Main Course Recipes
The Accidental Locavore bought a beautiful bunch of wild mushrooms and some nice fat asparagus at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market recently. What better way to show them off than in a beautiful risotto? We also had some mixed dried mushrooms, so they got added to the mix. What’s good about using the dried ones too is that you can use the soaking liquid as part of the broth for the risotto (just be sure to strain it first – a coffee filter will work fine for that). This easily fed 4.
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced into ½” strips
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup dried mushrooms (like porcini)
- 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3-4 cups chicken stock, hot
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
Soak the dried mushrooms in very hot water for about 20 minutes until they are pliable. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and strain the liquid through a fine strainer or a coffee filter. Set the liquid aside.
Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until they turn golden. Remove the garlic from the pan. Add all the mushrooms and the asparagus and season with salt. Saute until the mushrooms are pliable. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until they are soft and translucent but are not browning. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to toast the rice. Add the wine, and stir frequently until it has all been absorbed by the rice. Add enough of the liquid from the mushrooms to cover the rice and stir until that has been absorbed. Add any remaining mushroom liquid and enough of the chicken stock to cover the surface of the rice. Keep stirring until that is absorbed.
Keep adding the stock to cover the rice and stir until it’s absorbed. Depending on your rice, this may be 2 or 3 more times. When you think you’re about to add the last addition of stock, add the mushrooms and asparagus into the pan. When the rice is cooked to “al dente”, remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir well. The rice should be very creamy. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A perfect spring combination! If you wanted to keep this vegetarian, you could easily substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. One of the great things about risotto is that almost anything works in it. Because I’ve been trying to keep the salt down, we ended up adding more Parmesan to it as we were eating. What’s that expression about robbing Peter to pay Paul? Just swapping out the “evils.”
As the Accidental Locavore, I play around with a lot of recipes, things that catch my interest for a myriad of reasons. This curry has a lot of quirky ingredients that I respond to and it was pretty easy to make. It’s from Tasting Table and I adapted it to feed 3-4 people.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2” chunks
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 small piece of ginger (about ¾”), minced (I’ve stopped peeling ginger, but it’s up to you)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
- 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- Spanish chorizo, about a 2” piece, sliced into ¼” discs
- 8 pitted black olives (preferably Moroccan oil-cured)
- Parsley, coarsely chopped for garnish
- 2 tablespoons coconut flakes, toasted (I use Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips-delicious!)
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
Pat dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel. Salt and pepper them. Put the cornstarch on a plate and dredge the chicken in it, patting the cornstarch to coat both sides evenly.
In a Dutch oven or pot, big enough to hold everything easily, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the chicken and cook, without moving it, until it’s lightly browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until browned, about another 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
In the same pot, over medium heat, add the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil, the onion and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cayenne and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, potatoes and the partially cooked chicken. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for about 35 minutes until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the lid from the pot, add the tomatoes, chorizo and olives. Cook for about 3 minutes until everything is warmed through. Serve over rice, garnished with the parsley and coconut flakes with lemon wedges on the side and enjoy!
My verdict: This was rather disappointing. The idea of the chicken with the chorizo, tomatoes, coconut milk and olives was intriguing, however the end result was a bit ho-hum. It was better a day later when the flavors had time to mellow a bit. While it was cooking, I added more ginger and cayenne in an effort to tweak the flavor of it. Unfortunately, the interesting ingredients got lost in the mix. The original recipe had whole chicken thighs (still boneless and skinless) which were just too unwieldy. If I make this another time, I would definitely add more tomatoes, olives and chorizo (which I might cut into ½” rounds and then quarter). I’d absolutely replace the parsley with cilantro and possibly the Yukon Gold potatoes with something more starchy (they seemed to melt into nothingness). So, why am I writing about an only so-so recipe? Well, for curry lovers, this could be a good starting point and not every meal is a big success – more about that coming soon.
