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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Roasted Acorn Squash Filled 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 Roasted Acorn Squash Filled 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)

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (2)

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One final step. They get a drizzle of olive oil over the top of each one and go back into the 400-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Just long enough to get the tops golden brown and caramelized.

I know it’s a few steps to pull this dish together. Really all the steps are easy. It’s just a matter of having all the prep done and roasting the acorn squash first. I’ll explain in more detail in the directions at the end.

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

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

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
1 sprig plus 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 diced Bosc pears
1 diced zucchini
6 cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2 ribs of diced celery
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of 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 grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
greens 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 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 and 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 Parmigiano-Reggiano 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 400-degree F. oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the tops become golden brown and caramelized.

Place leavy 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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Thanksgiving Dinner

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Mai Chai Pumpkin Tiramisu (41)

I know it can be overwhelming when you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your house. How about when the kids are all grown up, living in different towns or states. The plan is to all get together for Christmas, but this year, they’d host their Thanksgiving feasts in their own homes.

So we all decided, since we weren’t going to be able to be together this Thanksgiving, we’d Skype each other and sends pictures sharing our own Thanksgiving Dinners.

I took a few days off from work because I love cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. The day before I made my Mai Chai Pumpkin Tiramisu. You can get my recipe by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

 The challenge for me was to make a holiday meal that would work for the two of us. Before I start, I want to say, this meal would be a perfect way to reassemble your leftovers if you have any.

I’m serving my entire Thanksgiving Dinner out of the same roasting pan I used to cook my turkey. It worked perfectly! The idea was to have all of my holiday favorites layered in a roasting pan. Once my Thanksgiving Dinner was complete my refrigerator wasn’t packed with all kinds of containers. The leftovers were easily preportioned and ready to go for the following day for lunch or night for dinner. Let me start at the beginning.

The Game Plan:

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (3)

2 Rimmed Baking Sheet Pans

Oven Baked Croutons (1)

Homemade Croutons

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A Great Tip: When you come home from the grocery store, always prep whatever veggies you can so they’re ready to go when you need them. That’s what I have done here with my leeks you see in the pictures below. I’ve trimmed them and rinsed them really well to get rid of any sand that may have been trapped between the leaves. Next, I wrapped them in a damp paper towel and placed them into a resealable plastic bag then stored them in the refrigerator.

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Unsalted Chicken Stock

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Spice Mixture

Pecans

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Earlier I mentioned that it was just going to be the two of us on Thanksgiving. I wanted the table to be elegant and simple. A white table runner, white plates, silver flatware, and just wine and water glasses for each of us. The centerpiece a cornucopia of the season’s harvest to give the table some height with 3 mini pumpkins for some contrast. Finally, a few candles to give the table a touch of light.

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Mai Chai Pumpkin Tiramisu (41)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Equipment:
2 rimmed baking sheet pan, 3-quart Dutch oven (heavy-bottom pot), 12-inch sauté pan, 3-quart saucepot, roasting pan with a rack, 8-quart plastic container with a lid, 2 large mixing bowls, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 1 small mixing bowl, vegetable peeler, Chef’s knife, whisk, pint container with a lid, hand-held electric mixer, a meat mallet, large slotted spoon, extra-large bowl or container

The Day Before, 8:00 am…

Ingredients For The Brine:
3-pound boneless turkey breast
2 quarts of water, room temperature
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
The peel of 2 oranges
The peel of 1 lemon
2 cups of organic apple juice, cold
2 bay leaves, (fresh if possible)
1 tablespoon of tri-color peppercorns

Directions For The Brine:
Using an 8-quart plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, pour in the room temperature water, add the Kosher salt and dark brown sugar whisk until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Next, add the cold apple juice, both the lemon and orange peels, bay leaves, and the tri-color peppercorns mix to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before adding the turkey. Submerge the turkey into the brine, place the lid on, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Ingredients For Cranberry Sauce:
1 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries (Ocean Spray)
1/4 cup of water
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of dark brown sugar

Directions For The Cranberry Sauce:
In a small heavy bottom pot, add fresh cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, a cinnamon stick, and dark brown sugar, stir to combine. Over medium heat bring the cranberries up to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. The cranberries will start to pop and the liquid will thicken. Take the pot off the heat let rest for 15 minutes or until room temperature. Transfer to a pint container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

Ingredients For Croutons:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta bread)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups of sweet cornbread stuffing breadcrumbs (Pepperidge Farm)

Directions For Homemade Croutons:
Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
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 and set aside.

8:00 am Thanksgiving Day…
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients For Roasted Vegetables:
1 medium-size butternut squash, peeled, 1 1/2-inch dice (approx. 6 cups)
3 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled, 1 1/2-inch dice (approx. 6 cups)
4 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided

1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Pecan Topping:
1 cup of pecans, rough chopped
1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start with the first large mixing bowl add the diced butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper, and 1/4 olive oil. Toss to coat all the butternut squash really well. Divide and spread evenly the diced squash onto 2 rimmed baking sheet pans in 1 layer.

