Main Course Recipes
Short ribs are a great winter food and the Accidental Locavore has worked and eaten my way through a lot of short rib recipes.
This one from Gordon Hammersley’s Bistro Cooking at Home has become my go-to recipe.
You can make them in the oven, or a slow cooker, your choice–this is for the oven. Serves 6 but you can easily cut it back to 2 or 4.
Use 1-2 short ribs per person depending on size. When I cut down the recipe, I usually just cut down on the vegetable oil, beer, and broth, everything else just adds flavor.
Short Ribs Braised in Beer
- 6-8 pounds beef short ribs
- Salt & pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 pound bacon cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 medium sized red onions sliced into 1/2″ rounds (cut across the onion to make rings)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (if you buy it in a tube it costs more, but you always have it for weird amounts like this)
- 2 bottles stout beer (like Guiness)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cups beef stock (1 cup, and some water is fine)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Generously salt and pepper the short ribs.
In a large heavy ovenproof pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil until very hot.
Sear the ribs (in batches if you’ve got a lot of them) until brown on all sides.
Remove the ribs from the pan, and pour off the excess oil, but don’t clean the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the bacon, and cook until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes.
Add the onions and cook until lightly browned, about 6 minutes (don’t worry if the onions start to fall apart–they will).
Stir the tomato paste in and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
Add the beer, vinegar, beef stock, and the ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil.
Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the short ribs are fork tender, about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
When you’re ready to serve, remove the ribs, and onions from the pot and set aside.
Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it’s reduced by at least a third (or as thick you want the sauce). Skim fat off.
Taste and check for seasoning. Add the ribs and onions back to the sauce, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This has become our favorite short rib recipe. I serve them with mashed potatoes, usually with horseradish added. It really brings out the flavor and helps to cut some of the richness.
Figure on 1-2 ribs per person, depending on the size (and whether you want leftovers).
If you want to use your slow cooker for these, instead of covering the pot and putting it in the oven, just dump everything into the pot of a slow cooker, cover and cook on low.
Like most braised meats, these are even better the next day (and you can get a lot more of the fat off).
How could you resist a mash-up like spare ribs vindaloo, recently in Food & Wine?
And then, spare ribs were on sale.
This made a lot of ribs and the Accidental Locavore only bought a single rack. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but you probably have most of them.
Spare Ribs Vindaloo
- A 2-pound rack St. Louis–cut pork ribs, halved
- Salt and pepper
- 2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and broken into large pieces
- 2 tablespoons cumin seed
- 3 whole cloves
- One 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (mixed use)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1/4 cup silver tequila
- 3 tablespoons finely grated jaggery (or brown sugar)
Season the spare ribs with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, grind the dried chiles with the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick until finely ground.
Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the chile powder, turmeric, cayenne, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper until a paste forms.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger and the spice mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until deep red in color, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the stock, tequila, jaggery, the remaining vinegar, add the ribs and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the ribs are very tender, about 1 hour.
Transfer the ribs to a work surface and let cool slightly; cut into individual ribs.
Simmer the sauce until thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes; season with salt.
Return the ribs to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve with steamed basmati rice and enjoy!
My verdict: I think we were a little underwhelmed by these the first time around. However, like a lot of slow cooked food, they were much better the second night and Frank gave his “you can make these any time” seal of approval.
We both thought they could be hotter and the next time, I’ll add some minced serrano, or jalapeno.
There was a lot of sauce because I didn’t halve the sauce recipe (too lazy to do math) just the ribs, but it just meant more sauce for the rice.
I didn’t have any jaggery (do you?) so just used some brown sugar. If I get some, I’ll let you know if I think it makes a difference. However, this seems to be one of those stealth trendy foods for 2017, so you might want to be one of the cool kids and find some.
The Accidental Locavore thinks that roasting meat (or vegetables) is one of the easiest ways to get an impressive dinner on the table.
Don’t be afraid of roasting. If you have the right tools, it’s a snap.
Roasting in 10 easy steps:
- Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you want to start.
- Make sure oven racks are in the middle of the oven and you have enough room for the roasting pan and its contents. If not, lower the rack until you do.
- Preheat the oven: 350° for most meats, 250° if you’re doing a slow roast duck, hotter for chickens and vegetables.
