LamBurger Casserole

Last night we had TheHubbs™ favourite meal: Hamburger Casserole — a very simple combination of ground beef, hashbrown potatoes (the cubed kind), onions, bell peppers, cream of {whatever} soup, and topped with cheese. 

For some reason I thought I had ground beef in the freezer somewhere but it turned out I only had ground pork and ground lamb. Turns out ground lamb makes AWESOME hamburger casserole. In fact, it’s way, way, tastier than ground beef is, so from now on: we’re gonna be making “Lamburger Casserole” ;D

LamBurger/Hamburger Casserole is a pretty simple and very basic recipe, and surprisingly, it doesn’t really need any extra seasoning (not even garlic!)
The original recipe MIL uses called for cream of mushroom soup, but TheHubbs™ is allergic to shrooms, hence why we use cream of chicken — strangely, I prefer the chicken in this particular dish 😊 

P.S.: measurements in brackets for the American friends in the audience 😉

LamBurger Casserole

450g ground lamb (or beef — 1lb)

900g hashbrown potatoes (or fresh cubed potatoes, if you feel inclined — 2lbs)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 each: red, yellow & orange bell pepper, chopped (NOT GREEN!!)

2 cups marble cheese, grated, divided

2 cans cream of chicken soup (undiluted)

Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F

Over medium-high heat, brown ground lamb in a large pot big enough to accomodate all the ingredients at the end. 

Note 1: no need for extra fat for browning the lamb.

When your lamb has cooked enough to release its fat (but still looking kina bleh grey), add the chopped onions, bell peppers and cook until softened and golden brown. 

Season the meat and veggies lightly with salt (remember: there’s a decent amount of salt in the canned soup + cheese), go crazy with the pepper if you’re into that sort of thing.

Note 2: You want to cook the meat until you can smell the lamb getting “dark brown & tasty” and the fat & juices get re-absorbed.

Once the meat is cooked, remove pot from heat, add both cans of soup, 1 cup of cheese and stir well until everything is all melty and amalgamated. 

Add all the hashbrowns and mix until everything is well combined, then dump the whole mess into a large casserole dish.

Top casserole with the remaining cheese and bake until the hashbrowns are heated through and everything’s bubbly, about 1 hour.

When time’s up, let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving so the violent bubbling can subside and you don’t burn your tongue when you start shovelling it into your maw 😉

I made curry!

At least, it’s currently simmering on the stove doing whatever it needs to be doing in hopes of becoming something uber tasty.

I’ve never made a meat curry from scratch before. I’ve made a veggie curry, which was very very yummy, but never meat. A couple days ago I pulled one of the last bison round roasts from the deep freeze to thaw. I had intended on roasting it again like I did last time, but ever since I had my girls night on Friday, I’ve been craving curry.

On the whole, it seems to be that curry’s actually a relatively easy thing to make, it’s just that it has a lot of little ingredients to deal with which makes it seem like it’s a whole long and complicated procedure. The recipe for my Bison Korma is of course originally written for beef. I’ve discovered over the past year that I actually much prefer the taste of bison over the taste of beef. It just has a better meaty taste to it. I thought I had all the ingredients on hand to make the spice paste from whole spices, but it turned out that I was mistaken and so decided to just make the paste from ground instead. I didn’t make any adjustments to the quantities of spices to take into account the ‘dry vs. whole’ because… well, I’m tired and I’m lazy and this is truly the easiest way to go about things without needing to think.

So far the curry smells pretty fantastic — I sampled a piece of bison just to see how the tastes melded and it’s really good! I mean, it obviously could use a longer simmering time for the flavours to mingle properly, which it’s doing until The Hubbs comes home, but I am pretty pleased with its outcome so far.

The original recipe calls for 2kg of beef, my roast was only just over 1kilo, but I didn’t bother with adjusting for quantities because everyone loves extra curry sauce for dunking naan into. What I am planning on doing though is freezing a good portion of the curry because we certainly can’t eat it all. Before I actually finish off cooking the curry for dindin tonight, I’m going to portion out my quantity for later and chuck it into the freezer but I am not going to add in the cream or yoghurt before-hand because dairy will split when frozen and no one wants that. When I reheat the curry at a later date, I will stir in fresh cream and yoghurt right before serving.

Bison Korma

1 kg Bison, cubed
3 onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup water
¼ cup almonds, blanched and slivered
8 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp Garam Masala
Salt (to taste)

¼ cup Whipping Cream
1 cup plain Yogurt
2 tbsp Coriander/ Parsley (snipped)

In a small food processor, combine together coriander, cumin, cardamom , red chili and cloves.
Add 1/3 cup water, slivered almonds, garlic, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and garam masala.
Blend the mixture to form a paste and set aside.
Heat some oil in a large saucepan and sear meat in batches.
Set aside cooked pieces until all meat is seared.
Add extra oil in the saucepan if needed and add the onions.
Sauté the onions on medium-high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, till they start turning brown.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the spice paste. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes till lightly brown.
Add meat and all their juices, plus ½ cup water to the saucepan and stir well.
Cover the pan and simmer for 1½ to 1¾ hours till meat turns tender, stirring occasionally.
Mix together whipping cream, yogurt.
Add the cream mixture to the meat and stir well.
Cook the mixture till it thickens and turns bubbly, another 1-2 minutes.
Serve with rice and naan.

What do I call this…?

So I’ve had it in my head the last week to make something resembling shredded beef to be eaten inside homemade flour tortillas. Thing is, I dunno what I would technically call it. The recipe I used as my template calls it Roja Vieja, which translates to "old clothes".

My brain is all fuzzed up and just broken since I started the new meds on Saturday.

I’ve been having headaches when I wake up in the morning, which is so not cool, and today I was supremely nauseous. Like I was saying to a gf this morning, I dunno what the hell I did at the lab, but omg my low back on my left side was killing me. Really? This is so not cool. Side Effects of the Adcirca: headache, muscle pain, getting red or hot in the face (flushing), nausea, pain (in the arms, legs, or back), upset stomach, and stuffy or congested nose. The only things I don’t have on that list are flushing, muscle pain… and the stuffy/congested nose is questionable given my cold, but I’m pretty sure I may have that too -_-;;; GUH.. I realize I am being rather immature here, but how long do I have to wait before the side effects wear off??? Why did we decide to do this again?? :P~

So after I got back from the lab, I prepped dinner. Unfortunately I don’t have my crockpot on hand because I lent it to Miss R so she could make enough BBQ beef to serve 40 people over the long weekend when they were helping to build a community garden at St.Barnabus church. I basically threw everything into my pot and let it simmer from about 100-ish til 4pm and have now tossed it into the oven for another two hours at 325F in hopes that the meat breaks down and ends up wonderfully fork tender. As it stands now, it’s not doing that and I am very, very sad because of it. I have my fingers crossed that it will end up doing what it’s supposed to, but I don’t have much faith in that right now and am very disappointed. Because of the lack of fork tenderness, I am making up a pot of rice to serve with the bison and all the tomatoes at the botom of the pot. It would be a shame to waste all those wonderful juices, and there are a LOT of them. I would actually consider just scooping it up into a bowl and just drinking it as a soup to be honest.

Anyhow, recipe with my changes are below. If this roast does in fact turn out the way I want it to, which is to say wonderfully fall apart and fork tender, I will definitely make this again to be tucked into some homemade flour tortillas, but for now I guess we’ll just eat this and all the wonderful juices over rice. I will definitely use the recipe again with some short ribs or perhaps even some oxtail, because it does smell pretty darn fantastic as it is and I betcha it would taste even better over noodles as a light sauce!

So what do I call it? I still haven’t quite figured that out yet. It needs a name. Help!

Yummy Bison

Cross-rib bison roast
olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
3/4 bulb garlic, sliced
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 bottle salsa verde
1 cup beef broth
salt & pepper

Season bison roast generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large pot, cook onions and garlic until soft and fragrant.
Move onions to the outside of the pot and sear the bison on all sides.
Once meat is seared, add beef broth to pan to deglaze, be careful not to burn yourself from the steam!
Add fire roasted tomatoes and salsa verde to pot, swishing out containers with water to add to pot.
If needed, pour in extra water so that the liquid level comes most of the way up the roast.
Cover pot and bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer until meat is fall apart tender.

Crock-pot version: Put onions and garlic in bottom of crock. Season roast and place on top of onions. Pour tomatoes and salsa around meat and add beef broth, adding enough water to come most of the way up the roast, as needed. Cook on high until meat is fall apart tender.

Bison Meatloaf and Fiddlehead Ferns

Earlier in the week I threw a bison chuck roast into the fridge to defrost. I knew I didn’t want to just throw the hunk of meat into the crockpot and make a potroast — it would seem that I’m just not a big fan of the potroast. That and between The Hubbs & myself, I’m pretty sure that leftovers are getting to be pretty boring pretty quickly, lately. I wanted to hack up the roast into pieces and make my own ground bison to do with as I pleased. We’ve only got a few bags of ground bison leftover in the deep freeze and I know that my mom has always bought chuck roasts to make her own ground beef with and so I knew that I would be perfectly okay doing the same thing with the bison. The big question was more so: What am I gonna do with 4lbs of ground chuck once it’s ready to go?

