Sean Reiser

Hi I'm Seán Reiser, this is my Personal Blog

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Simple Pork Ratatouille

*no animated rodents were harmed in the production of this recipe.

Anne and I have been blessed with a lot of zucchini out of the garden this summer.  We have sliced it grilled it, roasted it, spiralized and sautéed it.  Anne made some kick ass zucchini fritters.  I wanted to do something different so I've been playing with a one pot ratatouille.  This was a third attempt.

If you don't know, ratatouille is really just a summer stew.  It can be served hot or cold.  Sometimes it's served in very ornate platters with uniformly sliced vegetables by a rodent, mine is diced in a light broth, and served warm / hot like traditional stews. No rats in my kitchen.

It's still a bit of a work in progress, but some friends asked for a copy of the recipe and it's far enough along that I'm comfortable sharing it.  There may be changes in the future. 

Some notes
  • Eggplant is common in ratatouille and usually the main ingredient, however I seem to be developing an allergy to it (itchy throat, etc) so I cut it out of my diet.  Add it if you want.
  • I was adapting from a recipe that called for 1/2 cup of white wine.  I often substitute chicken stock for white wine.  My quinquagenarian eyes saw 2 cups so I used that.  It made a nice, light broth, especially when I added the tomato paste. We liked so that's what I've been using ever since.  But if there is too much broth for you, scale it back.
  •  I know the meat to veggie ratio is off (in favor of the veggies).  That's intentional  We like having left over veggies when I make dishes like this for a quick lunch or side dish.  I'd estimate 4-6 pork chops depending  on if you're serving a starch with the meal.
  • It's a stew and to me a big part of stew is to use veggies is what we have too much of, or what's on the edge of spoiling.  That's how the corn got in there, we had two ears that were "use it or lose it".
  • Anne has a large, deep skillet that I used for this.  A stock pot or dutch oven would also work well.  (Anne's pan won out because it would fit well in the dishwasher).
Ingredients 
  • 3 slices pork loin
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • corn from 2 cobs, removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Steps
  1. Season the pork chops on both sides to taste with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour olive oil into pan, then fry pork chops on both sides until cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Add olive oil and garlic. Stir until fragrant.
  4. Combine zucchini, onion, tomato, cauliflower, corn and bell peppers.
  5. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Add the pork chops on the top of the vegetable mixture. Cook for 10 minutes, flip the chops 1/2 through.
  7. Experiment, Be Bold, Share, Enjoy and  Commit Awesome!

Where I know current science says pork can be cooked to 145 and be safe, I still worry if I cook it below 160.

Quick Chicken Pot Pie is in the oven (can cream of chicken soup, can chicken, can stringbeans, with boxed Jiffy Cornbread w/ 8oz of corn mixed in for topping.  Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops, sliced into 1" slices
  • 3 apples sliced
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • Salt, Pepper and Thyme to taste
  • EVOO

Steps

  1. Heat a 12" Cast Iron Skillet add EVOO
  2. Brown the pork in Salt, Pepper and Thyme. Cook all the way through. Remove from pan.
  3. Add the onions and peppers for 2 or 3 mins.
  4. Add the apples for about 5 mins.
  5. Add a cup of chicken broth. Boil, simmer, reduce by half.
  6. Return pork to pan to add the body heat back.

Enjoy!

Trying to slow roast a rack of ribs in the oven. should be in interesting experiment.  I generally par-boil and then sauce and grill them. We got a good deal on them this week but I haven't done the spring maintenance on the grill yet, so I'm trying often roasting.

 

Turkey

Because of CoVID, I had to make a Thanksgiving Turkey for the first time in my life.  Since we were a small group, I didn’t want to make a full turkey and eat on it for weeks.  I was a little intimated by the notion of making a turkey between basting, the potential of the bird drying out due to the long cook time, and the risks of an undercooked turkey, it was something that always concerned me. Many people would make a Turkey breast, but Anne and I enjoy both dark meat and white meat.  We were looking at getting turkey pieces and roast them when we saw a 1/2 turkey at the butcher and figured it might the perfect compromise.

