Italian Sausage & Mushroom Ragu with Pappardelle

I love Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street television show and cookbooks. I recently joined their mailing list too. I have received a million emails from them since about offers and products, etc., but getting recipes like this one makes it worth the spam. ūüėČ

This was our Election Day comfort food meal. It was quick and absolutely delicious. Perfect. The recipe was inspired by chef Vitaly Paley of Portland, Oregon, via 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Julia Rackow. I used cremini instead of portobello mushrooms and modified the proportions. I loved how the mushrooms lightened up the meaty sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 T salted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped or portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps finely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, preferably bulk (I used sausage links and removed the casings)
  • 1 cup full-bodied, dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 1/2 to 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz dried pappardelle or tagliatelle
  • minced fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
  • grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Finely chop the garlic and mushrooms in a food processor.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the butter and garlic until the butter has melted and the mixture has begun to sizzle. (I used a wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any accumulated fat, if necessary.
  5. Increase to medium-high and add the wine. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the broth, cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to simmer until the broth has reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside, covered.
  9. While the sauce simmers, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  10. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  11. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking (pasta) water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot or a serving dish.
  12. Add the sauce to the pasta (I layered it) and toss to coat. If needed, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. (I did not add pasta water but kept it to add when reheating the leftovers.)
  13. Serve garnished with parsley. Pass grated Parmesan at the table, as desired.

The New York Sour

My husband really enjoys making cocktails (for me!) but rarely drinks one himself. This wine-spiked whiskey sour was especially great because he and I both enjoyed one. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Mary-Frances Heck. We used an Italian Barbera and agave nectar instead of simple syrup. Nice.

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup or 3/4 ounce agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce fruity red wine (such as Shiraz or Malbec)
  1. Combine whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup/agave nectar in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill shaker with ice, cover and shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Gently pour wine over the back of a spoon held just above the drink’s surface so wine floats on top.
  5. Serve.

Mushroom Bourguignon with Polenta

For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a beautiful box loaded with goodies from Eataly in New York City. I chose this vegetarian version of this classic French dish to make with the special polenta from my box.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are cooked until they are dark brown, giving the dish a wonderful depth of flavor. I also loved the combination of pearl onions and leeks. Nice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 6¬†T¬†butter or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed (I used 3 T each)
  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as portobello, cremini, white button, shiitake or oyster, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 10 cups)
  • 8 ounces peeled pearl onions¬†(2 cups), larger ones cut in half (I used frozen pearl onions)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large leek or 2 small/medium leeks, white and light green parts, diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves (2 to 4 minced, 1 grated to a paste)
  • 1¬†T¬†tomato paste
  • 2 ¬Ĺ¬†T¬†all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups dry red wine
  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups beef, mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 1¬†T¬†tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste (I used dark soy sauce)
  • 3 large fresh thyme branches or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 ounces shiitake, chanterelle or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • smoked paprika, for serving
  • polenta, egg noodles or mashed potatoes, for serving (I used Polenta Valsugana)
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving
  1. Add 2 tablespoons butter or oil to a large Dutch oven or pot and set it over medium heat.
  2. When the fat is hot, stir in half the mushrooms and half the pearl onions. (If it doesn’t all fit in the pot in one layer, you might have to do this in three batches, rather than two.) Without moving them around too much, cook the mushrooms until they are brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Stir and let them brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer mushrooms and onions to a large bowl or plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Repeat with another 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining mushrooms and pearl onions, seasoning them as you go.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add another 1 tablespoon butter or oil to pan.
  6. Add leeks and carrot and sauté until the leeks turn lightly golden and start to soften, 5 minutes.
  7. Add the 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté for 1 minute longer.
  8. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add wine, broth, 1 tablespoon tamari, thyme and bay leaf, scraping up the brown bits at bottom of pot.
  10. Add reserved cooked mushrooms and pearl onions back to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  11. Partly cover the pot and simmer on low heat until carrots and onions are tender and sauce is thick, 30 to 40 minutes. (Meanwhile, at this point, prepare the polenta according to the package directions, if using.)
  12. Taste and add more salt and tamari if needed. Stir in the grated garlic clove.
  13. Just before serving, heat a small skillet over high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil. Add half of the sliced chanterelles or oyster mushrooms and let cook without moving until they are crisp and brown on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika. Repeat with remaining butter and mushrooms.
  14. Serve mushroom Bourguignon over polenta, noodles or mashed potatoes, topped with fried mushrooms and parsley.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Thyme

IMG_8095

This was a tasty, lean, and quick main dish that I served with Asparagus Mimosa and roasted gold potatoes on the side. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I modified the proportions in the sauce and used red wine instead or Marsala wine.

Yield: 6 servings

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 /2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 cup red or Marsala wine
  1. Combine the salt and pepper and dried thyme and rub on the pork chops. Press a sprig of thyme into each chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the pork chops, thyme-side down. Sear 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until just browned and the interior is no longer bright pink. Transfer to a warm plate.
  3. Pour off the fat from the skillet, return to the heat, add the stock and wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops and serve.

IMG_8110

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