Saturday, January 31

Penne in Vodka Cream Sauce

The recipes that I combined to make this involved first browning prosciutto or Italian sausage in olive oil and garlic. I tried it with ground venison because I wanted to use it. I thought it was good; Taylor said he could taste the vodka too much so I may use less next time and allow it to reduce better than I think I did this time. And of course the sauce can be put on other types of noodles.... here is the doubled version of the recipe.

Penne with Venison in Vodka Cream Sauce
1 (16 oz) package dry penne pasta cooked according to directions
1 T. olive oil
8 cloves garlic minced
1 lb ground venison (or a package of prosciutto or other meat...)
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 (16 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 c. vodka
1 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese
parsley, basil, and cracked pepper
Heat oil in wok or large pot over medium. Add garlic and red peppers. Saute slightly about 2 minutes, stirring continually. Add meat and brown. Stir in tomatoes and about 1 t. each of dried parsley, basil and cracked taste. (though about 1/4 c. fresh would be better) Cook tomatoes until they begin to break up, either about 3 minutes on medium or simmering 15 minutes on low. Stir in vodka and bring to a boil, then add cream and simmer, uncovered about 15 minutes. Add cheese and melt. Toss with cooked penne.

I accidentally bought crushed tomatoes instead of whole peeled and as a result, I think it was more liquid-y. So as it happened, I'm uncertain about the best way to recommend cooking the tomato base. Using crushed tomatoes, I brought the tomato, meat mixture to a boil and then simmered it covered on low for 15 minutes. I think crushed tomatoes would have been fine as long as you did a little less cream and vodka, because they are more liquid-y. Or you could do half crushed, half whole if you wanted some chunks..... but then the recipe is hard to half (like I did) because what do you do with two leftover half cans of tomato product? Also, I think it's important to simmer the vodka and cream addition uncovered so the alcohol can reduce.

Anyway, I'm going to make it again! Sorry for the delay in recipe deliveries and lack of pictures! New feature! wine recommendation! We drank Bogle "Old Vine" Zinfandel with this.

Wednesday, January 7

Congressional Chili

So the State Legislature is in session and Taylor is sick. Perfect time to make Chili. According to my research, Former House Representative Jake Pickle, who represented Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives for almost 30 years started making venison chili and giving it away in the cafeteria while the Legislature was in session. It became very popular and so demanded that the cafeteria asked him to stop giving it away because no one was actually buying things on the menu. This became a favorite of President LBJ, beginning, according to Wikipedia, when he was Senate Majority Leader. Lady Bird had the recipe printed out on cards and mailed it out when it became so requested from the White House. Furthermore, the Texas Chili Parlor is a popular eatery for capitol workers AND chili con carne is Texas' national dish.

That highly extensive five minutes of research done to figure out why this would be called Congressional Chili by the Junior League of Houston's new cook book entitled Peace Meals, which was featured in my recent edition of House Beautiful. I halved this recipe and didn't have mole. The only thing I'd change is cutting the peppers a bit smaller. It was really good!

Congressional Chili

adapted from Peace Meals: JL of Houston
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably sirloin
16 ounces canned tomato sauce
3 tablespoons prepared red mole ( I did not use this but will try it next time)
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 cups water
32 ounces canned kidney beans
Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the peppers begin to soften. Perhaps add garlic closer to the end or take care to stir frequently so that garlic does not burn to the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Brown the beef in a soup pot; drain off any excess fat. Add half of the sautéed onion-pepper mixture to the meat. Stir in the tomato sauce, mole, chili powder, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasonings by adding additional salt, pepper, mole, or chili powder. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and the remaining half of the onion-pepper mixture; cook for 15 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and onions.

I was skeptical because it was chunky but I thought it was really good! I'd recommend being sure the peppers are really soft when you're sauteeing them so that they only provide flavor not a surprising crunch. As you can see, Taylor endorses it.