Dill Pickle Soup

I know. I know what you must be thinking…pickle soup? WTF? Right? I thought the same at first when I’d overheard several people mention this soup. It’s also on the menu at one of my favorite little spots to grab a bite here on Chincoteague, Poseidon’s Pantry. So naturally, I had to give it a try at home.

Last week Jon ventured to San Francisco for work stuff. What better place to have to go to for a 49ers fan? I was at home with our 3 boys, and we survived. I’m blessed with pretty well behaved kids! Towards the end of the week I had two of my best girlfriends over to for dinner to try this odd soup…

Turns out it’s REALLY good. Chunks of potato, dill pickles, carrots, chicken broth, sour cream and fresh dill all combine together to create a wonderfully rich, and filling – yet light soup. I think the key is to use really good quality refrigerated pickles in the soup. They stay crunchy and retain their briny flavor. Whereas some of the guys from the shelves in the jars are flabby and crunch-less from the get-go.

We all really enjoyed it, especially the boys. With all the bright flavor from the pickles and the dill, it’s a great soup to welcome springtime. Definitely one I’ll be making again and again, it’s just too much fun not to!

Souce: adapted from The Noble Pig

Soprano's Sunday Gravy

I’ve talked before about my love of all things mafioso. While I was always a fan of the classics like Goodfellas and The Godfather trilogy, it was really The Sopranos that really cemented that love. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Sopranos Family Cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried from it has been wonderful. The first one that I ever made from it’s pages is this recipe for Sunday gravy…

Italians call a meaty sauce that’s been simmered all day a “gravy”. This one is made with the addition of country pork ribs, sausage, and veal – which I leave out (I just can’t get past the baby cow thing). Now, if you’ve never added pork to your red sauce – with all due respect, but you’ve sorely been missing out. It adds such a wonderful richness and complexity that is unparalleled. Sausage is great, but the pork ribs are really where it’s at.

It’s wonderful simply tossed with pasta, or if you want to doll it up even more you can add mozzarella cheese and mini-meatballs to make Ziti al Forno. No matter what you do with it, you can’t go wrong with this sauce. It’s really a staple. Do yourself a favor and make it soon, you won’t regret it! Bada-bing.

Source: adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook

Beef Stew

The chapter we call winter is finally coming to a close. And while I’m super excited to welcome spring, I’ll definitely miss those warm stick-to-your-rib meals that we get to enjoy during those cold months. One of my favorites is this hearty beef stew. It’s a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that I’ve been making for close to 10 years now, and for good reason – because it’s absolutely delicious.

I love taking a tough cut of beef like a chuck roast and turning it into the tender chunks that melt in your mouth. The addition of red wine to the stew adds such wonderful richness and depth of flavor, and really compliments and brings out all the wonderful flavors in the beef. Red potatoes, carrots, and peas also come to the party for a dip in the tub. Troublemakers.

It makes a large pot full that is plenty for supper one evening, and then enough leftovers for several lunches worth. And like with all stews and soups, it just gets better as time progresses. It also freezes wonderfully for an easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking. Definitely one of our favorites!

SOURCE: The New Best Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen

Chili con Carne

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has their own special recipe for, which they swear by as being the best. Mine is no different! Meaty, spicy, and filling – it’s one of the things my boys most look forward to in the colder months. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove on a lazy football Sunday!

I like to start with a mix of lean ground beef and a roll of hot pork sausage, plenty of beans, chunks of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Then, some beer. It adds so much great flavor to the chili, and I’m always looking for an excuse to cook with the stuff. But, you could certainly use beef broth for your cooking liquid as well.

A couple hours simmering on the stove and you’ve got a delicious and hearty meal that’s always a family favorite. Leftovers are good for days, and great to re-invent into so many applications (Frito pie or chili dogs, anyone?). And, it’s great for a group too. A low maintenance meal for the cook, and guests can have tons of fun topping their bowls of chili with different ingredients – scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheeses, jalapenos, guacamole, tomatoes or pico de gallo, poblano-corn salsa…the possibilities are endless!

Also, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the ingredients in the chili itself. I love to switch it up using a chuck roast instead of the ground beef and sausage. Or, using black and pinto beans in place of the kidneys. It’s so easy to make your own! So, if you’re still looking for that one perfect chili recipe, give this one a try! It’s our favorite, and it might just become yours too.

Chili con Carne

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb bulk roll hot sausage (like Jimmy Deen)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can light kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (your favorite is fine)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until browned well. Remove from pan into a bowl. Drain most of the rendered fat from the pan.

Throw onions into the pan and cook until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and spices, and cook for about 3 minutes – until the tomato paste darkens in color. Add in the beef and sausage, tomatoes, beans, and beer. If it looks like it needs a little more liquid, add a splash of water.

Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours. You could also cook up to this point, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings.