Meatballs + Polenta

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Sometimes, I think that my friends and customers think we’re over here at my house, eating gourmet meals every night, dishes miraculously washed, ingredients somehow magically arranged neatly in the fridge, . Reality: I never manage to get all the ingredients we’ll need for the week in one or even two shops, we’re always missing something we need, we don’t have a dishwasher, and we both get home around 8 and try to figure out what we’re going to eat.

While I hate that life is so busy and know in my heart that we all need more time in the kitchen to cook for ourselves and our families, the reality is that- at this moment in my life anyway- that time is nonexistent. We can barely get out the door to work over here. From what I hear, that’s how it is at a lot of people’s houses, especially those around which small children wreak havoc.

So anywho, that’s why we make meatballs (and other ready to cook things) over at Bavette. For nights when there is no hope for dinner, and you’re about to order pizza. Again. For maybe the second time in one week.

With these meatballs, you can make so. many. things. This version with polenta is a great place to start because it’s super hands off, and requires no knife skills or chopping if you use your fave store bought tomato sauce. The polenta does take a little time if you use the good stuff- and I think you should- but that time can be spent washing breakfast dishes, tidying up or, let’s be real, pouring a glass of wine and chilling out. The polenta I used is milled here in LA at Grist & Toll and it is just hands-down delish, if you can get it.

 

Meatballs + Polenta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups polenta (preferably Grist & Toll LA milled)
  • 8 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter, to taste
  • ½ cup parmesan, finely grated, + extra for garnishing
  • 1 package Bavette veal meatballs (or 1 lb homemade meatballs)
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce- I like Rao’s
  • 2 tablespoons (or so) basil, cut into thin strips, if you have it

Instructions:

  1. Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large heavy pot. Add the salt.
  2. Grab a whisk and slowly whisk the polenta into the water and then switch over to a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Turn the heat down. From this point on, you’ll need to stir the polenta regularly and, as it thickens, be a bit careful as it spatters and can be quite hot. Cook on low, stirring often, until thickened to a porridge like consistency. This usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
  3. While the polenta is cooking, put the meatballs and the sauce into a deep saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook, turning the meatballs gently every once in awhile, until the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Taste everything for seasoning and adjust as needed. Portion the polenta into bowls and top each bowl with a meatball (or two!) and a scoop of tomato sauce. Top with the basil, and more parm.

Red Posole

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If you live in LA, it’s likely you already know what posole is. If not, you can think of it as a soul food dish of Mexican cuisine, incorporating many of the classic elements of soul food: cheap ingredients, fatty or off cuts of meat, and surprisingly deep, rich flavors given the limited ingredients used. Posole is thought to have been made since the time of the Aztecs and, when I make it, I love thinking about the long history of people who stirred the bubbling pot of hominy and pork before me. I also love that it has adapted well to my modern, rushed life; I can make one pot of posole and freeze a bunch of it so that we have dinners for a long time. It holds extremely well.

This version of posole is dubbed ‘red’ because it incorporates a rich chile paste made from ancho and New Mexico chiles. When Bon Appetit published this recipe, they called it “party posole” because it’s the perfect no-fuss dish for entertaining. As for myself, I’m rather busy and don’t entertain as much as I like, so I prefer to make a big pot that feeds us over and over again.

A few notes on ingredients:

If you’re not familiar with hominy, it’s just corn that has been treated to a special process, just like the corn that is used to make tortillas and tamales. It is delicious. I used this one from Rancho Gordo because I find it superior in flavor and I love their growing and sourcing practices.

As for the pork, the recipe calls for country style ribs but, I have to be honest with you, I just used a bunch of pork trim I had lying around. Any pork shoulder cut will work- stew meat, coppa roast, picnic meat, pork butt, etc. Don’t be picky- it’s against the intention of the dish.

On the chiles: the Mexican market is the best place to buy good quality dried chiles. Sometimes Rancho Gordo has them in stock but, usually, they’re sold out. To get the seeds out, I usually cut the top off with a pair of scissors and shake the chiles over a bowl.

Red Posole

From Bon Appetit: see original recipe here

Ingredients:

Posole

  • 1 ½  lb dried large white hominy, soaked overnight
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
  • 3.5 lb bone-in country-style pork ribs
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Chile Purée and Assembly

  • 2½ oz dried New Mexico chiles
  • 2½ oz ancho chiles
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more
  • Avocado wedges, cilantro sprigs, thinly sliced cabbage, sliced jalapeños, sliced radishes, lime wedges, sour cream, tortilla chips, and hot sauce (for serving)

Instructions:

  1. Drain hominy and place in a large heavy pot; add onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, 2 Tbsp. salt, and 12 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, still covered, stirring occasionally, until hominy starts to soften (some skins will split), about 1 hour.
  2. Sprinkle pork all over with cumin and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt. Add to pot along with garlic. Partially cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed to keep ingredients covered, until hominy is tender and pork is fall-apart tender, about 2½ hours.
  3. While the posole is cooking, make the chile purée. Wearing gloves if you have them, remove stems from chiles and shake out and discard most of the seeds (for more heat, keep more seeds). Transfer to a large bowl and add onion and garlic; pour in boiling water to cover. Let sit until chiles are softened, about 30 minutes.
  4. Drain chile mixture, reserving soaking liquid, and transfer chiles, onion, and garlic to a blender. Add vinegar, brown sugar, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 cup soaking liquid and blend until smooth.
  5. When posole is done, remove pork, onions, and bay leaves from pot (keep posole simmering). Transfer pork to a plate; discard onions and bay leaves. Let pork cool slightly, then pick meat from bones, discarding any cartilage and larger pieces of fat. Shred meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot; discard bones.
  6. Stir chile purée into posole and let simmer 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Taste and season with more salt.
  7. Divide posole among bowls. Serve with avocado, cilantro, cabbage, jalapeños, radishes, lime wedges, sour cream, tortilla chips, and hot sauce alongside for topping.


