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Something about the quiet hush of snowfall transforms the external world into an ethereal alternative universe, and makes you want to curl up on the couch with a good book. Or in my case, make a big pot of chili.
Lately, I've been revisiting old favorite recipes and I thought I would post a medley of thoughts and photographs. Below are some notes on a braised-pork chili, swiss chard and leek gratin, and mac and cheese.
Braised Pork Chili
I've been playing around with different chili recipes, but have returned to one I posted back in October (link) as my favorite. I have decided that I prefer pork to beef in chili, and meat that has been braised before the chili is made. The texture of the meat is just so much better! This time around, I had braised a 5lb pork shoulder earlier in the week for a different meal, but saved the majority of the meat for the chili.
The black and white Vaquero beans are like little cows, in bean form that is!
I followed the old recipe fairly closely, but this time did not save any of the braising liquid and just used more of the bean cooking liquid. I used 1/2 lb of Vaquero beans and 1/2 lb of Pebbles beans for this chili (both from Rancho Gordo), and loved the darker coloration that came with this choice. I also threw in a dried chipotle chile to add a touch of smokiness, although probably could have used more than one to make the flavor influence more clear, and instead of fresh jalapenos, I crumbled up two small red hot chile peppers I dried in the summer.
Swiss Chard Gratin
Another favorite recipe from last year was Alice Waters' Swiss Chard Gratin (link). This time I made it with leeks instead of onions, used more of the chard stems than Waters calls for, and bumped up the quantity of breadcrumbs. I like cooking this in a cast iron frying pan, so there is only one dish to wash.
Lisl and I ate this as a vegetarian meal unto itself earlier in the week, with a small glass of red wine to cut through the richness of the gratin. Delicious! I was so captivated by the color of the chard stems that I decided to get ambitious and take a photo of the stems chopped up for the gratin, and submit it to Click, the photo contest put on be Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi, which has "red" as its theme this month.
Mac and Cheese
I have been meaning to explore other macaroni and cheese recipes, but when the craving hit one day last week, I went back to the tried and true recipe I adore (link), and which I believe I originally adapted from a Gourmet magazine. This time I bumped up the amount of cheese and breadcrumbs I had on the top. Isn't the browning on top marvelous? I had to use farfalle since the pantry was pretty bare, but I prefer to make it with penne. So good!
Now I think I'm off to make Recipe Girl's roasted mushroom soup and enjoy the snow cascading down outside. Here are a few miscellaneous pictures from the week that I also liked:
Chili, Monterey Jack cheese, and rice
Onions are fun to chop with the new Santoku knife Lisl was kind enough to get me for Christmas.
13 hours ago