It has been a year of pork. When we look back on 52 weeks of the Good Eating section, the succulent, flavorful meat pops up again and again.
Year-end, a time for looking back before moving on, always carries with it the difficult task of choosing our favorite recipes of the year. You'll see here that three of the standouts featured pork, but in different guises: a little bacon flavoring a squash risotto, a shoulder braised in whiskey and ham cooked with beer and onions then sliced and piled onto an unctuous sandwich.
But it wasn't all about the pig. No. Our favorites ranged from a twist on turkey burgers to a Portuguese hot sauce featuring piri piri peppers to a pizza set off by the crunch and richness of walnuts. And dessert, of course. We taste-tested several recipes from a slew of new baking books to find the best and share it with you. Yes, another difficult chore.
So here it is, along with the other seven favorites. If you missed them when they first hit print, clip them now (or download them, if you like, at chicagotribune.com/food) and enjoy them throughout 2010.
Finally, we're interested in hearing about your favorite recipes from the pages of Good Eating in 2009. Send us an e-mail with the recipe name at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll share them in a coming issue.
Pistachio-encrusted turkey burgers
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutesMakes: 4 servings
These burgers start in the skillet but finish in the oven to cook them through without burning the nuts. The recipe is from a January Fast Food column by Joe Gray.
1 pound ground turkey, formed into 4 patties
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the burgers with salt and pepper to taste on both sides. Place the pistachios on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Coat the patties with the pistachios on all sides, pressing in gently.
Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties in the skillet; cook until nuts are slightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Flip, cook the other side. Transfer skillet with patties to oven; bake until cooked through and interior of burgers are 165 degrees when measured with an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 431 calories, 66% of calories from fat, 32 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 82 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 29 g protein, 507 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
Smoky butternut and bacon risotto with ginger
Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 40 minutesMakes: 6 servings
For faster preparation, substitute peeled squash sold in bags or plastic containers at some supermarkets and specialty markets such as Trader Joe's. Shredded, cooked duck or chicken turns this hearty dish into company fare.
3 thick slices applewood smoked bacon, cut crosswise into matchstick- size strips
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
5 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups arborio rice
2 cups shredded roasted duck or chicken, optional
1/2 cup finely grated aged cheese, such as manchego, smoked aged gouda, Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley or a combination
Place bacon in a Dutch oven; cook until the fat is rendered and the strips are crisp, 7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Add the onion and squash to the bacon fat; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger; cook 1 minute.
Meanwhile, heat the broth, wine, salt and pepper in a saucepan to a simmer. Stir rice into squash mixture; cook, stirring, over medium heat to coat the grains of rice with the fat, 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups of the broth mixture; cook over medium-high heat until the broth comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to keep the broth at a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth. Simmer gently, stirring until it is absorbed, 5 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice is just tender but not hard in the interior, 12-15 minutes.
Stir in the shredded duck or chicken, cheese and chives. Serve in wide bowls; sprinkle each serving with the bacon and more cheese, if desired.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 387 calories, 22% of calories from fat, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 62 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 1,213 mg sodium, 4 g fiber
Prep: 40 minutesCook: 3 hours, 35 minutesMakes: 6 servings
This recipe comes from chef Dirk Flanigan of The Gage restaurant in Chicago and appeared in a St. Patrick's Day story by Bill Daley. Have your butcher bone and tie the pork shoulder for braising. Flanigan serves this with the traditional Irish potato and cabbage dish colcannon on the side.
1 pork shoulder, 3-4 pounds, boned, tied
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 each, chopped: yellow onion, carrot
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/4 cups whiskey
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat; brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove meat to plate. Add onion and carrot to the Dutch oven. Cook until vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, garlic, bay leaf and dry mustard; cook 1 minute. Add whiskey; cook, stirring up browned bits, until liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, brown sugar, nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Add meat; cover. Roast until the meat is tender, about 3 hours.
Remove pork from oven; cool 10 minutes. Transfer meat to cutting board. Strain liquid into a fat separator (or skim off fat); return liquid to pan. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by three-quarters, about 15-20 minutes; set aside. Cut pork shoulder into thick slices; place slices on a heap of colcannon with reduced juices around the plate.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 898 calories, 55% of calories from fat, 54 g fat, 24 g saturated fat, 228 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 62 g protein, 2,161 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
Cherry tomato-walnut pizza
Prep: 15 minutesCook: 10 minutesMakes: 4 servings
Renee Enna created this quick pizza for a Fast Food column in September.
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 (12-inch) unseasoned prebaked pizza crust
2 cups (about half of a 5-ounce bag) baby spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 package (8 ounces) low-fat shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
Heat the oven to 400 degrees or according to crust directions. Brush the oil on the pizza crust.
Scatter the spinach on the crust, then distribute the halved tomatoes over. Sprinkle the nuts over the pizza. Season with the dried herb mix, salt and pepper to taste. Top with cheese. Bake according to crust directions, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 5 minutes before slicing.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 667 calories, 51% of calories from fat, 39 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 51 g carbohydrates, 34 g protein, 997 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
Chicken cacciatore with red and yellow peppers
Prep: 45 minutesCook: 1 hour, 25 minutesMakes: 6 servings
Columnist JeanMarie Brownson cooked up this savory family favorite for an October Dinner at Home feature.
