Butternut Squash Bread Soup (Panade de Butternut)

This dish could have fed an army. It was GIGANTIC. ¬†I would describe it as French onion soup meets oozy casserole. Full-flavored, cheese-covered comfort food. The thinly sliced butternut squash and fresh herbs layered into the bread, caramelized onions, and cheese added a little bit of excitement as well as color and nutrition. ūüėČ

This recipe was adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Lebovitz stated that this is one of those dishes that improves as it sits… thank goodness! We had lots of leftovers. ūüôā I added additional homemade stock to the leftovers, before reheating, just to make it a little bit soupier.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled (4 thinly sliced & 4 whole)
  • 2 T mixed fresh thyme and sage
  • 2-pound (900 g) loaf firm-textured sourdough bread, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 quarts (2 l) warm chicken or turkey stock, plus additional stock for serving, as desired
  • 2-pound butternut squash or other winter squash such as Kabocha, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Comte, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz /45 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)

  1. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onions, 4 cloves of sliced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the herbs. Cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely wilted and beginning to brown on the bottom and edges.
  3. While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Put the slices of bread on baking sheets in a single layer and toast in the oven, turning the slices over midway, until both sides are dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  5. When cool enough to handle, rub both sides of the bread with the whole garlic cloves.
  6. Slice the peeled and seeded squash into 1/8-inch slices. (I used a mandoline.)
  7. When the onions are done, pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up any of the flavorful brown bits. Cook for a minute or two, until the wine is absorbed.
  8. Add 2 cups of the stock to the onions and cook until the stock is mostly absorbed 10 to 15 minutes, and then add the rest of the stock and heat until the stock is hot. Remove from heat.
  9. To assemble the Panade, cover the bottom of a 3 to 4 quart (3-4 l), 3+inch (8 cm) deep, baking dish with a layer of bread, breaking any pieces so they fit in a single layer, but keeping them as large as possible.
  10. Ladle about half of the onions and some of the stock over the bread, and then cover with half of the squash slices. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and half of the remaining herbs.
  11. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup (40 g) of the Comte.
  12. Add a second layer of bread and ladle the rest of the onions and more stock over the bread. Cover with remaining squash slices. Season the squash with salt, pepper, and the remaining herbs.
  13. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup (40 g) of Comte over the squash layer.
  14. Cover the squash with a final layer of bread and then ladle the rest of the stock over the bread.
  15. Press down on the ingredients to encourage them to meld together.
  16. Top with remaining 1 cup (90 g) Comte, and the Parmesan.
  17. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and tighten it around the edges. Don’t press it down on the surface or some cheese may stick to the foil during baking.
  18. Set the baking dish on a parchment paper or foil-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills.
  19. Bake for 45 minutes, uncover the Panade, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it is very well browned and crisp on top.
  20. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Spoon portions into shallow soup bowls, making sure each serving is topped with crusty topping.

I’m bringing my dinner-party ready comfort food to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #164 this week, hosted by Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. Enjoy!

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Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Chicken Stew with Biscuits or Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits… whatever you want to call it- It’s classic comfort food. This version was the runner-up dish for our Valentine’s Day dinner this year. I suppose we had two Valentine’s day dinners (plus leftovers!). Lots of love in my house. ‚̧

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten, via Barefoot Contessa.com. We ate it with a green salad. I modified the recipe to use rotisserie chicken meat, reduced the butter, and incorporated homemade turkey stock. I also steamed the carrots and heated the stock in the microwave and used a food processor to make the biscuit dough.

I made the stew and biscuit dough a day ahead and refrigerated them separately. The day I was ready to serve the dish, I warmed the stew for 1 hour at room temperature, re-heated in the oven for 30+ minutes, and then topped with the pre-cut raw biscuit dough and continued to bake for approximately one half hour. Perfect.