Since it takes forever for things to defrost in our fridge, it gave me a few days to think about it. I knew I wanted to make some meatballs to freeze for a later date because they make for a really easy meal that I don’t have to think about, but that would only take up a pound or so of meat. Then I thought that some bison burgers stuffed with blue cheese would be a fantastic idea. We haven’t had homemade burgers in forever and The Hubbs is especially fond of the blue cheese middles, so I bought some yesterday while I was out and about doing errands on my own. (Right now The Hubbs has the plague and isn’t up to driving anywhere because the changes in elevation just make him miserable, plus it’s been incredibly windy the last few days which is never a good thing when you have a cold/flu.)

Then I realized that what would be really fantastic for dinner along with the package of fiddleheads(!) I found at the grocery store yesterday, would be meatloaf. So I scrapped the burger idea (even though I did buy the blue cheese and some buns) and decided that I shall make a meatloaf filled with bacon, some softened onions and use the now stale-ish bacon cake for breadcrumbs. Seems like a good plan for Sunday dinner: Bison meatloaf, fiddleheads with butter and some mashed potatoes.

Backtracking for a moment — I can’t believe that I actually found fiddleheads at the grocery store! I thought they were one of those things that you’d only ever find in some upscale market NOT in Calgary! I’ve never had them before, but I’ve always wanted to try them and figured that this would probably be my only opportunity to do so. I was pretty pleased with my find and am hoping that they taste good. I certainly don’t see them tasting bad… Well, okay, there is the off chance it could taste absolutely terrible like that time I bought white asparagus for the first time and they were the most horribly bitter vegetable that I had ever had in my life, even more so than Chinese bitter melon! That’s pretty harsh. I had to throw the whole batch out, it was such a disappointment. I’m hoping the fiddleheads don’t suffer from the same fate.

Anyhow, plans for the fiddleheads will probably be just boil them, then toss them with some butter, salt and pepper. Seems to be that the simplest method of cooking is generally deemed to be the best way of serving and enjoying them. I could fry them with some butter and garlic, but I don’t really feel like doing any more knife work today. I’m feeling pretty tired still and am Moosed up. The weather’s changed considerably since yesterday — no more sun, very overcast, still quite windy and kind of on the chilly side. I think a traditional Sunday dinner will be a good boost for The Hubbs. At least, I’m hoping so, even though his tastebuds are kind of shot at the moment.

Thinking about it, I’ve been making a lot of meatballs, but not meatloaves. There isn’t really all that much difference between a loaf and a ball, recipe-wise for me, but I did find a recipe that sounded decent enough. The only thing is that for the two of us, any recipe calling for two pounds of ground meat, plus all the filler ingredients, is going to be incredibly huge. So I’ve decided to make the whole recipe, but shape the mixture into two meatloaves. One to eat tonight and one to freeze for later. Seems like I’m all about “make & freeze now/eat later”, today.

Grinding down four pounds of meat doesn’t take that long — the problem is keeping the consistency the same as you go through the meat. I noticed while I was forming the meatballs (after I had mixed together the meatloaf) that there were some chunks of meat that could have used a bit more processing. Over processing the meat wasn’t really likely to happen, but that could be because I’m used to doing it with beef and know approximately how many pulses it takes to make a decent texture. Thing is, because I’m all Moosed up, I’m a little scatterbrained and so some of the meat is actually under processed. Oh well. I’m not too bothered.

The recipe for the bison loaf is hopefully going to taste good. The biggest thing I’m scared of is that it will be dry — I’m not worried about it being tasteless because there’s all sorts of tasty stuff going on, but the dryness is a concern for me since bison is quite lean. I did change up the recipe slightly from the original that I found here because it calls for mushrooms. As for breadcrumbs, I just blitzed up most of what remained of the bacon cake from last week since it was kind of going stale. I hear that the best breadcrumbs are made from “real bread”, therefore bacon cake can only make for AWESOME breadcrumbs, in my opinion ;D

Bison Meatloaf

1 onion, blitzed
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup breadcrumb
2 lbs ground bison
salt, pepper
For the Glaze:
3 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp brown sugar

In a frying pan, fry together the bacon, onions and garlic until cooked through and soft. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients with the bacon & onions, except bison, and mix well.
Add bison to the bowl and mix gently until combined. Do not overmix.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Divide meatloaf mixture and form into 2 loaf shapes, place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Mix together glaze ingredients and spread half of the mixture onto each meatloaf.
Bake for 1 hour.

