Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Main Dish

Beef Brisket
This is a version of a recipe my dad has used for years to serve the church folks. It is absolutely delicious. These portions are a bit small. I would double them for extra yummieness and use the juices after cooking to make some gravy. I've literally seen folks drool (in a good way) after eating this brisket.

4-6 lbs. beef brisket
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 can beef broth
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T.. liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix together all of the liquid ingredients together then add to whatever you want to marinate your meat in. We’ve done it in the big cooker pans (you know which one I mean). Marinade meat overnight in refrigerator. Place meat and marinade in oven-proof pan. Cover tightly and bake at 300 degrees for 4-5 hours. The meat should fall apart.

P.S. I have a distinct childhood memory concerning this brisket recipe. My parents had assembled pans and pans of brisket and marinated it at home and were in the process of carting it to the church in my mom's car to bake it. Somebody hit a bump and one of the pans went spilling all over the upholstered seats. That car smelled like liquid smoke and vinegar for years afterwards.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This might sound fancy, but this version is fairly simple to make. You can make a sauce out of mushroom soup, sour cream and a little lemon juice, but I think it's fine just like it is.

8 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (estimate for 2 pieces of chicken per person...we all like chikin')
8 slices of Swiss cheese (just don't use that cheap imitation white cheese)
8 slices of ham
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of seasoned flour (just add salt & pepper or some all-purpose seasoning salt or a little bit of parsley)
1 cup of breadcrumbs

Put the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a ziplock bag. Pound with a meat mallet until fairly thin. This should help you relieve some stress.
Season the open fillets with salt and black pepper. Place a cheese and ham slice on each fillet. fold the fillet in half to enclose the filling. You can also roll them and “fasten” them with toothpicks. Just be sure to warn folks or make the toothpicks obvious. You don't want anyone to become impaled by a wayward toothpick.
Coat each of the fillets in the flour. Dip them in the egg and then roll in the dry crumbs, turning to get an even coat.
Bake them in a lightly greased oven dish at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Everone will think you are a gourmet cook!

Mama Leone's Lasanga

No. My mama (or her's either) is not Leone. But she has had Leone's Italian Cookbook since I can remember. I don't think there is a drop of Italian blood flowing through our veins, but I still absolutely love lasagna, ravioli, polenta. I love the rich meaty sauces and garlic...I love garlic. This is our standard "serve to impress" lasagna recipe. It is modified a little...Mama L really did it up. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time. This isn't a throw it together kind of recipe. You could even make it ahead of time and refrigerate just before the "baking" step.

Tomato Sauce

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork (though I've been known to use Italian sausage)

10 fresh parsley springs, leaves only (though just a few shakes of dried parsley will do)

2 large garlic cloves, mashed

1/4 cup olive oil

14 cup of butter (you can do without it if you need to)

3/4 pound onions, peeled and diced

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds peeled, chopped tomatoes

1 small green pepper

3 T. tomato paste

Saute meat, olive oil, butter (yeah right!), & onions in skillet. Add parsley and garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes. Ad tomatoes and green pepper and cook for 10 minutes. If you are going to use the meatballs this is where you do it. If you do use them cook for 1 1/2 hours on simmer. If not just cook sauce for another 30 minutes or so. When cooked add the toato paste.

Now Mama L's recipe calls for meatballs. You can make these if you want too. I usually don't.

Meat Balls

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1/2 small garlic clove

Fresh parsley

1/2 cup bread crums

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Lg. egg

1/2 cup of small raisins (optional, in my opinion)

1 t. salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix well and form into small balls. You should get about 32.

Now Mama L also gives a recipe for making your own lasagna noodles. If you are considering that just quitely turn off your computer and consider taking your guests to the Golden Corral. You don't have to be so fancy (though I will admit I have gone so far as to make my own noddles from time to time...but then again I have issues). Use premade lasagna noodles and cook them according to the directions on the box.

Sauce for Top of Lasanga

Oh yes. Mama has a top, too.

2 T. of butter, melted

2 T. of heavy cream

3/4 cup of your previously made Tomato Sauce

2 T. of flour

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a sauce pain. Heat. Stir slowly nd add flour.

Assembling the Lasagna

Do it in this order

Tomato Sauce

Cooked Lasanga noodles

Ricotta Cheese (you will need 2 lbs. total)

Grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups total)

Do this for about three layers. End with a layer of lasanga noodles and cover with sauce. Cover pan with foil and bake in an 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for about 20 minutes longer. Mama L says that this will serve 8. Yummy!

This is my “Mama Leone’s Lasanga Recipe is just too much for me” Lasagna


1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. ground meat

1 26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

1 28 oz. can tomato puree

2 tsp. Italian seasoning (basil)

1 tsp. oregano

1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese

1/4 c. milk 2 eggs parsley

1 1 lb. package lasagna noodles

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook sausage and then add garlic and a little olive oil in a large skillet. Drain.. Add spaghetti sauce, tomato puree, Italian seasoning, and oregano. Simmer to allow flavors to blend, give or take ten minutes.Combine ricotta cheese, eggs, milk in small bowl. Add chopped parsley to taste. Lay lasagna noodles in 9 x 13 pan. Cover with very hot water and allow to stand at least five minutes. I would then take them out and lay on a damp towel while you assemble the lasagna.In a 9 x 13 spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom. Arrange one layer of the noodles on the sauce. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Scatter a layer of sausage over the cheese. Follow with a layer of sauce. Repeat to the top of the baking dish, ending with noodles topped with sauce. Scatter mozzarella over the top. To serve, cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees about one hour. Remove foil for the last ten minutes of cooking time.

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