Do you have cookbooks that you only use one recipe from? The Accidental Locavore has almost all of Rick Bayless’ books, and while I use Mexican Everyday for a lot of stuff, I usually pull out Mexican Kitchen for the spare rib recipe. Give yourself a day for this – the ribs are better marinated overnight. Serves 4-6.
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 6 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- ¾ teaspoon dried (Mexican) oregano
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Pinch of ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- ½ cup beef broth (or water)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 pounds pork country-style spare ribs
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- Coarsely chopped cilantro for garnish
- White onion sliced into thin rings for garnish
For the marinade:
In a small frying pan over medium heat, put the unpeeled garlic and roast, turning occasionally until black in spots and soft, about 15 minutes. When it’s cooled, peel it. Toast the chiles in the same pan, a few at a time, flattening them with a spatula for a few seconds. Flip and toast the other side. This is really just a quick toast, don’t let them burn. Put them in a small bowl and cover with very hot water. Soak for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain the chiles.
Place the chiles, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cumin, vinegar and broth in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Divide it into two parts and set ½ aside.
Put the ribs in a large Ziploc bag and smear half of the marinade over the ribs. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
Add the honey to the other half of the marinade, mix well, cover and refrigerate.
Cooking the ribs:
Preheat the oven to 325°. Put the ribs and the marinade in a baking dish big enough to hold them in one layer. Drizzle ¼ cup of water (or beef broth) around them, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and baste the ribs with the liquid in the pan. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Carefully pour off the fat and any juices in the pan.
Raise the oven temperature to 350°. Brush the ribs with the remaining marinade (the half with the honey). Bake another 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and onion, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Made these recently for guests and gave everyone two big ribs each, it wasn’t enough! Luckily, everyone was too polite say anything. I had no idea what most of the dried chiles I had were, so decided to just use 3 each of three different kinds. It worked out well, but I did puree them a few at a time and tasted, just to make sure the marinade didn’t get too spicy for company. If it does, the sugar and honey will tone down the spice to a certain degree. I served them with some mashed potatoes, spinach and a Caesar salad.
A long time ago, the Accidental Locavore and friends used to go down to Costa Careyes, in Mexico. It’ s a beautiful spot, a few hours drive south from Puerta Vallarta, and at that point in time, undiscovered and unspoiled. One of the things I have always liked about the Mexican coastline, is the number of small seaside shacks, serving amazing seafood. This shrimp dish is my attempt to duplicate the incredible shrimp served at La Vieuda a tiny place just outside Careyes. A pound of shrimp will feed 3.
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled, and deveined
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- Hot sauce to taste (I use Frank’s Red Hot Original)
- Juice of a lime
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the shrimp, and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes. If you’re going to use asparagus (see below), add them to the shrimp now. Toss with a few generous squirts of your favorite hot sauce and the juice of a lime, until well coated.
Serve over rice, garnish with the chopped cilantro and enjoy.
My verdict: This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s quick to make and tastes great! If I’m feeling energetic, I’ll make green rice to go with it, or toss some asparagus (sliced into 1 ½” lengths and steamed in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes) as a veg. You could even get fancy and sprinkle some queso fresco over the top.
One of the food groups the Accidental Locavore follows on LinkedIn had a post about grilling in the winter (easier to do when there’s not a mountain of snow between you and the grill) and a recipe for a Thai rotisserie grilled chicken. Sounded good to me! Since there was too much snow between me and the grill, I pulled out my electric rotisserie and that worked fine. It’s really easy to do, just leave time for marinating the chicken. Since everything was going in the food processor, you don’t have to chop too finely. This is adapted from Jeff’s recipe, mostly because I was using what was in the house.
- 2 tablespoons Thai massaman curry paste
- 10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass (white tender part only)
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 whole chicken
- ½ bunch scallions, thinly sliced for optional garnish
In the work bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients, except the chicken, and pulse until you have a fairly fine paste. Place the chicken on a flat surface (a hotel pan works well) and gently loosen the skin around the breast and thighs. Take a small handful of the marinade and rub it into the space you have just created. Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag, or a covered container big enough to hold it. Add the rest of the marinade, making sure the chicken is well covered with marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
An hour before you’re going to cook the chicken, bring it out of the refrigerator, remove from the marinade and allow it to come to room temperature.
