Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

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I have to believe that one of the most beloved dishes ever made is Pot Roast. I’ve never come across anyone who didn’t adore this one-pot meal until now. That’s right until now! Steve doesn’t like stews of any kind. I thought… how can I turn him around? This is one challenge I’m up for!

This is my Slow Cooker Pot Roast.

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Crock Pot

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 12-inch cast-iron skillet,  7-quart Crockpot, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
1 (3-pound) chuck roast, room temperature
2 tablespoons of Canola oil
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper

2 onions, quartered
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 quarts plus 1/2 a cup of beef stock, unsalted (reserve 1/2 cup for *slurry)
1 pound of organic colored carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 medium-size Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 pints of whole Cremini mushrooms, cleaned
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch

Directions:
I needed to start with a pan that could take this 3-pound piece of chuck roast over the top. Yes, an affordable yet so forgiving piece of chuck roast. I compare this piece of meat to the Boston pork butt of the beef family. Lots of marbling and fat running through it. Cooking low and slow, this fat will melt and add so much flavor to the finished chuck roast.

Sart by allowing the meat to sit out on the counter until it reaches room temperature, about 30 minutes. Next, season the chuck roast, on both sides, with 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons of Canola oil onto a sheet of paper towel. Wipe the bottom of the skillet down using the oiled paper towel.

Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Just as it starts to smoke, lay the meat right into the skillet No matter what, don’t fuss with it. The meat will let you know when it’s ready to flip. How can you tell? Take your tongs, and try to lift up the roast. If it gives you no resistance, then it’s ready to flip, 3 to 5 minutes. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes on the other side. Once both sides are beautifully caramelized, transfer the roast to a plate. Set aside.

Note: While the meat is searing, quarter the onions and roughly chop the garlic.

To the Crockpot add the quartered onions, sliced garlic, and tomato paste. Next, place the roast nestling it right on top with two sprigs of fresh rosemary. Add enough beef stock to the Crockpot where it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the roast. Place the lid on, and set the timer for 4 hours on high.

Note: The liquid may vary depending on the size of the slow cooker. You want the liquid to come up 3/4 of the way up the sides of the roast.

Three and a half hours in, remove the roast, transfer it to a cutting board. Add the carrots, cremini mushroom, potatoes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

What I like to do at this point is… the meat is starting to become somewhat tender. It’s easy enough at this point to remove any connective fatty pieces. Trim those all off and cut the meat into large chunks. Place the meat back in over the veggies and continue cooking for another 2 hours.

During this part of the cooking process, the veggies will release their water and the meat will submerge back into the juices.

After six hours the slow the Crockpot is at a slow boil and it’s time to make the *slurry.  In a small bowl add 1/2 cup of beef broth with cornstarch, whisk until paste-like and combined.

Add the *slurry to the Crockpot, give a gentle stir to combine. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Set the Crockpot on warm until your ready to serve.

To serve, I like to add the potatoes and vegetables to the bottom of the bowl. Place the meat on top and ladle that delicious sauce over everything. This dish does not require a knife. The meat is so tender that it will break apart using only a fork. After Steve took his first bite, he said, “This is the best Pot Roast I’ve ever had!”

*Slurry: A thin paste of water and starch (flour, cornstarch or arrowroot), which is added to hot preparations (such as soups, stews, and sauces) as a thickener. After the slurry has been added, the mixture is typically stirred and cooked for a few minutes in order to thicken and lose any raw taste.

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Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears

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My favorite part of any stuffing is the crunchy and caramelized topping that occurs in the last minutes of cooking. How the croutons become golden brown, the pears release their sugars and glisten from that slight char along with the crunchy exterior of the sweet Italian sausage. Yet inside, the stuffing is soft and flavorful. What I’m describing is my Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears.

Let me start by showing you how roasting winter squashes brings out their flavor. Then I’m going to go a step further and fill them with savory sausage and sweet pears.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (3)

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) non-stick sauté pan, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, chef’s knife, small mixing bowl, whisk, pastry brush

Ingredients:
4 acorn squash, seeded and tops and bottoms cut
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 stick of butter, unsalted, melted
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

Ingredients:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
1 sprig plus 1 tablespoon of fresh sage leaves, julienned
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 diced Bosc pears
1 diced zucchini
6 cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chili powder
3 heaping cups of homemade croutons, (Ciabatta bread), 1 /1/2 inch bread cubes
1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
Bib (Boston lettuce) lettuce and fresh sage for garnish

Directions For The Homemade Croutons:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by cutting the tops off the 4 squash. Next, clean the seeds out of the inside. Then cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one so they will sit upright on the baking sheets. Place 2 on each sheet tray. On the inside of each acorn squash add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until fork-tender. In a small mixing bowl with melted butter add chili powder and brown sugar, whisk to combine. Brush the inside of each squash with the flavored butter mixture and return to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the squash for the last few minutes of cooking. You don’t want them to burn. Remove the squash from the oven, Set aside.

In a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat (no oil needed) add the skinless sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, start breaking up the sausage. Cook the sausage for 15 minutes until brown, crumbly, and there is no pink. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel allowing the fat to drain, set aside.

Tip: Take a paper towel and wipe out the sauté pan. No reason to dirty another pan.

