51 Main Street
Chester, Connecticut 06412

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The Best Pot for the Job

Recipes from Laura's Nov. 8 Appearance on "Better Connecticut"

Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Cream

Yields approximately 5-6 cups.

 

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into medium pieces

1 Granny Smith or similar apple, peeled and chopped into medium pieces

1 cinnamon stick

3 c. water

⅛ t. red pepper flakes or to taste (optional)

Apple cider vinegar

Salt and white pepper

Maple syrup (optional)

½ c. plain yogurt (optional)

 

  1. Combine squash, apple, cinnamon stick, water and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer gently until cooked thoroughly, about 20-30 minutes.

  2. Remove cinnamon stick. Process in the blender on high until completely puréed. (Optional: If necessary after blending, scrape through a drum sieve into a large bowl.)

  3. Add 1-2 T. apple cider vinegar, and salt and white pepper to taste. Add 1-2 T. maple syrup if needed, to taste.

  4. To make maple cream: Mix yogurt with 1 T. maple syrup until smooth. Drizzle it into the soup as a garnish.

 

Three-Bean Chili

Yields approximately 4-6 servings.

 

Olive oil

1 white or yellow onion, medium dice

½ jalapeño pepper, small dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. tomato paste

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes

3-4 T. medium chili powder or to taste

1 T. cumin

1 T. dried thyme or oregano or a blend

1 19-oz. can dark red kidney beans

1 19-oz. can garbanzo beans (chick peas)

1 19-oz. can black beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy, enameled cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. Sauté onion and jalapeño briefly to soften, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in diced and crushed tomatoes, chili powder and cumin and herbs and bring to a boil.

  2. Stir in canned beans. Note: If you prefer to rinse the beans, discard the can liquid and add 1 c. water with the rinsed beans. Return chili to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot.

  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the flavors have melded.

  4. Note: Chili improves over time. You can cool the chili and store in the refrigerator for up to three days before re-heating. For longer storage, freeze cooled chili.

  5. Garnishes: Chili is delicious topped with grated cheese, diced onion or scallions, or served over rice.

 

Boeuf Bourguignon (4 servings)

4 slices bacon, cut into lardons

1 lb. stew beef, cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and pepper

2 T. tomato paste

2 T. flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 bottle dry red wine

Chicken stock

1-2 bay leaves

Thyme (fresh or dry)

6 parsley stalks

6 black peppercorns

Roux and lemon juice (as needed)

Frozen pearl or Cipollini onions

Button mushrooms, quartered

Fresh parsley

 

  1. Cook bacon over medium heat to crispy. Drain and reserve bacon grease for sautéing. Reserve bacon for garnish. Reserve 2 T. bacon fat.

  2. Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Sauté in batches in bacon fat (or add canola oil as needed) over high heat. Remove to drain. Repeat as needed to brown without crowding the pan.

  3. Return beef to pan. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes more.

  4. De-glaze pan with half-bottle of wine, scraping bottom to loosen browned bits.

  5. Add 1-2 c. chicken stock and any remaining wine as necessary to almost cover beef. Wrap smashed garlic, bay leaf, fresh thyme, parsley stalks and peppercorns in cheesecloth to prepare a bouquet garni. Add to pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

  6. Cover with a parchment lid and partially cover with the pot lid. Simmer (just bubbling) for 1½-2 hours, or until the meat is fully cooked and easily pierced with a knife.

  7. Meanwhile, quarter the mushrooms and sauté them in the reserved bacon fat. When meat is nearly cooked, add mushrooms and pearl onions. Continue to simmer until the meat is cooked and onions are heated through.

  8. If the liquid needs to be thickened: Remove the meat from the pot and spoon a bit of the liquid over top and cover with foil. Heat the liquid in a large saucepan and let it simmer until reduced to your desired consistency. You can also make a roux (equal parts butter + flour) to thicken. Add a few drops of lemon juice, if needed, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Return meat to pot until heated through.

  9. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles. Garnish with reserved bacon and chopped fresh parsley.

 

The New York Times’ No-Knead Bread

3 c./430 g. all-purpose or bread flour

¼ t./1 g. instant yeast

2½ t./16 g. salt

Cornmeal, wheat bran or flour as needed

 

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1⅝ c./345 g. water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a piece of parchment with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on parchment and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover loosely with a floured cotton towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 5- to 6- quart heavy covered pot (preferably cast iron) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under parchment and drop it, parchment side down, into pot; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Remove from pot and cool on a rack.