Chicken, Sausage and Rice Gumbo with Collard Greens

I hesitate to call this dish gumbo because the term is so loaded with a specific food culture. My version is probably not “authentic” — but it’s delicious and hey, I can make gumbo however I want! I think of it sort of as a gumbo soup — hearty but not too thick in the broth department, full of Cajun flavors and with rice and greens mixed right in.

The spice level here is medium to hot — to me that’s zesty but not mouth-on-fire hot. You could cut the red pepper flakes to go milder, or add cayenne to go hotter. Also, if you prefer a thicker stew, you could double the butter and flour.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 10-oz bags cleaned and cut collard greens
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 tsp ground gumbo file
salt to taste

In a large dutch oven, saute the sausage over medium heat until browned and the fat begins to render. Remove the sausage and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Lower the heat slightly, add the butter and stir until melted. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a whisk until incorporated. Continue stirring constantly and cook until caramel in color, about 15-20 minutes (actual time can vary quite a bit; let the roux get as dark as you want, being careful not to burn).

Add the onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery and garlic and stir until coated in the roux. Add the diced tomatoes and deglaze, scraping up and stirring in the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth, thyme, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

Add the chicken and lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken and shred or chop into small pieces, set aside.

Add the collard greens and stir until wilted. Cover and simmer until the greens are tender, about 40 minutes.

Add the gumbo file, sausage, chicken, rice and salt and simmer for a minute, then serve.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition P-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Wildflower P-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Fresh Cut P-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Fruit Basket P-43-B Petite Pan 

 

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

It’s surprisingly easy and fast to make red enchilada sauce from scratch, and it tastes so much better than the canned stuff. We typically have all the ingredients already, and I love being able to whip something up out of the pantry. Plus, you can make it as spicy as you want! If I were not feeding a 5-year-old, I would probably double down on the chipotle.

In the spirit of cooking whatever you happen to have on hand, it’s also easy to experiment with the enchilada filling. Sauteed mushrooms, leeks or zucchini would be yummy, or you could throw in some black olives or corn. Ground beef or turkey would also work.

Note: If you don’t have precooked chicken, you can simmer a boneless chicken breast in the sauce until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes), then shred or chop into small pieces.

Serves 6

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Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14 1/2-oz can low sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground chipotle
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (see note above)
1 15 1/2-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp masa harina (see my note about masa here)
cooking spray
12 medium corn tortillas
16 oz shredded cheese (Mexican blend)
3 green onions, chopped

For the sauce: In a small pot, combine 1/2 cup of the chopped onions, garlic, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle and salt. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth (or do this in a regular blender). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.

For the filling: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the rest of the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add chicken, black beans and 1/2 cup of the sauce; stir until everything is coated and hot. Sprinkle in the masa and stir until absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 13×9 pans (or equivalent) lightly with cooking oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce into each pan and spread to coat the bottom. Heat up the tortillas in the microwave (this helps keep them from tearing).

Spoon the filling into each tortilla in a line down the middle, and add a generous sprinkle of cheese. Roll up gently and place in the pan, seam side down. When the pans are full, pour the rest of the sauce over the tortillas and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-332 Roaster

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Cornbread

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been thinking about cornbread — and more specifically, cornbread stuffing. Cook’s Illustrated has a great cornbread stuffing recipe that I tried a few years ago, and this time around I’m curious about making a whole wheat version. My first step: testing out a whole wheat cornbread recipe.

The whole wheat flour gives this cornbread an earthiness that’s especially tasty topped with good local honey. I’ll definitely be making it again for cornbread stuffing next month.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Golden Cornbread for Stuffing (The New Best Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen 2004)

Ingredients

3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9 baking dish (or equivalent — I used two 8-inch square dishes).

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk and milk in a separate bowl. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in melted butter.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake until the top is cracked and golden and edges are pulling away from the sides, about 30-40 minutes.

Place the baking dish on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-2-B Casserole (x2), Corning Ware Spice O’ Life P-81-B Menuette Saucepan, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 404 Round Mixing Bowl

Fool-Proof Beef Pot Roast with Bacon and Mushrooms

This is the moistest, tenderest, most flavorful pot roast I’ve ever made. It’s a little bit time-consuming, but well worth it for the end result! There are a few things I think make this recipe work so well: 1) Bacon provides smoke, salt and richness that really enhance the dish. 2) Dried mushrooms pack an intense punch for even more flavor. 3) Using two small roasts instead of one big one, and trussing them — this is something Cook’s Illustrated recommends, because it promotes even cooking. 4) Patience — don’t try to rush the cooking time.

I call this fool-proof because I messed up a lot of things along the way and it still came out great. First off, I chose a pot that was too small, because I was determined to use my Corning Ware, so I had to scoop out a bunch of the cooking liquid and cram the meat in sideways. Also I’m terrible at trussing, so it was starting to fall apart at the end. Most pot roast recipes recommend searing the roasts before cooking, but I didn’t bother, because they’re unwieldy and I always end up splashing myself with oil and I hate that step. And I miscalculated my prep time, so by the time I got the whole thing in the oven, dinnertime would have been pushed back to 9 p.m. (way too late for my 5-year-old). My husband whipped up some barbecued chicken as a plan B, and I stewed about not being able to eat the dish I’d been slaving over. Thankfully, pot roast tastes even better reheated the next day (more on that in the recipe below), so after it finished cooking, I let it cool a bit and then put it in the refrigerator and went to bed.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Italian-Style Pot Roast.

