The Arcturus Sicilian Burger Spectacular! (with chips!)

I think I’ve discovered that naming a recipe is far harder than writing one. I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure I can blame myself [aggressively points at self in mirror]. I’ll generate these wild ideas in my brain and they’ll become food and I’ll get all the way to the end and I have no idea what to name the dish.

So I make this awesome burger and chips with a rough Italian take and the best I can come up with is to call the thing an Italian burger. But everybody’s already done that, right? There’s got to be like 67 online recipes called Italian burger. Boring. And in any case, most of the Mediterranean blood flowing through my veins is Sicilian.

But wouldn’t you know that there’s also about 37 recipes online called Sicilian burger. So what I need to do is meditate another name for my tasty burger and, no, wait, you know what, whatever, who cares, let’s go!

DSC00816

The Arcturus Sicilian Burger Spectacular! (with chips!)

 

the burger

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

8 burger buns

 

the spread

1/2 cup mayo

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried basil

 

the relish

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 jalapenos, diced

1/4 cup sun dried tomato, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 portabella mushroom caps, diced

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp cayenne

1 cup white wine

1 bag fresh spinach

1 pack fresh basil

 

the chips

3 large russet potatoes

1 to 2 quarts frying oil

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp dried basil

 

making the burgers:

In a large bowl combine the beef and pork, dust with salt & pepper, shape into 8 patties, then refrigerate. Remove from the fridge about a half-hour before cooking to allow them to come to room temperature.

In a small food processor or blender combine the mayo, vinegar, and spices and blend, then refrigerate.

Heat the olive oil in a large steel skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and cook until browned. Add the jalapeno and cook until browned. Add the sun dried tomato and cook until everything just begins to stick to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and deglaze.

Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Then add the thyme, rosemary, and cayenne. Cook, stirring every once and a while until everything begins to stick to the pan. Add the wine and deglaze.

Stir in the spinach and basil, lower the heat a bit, and cook until the relish slowly approaches a final slurry-like consistency. You don’t want it too dry, but not too wet, it should stick together. Remove the relish from the skillet and set aside, keep it warm.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the butter over high heat, add the burger patties, cooking 4 of them at a time. Brown the patties on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip them, top with mozzarella cheese, cover the skillet with aluminum foil, and cook for about 3 more minutes for medium rare, longer if you desire.

Toast your burger buns, add the cooked burger patty with the mozzarella, top with the relish and the spread. Serve immediately.

 

making the chips:

Slice the potatoes into thin discs using a fine knife or optimally a mandolin on the thinnest setting. Wash the potato wafers in a large colander with water, shake loose as much water as you can when finished.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat your fry oil of choice to 350 degrees. Monitor the temperature using a kitchen thermometer and maintain 350 degrees throughout frying.

In batches, fry the potatoes until they are at least light brown, or darker brown if you desire. Using a slotted spoon or similar tool remove the potatoes from the fry oil and set to dry on plates with paper towels.

When finished frying them all, add the chips to a large bowl. Toss them with salt & pepper and the spices until the chips are coated throughout. Serve them immediately with the burgers.

 

Let’s begin!

DSC00792.JPG

To me, all beef burgers are boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they’re so inferior to the mixed bag.  I go 50 / 50 with ground beef and ground pork.  The pork gives the burgers a better taste and keeps them moist and juicy.  Get ground beef that’s 80 / 20 fat ratio.  Don’t go buying that 90 / 10 or 95 / 5 crap.

80 / 20!  You only live once, so go all the way!  And I hear tell from Jesus himself from his castle in Hawaii that those who buy 90 / 10 or 95 / 5 ground beef worship the dark lord.  And you don’t worship the dark lord, do you?

When mixing the beef and pork with the salt & pepper do not overly squeeze the meat while combining.  You want air in there.  I typically shape the meat into 8 patties but if you want massive burgers go with 4 patties.  Or you can go to 12 or even 16 patties for small sliders.  Make the burger size you love.