I tried to convince Anne to let me deep fry the turkey.  I was picturing slowly lowering the bird into the hot grease while neighbors and friends chant, "Gobbler! Gobbler! Gobbler!" like my beloved bleacher creatures would chant for The Yankees.   Anne quashed the idea, something about a risk of fire and hurting myself.

I also though about smoking the turkey out on the grill. Something I'll probably do in the spring when it's a little warmer outside since it takes a while to smoke a turkey then roasting it.  So  I decided to roast it.

In doing my research I found Cowboy Kent Rollin's Smoked Turkey recipe.  Although I wasn't smoking the bird, the brine looked like it would make a flavorful piece of meat.  So I used a variation of it.  I set it up the night before.

Making The Brine

Ingredients 

  • 2 gallons water
  • 3/4  cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves mashed
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Better Then Bullion Low Salt Chicken Stock

Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Let simmer for 5-10 mins
  4. Let it cool on the stove for 3 hours. (Or cool it down in the fridge)

Brining The Bird Overnight

  1. If necessary, defrost the turkey.
  2. First wash the bird, remove excess skin, and feathers.
  3. At this point you'd generally add the bird to the brine and put it in the fridge for 12 hours.  But I realized I didn't have room in my tiny NYC apartment for the stockpot.
  4. Since I knew I'd have space issues in the fridge I took a food safe 5 Gallon container I had and cleaned it out.
    • I added to turkey to the bucket, poured the brine over it.  I added a 5 lb bag of ice to the bucket.
    • As long as there's some ice in the bucket, the temperature of the solution is around 33 degrees,  Check it every few hours.  Top it off with ice if necessary,
  5. Let the bird sit for in the brine for 12 hours.

Roasting The Turkey

Ingredients

Turkey

  • ½ turkey (in the brine)

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  • 2 Lb Bag mini potatoes
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 Lb bag baby carrots
  • one bunch fresh rosemary
  • 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 cup (125 mL) chicken broth

Rub

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) salt
  • 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground sage
  • 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) ground rosemary
  • ½ tbsp (7.5 mL) ground thyme

Steps

  1. Removed turkey from brine.
  2. Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Rub both sides of the turkey with olive oil.
  5. Combine all spices to make a rub. Sprinkle generously onto both sides of the bird.
  6. Slice your onions roughly into 1-inch rounds. 
  7. Pour chicken broth into  roasting pan. Line the bottom with onions, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs.  Place the bird on top of all the vegetables, cut side down.
  8. Cook the turkey for 1 ½ - 2 hours until cooked through. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer.  Turkey should read an internal temperature of 170°F (77°C) in the breast.
  9. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
  10. Enjoy!

The turkey came out moist and flavorful.  The skin was crispy.  Since roasting time is only around 2 hours, it doesn't dry out and doesn't need to be basted,  It was a great meal.

 

Share and Enjoy!

 

Just picked up a rarely used Lodge baking pan P14P for $15. Pizza coming soon

At the apartment building where we live, Anne and I have a number of friends who get together once a month over the summer, throw some meats on the grill and hang out.  I tend to play grillmaster.  Someone brings burgers, someone else brings some dogs.  Joyce brings a tray of ribs which are always excellent.  I spend the time at the grill cooking things (or heating things up).   Salads are brought.  As is beer.  A good time is had by all.  Now I’ll be honest, I enjoy cooking, but making burgers, dogs and the like really isn’t a challenge so sometimes I like to make something that’s different.

This past weekend we had one of our gatherings (now with Social Distancing) and the night before I had a hankering for an apple pie.  I know it’s not apple pie season but I was in a mood.  So I decided I was going to make one on the grill.  I know that might sound odd to some folks, but one thing I learned is that if you cover your grill and control your temperature, your grill becomes an oven.   I know that on my grill. If I keep 2 of the 4 burners on medium and avoid any grease flare ups, once it gets to temperature, my grill maintains 375 degree heat.

I have to be honest, bakers will be offended how I did this, it’s store bought pie crust and canned pie filling.  But that this article is more about thinking of different ways to use your grill, not the actually recipe.  Use your best  pie filling recipe if you like.  Spend hours making your best scratch puff pastry.  