Depending on how you’re going to cook it, truss the chicken or put it on the spit for your rotisserie. I just plopped it on my electric rotisserie for about an hour until it was 160° in the thickest part of the thigh. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Serve and enjoy!
My Verdict: Wonderful, even on the electric rotisserie! For some reason, I’ve never marinated a chicken before putting in on the rotisserie-dummy me! If your grill is submerged, you could always roast the chicken in a 425° oven for about an hour, until the thickest part of the thigh is 160°. Jeff’s recipe called for Thai yellow curry, I thought I had some but didn’t. The massaman curry was great, green or red curry would probably work equally as well. I had a lot of drippings in the base of my rotisserie, which I just put in a small pot and reduced. It made an amazing sauce which I served over the chicken and some jasmine rice and garnished with some sliced scallions. This is a recipe that is made for improvisation, so have fun and eat well!
Both the Accidental Locavore and her husband saw this recipe in a Saveur newsletter and thought it looked interesting. Surprisingly, there were almost no pitted olives in the fridge, but there was a bit of the olive salad mix they use for muffalettas in New Orleans, so I added that to the olives we did have and it made a great tapenade. It’s really quick and you can make the tapenade ahead of time. I made the full amount of tapenade and only enough fish for the two of us.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup pitted olives (use a mix, or just your favorites)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 anchovy filets
- 1 tomato, cored and chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ pound fillet of sole
In the work bowl of a food processor, add the oil, olives, parsley, garlic, vinegar, capers, anchovies, tomato and pepper. Process until finely chopped, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, set aside. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sole and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Top each fillet with tapenade. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This was super easy and delicious. I added the juice of half a lemon to the fish as it finished cooking (force of habit). What’s great about this is that the recipe makes a decent amount of tapenade, so you’ll have extra for another night (or some bruschetta). It would work well on other, thicker white fish (cod, for example) and would also be a nice topping to some broiled or grilled lamb chops. Think of tapenade like pesto – you can’t really mess it up and it takes well to improvisation, so have fun and let me know what you think.
After drooling over most of the Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, the Accidental Locavore decided it was time to take at least one of the recipes out for a test drive. First up (because spare ribs were on sale), his spicy spare ribs. This time, watching the show, I took notes. What follows is how I cooked the ribs, with some help from one of my HuffPost followers who had already tried them. See below for my notes on the recipe. It will serve 3-4 people and takes a little less than two hours from start to finish, half of that unattended.
Spicy Spare Ribs Recipe Inspired by Gordon Ramsay
|Prep time||30 minutes|
|Cook time||1 hour, 30 minutes|
|Total time||2 hours|
|Meal type||Main Dish|
- 2 1/2lb pork spare ribs (cut into individual ribs )
- kosher salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced thinly the long way (peel it if you want, I never do anymore)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 4-5 pieces star anise
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 bunch scallions, cut in 1/4
- 2 cups chicken broth
|Preheat the oven to 300°. Put a roasting pan big enough to hold the ribs in one layer on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the ribs. When the oil is hot add the ribs and cook until nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Turn.|
|Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, honey, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Mix to combine and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the scallions and enough chicken stock to come a bit more than halfway up the sides of the ribs. Put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the ribs over and cook an additional 30 minutes.|
|Remove the ribs from the pan and put on a plate. Return the roasting pan to the stove top and cook over high heat to reduce the braising liquid, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is reduced and starting to look like a glaze, taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Add the ribs back into the pan and toss with the glaze, until they are well coated and warmed through. This whole step took me about 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!|
My verdict: These were good and could be great. I would definitely make them again with a couple of tweaks (see below). It’s an easy recipe, but does require some attention. My husband thought they were really good and had seconds! I served them with mashed potatoes and green beans.
