Category Archives: Comfort Food

German “Hunter’s” Pork Cutlets with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce (Jägerschnitzel)

JagerschnitzelHi, so last night I had a hankerin’ for some good, old-fashioned German comfort food, so I decided to make one of my faves, Jägerschnitzel (right up there with Königsberger Klopse and Falscher Hase!). Jägerschnitzel means “hunter cutlet” in English — don’t ask me why they call it that, because I don’t know. Anyway, I always am sure to feast on this dish at least a couple of times when I’m in Germany, regardless of the season. The dish is so delicious, easy to prepare and worth the calories — hope you’ll try it out sometime this week and let me know what you think!

3 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 lb sliced white button mushrooms
2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp paprika
4 cups beef stock
4 1/2-inch thick pork loin slices (about 1 1/2 lbs, tot.), pounded to 1/4 inch between 2 pieces of plastic wrap
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp heavy cream
3 Tbsp chopped parsley, divided
Spätzle — home-made, or cooked according to package instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Heat butter in a large sauté over medium heat. Once foam subsides, add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they’ve released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and the 1 tsp paprika. Stir constantly for an additional 1 minute. Turn heat to high, and stir in beef stock. Bring to a boil, then cook down until the liquid is reduced by 1 half. Remove from heat and stir in cream and 2 Tbsp parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired (keeping in mind that there’s a bunch of salt and pepper on the cutlets). Set aside.

Sprinkle each cutlet with remaining salt and pepper on each side. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook each of the cutlets, one at a time, until they are browned and cooked through (about a minute and a half each) — keep cutlets warm, covered with aluminum foil in oven.

Plate each of the cutlets with a portion of spätzle. Spoon mushroom sauce over each and garnish with remaining chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 4.

 

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Grilled Meatloaf with Romesco Sauce

Grilled_Meatloaf (1 of 1)Perfect weekend for outdoor cooking here in New England! As many of my readers know, I love meatloaf of all kinds — I’ve adapted one of my favorite recipes for the grill. The added benefit is that you’re not heating up the kitchen, and in particular, the meatloaf takes on a fantastic smokey bbq flavor. The romesco sauce is not typically served with meatloaf (usually served with shrimp/prawns), but I served it with this dish, and it  was a spot-on compliment to the meatloaf. This is an unusual, but great summer outdoor dish — I hope you’ll try it this weekend!

2 slices of bread
1/3 cup milk
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
7 cloves garlic (3 of them finely minced or grated; 4 unpeeled)
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 ground allspice
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
1 1/2 lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped parsley

1 plum tomato, halved and seeded
4 red Thai bird chillies, cut lengthwise and seeded
4 Tbsp shelled hazelnuts
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp water

For meatloaf, combine bread and milk in a medium bowl. Set aside to soak. Heat bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once foam subsides, add onion, minced garlic, celery and carrot. Sauté 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, salt and pepper.

Squeeze excess milk from soaked bread, and place in large bowl. Add onion mixture, prunes, beef, pork, eggs and parsley. Combine with hands. Form into a loaf and place in an appropriate, disposable aluminum pan, approx. 8 inches x 10 inches.

Prepare gill for indirect cooking at 400 degrees (e.g. flame on one side, dish on other).

Place meatloaf in aluminum pan on hot grill. Cook covered for 1 1/4 hours, or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. Remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes.

For the romesco sauce, heat oven to 400 degrees F (can also be done on grill with the meatloaf).  Line a baking sheet with foil. Wrap garlic cloves in foil and place on sheet (or disposable aluminum sheet) together with tomato, chiles and bake for 12 minutes. Add hazelnuts and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove tray from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Peel the tomatoes and squeeze both tomatoes and garlic into a food processor. Add the hazelnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, chilies, olive oil, vinegar, salt and water. Process to a smooth, creamy consistency.

Slice meatloaf and serve with romesco sauce and mashed potatoes and perhaps, some green beans.

Serves 8.

 

 

 

Barbecued Scotch (aka Picnic) Eggs

Scotch_Eggs (1 of 1)“Scotch eggs” were apparently invented in England in 1738 at a London department store. They’ve been very popular since then as a snack, picnic food, pub food, etc.. I recently came across an Americanized version at Epicurious, which I used as a base for this recipe. I cooked them on my REC TEC wood pellet grill, and man, they were delicious! This is a perfect addition to a summer time, indoor or outdoor meal. I think they are much simpler to prepare than they look — I hope you’ll try this recipe this summer!

3 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp chili powder
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
6 large eggs
Ice water
1 lb lean ground pork

Combine 3 Tbsp paprika, 1 Tbsp ground black pepper, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

In a medium sauce pan, cover eggs in cold water. Bring eggs to a boil over high heat and cook 2 minutes. Remove eggs and immediately put into ice water. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove eggs from water, peel and place them in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, combine the pork, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Use hands to ensure ingredients are well-incorporated.

Divide pork mixture into 6 equal portions. Flatten each portion into about a 5-inch circle on plastic wrap or wax paper. Place an egg on each and lift up the sides to drape eggs. In your hands, work each egg and pork mixture so that the eggs are evenly concealed by the pork. Spread spice mixture in a shallow dish. Roll each egg in the spice mixture until it is evenly coated. Place eggs on a clean dish, cover gently with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Prepare charcoal (or smoker or wood pellet) grill for low-heat, indirect cooking. Add some mesquite chips soaked in water (or some other flavorful wood) if using charcoal. When Temperature reaches 235 degrees F, place the eggs on the grill. Close lid and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer eggs to a plate, let cool and slice length-wise into quarters. Serve with a good BBQ sauce (I like Stubb’s Original).