Fiddleheads with Butter

1lb fiddlehead ferns
salt, pepper

Trim the base of the ferns, leaving only a tiny tail beyond the circumference of each Fiddlehead.
Rub off any remaining furry brown covering.
Rinse under running water.
Drop ferns into a large pot of boiling salted water and boil for about 10-15 minutes or until tender.
Serve piping hot with melted butter.

Bison Pot Roast

The pot roast I made yesterday in the crockpot, while I was out and about with the girls, was kind of tasty but it seems like it was missing something… I don’t think the ginger marmalade was flavourful enough to compete against the beef stock and the flavour of the bison. It went pretty nicely with mashed potatoes, but there is something missing. Perhaps it needs more curry powder? Or perhaps garam masala to up the flavour intensity?

The recipe called for a jar of chutney and I could have sworn I had a bottle in the fridge, but apparently I was wrong so I substituted what remained of a jar of ginger marmalade. I figured it couldn’t be a bad combination since there are recipes for orange beef out there. As much as I am generally not a fan of meat + fruit combinations, the raisins in this recipe didn’t make the pot roast overly sweet, which I liked. The little nubbins of juiciness were actually quite nice.

I will have try the recipe again with a proper jar of chutney (hot? mango? hot mango??) one day but for now, I still have a fair bit of leftovers that I need to contend with.

Spiced Pot Roast

3 pounds boneless beef rump or chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup chutney
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In a crockpot, combine all ingredients and pour over roast.
Cover and cook until meat is tender.
Thicken gravy if desired.

Bison Balls with Veggie Ragout

Dinner last night.

Super easy — It seems that we might actually plow through all that ground bison meat. I didn’t think I would be able to come up with anything to do with them other than bison burgers, but it looks like one of our regular (for the last three weeks or so, at least) meals is now bison balls.

The recipe is more or less the same everytime I make them, I just vary the seasonings and I generally serve them the same way everytime, too — with rice and a sauce. That’s actually kind of boring, now that I think about it. o_O;

Anyhow, The Hubbs is quite liking the meatballs, so I guess that’s all that really matters: that we like what we’re eating.

Recipe is simple and I’ve posted my first version of it here. The veggies are also seemingly becoming my go-to easy to make recipe. The recipe is basically a lazy version of ratatouille, but it’s also what I’m starting to use as the base for my roasts like the pheasant I made earlier in the week. The veggies here are actually the leftovers from that. I’ve discovered that vegetables in the grocery store are becoming somewhat gargantuan and are really too much for the two of us to eat at any one meal.

Last night’s dinner was quite tasty and for the first time in a couple of weeks, I had wheat. I’m not sure that it was necessarily a smart move on my part, but dinner just demanded a nice loaf of garlic bread to soak up the sauce and veggie juices. I have to mention, I made the bison balls and the veggies the day before and just reheated everything for dinner with a bottle of store-bought spaghetti sauce the day after. This was intentional because I had an inkling feeling on Thursday that Friday would not be a stellar day. I was teh smrt! Try as I might, I don’t think I am very good at writing recipes with measurements. Everything is just “throw into the bowl” for me and I think that most people have a pretty good idea as to how flavourful they like their food anyhow, so this shouldn’t really be much of an issue overall. The thing I find most amusing when I cook, is my garlic habit — more is better! So obviously, use your own discretion.

If I were making this the day of, to eat for dinner, I don’t think it would taste ~quite~ the same, but then I probably would change the recipe, if only minimally. Roasting off the veggies with the bison balls just seems to be a really great method of making things uber tasty and solidifying the meatballs so they won’t fall apart and disintegrate in violently burbling tomato sauce. So yes, in the scheme of things, this recipe is a bit on the fiddly side, but I think I’m okay with that.

Veggie Ragout with Bison balls.

