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Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Texas-Style Chili with Dried-Chile Broth


Authentic Texas chili is all about beef and smoky chile flavor—not beans and tomatoes. For extra smokiness and a rich chile depth, I toasted mild, dried New Mexico chiles and spicy chiles de arbol to create a base for the broth. Just a small amount of tomato puree adds a little sweet balance and helps with thickening.

New Mexico Chiles and Chiles de Arbol
The most important ingredient in a pot of delicious Texas chili is time—give it plenty, and your guests will thank you.

Serves 6

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 oz dried New Mexico chiles (5-6 chiles)
  • 1/2 oz dried chiles de arbol (14-16 chiles)
  • 3 cups beef broth, divided
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2-1/2-lb beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 fresh, hot chiles (such as cayenne, serrano, or fresh chiles de arbol), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic-butter toast and sour cream, for serving

Beef Ready to Braise
Preparation
  1. Heat a large, deep pot over medium heat and add the New Mexico chiles. Toast until fragrant, turning to prevent burning, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and repeat with the chiles de arbol. 
  2. Cover the chiles with boiling water, submerging as much as possible, and let stand 30 minutes.

Toasted New Mexico Chiles

Toasted Chiles de Arbol

Soaked Chiles
  1. Remove the chiles from the water and tear off the stem ends. Split the chiles in half lengthwise and gently scrape out the seeds with your fingers. Coarsely chop the flesh. 
  2. Place the chopped chiles in a food processor along with 1/2 cup beef broth. Process until the chiles are very finely chopped into a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Set the chile paste aside.

Seeded Soaked Chiles

Chopped Chiles Ready to Puree

Dried Chile Paste
  1. Heat the same large pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the beef and cook until browned, turning once or twice, about 10 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and drain excess liquid from the pot.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the onion, fresh chiles, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes.
Beef Beginning to Brown

Browned Beef

Onion, Chiles, and Garlic Beginning to Cook
  1. Whisk the cornmeal with the remaining 2-1/2 cups of beef broth and add to the pot. Return the beef to the pot and add the reserved chile paste, tomato puree, oregano, and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring well to combine. Reduce the heat to its lowest point and cook the chili gently until the beef is tender and the broth is slightly thickened, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. (Leave the lid slightly ajar to help thickening, if necessary.) 
  3. Remove from the heat and let the chili rest 10 minutes before serving.
Chili Beginning to Cook

Cooked Chili
To serve, divide the chili among 6 shallow bowls and garnish each with garlic-butter toast slices and a dollop of sour cream. 


Texas-Style Chili with Dried-Chile Broth


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Turkey Minestrone with Spinach


Quick soups using canned tomatoes and beans don’t have to be bland and unhealthful—quite the opposite! Choose organic canned broth and veggies, add a few fresh vegetables (including nutrient-loaded spinach) along with lean ground turkey and a little pasta, and you’ve got a pot full of hearty, flavorful, good-for-you soup in less than 30 minutes.

Note: I used ground turkey dark meat for this recipe, but breast meat or ground chicken would be good too.


Serves 6

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey dark meat
  • 1/2 cup diagonally sliced, peeled carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 28-oz can organic stewed tomatoes, with juice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups organic chicken broth
  • 3 packed cups baby spinach
  • 3 oz elbow pasta (about 3/4 cup dry)
  • 1 15.5-oz can organic cannellini (or great northern) beans, rinsed and drained 
Preparation
  1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the ground turkey, carrot, onion, celery, and garlic and cook, breaking up the meat, until the vegetables begin to soften and the turkey is just cooked through, 7-8 minutes.
Turkey Mixture Beginning to Cook

Cooked Turkey Mixture
  1. Add the tomatoes, with juice, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer and cook 5 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes. 
  2. Add the broth and pasta. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the beans and spinach into the soup and cook until the pasta is tender and the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning.
Tomatoes Added

Broth and Pasta Added

Beans and Spinach Added
Divide the minestrone among 6 bowls and serve.

Turkey Minestrone with Spinach

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lamb and Parmesan Meatballs in Red Wine Marinara


I love meatballs—beef, lamb, chicken, or turkey. For this recipe, I went with mildly gamey, very savory ground lamb.

But texture is just as important as flavor when it comes to these delectable, meaty little balls. A beaten egg helps add moisture, but I think the real key to moist, tender meatballs is white bread soaked in milk. It’s a little extra step that makes a big difference in the finished dish.

Usually, I use regular milk for soaking the bread pieces, but this time I had some evaporated milk on hand so I used that. The texture and taste of evaporated milk adds a bit of silkiness and creaminess on its own. Tip: Don’t squeeze the bread too dry before adding it to the lamb mixture—let some of that evaporated milk get into the mix as well.

The marinara here is a simple combination of crushed tomatoes and red wine, with sautéed garlic and onion, making a rich, earthy, tomato-y base for the meatballs.

Note: Pair the meatballs with whatever you like—pasta, rice, egg noodles, creamy polenta, even mashed potatoes. The big flavor here is in the meat and marinara.

Ingredients

For the Meatballs
  • 1/2 cup small, torn pieces soft white bread
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Marinara
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cooked pasta, rice, polenta, or your choice for serving
Preparation

For the Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the bread cubes in a small bowl and pour the evaporated milk over them. Press the bread down to submerge and let soak 15 minutes.
  3. Combine the lamb, garlic, shallot, cheese, egg, and 1 tablespoon parsley in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the bread from the milk, gently squeezing to remove excess. (Don’t squeeze too hard—leave a little milk clinging to the bread.) Add to the bowl with the lamb mixture and mix lightly to combine all.

Torn Bread Pieces

Bread in Evaporated Milk

Meatball Mixture

Soaked Bread Added
  1. Divide the meat mixture in 12 1-1/2-inch-diameter balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Bake until tender and just cooked through, 18-20 minutes, turning halfway through.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and meatballs to the marinara (recipe follows) turning and stirring to coat well.
Rolled Meatballs

Halfway Through
Serve the meatballs and marinara over pasta, rice, polenta, or whatever you choose.


Lamb and Parmesan Meatballs in Red Wine Marinara
For the Marinara
  1. Heat a heavy, preferably cast-iron, skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes and wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover and cook until slightly thickened, 10 minutes.
Onion and Garlic

Thickened Marinara