Thursday, September 29, 2011

Still waiting on cookbook but Mmm...MEATLOAF!

Okay, okay, so some of you might also follow the Glass Onion on Facebook, and you might be a bit peeved with my premature announcement of our cookbook's arrival. What can I say? I jumped the gun; I simply willed Glass Onion Classics to be here sooner, but when you order 1000 copies it evidently takes a bit longer. That said -- she should be here by next week, but I will not guarantee any date (and especially not post it online) before I have her in my hands!

However, maybe I can assuage your disappointment by posting a recipe that I have not shared yet -- MEATLOAF! I am inspired to share this particular recipe for a couple of reasons -- namely, cooler weather and a cry of help from a friend who will go unnamed. This friend claims she cannot boil water but somehow became involved in a meatloaf cook off. She threatened to withdraw herself from said cook off, but I offered up our recipe so that she might show up her fellow Chicagoans!

So, as the days grow shorter, and our cravings lean towards heartier foods why not host your own meatloaf dinner with this sneak preview from Glass Onion Classics.

Stew's Meatloaf

At the GO, we often have meatloaf on the menu because my partner Chris (AKA "Stew") happens to make the best meatloaf around. We generally serve it as a po boy, but here we give you a very tasty tomato sauce so that you can serve it over mashed potatoes -- or for something different, try serving it over grits!

At first glance, this recipe might seem, a no-brainer, but there is finesse involved. The key is to not overwork the meatloaf mixture. At the restaurant, we accomplish this by putting everything -- meat, vegetables, spices, etc. -- through the meat grinder. If you happen to have a home grinder, feel free to use this method. Another alternative would be to ask your butcher to grind the beef and pork together, but you can always just use your hands. Simply remember: work together gently, using a folding rather than a kneading motion!

And just like our shrimp cakes, we call for bread crumbs -- meaning stale bread that has been processed in the blender until crumbs form. These are vastly superior to the store-bought variety!

1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1/2 medium bell pepper)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted and finely chopped (or ground in a spice grinder)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium garlic cloves)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
2 cups bread crumbs
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine onion, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, oregano, fennel, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor; puree. Add cream and egg; pulse to combine. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add bread crumbs; stir until well combined.

Combine ground pork and beef in a large bowl; work together with hands until just combined. Add pureed vegetable mixture; work together with hands until just combined (do not overwork!). Form into a loaf. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until a nice crust forms. Lower oven to 325 degrees and cook for about 45 minutes longer, until an internal thermometer reads 160 degrees. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve over mashed potatoes or grits.

YIELD: About 6 servings

P.S. Leftovers make delicious sandwiches!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1/2 medium bell pepper)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium garlic cloves)
1 12-ounce beer (of your choice!)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add beer; stir to combine, loosening any bits that have collected in bottom of pan. Add tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and tomato paste. Simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until reduced by half and a nice thick sauce has formed, about 30 minutes.

YIELD: About 1 quart

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Return of Oysters and Countdown til Cookbook Release

If any food item has the power to bring me back from the blogging wastelands -- it would have to be the oyster. The return of cooler weather down South(and consequently cooler waters)always heralds the return of oyster for me. I enjoy every preparation -- on the half shell, fried in po boy, or poached in my father's oyster stew.

Devotees of the blog certainly know Papa's Oyster Stew as I always return to my ultimate comfort food. But for those of you newcomers I wanted to share the recipe one more time. We are currently featuring it at the Glass Onion, and it will be published in our cookbook a few weeks from now. Stay tuned to our website and social media pages for updates on the cookbook release party here at the restaurant.

Papa's Oyster Stew

Growing up, every holiday season my father and I would go buy a Christmas tree together, and then we would buy quarts of freshly shucked oysters to make his famous stew while trimming the tree. Freshly shucked oysters may seem a bit incongruous if you remember that my hometown is the extremely inland hamlet of Columbus, Georgia. But my father's good friends, the Lunsfords, owned Rose Hill Seafood, where they brought in oysters straight from Apalachicola, Florida. The flavor of those oysters, and especially this stew, is the flavor of my childhood.

1 quart shucked oysters and their liquor
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Oyster crackers, for garnish

Place the oysters in a colander set over a bowl to drain off liquor. Reserve liquor and oysters.

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. When foam subsides, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved oyster liquor and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the milk and cream; bring to a simmer. Add the oysters; cook until their outer edges begin to curl, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with oyster crackers.

YIELD: About 4 entree servings

P.S. The stew might require more salt, depending on the salinity of the oysters, but it is best not to oversalt at the outset.

P.P.S. I love a lot of black pepper in creamy dishes like this stew, but feel free to use less than the recommended 2 teaspoons if your palate is sensitive to spice.