- Speaking of vegetables, tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing them on a sheet pan in a 400° oven always works.
- And don’t forget potatoes! Cut in chunks, boiled until just tender and tossed into the bottom of a pan about 15 minutes before the meat is cooked, makes wonderful roast potatoes (especially good under chickens and ducks!).
- While the oven is heating, pat the meat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper liberally (i.e. use more than you think), inside and out.
- If you’re using a rack a quick spray or a light rub of oil makes clean-up easier.
- Place your meat on the pan (or rack) and put it in the oven. The length of time your meat will need to cook depends on the size of your roast and how well cooked you like your meat. This is where the instant-read thermometer will save the day. Click here for a handy chart and remember to always stick the thermometer in the thick part of your roast (for chicken it’s the thigh).
- When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This is not about torturing you or your guests, it’s about letting the juices re-circulate, making the meat tender and juicy.
- Carve, serve and enjoy!
See, wasn’t that easy? What are your best roasting tips?
This slow roasted duck is the Accidental Locavore’s favorite way to roast a duck.
If you’ve got an afternoon, and need an excuse to binge watch ______, this is your meal.
The fact that it couldn’t be easier, or more delicious, are just bennies.
A V-shaped roasting rack helps, but you can do it with a regular rack and roasting pan. Clean-up is much easier if you lightly oil the rack.
Slow Roasted Duck:
- 1 whole duck
- Salt & pepper
- Garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
- A lemon or orange cut into chunks (optional)
- Fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme (optional) or a spice rub of your choice
Preheat your oven to 250°
Salt and pepper it, inside and out, and if you’re using them toss some peeled garlic cloves, orange or lemon chunks and herbs inside.
Prick the duck all over with a fork, and put it on the rack in the roasting pan.
Roast for an hour.
Remove it, turn it over, and prick it with the fork.
Do this total of 4 times (4 hours).
After the last time, turn the oven up to 400°, and put the duck back in for 15-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like the skin.
Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this duck. It’s great and foolproof!
You can rub the duck with any spice mix, or just simply salt and pepper.
I happen to like barbecue sauce with duck, the plum hoisin sauce is also great with it, and often take some of my cousin Ellen’s amazing clementine marmalade, warm it with some citron vodka, and a tablespoon of maple syrup to thin it down with, making a my version of duck à l’orange.
Don’t forget to save the fat (run it through a fine strainer or coffee filter) to sautée some spinach or roast potatoes with.
Speaking of potatoes, some par-boiled chunks of potatoes tossed in the bottom of the roasting pan for the last 15-30 minutes, are always incredible!
I had some quince from our CSA and didn’t have a clue as to what to do with them.
It was a box of beautiful quince, so I asked what to do with them.
There were a bunch of great ideas.
My favorite was a lamb and quince tagine.
Turns out it’s a very popular Middle Eastern dish.
This is my version of it. Probably serves 4.
Lamb and Quince Tagine
For the lamb:
- 2 pounds lean boneless lamb shoulder cut into 1’ pieces
- 3 medium red onions, peeled; 1 grated, 2 finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon hot paprika
- 2 tablespoons. finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 18 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (more or less to taste)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
For the quince:
- 3 fresh quinces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch saffron threads
In a large pot over medium heat, stir lamb, grated onion, olive oil, saffron, ginger, paprika, cilantro, parsley, garlic, and 1½ tsp. salt in large pot over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Add tomato paste and 1 cup water; raise heat, and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, turning meat occasionally. Add chopped onions, jalapeño, and cumin, and simmer 45 minutes more.
While the lamb is cooking, cut each quince into 6 pieces (skin on) and cut away core. In a skillet over medium heat poach the quince in 4 cups simmering, salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Pour off all but 2-3 tbsp. poaching liquid; add butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cook quinces flesh-side-down until glazed brown, about 20 minutes. Turn, and glaze 5 minutes more.
Serve the lamb garnished with the quince and enjoy!
My verdict: Made a fan out of me! I made extra quince since I had a bunch of them. Used some for the lamb and saved the rest for a future tagine. They’d be good with pork or maybe even chicken-could even be dessert topping for ice cream or accompany cheeses.
