Category Archives: Main Dish

London Broil

What comes to your mind when you read London Broil depends a great deal upon where you happen to live. If you are outside of English-speaking North America it probably means nothing. In Canada, it most likely conjures up an image of ground meat wrapped in a flank steak. In the U.S. the meaning has evolved over time and varies regionally. Some insist that London broil is a method of cooking flank steak. Others, especially in the Northeast, use the term to refer to a thick top round steak most often marinated and grilled. The origin of the name is unclear: Merriam Webster dates it to 1902; some say it was first used in the 1930s; others insist that it was not invented until the 1950s or 1960s. In any case, it is neither from London nor is it usually broiled. At our house, London broil is a thick (25 mm to 35 mm, 1” to 1½”) piece of top round marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled no more than to medium rare, and served thinly sliced diagonally.

I adapted this recipe from Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause, On Cooking: techniques from expert chefs (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1995), 298.

Ingredients

 

Olive oil

120 grams

4 ounces

Balsamic vinegar

120 grams

4 ounces

Fresh rosemary, chopped

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Garlic, minced

50 grams

4 or 5 large cloves

Coarsely ground black pepper

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Beef top round

about 1½ kilograms

about 3 pounds

Method

Combine the marinade ingredients in a suitable, non-aluminum, pan that fits the meat fairly closely. Alternatively, use a large freezer bag. Add the meat and turn over to cover both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or, preferably, overnight. I sometimes let it marinate for a couple of days turning a couple times a day.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill until quite hot. Wipe the marinade from the meat. Place the meat diagonally on the grill. Cook for about four minutes then flip lengthwise.  After another four minutes, flip it again but at 90 degrees to create hash marks. Repeat for a total of another eight minutes. The meat should be medium rare, about 135°F (57°C).

Let the meat rest for at least ten minutes then cut diagonally across the grain into 6 mm (¼”) slices.

Thai Red Curry of Pork with Peanut

The addition of peanut butter to red curry paste and coconut makes this a rich, satisfying dish. Like most Thai food, it features a balance of four elements: spicy, sour, sweet, and salty. It should be fairly spicy but you can adjust the heat level by adding more or less curry paste. I use prepared red curry paste I buy at my local Asian market but you can make your own. The peanut butter should be natural, i.e. without added sugar and preferably unsalted. Either smooth or crunchy is fine. I prefer to make my own coconut milk because I find it lighter than canned. If you use the latter, consider adding a bit of water to it. The pork should be fairly lean; I use sirloin but tenderloin would work equally well, albeit at higher cost. Serve modest portions over steamed jasmine rice.

(Recipe adapted from BBCGoodFoodShow.com)

Serves two generously

Ingredients

Pork

350 grams (12 ounces)

Unsweetened dried grated coconut

100 grams (1 cup)

Boiling water

600 milliliters (2½ cups), divided use

Vegetable oil

as needed

Red Thai curry paste

50 to 60 grams (3 to 4 Tablespoons)

Peanut butter

60 grams (2 to 3 Tablespoons)

Fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped

40 grams (½ cup)

Spring onion, thinly sliced

60 grams (small bunch)

Palm sugar or light brown sugar

15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon)

Lime juice

One lime, about 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Thai fish sauce

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Dry roasted unsalted peanuts

50 grams (⅓ cup)

Coriander leaves, chopped

for garnish

Method

Cut the pork into 25-mm (1-inch) cubes then slice each cube across the grain 3-mm (⅛-inch) thick.

Put the grated coconut with 250 milliliters (1 cup) of the water into a blender. Carefully blend on high speed for about a minute.

Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pot (I use a cast iron chicken fryer). When hot but not smoking, strain in the coconut milk, reserving the coconut. Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter. Fry, stirring constantly until the water has been driven out and the oil starts to separate.

Stir the coriander stalks and spring onion into the mixture then fold in the pork. Stir fry for a few minutes until the pork has lost its exterior pink color.

Return the coconut to the blender jar, add the remaining boiling water, and blend on high speed for about a minute as before. Strain the milk into the pot and discard the coconut. The liquid should just cover the pork. If not, add a bit of water. Stir in the palm sugar, lime juice, and about half of the fish sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork is tender. Check the seasoning and add a bit more fish sauce if it needs more salt.

