Braised Beef Shanks

I totally scored the other at our local market, when I found beef shanks in the meat case for $2.78 per pound. Don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I found any protein at the market available so inexpensively. Nor do I run across beef shanks all that often.

If you don’t know, shanks come from the leg of the cow. There’s a lot of muscle and not much fat, so this is a cut that does best with braising for a few hours. They also are generally a cut of cross section of the leg with bone, which means you get some rich marrow, too.

I remember them as being much more readily available, but lately you’re more likely to find them in local and/or ethnic markets. Perhaps because they take longer to cook, although I’d think they would be ideal for slow cookers.

At any rate, I was delighted for find them. The meat holds a great taste even after the long cooking necessary to get them tender. When you braise them, you end up with a full, rich, beefy tasting sauce.

As I said, my preferred preparation is to braise the shanks, and that’s just what I did. So here’s how I did it.

I had about 5 pounds of shanks.

Put about a cup of flour on a plate, and season it with lots of salt and pepper. You’re going to dredge the shanks in the flour mix before you brown them.

Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with cooking oil, perhaps 1/4″ deep or so. Let the pan heat over medium high for a few minutes. Add the floured shanks in batches, cooking each side until nicely browned, 3 or 4 minutes per side.

Browning the shanks
Browning the shanks

When all the shanks are browned, add a couple inches of water, wine, or beef broth. Scrape up the good browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the browned shanks back to the pan, and add water or broth to cover them. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.


Browned Shanks
Browned Shanks

I like garlic a lot, so I tossed in a good handful of peeled garlic cloves (8 of them, I think).

Keep the shanks simmering for at least two hours (mine took closer to 3 hours), until they’re fall apart and tender.

At 2 1/2 hours of cooking, I added 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms and 4 potatoes, scrubbed and quartered. I just laid them kind of on top of the shanks, then I covered the pan. The potatoes cooked in about 20 minutes.

Now, remove everything from the pot and keep it warm. Pull the pot off the heat, and remove as much fat from the surface of the broth as you can.

I had about 3 cups of stock, so I made a slurry of about 2 tablespoons flour and 3 or 4 tablespoons of water. You want it to be fully liquid.

Put the pot back on the stove and return to a light bowl. Whisk in the slurry and let it cook for 5 minutes or so, just to thicken the gravy and get rid of the flour taste. Check for seasoning.

While the broth was thickening, I removed the bones and excess fat from the cooked meat. This is entirely an extra step that’s up to you.

When the gravy is to your liking, plate the meat, mushrooms, and potatoes, then cover with the gravy.

Finished shanks
Finished shanks

Dig in, enjoy, and wait for the compliments!


A Delicious and Beautiful Way With Salmon

Salmon With Fennel And Tomatoes

A good friend went salmon fishing and offered to share her catch. She brought 3 pounds of wonderful fillets, so I decided to try a recipe I’d been holding onto for a while. The results were lovely to look at and very good to eat!

Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do it complete justice, but you might get the idea. The tomatoes actually showed a bit better in person, giving a nice contrast to the spinach and fennel.

There were lots of oohs and aahs when I brought the dish to the table, and a number of pictures taken as well!

The recipe suggested serving this with a risotto made with clam juice, but my guests asked for the traditional risotto with saffron and Parmesan cheese, and that worked well.

3 pounds salmon fillets

3/4 cup chopped onion

3 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut in half, then thinly sliced

1 cup chopped tomatoes

2 cups packed baby spinach leaves

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Heat a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on each side, just until they begin browning but are still medium rare inside. Remove them to a baking pan, and then put into the oven to keep them warm.

Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until they’re translucent. Add then wine, bring it to a boil, then add the fennel and tomatoes, cooking and stirring a few minutes. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts, another minute or so. Stir in the tarragon, then check the seasoning of the sauce.

Put the salmon fillets on a platter or place individually on plates. Spoon the sauce over the salmon.

Have a nice glass of wine and enjoy all the compliments!

Happy cooking!

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Getting Ready For Turkey Day

A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....
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Got my turkey yesterday, and it’s in the refrigerator to defrost. I’m not cooking it until Friday, but it’s a 16 1/2 pounder, and the Butterball site says it needs 3 days and 18 hours to defrost.  I will stuff it, so it will take 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours to cook, also according to

(My family goes in different directions for in-laws on Thanksgiving itself, so we get together Friday. And that way we have leftovers for sandwiches, salads, etc.)

If you have any questions at all about your turkey and what to do with it, do visit the Butterball site. There’s a handy little tool that tells you how much turkey you’ll need and how long you need to cook it. Great fun! Just be aware that you can lose yourself there for a couple of hours learning all there is to know about turkeys.

I think I’m going to try brining my bird this year. My brother-in-law has done this in the past, and it does keep everything moist. I’m not sure which herbs I’ll try, but the basic brine will be water, salt, and brown sugar. One recipe I found had the suggestion of adding poultry seasoning, but I won’t be doing that. The stuffing will have plenty of those flaors! Another has a basic mirepoix (celery, onion, and carrots) which could then be used to add to the pan for the final roast of the turkey, adding flavor to the drippings for the gravy. That recipe includes turnips (not happening!) and thyme sprigs (that will probably happen).

