Merguez Lamb Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

Merguez Lamb Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 500g/18oz ground lamb
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 Tbsps paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 24 mini bocconcini, sliced into three pieces

Directions


Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Place parchment paper on a small cookie sheet. Mix together the spices until completely blended. Brush the outside of the mushroom caps with the olive oil. Mix the meat, spices and eggs together. Lay the pieces of cheese out onto the mushroom caps. Place the meat over the cheese. Cook the mushrooms caps for 18 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked to 165ºF/75ºC. Serve.

And now for the details…

Double digits in the quarantine challenge! I am now at day 10 of 14 of the daily recipe challenge.

Today’s recipe was brought to you by the same friends who I cooked yesterday’s meal with. They added a few “mystery ingredients” to the groceries they delivered to the house. One of those ingredients were portobello mushrooms. I happened to have some ground lamb in the freezer, and I thought that a Merguez flavoured stuffing for portobello mushrooms would be an awfully delicious option!

Let’s get to cooking.

Start by preheating your oven to 425ºF/220ºC.

Next, we move on to mixing the spices. I had whole fennel seeds, so I needed to grind them down. I used a mortar and pestle, and ground them until they were almost a powder. Mix this powder with the rest of the spices, salt, and pepper, until they are mixed together thoroughly.

Next, we will get the mushroom caps ready to go. Wash the outsides of the caps, and remove the stem, if there is one. Brush to outside of the cap with olive oil. We do this to help prevent the mushroom from drying out too much when they are baking. Lay the mushroom caps onto a small baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.

Next, we prepare the filling. Sprinkle the spice mix over the ground lamb, and add the egg. Mix these all together very well. I find using my hands works best for this. Get right in there and squish everything all together.

Next, lay the pieces of bocconcini into the mushroom caps in a single layer. If you have larger bocconcini, feel free to use that. But again… quarantine.

Next, split the meat into four equal parts, and press the meat into the mushrooms caps. Once you have pressed the meat in, use the back end of a knife, and push a little cross into the meat. This helps to make the sections of meat smaller, which is going to help even out the cooking when it goes into the oven.

Place the tray into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until the meat registers at 165ºF or 75ºC.

Remove from the oven, serve immediately.

Happy eating.

Pork Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Kimchi Jjigae

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 700g (1.5 lbs) pork belly, cut in slices
  • 300g (2/3 lbs) kimchi, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, shredded
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce (dark)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang
  • 3 cups chicken or pork broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 package shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1/2 pkg (170g) medium tofu, sliced
  • butter

Directions

Sauté the pork on medium-high heat until browned. Add the chopped kimchi, reserving the kimchi liquid, and stir regularly until kimchi is heated fully. Add the water and broth. Add the soy sauce, mirin, gochujang, and kimchi liquid. Stir and cook until the stew starts to simmer. Stir in the shredded garlic. Add the mushroom and the green onions, stirring to mix. Lay the tofu across the top of the stew, spooning some of the stew over the tofu to coat. Cover the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the mushrooms and tofu are cooked through. Spoon the stew into bowls and drop about 1 tsp of butter on the top of each bowl. Serve with a bowl of white rice.

And now for the details…

I know what you must be thinking… ummm… Emily, I didn’t realize you were Korean…? No, no I am not. And what do I know about authentic Korean cooking? Not much at all, except that what Korean food I have eaten is delicious and I will do what I can to recreate it. Particularly this stew. This stew was love at first bite when I tried it at Ogam Chicken. It has all the things you could hope for in a stew. The flavour is a mouth-watering combination of salty, umami-rich, spicy, and tangy. With the little chunks of pork, kimchi, and tofu, this stew is also quite hearty. Pair it with a bowl of white rice and it is pure magic.

Eating kimchi jjigae in restaurants, you often get it served in a hot stone bowl called a dolsot. I do have a dolsot that I received as a gift. But alas, I still have not used it, as it does not work so well (i.e. at all) on an induction stove. I will need to get myself a hot plate to resolve this issue! Until then, a heavy bottomed pot will need to do the job.

Cooking with new ingredients is always both scary and exciting. There were a number of ingredients in this recipe that I had never used for cooking until I made this stew the first time.

Gochujang, which is a chilli paste, was a brand new ingredient for me the first time I made jjigae. I find it more earthy than spicy, although it definitely does provide some heat. It’s a deep, rich red and has an almost smoky yet sweet quality to it that really deepens the flavour of the dish.