1/2 large eggplant, cut into chunks
1/2 large zucchini, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into chunks
garlic, lots, minced
olive oil
salt, pepper

1lb ground bison
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
rice cracker crumbs (or leftover rice
minced garlic
dried onion flakes
dried oregano
dried parsley
salt & pepper

Bottle of your fave spaghetti sauce
Loaf of garlic bread

Preheat oven to 450F (with the convection fan on, for my little oven).
In a large bowl, combine all the veggies with enough olive oil to coat, add seasonings and toss well.
Pour all the veggies into a pan large enough to accomodate bison balls later.
Roast veggies in oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make bison balls.
In the veggie bowl, no use making more dishes, add all the ingredients and mix well with your hands.
After the veggies have had their 15 minutes, divide the meat mixture into 16 balls and gently place on the veggies.
Turn the temperature down to 350F (325F in my little oven) and roast everything for another 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool to room temperature and refridgerate until needed.
When you’re ready to heat & eat, separate the bison balls from the roasted veggies.
In a large pot, heat some olive oil and the roasted veggies over medium heat.
Add a little water to the roaster to get all the tasty saucy bits that might be remaining.
Add your bottle of spaghetti sauce, swilling out the jar with some water to get the desired sauce consistency.
Let the sauce come to a burble and add your bison balls, stir gently to get them coated with sauce and leave them alone to heat through.
Meanwhile, heat your garlic bread while you’re waiting.
When your bread’s done, your meatballs should be thoroughly warmed through.
Serve in large bowls.
Enjoy the taste of bread for the first time in weeks and hope your tummy doesn’t get all angsty later.

Amazing NYE Dindin is Amazing

Dinner was absolutely fantastic. I am still amazed. I have pictures, but am currently Moosed up and too lazy to upload them right now, so it will probably be done sometime tomorrow.

The roast bison was perfectly cooked to medium-rare, with the ends being more of a medium-well(?), which was perfect for Mom’s liking. The method I used for roasting the bison I knew would work, but I am incredibly impressed at how perfect the method truly is. The first time I encountered this method of roasting a prime rib of beast, I discovered through a youtube video, which Chef John calls “Method X”. The most important thing to know about “Method X” is that the meat must be at room temperature before throwing it into the oven. It could take up to 6 hours to come to room temperature before roasting and to be honest, I totally believe it… but then I think our fridge might be abnormally cold, even for a fridge. Basically what you do is preheat your oven to a screaming hot 500F to sear the outside of the meat, for a specific amount of time [which is determined by taking the weight of your roast x 5 minutes], then you turn off the oven and leave it alone for 2 hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THE TWO HOURS. Don’t think about the oven. Don’t even look at the oven. For my bison, the times are slightly different, but the method is essentially the same. For a 3 lb roast, it sears at 480F for 30 minutes then it sits for 30-45 minutes with the heat turned off. I chose 45 minutes because even though I took out the roast to warm up to room temperature for 2 hours prior, assuming it was an adequate amount of time, it was still chilled to the touch. After I pulled the bison out of the oven, I let it rest under foil for a good 20, probably closer 30 minutes, while I made the gravy before carving.

The gravy… OH MY GOD the gravy! Port & stilton gravy is now officially my absolute go-to gravy recipe when it comes to making a prime rib roast of either the beef or bison pursuasion. Even Mom enjoyed it and that’s saying something, considering she doesn’t like blue cheese. I was saying to Dad when we finished dinner that if I could, I would drink it with a straw. We had so much leftover that I probably could have, too. If I had been smart, the quantity of gravy could have probably been halved and we would still have had more than enough to serve.

What remains won’t be a complete waste, I packed up the leftovers so we can have it tomorrow with pork chops, along with the rather ridiculous quantity of veggies we’ve got remaining as well. Mom absolutely loved the maple roasted carrots & parsnips and surprisingly, Dad did too! Though he definitely preferred the ‘nips over the carrots, naturally. The green beans went over quite well, but next time I should remember to add onions. It definitely could have benefitted from them. Somehow I completely forgot about putting any in, which is odd because when I make veggies I almost always add garlic and onions.

The mashed potatoes were also really yummy — I used lots of butter, a generous splosh milk, some chopped green onions, about 1/2 cup of tzatziki that uses ridiculously thick-thick-thick(!) greek yoghurt, and seasoned with some kosher salt and a generous grinding of pepper. As far as mashed potatoes are concerned, they were pretty impressive. I’m not usually a mashed potato person, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed them. I even had seconds. That’s totally unheard of for me.

For dessert, we had a store-bought tiramisu. I am usually pretty unexcited about in-house, store-bought/branded desserts because they tend to be very bad imitations of the real thing. This one was pretty good, albeit slightly frozen still. The instructions on the label said to let thaw overnight in the fridge. Oups. Not a horrible loss though. With a cup of hot coffee, it was still quite nice.