This burger’s theme is indeed Sicilian or Italian or Mediterranean or whatever.  I channeled the ghost of Caesar himself but he got mad because he didn’t know why I was asking him about burgers.  So I use with fresh mozzarella cheese sliced from the ball.  But, you can use any cheese you want.  It’ll all taste great, but white cheeses will taste best.

Pick your burger bun of choice.  Buy good bread or cheap bread, just make sure to toast it, and it’ll all work great.  I think I got cheap potato roll buns, fine.  It’s all good!

The spread mayo is easy, just blend it all up.  If you don’t want to dance with sherry vinegar then use red wine vinegar.  But if you can, find and use sherry vinegar.  I’ve kind of become obsessed with sherry vinegar as an ingredient.  I’ve even found a way to incorporate it into Mexican dishes.  It’s so freaking awesome.  It gives forth a haughty laugh at the boringness of red wine vinegar.

You must, must refrigerate the mayo after blending so it can firm up into a spread.  Please kindly don’t skip this step or do it at the last moment or it’ll deconstruct when you put it on your hot burger and turn nasty.  Leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

DSC00794.JPG

The star of this lunatic dish is the relish.  It will take some time to make, but trust me, oh dear it is great when you’re finished.  You’re essentially making this in phases.

Phase 1 is shallots, jalapenos, and sun dried tomatoes browned, sticking to the pan with a balsamic vinegar deglaze.

Phase 2 is mushrooms, tomatoes & paste, and spices, sticking to the pan with a white wine deglaze.

Phase 3 is a slow reduction into the relish / slurry with spinach and basil added for greenness, nutrition, and the necessary added final moisture.

I generally cook each stage to a very brown state.

DSC00796.JPG

This adds flavor.  But, a lot of people don’t want to go with a lot of brown, they don’t like the bitter taste.  I totally get it, go with what level of brown you like.  Just keep in mind that whatever your final state is, the relish has to fit / sit on your burger.  If you make too much relish or you have a lot left over after topping your burgers it can become like a side salad or something.

While you’re slowly making the relish you can make your chips.

I’m just gonna go ahead and say this [sighs], I’m over fries [hates self].  I mean I love fries.  Who doesn’t love fries?  Nazis, and mythical Orc warriors.  But I’m kind of over fries.  I’ve eaten 73 different kinds of fries and they all blend together now.  Thin, large, light brown to dark brown, different toppings or no toppings, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.  It’s all the same to me in many ways.

I will always eat fries, but in the interest of variety it’s necessary to shake things up in life.  More and more places are thankfully offering homemade chips now.  So I decided to do the same.  Variety is awesome, it keeps you honest and open.

Go get a mandolin.  This tool is awesome.  You can slice up your potatoes in mere minutes.  And you can use the mandolin for so many vegetable needs later on.  Also make sure you have a deep fry kitchen thermometer.  Do not fry without this tool or you will fail.  The chips are very thin and consistent oil temperature is a must to get the right even brownness you need.

I fried using vegetable oil.  Lots of folks use peanut oil.  You can probably also use canola oil or corn oil too.  It’s up to you.  Just please, please be careful.  Frying at home is a mess and is inherently dangerous.  Never execute home frying operations without a plan to keep you from burning yourself, a means to cover the pot with a lid in an emergency, and a fire extinguisher.

DSC00799.JPG

Fry in batches, do not crowd the pot.  You want the potatoes at least a little brown.  I find light brown to be the tastiest.  But you should shake it up.  Do some batches light brown, others medium brown, maybe one batch dark brown.  Again, variety.

Use the slotted spoon or equivalent to remove the chips from the hot oil.  Let as much oil drain off as practical via the spoon back into the pot.  The paper towels will help with this draining too.  You don’t want a final chip product swimming with any oil.