Just before serving, stir in the peanuts. Ladle over hot jasmine rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Chili Verde

Green chili is not well known in the Eastern US; I first encountered it on a business trip to Santa Barbara, California many years ago. The dish contrasts the natural sweetness of pork with the citrusy tartness of tomatillos rounded out with the moderate heat of jalapeños. Served over Mexican-style rice with a bit of queso fresco, a dollop of sour cream, or a sprinkle of shredded Monterrey jack or cheddar it makes a simple, satisfying one-dish meal. Or you can dress it up with some frijoles de la olla and perhaps a bit of guacamole for a festive meal. For variety, add a bit of pickled nopales or pozole. This is basic peasant food which is as good as it gets for my taste.

As presented this recipe serves two generously.

Ingredients

Garlic

2 or 3 cloves to taste

Jalapeño chilies

2 or 3 to taste

Onion, coarsely chopped

1

Tomatillos

1 28-ounce can, drained

Mexican oregano

15 ml (1 Tbsp)

Oil or lard

30 ml (2 Tbsp)

Pork sirloin or shoulder cut into 25 mm (1 inch) cubes

400 – 500 g (about 1 pound)

Pork, vegetable, or chicken stock

150 ml (2/3 cup)

Salt and pepper

To taste

Method

Place the unpeeled garlic cloves into a cast iron Dutch oven over moderately high heat and roast, turning from time to time until slightly blacked and soft. When cool enough to handle, peel and set aside.

Blacken the jalapeños under a hot broiler or, as I do, with plumber’s torch. Wrap in a towel and let cool. Using the towel, rub off the charred peel. Halve each pepper lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and placenta (pith). Chop coarsely and set aside.

Place the garlic, jalapeños, onion, tomatillos, and oregano into a food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Set aside.

Heat the oil or lard in the Dutch oven until just smoking. Add the pork cubes, working in batches if need be to maintain a single layer. Brown thoroughly on all sides and remove to a bowl.

Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed to have a light coating on the bottom and reheat to nearly smoking. Dump in the tomatillo puree all at once. Stir while it sizzles, scraping up any meat stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the reserved pork and stock, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer until the meat is thoroughly tender, about 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot over rice.

Salisbury Steak

salisbury steak (3)When I was a young Air Force Russian language student at Indiana University more than a half-century ago, I enjoyed visiting a restaurant called The Gables that, besides being on the site of the former Book Nook where Hoagy Carmichael claimed to have written “Stardust,” served a delicious Salisbury steak at a price consistent with my $100 a month airman’s pay. At this remove I can honestly say that I do not remember what it tasted like but I have had a soft spot for Salisbury steak ever since. The dish itself was invented in 1888 by Dr. J. H. Salisbury, a physician from Cortland County NY, between Binghamton and Syracuse, who was an early promoter of a low carbohydrate diet—in fact he recommended eating his steak three times a day. During the World War I mania to remove German names from common items, hamburger steak was often called Salisbury steak. Today, while the US Department of Agriculture mandates that hamburger steak be made of 100% skeletal beef, i.e. no organ meat. Commercially prepared Salisbury steak may by law contain up to 25% pork, beef heart, and up to 30% fat. This last, if nothing else, should convince you of the wisdom of making it from scratch.

Note: to make this recipe gluten-free use corn flakes pulverized in the food processor in place of bread crumbs and rice flour instead of wheat flour. The mushrooms are optional and can be simply left out.

Ingredients

Onion

1 medium, divided use

Mushrooms

6 medium

Garlic

1 or 2 large cloves

Butter and/or oil

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons), divided use

Ground beef

340 grams (12 ounces)

Egg, lightly beaten

1 large

Worcestershire sauce

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons), or to taste

Bread crumbs

30 grams (¼ cup)

Parsley, fresh or dried

15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon)

Salt and pepper

to taste

Flour

8 grams (1 Tablespoon)

Beef stock

about 250 milliliters (1 cup)

Thyme, fresh or dried

2 milliliters (¼ teaspoon)

Method

Peel the onion and cut into two pieces through the root. Thinly slice one half and set aside. Coarsely chop the other half and put into a food processor. Separate the mushroom stems from the caps. Slice the caps thinly and set aside. Add the stems and the garlic to the onion in the food processor and mince finely. Sauté the mince in a small amount of butter until the onions are translucent. Set aside to cool.