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 oz bacon, snipped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 oz dried mushrooms (porcini and/or others)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
2 3-lb boneless beef chuck roasts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large (at least 6-quart size) oven-safe pot, saute bacon over medium heat until fat has rendered and edges are starting to brown. Spoon out excess grease, reserving about 1 tbsp. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute.

Add wine, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, oregano and bay leaves. Combine broths in a separate bowl.

Truss each roast tightly with kitchen twine. It doesn’t have to be pretty — you just want each roast to hold together in a roughly uniform shape while cooking. Season the roasts with salt and pepper, then nestle in the pot and pour in enough broth so that the meat is partially submerged. Bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 3 1/2-4 hours, turning the meat at the halfway point. The roasts should be fork tender and falling apart. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid and let rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes.

(At this point you can return the meat to the pot and refrigerate overnight, if desired. This actually makes the next step a lot easier — skimming off the fat. In the fridge, the fat solidifies in a layer on top, which can be chipped away with a spoon. Then you can reheat the roast on the stove top.)

Set the (hot or reheated) meat aside. After skimming the fat from the surface, bring the cooking liquid to a boil and simmer to reduce a little into a sauce, about 30 minutes. You can use it as is or blend it with an immersion blender for a thick, rich sauce.

Slice the meat across the grain and pour a liberal amount of sauce on top. You might want more sauce in a gravy boat at the table. I actually ate spoonfuls of sauce by itself, it was so good!

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot; Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-332 Roaster; Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Town and Country 501 Refrigerator Dish

Roasted Broccoli Stems with Lemon and Parmesan

Broccoli stems often get overlooked — even I’ve been guilty of throwing them away when prepping florets for roasting or steaming. But they are delicious! The outer edges can be very woody, so be sure to peel thoroughly.

Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking‘s Roasted Broccolini and Lemon with Parmesan.

Serves 4

Ingredients

stems from two bunches of broccoli, peeled and sliced thin lengthwise (about 1/8 inch thick), plus a few sliced florets
half of 1 lemon, sliced thin (seeds removed)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli, lemon and garlic in olive oil until well coated. Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Roast until broccoli is tender and browned on the edges, about 25 minutes.

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster

Campfire Chili Cheese Dip

We recently returned from a camping trip in the redwoods, where this dip was a welcome snack the first evening after working hard to set up all our gear. I’ve made it both over the campfire and in the oven at home, and I have to say it tastes better while camping! You can make it in a disposable pie tin or in a cast-iron skillet, but I decided to try it in Corning Ware — more details on that below.

The recipe is not my invention, but I’ve seen it all over the internet so I don’t feel bad duplicating it here.

 

Ingredients

cream cheese (up to one 8-oz block; amount depends on the size of your pan)
1 can chili (any kind)
shredded cheese (any kind; I used Monterey Jack this time)

Spread an even layer of cream cheese on the bottom of the pan. Add the chili, then top with a layer of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and heat over the fire until the chili is bubbling and cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-1-B Casserole

So, can this be cooked over the fire in Corning Ware? Well, I don’t recommend it. First off, the Corning Ware website explicitly says the stovetop product is “not intended for camping, industrial or commercial use.” That refers to modern pyroceram products, not vintage, but still.

On the other hand, if Corning Ware can withstand the stovetop and broiler, and can even go directly from freezer to the flame, why not the campfire? In particular, Corning Ware’s stovetop percolators seem ideal for camp coffee. I don’t see why a casserole dish would have any problem. So, I decided to go for it:

 

I was expecting the dish to get pretty dirty, and it did. After cooking there was a heavy coating of soot all over the bottom and sides. Thankfully, that cleaned up fairly easily with some soap and a scrubby sponge. The before (well, more like mid-cleaning) and after:

 

Unfortunately, while cleaning the bottom I noticed a long scratch that looks like it could be a crack (in the center of the photo):

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After pondering it for a while, I think the soot may have simply made an existing scratch/crack more visible — so most likely the damage is not from the campfire. Still, I probably would not try this experiment again.

It sure was fun, though!

Rustic Potato Leek Soup with Sausage and Kale

Sausage, potatoes and greens are a classic soup combo that I have made a bunch of different ways. For the sausage I’ve used linguica, Spanish chorizo, andouille, kielbasa. Potatoes could be white beans, barley, rice, quinoa. In place of kale: spinach, collard greens, broccoli leaves. (On a side note, if you ever have a chance to get some broccoli leaves, do it! We were ordering them in our Imperfect Produce box for a while and braising them like other hearty greens — really yummy. I’ve never seen them in stores.)

For this soup I wanted to use some of the flavors of potato leek soup but make it chunkier and brothier, like a stew. If you’re not a fan of kale, you can sub in spinach — add it after the potatoes are cooked and simmer for a minute or so just to cook it lightly.

Whether you opt for kale or spinach, it’s helpful to use an oversized pot, so that there’s plenty of room to accommodate the greens before they wilt and become more manageable. I used a 6 3/4-quart Le Crueset dutch oven, my go-to pot for making soup and cooking greens.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 lb bulk italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (white and light green portion only)
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs mixed potatoes, partially peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (I used russet and red potatoes)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
10 oz kale (about 2 bunches), stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized crumbles, until it’s browned through. Add onions, leeks and celery and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute more.

Add potatoes, chicken broth, wine, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then stir in kale. Bring to a boil again, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and the kale is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the cream and heat to warm through, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pictured: Pyrex Butterfly Gold 402 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Spring Blossom 402 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl