Monday, July 04, 2016

The Mister makes Orange Sauce

Disclaimer 1: Orange Sauce does not include oranges.
Disclaimer 2: This is a copycat recipe.

That said, this sauce is yummy enough to warrant a post. And relatively simple to make.

Backstory: The Mister received a bottle of orange sauce from a friend. The sauce is made and bottled by La Victoria Taqueria. We've never eaten there (and are not likely to, as all of their locations are 45-60 minutes from our home). However, after tasting this sauce, we considered stopping by the next time we were in town.

Then the Mister was gifted another bottle of the orange sauce.  We were hooked.

Then the Friend sent the Mister a link to this copycat recipe. Today he made a batch.

First impressions:
  • his: too spicy, not enough garlic, tastes "fresher" than the bottles
  • hers: just wow, what wonderful flavor; sometimes when ingredients meld, the effect mellows
After a couple of hours chilling in the fridge, said sauce was drizzled on leftover meatloaf. Our verdicts:
  • hers: in the garlic department, about the same as the restaurant. can't believe how great it is on the meatloaf.
  • his: this is good. I concur.
Here is his final response: "Having rested in the fridge for a couple of hours, the spiciness has dialed back and I'm perfectly happy with the recipe."

If you are trepidatious, I suggest that you cut the recipe in half and give it a try and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


David and I discussed whether to use filé in the jambalaya. I referred him to this article which clarifies the difference between gumbo and jambalaya, and why some cooks use filé in gumbo. I did not use it in tonight's dish.

Two things to know up front: 1) I cook the rice separately because I don't like mushy rice. 2) I prefer to cook everything else in the same pot, partly because I'm a lazy dish washer but also because the browned bits on the bottom of the pan add flavor to the broth.

  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned
  • 1 c chopped cooked ham
  • 3 hefty Italian sausages (or whatever spicy sausage you prefer), sliced
  • 1 c chopped each: red bell pepper, onion, celery
  • shishitos or padrons (optional), up to a cup (they were in season!)
  • several cloves of garlic, smooshed
  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 6-8 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes with juice (I use canned diced tomatoes)
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 T. each fresh oregano, thyme (or 1 t. each if dried)
  • 2 T paprika
  • 1/4 - 1 t. cayenne powder
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • cooked rice for serving
  1. A large high-sided skillet or stock pot is going to be your canvas. Be sure it's large enough to welcome all the ingredients, so you can stir without spilling over the sides of the pan.
  2. I start with sauteing the sausage and bacon. Once enough fat is rendered, I add the veggies, including the garlic, and chicken.
  3. When the onions soften and the chicken is slightly browned on the outside, turn the heat down to medium-low.
  4. Add the tomatoes/their juice, chicken stock** and the seasonings. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the chicken is completely cooked, turn off the heat.
  5. The jambalaya is still steaming hot, so I add the shrimp, cover the pan and let it sit until the shrimp turn pink, so as to avoid overcooking.
  6. We served this over a wild rice blend and topped with scallions, with hot sauce on the side, as my son likes it spicier than I do. 
  7. Indulge!
** Add enough liquid for a hearty soup. I prefer a brothy jambalaya.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Cassoulet with cannelini, pork, sausage and duck

When I visit with my son, we usually pick something to cook together. It had been years since I'd made cassoulet, but I sent David the link to this recipe in Saveur and he said "Let's do it!" Of course, there are many versions online, but this recipe most closely resembled the one I used the first time I made this casserole. Layers of meat, layers of flavor.

As we often do, we used the recipe as a suggestion. We did not add tomatoes. We did not have duck confit. We did, however, leave the Chico Locker and Sausage Company with a selection of their spicy sausage, a couple of meaty country pork ribs and ham hocks. Then we stopped at S&S Produce where we got two duck legs and a few strips of smoked bacon from the butcher, as well as fresh oregano, thyme and a loaf of whole wheat rosemary bread.

  • 1 lb dried cannelini
  • lots of garlic, minced
  • 1 fat onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut in 1/4 inch-thick slices
  • 1 BIG meaty ham hock
  • about 1 lb. cubed pork -- cut into small cubes so they cook thoroughly
  • 3-4 spicy sausages
  • 3 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped, fried and drained (save the bacon grease!)
  • 2 duck legs
  • fresh oregano and thyme
  • 1 cup chardonnay
  • chicken broth
  • 2 cups bread crumbs, preferably homemade from a tasty loaf of bread (we used a rustic rosemary bread baked locally)
Step 1: Cook the beans
  1. Start the beans on simmer in 2:1 ratio of water to beans. I don't bother soaking them.
  2. Render the bacon and set the meat aside to cool.
  3. Brown the carrots, onions and garlic in the bacon fat.
  4. Add these veggies and a ham hock to the beans and cook until the beans are just a little al dente.
  5. Set the pot on a back burner and take the ham hock out to cool, then remove the meat from the bone and give it a rough chop.
Step 2: Render the duck fat
  1. Skin the duck breasts and render the fat. Set this aside to cool. Chop the cracklins. 
Step 3: Prep the sausage
  1. Slice and sauté the sausage until it's almost done. Scoop out the meat to drain on paper towels. (I didn't reuse this fat.)
Step 4: Make the bread crumbs
I think you can figure out this step yourself.

Step 5: Layer the casserole
  1. In a 5.5-quart cast iron dutch oven like this one my hubby gifted me for my bday, begin layering the beans, fresh herbs and meats: beans, duck cracklins, sausage, pork, ham hock bits, a generous sprinkle of oregano and thyme leaves, then beans, rinse and repeat. 
  2. Nest the duck legs in the casserole.
  3. Add the wine and enough broth to keep things moist. You may not need much broth since you're also using the luscious liquid from cooking the beans.
  4. Top with fresh bread crumbs. Don't be stingy with the bread crumbs. Think of it as a crust.
  5. Drizzle the rendered duck fat over the topping.
  6. Cover and bake approximately 90 minutes at 325 degrees.
  7. Before you turn off the oven, confirm that the meats are cooked and the breadcrumb topping is toasty brown, like this. 

Step 6: Prepare to be impressed with this melt in your mouth goodness.