All Posts Tagged ‘Onions

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thanksgiving week 2015: donna’s cranberry sauce and roasted root vegetables with rosemary & parmesan.

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The next entry in the lead up to the big day? A classic accompaniment and a twist on a traditional side.

First things first, let’s talk about cranberry sauce. Some people love it, some people think it’s wholly unnecessary. I happen to fall into the former camp and think that those in the latter camp must have only experienced cranberry sauce from a can. Which is basically illegal in the Radeke household.

Once you’ve tasted homemade cranberry sauce — one with warm spices and a hint of orange, you’ll seriously examine your life for what’s been missing all these years. It’s a revelation that was bestowed upon us long ago by a dear family friend, and my defacto Aunt growing up, Donna. Donna’s cranberry sauce is rich and a little boozy and it’s sweet/tart flavor pairs perfectly with the buttery flavors found on the rest of the table. It’s a never miss in this house, and it should be in yours too.

As for the next recipe, it’s a different take on a classic Thanksgiving ingredient — sweet potatoes. I’ve never been a fan of the sweet potato marshmallow monstrosity that finds its way to the table; it’s too sweet and it completely masks the beautiful flavor (and natural sweetness) of this glorious root vegetable. In this version, which is a take on a Bon Appétit recipe found long ago, roasted sweet potatoes are paired with roasted red onions and dressed minimally with fresh rosemary and parmesan. It’s so simple but so insanely good; you’ll have a really hard time trying not to sneak bites before it even gets to the serving table.

Two great recipes. Two excellent additions to any Thanksgiving.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Donna’s Cranberry Sauce
Serves: 8

You will need:

3 cups fresh cranberries
1½ cup sugar
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup brandy, port or rum

1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon orange zest

1/3 cup mincemeat (I recently learned that mincemeat does in fact contain meat, so if you want a vegetarian version of this dish, skip this step or sub in a few tablespoons of orange marmalade)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Kitchen equipment: large saucepan

In a large saucepan, bring the orange juice, booze of your choice, sugar, and all of the spices to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the cranberries and stir to coat them in the liquid. Let the cranberries cook, stirring occasionally, until their skins start to pop and the sauce begins to reduce. This should take about 15 minutes. After most of the berries have popped, add in the mincemeat (or marmalade) and the nuts. Let cool completely, which will thicken the sauce slightly. You can either serve at this point, or you can refrigerate until about an hour before you need it. Let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Red Onions with Rosemary & Parmesan
Serves: 6

You will need:

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
3 red onions, peeled and cut into eighths through the root
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Kitchen equipment: two baking sheets

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, setting one rack in the middle and one on the lowest bar. Lay out your baking sheets, placing the sweet potatoes on one and the onions on the other. Drizzle the vegetables each with a few tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle the garlic over the sweet potatoes. Season both trays liberally with salt and pepper, then get in there with your hands and toss to coat the vegetables thoroughly with the oil and spices. Spread the vegetables out into a single layer on each sheet and pop them in the oven.

Check and stir the veggies about every ten minutes; they should be completely done in about 30-35 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the sweet potatoes are soft and nicely browned and the onions are a deep purple.

Remove from the oven and add both veggies to a large serving bowl. Add most of the parmesan and rosemary (reserving a little of each for garnish) and toss to coat. Garnish with the rest of the cheese and herbs and serve immediately.

If you need to make this ahead of time, roast the vegetables and refrigerate separately. Then reheat just before serving, combine and toss with cheese and herbs.

Enjoy!

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sunday dinner: pork chops with onions & apples and spice roasted squash.

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I woke up this morning to the first truly Fall day. The air was crisp and chilly, the sun was bright, the breezes were a-blowin’ and I had a deep, intimate desire to wear flannel. And so I did.

I also had a deep, intimate desire to cook something Fall-ish. Fall-esque. All Fall, all the time. I wanted to put all that crisp and chilly and bright and breezy and flannel-y on a plate. And so I did.

