Milk-Can Supper

I heard about Milk Can Supper on the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcast in June 2014. It is a one pot meal, which I dig for efficiency sake, and it sounded intriguing. Basically you layer red potatoes, cabbage, corn on the cob, carrots, onion and bratwurst in a large pot and use a pale colored beer as the steaming liquid. I gave it a go and the results were delicious. I’ve made it, or parts of it, several times since with a couple of variations.

I use our 20-quart stock pot when I make this for a crowd. If I’ve halving it then I leave out the cabbage and cook it in the dutch oven we use for stews and tomato sauce.

Give this a try sometime. You won’t be sorry.

Milk-Can Supper
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst (15 sausages)
  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes, unpeeled, rinsed
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 6 ears corn, cleaned and cut in half
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 12 oz. bottle light ale
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ squares

Directions:

  1. Cut brats in half. Heat the oil in the stock pot over medium heat. Working in batches, brown brats, about 2 minutes on each side. Set browned brats aside. Drain the oil from the pot.
  2. Dump the potatoes into the pot. Cover these with the quartered cabbage followed by the corn, carrots and onions. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Tuck the bay leaves and thyme springs in among the vegetables.
  3. Arrange the brats on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over everything, pop on the cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; you want to see a bit of steam come out when you take off the lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You can temp the sausages if you are worries they aren’t cooked through (160°F being the magic number). I try to stab a potato and a carrot to make sure they aren’t still hard.
  5. If you have a big enough bowl or platter you can carefully dump everything into it. For a large group I prefer to separate out the sausages, corn and cabbages (which I cut into smaller pieces after cooking) into separate bowls. The potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers end up together in another bowl. This allows the food to be passed around the table more quickly. I try to put at least some of the cooking liquid into a measuring cup to pass as well.

Notes:
The original recipe calls for a “light-bodied American lager, such as Budweiser”. I’m a bit of a beer snob and don’t have Bud in the house nor will I buy it just for the recipe. I’ve used Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale in the past and most recently I used Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Both worked well. Use what you enjoy.

As I suggested in the intro, this recipe can pretty easily be halved if you aren’t serving a mob. I leave out the cabbage, reduce the rest of the ingredients by half except the amount of beer. How many sausages you cook is really up to you. I’d go for at least 10 (that’s 2 packs were I shop). I honestly should just increase the number of sausages to 20 for the full recipe; they are the best part.

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Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

I made this as part of the menu for my husband’s birthday bash this year. It came together very quickly and was very well received.

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen roasted corn, thawed
  • 1 ping cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 avocados
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the thawed corn, halved tomatoes, lime zest and cilantro to a large bowl.
  2. Juice half of the lime into a smaller bowl. Halve an avocado, remove the pit, scoop out the yummy flesh and cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Toss with the lime juice and repeat for the second avocado. Add the avocado to the large bowl.
  3. Squeeze the other lime half into the larger bowl. Season with a big pinch of salt and a dozen grinds of black pepper. Stir well to incorporate.
  4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes for the lime and cilantro to season the dish.

Notes:
Tossing the avocado with the lime juice is important as it help prevent the avocado from turning brown.

Take care when mixing everything together; a heavy hand will mush the avocado into a very chunky guacamole.

I think the original recipe came from Food Network.

Potato and Corn Patties

I grew up in a family that always ate leftovers. At least one meal a week was based on the leftovers from Sunday dinner. Roast beef became beef stew. Grilled chicken became chicken salad sandwiches. When I visit my mom I often end up with a meal of odds and ends from the week. A little of this, a little of that, makes a tasty meal.

In cooking our big weekly dinners there are often leftovers. Frequently they become lunch and save me from the corporate cafeteria. Sometimes though I decide to work them into a weeknight meal. This past weekend we had mashed potatoes and a variation on sauteed corn with leeks. A few ingredients, a hot skillet and tasty side was born to go along with chicken breast.

Potato and Corn Patties
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Succotash

My parents introduced me to succotash in my early 30s. My dad was trying to come up with the “perfect” recipe to take to pot luck dinners they attended. I decided to give it a try one week when I was in want of something different. I turned to the recipe in the Joy of Cooking and liked the results.

Over the years I have developed my own recipe roughly based on that recipe from Joy of Cooking. It has become the default side dish we serve with pierogies.

Recipe under the cut

Corn and Ham soup

It’s been a rainy day and my husband has been sick for 3 days or so.  There really isn’t anything convenient to bring to work for lunch either. I didn’t really want to go to grocery store so I made a big pot of soup with leftover bits and pieces we had kicking around.

