Thursday, February 16, 2012

General Washington's Tavern Porter Beef Stew

Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience. -- George Washington, May 1789

A while back, I read a post from Scott at the Brew Club about Yard's Brewery and their Ales of the Revolution. After reading about General Washington's Tavern Porter, I had to pick some up and did.

And there it sat.

Years passed and, unbeknownst to me, my General Washington's Tavern Porter journey began. I visited Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and the Peter Wentz Farmstead which served as George Washington's headquarters as he planned the Battle of Whitemarsh in the fall of 1777.

Just the other day, for a school project, my daughter prepared an authentic version of Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup which is said to have sustained Washington's army during their stay at Valley Forge.

From here we'll add some Divine Providence which is especially interesting if you consider the battle raging now for religious freedom and the role that Washington played in guaranteeing the religious freedom of our citizens. The other day, I stumbled upon a really nice blog called Catholic Cuisine where I found a recipe for Irish Beef and Guiness Stew. In a house with too many beer varieties to count, I was shocked to be at a loss to find a stout among them. I found myself staring at George Washington's face on the label of the Yard's Porter. American Beef and Porter Stew it was.

In honor of George Washington, President's Day and religious freedom, here is a delicious and savory beef stew.

Beef Stew for General Washington

3 lb. chuck roast, trimmed and cubed
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
salt and black pepper to taste
1/8-1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper depending on your taste
2 large onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 12 oz. bottle of General Washington's Tavern Porter
2 cups of sliced carrot
Chopped parsley for garnish
Egg noodles, cooked according to package directions (optional)

Toss the beef cubes with the one tablespoon of vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and toss the meat with that mixture as well.
Heat the rest of the vegetable oil in a dutch oven, add the beef and brown. Add the onions and garlic and stir to combine in the pot. From here, add the tomato paste and a splash of water. Stir this together, cover and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the beer and add the carrots. Cover and reduce the heat to low.

Simmer for 2 to 3 hours stirring occasionally. Before serving, taste the stew and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve over egg noodles if you would like and garnish with chopped parsley.

Recipe reference: Thank you Jessica and to Catholic Cuisine blog! Irish Beef and Guiness Stew

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

Guest blog posted by Em...

Over the past few weeks I had to read the book Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. The book isn't bad, but you could say I have read it a few times too many over the course of my life. As in every middle school English class, a project had to be assigned to the book. This project, however, was one of the better ones. Much better then essay-writing and model-building.

The Challenge: Make a dish that was served in Colonial Philadelphia around the time period of the yellow fever epidemic.

Since I've grown up with the fabulous Loco Diner Cooking Extraordinaire, this didn't sound like a daunting task. Another guideline was that we were responsible for cooking something from scratch by ourselves. That means no trip to the grocery store's pre-made section.

I went home and explained the project to my mom (who was, of course, ecstatic) and sat down to do some research. It didn't take long for me to choose a dish: pepper pot soup.

Pepper pot soup was originally made by people who lived in the West Indies. During the time of the revolutionary encampment at Valley Forge, President George Washington's troops survived on this soup made of scraps. The ingredients list is made up of: carrots, potatoes, a few onions, maybe a sprig of thyme, some parsley, potatoes, tripe, calves feet and spices.

Yes, I said tripe. Tripe is cow stomach. Don't be scared.

The recipe turned out to be so popular that the colonists made it regularly, even after the war. Immigrants from the West Indies would bring their pepper pots to the market and the stuff would sell like hotcakes. The best part about it? There is no way to make it wrong. They would simply use whatever they had.

So getting back to my project, I was immediately drawn to the recipes. During my research I found several recipes, all of them different, and jotted down the ingredients that they all seemed to have in common. I made a few adjustments based on my tastes and put together a pretty decent recipe.

What You'll Need...
3 pounds honeycomb (beef) tripe
3 potatoes
7 carrots
1 pound veal cubes in place of calves feet that we couldn't find
3 onions
1/4 green pepper
1 handful parsley
6 cups beef stock
6 cups water
1/8 teaspoon all spice
2 bay leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pot Herbs bundle (thyme, leek, parsley, red chili pepper)
Salt and more black pepper, to taste

Cover the tripe in cold water in a large pot and set to boil. This will take around two hours. Not to alarm the readers, but tripe is cow stomach. Don't be intimidated. Just dive right in. What's the difference between cow butt and cow stomach? My point exactly.
In a separate pot, peel the potatoes and set them to boil.

