Monday, June 23, 2008

Dutch Oven Potatoes

This recipe comes from a magazine called Sojourns. "Sojourns among the peaks, plateaus and canyons of the West." From the winter/spring '08 edition. (I borrowed the magazine from CG because it had so many great recipes in it, all of the ones I like, you will eventually find here).

I LOVE Dutch-Oven Potatoes. So much so that they were served at our ranch wedding! I'm sure you can make them in the oven in your house also, but I'll post the traditional directions here. The recipe in the magazine calls for peppers, scallions and cheese, but the authors admit they added those things for color. I like the traditional potatoes, with nothing "fancy" added.

Dutch-Oven Potatoes

1/2 to 1 pound bacon, chopped
6 to 8 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into quarter-inch-thick rounds
1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
(they added chopped red bell pepper, chopped scallions and shredded cheddar for garnish. you can if you want to, but I'm not going to!)

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch Dutch oven. If you have access to a propane camp stove or indoor stove, you can do this step while the coals are being prepared. When the bacon is nearly done, pour off excess fat but leave some in the pot for the flavoring of the potatoes. Add the potatoes to the Dutch oven in layers alternately with the onion, sprinkling generously with salt and pepper between layers. Fold the potatoes gently but thoroughly to disperse the bacon and some bacon fat throughout the dish. Put the lid on the Dutch oven.

Measure out coals (charcoal briquettes) based on the diameter of the Dutch oven. You will need approximately twice as many coals as the oven's diameter, so the 12-inch oven requires about 24 coals. Divide the coals into two equal heaps. Then remove three coals from one heap and add them to the other heap, so that you have slightly fewer coals for the bottom and slightly more for the top.

Ignite the coals or briquettes. When their edges become white and crumbly, they're ready. Spread the smaller heap of coals and place the Dutch oven on top of them. Shovel the larger heap of coals onto the top of the oven. Potatoes will be done in about 30 minutes; check once or twice to be sure they are not burning. When potatoes are tender and golden, they are ready to eat!

German Apple Pancake

Cowboys love a German pancake, similar to my Baked Pancake recipe. This one sounds delicious with the addition of apples! And now I know what Number One meant when he said my Baked Pancake is "similar to a German pancake!"

This recipe comes from a magazine called Sojourns. "Sojourns among the peaks, plateaus and canyons of the West." From the winter/spring '08 edition.

German Apple Pancake
Serves 2 to 4.

3 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons melted butter (divided use)
4 tablespoons sugar (divided use)
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon (divided use)
pinch of salt
1 to 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon powdered sugar

A wonderful breakfast treat that's easy to do.
Make the batter: Place eggs, half-and-half, flour, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat a 10-inch Dutch oven to 450 degrees and brush its bottom and sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the sliced apples in the Dutch oven over medium heat; sprinkle with remaining sugar and cinnamon. Cook uncovered about 6 minutes or until apples are tender (add a little more butter, if necessary), stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Pour batter over apples, cover and bake about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cut around pancake sides with a knife. Insert a plate into the Dutch oven top side down over the pancake. Using welder's gloves, turn the oven upside down so the pancake falls out onto the plate (you hope! this is one reason to have a well-seasoned Dutch oven!) Sift powdered sugar on top and serve.

Black Onion Gravy

This recipe comes from a magazine called Sojourns. "Sojourns among the peaks, plateaus and canyons of the West." From the winter/spring '08 edition. It is an essential complement to Buck's Grill House Buffalo Meatloaf.

Black Onion Gravy

Saute 4 cups chopped onions in 1/4 cup oil over high heat until onions are brown. Add 1/4 cup Spice Rub and cook 10 minutes longer. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Whisk in 1/2 cup flour and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 quart of homemade veal stock or beef broth. Simmer 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring until smooth.

Spice Rub

This recipe comes from a magazine called Sojourns. "Sojourns among the peaks, plateaus and canyons of the West." From the winter/spring '08 edition. It is an essential ingredient to Buck's Grill House Buffalo Meatloaf and Black Onion Gravy.

Spice Rub

Combine 1/4 cup each of sugar, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, kosher salt and pepper. Add 3/4 cup paprika and mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Buck's Grill House Buffalo Meatloaf

This recipe comes from a magazine called Sojourns. "Sojourns among the peaks, plateaus and canyons of the West." From the winter/spring '08 edition.

