Thursday, January 26, 2012

Venison Ragout

Both ragu (Italian) and ragout (French) are meat stews with a name derived from the root ragouter which means "to stimulate the appetite." The Italian version is usually made with white wine and is served over pasta. The French version uses red wine and is typically served with potatoes.

My version of Ragoo use vension roast for the meat. I served it over mashed potatoes. I also make my own Creole seasoning for reduction of salt and better flavor.

Venison Ragout

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds venison roast (or 2 lbs lean beef) cut into 2-inch cubes

½ cup flour
1 T Creole Seasoning
 (recipe below)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium-size onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cups beef broth or stock

1 cups dry red wine

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juices

1 bay leaves

1 T dried parsley flakes

Sprinkle the flour with the seasoning and stir to combine. Dredge the meat. Reserve the flour. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat evenly on all sides. Remove meat from pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the reserved flour and cook 5 minutes to start the roux. Gradually stir in the broth and red wine, and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Return the meat to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Add the parsley and serve over mashed or roasted potatoes.

Creole Seasoning Recipe

1/3 Cup Kosher Salt

1/3 Cup Paprika

1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic

4 Tbsp Onion Powder

1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 Tbsp White Pepper

2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper

2 Tbsp Dried Thyme

2 Tbsp Dried Basil

1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight jar or plastic container.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Company Burger

I'm continuing my food adventures down Freret Street. This time was a stop at The Company Burger. It is a pretty spartan place, with minimalist decor and concrete floors but they grind their meat and make their own pickles, so I was ready to be impressed.

I ordered the single cheeseburger that comes with bread and butter pickles and red onions. The bun was warm and toasty and the burger was very flavorful, although the slice of American cheese was almost too small. I tried my friend's turkey burger and it was astonishingly good.

We split onion rings (thin sliced and perfectly salted), French fries (crisp outside, soft interior) and sweet potato fries (yummy). I found out their bottle Cokes come from Mexico (where they still use real sugar) and ordered two. Very refreshing!

The ordering line is smooth but the wait at lunch for a table can be long and cut-throat. We finished our meal and had to endure the stink eye from several hunger diners as we wrapped up our conversation. Worth returning to but maybe I'll go next time outside of the lunch rush.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Drago's for Lunch

I met up with some friends at Drago's Seafood Restaurant in Metairie. I personally prefer that location over the one at the New Orleans' Hilton but I was also meeting up with people who were driving in from Lafayette, LA and, after lunch, catching a flight to Atlanta.

We started with a dozen charbroiled oysters that tasted a lot like more, so we followed them up with another half dozen.

I settled on the fried shrimp plate for my main course. While the side salad that came with it was mainly iceberg lettuce, the plate came with over a dozen lightly battered and delicious fried shrimp and a whole lot of French fries. I quite enjoyed my meal. My companions enjoyed their lump crab meat salads. They did say that the cup of gumbo they shared lost a bit in comparison to the version they had after their swamp tour in Cajun country.

All in all a fine dining experience, with the waiter checking in regularly and making sure drinks were quickly refilled.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Circles and Squares

This is a big football weekend here in New Orleans. The beloved Saints play the Detroit Lions on Saturday for the NFL playoff game and then the BCS Championship game between Alabama's Crimson Tide and Tigers of Louisiana State University is played on Monday. The city is filled with rapid football fans. It is also the beginning of Carnival Season (kicks off on Twelfth Night - January 6-- and runs until Mardi Gras - February 21).

In preparation, I made a big batch of my version of Chex Mix which I call Circles and Squares. I'm not a fan of the peanuts and pretzels, so mine is all Crispex and Cheerios.

Here is the recipe:

Circles and Squares

1 box Crispex cereal (15 oz) about 12 cups
1 box Cheerios cereal (8.9 oz) about 6 cups
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

Stir cereal in a large roasting pan to mix. Combine rest of the ingredients together and pour over the cereal, stirring well to coat evenly. Bake 1 hour in a 250 degree oven, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.