Let them dry out on the paper towels for a bit.  Then toss them with the spices in a large bowl.  If you don’t want to dance with smoked paprika use regular paprika.  But seriously, go get smoked paprika.

If you have leftover chips but them in an airtight container.  No need to refrigerate, but eat them within one week.  They’ll not have a long shelf life, they’re homemade.  If you eat them as leftovers and you might find they’ve turned soggy in the container?

If so, take a baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil, add the leftover chips, set your oven to 350 degrees, and bake the chips for about 3 minutes until they’re crispy again.  Do not preheat the oven first, I mean really turn the oven to 350, start, and immediately put the chips in.  They’re already cooked, this is just to get the crisp back.  Anything longer and they’ll burn.

DSC00800

Oh my, I’m so fucking awesome.

DSC00807

Keep the relish warm as you get towards completion, do not, do not let the relish get cold.

Get out a nonstick skillet for the burgers.  Some folks will say you need a stainless steel skillet to effectively brown the burgers.  They might be right, but to me homemade burgers with ground meats can get stuck and fall apart in a steel skillet far too easily.  Maybe that’s just my lack of skill?  Not sure, but this is how I do it.  Do it the way you prefer.

Medium rare timing will depend on your own experience with your skillet, range top, and other atmospheric conditions.  If you have a full moon out, add 13 seconds to each side.  For me, it’s 3 minutes a side over high heat gets me to medium rare.  Experiment to get to yours.  Cook longer if you like your burgers more well done.  Whatever you do, tend to trend towards the highest heat possible in your pan.  This will help with the delicious browning.

DSC00808.JPG

Flip them, add the mozzarella slices, and tent the pan with foil so the cheese can melt as you cook the second side.  Sliced fresh mozzarella balls are not going to overly melt in only 3 minutes.  This is fine to me, see above, as I think it’s nice and creamy.  If you want it melted further just cook the burger a little longer with the foil on.  Or, like I said earlier you can pick another white cheese you like.  Or, you can always slice the mozzarella way thinner than I do.

Toast the buns, please.  This is an important step.  Non-toasted buns aren’t as delicious.  As soon as you’re ready, top the buns with the burgers, add the relish, and spread the mayo.  Chips on the side.  And you’re off to a delicious wonderland where meat and potatoes warm your stomach, brain, and soul.

Enjoy life!

DSC00813.JPG

DSC00815

DSC00812.JPG

Advertisements

lunatic (not boring) salad

Life is full of risks. If you take upon your shoulders the profession of Bear Baiter you should expect some high medical insurance premiums. But if you post an unfavorable recipe on your degenerate blog, oh well, you’ll live.

However many years I didn’t post any of my cooking here was due to many things, timid behavior, failure, laziness, whatever.  Only a handful of recipes have gone up, all I’m rather proud of. I’ve still got many more of those. But how about one (of many) I’m not too sure of? It’s all good. It is what it is. It’s food, it’s good, so who cares if it’s not necessarily indescribably great. But seriously it’s still good stuff.

I hate boring salads. There’s no point. You can get nutrition in so many awesome ways. Who wants to get their daily greens via apathy? Not me. On the other hand, places that charge their customers $11 for a lunch salad should be firebombed. It’s just salad.

So we built this exciting main dish salad you can make on a weeknight in less than a half hour. If nothing else, it’s not boring. Whether all the freaky flavors in here will excite you or drive you away is entirely dependent upon your palate and preference. For us, I dig this kind of stuff, so badly.

 

DSC00773.JPG

Let’s go!