Serves 6.

Braised Meat Rolls with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Meatloaf_with_Mushroom_Sauce (1 of 1)It’s been a while since I made a meatloaf (long overdue in my book). I ended up making a variation that I call “meat rolls,” which are smaller, breaded and braised on top of the stove. The amount of mushrooms the recipe calls for may seem huge, but necessary. Don’t worry, they cook down, and the resulting sauce is fantastic!. Another thing, the nutmeg in the meat mixture adds a ton of “depth of flavor” in European meat dishes, so I’m always trying to figure out how to incorporate into mine. This is a great Sunday afternoon or evening dish — hope you’ll try it!

2 slices of bread (crusts removed), torn into pieces
3/4 cup milk
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 lb cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely diced
3 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 (rounded) tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup pain, dry bread crumbs
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cups white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Soak bread in milk in a small bowl, then squeeze out all of the milk. Set aside.

Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and cook 5 minutes, or until light brown. Add the mushrooms, 2 tsp of the salt, 1/2 tsp of the black pepper. Cook 20 minutes, turning and stirring the mushrooms until they are soft and have released their water. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the soaked bread, meat, parsley, eggs, cheese, nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Use your hands to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well. Add some bread crumbs if mixture seems too loose.

Divide meat mixture in half. Roll each half into a cylinder that is about 4 inches in diameter. Place bread crumbs in a shallow pan. Gently coat each meat roll (abundantly) in bread crumbs.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and the 3 Tbsp butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the foam from the butter has subsided, gently add the breaded meat rolls. Brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add wine to the pan and cook about 2 minutes, until the wine is reduced considerably. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, turning the rolls from time to time. Add mushroom mixture and cook, covered, another 15 minutes. Uncover, stir in the cream and cook an additional 12 minutes. Remove meat rolls and slice into 1-inch pieces. To serve, place a few slices of meat on each plate, spoon the mushroom sauce over each serving and garnish with parsley. Service with a starch and green vegetable.

Serves 6.

 

 

 

American Black Bean Chili with IPA Beer

Black_Bean_Chili (1 of 1)Chili is a popular go-to comfort food in this household, especially when the snow is as deep as f#$^%$! and the temperature is constantly below f*^%k!. I have many recipes for chili, and this is a combination of the things I like the best about each. Additionally, I’ve added IPA (India Pale Ale Beer) and allspice, which I think help to create a fantastic depth of flavor for this version. I hope you’ll try it next time you are wanting comfort food!
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, very finely grated or minced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 – 5 dried Thai (or similar hot) chilies, cut with scissors into 1/8 pieces, seeds and all
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 28-oz whole peeled tomatoes, squeezed to a pulp in a bowl by hand
3 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12-oz bottle beer (preferably IPA)
Sour cream for garnish
Grated white cheddar for garnish
Diced fresh tomato for garnish
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Tabasco sauce (optional) for garnish

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, beef and bell pepper. Cook for 8 minutes.

Stir in the next 8 ingredients (chili powder through ground black pepper) and cook 1 minute.

Stir in the beans, squeezed tomatoes and beer. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour. Remove lid and simmer an additional 30 minutes, or until chili has thickened. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning (I added an additional 2 1/2 tsp salt, which seemed good). Ladle into serving bowls, garnishing each with a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese, diced tomato, parsley and a few drops of Tabasco sauce. I like to serve with fresh, crusty bread.

Serves 6.

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder with Thyme

Sweet_Potato_and_Corn_Chowder1 (1 of 1)This extremely tasty chowder warms the soul on a chilly autumn night. I enjoy any type of chowder (fish, clam, corn, you name it!), but I find this version particularly interesting because of its use of sweet potatoes, sherry and thyme, and the crème fraîche adds a delicious finishing touch. Long list of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s really easy to prepare — I hope you’ll try this chowder one night!

4 oz bacon, diced
2 Tbsp butter
2 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and finely chopped (white part only)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 – 3 medium red potatoes (tot. 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb frozen corn kernels
6 Tbsp dry white wine
3 Tbsp dry sherry
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus some additional for garnish
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 oz crème fraîche

Heat bacon in a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 1 tsp of the bacon fat.

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, shallots, celery and reserved tsp of bacon fat. Sauté about 8 minutes, until leeks and shallots are translucent (and not burnt). Add the bay leaf, garlic, red potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook 8 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the wine and sherry. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer for about an hour, until the potatoes are soft, but not falling apart. Remove from heat. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Pour into serving bowls, and garnish with chopped parsley and black pepper. I like to serve this dish with cornbread sticks.

Serves 6.

Leek and Potato Soup with Pearl Barley and a Hint of Nutmeg

Potato_and_Leek_Soup1 (1 of 1)Here’s a hearty fall soup with German roots. It has two of my favorite ingredients:  leeks and nutmeg, which are key to this dish (well, so is the butter). The barley adds a very nice texture and flavor, as well. I’ve had this soup before where it is practically all white because of the broth that was used, but for this recipe, I prefer to use a dark, rich vegetable stock (I used Kitchen Basics). This soup is very easy to make, yet it is very flavorful — I tend to cook recipes with long ingredient lists, but I have to remind myself now and again that simple is elegant and often better! I hope you’ll give this dish a try!

8 cups vegetable stock
1 large leek, finely chopped (white part only)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 lb red potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add vegetable stock and stir in leek, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in barley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 45 minutes. Stir often, so that the barley doesn’t stick to bottom of pot. Stir in butter, and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Serve hot, garnishing with parsley and plenty of Parmesan. Fresh, crusty bread is a must with this soup.

Serves 4.