I just decided to be lazier still and do a pan dowdy.  Instead pf a nice uniform crust, pieces of the puff pastry are mixed in.  There’s no reason your can’t cut and a proper crust to the pie, but this is a BBQ, not Thanksgiving dinner.  People are slopping themselves up and eating charred meat with their hands, no need to get fancy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans Apple Pie Filling.
  • Butter
  • 1 roll refrigerated puff-pastry

Steps

Setup the pan dowdy.

  1. Grease the inside of a #10 cast iron skillet with butter (or crisco).
  2. Add the cans of pie filling to the pan
  3. Take the puff pastry and tore it into 1” or so pieces and scattered them over the pie filling.  

Grilling

  1. Make sure your grill is clean.  Grease flare up can cause the temperature to spike and drop which won’t be good for the baking process.
  2. Setup your gill to cook at 425 degrees.  This is going to take experimentation on your part.  On my grill if I set 2 of the 4 burners to between medium and high I can get the temperature to be a constant 425.  But your grill will probably be different.
  3. Cover the skillet put it on the grill close the top and bake for 40 mins.  
  4. Remove from the grill
  5. Optional - sprinkle some confectioner's sugar.
  6. Share and Enjoy!

Although not the fanciest dessert, I felt like it was enjoyed, here is the after photo.

Apple Pan Dowdy

I do this for Anne and myself often.  I have to admit to using some shortcuts (pre-prepped veggies).  But it’s a dish were I get to cooking quickly and have a good meal with minimal effort.  We often eat it by itself or over pasta.

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (6 links)
  2. 10 - 12 tomatoes diced (or 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes).
  3. 4 bell peppers (or 2 bags frozen peppers and onions (might be tabled “stir fry’).
  4. 1 large onion, diced (if you’re using the bags in step 3, you don’t need it).
  5. 2 cloves fresh garlic minced (or 3 tbs dried garlic).
  6. 3 tbs Italian seasoning
  7. Olive Oil
  8. Salt and Pepper to tasts

Steps

  1. Preheat a #10 (12”) cast iron skillet with medium low heat.
  2. When skillet is hot, add 2 turns of olive oil.
  3. Add sausage to skillet brown for 4 or 5 mins on all sides.
  4. Slice the sausage into bit sizes pieces (I do this for 2 reasons, I like adding some of the fennel to the sauce and it allows me to skim some of the grease to make this a little healthier).
  5. Add the peppers and onions, cook down for a few minues
  6. Add tomatoes, cook down for a few mins
  7. Add the Italian seasoning and garlic.  
  8. As this all cooks, you’ll start to get liquid from the ingredients, let it simmer for 45 mins.  Stir occasionally.
  9. Skim some of the grease so it doesn’t wind up in your arteries.  
  10. Serve over Pasta, Rice or on a Roll.

Notes

  • The photo was does using Anne’s Father’s #8 Le Creuset.  I didn’t realize it was a #8 until I was far into the dish so I had to hold back on some peppers.  Still eats good.
  • Don’t limit this to sausage, the same technique can be used with chicken, beef, or other proteins

Share and Enjoy!

 

 Over the last year or so, Anne's been taking care of family problems so I've been cooking less and hence, posting fewer recipes.

At a socially distanced Memorial Day bbq today someone brought short ribs.  We got to talking other ways of prepare short ribs and I mentioned this recipe.  I was going to send it out to the group and realized I never blogged it.  So, although it's almost summer and not oven at 325 for 3 hours season, I thought I'd post it.  Share and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 6-8 beef short ribs, preferably bone-in
  • 2 onions, large chop
  • 5-6 carrots, large chop (about 2 cups)
  • 8 oz. mini golden potatoes, cut in half (or more if desired)
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups organic beef stock (preferably low-sodium) 24oz
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and black pepper as needed
  • light olive oil as needed

Steps

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Season the short ribs heavily on all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
  4. Heat 3-counts of the oil in a 12" (or larger) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the short ribs on all sides until a nice brown color forms, about 8-10 minutes. Add the vegetables and toss to combine in the pan-juices. Add the tomato paste and cook while distributing the paste. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add 2 1/2 to 3 cups of the stock until the vegetables and short ribs are just about (but not fully) submerged. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Cover the skillet with the skillet's lid or foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Peel back the foil and if desired, add in the mushrooms. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until the beef is tender.