The tagine comes together easily, and since as usual there wasn’t any parsley chez moi, it was left out. I served everything over couscous with some harissa for those who like it hotter.
Have you made anything with quince?
5 ingredient sausage and cabbage seemed like a good fall dish, since I had a couple of those cute pointy cabbages from my CSA and sausage in the freezer.
Then it was 80°.
The Accidental Locavore waited until the temperature shot back down and gave this a try.
Putting it together is quick and easy, but it needs 2 ½ hours to cook, so plan ahead (or save for a weekend).
5 Ingredient Sausage and Cabbage Casserole
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds fresh sweet Italian pork sausages or bulk sausage
- 1 large green or Savoy cabbage, about 4 pounds, cored and thickly shredded
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 300°.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.
Place cabbage in boiling water, cover, and let water come back to the boil. Uncover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain cabbage in a colander and run cold water over it to stop cooking.
Remove sausage casings and crumble the sausages in a bowl.
Put about 1/3 of the cabbage in buttered dish and cover with 1/2 the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with butter. Repeat, ending with a final layer of cabbage, and dot top with butter.
Cover dish tightly with a layer of parchment paper, cut to the shape of your dish and top with a lid or a layer of aluminum foil.
Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, until cabbage is soft and sweet, and top is lightly browned.
After 2 hours, uncover the dish: if there is a lot of liquid in the bottom, leave uncovered for the rest of the cooking time. If not, re-cover and finish cooking.
Serve with mustard and some crusty bread and enjoy!
My verdict: Who knew 5 ingredients could be this good! I’m not sure if these “conehead” cabbages we’ve been getting are sweeter than the normal green cabbage, but they are cute and really tasty! If you can find them, try them (the cores are almost non-existent for easy prep). I had two of them, about 2 pounds, and a pound package of Boerewors, a South African inspired sausage from Jacuterie, so halved the recipe and it easily fed two.
It was delicious and buttery and the sausages were great with it! You could use almost any sausage, so feel free to improvise. A strong Dijon was a nice addition but even a milder coarse mustard went well.
Give it a try when you have a couple of hours to cook it. If you didn’t care about browning the top, it would probably work well in a slow cooker.
Let me know what you think.
There are certain recipes you just don’t mess with.
Pumpkin stuffed with everything good is not one of them.
It actually begs to be messed with.
And is a great way to use up some of those bits of leftovers in the fridge.
Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good
- 2 small pumpkins
- A handful of croutons
- 2 cooked Italian sausage, sliced
- 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ½ cup thinly sliced leeks (green tops fine)
- ¼ pound any cheese cut into ¼” cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment and set aside
Carefully cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (like you were carving a Halloween pumpkin), clean off the bottom edge and set aside.
Clean out the seeds and guts of the pumpkin. If you want to roast the pumpkin seeds just put all the stuff in a bowl for later. Salt and pepper the insides of the pumpkins.
Toss everything except the heavy cream and nutmeg in a bowl and toss.
Pack the mix into the pumpkins. They should be well filled because some of the stuffing will condense when it’s cooked.
Mix the cream and nutmeg together and pour into the pumpkins. You don’t want the stuffing to be drowned in cream, but you want it be moist.
Put the caps back on and bake for 90 minutes.
Remove the caps and back for an additional 20-30 minutes. The pumpkins should be tender and easily pierced by the tip of a knife.
Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This is a great way to use up leftovers and it tastes great! You can use a single (larger) pumpkin and either serve it in wedges or just bring the whole thing to the table and let everyone scoop out a serving (much more impressive). It takes time to cook and a little prep time to clean the pumpkin, but that can be done ahead of time.
Let me know if you try it and what you put into it.
Zucchini, mozzarella and prosciutto.
Even if you think you’ve had enough zucchini now that it’s cooling off, it’s a great excuse to make this casserole/gratin recipe!
Joyce, from Quattro’s, our local butcher, gave the Accidental Locavore this recipe. It’s super easy and might have served 4, but Frank and I ate the whole thing because there was no more room in the fridge for leftovers.