 

Butterflied Chicken with Everything-Spice Smashed Potatoes & Chili-Flecked Yogurt

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Hey hey Troop!

This dinner is totally doable for a weeknight and has lots of things going for it:

  1. Everything spice. That stuff we normally have on everything bagels? It’s delicious and, turns out, works well on lots of other stuff. FYI, it's usually a combo of sesame and poppy seeds, dried onion, dried garlic, and salt. 

  2. Butterflied chicken. In case you’re confused about what I mean when I say butterflied chicken, it’s a whole chicken from which the backbone and part of the breastbone have been removed. The important thing to know is: the bird lies flat. This means it cooks in half the time and is easier to carve.

  3. Chili-flecked Greek yogurt. Tangy, a little spicy and healthy. Who says we can’t have it all?

I do have some hot tips for cooking this recipe.

When it comes to the chicken, make sure you dry off the skin really well. A dry surface means easier, better browning yielding a more crisp, delicious skin. Also, a big cast iron pan will likely give you the best browning, and transfers right into the oven.

As for the potatoes, make sure the water you cook them in is salty, and that you start with cold water. Technically speaking, “salty like the sea” means about 3% salt so that means, for every one liter of water, you would want about 30 grams of salt. That is roughly two tablespoons of salt for every liter of water. Or you can just dip your finger in and taste how salty the water is. Whatever you feel more comfortable doing. Don’t get baby potatoes that are too small. They should be golf ball sized or slightly bigger so that you can get the most crispy surface area after they’re smashed.

For the spices, I used the everything spice from Trader Joe’s. It’s super delicious. For the chili, you can really use anything- like Aleppo or Urfa- but I used the blend from Other Brother. I’m a big fan.

Lastly, don’t use skim yogurt. Please. That’s ridiculous.

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Roasted Butterflied Chicken with Everything Spice Smashed Potatoes & Chili Flecked Yogurt

Serves (up to) 4 people

  • 1 whole butterflied chicken, 2-3 lbs
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chili flecked yogurt, see recipe below
  • Everything-spice smashed potatoes, see recipe below

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Get the potato recipe going.
  3. Dry the chicken off and season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
  4. Heat a cast iron pan or heavy skillet that’s big enough to fit the chicken. Add the grapeseed oil and allow to heat until the oil shimmers and spread easily around the pan.
  5. Dry the chicken off again, if it needs it, and add the chicken, skin-side down, to the pan. Press down to get it to adhere. If possible, use another heavy pan to weigh down the chicken.
  6. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, rotating the pan every few minutes, until the skin side is well-browned and crisp. Turn over and move entire pan to the oven to finish cooking. Generally speaking, the chicken should take 20-25 minutes to get to an internal temp of 165.
  7. While the chicken is cooking, smash potatoes and get them into the oven. Then, make the chili flecked yogurt.
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  9. While chicken is resting, toss potatoes with everything spice. Dress arugula with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Drizzle the rest of the lemon juice over the resting chicken.
  10. Carve the chicken and serve with the arugula, yogurt sauce, and potatoes.

Everything-Spice Smashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs small potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp everything spice
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 (or, if you’re doing the chicken, it should already be at 425!) Put a rimmed baking tray in the oven to heat.
  2. Put the potatoes, whole, into a pot with cold water and make sure they’re covered by at least two inches. Season the water with salt.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender and the skin splits a little bit on the sides. They should not be falling apart.
  4. Drain the potatoes and pull the hot pan out of the oven. Toss the potatoes in the 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  5. Pour the potatoes onto the pan, being careful to remember that it’s still very hot! Use a potato smasher or the flat end of a measuring cup to carefully flatten each potato. Don’t worry if some of them break up into pieces- those become crispy and delicious.
  6. Put the pan back into the oven and roast until browned on the bottom side. Depending on your oven, you may need to flip the potatoes to brown them on the other side. (For me, I have to put the whole pan on the bottom of the oven to even get them to brown, and then I flip them and put them back on the bottom to brown on the other side.
  7. When potatoes are brown and edges are crispy, put them in a large bowl and pour the everything spice over. Toss the potatoes in the everything spice and serve ASAP.

Chili-Flecked Yogurt

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp ground chili, like Urfa or Aleppo
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

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Here's a  behind the scenes picture of me while making this dish, just for fun. That's my usual hair, btw.

And, if you don't want to miss a recipe, be sure to sign up to be a part of Troop Bavette here.

Don't forget to tag @bavettemeatandprovisions if you make this dish! I love to see your photos. 

Xx

Melissa