In the second large mixing bowl add the diced sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Toss to coat all the diced sweet potatoes really well. Divide and spread evenly the diced sweet potatoes onto 2 rimmed baking sheet pans in 1 layer.

Cook for 40 minutes, until fork-tender, turning the butternut squash and sweet potatoes halfway through the roasting process to caramelize on both sides.

Once the roasted butternut squash and roasted sweet potatoes come out of the oven, transfer them into two separate large mixing bowls. In the bowl containing the roasted sweet potatoes, add the room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, heavy cream, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Using a hand-held electric mixer, on low speed, mix until smooth. Set aside.

Directions For The Sweet Potato Mash Topping:
Place the pecans into a sealed baggie. Using a meat mallet crush up the pecans then transfer them to a small mixing bowk. Add brown sugar, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, mix to combine. Set the bowl aside.

Ingredients For Sautéed Leeks And Artichokes:
2 leeks, cleaned, cut into half-moons and thinly sliced
1 9-ounce package of thawed frozen artichoke hearts (Birds Eye brand)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions For The Sautéed Leeks And Artichokes:
While the sweet potatoes and butternut squash are roasting prepare the leeks and artichokes. In a large sauté pan over medium heat add olive oil and sliced leeks. Add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stirring occasionally until leeks begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add thawed artichokes stir to combine and cook for another 10 minutes until they get some nice color and caramelize. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Ingredients For Italian Sausage And Mushroom Mixture:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried sage
1/4 cup of unsalted chicken stock

Directions For Italian Sausage And Mushroom Mixture:
Using the same large sauté pan, the leeks were cooked in, over medium-high heat add the Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon break the sausage up, stirring frequently, brown the sausage for 15 minutes or until no longer pink and cooked through.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked sausage from the pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Allow most of the grease to drain off then transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl.

Remove most of the grease from the sauté pan leaving about 1 tablespoon to remain. The pan still over medium-high heat add unsalted butter, while stirring, allow the butter to melt. Next, add the diced onion. Once the onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes add Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. To the pan add the diced celery and sliced cremini mushrooms, continue stirring. Add dried thyme and dried sage. Stirring continuously, cook until the celery starts to soften and the mushrooms release their liquid and brown nicely, around 5 to 7 minutes.

At this point add the chicken stock to *deglaze. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. After the chicken stock has evaporated, turn the heat off and transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl containing the cooked sausage, stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Ingredients For Flavored Butter:
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions For Flavored Butter:
In a small mixing bowl add softened butter, orange zest, lemon zest, chopped rosemary, chopped sage, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.

The turkey has been in the brine for 24 hours. Remove the turkey and discard everything in the container. Rinse it out really well, and fill it up with fresh water. Place the turkey into the water for 2 to 3 minutes to remove any remaining salt. Remove the wrapping from the turkey, dry completely. The turkey should be tied up with kitchen twine to hold the breast in place. Place the dried turkey on a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Note: The turkey for this recipe will come out of the oven when the internal temperature will be 155 and 160-degrees F.

Rub the flavored butter all under the skin of the turkey and all over the top. Place the turkey onto the rack of a roasting pan. Place in the center rack of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155 and 160-degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and dice the turkey into 1 1/2-inch size cubes. Transfer to a medium-size mixing bowl.

Ingredients For Broth:
1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons of dried sage
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions For The Broth:
In a small saucepot over medium heat add chicken stock, unsalted butter, dried sage, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir until the butter has melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover to keep the broth warm.

At this point all the components to this dish are ready and it’s time to assemble everything into the roasting pan.

In a large plastic container (a container large enough to hold all the ingredients) add the sausage and mushroom mixture, croutons, cornbread stuffing breadcrumbs, and roasted butternut squash, gently stir to combine.

Next, add the flavorful broth one ladle at a time, giving the dressing enough time to absorb the liquid. Repeat until all the liquid has been added. Set aside.

Ingredients For The Turkey Gravy:
Turkey pan drippings
1/2 a stick of butter, unsalted
3 whole sage leaves, fresh
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 quart of chicken stock, unsalted
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Directions For The Turkey Gravy:
Place the roasting pan on a burner set to medium-high heat. Add butter, sage leaves, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, allowing the butter to melt. Using a whisk, slowly add in the all-purpose flour to form a *roux. 

Once the raw flour has cooked out and has made a paste-like mixture, in the pan,. slowly add the chicken stock continuously whisking while scraping the bits off the bottom of the roasting pan. The sauce will begin to thicken to a gravy-like consistency. Remove the roasting pan from the heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Times may vary slightly to reach a gravy-like consistency. Pour the gravy over the diced cooked turkey, stir to combine. Set aside.

Adust the oven temperature to 375-degrees F.

At this point all the components for this dish are ready and it’s time to assemble everything into the roasting pan.

The first layer into the pan is the sautéed leeks and artichokes. Next, evenly add the diced turkey and gravy over the vegetable mixture. Over the top of the diced turkey and gravy, spread the roasted sweet potato mash then evenly sprinkle the crushed pecan topping over all the potatoes. Finally, top with the roasted butternut squash, mushroom. and sausage dressing.

Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes until the inside is hot and the top is golden brown.

What I have here is a complete a Thanksgiving Dinner layered into one pan.

*Deglaze: Add liquid (wine, stock, or water) to a hot frying pan or baking dish. Scrape and stir the browned bits from the pan over medium-high heat to melt all cooking residues into the liquid.

*Roux:  A mixture of equal parts fat (especially butter) and flour to make sauces.

Mai Chai Pumpkin Tarimisu

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Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions

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It was touch and go for a while there, but, I was finally able to retrieve my last set of pictures for this recipe. It’s funny, you get so used to your computer, like a comfortable shoe. This one has been with me a long time so I have to make this post the last one that I will ever type on”old Betsy” before I put her to pasture.

Anyway enough will all that let me tell you about my Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions #sweetandsmokeyribs.

First, I’m going to show you how to turn your oven into a make-shift smoker.

Second, you need to know, that when you buy ribs, there is some preparation that you need to do before you can begin to spice up your ribs.

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Applewood Chips

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours to overnight
Cook Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, foil, 2 large mixing bowls, 3-quart saucepot

Ingredients:
2 racks of St, Louis Ribs, each rack 1 1/2 to 2-pounds
2 large sweet onions, thick slices
1 bag of Applewood chips, 3 cups for this recipe
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground Chipotle powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 28-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s
2 to 3 dashes of liquid smoke
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apricot jam

Directions:
First, turn the rack over and on the underside remove the silver skin. You need to remove this because it will help you spices penetrate through the meat, and this piece of silver skin is not appetizing at all.

Take your fingers at one corner of the back side and start to separate it from the ribs, kind of like your starting a piece of tape on a new role you want to get started. Once you grab a hold of it, it should peel right off for you, as you can see in the picture above.

Next, trim off a couple of the end rib pieces. This rectangle style that St. Louis ribs are known to have will ensure for even cooking. Now, if you like those end pieces, you can, by all means, leave them on. It’s also a good idea to trim off some of that extra meat that’s on the back side, as seen in the above picture. I like the ribs to be neatly trimmed of any excess fat as possible. The picture on the left side showing the rack of ribs (without the spice rub) is an example of how I like my ribs to look.

To make my oven into a makeshift smoker. Add 3 cups of apple wood chips to a large bowl. Add enough water to cover the wood chips and let sit for at least 1 hour.

While that’s happening you want to get the spice rub ready for the dry rub. In a bowl, add garlic powder, ground Chipotle powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, ground mustard, Kosher salt. cayenne pepper, Ancho chili powder, dried oregano (optional), dark brown sugar, sweet paprika, and fresh ground black pepper.

I know that’s a lot of spices but remember it’s for 2 racks of ribs. Whisk all the spices together then rub them all over both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs on the pans and refrigerate for 2 hours, overnight is even better.

Note: All of this can be done in advance if you know you going to be making this recipe.

On each of the baking sheets lay another piece of foil twice the length of the baking sheet. Spread out 1 of the sliced onions on each of the pans. The onions will act as a bed to set the ribs on so the heat can transfer easily around them.

In the pictures following, you can see to fold the extra foil over the ribs and fold up all the sides around the rack to trap in the heat. This will allow the ribs to steam for 1 1/2 hours at 275-degrees F. Low and slow.

Next, uncover the ribs, place the wood chips in an oven safe vessel, and place the wood chips below the oven rack holding the ribs. Turn the temperature down to 230-degrees F. and let them smoke for another 3 hours.

I like my ribs to be tender but not to the point where they will fall apart when you cut them. This means they are overcooked. If after the 2 1/2 hours you see the ends of the rib bones are exposed on one end, they are done. If not, continue smoking. Watch for the internal temperature to reach 180-degrees. Take a knife sticking the point of the knife between the bones and if the knife comes out really easily they’re done. There are just so many variables when cooking ribs, it just takes some practice. Getting to know your oven is important. The goal is to get the internal temperature of the meat to 180-185 degrees because the barbecue sauce stage is next.

You can see in this picture above shows the rib bones are exposed, and the ribs are still intact. Remove the foil pouches. Transfer the cooked onions to the bottom of the sheet pan and again place the ribs on top.

I’m not making barbecue sauce from scratch but I am adding a few ingredients to the bottled sauce I’ll be using.

In a large bowl, add a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. To the sauce, add real maple syrup, liquid smoke for some smokey flavor, and apricot jam. In a saucepot on low heat, simmer the sauce, occasionally stirring, to allow the flavors to combine, around 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven. Brush this delicious sauce all over the ribs on both sides. Remove the wood chips, they’ve done their job. Set the oven on broil and put both racks back in but I leave the oven door cracked. The reason for this is so that the sugar in the sauce will burn really quickly so it’s important to keep an eye on them, it doesn’t take long maybe 10 minutes. Take the ribs out of the oven because they’re ready.

These Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions are ready. Serve with some of that awesome barbecue sauce in case you want some extra to dip your ribs in. Talk about finger-lickin’ good!

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