Combine the ground beef with the cooled onion mixture, egg, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, and parsley. (I use my stand mixer with the flat beater, first beating the egg on medium speed then adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing on the lowest speed setting.) Form the mixture into two oblong rolls about the size and shape of a baking potato then flatten them into patties about 1 centimeter (½ inch) thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat about 15 grams (1 Tablespoon) of butter or oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties for about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil and keep warm while you prepare the gravy.

Reheat the skillet over medium heat, adjust the fat to about 15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon), and sauté the sliced onions until softened. Add the sliced mushroom caps and sauté until lightly browned. Sprinkle on the flour and cook for about minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add the stock a bit at a time stirring constantly. Be sure to let each addition come to a boil before adding the next otherwise you will not know just how think the gravy is becoming. Keep adding stock until the gravy is the consistency you like. (You can use water if you run out of stock.) Stir in the dried thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve the steaks with mashed potatoes and the gravy, accompanied by a green salad or vegetable.

Fricassée

Some might be prompted to ask, “Fricassée of what?” but to add anything to fricassée would be redundant since, as the authoritative Larousse Gastronomique puts it, “In modern French usage, the word fricassée applies almost exclusively to a method of preparing poultry in a white sauce.” [Larousse Gastronomique, (New York: Crown Publishers, 1961), 430-431]. Most commonly in the United States it is a stew of leftover poultry with vegetables and gravy. Technically a white sauce contains milk or cream but I find that to be gilding the lily, so to speak. The easiest approach is to figure out how much leftover chicken, or turkey, you have and scale the recipe accordingly. The quantities listed below make a generous pot full that should feed at least four.

Ingredients

 

Schmaltz, olive oil, or a combination

2 tablespoons

30 ml

Onion, diced

8 ounces

250 grams

Carrot, diced

6 ounces

175 grams

Celery, diced

4 ounces

125 grams

Flour

2 tablespoons

30 ml

Chicken broth or stock

2 – 3 cups

500 – 750 ml

Tarragon leaves, dried

½ teaspoon

2½ ml

Thyme leaves, dried

1 teaspoon

5 ml

Parsley leaves, dried

1 tablespoon

15 ml

Potatoes, medium dice

12 ounces

350 grams

Peas

4 ounces

125 grams

Cooked chicken in bite-sized pieces

1 pound

500 grams

Salt and pepper

to taste

to taste

Method

Put the schmaltz or oil into a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat and sweat the onions, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes or until softened but not browned. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for about 2 minutes then add stock a bit at a time stirring until each addition comes to a boil. Continue to add stock until the gravy has a nice consistency. Stir in the herbs then add the potatoes, peas, and chicken. Add more stock if needed to just cover everything. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Check to see that the potatoes are done. If the gravy is too thin, uncover, turn the heat up to medium for a few minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Review: The Painted Pig

Painted PigThe Southern Tier of NY is not famous for its pulled pork BBQ. In fact, before the Painted Pig, I have never had decent pulled pork in the area. But here is the real thing—east Carolina style, vinegar-based BBQ but made with locally-sourced ingredients.

At lunch on Friday, I had the pulled pork sandwich. It was piled generously with meat and topped with house-made BBQ sauce. The owner gladly provided a small cup of Texas Pete’s hot sauce, telling me that he too preferred it hotter but that he had to tone it down for the delicate palates of upstate NY. My only quibbles are that the roll was a bit over-toasted and that there was no coleslaw on the sandwich as is traditional in BBQ-eating country. The side of fresh arugula and a dill pickle spear that tasted locally made rounded out a satisfying lunch.

My wife, who does not eat wheat, ordered the pulled pork nachos. Wow! The $10 order was more than enough for two. It consisted of a big pile of multi-colored tortilla chips with lots of pulled pork topped with melted NY state cheese and generous dollops of sour cream and house-made guacamole. Next time we might well share an order for lunch.

If pulled pork is not to your liking, the Painted Pig offers a variety of other sandwiches and an impressive selection of salads.

