,until the sauce has thicken slightly and everything is hot.
  5. Serve the Pulled Chicken in sandwiches, tacos, or quesadillas. It's also great sitting atop rice, pasta or corn bread. You can even eat it all by itself.
  6. Mama D's Poutine: Top oven baked french fries with Pulled Chicken. Garnish with any or all of the following: Shredded cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, bacon bits, sliced green onions, ranch dressing.
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