 

lunatic (not boring) salad

bags of fresh greens

1 head broccoli, chopped

1 apple, sliced

1 carrot, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, diced

3 fresh cherry peppers, diced or 1/4 cup jarred

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/8 cup sun dried tomato, diced

1 anchovy tin

1 lemon, juiced

1/8 cup sherry vinegar

1 basil pack, chopped

pepper

2 Tbsp mustard

1 pack pine nuts

1 pack pancetta

1/2 cup parmesan / reggiano

in a large bowl add the greens, broccoli, apple, and carrot

in a medium sauté pan heat the olive oil, add the shallot and brown, add the cherry peppers and garlic and brown, deglaze with white wine

add the sun dried tomato and anchovy and cook for about 5 minutes, add the lemon juice, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes

transfer the pan mixture to a blender or food processor, add the vinegar, basil, pepper and mustard, blend and let sit

without cleaning the sauté pan, add the pine nuts and pancetta and cook until both are crisp

toss the dressing with the greens, add the cooked pine nuts and pancetta, sprinkle with the parmesan

 

DSC00760.JPG

Let’s begin!

DSC00762.JPG

Just get a big bowl and toss the greens, broccoli, carrot, and apple in there.  Chop them as you please.  Feel free to substitute any fruit or vegetable you desire in your salads or to add more.  It’s all good.  But have at least three fruit or vegetable options in addition to the greens.

DSC00766.JPG

The star of this dish is the vinaigrette and this sauté pan is your tool.  You’ve got your shallots and peppers to brown as you desire, then the sun dried tomato and anchovy to provide some added bite.  White wine deglazes, and the lemon juice to somewhat even it out.  Cherry peppers have some high heat, you can use jalapenos or even regular bell pepper and it’s fine, just cook them a bit longer until they’re soft.  You want almost all liquid gone but no overly dry.

DSC00767.JPG

Process or blend it all up with the sherry vinegar, mustard, basil, and pepper.  Do not, please do not add any additional salt.  The anchovy already has your back on that.  If you left the anchovy out because you don’t like the fishy taste or whatever, you add some salt then.  If you don’t want to dance with sherry vinegar, use red wine vinegar.  You should have a nice dressing at this point.  If it’s too thick, add just a touch of water and blend again.  If it’s too loose, you can add a bit more mustard, or just leave it.  As long as it can coat your vegetables you’re good.

Oh but we’re not done yet.  Because who doesn’t love bacon and pine nuts?  I mean, I guess there might be somebody, somewhere who doesn’t.  If so, they’re probably aliens, report them to the authorities.

Toss the vinaigrette in the large bowl, add in the pine nuts and pancetta, sprinkle over the parmesan and go.

No matter what happens, one way or the other, you’ll not be bored.

fake smoked salmon sandwich

Everything is apparently fake nowadays. The news is fake, science is fake, happy cat videos are faked, celebrity births are fake, and so on. So we decided to get in on the action, with this fake smoked salmon sandwich. It’s not actually smoked, but it’s ability to fill your body with delicious food will surely be the most realistic part of your day. So climb aboard our mystical journey, in a life where apparently nothing is more fake than the quest to determine your place in this currently destructive world. Wait, what? Let’s begin!

DSC00713.JPG

fake smoked salmon sandwich

 

1 pound salmon filet

olive oil

salt & pepper

1 tsp Old Bay

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp capers

1 tbsp tightly packed fresh dill or 1/2 tbsp dried

fresh lime juice

onion, chopped

toasted bread, sliced

basil leaves, chopped

tomato, sliced

arugula leaves

 

preheat the oven to 350 degrees, brush the salmon filet with olive oil, dust with salt & pepper, and sprinkle with juice of 1/2 lime

in a small bowl mix Old Bay, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper and rub over the salmon

wrap the salmon in foil, place the foil in a roasting pan, and bake for 15 minutes

increase the oven heat to 450 degrees, unroll the foil to expose the salmon and bake for 5 more minutes

while baking the salmon, in a small bowl mix the mayo, capers, dill, 1/2 lime juice

in a small skillet add 1 tbsp olive oil, add chopped onion and cook to your desired brownness and caramelization

to make the sandwich, spread the mixed mayo on the bread, add cut salmon filets, top with onions, basil, tomato, and arugula

DSC00699.JPG

After you’ve mixed up the spices, pat them into the salmon.  The oil and lime juice you’ve brushed it with will allow the grains of goodness to stick to the salmon flesh.  Smoked paprika is the top ingredient here.  I’ve used paprika since the beginning of my cooking journey but have only recently discovered smoked paprika.  It has so many delightful uses.