Kimchi itself was something I had eaten on a number occasions, but had never cooked with at home. My favourite is baechu kimchi, which is made from the whole Napa cabbage. Luckily, it is usually the easiest to find in stores as well. Kimchi can be quite different brand-to-brand, and the store I get my ingredients from also does some fresh house-made kimchi as well. They will vary in the level of tartness, saltiness, and spiciness, which will change the way the stew ultimately tastes. Play around with the different kinds to find one you enjoy.

Let’s get to cooking.

Start by preparing your ingredients. Cut the green onions into 1″ pieces and set them aside. Take the kimchi out of its liquid, allowing most of the liquid to drain back into its container (set the liquid aside, we will be using that!), and chop the kimchi roughly to get some bite-sized pieced. Set the kimchi aside. Trim the mushrooms and set them aside. I use shimeji mushrooms because I enjoy them so much, but if you prefer white or brown button mushrooms, simply cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the mushrooms (cut them into 1/8th’s if they are really big). Slice the tofu into 5-6mm (~1/4″) slices and set aside. Lastly, cut the pork belly into small, bite-sized slices.

We start by cooking the pork belly. Many recipes will call to add the pork belly to the broth once it is prepared, but I like cooking the pork first, getting a nice build up of the pork fat as it renders, and caramelizing the meat slightly. Add the pork belly to your pot with the heat set at medium-high. Sauté until the meat has cooked through almost completely and has started to brown. Stir this regularly, as I find the pork belly will try to stick to the bottom of the pot. If there is an large amount of fat pooling in the bottom of the pot, drain some, but keep the majority of the fat in the pot.

Once the pork belly is cooked through, add the kimchi to the pot, stirring regularly until any liquid that remained with the kimchi has cooked off and the kimchi is heated all the way through.

Next we start to add our liquid. Add the broth and the water, stirring while paying particular attention to the bottom of the pot to help stir in any of the caramelized pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, add the soy sauce, mirin and gochujang. Add a tablespoon or two of the kimchi liquid into the pot and allow everything to heat up until the stew starts to simmer.

Taste test the broth at this point to see if it is meeting your taste preference. Add more kimchi liquid if you want to increase the spiciness, saltiness and tartness of the broth. Now is also the point when you will add the shredded garlic to the stew. Lower the temperature to about medium or medium-low.

Next, add your mushrooms and green onions, and stir them into the broth. Then lay the tofu across the top, and spoon some of the broth over the tofu to coat it. I forgot to buy tofu the first time I made this for photos, so please excuse the, er, temporary costume (i.e. pot) change in this next photo.

Cover the pot an allow the stew to… well… stew… for about 8-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the tofu is heated through completely and everything is a nice, bubbly container of deliciousness.

Finally, we eat. Spoon the stew out into bowls, top with about 1 tsp of butter per bowl, and serve on its own or with a small bowl of cooked white rice.

Happy eating.

Instant Pot Duck Breast (from frozen) with Baby King Oyster Mushrooms

Duck Breast with Baby King Oyster Mushrooms

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

    Duck Breast with Red Currant Sauce
  • 2 duck breasts, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen red currants
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp roasted garlic jelly
  • 1/2 tsp salt, then more to taste
  • Mushrooms
  • 11 oz baby king oyster mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp red miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp hot water
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

Pour the port, broth, and currants into the bottom of the instant pot. Add the rack into the pot, then place the duck breasts, skin side up, on the rack and add 1/2 tsp salt. Cook on Poultry setting under pressure for 23 minute (resulted in doneness of medium-well). Release the steam, take out the duck breast, score the skin and sprinkle with salt and sear on a medium-high heat pan until the skin has browned. Add the garlic for the mushrooms to the pan into the rendered duck fat. Once the garlic starts to brown, add the mushrooms and some salt. Stir regularly, until the mushrooms have browned and started to soften. Then add the brandy and cook down. Mix the miso paste with the water, then add to the pan with the sugar, and cook until almost all the liquid is cooked out.

And now for the details…

I was at a loss for what to make for dinner this past Sunday afternoon and decided to raid our freezer to see what I could find. I had some frozen duck breast tucked into the freezer and thought “sure, why not?”

