I’m violating my own idea of a gratin here. Mine is of a shallow vegetable dish with a light topping of breadcrumbs, fine breadcrumbs. Maybe cheese in the topping or sauce. Still, this venison gratin, as I’m calling it, is shallow, made in a cast iron skillet. The crumb topping, however, is rougher, more rustic, almost like those leftover stuffing toppings you make after the holidays. I think I could have kept the food processor going longer for a finer crumb, but I guess I was in a rustic mood. So, like I said in the title, do you have any leftover garlic bread? With the flavors of your garlic bread already in place—garlic, olive oil or butter, herbs, and maybe some Parmesan—you have the makings of a flavorful topping for a gratin.
torn up garlic bread
Preheat oven to 350º; if using a separate casserole dish, butter the dish. A large (12″) cast iron skillet works great because you can cook the filling in it and then pop it in the oven with the crumb topping on.
- 1 lb venison cut in 1/2″ cubes
- 1 medium onion cut in small dice
- 1-2 cups mushrooms (I used cremini) cut in small dice (so your picky eaters won’t pick them out)
- 2 large carrots cut in 1/2″ dice
- olive oil for browning meat and vegetables
- 2 cups broth (I used beef)
- beurre manié of 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons flour
- leftover garlic bread, pulsed in food processor
- olive oil or melted butter to moisten crumbs
Basically, I prepared a little stew, then topped it with the crumbs and browned it in the oven.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons oil to a hot skillet and brown the venison over medium-high heat. Remove to a platter.
- Add onions and mushrooms to the hot skillet and continue to cook until lightly browned.
- Return venison to the skillet with the carrots. Add the broth. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
- Over medium heat, stir in the beurre manié until distributed. Continue to stir until the broth is thickened. Remove from the heat.
- Moisten your garlic bread crumbs with olive oil or butter, just enough to lightly moisten without becoming oily.
- Sprinkle the crumbs over the top all the way to the edge.
- Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
Once I started roasting vegetables, whether on the grill or in the oven, it became my preference. Roasting brings out natural sweetness while keeping crispness and sometimes adding a little char. In the winter, I’m not really in the mood for cold veggies, so I didn’t see why slaw had to be cold. I like cooked cabbage, but the trick for a cooked slaw is to keep it slightly crisp, and roasting can do that for you.
This slaw can be eaten warm or cold, as long as you stick to a dressing with no fats that will congeal on chilling. That means that bacon/bacon fat—which would be great in a warm slaw—might not work with cold leftovers. My dressing here only uses fruit juices for the acid, so it’s not as tart as a vinegar based dressing. As far as uses go, it would be good as a side dish or on any sandwich where you would use a traditional cold slaw. You can see it below on a fried fish sandwich with my Everything Sauce.
Mine is a simple slaw of cabbage and carrots, but you could add bits of any vegetable or fruit that would not become watery or mushy.
Preheat oven to 400º; line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 3-4 cups cabbage, sliced or coarsely grated—1 small head
- 2 carrots, grated
- Extra-virgin olive oil for roasting—enough to drizzle over all on the sheet pan
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon mashed roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, with zest if you have the actual lime in hand
- I tablespoon honey—you really have to taste to see how sweet you want it
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Spread the shredded cabbage and carrots on the baking sheet. It will be about 1/2″ thick, but you will toss it halfway through the roasting. Drizzle with olive oil—I think I used at least 1/4 cup. Sprinkle with kosher salt and coarse black pepper.
- Roast for about 20 minutes, then lightly toss with tongs to expose more of the vegetables to charring. Roast for another 15 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness. Lift the parchment paper and pour the vegetables into a large bowl.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients—garlic, orange juice, lime juice, honey, and olive oil—until emulsified. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Add more salt to taste.
- Serve warm or cold or both.
I know it seems too soon to post another muffin recipe, but the Tropical Muffins are gone, because my husband was eating them two and three at a time. Well, these are not so sweet, with only half the sugar, and they contain the one secret ingredient that will curb his appetite—cinnamon. I can’t understand who wouldn’t like cinnamon, but there it is, and I use it to my own benefit sometimes.
In addition to sour cream and carrots, there are chopped walnuts and flaked unsweetened coconut, so there are plenty of flavors and textures in these muffins—they’re just not sweet ones. None of the additions—carrots, coconut, nuts, sour cream—are sweet, except for the brown sugar. I think the muffins would be great with some cream cheese and a nice big cup of coffee in the morning. You could certainly sweeten them up with different additions or with a sweet spread. I just wanted something hearty for breakfast.
Sour Cream Carrot Breakfast Muffins
Preheat oven to 375°; prepare a muffin pan with paper liners or butter.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and continue beating until well combined.
- Stir in dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon—just until lightly combined.
- Add carrots, nuts, and coconut and mix until well combined. The batter will be thick.
- Scoop the better into the muffin cups—it should mound high in the cups, but it will not spread out or run over.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 25 minutes worked for me.
Quick, because I’m using pork tenderloins instead of a cut that benefits from long cooking, like a pork shoulder. In fact, after browning the tenderloin cubes, You only add them to the sauce at the last minute before serving.
One of my freezer packs of tomato sauce was marked “tomato-pepper” because one day I had a bunch of bell peppers harvested on the same day as some tomatoes. So, instead of roasting the tomatoes with carrots and onion and garlic, I roasted them with the peppers and it all went into the blender. I’ve been waiting for the right recipe to use them. You will have a chunkier sauce if you are using fresh chopped peppers in your sauce. I’m also going to add two chopped red poblanos which may add a little zing (who ever really knows about poblanos?), and I’m marinating the pork cubes in smoked paprika for a smoky pepper taste. Our ripened poblanos turned a dark purplish-red; maybe you can pick those out in the image of roasted peppers from one of my roasting days:
Can you pick out the red ones?
Quick Pork and Pepper Ragout
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in half inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 3-4 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and crumbled, fat reserved (I cook mine in the oven)
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- about 2 cups combination of peppers of your choice: I had about 4 bell peppers in my sauce (blended) and added 2 chopped roasted red poblanos
- 2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced, grated, or pressed
- 2- 3 cups tomato sauce or mixture of tomato paste and stock or fresh tomatoes
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions.
- Coat pork cubes in marinade and refrigerate for at least a half hour or longer. Mine sat for about 4 hours. I did not add the garlic to the marinade, because I didn’t want it to burn in the browning of the meat.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons reserved bacon fat and bring to sizzling. Add marinated pork and brown on all sides. You will probably need to cook the meat in 2-3 batches so the cubes don’t touch and create a gray, watery mess. Set browned pork aside.
- Add onion, carrots, peppers and garlic to hot pan. Stir until beginning to wilt, then add your tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
- Stir in pork cubes and heat for just a few minutes.
- Serve over pasta; top with crumbled bacon.
If my husband weren’t lactose intolerant, I would stir in 1/4 cup sour cream at the end. Instead, I’m serving it on the side.