Currently beverages are limited to soft drinks and raspberry iced tea. Personally, I think that the absence of unsweetened ice tea was taking the Southern theme a bit far. Depending on the time of day, you can always pick up a growler of beer at the nearby Binghamton Brewing Company to have with your meal.

Besides the food, the Painted Pig is sort of an art gallery with work by local artists displayed on the walls. On some evenings they feature local musicians. This is a place worth a visit.

 

The Painted Pig

258 Main St

Johnson City, NY 13790

 (607) 296-3799

Roasted Duck with Root Vegetables

Duck with root vegetables

Although the consumption of duck in the United States has risen by some 35% over the past two decades it lags far behind that of chicken. Roughly 24 million ducks are eaten here annually compared with more than eight billion chickens. Price accounts for part of that: duck costs two to three times what chicken does. But perhaps the main reason we eat less duck than many other countries is misinformation. Many people think that duck is difficult to prepare and high in fat: the first is untrue, the second true but with a caveat. Yes, duck, being a water bird and thus needing a layer of insulation, has more fat than chicken. But like with chicken, the fat is subcutaneous meaning that the meat itself is quite lean. And duck fat, much prized in France and elsewhere as a cooking fat, is about halfway between olive oil and butter in composition. Duck fat contains 50.5% monounsaturated fats, 35.7% saturated fats, and 13.7% polyunsaturated fats compared to olive oil with 75% monounsaturated, 13% saturated, and 12% polyunsaturated and butter with 21% monounsaturated, 51% saturated, and 3% polyunsaturated. Duck is no harder to cook than chicken but must be handled a bit differently to manage that fat. Most recipes for roasting duck call for pricking the skin and letting the fat collect in the roasting pan. But there is a better way: steaming or poaching the duck to render out the fat before roasting it. Not only does this result in a lean bird with crispy skin but the cooking liquid yields a delicious broth for making gravy and mildly flavored fat perfect for roasting root vegetables. For those I use potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, or parsnips depending on what I have on hand. You can also add some halved Brussels sprouts.

(Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef (NY: Hyperion, 1999), 124-125)

Ingredients

 

Duck

About 2 kilograms

About 4 pounds

White wine or water

250 milliliters

1 cup

Dried thyme

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Dried parsley

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Dried savory, optional

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Assorted root vegetables, cubed

About 1 kilogram

About 1 pound

Flour

About 30 milliliters

About 2 Tablespoons

Salt and pepper

To taste

To taste

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).

If present, remove the giblets from the duck and set aside for another use. Pat the bird dry and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Truss if desired. Put a rack into the bottom of a large Dutch oven and pour in the wine. Place the duck on the rack and sprinkle on the dried herbs. Bring the liquid to a boil on the top of the stove, cover, and place in the oven.

If your duck does not fit in your Dutch oven, put it on a rack in a roasting pan, adjust the amount of liquid as needed, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Prepare a roasting pan with a rack for the duck and a suitable sheet pan for the vegetables. After an hour, remove the pot from the oven and transfer the duck to the rack in the roasting pan, leaving as much fat and juice as possible behind in the Dutch oven. Pour the cooking liquid and fat into grease separator or a measuring cup. When the fat has risen to the top, separate it from the broth and set both aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 190°C (375°F). Arrange the oven racks so that one is at the lowest level and another is two levels above it. Place the roasting pan with the duck onto the top rack.

If you are using beets, you might wish to parboil them for about 15 or 20 minutes and let cool.

Put the vegetables into a large bowl and toss with some of the duck fat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on the sheet pan in a single layer. Place the pan onto the lower oven rack.

The duck and vegetables should be done in about 40 minutes. Check that the temperature of the duck measured in the thigh is 80°C (175°F) and that the vegetables are tender. Remove the duck from the oven and cover loosely with foil. You can leave the vegetables in the turned-off oven while you make the gravy.

Put 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons) of the duck fat into a sauce pan. Stir in the flour to make a smooth roux. Strain the broth and add it a bit at a time to the roux while whisking vigorously until it comes to a boil. Keep adding broth until the gravy is the consistency you prefer. If you do not have enough broth, use water or stock.

Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter and place duck on top of them. Serve with the gravy.