The only minor disappointment of the evening, for me, is that I had a lot of pain around 4pm and I was still in pain by the time we finished dindin at 730pm. So I had to take the Moose. Unfortunately there’s no ringing in the New Year with Hello Kitty Bubbly Wine for me tonight. I had planned on using the leftovers to make Nigella’s Champagne Risotto for Two sometime this weekend. Thinking about it now, I don’t know that it would have necessarily been the wisest of choices — the wine is pink. I have no idea how it would affect the flavour, but I suppose it couldn’t be horrible, could it…?

This is the first time I’ve ever made dinner for Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve and all in all, I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments this year. Perhaps I can try to do it again next year. If not, at least I have two menus which I know I am capable of making and are fantastic.

Have a Happy & Prosperous New Year ^_^

New Year’s Eve Dinner

Plan: Prime Rib Bison Roast with Port & Stilton Gravy

Bison Prime Rib Roast
3 lb Bison Prime Rib Roast, thawed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 480° F for 20 minutes.
Season the top of the roast with salt, thyme, garlic and black pepper.
Place seasoned roast in center of oven and roast 30 minutes at 480° F.
After 30 minutes, turn off oven and leave the oven door closed for 35-45 minutes.
This will result in a roast that is medium-rare throughout.
Leave in oven for an additional 10 minutes for medium end cuts and medium-rare center.
Slice prime rib thinly for tenderness and ladle juices from the bottom of the roasting pan for flavor.

Port and Stilton gravy
2 tbsp fatty juices from the roast beef tin, plus extra to finish
1 tbsp plain flour
125ml/4fl oz ruby port
500ml/17fl oz beef stock, heated
125g/4oz Stilton cheese
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make a roux by placing the two tablespoons of the fatty juices from the roasted beef into a clean pan over a medium heat.
Whisk in the flour to create a paste.
Add all but one tablespoon of the port and keep whisking over a low heat, until thickened and boiling.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the hot beef stock.
Add the Stilton and stir to melt into the gravy.
Add the redcurrant jelly and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Simmer the gravy for five minutes, then stir in the remaining tablespoon of port.
Serve in a jug alongside the roast beef.

Bison Stew

Ever since we got our big box’o’bison, I’ve been wanting to make stew.

Unfortunately, there was only 1 package of stew meat in our box, everything else is a 2-3 pound roast of some sort — prime rib roast, cross rib roast, chuck roast, etc… or steaks. That’s a lot of big chunks! Thinking about it just now, I guess I could technically cut up the chuck roast into bite sized chunks and use that for stewing as well. It would just require a few extra prep steps and I would have to be cooking stew for more than just myself & The Hubbs. The package of stew meat was actually the perfect size for us. We each had a bowl for dinner and we’ll probably get maybe 1-2 more bowls each from the leftovers. Keep in mind: we are small eaters, so in reality, I think most couples could probably polish off the stew in one go.

Kind of back tracking a bit — a couple of nights ago, I was doing a little game of back & forthing on Facebook with Ozymand about recipe apps that I use for the iPad. For interest’s sake, I highly recommend: Epicurious, Allrecipes, and Big Oven. The best celebrity chef app I’ve found, to date, would have to be Mario Batali Cooks!. It has to be the most impressive cooking app I’ve ever seen. Every single recipe has a video. Every. Single. One. Not only that, but there’s a whole slew tips and techniques videos which is pretty fantastic for beginners. It’s just that amazing if you’re wanting to learn Italian cooking. Do make sure you’re downloading specifically the HD/iPad versions of the apps, not the ones for iPhone.

After having talked about the apps, I did a little random recipe surfing and came across a recipe for a dry chimichurri rub on Epicurious.

I don’t think I need to remind anyone how much I absolutely ~lurv~ chimichurri sauce. It is probably one of the most amazing sauces I have ever eaten in my entire life. It just makes my taste buds go crazy with a perfectly grilled steak. I actually dream of that sauce with a hunk of meat and some wonderfully crusty bread to mop up the leftovers. So yummy. *sigh*

Anyhow, since I rarely never have the fresh ingredients on hand for chimichurri sauce, I thought it would be fantastic to have this as a pantry staple for instant gratification. It wouldn’t be quite as perfect as having it freshly made, but it would certainly satisfy any cravings I had in a pretty quick minute.

Unfortunately, even for the dry rub, I found out I didn’t have enough/all the ingredients on hand: I ended up short on the thyme and I’ve never had savory in the house, so substituted it with marjoram. As far as I can tell, the rub tastes perfectly fine with the minor alterations and doesn’t appear to have suffered any great loss. When I run out of this first batch, I will be making it with the proper amount of thyme, but I don’t think I am going to be worrying over the savory-marjoram issue.