For the Stew:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • coarse¬†salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (I used Trader Joe’s liquid concentrate chicken broth.)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large¬†yellow onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 carrots, medium-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl¬†onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, optional

For the Biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse¬†salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.
  3. Steam the diced carrots with 2 tablespoons of water in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, preferably with a spout, heat the chicken stock in the microwave until hot. Remove and incorporate the concentrated stock. (Alternatively, the stock can be warmed in a separate pot on the stove.)
  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven (I used enameled cast iron), melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
  6. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick.
  8. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream.
  9. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley, if using. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed.
  10. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  13. Add the butter and pulse (or mix on low-speed) until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and pulse (or combine on low-speed) until the dough just comes together. Mix in the parsley, if using.
  14. Dump the dough out on a well-floured piece of parchment-paper. Using your hands, pat out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2-1/2 inch round cutter. Only re-form the dough once.
  15. Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling.
  16. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven.
  17. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

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Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Arugula is my absolute favorite item in my CSA share. It is so peppery and fabulous. I loved that this cozy comfort food dish used it as a glorious and bright topping along with lemon juice and cheese.

This dish was adapted from chef Nick Anderer of restaurant Maialino in New York, via Smitten Kitchen. I used boneless pork shoulder ribs instead of a whole pork shoulder, increased the lemon juice and cheese, added a carrot and omitted the fennel. I also cooked the meat in a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I reserved half of the cooked meat, after step 9, to freeze to enjoy at a later date. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder rib pieces (or 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 4 pounds)
  • coarse¬†salt
  • 4 T¬†olive oil, divided
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 large ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot or 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus a splash or two more, if needed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 20-ounces dry lasagna, broken into 3-inch shards
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (or¬†more) grated or shaved parmesan or grand padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, if desired
  • Large handful or two of arugula leaves, cleaned
  1. Prepare pork: Use a sharp knife to remove the thick skin from the pork, but not trimming off all the fat ‚ÄĒ leave a thin sheen. Season generously with salt and place in fridge until ready to use ‚ÄĒ overnight is ideal but a few hours will cut it as well.
  2. Sear the pork: Heat a deep saucepan over medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When it shimmers, gently cook the onion, celery and carrot (or fennel) until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Dry pork with a paper towel to remove some excess salt. Season with pepper. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the pork and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add pork to a slow cooker. Add broth, vegetables, and thyme sprigs. Cover.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove pork from braising liquid. Allow to cool enough to be able to handle.
  6. Using two forks, tear the meat into bite-size shreds. Place in a large bowl.
  7. Strain the braising liquid, pouring enough of it over the pork to barely cover it and keep it from drying out. Place back in the slow cooker insert and set to warm.
  8. Pour the rest of the braising liquid into the original saucepan and simmer it until it is reduced by half.
  9. Add pork and cooking liquid that has covered it, and warm it back to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. (**At this point, I reserved half of the meat and braising liquid to freeze for use at another time.**)
  10. Add the butter and stir to emulsify. (Because I removed half of the pork, I used 1/2 of the amount of ingredients listed above for the remainder of this dish, including the butter.)
  11. Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, or usually a minute shy of package directions. (I used no-cook lasagna noodles and cooked them for about 8 minutes.)
  12. Drain and add to the pork mixture, simmering for 1 minute.
  13. Add the lemon juice, half the cheese and parsley, if using.
  14. Ladle into wide pasta bowls with and top with arugula and remaining cheese.

Note: If saving some of the pork to use later, rewarm the defrosted pork and braising liquid to a simmer, add a splash or two of pasta cooking water if needed to loosen it, and then the butter. Add freshly cooked pasta, lemon juice and parmesan from here.

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Spinach Spaetzle with Bacon and Sage

This comfort food dish is truly season-less. It’s the easiest fresh pasta recipe EVER. These little German dumplings, or batter noodles, are cooked in minutes. The noodles can be prepared several hours in advance- finishing the dish by saut√©ing them with bacon and sage just prior to serving.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I modified the cooking method by using a potato ricer to form the noodles. In addition, I increased the spinach as well as the water in the batter. We ate it as a main dish but it would also be delicious as an indulgent side dish.