DSC00704.JPG

After 15 minutes in the oven the salmon is mostly cooked, but we now open the foil to expose it to the increased heat.  This will allow your spice blend to brown considerably.  Note the difference visually, I assure you the taste difference is even better.

DSC00707.JPG

Salmon is just about the most criminally easy thing to cook.  So quick to do, and yet so delicious.  I get the idea that salmon was one of those softballs God tossed to humanity after creation.  We basically got left with war, pestilence, turmoil, and an ingrained desire to destroy ourselves.  So God was like: oh, sorry, eh, uh, hmm, okay, here’s salmon.

DSC00715.JPG

The mayo gets mixed up briefly with the capers, dill, and lime juice.  The onion is extra credit, you don’t need to do it if you don’t want.  The greens and tomato just get thrown right on there.  Use your bread of choice.  I went with sourdough, but any good bread will do.  Just flake the salmon to fit the size of the bread.

It’s a quick dish for a weeknight, that’s mostly healthy, and well worth your time.

Enjoy life.

three mushroom pappardelle

When you throw three different kinds of mushroom into a dish, the only question that comes to my mind afterwards is why didn’t I use four?

DSC00666.JPG

three mushroom pappardelle

2 cups chicken stock

dried porcini mushroom pack

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 pound hot Italian sausage, diced

4 shallots, minced

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 Tbsp brown sugar

12 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

6 oz shitake mushrooms, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

pinch nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, salt & pepper

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped

1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno liquid

1 spinach bag

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound pappardelle pasta

parmesan reggiano, grated

in a pot, warm the chicken stock, add the dried porcini & soak for 20 minutes, strain & chop porcini, reserve the stock

in a stainless steel pan warm 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat, add the sausage & brown, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage, set aside

stir in shallots & onion, saute until softened, then add brown sugar & caramelize onions over low heat

increase heat to medium, add the baby bella, shitake, garlic, and the spices to your taste and cook until they begin to stick to the pan, then add dry sherry, scrape pan and reduce until all brown bits are absorbed and most moisture is gone

add reserved chicken stock and reduce until all liquid is gone

add lemon juice, jalapenos, and jalapeno liquid, cook for a few minutes, then stir in the spinach and wilt it

add chopped porcini and heavy cream and simmer until a thick sauce is created, return sausage

separately cook pasta, in a large serving bowl add pasta, then add sauce, mix until combined but don’t aggressively stir

serve in bowls with grated parmesan reggiano

 

Let’s begin!

DSC00645.JPG

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the chicken broth, then strain and chop them after about 20 minutes of hanging out.  Keep the chicken broth, we’ll use it’s mushroom infused tastiness later.

DSC00657.JPG

Sausage improves any dish.  I shall duel anybody who claims otherwise.  But honestly, this is just extra credit.  The dish will do just fine without the sausage if you want to go the meatless route.

DSC00647.JPG

Whoever discovered the concept of slowly caramelizing onions should have been appointed Emperor of All Humanity for at least one day.

DSC00651.JPG

After you’ve added the other mushrooms, garlic, and the spices, you really want them to get a nice golden brown look throughout.  As they start to stick to the pan, this will help give it a nice deeper flavor.

DSC00659.JPG

Then we use the dry sherry to deglaze the pan and start the sauce.  You can use white wine instead of sherry if you want, but really you should go with sherry if you can get it.  It gives the dish a unique flavor.  And if you take the trouble to buy it, try and get the better sherry that is like $20 a bottle.  It’s remarkably better than the $10 bottle.

DSC00661.JPG

While you’re cooking the pasta, slowly reduce the cream until you’ve got a nice, deep sauce.  The recipe calls for pappardelle, but any long pasta of your choice will work great.