Dry Chimichurri Rub

3 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
3 Tbsp dried basil leaves
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
2 Tbsp coarse kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried savory (or marjoram) leaves
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl.
Transfer to 250ml canning jar.
Store at room temperature.

To make a marinade: whisk 1/4 cup rub with 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

…Back to my stew…

It was really, really tasty. I’m still amazed that I can make stew!

Growing up, I didn’t like the beef stew my Mom made. She had the basics down: water, beef, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, salt & pepper. But that was pretty much it for her stew. There may have been a bayleaf involved, but I’m not 100% certain on that. Seriously. That was it. I was really unhappy whenever she made it. Older bro, on the other hand, loved it. And as far as I know, probably still does. I always wished she would make a beef stew with a dark, rich and flavourful broth, but it never happened. I think mu biggest problem was that I could never tell her how to make it tastier. I just didn’t have the vocabulary for it. But then again, I imagine if Mom ever made a different kind of stew, then Older Bro probably wouldn’t be happy about the change. I guess if you’re into bland food, then Mom’s version of stew would definitely be for you. All I know is that it’s definitely not for me.

My original plan was to make stew for yesterday’s supper, but stuff came up and we ended up having family dindin instead. That gave me the opportunity to marinate the bison meat for a day until I made the stew today. That doesn’t sound right. Marinating involves liquids and I used no liquids with the bison. So what is the correct term for using a dry rub and letting it sit around to do its thing? I am having a complete mental block o_O;;

In a bowl I added 2 generous tablespoons of the chimichurri rub to the meat (I’m guessing that it was about 1 pound-ish) and mixed it well to coat, covered it up and stuck it back into the fridge until today. I suppose I could’ve added a little oil to help moisten things up, but I didn’t.

For the liquid component to the stew, I used some beef broth, de-alcoholized red wine that I still had leftover from my first beef stew experiment, a couple of sploshes of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness of the “wine” and a generous squeeze of tomato paste which was dissolved in the hot broth.

Veggie-wise, next time I think I will make sure to add some parsnips along with the usual carrots, onions and celery and perhaps even consider adding a turnip or a rutabegga for something new & different.

The stew ended up being on the watery side only because I didn’t have any potatoes in the house to add for the veggie component. I suppose I could have added a bit of a cornstarch slurry just before serving to bring it all together but I wasn’t terribly bothered by the thinness of the broth. I realize that for some people potatoes are a must in a stew, and I know the potatoes are a key thickening agent, but honestly, I’m just not a huge fan of potatoes to begin with and I didn’t really miss them. I think if I served the stew with mashed potatoes on the side, it would actually be a really tasty way to go along with some crusty bread for sopping up the extra liquids. Surprisingly, The Hubbs had no comments on the lack of potatoes.

The overall flavour of the stew was very satisfying. The addition of apple cider vinegar was an excellent choice that took away the unpalatable sweetness that I remember from making the beef stew. The funny thing about this stew was that it had this warmth that I couldn’t identify. I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I was almost done eating — it was the smoked paprika and crushed red chili flakes from the dry rub that was giving me the intriguing flavours. The Hubbs said he liked the warmth that they both gave to the stew, but I’m still on the fence about it. Mainly I’m curious to know how the stew would taste without the background warmth and smokiness.

Anyhow, I’ve totally guessed on the measurements that I’ve written for the recipe, so just run with what you know and like. Given that I went with the super lazy route for making the stew by not browning the meat in a pan first and not deglazing the pan with liquids afterwards, you could just mix the meat with the dry rub and throw it straight into the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients instead of marinating the meat overnight. I have no idea how it would affect the intensity of flavours, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt the recipe in any way and it would definitely take out the extra day’s worth of prep.

Overall, it was a perfect meal to have on a snowy December day and I would definitely make it again. It was just the right amount of interesting without making the stew feel like it had been changed too much from being a nice bowl of familiarity.

Bison Stew

1lb bison stew meat
2 Tbsp chimichurri rub (generous tablespoons!)
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup de-alcoholized red wine
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp rosemary

Mix the bison with the chimichurri rub and put the meat in the bottom of slow cooker. (Or cover and refridgerate over night)
Add chopped vegetables on top of meat.
In a bowl, stir together the beef broth, wine, vinegar and tomato paste.
Pour broth over beef and vegetables, liquid should come almost cover everything, but not quite.
Add bay leaves & rosemary.
Cover and cook on high about 6 hours.
Serve stew with mashed potatoes and crusty bread, if desired.

