Green Goddess Risotto

My now-nonexistent, tiny, indoor city garden – if you can call it that – was still a place for me to walk across the room to grab fresh herbs. I realized I have taken this for granted enormously.

I still have a way to stockpile fresh herbs, though. And it saves a few, literally, bucks in the process. But mostly, it allows me to sigh in relief when I realize – oh wait, I do have fresh dill.

Here’s all it is – grab a pack of ice cube trays, sprinkle desired fresh herbs into the cubes, and cover with olive oil, putting the tray in the freezer until you need it. It’s made a big difference in knocking down my shopping list, especially those times when my shopping list should essentially be one of everything in the store.

This recipe is a perfect example – fresh herb heavy dish? You’re covered!

When I have a new idea for a dish, I have to ask myself, is making this more complicated – adding more ingredients, introducing extra steps to recipes – really going to make it taste better?

Yes, there are times I want parmesan risotto. Perfect as it is, and it scratches that itch.

But I have those moments when I veer off the road, screech a u-ey and speed the other way. I call some of my recipes “Frankenstein” recipes because they mesh two dishes together. Pizza Carbonara. Surf & Turf Fried Rice. I think you get it. Follow this tag here to see what I’m talking about.

But risotto lends itself to being conjoined with another dish – not because it’s bland, but because it’s the perfect vehicle for other flavor profiles. It’s already starchy and fattening. Check. So bringing herbs, strong spices and other non-traditional ingredients into the mix doesn’t wipe out the risotto-ness of the dish.

The flavor is so spot on, that it tastes uncannily similar if you make or eat green goddess dressing regularly. The yummiest kicker though, is that one or two filets of anchovies you add. It sets the risotto off, and I can’t get enough of anchovies.

One fun fact to leave you with – the American-originated version of green goddess dressing, which hails from San Francisco, had chives, chervil and tarragon as its herb base, not basil. If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought green goddess dressing was basil-based. I use scallions here because I wanted a stronger onion-y bite, but a combination of those three herbs would be the most historically accurate.

This is another risotto for the books in my kitchen, and hopefully in yours too. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 1 / 2 cup arborio rice
  • 3 / 4 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup parm reg, shredded
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 / 4 cup olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the parm reg, parsley, scallions, anchovies, lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a food processor. While whirring, slowly add in 1 / 4 cup of olive oil. Continue to puree until it reaches a pesto consistency. If more oil is needed to thin out the sauce, add more a bit at a time. Set aside.
  2. Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until simmering. It should stay simmering for the duration of the cooking.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the rice, stirring for 2 minutes or so until the rice toasts a bit.
  4. Add a ladle of stock and stir. Keeping the heat on medium-low, gently stir the rice intermittently, and when the rice appears to get a bit dry, add more stock. After about 20 minutes, test the doneness of the rice. The rice should be al-dente, and the consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
  5. At this final stage, add the green goddess mixture to the risotto and stir until heated through. Taste the risotto for seasonings, and adjust if necessary.
  6. Plate the risotto while hot, sprinkling with additional herbs you have on hands for garnish, and a sprinkling of parm reg, if desired.

Pork Chops with Horseradish Cream Sauce

There’s a restaurant called The Pig, self-dubbed the Nose to Tail restaurant, here in D.C. – and all their menu items feature – you guessed it – pork products.

Garden salad? House-made bacon bits.

Burger? That’s going to be ground pork. Yum. Pork chop? That’s wrapped in bacon for some double pig action.

Order a Bloody Mary? You’re getting a strip of bacon in that.

These are just examples, and the only one I can attest to being true is the bacon Bloody Mary, but you get the point.

I don’t buy or cook pork chops regularly. I actually totally forgot about pork chops.

But during a routine trip to the butcher counter to leer at the meats, my eyes settled on a very thick, bone-in slab of pork. It was love at first sight at the butcher counter.

I love strong, woody herbs and garlic with pork, but I wanted some to add an unexpected, punchy element. Enter horseradish.

Pork chops want to be crunchy and seared so juices lock in, just like steak – so achieving that is priority number one.

The sauce starts with the juices from the pan the chop is broiled in, so you’re losing zero percent of that flavor that seeps out from the meat while roasting.

From start to finish, you’re really only turning on the oven and smashing a couple garlic cloves to pull this dish together. And you’re getting a restaurant presentation with little to no effort. That’s a loveable, go-to recipe in my book.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 thick, bone in pork chops
  • Approximately 20 stems thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Pat dry the pork chops. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, large enough to hold both pork chops. Add the garlic cloves and the stems of thyme.
  4. When the oil is very hot, almost smoking, put the pork chops in the skillet so they are settled amongst the herbs and garlic cloves. Allow to sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip the pork chops, sear for 2 minutes, and place the skillet in the oven.
  5. Bake the pork chops for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness, until the pork chops are cooked through. The meat thermometer should reach *160.
  6. Remove the pork chops and thyme stems from the pan, leaving the garlic. Add the cream, butter, horseradish a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper to the pan. Scrape up the brown bits from the pan while the sauce reduces for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, and serve hot.

Grilled Lemon & Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

The story behind this recipe can be found in Hankerings’ latest post, Country Grilling in Lexington, Virginia. I hope you enjoy!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4.