I will stuff the bird; my family won’t eat stuffing baked outside the bird and get downright snarky. My stuffing will be gluten free, because my sister and niece both have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten. There’s a gluten free store where they bake gluten free rolls with poultry season. I just need to cut up the rolls, saute my onions and celery in a lot of butter, and add some good broth.

The stuffed bird goes into a preheated 325F oven, first on one side for 1 hour, getting basted with butter every 30 minutes. The bird is then turned to the other side for another hour, again getting basted. The mirepoix of the chopped onion, carrot, and celery is added to the pan, and now the bird is set on top of that, breast side up, for the final two hours of roasting. The turkey will stand for 30 minutes before carving, and I’ll be able to get the gravy going, finish the potatoes, warm the green bean casserole (yeah, I know, but your role as host is to provide what your guests want), and all the other last minute fussing.

Things to remember about turkey: always defrost your bird in the refrigerator or under cold, running water. Leaving it on the counter to defrost is inviting salmonella. Make sure your stuffing has cooled to room temperature before you stuff it into the bird, again to avoid poisoning your guests. And even though pre-stuffed turkeys sound like a life saver, you must be absolutely certain that the people doing the stuffing have handled your food safely.

Have a great and safe holiday. Remember this is a day to forgive and forget all those things your family does to make you nuts, and to just appreciate them and the good things they bring into your life. Even if you have to go into deep meditation to find those good things, there have to be at least a few!

Happy cooking.



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Today Is Homemade Cookie Day!

Plateful of Christmas Cookies
Image via Wikipedia

October 1st is Homemade Cookie Day

Did you even know there was such a thing? It’s surprising the things you learn on the internet.

So pull out your favorite recipes – or go to our Christmas Cookie Recipes page. There are tons of recipes to consider.

Speaking of Christmas cookies… It’s really not too soon to start planning the cookies you’re going to include in your holiday baking so you can start building your ingredient list and start stockpiling your supplies.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving coming, stores will start offering specials on the baking supplies you’ll need. It’s a good idea to start watching the sales on flour, sugar, butter and/or margarine, flavorings, and decorations. Stockpile butter and margarine in your freezer; the other ingredients can be safely kept in your pantry.

Being prepared and stocked for your baking can help relieve at least one of the stresses of the holidays.

Other food holidays of note in October:

1st – World Vegetarian Day
9th – Moldy Cheese Day
16th – World Food Day
22nd – National Nut Day
24th – National Bologna Day

and all month long:

National Dessert Month
National Pizza Month
National Popcorn Popping Month
National Apple Month

Happy Baking!



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Easy Pork Chop Recipes

Article by Recipe Writer

Pork chops are symbolic of good ‘ole comfort food. Learn how to make them juicy and browse easy pork chop recipes for any occasion.

The Key to Juicy Chops

Pork has changed over the years. A few generations ago, pork was fattier and resulted in juicier, flavorful chops. Today, pork has been bread to be a lean meat. Brining pork is very important for making the meat juicy and avoiding dry, tough chops. Brining the meat helps them to hold more moisture and flavor. Even if a recipe does not call for brining, soaking pork chops in a liquid solution of water salt and sugar can improve the final taste of the recipe. Rinse the chops after brining and pat dry. Discard the brine after use.

Baked Pork Chops

Tired of washing a load of dishes after cooking? This is a one dish meal – the pork is both marinated and cooked in the same dish! We all need a time-saver recipe for busy nights. Serve these chops with buttered pasta or dumplings.

Ingredients:6 pork chops1 cup white wine, dry2 Tsp. Hungarian paprika, mild1 Tsp. caraway seeds, crushed1 garlic clove, minced1/2 Tsp. saltPepper, to taste1 cup sour cream (optional)

Directions: Use an ovenproof casserole dish for this recipe. Mix all of the ingredients other than the pork and the sour cream and set aside. Place the chops in the casserole and pour the sauce over the meat. Place the casserole in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours to marinate. Once marinated, bake the casserole for 1 hour in a preheated 325 degree oven. More wine can be added if needed. Once cooked, mix sour cream into the juices of the casserole and allow the mixture to heat through, but not to boil. The pork recipe is now ready to serve!

Schweinekotelett in Zweibel Sosse

Did you know that in Germany, pork is consumed more than any other meat? Germany is world-renowned for its pork sausage, however one of the most popular ways of preparing pork in Germany is braising. To braise pork, one must first sear the pork over high heat and then cook the pork in a liquid. Below is a German-style pork chop recipe that goes well with brussels sprouts and boiled potatoes.

Ingredients:4 Pork Chops1/2 c. Beer1/2 c. Beef Broth; Hot1/2 Tsp. Salt1/4 Tsp. Pepper1 1/2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil4 Onions, thinly sliced1 Tsp. Cornstarch1 1/2 Tbs. Unbleached Flour

Directions: Cover the pork chops in salt and pepper and then dredge in flour. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the chops for three minutes per side. Place onions in the skillet and fry for an additional five minutes, turning the chops once. Add the liquids, cover the skillet and simmer for a quarter hour. Take the chops out of the sauce and keep warm. Season the remaining liquid. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of cold water and pour into the sauce. Allow the sauce to boil through and pour over the chops.