Notes: The biggest change I would make would be to use country-style ribs instead of regular spare ribs. It needs a meatier rib than the ones I had. Luckily, Bob, my HuffPost follower, gave me a heads-up on lowering the oven temperature and removing the ribs before reducing the sauce. Otherwise they would have been really dried out and tough. Thanks Bob! I would have liked a little more sweetness in the sauce, but not being a big fan of honey, wasn’t sure what would work there-maybe some sort of jam? What would you use?
- 1 spaghetti or linguini
- Olive oil
- 4 thick slices bacon, sliced into 1/2″ lardons
- 2 thick slices ham, sliced into 1/2″ strips about 1″ long
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
- Salt and coarsely ground pepper
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, put a little olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon and ham over medium heat until the bacon is browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, add the cheese, pepper and cream and mix until well combined.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the egg mixture and the bacon and toss to mix until everything is well combined (the heat of the pasta and bacon will cook the eggs). Garnish with the scallions, serve with additional cheese and pepper and enjoy!
Since the Accidental Locavore has been home alone, cooking for one recently, the good news is that I get to cook whatever I want, the bad news is that I get to clean up whatever I’ve cooked. The other day, Whole Foods had some nice salmon on sale, so that looked like dinner. I decided to try doing it sous-vide (or in a water bath) and it turned out to be the best and easiest way I’ve ever done salmon! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I don’t have a sous-vide machine, so I usually make due with a vacuum sealer and my crock pot, but you don’t really need either. A pot and a Ziploc bag will work fine. It will take you 20-30 minutes to cook your salmon and that’s totally unattended, so go make a nice salad or veg and don’t worry – you can’t overcook the salmon!
This is really more about technique than a serious recipe so feel free to use whatever you’d like to flavor the salmon. Here’s what you’re going to need:
- Skin-on salmon filets – use one per person
- Thinly sliced lemon (and dill would be nice)
- Olive oil
- Ziploc bag for the salmon or vacuum sealer and bags
- A pot with hot water big enough to hold the salmon
- An instant-read thermometer
Lightly coat the salmon with a little olive oil. Add the lemon slices, dill or other flavorings. Seal the salmon with its flavorings with the vacuum sealer. If you’re using Ziplocs, put the salmon etc. in the bag, push all the air out of the bag and seal most of the way. Use one bag for each piece of fish.
Fill the pot with hot water and heat the water to 120° (the hot water in your faucet may be about that temp). Once the water has reached 120°, remove the pot from the heat. Put the bags with the salmon in the water. If you’re using Ziplocs, the weight of the water will push the rest of the air out of the bag. When it does, finish sealing the bags. Your fish will be done in about 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness and number of pieces. Remove the fish from the bag, slice off the skin (it comes off much easier after it’s cooked). If you’d like, you can heat up a little butter in a sauté pan, and sauté the salmon for about 3 minutes a side, basting with the extra butter. Sprinkle with lemon, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Writing this, it looks really complicated but trust me, it’s not. It was just to give you the option of doing it without buying a vacuum sealer. The salmon comes out silky and smooth and perfectly cooked. You can add sauces to it, serve it over a salad, it’s just a perfect way to play with adding spices or flavorings to salmon. If you wanted to, you could try different combinations in each bag. The one in my photo is with some Meyer lemon slices I brought back from my friend’s tree in Palm Springs. And best of all? It doesn’t smell!
- Turkey, shredded
- Mashed potatoes (white or sweet)
- Almost any green vegetable
- Cranberry sauce (optional)
- Gruyere, (or any firm cheese) grated
- Butter (for greasing ramekins)
Preheat the oven to 375°. With the butter, lightly grease some ramekins or small gratin pans (you could also use one large gratin pan). In a small bowl mix the turkey and gravy so the turkey is coated with the gravy, set aside. If you have some green vegetables, put a thin layer of them on the bottom of the ramekins. Add a layer of the turkey and gravy mix. If you want to use cranberry sauce, add it on top of the turkey. Top that with a layer of stuffing. Finish with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potatoes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!