Cooking Betty Crocker’s Coq au Vin

I’m a strong believe in the power of bacon. It’s such a delicious ingredient that it can elevate a boring dish or make an already awesome dish, like chili, even better. As such, when I was flipping through my copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and saw her recipe for Coq au Vin (page 286 or here), which is basically a pot roast but with chicken instead of beef and bacon. Plus, you cook it in a pan an not in the oven. But, aside from all that, it’s pretty much the same idea.

The only changes I made to the recipe were using boneless chicken breasts instead of miscellaneous poultry parts and I didn’t have the materials for a bouquet garni, so I just used dry spices from my spice rack. I know, I know, it’s not super French to do any of that, but what are you gonna do?

Oh, I also cooked the bacon after chopping it up instead of doing the pieces whole and then breaking them down. Again, this is just easier for me, I don’t know if there’s a downside, but I haven’t hit one yet. Before chopping that up, I peeled and cut the carrots and also got the flour mixture ready (I try to do veggies and whatnot before meat for obvious contamination concerns).

With that done, the bacon pieces went into the pan. After they were browned and done, I got them out then dipped the chicken in the flour mixture and got the pieces cooking in the bacon fat. The recipe says you should move them to one side and then cook the thawed pearl onions and mushrooms, but I just mixed everything together and let them get together. You then add in the rest of the ingredients and let it all cook together for a while.

I was really impressed with this dish. Sometimes I’m not sure about making international dishes from the Betty Crocker book because they might not have the original balance of spices and herbs, but this dish turned out to be pretty great, though whether or not it’s traditional Coq au Vin, I have no idea. But, the combination of bacon, pan fried chicken, pear onions and herbs was a delightful one. I’ll definitely give this recipe another whirl or two during the cold winter months ahead.

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Turkey Day Remembered: Everything Else!

Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without the sides and desserts. I’ve already talked about brining and cooking the turkey, making breakfast and preparing the stuffing, but that’s not all we had. My mom made her famous mashed potatoes that I just can’t go through a Thanksgiving without. Em also made a recipe that we got from FoodNetwork.com called Brussels Sprouts Gratin that was super good and will probably find its way into my regular vegetable side rotation.

Em also tackled the pies, but took care of them the night before, so they were good and done and ready to go when we were done eating. She made Smitten Kitchen’s Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie which was a pretty fun twist on the traditional pie (it includes canned candied yams) and a family recipe for Pecan Pie.  She also made cranberry sauce as well, something that I’m still not sure how I feel about (not a big cranberry fan).

Lastly, I made some gravy using the Betty Crocker Cookbook (page 442) that allowed us to utilize our brand new gravy separator. I’d never used one of these things before, but they’re pretty handy. Not sure if I’ll use it for anything other than Thanksgiving, but it’s not like it takes up that much space.

And there you have it, that’s how our Thanksgiving went down. I’ve said this before, but I’m not the world’s biggest fan of turkey. Still, I thought the brine made for a very moist and flavorful turkey. I love those mashed potatoes, as always, and was pleasantly surprised with how interesting and good the stuffing tasted. Even the side dish we found at the last minute wound up being a real winner, so all in all I’d say we hit Thanksgiving out of the park. Thanks to Em for being an awesome cooking partner and my folks for coming and enjoying themselves and our food!

Turkey Day Remembered: Betty Crocker Bread Stuffing

Much like the recipe I initially chose for pumpkin pancakes, the one I chose for stuffing wound up being all kinds of wrong for what we were eating. It didn’t help that I somehow missed several ingredients on that original recipe. Worried, I turned to my Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and came across the very simple and easy-to-make recipe for Bread Stuffing (page 280).

As you can see from the pictures, the recipe is pretty simple and luckily fit in our bird with some left over that I set aside in a separate container for my mom who is a vegetarian. The only deviation I made from the recipe here was using Pepperidge Farm Honey Oat bread instead of white bread (which we never have in the house anyway). I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here, but that added sweetness really brought out some great flavors with this stuffing and I’d recommend giving it a try next time you’re looking for something to stuff your bird with.

Cooking Beef Stroganoff

Oh man, you guys, I LOVE Beef Stroganoff. My mom used to make it–this exact recipe if I’m not mistaken–and I always looked forward to it. Anything that combines beef, sour cream, mushrooms and gravy is aces in my book. For the most part, I followed Betty Crocker’s recipe, though I went with Round Eye steak for the beef and a medley of baby bella, shitake and oyster mushrooms to kick things up a bit. I also had to use some of the broth from the Tomato & Beef Soup I made yesterday because I originally intended to cook something else on Tuesday night, but I hadn’t realized that took several hours to marinate. I had planned on making beef broth, but that would have taken several hours and I had just gotten back from the grocery store and it was five. So, I scooped out and strained the broth from that soup and put it to good use in my Beef Stroganoff.

Aside from that, this recipe is cake, though it does take a bit of time between cutting up all those mushrooms (I will not dice them up so much next time, I like bigger pieces), onions and beef. Anyway, I got a pot of water boiling for the egg noodles (that’s how Mom made them and my wife and I both prefer) while I got to chopping. After starting with the beef, I got two tablespoons of butter into a pan and got cooking. I then put the ketchup, salt and garlic together in a dish and dumped that in when appropriate along with most of the beef broth.

That simmered for ten minutes before adding the mushrooms and onions. While those cooked, I did as the recipe said and combined a small amount of the broth with four in a container with a lid and shook. I was surprised to see how quickly it turned into a paste (only took a shake or two, really). That got stirred in followed by the sour cream and then everything was served over the noodles.

I loved how this dish turned out and it proved something my mom always said, that the basic Betty Crocker Cookbook is a must have. I like it because it gives you so many recipe building blocks that you can experiment with as you grow as a cook. I honestly don’t know if Eye Round steak was a good choice for my beef selection or not (still need to do more meat research), but trying it out was fun and tasted great. Again, you can not go wrong with beef, gravy, sour cream and mushrooms. I could eat this every week, but I think I’d gain 300 pounds.