Ham and Corn Soup
Servings: 8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 onions, small dice
  • 2 red peppers, small dice
  • 24 oz. frozen corn
  • 3″ piece of Parmesan cheese rind
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ham, diced
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook for 5 minutes to begin rendering the fat.
  2. Add the onions, peppers and a big pinch of salt. Stir to coat in the bacon fat and cook until the onions and peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the corn, stir to combine and heat for 2 or 3 minutes until the corn starts to thaw.
  4. Add the cheese rind, broth and water. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the diced ham, chipotle and thyme. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Check one of the potatoes; if you can pierce it easily with a fork then soup is on.
  8. Taste the soup and add salt/pepper to your taste.

Notes:
I used a mix of regular frozen corn and frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe’s.

I keep a jar of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base in the fridge so I can always have a broth available when needed.

Shepherd’s Pie II

There are probably as many versions of shepherd’s pie as their are colors in the rainbow. In fact you’ll find a variation I made back in 2010 here. As we try to eat a bit healthier I added a few more veggies, cut back on the fat (a bit) and switched to non-red meat. It was still tasty.

One of the challenges of this recipe is bringing the various components (veggies, meat and mashed potatoes) together at the same time. I’ve tried to show how I do that in the recipe below.

Shepherd’s Pie II
Servings: 12+
Prep time: 75 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 leeks, white & light green parts chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 Hungarian wax pepper, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 lbs. white or yukon gold potatoes, 1″ dice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn (or regular frozen corn if Trader Joe’s is unavailable)
  • 1 1/3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 Tbsp. Spanish paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. About an hour before you want to start cooking pull the frozen corn from the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw (or do it in the fridge overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grab a 13″x9″ glass baking dish and place it near the cooktop.
  3. Prep the potatoes, peeling all of them, then rinsing them. Cut into 1″ dice and rinse again. Then fill the pot with water so there is about 1″ of water above the potatoes. Put the pot on the stove, add a big pinch of kosher salt and cover. Heat over high heat; once it starts boiling cook for 8-10 minutes. You want fork tender potatoes, not mush.
  4. Prep the remaining veggies. You can combine the leeks and peppers in one bowl. The garlic should go in a small bowl by itself, you’ll use it with the pork.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the leeks and peppers. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss to coat with oil and cook for approx. 5 minutes until tender.
  6. Add the thawed roasted corn to the skillet and mix with the leeks and peppers. Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces, to the skillet and toss until melted. Once the corn is heated through taste for flavor, add salt & pepper if necessary and spread the contents of the skillet evenly in the bottom of the 13″x9″ baking dish.
  7. Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the ground turkey, breaking up into 1-2″ cubes. Cook for 5-10 minutes, breaking up into smaller pieces, until the turkey is cooked through. Drain any liquid that accumulates. Add the Worcestershire sauce and toss with the turkey to evenly coat. Add to the 13″x9″ baking dish and spread on top of the veggies.
  8. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and heat. Add the ground pork and use the same steps used with the turkey (break it up, cook, make smaller pieces). When cooked through add the garlic and paprika. Stir to incorporate and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add to the 13″x9″ baking dish and spread evenly.
  9. If you timed things properly the potatoes should be fork tender right about now. Drain thoroughly and return to the hot pan. Toss a couple of times to help dry off the potatoes and then mash them to a rough consistency.
  10. Heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute on high and then add it to the potatoes. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and the sour cream as well. Stir the potatoes until they become fairly smooth. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning as needed. I usually add black pepper at this point as well.
  11. Spread the mashed potatoes over the veggies and meat in the 13″x9″ baking dish. Avoid the temptation to make the top smooth, you want some swirls and crags. Dot the top of the potatoes with pieces of the remaining butter.
  12. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°F. Raise the oven temp to 425°F and cook an additional 5 minutes to help brown the top.
  13. In general you’ll enjoy this better if you let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Have a glass of wine, talk with your friends or family, wash a few dishes if you must.

Notes:
As I said above timing the cooking so the potatoes are ready for mashing when you’ve finished the cooking of veggies and meat isn’t easy. If the potatoes are ready early then pause in the veggie, turkey and pork cooking to mash the potatoes. They can sit in the pot with the lid on for 15-20 minutes if needed.

Sauted onions and corn

I love fresh corn in whatever form it is served. Last night at my parent’s house it was grilled. This past weekend I made a saute of onions and fresh corn kernels. It was delicious.

Ingredients
1 large onion, diced
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
10 ears fresh corn
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 or so pieces
1 tsp ground chipotle
salt & pepper to taste

How to

  • Husk the corn and strip the kernels from the cob. I do this in a large container that I set on a non-skid pad. I hold the pointed end of the corn and set the other end inside the container. With a chefs knife I trim the kernels from the cob using even strokes. It typically takes me longer to husk the corn than it does to remove the kernels.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions until they are translucent. A little browning is OK.
  • Add the corn kernels to the pan and toss/stir to a) coat with oil and b) incorporate the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the butter to the pan and stir throughout the corn until it melts. Yes it is a lot of butter.
  • Sprinkle chipotle over the corn and stir. Taste for flavor and adjust with salt & pepper if needed.

Serves 10-12 as a side.