Monday, December 20, 2010


As some of you already know, and others would never suspect, I am a fool for the Kansas City Chiefs. I know, I know, I am not a football fan.... unless it involves the Chiefs or the Iowa Hawkeyes. What can I say? I am more than a little biased.

Well, you can imagine how pleased and surprised I was when I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Rams vs. Chiefs game this weekend in St Louis. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!! And, also, to my girl Ginny, who promptly packed her bags and drove out from Iowa to join me at the game, as she is a Chiefs fan, herself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have these same seats once before, and I was certainly not complaining to have this view of the field:
Likewise, being so close to Christmas, the fans were in fine form, evidenced by the group sitting two rows in front of us.
Too bad they were Rams fans, but at least they were good sports when we KICKED THEIR TEAM’S BUTTS!!!!
Yeah, ok, I was trying to be a good sport, too. I kept as much of my enthusiasm over our win INSIDE my head as I could. It did spill over just a touch when we came across this Kansas City Santa (one of many Santas in the crowd) and couldn’t resist having our picture taken with him.
As an extra bonus, although it took us til halftime, we found the vendors that actually carried our favorite local beer, Schlafly Pale Ale, which we promptly brought back to our seats, to the utter dismay and jealousy of our football neighbors who were stuck with the Bud Light that was available in our section. We took full advantage of the amenities and had some great stadium food as well.

So, I know I haven’t been posting much lately, and I’ll be taking a little hiatus over the holidays since I’ll be on a mini vacation. I hope to accomplish a lot while I’m away and have lots and lots of good stuff to post about when I get back. The same goes for The Bacon Games.

Have a great Holiday season, everyone! See you in 2011!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Osso Buco for Cook the Books

I have never liked Mario Batali.

There, I said it. Its officially out there. Its true. While he doesn’t annoy me quite as much as Bobby Flay, I just could never appreciate him.

That being said....that may have all changed. After reading Bill Buford’s “Heat” for Cook the Books, I have a new understanding of Mario, and the circumstances and choices that have made him the man he is today. Or is that “mad”man? I’m not sure.

For one thing, I think I would really like to share a meal with Mario. I can imagine that would be one hell of a life experience. I need to put that on my Bucket List.

27. Eat with Mario Batali.

Although the book itself didn’t win me over (I found it fairly tedious, as told by Buford) I enjoyed the stories about Mario and the kitchen environment.

Now, unfortunately, with my new found appreciation for Mario, I’m still never going to be able to watch his show. Why? Because I’ll never see him the same way again. Maybe if he wore long pants. But with those shorts...and the orange clogs....I’ll only ever have one image of Mario burned into my brain. And that, my friends, is his calves.

No, Mario doesn’t raise cattle (as far as I know). I mean his beefy, hairy CALVES. You know, the part of his legs that rests just below his shorts and above his signature orange clogs? Yes, THOSE calves.

In his book, Buford quotes the first chef that Mario ever worked for, and now the picture will be forever stamped into my memory: "I will never forget him," White said, when I met him in London. "He has fucking big calves, doesn't he? He should donate them to the kitchen when he dies. They'll make a great osso buco. If he walked in today, and I only saw those calves, I'd know it was Mario."

So, while I am nearly ashamed to even post this, since Deb at Kahakai Kitchen had the very same image ingrained on her, and did a much more fabulous job at depicting it, I’m going to share it with you anyway.

For Mario, and Buford, (Oh, and of course, my husband), I made Osso Buco. Veal , in any form, is nearly impossible to get your hands on in these parts, but even if I could have gotten some, I still would have used the bulging beef shanks that I commandeered from my local grocer. They were lovely and VAST, and I could easily imagine them being sliced from Mario’s own calves. That, and as I mentioned, I will forever see those calves as “beefy” and not at all resembling the critter from whence veal comes.

And so it shall be, in my house, from this day forward (oh, almost had a flashback to the last wedding I presided over!), this dish shall be known as MARIO BUCO.
I based the dish on Mark Bittman’s recipe for Osso Buco (from How to Cook Everything, because really, I have not been disappointed yet!) with a few changes. I used Merlot in lieu of white wine, because, frankly, red meat and red wine are just a go-to combination for me. I also added fire roasted tomatoes to the pan after searing the shanks thoroughly. These beef shanks braised for about an hour and a half in my oven, and made my house smell like a little slice of heaven....with sauce. The hubs was gloriously satisfied and impressed with the tenderness of the beef. I also may have omitted the new name of the dish and declined to comment on the inspiration for the dish.... as picky as he is, I didn’t see him being happy about eating my concocted version of Mario Batali’s extremities.

And so, in honor of Mario, I give you....his calves. I may need a support group to help me wipe this image from my mind.... just not the dish, because it was, and I’m sure White would agree....fucking awesome.

Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Flipping through the latest edition of Bon Appetit after it made its appearance in my mailbox, the first recipe that grabbed my attention was the Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese. There wasn’t even a photo to suck me in, and still it got my attention. Trust me when I say that is unusual. I rarely make a recipe that doesn’t have a picture to inspire me. I was excited when I saw this one, though, as I knew that I had just seen fresh poblanos at the local trading post (aka, Walmart. The only store we have other than the mom-and-pop grocery I prefer to frequent.). So the very next day I acquired the lovely chiles and set to work.

If you want to make this a quicker dish to prepare, char and prep the chiles the day before to save yourself the during the week.

Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese
Bon Appetit December 2010

1 whole fresh poblano chile, plus ¼ cup chopped fresh poblano chile
1 TB corn oil
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup fresh corn kernels or froze, thawed
¾ cup whipping cream
2 cups freshly cooked macaroni (about 2/3 cup dried)
½ cup grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese

Char whole chile directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to paper bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile. Transfer to processor; puree until smooth.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add corn; stir 1 minute. Add cream and chile puree; bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cheese; stir until cheese melts and mixture is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
**NOTES: Instead of pureeing part of the chile and reserving some of it, I finely chopped two whole roasted poblanos and added it all to the skillet with the other veggies. I liked the veggies a little chunkier and more substantial.

The result? This macaroni was rich and satisfying with just the right touch of heat. I was absolutely certain my husband would love this dish, as everything ingredient was something he likes. Unfortunately, he tried, but rejected it as “too peppery”. In man-speak, I believe that means I should have pureed the chiles after all, because GOD FORBID he bite into an actual chunk of vegetable...

Oh well – more for me! I know what I’m having for lunch today. I absolutely loved this recipe, and in spite of my finicky husband, I will be making this again.

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Rachel over at The Crispy Cook this week!