DSC00663.JPG

You can eat this by itself or serve with a side salad.  Either way works, but most people would like to have the salad with it too, as the dish can be a bit heavy for some folks.

DSC00667.JPG

Most of my recipes come straight from my silly brain.  But where I am inspired to steal the ideas of others, I shall always try and give credit where credit is due.

In it’s original form, years ago, it was based on this decent Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

But it evolved after I had the Pappardelle con Funghi e Capesante at Vigiluccis in Coronado.  Work made me go there with the bosses, the food made up for the otherwise weird evening.  It was one of those moments where you eat something, and you’re like, “I wonder if I could do that?”  So I did.  But theirs is much, much better than mine.

spiced crab cakes with lime cream

We break several cultural rules by melding a variety of the planet’s tastiest spices into your usual crab cake.  The crab thus becomes happy.  Which will make you happy.  Which will make everybody happy.

dsc00640

spiced crab cakes with lime cream

crab cakes

1 pound crab

1/4 cup roasted red pepper, small diced

1 celery rib, small diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp harissa

1/2 lime, juiced

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp Old Bay

1 Tsp cumin

1 Tsp cardamom

1 egg

lime cream

1/2 cup sour cream

zest of 1 lime

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp Old Bay

cooking

1 Tbsp olive oil

bread or buns

1 tomato, sliced

greens

Combine all the crab cake ingredients in a large bowl. Form eight patties, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Combine all the lime cream ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator with the crab cakes.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for about four to five minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Or, grease a baking pan, and bake the crab cakes in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until light brown.

Serve on toasted bread or buns, with tomato, greens, and the lime cream.

dsc00627Let’s begin!

dsc00629Throw all the crab cake ingredients into the bowl and mix with a spoon.  Don’t stir too hard or too much.  You want the mixture to stay a little loose.  Too much moisture is not your friend here.  It using canned crab like I do, make sure you drain out the excess liquid.

We use the necessary awesome Old Bay, but also add harissa, cumin, and cardamom for an extra special taste.  Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste that you can make yourself very easily.  But more and more I see it in the grocery store which is a win for all humanity.  Crab cake enthusiasts or Moroccan traditionalists probably might not agree with this combination of spice.  But to me, breaking the rules is fun.

dsc00634

Make eight balls with your hands.  Don’t pack them too tight, you want to leave some of the air inside the cake.  If the balls are too wet, you can add more bread crumbs.  If they won’t stay together you could add a second egg and remix it.  Put them into the fridge for at least an hour so they can set.  You can use plastic wrap to cover or (blasphemy) since it’s only an hour you can just leave the plate as is like I do.

dsc00631

The lime cream ingredients are just put into a bowl and stirred using a fork until it’s all combined.  It’ll be loose at first, but after an hour in the fridge it’ll make a nice and easy spread.

dsc00636

A little olive oil and a nonstick skillet is all you need for less than ten minutes of cooking.  Use a spoon and spatula when turning over the cakes to keep them together as they should be a little loose.

dsc00644

A slightly healthier and easier way is to just bake them for a half hour.  You’ll get a lighter brown color, but it’s less work and the cake will stay together easier.  I use both methods, but usually prefer the skillet.  Try both, and see what works best for you.

dsc00637

You can eat the cakes with the cream on their own.  But I usually toast some bread and add tomato and some greens.

dsc00641

Enjoy life!

red risotto with chard

This degenerate blog is just a little over three years old and slowly approaching 400 posts laced by the ramblings of an insane man.  But we’ve never done a recipe before despite the role food plays as one of the delightful pillars of my life.  Don’t know why it took this long, probably cowardice, but now it’s done.  There are others.  They’ll eventually make it up here too.  Good times.