1 whole chicken, 3 pounds, cut up
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 large each, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces: red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Season chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt; refrigerate up to 12 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat the chicken pieces very dry and remove excess salt. Heat the oil in a deep 12-inch (or larger) skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, skin side down, in a single, uncrowded layer. Brown the chicken on all sides, adjusting heat if necessary, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large platter.
Add the mushrooms to the pan; cook until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to the platter. Add onion and peppers to the skillet; cook onion until golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add wine; heat to a boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook until wine reduces to almost nothing, 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, bay leaves, rosemary and half of the parsley. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, nestling them into sauce.
Partly cover the pan; bake until the chicken juices run clear, 40 minutes. (If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and vegetables to a platter; cook the sauce over medium-high heat until desired thickness.) Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 411 calories, 55% of calories from fat, 25 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 89 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 658 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
Prep: 15 minutesCook: 32 minutesMakes: About 1 1/2 cups
This spicy, wonderful sauce is from David Leite, publisher of leitesculinaria.com and the author of "The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast." He wrote about piri-piri peppers in an August story. We include his recipe for shrimp piri piri. The sauce can be used on chicken too.
3/4 ounce dried hot chilies, such as cayenne, pequin or bird's eye, stemmed
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 piece (2 inches long) ginger root, peeled, coarsely chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon each: honey, sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon each: coarse salt, white pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional
Pulse the chilies in a small food processor until finely flaked. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add garlic, ginger, onion, oil, lemon zest and juice, honey, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Puree in a food processor until smooth. Taste; if it lacks the punch you want, add the red pepper and more salt. Pour the sauce into a glass jar, seal tightly; refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 1 week before using. The sauce will last 1 month in the refrigerator.
Note: To make shrimp piri piri: Pour 1/2 cup of piri-piri sauce into a large food storage bag. Add 2 1/2 pounds shelled, deveined extra-large shrimp; seal. Turn to coat shrimp. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium heat. Remove shrimp from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread the shrimp and lemon wedges on metal skewers; season with salt. Grill the shrimp, turning several times, until just opaque, 5 to 6 minutes. Just before serving, brush the shrimp with fresh piri-piri sauce. Serve more on the side for dipping.
Nutrition information: Per tablespoon of sauce: 89 calories, 89% of calories from fat, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 41 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 40 minutesStand: 2 hoursMakes: 16 brownies
This was the winning recipe in editor Renee Enna's April taste-off of recipes we tested from recent baking books. It's adapted from "Betty Crocker Baking Basics."
2/3 cup butter or margarine
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate has melted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals on 50 percent power, stirring between, until chocolate has melted.)
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture on low speed until combined; beat in the flour. Stir in the walnuts. Pour batter into a lightly greased 9-inch square pan (or spray bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray). Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan, being careful not to overbake, about 40 minutes. Place pan on cooling rack; let stand until completely cooled, about 2 hours.
Nutrition information: Per brownie: 282 calories, 53% of calories from fat, 18 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 17 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Ham and Gruyere 'Super' sandwiches with melted onions
Prep: 30 minutesCook: 40 minutesMakes: 12 servings
This sandwich is from a JeanMarie Brownson article on Super Bowl party ideas. The ham, onions, sauce and assembly of the sandwiches can be done in advance.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chili sauce
1 to 2 dashes hot red pepper sauce, optional
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 loaves (1 pound each) round or oval unsliced bread, such as Italian, Vienna or sourdough bread
1/2 pound thinly sliced Grueyere or Jarlsberg cheese
1 cup melted onions from ham, see recipe
2 pounds thinly sliced beer-braised ham, see recipe
Mix the mayonnaise, chili sauce, hot sauce and cilantro in a small bowl; set aside (refrigerate if making ahead). Up to several hours before serving, cut the tops off the bread loaves about one-third of the way down the bread. Use your fingers to hollow out the bottoms of the bread and to remove a little of the inside top bread. (Save the soft bread for crumbs.)
Generously smear the mayonnaise sauce on the inside bottoms and tops of the breads. Arrange a layer of the cheese slices on the bottoms. Top each with half of the onions and a thick layer of ham slices. Top with another layer of the remaining cheese. Place the tops of the bread in place. Wrap each loaf in heavy-duty foil. (Refrigerate up to 2 hours.)
Shortly before serving, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the wrapped bread loaves on a baking sheet. Bake until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted, about 40 minutes (slightly longer if the loaf has been refrigerated). Cool slightly in the foil. Cut into large wedges with a serrated knife.
For beer-braised ham with melted onions: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Halve 3 large sweet onions; cut into wedges. Mix with 1 bottle beer, 3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Spread onions in an even layer. Place 1 small fully cooked smoked ham (8-9 pounds), cut side down, over the onions. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil; bake until heated through, about 2 hours. Remove to a cutting board; cover with foil. Put the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, to reduce juices and glaze the onions, about 25 minutes; cool.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 461 calories, 35% of calories from fat, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 41 mg cholesterol, 48 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, 1,330 mg sodium, 2.3 g fiber