Yield: 6 servings

Time: about 1 hour

  • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • coarse salt
  • ¬ľ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¬ľ tsp black pepper
  • 3 ¬ľ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
  1. Drop spinach leaves into boiling water to blanch, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain spinach and squeeze dry.
  2. Put cooked spinach in a blender or food processor with the eggs and yolks and blitz briefly to make a green purée.
  3. Put spinach purée in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and the pepper.
  4. Beat in flour and 3/4 cup cold water to make a wet, sticky batter-like dough. Beat for 5 minutes, until lump free. If the mixture seems too stiff, beat in a few more tablespoons cold water. (Because I used a potato ricer, I thinned the batter to a more runny consistency by incorporating an additional 3 T of water.)
  5. Leave batter to rest at room temperature, covered, for 15 minutes. Prepare an ice-water bath. Place a colander within the ice-water bath.
  6. Bring a large wide pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  7. Holding the potato ricer over the boiling water, fill it with 1-2 ladles of batter; close and press the batter into the water. IMG_3886
  8. Let the spaetzle cook for 1 minute or so, until they rise to the surface. Remove with a skimmer and immediately cool in the colander in the ice water. Continue until all batter is used. Drain cooked spaetzle and blot dry. (I placed the spaetzle on a rimmed baking sheet which was lined with several layers of paper-towels.) *Note: The recipe may be prepared up to this point several hours before serving.*
  9. Just before serving, set a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and let it render without browning much, about 2 minutes. Pour off fat and leave bacon in pan. (To decrease the mess, I wiped out the fat with paper towels.)
  10. Add the butter and let it foam, then add sage leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the cooked spaetzle and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon until heated through and lightly browned.
  12. Transfer to a warm serving bowl, if desired. Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Vegetarian Chili with Winter Vegetables

Without knowing that I was repeating myself, I found myself saving this recipe in multiple places… a clipping from the paper, on my phone, on the computer… It was so (repeatedly) appealing to me! ūüôā I moved it to the top of my list.

This healthy chili has wonderful texture from dried pinto beans and contrasting sweet and creamy butternut squash. The use of dried beans requires extra planning but is completely worth¬†the textural benefit¬†in the final dish. It was mildly spicy (perfect for all palates in my house!) and tasty. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. We ate it garnished with a blend of grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses… mmmm…. with green salad and Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread on the side. Great!

For the Simmered Pintos:

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 pound (about 2 1/4 cups) pinto beans, washed and picked over for stones, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight in 2 quarts water
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • coarse salt, to taste (at least 1 teaspoon per quart of water used)
  1. Place pre-soaked beans and (2 quarts) of soaking water in a large, heavy pot. Add halved onion and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Skim off any foam that rises, then add garlic and bay leaf, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Add salt and continue to simmer another 1 1/2 hours, until beans are quite soft and broth is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust salt. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove and discard onion and bay leaf.
  4. For the best flavor refrigerate overnight.

Advance preparation: The cooked beans will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and freeze well.

For the Chili:

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe simmered pintos (recipe above)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut in small dice
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons mild ground chili (or to taste: use hot, or use more) (I used standard chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
  • 2 cups diced winter squash (about 3/4 pound) (I used butternut)
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • ¬Ĺ cup chopped cilantro
  • grated cheddar or Monterey Jack, or crumbled queso fresco for garnish, optional (I used a blend of cheddar & Monterey Jack)
  1. Heat the beans (simmered pintos) on top of the stove in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy nonstick skillet and add the onion, carrot and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add the ground chili and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture begins to stick to the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes and oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt to taste and simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
  6. Stir the tomato mixture into the beans. Add the winter squash and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer, stirring often, for 30 to 45 minutes. It is important to stir often so that the chili doesn’t settle and stick to the bottom of the pot. It should be thick; if you desire you can thin out with water. Taste and adjust salt.
  8. Shortly before serving stir in the cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls. If you wish, top with grated cheeses.

Advance preparation: The simmered beans can be made 3 or 4 days ahead and the chili will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. You will probably want to thin it out with water is it will continue to thicken. It freezes well.

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