DSC00625.JPG

Recipe:

 

red risotto with chard

4 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 pound sausage, sliced

1 red onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sugar

1 cup arborio rice

1 cup red wine

2 tbsp tomato paste

salt & pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 15 oz can diced tomato

1 bunch chard

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

in a pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil and then let simmer

in a separate medium pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add the sausage and cook until brown, remove the sausage and set aside

reduce the heat to medium, add the red onion and garlic, and cook until the onion begins to wilt, add the sugar and continue to cook the onion until it’s very brown

add the rice and stir so that all the grains are coated, cook for one minute

add the red wine and stir, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pot, add the tomato paste, salt & pepper to your taste, and all the spices

when most of the liquid has absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir frequently until the rice is just starting to stick to the pot again, repeat 1/2 cup at a time with the remaining stock

while the rice is cooking, roughly chop the chard leaves and dice the stems

when all the stock has been used, add the chard leaves, chard stems, and diced tomato, cook for about five minutes until the dish has a creamy texture

return the sausage, remove from the heat, add the parmesan, stir, and serve immediately

 

Lunatic Breakdown:

DSC00600.JPG

Let’s begin!

DSC00601.JPG

The recipe works best with any kind of Italian sausage.  Pick your favorite and run with it.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a plate after it’s browned.  You can skim off some of the remaining fat before you add the onion if you want, you know, if you’re crazy.

DSC00607.JPG

We’re using the onion, garlic, and sugar to get a nice brown and rich mixture.  You can turn the heat down and really let this process play out if you want for as long as a half hour.  Until the onion has a brown sheen that blinds you with it’s deliciousness.  But that’s not required, you can get it done in ten minutes, just keep cooking the onion until you get the browning you like.  If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, run with it, we’ll get that stuff off later.

dsc00608

When you add the rice it always strikes me how little all that looks.  But then that rice will grow into tasty fun.  Make sure you coat every grain with oil, let it cook there for just one short minute.

DSC00611.JPG

Get the red wine in there and start scraping the awesome stuck bits off the bottom of the pot.  Stir once every few minutes to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot anymore.  Use whatever red wine you like.  Whatever you do, don’t drink the rest of the box or bottle with your friends and family.

DSC00609.JPG

My little cooking buddy.  She likes to wrap herself around my feet while I’m at it.  She enjoys being close, and it’s prime real estate for mistakes that result in food falling on the floor.

DSC00618.JPG

Ladle 1/2 cup of the stock in at a time, keep stirring so nothing sticks, and just slowly let the rice do it’s thing.  Risotto is actually really easy to make, it’s just that you can’t leave it alone for more than a few minutes.  You can’t stir it and walk away for twenty minutes to chase the dogs or kiddies, do your taxes, contemplate the concept of dark matter, or binge watch the latest drama where everybody dies.

DSC00614.JPG

I love chard because of it’s bitter notes and the color.  If you don’t like the bitter, you can just dump in a bag of spinach from the store, it’s all good.  Just get something green in there.  I dice up the chard stems and then add them too.  This gives the risotto a little crunch, and also is of the mindset to never throw out any part of the ingredient you can use somehow.  But, if you don’t want to go down this road, it’s perfectly okay to just use the chard leaves and cut off / around the stems.

DSC00619.JPG

Toss in all those leaves, stems, and the tomato can contents.  Stir quickly and thoroughly until it’s all combined.  Be careful, at this stage the rice can really stick fast if you don’t get that chard’s liquid sweated out, so keep on stirring as required.

DSC00622.JPG

Cook for about five to ten minutes or until the rice is starting to stick no matter how much you stir.  Get the tasty sausage back in and remove it from the heat.  Add the parmesan and stir it all up.  I used bagged parmesan here.  The best is probably to grate it off the block if you can but the bag works just fine.

Serve the risotto immediately while it’s nice and hot and before it starts to seize up.  For leftovers, you might need to add a little water back into the risotto before you reheat or microwave it.

You can eat this as a main dish, or as a side dish alongside other Italian type cuisine.

Enjoy life.