Bay Scallop Risotto

Scallops are just about my favorite seafood. Unfortunately, the large sea scallops that I prefer have become prohibitively expensive. The smaller, somewhat sweeter farm-raised bay scallops, however, remain affordable. I find that even when dry-packed they contain too much water to sear properly so they are best served in a sauce, gratinée, or in a rice dish. One could simply add the raw scallops to the risotto and let the hot rice cook them, but I prefer to poach them lightly first, in part to extract some of their flavor with which to infuse the rice. The bacon is optional but I think that it is the perfect foil for scallops. And one could use onion or shallot or both either with or in place of the garlic. I folded in a bit of grated asiago before serving—parmesan or Romano would work equally well.

Serves two.

Ingredients

 

Bay scallops

250 grams

8 ounces

Water

750 milliliters

3¼ cups

Shrimp shells and tails (optional)

30 grams

1 ounce

Bacon (optional)

30 grams

1 ounce (one rasher)

Olive oil

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Garlic, minced

15 grams

about 1 Tablespoon

Arborio rice

250 grams

1 cup

Vermouth or white whine

50 milliliters

¼ cup

Spinach, chopped

100 grams

4 ounces

Salt

to taste

to taste

Truffle oil (optional)

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Asiago cheese, grated

20 grams

1 Tablespoon

 

Method

Bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the scallops and let them poach for a minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the shrimp shells, if using, into the water and let them steep for a few minutes. Remove and discard. Keep the liquid at a simmer while making the risotto.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove and set aside, leaving as much fat in the pan as possible. Sauté the garlic in the hot fat for a few seconds then add the rice. Fry, stirring constantly, until the rice is chalky and the garlic has begun to color somewhat, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vermouth or wine and let the alcohol boil off, then add about 120 milliliters (½ cup) of the water. Stir until the liquid is almost absorbed. Continue adding water 60 milliliters (¼ cup) at a time, stirring each addition until almost absorbed. When about two thirds of the water is gone, fold in the chopped spinach. Continue stirring liquid until it is almost gone then check the rice for doneness—it should be tender with just a hint of “tooth.” Season to taste with salt and fold in the scallops, truffle oil if using, and cheese.

Serve hot.

Coq au vin

This classic French braise is almost certainly derived from a peasant dish. It would have been made in a large cauldron over an open hearth and once an ingredient went in it did not come back out until the dish was done. Similarly the wine would probably have been rather rough and a few days past drinkability. I have tried to find a middle ground between the farm and the haute cuisine restaurant, eschewing some of the more precious touches that have crept into the recipe. After all, this was originally a way to make a “retired” laying chicken tender. I’m sure it is still best made with a tough old bird full of flavor. But, alas, such are nearly impossible to procure today. I like to use leg quarters rather than whole chicken because the breast meat of today’s young frying chickens is just too delicate for the long cooking this recipe requires. Although some insist that one must use a good wine for cooking, I find that a reasonable box or jug wine is just fine. Traditionally the sauce was thickened with chicken blood mixed with pounded liver and brandy; modern recipes use beurre manie. Rice flour works well if you can to make the dish gluten-free. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the chicken to cook, especially if you are using an older bird otherwise it will be tough.

Ingredients

 

Bacon

60 grams

2 ounces (about 2 rashers)

Chicken fat, butter, or oil

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Chicken pieces

2 kilograms, approx.

5 pounds, approx.

Pearl onions

120 grams

4 ounces

Carrot, diced

60 grams

2 ounces

Celery, diced

60 grams

2 ounces

Garlic, minced

6 cloves

6 cloves

Mushrooms, thickly sliced

120 gram

8 ounces

Cognac

65 milliliters

¼ cup

Dry red wine

about 500 milliliters

about 2 cups

Dried thyme

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Salt

to taste

to taste

Freshly ground pepper

to taste

to taste

Butter, unsalted, softened

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Flour

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Method

Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).

Cut the bacon into lardons, i.e. pieces about the size of matchstick. If you have sliced bacon cut it crosswise into 3 mm (⅛-inch pieces). Heat the fat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and render the bacon until crispy. Remove to a bowl leaving as much fat behind as possible.

Turn the heat up a bit and, working in batches, brown the chicken pieces well on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Sweat the onions, carrots, and celery until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook the mushrooms give off their liquid.