A couple of recipes…

Yesterday, we had our usual panfried pork chops and kale for dindin after coming home from picking up Eggnog in the crazy snowy weather. The autobody shop was super nice in agreeing to putting on my winter tires when The Hubbs asked if it would be possible. They certainly didn’t have to do it and they get super huge thumbs up from a customer service standpoint.

But back to dindin — I made the usual pork chops, kale with garlic and panfried gnocchi along with some leftover chicken gravy from last week’s roast chicken.

It’s the gnocchi that totally blew me away last night. The day I went for my flu shot, a couple weeks ago, I had lunch at Sunterra Market, then I cruised around the store and picked up a few items that I needed and a few that piqued my interest. During that trip, I picked up a couple of packets of Scarpone’s shelf-stable gnocchi. I’ve tried making gnocchi at home from scratch (several times, in fact) with rather dire results. I suck at gnocchi.

Generally speaking, one is supposed to boil gnocchi and then toss it in with some sauce. Having watched Nigella’s Kitchen episode of Lamb with Rosemary & Port served with Rapid Roastini, I took her idea of just frying the gnocchi instead of boiling them.

The recipe for the gnocchi is more of a method than a proper recipe — you just drop the gnocchi straight from the packet into the hot frying pan with the residual meat juices and to that, I added an extra little bit of olive oil and little bit of minced garlic. The gnocchi was stirred all around to get coated in all the juices, then I left them alone for a few minutes to brown nicely. After a few minutes of browning, I added a splosh of water to the pan, covered it with a lid and let them steam for a few minutes longer until I was happy with the texture and then served up.

The porkchops I had left to keep warm in my awesome toaster oven and the kale I had been keeping warm on the stove, the whole meal probably took not even 30 minutes to cook from start to serving. (Have I mentioned how much I wuvs my new toaster oven? ;D )

Crazy, crazy good meal and I’m still boggled at how tasty the gnocchi were when fried on the stove in 10 minutes.

I think that the gnocchi may just become my starch of choice for panfried porkchops and rice the unarguable choice for when I make tonkatsu.

Sunday dindin I experimented with ground bison.

When I was growing up, I always wanted Mom to make spaghetti and meatballs, but she never did. She either made spaghetti sauce with ground beef (boooring, not to mention rather tasteless, in my opinion) or she made it with beef short ribs (my absolute fave and would so be a contender for “last meal” wish), but never, ever, meatballs. I think she always said it was just too much work.

Bright and early, in my world, I made a batch of bison meatballs and set them in the crockpot with a bottle of spaghetti sauce to simmer away all day long. The prep was minimal (though very, very cold!) and the results were fantastic. Love, love, loved them. My biggest worry when they were cooking was that because there’s so little fat in bison, they would be dried out and tasteless even though they would be simmering all day in sauce. I’m so glad they didn’t completely disintegrate into a pile of mush, either. They were just the perfect tenderness when you cut into them with your fork while still retaining its shape.

The meal was just an all around pleasing affair with the bison balls sitting on top of a bowl of spaghetti, a little bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled everywhere like snow and a few slices of warm & crusty garlic bread to mop up the residual sauce.

It’s funny, thinking about it, I’ve only ever had pasta with meatballs once in my life and it was at this tiny little restaurant almost 10 years ago, where they served only 2 items: penne with tomato sauce for $5 or penne with sausage/meatballs for $6, both came with salad. The sausages I remember being spicy and I think the meatballs were rather bland, so by comparison, my recipe is rather awesome.

Unfortunately I didn’t actually measure the ingredients that I put into the recipe, but I assume it’s a pretty standard-esque recipe for meatballs or maybe even meatloaf, so use your own expertise on the quantities and maybe be a little conservative when adding your breadcrumbs just so you don’t make a dried out ball of meat, mine were actually pretty gooshy when I put them into the crockpot.

Bison Balls
1lb ground bison
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
minced garlic
dried onion flakes
dried oregano
dried parsley
salt & pepper
1 bottle of your fave spaghetti sauce (I used a sausage & red pepper sauce)

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients, except spaghetti sauce, together with your hands until well blended.
Form mixture into ~16-18 balls and set aside.
In a small crockpot, mix spaghetti sauce, some extra minced garlic, dried onion flakes and the bayleaf.
Add ~1/3 jar of water swished out of the bottle to the sauce mixture and mix well.
Drop meatballs into the sauce and gently push them to the bottom of the crockpot, covering with sauce if possible.
Cover crockpot and cook on high about 6+ hours.
Serve over spaghetti with garlic bread for dipping.

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