Happy Holidays to you all. We want to take a minute to thank you for your support of Chef’s Stash over the past 6 months. We are so grateful to you all, whether you’ve been a long time customer or this is your first Stash. We look forward to what this new year will bring! There will be no Stash on Christmas Day, however, we will do a New Year’s Day pickup on Jan 1.
We love the names of Italian pasta dishes. They usually reference a place or a profession. Carbonara is the coal miner’s pasta dish, a rich creamy pasta that will keep you warm on a cold day. I’ve been told that it was named after coal miners because it’s common to add lots of black pepper to the pasta! Start the sauce by rendering the pancetta in a pan until brown (skip this if using smoked salmon). Add the cream, and season it with salt, nutmeg, and a healthy dose of fresh ground black pepper. Once it comes to a simmer, add some parmesan cheese (at this point add smoked salmon if that’s the pasta you’re making) and cut the heat. Toss it with the pasta and add an egg yolk or two to the pasta and stir it in…the heat from the pasta will cook the egg yolk. You can modify this recipe by adding some green onion or peas. If you add green onion, cook it in with the pancettta, if you add peas, add them at the end with the parmesan.
Brandon learned to cook duck from a family friend who was an avid duck hunter. The trick is to season the duck with a dry rub the day before you cook it. He uses salt, pepper, juniper berries, and whole fennel seeds. Then cook the duck, breast side down on a rack in the oven. This works because the duck fat from the back of the duck melts and bastes the breast side as it’s cooking. He likes to do it low and slow, at 250 in the oven for 3 hours or so…you want to cook it until the leg bones can be jiggled loose easily. For extra credit, you can use the duck drippings to sautee some steamed or boiled potates and sunchokes with garlic…yum.
Wild rice is great with duck. I really like it with Swordfish too…with a little lemon butter. Remember that Wild Rice absorbs more water than white rice so you need to cook it with about 2x the liquid as the amount of rice. It’s great to use for pilaf cooked with chicken stock too.
My dad grew up in Belgium…He recalls getting mandarin oranges from Spain as a spcial christmas treet. To them, having warm weather fruit in the snow was a special type of luxury. I always like to have some tropical fruit around Christmas as it reminds me of this. We added in some pineapple to really drive the point home…You’re welcome Papa!
Dried Mushrooms can be rehydrated. Boil some water, once it’s hot, turn it off and soak the mushrooms covered with a lid for about an hour. Then you can cook them as if they were fresh. They would be good with the duck or in pasta. Save the water and use it for a sauce or a soup too, it’s got great mushroomy flavor. Dried mushrooms are more intense in flavor so a little can go a long way.
Delicata Squash is a great little squash that gets its name because you can eat the skin. We suggest cutting it into rings, removing the seeds and grilling the rings with olive oil and salt and pepper.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out for more guidance and recipe ideas. Part of the deal with the Stash is that you have access to two chef’s at meal time to help talk you through any ideas you might have.
Happy Holidays from Gabe and Brandon