Slice the carrots. In my research, I found nothing about Colonials peeling their vegetables. Thus, they go unpeeled. Slice the onions into medium size-cubes. Dice the green pepper, removing the seeds first. Finely chop the parsley. Stems and all.

Now its time to...
Yes I know, you are jumping with excitement.

Start by putting the beef stock into a large pot. I am fully aware that Cento was not around in the 1700s, but I wasn't prepared to make stock from scratch.

Pour the water in with the stock and add in all the vegetables and the veal cubes.

Turn on the heat! Add in the allspice, bay leaves, pepper, cayenne pepper, and pot herbs. Stir it all together.

Let the soup simmer on medium-high heat while the potatoes and tripe boil.

The potatoes should finish first. Drain them and cut them into medium-size cubes. Add the pieces into the soup. Stir it around.

When the tripe is finished cooking, drain it. When it is cool to touch, transfer the pieces to a cutting board. It was still kinda hot when I put it on a cutting board, so to hold it down while I cut, I put a spoon in one hand and a knife in the other.

Cut the tripe into pieces. What size to cut the pieces is controversial. My mom thought they should be cut larger than I cut them. Because this might be some kids' first taste of tripe, I thought smaller pieces were more appropriate.

Add the tripe into the mix! Stir it once again.

Continue to let it simmer. If you need something to do to pass the time, try conjugating some Latin verbs. Pepper pot soup, unfortunately, does not give me a homework pass.

After the soup has simmered for a few hours, turn off the heat and let it cool. Here is the finished soup.

Tomorrow morning Mother will haul a crock-pot filled with my soup to school after orchestra drop off. I'm a little worried my classmates will be scared of the tripe but I'm keeping an open mind. Hopefully a few brave souls will sample my very own pepper pot.

Well thanks for reading! Look out for me, I might have my own blog, one of these days.

Happy Eating,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roasted Chicken

This whole, roasted chicken is so easy and delicious! Guests ask me for the "recipe" all the time. Last week, I decided to get back to the blog and record a recipe.

The secret to this perfect chicken is using a timer and a meat thermometer so you should have both.

I think that, if you are going to make 1 chicken, it's just as easy to make 2. The first chicken can be dinner on night one for a family of 4. Take the meat off of the 2nd chicken and freeze it in plastic bags for an easy dinner, like chicken noodle soup or chicken tacos, another night. I buy a 2 pack of chickens from BJs. These chickens were under $8.00 which is a great deal!

Note: Please use a large, heavy roasting pan. Also, the chickens will come with a package of giblets and the neck. I toss these right into the roasting pan. If you don't like to eat them, just toss them out after they are cooked.

Roasted Chicken (Whole)

2 whole chickens, approximately 4-4 1/2 lbs. each
1/4 c. olive oil

1 T. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper

1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Other supplies:
heavy duty foil
a large, heavy roasting pan
a meat thermometer
a timer

Preheat your oven to 450. Combine the salt, garlic and pepper in a small dish and set aside.

Line your roasting pan with foil and add the chickens.

Divide the olive oil between the two chickens. Rub the oil into the chickens to thoroughly coat them.

Once the chickens are coated with oil, divide the salt mixture between the two chickens and rub this into the skin as well using your hands. Follow this with the chopped parsley.

The chickens are ready for the oven! Place them into the oven uncovered and immediately set the timer for 50 minutes. The chickens need to be cooked to 180 degrees. The timing will vary because of the size of the chickens you are using so the 50 minute mark is a good place to start. When the timer goes off, check the temperature by inserting the thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh of each bird (no jokes, please. Women can get temperamental about meaty thighs).

Depending on the temperature at this point, and how close it is to 180 degrees, reset the the timer for 10 minutes and go from there. As the temperature approaches 180 degrees, it tends to rise quickly. Babysitting the birds is essential at this point so you will need to check and reset the timer accordingly. If you are at 170, for example, try resetting the timer for 5 minutes and check them again. When you get to the temperature (I've been known to pull them at 178-179 as well), immediately remove the chickens from the oven. Allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Resist the urge to start eating before dinner!

Loco Diner Roasted Chicken

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pizza Omelette

This one is a shout out to my dad. I think it's safe to call this his signature dish: The Pizza Omelette.