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Does anyone have a recipe for roasting a whole turkey from America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated?

Question by Lepke: Does anyone have a recipe for roasting a whole turkey from America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated?
I started subscribing to Cooks Illustrated magazine, but don’t have access to the America’s Test Kitchen website archive of recipes. The current issue of Cooks Illustrated has a recipe for roasting a turkey breast, but I don’t have their recipe for roasting a whole unstuffed turkey. Can anyone please post the recipe for roasting a whole turkey. I’ve never had a bad recipe from Cooks Illustrated and this will be my first Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks for your time and effort.

Best answer:

Answer by heartbroken
cooking a turkey is easy ..just follow these directions and your Thanksgiving will be a success….

Roast Turkey:

1 16 to 18 pound turkey
1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled
2 teaspoons ground sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
kosher salt
salt pork (optional)
bacon (optional)
1 stick butter, melted
garlic powder
1 can broth, for basting

Choose a plump turkey. Clean and dry thoroughly inside and out. Remove giblets and turkey neck from inside of turkey and rub liberally with kosher salt. Brine turkey, if desired. (don’t bother) Combine rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and pepper in small bowl. Rub some in each cavity.
Pack body cavity loosely with the stuffing (see below) you will be using, or prepare stuffing separately (do not stuff turkey until the last minute before cooking). If turkey is being stuffed, truss or sew closed, or fasten with small lacing skewers and cotton string. Tuck in wings and fold tail in over the stuffing.

The skin over the breast of the turkey can be loosened and thin strips of lean salt pork may be placed just under the skin to keep the breast meat moist. The wings and thighs can also be wrapped with bacon strips, if desired. Brush the top of the turkey generously with melted butter, and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and paprika.

Roast turkey, uncovered, at 375°F, basting frequently with melted butter and turkey or chicken broth, or pan juices. After 1 hour, baste and sprinkle with seasonings again, then make a tent with aluminum foil and cover breast loosely. Reduce heat to 325°F and continue roasting for another hour, basting occasionally.

Uncover breast and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165°F (be careful not to allow the thermometer to hit a bone or the reading will be false). This will take about 90 to 110 minutes longer, depending upon the size of the turkey and the oven being used. (Convection oven cooking time should be reduced by 25% – see your oven manual).

While the turkey is roasting, prepare giblet gravy (see below).

When turkey is golden brown and done, allow it to sit for 20 minutes to rest before carving. Transfer turkey to a serving platter. Reserve the pan drippings for gravy. Don’t wait for the little plastic “pop-up” devices to pop, or it’s likely that the bird will be overdone and dry.

If you don’t own an instant read thermometer, test to see if turkey is cooked by inserting the tines of a large fork into the upper thigh. If juice is not pink, then turkey is done.

Carve turkey by removing drumstick, wings and thick by running a sharp carving knife through joints. Remove breast and slice diagonally across the grain. Serve with stuffing, gravy, and your favorite sides.

Giblet Gravy:

2-3 celery stalks
2-3 bay leaves
1 onion
3-4 garlic cloves
Wondra or all purpose flour
turkey/chicken bouillon or soup base
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
5-7 sage leaves, minced
pan drippings

Simmer giblets (save liver for something other than gravy) with a few stalks of celery and several bay leaves, an onion and 3-4 cloves garlic in a medium saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and simmer, reducing volume until broth is flavorful. Thicken with Wondra or all purpose flour to desired thickness. Add Turkey or chicken bouillon or soup base, if desired, and 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms. Stir in 5-7 leaves fresh sage, minced or 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage. When turkey is done, add some of the pan drippings to this gravy, pouring off excess fat first.
If stuffing is to be baked outside of the turkey, place this in the oven during the last 45 minutes of roasting, alongside the turkey.


1 lb. chicken gizzards, finely chopped
1 lb. pork sausage, crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot
2 stalks celery, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon sage, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch of celery seed
2 1/2 cups Swanson Chicken Broth
1 stick butter
Pepperidge Farm Herb Cubed Stuffing cubes
1-2 eggs
3-4 tablespoons parsley, chopped

For a flavorful stuffing, saute finely chopped chicken gizzards and crumbled pork sausage in 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter with 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 shallot, 2 stalks minced celery, 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and a pinch of celery seed. Add 2 1/2 cups Swanson Chicken broth and 1 stick butter. When butter melts, stir in 1 14 oz. package of Pepperidge Farm Herb Cubed Stuffing cubes. Mix well; remove from heat and quickly stir in 1-2 eggs, and 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
Pack stuffing into a buttered baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, removing foil to allow stuffing to brown during the last 20 minutes (the stuffing can be browned after the turkey is removed by increasing oven temperature to 425°F.)

Roasting Chart:,1739,135178-247198,00.html

Add your own answer in the comments!

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