I assumed I would be able to find some kind of recipe online for an Instant Pot duck breast cooked from frozen, but all I could find was a recipe for a stew. It probably would have been good, but I was craving duck breast on it’s own, with that nice crispy skin… a little salty, a little fatty, mmmmmmmm…. *ahem* Anyhow, since I could not find a recipe… I made one up 😛

Now, I do say from frozen for the duck breast, but I did need to let them thaw just a little, since they had those soft, thin pieces in the package meant to absorb liquid; which were frozen solid onto the meat. I let it defrost just enough to be able to peel them off without ending up with a bunch of frozen plastic pieces adhered to my bird. When it made it to the pot, though, it was still pretty much rock-hard with the exception of a thin layer on the exterior (you can actually see some ice still on the meat in the photo!)

Place the breasts on the rack in the pot, skin side up, to keep it out of the liquid. Under the meat goes the port, broth and currants. Plus, of course, I sprinkled a bit of salt on top. Make sure your pot lid is set to “Sealing”, and then let it cook on “poultry” setting for about 23 minutes. This resulted in a doneness level of about medium-well. You could probably adjust to a little less or a little more if you would prefer a different level of doneness. If you are able to get the duck out of the package while it’s still frozen all the way through, I would add on a couple minutes.

While the duck is cooking, we can start to prepare the mushrooms. I found these baby king oyster mushrooms at T&T, our asian supermarket, where I went shopping with my husband and in-laws after we went for dim sum earlier that morning. As you know, I enjoy not just cooking and eating, but also shopping for ingredients. I love shopping at T&T, since the ingredient options are often quite different than the “standard western” grocery options. And I really love going there with my in-laws, since I will get all kinds of suggestions and advice from them on produce I am unfamiliar with, like whether the produce is is in good shape, if it is in season, or suggestions for different produce I would not know to take home. My husband finds these shopping trips amusingly frustrating with the three of us, since we tend to scatter and reform, which my husband, of course, refers to as “herding cats”. Mama and papa know that I LOVE mushrooms, particularly shimeji and king oyster, and brought over the baby king oysters. I was really excited to cook these. They looked so good; plump little morsels, ready to be fried up for dinner! Even though they looked fairly clean in the package, papa suggested I wash them and trim the ends anyhow, and so I did.

Attempting to maintain a pseudo-asian flavour for the mushrooms, I decided to fry them up and glaze them with some miso. If you cook your duck breast first, you can reserve the rendered duck fat (see below for more details) and cook the mushrooms in that after you’ve fried the duck breasts. For me, I happened to have some rendered goose fat in the fridge from foie gras I had made a few weeks before, so I melted some of that in the pan, and then started to sauté my mushrooms and garlic.

Add a pinch of salt to the pan and sauté the mushrooms and garlic. This will seem like a counterintuitive thing for me to say: but don’t add too much salt. The miso has some saltiness to it, and it is better to taste test and add a bit more towards the end than end up with too much salt. Cook the mushrooms until they start to soften and get patches of golden brown. Once that happens, add the brandy and allow it to cook down until there is almost no liquid left in the pan, stirring regularly.

While the brandy is cooking down, add the miso to the hot water and mix until the miso is mostly dissolved. Add the mixture to your pan, and sprinkle with the sugar, and again stir regularly while cooking down the liquid until a smooth glossy finish coats your mushrooms, and there is little to no liquid in the pan.

By now, the duck should be done. Allow the pressure to release from your instant pot, and open to reveal your beautifully cooked duck breast. Oh. Wait. Not so beautiful yet. The skin is all soggy looking and it appears as if the breast as been boiled. Ew.

We can fix that right quick. Remove the breasts from the pot, reserving the liquid, and score the skin in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the skin with salt, and then place in a dry pan at just below high heat. You may want to tilt and hold the meat in a few directions on the pan to crisp up the skin on all sides.

As you cook the skin and it starts crisping to a nice golden brown, it will be releasing a whole heck of a lot of fat. This fat can be used to cook your mushrooms, or you can pour it into a Tupperware and store it in the fridge to use as an olive oil or butter replacement in another dish later on.

Once the skin has crisped to your desired level of doneness, remove the breasts from the pan and let them rest to the side. Pour the fat from the pan into a container of choice, then pour the liquid from the instant pot (you almost forgot about that, didn’t you?) into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high, and add the garlic jelly, stirring to dissolve the jelly in the liquid. Allow the liquid to reduce by about half, and then strain to remove the pips and skin from the currants. Then, slice the duck breasts across the grain into nice, moist (yes, I used the descriptor moist) slices, and spoon the sauce on top. Serve with mushrooms and enjoy!

Happy eating.