  • 1 lb. short pasta, of your choosing
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • 1 / 2 red onion, skins removed
  • 1 / 2 head garlic, skins removed, minced
  • 1 / 4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz. chevre, crumbled
  • 1 / 3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-low heat (approximately 250 to 300*).
  2. Place the lemons, fruit side down, red onion, and red bell peppers on the grill. Grill for 20 minutes or so, turning the peppers and onions every 3 to 4 minutes, checking to make sure the vegetables are charred in some places, but not fully burnt, before you remove them from the grill. Grill the lemons fruit side down until they are charred, but not fully burnt.
  3. Place the red peppers in a plastic bag to steam while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
  5. To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk the Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, pepper, capers, and the lemon juice from the grilled lemons, adding olive oil slowly to create an emulsion. Set aside.
  6. After 15 minutes or so, remove the red peppers from the plastic bag. Cut the tops off the peppers, and carefully slice into the peppers so they are butterflied open. Remove the seeds with the back of a knife. Slice the peppers into large, bite-sized cubes. Do the same with the red onion.
  7. In a large bowl, add the drained pasta, chevre, red onion, red peppers, crumbled goat cheese, herbs and vinaigrette. Stir until the ingredients are incorporated, and the goat cheese begins to melt. Top with extra chopped herbs, if desired. Serve room temperature.

Bacon Grease Chip Dip

In a past life I regularly indulged in a bacon blue cheese dip I discovered at a New-Orleans themed bakery called Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia. I learned this neighborhood eatery had earned its chops in the national culinary scene led at the helm by an amazing and inspired executive chef, David Guas.

But back to the dip. It was borderline illegal.

I haven’t been back there in years, and looking at their menu online it looks like they are no longer serving it. Even more reason for me to try to recreate something similar.

One feature that made this bacon dip stand out from the rest had a lot to do with the unabashedly high level of sodium in it – you couldn’t eat too much of it at once. But I love that salt overload. It was right up my alley.

The base of the dip had to have been sour cream – probably some cream cheese too. And it was served ice cold, with kettle cooked Zapp’s Voodoo Potato Chips.

Mixed with hearty, thickly sliced scallions stalks, the chunkiness of the blue cheese complemented the overwhelming bacon flavor. I mean, it was overpowering.

This dip is going to make you question the extent of your love for bacon. I think this is a frontier we should all allow ourselves to explore.

Although I can’t go back for this beloved dip, I need to get my butt over there for their Muff-A-Lotta sandwich, which won a spot in Food & Wine’s nationwide search for the “20 Best Sandwiches,” and their pimento cheese dip, because I have a strong suspicion they do that r-e-a-l right.

There’s so many bacon dips out there, but this one shot to the top of my list and is likely there to stay  – what’s your favorite go-to or passed down recipe for bacon dip?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves approximately 4 as an appetizer. This is heavy stuff!

  • 10 slices center cut bacon, small diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 2 / 3 cup crème fraiche
  • 4 stalks scallions, sliced thickly, dark green stems excluded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Hankerings’ Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips are a great accompaniment to this dip.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Cook the bacon on medium heat until the fat is rendered, browning the bacon until it is crispy. Remove 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and some of the bacon for garnish.
  2. In the same skillet, add the garlic, sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan throughout this entire process.
  3. Add the cream cheese, crème fraiche, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir until uniform throughout. The bacon fat will need to be stirred in slowly. It will appear separated from the cream cheese, but eventually it will incorporate into the mixture. Remove from the heat, place dip into a separate bowl, and allow to chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Once chilled through, stir in the chopped scallions. Briefly heat the bacon fat, if hardened, in the microwave until it is pourable, and pour over the dip. Garnish with bacon as well, if desired.
  5. Serve cold with kettle-cooked potato chips.

Truffled Oyster Mushroom Sauté

Sautéed mushrooms are one of the fastest-to-prepare, most elegant side dishes out there. Throwing some truffle butter into the mix doesn’t hurt either.

But the best part – just add some autumnal herbs – sage, thyme – and your house will smell heavenly for hours. No air freshener required.

Luckily, most grocery stores and farmer’s markets carry a variety of mushrooms to experiment with. And they’re affordable too, unless you’re cooking with morels. I vaguely recall spending $23 on a 4 ounce package.

You can always go for white button mushrooms, if you’re in the presence of some picky eaters. But my most recent mushroom purchase led me to oyster mushrooms. I love the stacked appearance of the caps, and the folds are defined. Sautéed, they taste meaty. I like to the keep the stems on for added bite and substance, almost cooking them to an al dente consistency.

Whole Foods carried the traditional brown oyster mushrooms as well as some beautiful pink ones. It made for a gorgeous presentation in this recipe.

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Serious Eats has an in-depth look at the most common varieties of culinary mushrooms – any type is good for sautéeing, but a mixture adds a lot of texture. And I had completely forgotten about Enokitate mushrooms – one of the most gorgeous fungi I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

So while sautéed mushrooms may never top a side of French fries, they come pretty damn close. And they’re healthy-ish, if that’s something you care about.

I guess you could French fry mushrooms though – that sounds pretty good too. 😉

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as an appetizer.

  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped in thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons truffle butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Heat the olive oil and truffle butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes until the garlic begins to soften.
  2. Add the thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms are browned but not caramelized.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Serve immediately.