Using the same sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter, olive oil, and chopped sage leaves. Once the sage becomes fragrant add the diced cremini mushrooms, zucchini, celery, onions, Bosc pears, minced garlic, chili powder, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Once the veggies start to soften, then add in the diced pears. Stir and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cooked sausage back to the pan, stir to combine. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Tip: It’s important that all the veggies are relatively cut the same size ensuring they’ll cook at the same time.

At this point, add the sausage and vegetable mixture to the bowl with the croutons. Add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, gently toss to combine.

Fill each of the squash with the filling. Any extra filling place into an oven-safe baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top of each one and place back into the oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the tops become golden brown and caramelized.

First, place the leafy greens on the plate. Arrange the Roasted Acorn Squash Filled With Italian Sausage And Pears on top, garnish with a sprig of fresh sage. Serve hot.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Calzone Or Empanada?

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This recipe has the best of both worlds in my opinion. I love Calzone but, they can have too much dough. In this recipe, I’ve combined the filling of a Calzone and pie dough for the crust like an Empanada.

My Homemade Pie Crust recipe link is available at the bottom of the post. What I like to do is, when I make pie dough I always make more than what I’m going to need for that day, and freeze it. This really helps when I’m wanting to make a recipe like this one. I just take the dough out of the freezer the night before and transfer to the refrigerator until I’m ready to roll it out.

There are some really great ready-made pie crusts available in the grocery store. If you don’t have the time to make your own pie dough, pick up two boxes. This recipe calls for 4 pie crusts The other great thing about this #calzone or #empanada, the recipe is everything can be made in advance, just bake them off when you’re ready.

I’m going to be using butter and olive oil for this dish. A lot of times, in Italian cooking, they’ll utilize both, especially as you get further into northern regions of Italy. We all know butter is FLAVOR!🧈

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Another great way to bring a depth of flavor to this dish is to start out with around 1/4 cup of diced Pancetta. Add the Pancetta to a cold cast-iron skillet. Cook over medium-high heat and render all the fat out. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Pancetta transferring those salty crispy bits of goodness onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Use the Pancetta grease to cook the shallots and mushrooms. An important tip to remember here is, if you are going to replace the butter and olive oil with Pancetta in this dish, you may want to decrease the amount of Kosher salt you use, if any at all. Pancetta adds a salty flavor naturally.

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Homemade Pie Crust (3)

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Calzones Or Empanadas

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time for filling 30 minutes
Baking time for filled pastries: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) cast-iron skillet, 2 large mixing bowls, medium-size bowl, rubber spatula, large metal spatula, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper

Note: Make pie dough the day before.

Ingredients:
1 pound of sweet or hot Italian sausage (5 sausage links casing removed)
1 tablespoon of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 pints of cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped thyme leaves (substitute 1 tablespoon of dried)
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
5 mini sweet bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chicken stock, unsalted
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
4 (10-inch diameter 1/4-inch thick) pie dough circles
*egg wash, 4 large eggs plus 4 tablespoons water beaten together
marinara sauce for dipping, homemade or store-bought

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.

To start, add both the butter and olive oil to a preheated cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots cook for about 2 to 3 minutes stirring frequently. To the skillet add the cremini mushrooms. Continue cooking allowing the mushrooms to release their water. Occasionally stirring, once the mushrooms have released all their water they will start browning, around 5 to 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme leaves, stir through.

Next, add the sliced mini sweet bell peppers along with Fresno chili. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with the mushrooms and shallots. Moving forward, add the sweet Italian sausage, dried oregano, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Turn the temperature up to medium-high, break the sausage up using the back of a wooden spoon allowing the sausage to brown evenly. Stir occasionally until there is no pink and the sausage is cooked through about 12 to 15 minutes.

Once the sausage is nice and brown, you want to *deglaze the pan by adding unsalted chicken broth to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all of those good bits of flavor off the bottom of the pan.  Allow the stock to reduce and get absorbed by all the other ingredients, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the fresh spinach, stir through, the spinach will wilt down very quickly. Once that happens, remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, leaving any or all excess grease behind.

Allow the filling to cool before adding in the cheese.

In another large mixing bowl, add the shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and Ricotta cheese, mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, combine the cheese mixture together with the sausage mixture, stir until combined.

In a medium-size bowl add the eggs and water, beat to combine.

Next, the pie dough. If you have your own pie dough, you want to roll all four of them out into about 10 inches in diameter, 1/8 inch thick.

Divide the filling into four equal parts. Using a spoon lay the filling on the bottom third of the circle of pie dough almost all the way across. Brush the egg wash all around the perimeter of the circle. Fold the dough over the filling meeting up with the other side of the dough.  Press the filling gently down so it spreads out evenly inside of the pie dough. Using a fork, crimp the edges to ensure no filling will escape. Take a paring knife and trim any excess dough from around the edges that. All that does is to make the crimped edges even and rounded. This gives a professional look to the pies. Brush more of the egg wash all over the top and sides of the pie dough.

Using a paring knife, vent the pies by making 4 small slits, at the top of each one.  Use a large spatula to transfer the filled Calzone/Empanada from the board onto a rimmed baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place all 4 of the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to rest before baking off. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

Allow the Calzone Or Empanada to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

*egg wash is a mixture of beaten eggs and milk or water brushed over pastry or dough before baking in order to give an attractive color and shine to the surface.

*deglaze is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

Homemade Pie Crust

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