Return the chicken pieces to the pot and pour in the brandy. Turn off the vent hood, if it is on. and light the vapors with a long match. When the flames die down, add the wine to just cover the chicken. Return the lardons to the pot and season everything with thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the hot oven. Bake for about 30 minutes—several hours for an old bird. Remove the cover and return the pot to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Skim the fat off of the liquid and add to the softened butter. Mix in the flour to make a smooth paste, beurre manie. Stir into the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.

Serve hot over noodles or potatoes. Or, best of all, by itself with some crusty French bread.

Ragoût de Boulette du Jour de l’An

My parents were part of the French-Canadian diaspora: the first generation to move from the mill towns of New England where French was heard more often than English and where school—Catholic school at least—was conducted in both languages. Growing up in Delaware I spoke French almost exclusively at home until I started school where there was no language but English. Gradually the language of the home became English—as sadly it has in those mill towns as well. Nevertheless, my mother did cook many traditional French-Canadian dishes although their context was sometimes lost. It was not until, as an adult, I started exploring my Canadian roots that I learned that the ragoût she made from time to time was associated with New Year’s Day, Le Jour de l’An.

As one might well expect of a recipe that has been handed down through a half-dozen or so generations, this one has nearly endless variations, each staking its claim to true authenticity. Still, there are a few invariables: balls of ground pork and beef cooked in stock thickened with a slurry of toasted flour. Most often the stock was purpose-made from pigs’ feet, the meat of which was shredded and added to the meatballs. Today it is not unusual to find recipes calling for chicken, rather than pork, stock. Mostly because pigs’ feet are rather difficult to find where I live, I use a stock made from a pork shoulder bone. The flavor is similar but it lacks the gelatin that the trotters impart. I have used chicken stock when nothing else was available, but the result is—to my taste—a bit flat. The spices always include cloves with some recipes calling for cinnamon and nutmeg while others specify allspice. I use all of them!

Finally, there is the matter of what to serve with the ragoût. Boiled potatoes and beets, boiled or pickled, are traditional. Louis-François Marcotte, chef and owner of Cabine M in Montréal, whose recipe I have translated and adapted here, suggests mashed potatoes. I agree with him—with beets.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

 

Bread, preferably stale, 2 slices

100 grams

3½ ounces

Milk

125 milliliters

4 ounces

Onion, minced, 1 small

100 grams

3½ ounces

Olive oil

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Ground pork, lean

900 grams

2 pounds

Ground beef

450 grams

1 pound

Allspice, ground

3 milliliters

½ teaspoon

Nutmeg, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cinnamon, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cloves, ground, divided use

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Flour (optional)

60 grams

½ cup

Oil and butter, as needed

~60 grams

~¼ cup

Stock, preferably pork

1 liter

1 quart

Water, as needed, divided use

~500 milliliters

2 cups

Toasted flour (see note 1)

60 grams

½ cup

Corn starch (see note 2)

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Salt and pepper

To taste

To taste

Method

Cut the bread into small dice or chop in a food processor. Moisten with the milk and set aside.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, caramelize the onions in the olive oil.

Combine the onions, bread, ground meats, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 1 milliliter (¼ teaspoon) of the cloves in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then mix thoroughly with your hands. Rinse your hands, leaving them wet, and form the meat into balls about 25 millimeters (1 inch) in diameter. You should have about 40. If you wish, roll them in the optional flour to coat.

Heat enough of the oil and butter in a heavy skillet to coat the bottom by about 3 millimeters (⅛ inch). When it is nearly smoking, brown the meatballs, working in batches. As they are done, place them in a large Dutch oven or similar pot. Pour the stock over the meatballs and add just enough water to just cover them. Sprinkle on the remaining 4 milliliters (¾ teaspoon) of ground cloves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

Put the toasted flour in a lidded jar along with about 125 milliliters (½ cup) of water. Shake vigorously to make a slurry. Add more water, a bit at a time, until it is about the texture of peanut butter. Stir into the stock. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, make a slurry with corn starch and water, stir in and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.

Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

NOTES

1: Toast flour in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat or in a 200°C (400°F) oven, stirring often with a fork to prevent burning. It should be about the color of bread crust.

2: Pigs’ feet add quite a bit of gelatin to stock. A slurry of corn starch and water added near the end of cooking approximates the texture of the original. It is, however, optional.