In my family, there were a few ingredients that started to show up regularly as the leaves began to turn — Apples. Onions. Squash. Spices like thyme and bay leaves. And wouldn’t you know it? They all go beautifully together and they all go beautifully with pork, my very favorite protein.

The following recipe will produce a simple, flavorful, and dare I say, elegant, interpretation of the best of Fall’s offerings. It’s hearty and delicious, and save for some extended stove time for the onions and apples, it’s easy to pull off even for the novice cook.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions & Apples

You will need:

1 pork chop per person, about ¾ – 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 large red onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 apples (fuji, honey crisp or gala are great), cut into ¼ inch matchsticks
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup apple cider (you can also use white wine, beer, or chicken stock)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spice Roasted Squash

1 acorn or carnival squash, cut into 1-inch thick wedges (this will serve up to 4 people, double the recipe if you are serving a bigger crowd)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen tools: cast iron skillet or sauté pan, baking sheet, kitchen tongs, kitchen timer

Most of the prep for this dish is remarkably easy and comes together very quickly. The onions and apples will take the most time, so let’s start there.

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After you’ve sliced your onions and apples, heat a skillet or sauté pan on medium heat until hot. Add the butter and stir until melted. Next, add the onions and apples, the thyme, and the bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid half way and set a timer for 35 minutes. Don’t fully walk away from the stove — you’ll need to stir your onion/apple mixture every few minutes to ensure they don’t burn, but it’s a pretty low maintenance gig.

While your onions and apples are cooking, you can get to prepping your squash.

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Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Slice your squash in half (this will take a good chef’s knife and some muscle, so don’t be shy) and using a sharp-edged spoon, scoop out the seeds and inner flesh. You could save the squash innards and probably find a million recipes on pinterest for ‘delicious roasted squash seeds!’ but ain’t nobody got time for that…says the girl who hand braided the lattice on this pie.

Anyhoo, toss the innards unless you’re going to make Pinterest magic, and slice the squash into wedges that are about 1-inch thick. Throw ‘em in a big bowl and add the olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Using your trusty kitchen tongs (I could seriously write an ode to mine; they are hands down my favorite kitchen utensil) toss the squash wedges with the oil and spices until thoroughly coated on all sides. If you don’t have tongs, you can use two forks or spoons, but I wouldn’t use your hands given the addition of the cayenne.

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Spread your squash evenly on a baking sheet, and when your oven is ready, cook for 30 minutes, turning once at the halfway point.

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They are done when the squash is golden brown and you can easily pierce them with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside, covering with a large piece of tin foil to keep warm.

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By now, your onions and apples should have hit the 30 minute mark and should be cooked down by quite a bit. You’ll probably need to cook them an additional 10 minutes until they are further reduced and starting to brown. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and stir to incorporate, making sure to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring often, until the balsamic is reduced and the onions/apples are a rich purply-brown color. Turn off the stove and remove from the heat; set aside to cool slightly.

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We’re in the home stretch now and all we need to do is cook the pork. Remove your pork chops from the refrigerator and set out on a plate for a few minutes, seasoning generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Wipe out the sauté pan you used to cook the onions and apples and heat a tablespoon of olive oil on high heat until the oil shimmers.

Add the pork and cook for three minutes, then flip and cook an additional three minutes (the easiest way to do this is to set a timer and DON’T TOUCH your pork during this time, it’s the best way to get a good sear). Add the cider to the pan with the pork and a few big spoonfuls of the onion/apple mixture. Cook pork for an additional five minutes, then flip and cook for another two minutes.

Remove pork from the pan to a serving platter and pour the pan sauce over the top. Top with more of the onion/apple mixture, and dish up the squash along side. Serve immediately.

It will be as if Fall exploded in your kitchen. This meal is spicy and tangy and rich and earthy and positively cozy. Enjoy it with your favorite red wine or craft beer and savor what is simply the best of Fall on a plate. You can wear some flannel too, if you’d like. You know I did.

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