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Mid winter recipes to warm you up

You are not hungry right now. I know. Last month you gorged on everything from smoked salmon to prime rib with more dessert in one month than you have had all year. You have imbibed copious amounts of beer wine and or spirits over the holidays and you have sworn off everything that is good and decadent. You my friend are not hungry right now. But I know you. You will be soon.

And if you are like me, in a few weeks you are going to raid the cabinets and the refrigerator for something that speaks to the cold weather outside your window.

The following three meals have much in common. They share a similar cooking techniques namely deglazing and the use of caramelization to add depth to the meal. They are also not too bad on your pocket book and I am sure that they will fill your stomach on a cold winter’s day. As an added bonus, you get to use bacon and hey, who doesn’t like bacon. They may not sound like the food you would like to eat right now but trust me come back here in a few weeks and look again. This is what you are looking for:

Lentil soup

This is a great mid-winter food for the simple reason that every ingredient is readily available in the stores right now. Eat this with some bread and cheese after a good walk in the cold.

1 large onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 large bay leaf
1 celery stalk, halved and chopped fine.
4oz bacon chopped (use fatty bacon of you can find it)
¼ -1/2 cup white wine or stout (choose something to add to the complexity of the dish - Madeira works well too)
1 cup brown lentils picked through
4 cups chicken broth
Dried or fresh thyme, to taste, chopped fine
Salt and Pepper.
2 tbls olive oil

In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add the bacon and oil on med low heat. Sweat the bacon for about 10-15 min, and when crisp and most of the fat had been rendered, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Sauté the onion, carrot celery and bay leaf until mixture starts to caramelize and most of the moisture has evaporated. You should be getting a nice fond on the bottom of the pot.

Deglaze the pan with the beverage of your choice and scrape the bottom until all the good stuff is off the bottom. Add the lentils and chicken stock and bring back to a boil. Once the soup is at a boil turn down the heat so that soup is at a simmer and add the bacon and let it go for about 30 min to an hour. This will give the all the ingreadiance time to introduce themselves and get a nice flavor going. Serve as a main course or an appetizer

Fettuccini Carbonara

This is hardy pasta that is very easy to make and is a wonderful meal to put together in a relative hurry. My father would make this after he came home from work with just eggs, ham and cheese. This is a little more work but well worth the extra few steps. You will be happy that you made this. Enough for 4-6

6 eggs
1cup graded parmesan
2 shallots chopped fine
one bunch parsley stems removed ( about 12oz)
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
4 oz of pancetta chopped fine
6 oz of bacon chopped fine
White wine or stock for deglazing. About ½ cup
3/4 cup pasta water reserved.
1½ pounds of Fettuccini
4 tlbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan heat the olive oil on med heat and add the bacon and pancetta to sweat. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the eggs, parsley, and cheese. Once the bacon is starting to brown, bring the heat down to medium low and add the shallots and garlic. This is a good time to add the pasta to the water. Let the shallot and garlic sauté until just starting to brown and then deglaze the pan with the stock or wine and turn the heat all the way down. When pasta is andante, reserve 2 cups water used to boil the pasta. Strain the pasta and add to the egg and cheese mixture and toss. The pasta will cook the egg and cheese mixture. Add ¾ cup of starchy water the sauté pan and stir if sause required more water add to taste. Add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss again and turn off heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Chicken with Rosemary

I love this meal for its complex flavor this is bistro cooking at its finest. Don’t rush this. Give it the time to cook and it will reward your patience.

2 pounds chicken thighs
1-pound sausage (chicken or pork) or Irish bacon
3 tbls olive oil
5 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
Teaspoon fresh or 1/12 dry rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup of chicken stock
2 tbls sherry
1 tbls Paprika

Optional extras

Lemon juice

Heat cast-iron pan with tight fitting lid over medium heat, when hot add olive oil.
Sauté sausage/bacon for a few minutes to sweat meat and brown; reserve meat.
While meat is sweating, season chicken with salt pepper & paprika and dredge in flour.
Add rosemary to the oil and sauté for a minute or so
Add garlic and let it sauté for 2 min or until starts to brown remove garlic.
Add chicken and sauté until brown; about 7-10min.

When chicken is finished browning add sausage/bacon to pan (if you are going to use mushrooms and or onions add them to the pot with some aol and sauté until soft then continue with original recipe)
Add sherry and stock (cream if using) and bring to simmer
Turn heat to low
Cover pot and place in a preheated 250º oven for 45 minutes, turning chicken occasionally.

Just before serving, you can add any or all of the optional stuff.

Serve with roasted root vegetables and steamed string beans.

Where there you have it. Three excellent ways to fill your stomach on a cold day.