two fabulous and easy meals

I have subscriptions to a few cooking mags, including Cook’s Illustrated, Food & Wine and Gourmet. I’m pretty much giddy when one of them arrives in the mail. I love to rip through the pages for new and interesting recipes to test. This month I found two great ones in the pages of Gourmet and Food & Wine.

#1 New Coq au Vin
With the exception of my mom’s super thin chicken cutlets (seriously, these things are like potato chips), I don’t like chicken. There’s just something about the look and taste I never really cared for. But for whatever reason, perhaps pregnancy related, I had a craving for chicken the other night and this recipe for the popular French dish looked ultra tempting. And the best part – it was super easy and quick, compared to traditional coq au vin.

Here’s the recipe, which I did serve with olive oil mashed potatoes.

#2 Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo
I pretty much knew all week that I was going to be a couch potato on Saturday. And since neither of us were going anywhere, and given the fact that football was on all day plus it was raining, pretty much solidified our plans to stay put for the bulk of the day. These were the perfect ingredients for this type of dish – a baked pasta with braised pork shoulder.

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I honestly couldn’t stop talking about how good this dish came out – it really exceeded my expectations. It’s time consuming yes, but fairly easy and really, really good. In fact, this would make a great dish for fall entertaining.

I will tell you this – be prepared for a lot of leftovers. We’re just two people and just finished the rest of this last night. Thankfully we both liked it otherwise I would have had a lot to toss.

This dish also gave me the opportunity to try out my Vita-Mix for something other than soup or smoothies. When it came time to shred the pork, it literally took 3 seconds and it did the job beautifully. In the interest of full disclosure, Vita-Mix is one of my clients – but regardless, this truly is one hell of a piece of equipment. I know there is so much more this machine is capable of and I’m excited to continue playing with it.

Here’s the recipe. We used this fantastic zinfandel (of course the name is escaping me) and I actually forgot to add the oregano – which given how it came out, I might just omit it moving forward.

And after reading Michael Ruhlman’s post, in defense of water, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I did use canned stock. In his post, he’s pretty clear on his views:

“I cannot say this strongly or loudly enough: DO NOT use canned stock/broth. Use WATER instead. I repeat. You DO NOT NEED to buy that crappy can of Swanson’s low sodium chicken broth! It will HURT your food. Use water instead. When that recipe says 1 cup of fresh chicken stock (or good quality canned broth), please know that your food, 90 percent of the time, will taste better if you use tap water instead of that ‘good quality’ canned broth. Water is a miracle.”

I get that water works well for soups, but I wonder if it would be okay in a dish like this? Or if next time, I should make a visit to the Souper Market and pick up some stock?


  1. ikate
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    OMG you have a Vita-Mix? I lust after one! When I worked at a Universtiy several years ago, one of my students did a marketing internship there and upon learning about the Vita-Mix from him my longing began!

    I’m going to have to try the New Coq au Vin …I’ve made the real deal before and what a production!

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 1, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    OMG, i thought i was the only one who detested every time a recipe called for chicken stock… i love using water for soups and most dishes that call for stock… i have a soup book and most vegetable soups actually call for chicken stock.. yuk?