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
Zucchini, mozzarella and prosciutto recipe:
- 1 large or two medium zucchini
- 1 ball of mozzarella (about a pound)
- 3 ounces of prosciutto, thinly sliced (if you buy it packaged that’s the size, otherwise go for ¼ pound)
- Bread crumbs or panko
- Olive oil
- 1 medium sized garlic clove (optional)
- Parmesan cheese for the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
If you have really large zucchini, slice in half across the middle, stand on the cut end, and slice into 1/8” long slices. Otherwise, just cut off an end and stand it up and slice it. If you have a mandoline, this is a good time to pull it out.
Slice the mozzarella into 1/8” slices*.
Pour some of the olive oil into a plate and pour about a cup of bread crumbs into another plate.
Rub a medium-sized gratin pan with the cut garlic if using and lightly grease with some of the olive oil.
Dip a slice of zucchini into the olive oil and then the bread crumbs. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
Make a layer of zucchini in the pan. Top with a layer of prosciutto and a layer of mozzarella.
Repeat, ending with mozzarella on the top.
Sprinkle with Parmesan if using and any leftover bread crumbs (also optional).
Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the zucchini is cooked and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Might not have been the prettiest dish ever, but you can’t eat pretty! The fact that there was nothing left tells you that it was really good!
We decided that it would be a great platform for a lot of different variations. Italian sausage could take the place of prosciutto, eggplant could sub for the zucchini etc.
Joyce used a particular Italian zucchini which didn’t have a lot of seeds, we used a very large unknown variety that had some seeds but wasn’t watery. If you’re going to use standard zucchini, go for the smaller ones.
*Mozzarella slices much easier with a serrated cheese knife like this one:
If the idea of a lamb and green bean stew seems a little much for the extreme weather, you might want to think twice.
At my CSA, green beans are ripe for the picking.
And it cooks pretty fast.
So give it a try!
Lamb and green beans recipe:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ pound boneless lamb, cut into ¾” cubes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 cup fresh, seeded and chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2” lengths
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions and cook until they’re golden brown. Add the spices, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the beans to the pan, and simmer until they’re crisp-tender about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf or couscous and enjoy!
My verdict: Growing up, this was a family favorite that my mother made fairly often. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where/how she always had a sweet spot for Middle Eastern food, especially Armenian, where this supposedly hails from.
I hadn’t even thought about lamb and beans in years but when I was picking green beans at the farm, suddenly I just needed to make it. It was really good, especially with fresh-picked beans and local lamb and comes together in under an hour. I always add more allspice, because it’s a flavor I love.
Going against tradition (and not really feeling like messing with pilaf), I served it with some couscous, which is always the quicker/lazier/healthier(?) way to add something to soak up all the delicious sauce!
Frank loved it too and we ate it all up so sadly no leftovers…
If you want the original cookbook, Word of Mouth, which it comes from, it’s still available on amazon.com or possibly there are still copies under my mother’s bed.
There are three steps to making this version with lamb, but they’re all easy and you can do the spice rub and yogurt ahead of time. Serves 4:
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns or 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil (for grill)
- 1¼pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- Lemon zest
Rub: Coarsely grind cumin seeds, peppercorns, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, sugar salt and pepper in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.
Lamb: Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates. Thread lamb onto 6–8 skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece of meat. Sprinkle generously with spice blend, pressing it onto the meat with your hands to help it adhere if needed.
Grill lamb over direct heat, turning every minute or so, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Move to cooler side of grill and continue to grill until lamb is cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare.
Yogurt sauce: Stir garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice into yogurt in a small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper. Top garlic yogurt with cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest. Serve with the lamb and enjoy!
My verdict: If you’re looking for something to go with the baked rice, this is what we paired with it and it was a great dinner! Frank doesn’t think it’s really a kebab without veggies, so he added mushrooms, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions and some lamb sausage to the skewers which meant we could have fed 6 easily. I “marinated” the lamb in the rub overnight and I’m not sure if that’s why it seemed a little overly peppery. Next time, maybe start with a heaping teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns and add accordingly.
If you don’t have a grill, you know a grill pan will work just fine.
The yogurt sauce is delicious (and calmed the heat from the peppercorns a bit). Definitely make it if you’re doing the kebabs. There was a little leftover which I added some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to and used it for salad dressing the next day. Need to remember that!