Whether you wanted one or not, in good times and bad, he'd serve you up a Pizza Omelette faster than you could call the ambulance to come and pick you up after you ate this fried pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce filled masterpiece. This delicacy always came with a complimentary glass of orange juice served in a wine glass.

Need an occasion to make one? Try one of these:

Your boyfriend/girlfriend dumped you.
You are hung over.
You got fired.
You got a raise.
Someone stole your car.
It's a snow day.
It's Sunday morning.

Don't be afraid. Try it.

Note: This is a fun choice for a dinner omelette if you aren't up for eating it for breakfast. If you do this, serve it with some hearty, Italian bread and a glass of chianti.

Also, the amounts are made to my taste. I don't like omelettes with too much filling. If you prefer to add more, go right ahead, just be aware that you have to fold it over and if there's too much filling, it might be difficult.

Dad's Pizza Omelette

1 package of Hormel, sliced pepperoni
2-3 eggs depending on how big you want your omelette, beaten with a splash of water
2-3 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 tablespoons of preheated Hunt's canned tomato sauce. Do not use spaghetti sauce!
butter for the pan

Pan fry the pepperoni. This is actually so delicious you might not have any left for your omelette. Try to resist.

Heat a nonstick frying pan and add the pepperoni. After a couple of minutes, it will start to bubble and get crispy on the ends. At this time, remove it from the pan and drain it on paper towels. If you want to fry up the whole package of pepperoni, it's great for sandwiches, just wipe out the pan between batches. Here's what it looks like as it fries.

At this point, remove the pepperoni from the pan and drain it.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of water. Heat a separate pan for the eggs and add a pat of butter. When it foams, add the eggs and allow them to set. I never add filling to the eggs until they are mostly set.
Add a layer of pepperoni and the cheese and follow that up with the sauce.

Close the omelette and allow the cheese to melt.

Serve it up to your happy or distraught family member, friend or guest.!

Dad's Pizza Omelette

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pork Balls

I was going to call these absolutely delicious meatballs Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs but that's just too long and gives the impression of Chinese food. These meatballs are derived from the Pennsylvania Dutch specialty Ham Balls which you can find at the many smorgasbord restaurants in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

It was at Yoders Family Restaurant that I tried Ham Balls over 15 years ago. After finding them shockingly delicious, I had to make them at home so I bought a local PA Dutch cookbook, Weavertown School Family Cooking. There are 3 different Ham Ball recipes and 4 Ham Loaf recipes in the book all calling for ground ham.

Ground ham has the feel and look of ground beef and I've only seen it in Lancaster County grocery stores. Since it isn't readily available, I decided to give Ham Balls a try using just ground pork so that my fellow Loco Diners can have the opportunity to give this delicious dish a try.

Note: I got 18 meatballs out of this recipe. All of the meatballs would not fit in one baking pan so I baked the additional 6 meatballs in another dish with the remainder of the sauce and the sauce did burn a bit on the edges. Overall they were fine.

You can also make extra sauce for serving if you would like. The sauce thickens and caramelizes so there isn't much left over for spooning over the meatballs when they are finished.

Loco Diner Pork Balls
The Meatballs
4 lbs. ground pork
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk (low fat milk is fine)
2 cups fine, plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper

The Sauce
1 26oz can of condensed tomato soup
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tbs. cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350.

Start by mixing the milk with the plain bread crumbs in a dish.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumb/milk mixture.

Mix this thoroughly with your hands. Scoop the meat into a 1/2 cup measure and roll into a ball. The meatballs will be quite large. It is also a good idea to use a disposable baking tin for this because the sauce will caramelize and can possibly burn making it difficult to clean out of a baking dish.
For the sauce, empty the tomato soup into your pot. Add the brown sugar, dry mustard and vinegar and whisk this together. Bring this to a low boil.

When the sauce is ready, ladle it over the meatballs.

These are ready for the oven!

Bake uncovered at 350. I baked them in my convection oven for 40 minutes and they came out delicious and juicy. The instructions on most of the recipes I read called for 1 hour. You will have to be the judge based on your oven.

I was very pleased with the results. While they did vary in taste from the actual Ham Ball, these were quite similar. When cut, they were juicy and tender with a nice amount of sweetness. Before I shared this recipe with you, I tested the meatballs with everyone at my house and they were a big success. Try serving these with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes and a veggie of your choice!

Reference: The Weavertown School Family Cooking Cookbook, pages 116-118