Buffalo Meatloaf

Serves 8

1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Spice Rub
1/2 cup catsup
1/2 cup cream
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire saue
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 pounds ground buffalo
8 ounces ground pork

Saute the vegetables in oil until onion is translucent. Add Spice Rub and cook five minutes. Spoon into large bowl and set aside to come to room temperature. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well by hand. Pack into a lightly oiled loaf pan and strike the pan on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 1/4 hours or to 160 degrees on meat thermometer. Serve warm with Black Onion Gravy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Barbacoa de Borrego

Also known as Min's Famous Lamb Tacos, this is Number One's favorite meal!

Lamb Barbacoa from the Backyard Grill has got to be one of our all-time favorite recipes from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen. If you have ever been curious about preparing authentic Mexican foods, you cannot live without this book. Find one, and buy it.

This is slow-roasted lamb at its best. Although the roasting takes virtually all day for a larger roast, it is a simple dish to prepare. Almost everything else can be prepared ahead of time, and because it is roasted on the grill, there is virtually no clean up, and minimal hands-on time. The recipe also includes a soup that is cooked right underneath the lamb. We save the soup in the freezer for a rainy day, and it is delicious.

We usually prepare this dish for dinner guests, as we did last night. We have also prepared this special meal for Christmas Eve dinner--that is how good it is. The lamb roasts we buy are larger than the recipe calls for, so they take a bit more roasting time, but you just have to start a bit earlier. The roast pictured weighed almost 6 pounds. There are some things in the soup that we typically leave out, so I will leave them out of this post as well.

Lamb Barbacoa From the Backyard Grill

Serves 6 to 8, with 7 cups of soup

3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 cup cooked (or canned) garbanzo beans (I just throw in a whole can)

One 3-pound rolled and tied boneless lamb shoulder roast
Coarse salt

For serving:
- Salsa (my homemade Roasted Tomato-Jalapeño Salsa, if you're lucky enough to have the recipe)
- finely crumbled Mexican Queso Fresco or Queso Añejo (these come in 12-ounce rounds, we crumble the whole package with a fork)
- 1 cup good-quality olives (we use a mixture of jalapeño- and garlic-stuffed olives)
- warm tortillas

1. Preparing the grill and soup ingredients. You will need a gas grill with two controls--so you can turn off the flame on one side for indirect cooking, and two grill racks. (*If you'd like me to post the directions for charcoal, leave a comment and I will. I've never used charcoal, but you can) Turn on both sides of your grill to preheat, about 10 minutes or so before.

In a 12 x 9-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil pan (or something similar), combine the potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and garbanzos. Position the pan to one side of the lower grate and turn off the flame under the soup. Pour water into the pan to about 1 inch from the top (it'll take about 5 cups). Position the second cooking grate 8 inches above the flame.

2. Grilling the meat. Sprinkle the lamb liberally with salt. Lay the roast on the top grate directly over the soup, and set an oven thermometer next to it, if you have one. (if you don't have one, I recommend you go out and buy one for this purpose.) Cover the grill and cook, maintaining a moderately low temperature (between 250 and 300 degrees), checking the temperature every 30 minutes. the will be beautifully smoky-roasted--it'll register about 170 degrees on a meat thermometer and be fall-apart tender in about 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to check periodically the slow-simmering soup that's capturing all those aromatic lamb juices to ensure the liquid level remains more or less the same, adding more water if needed.

3. Finishing the dish. With a big pair of tongs, a couple of meat forks or spatulas, remove the roast to a platter. Sprinkle with salt and let rest, loosely tented with foil, in warm place for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, with the precision of a steady-handed circus performer, carefully remove the pan of soup from the bottom of the grill. (I take a sheet pan out and slide the soup onto the pan before attempting to carry it. Also, since don't usually eat the soup with the meal, I just leave it on the turned-off grill until dinner is over--but don't forget to bring it in after dinner!!). Taste the soup and season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon. Ladle into small, warm soup cups. (or into a container for freezing!)

Remove strings from lamb. Slice into good thick slabs and arrange on a warm platter. Strew the olives around the platter and carry to the table with a flourish. Pass the meat, salsa, cheese and lots of warm tortillas for everyone to make delicious soft tacos.