Because of work stress, I haven’t been cooking much. I was overdue for some dinner hosting (my favorite cooking conditions) and a casual dinner with a friend turned into a small dinner party. Everything came off great. This meal also came together very well for me even though I’m swamped with work, which really speaks to the simplicity of the recipes.
Last night I prepped my corn bisque. I got the recipe from the CL website, and although the reviews were unanimously rave, a few folks claimed it to be too much work for a non-hosting occasion. Pish posh!! Soup, in general, is a combination of easy and time consuming. This is more of the former than the latter, honestly. Prepping a day of head of time is practical, but not much work if you enjoy being in the kitchen. Since the recipe is blended and then strained, you don’t need to worry too much about your chopping technique. With the simmering stage, I didn’t worry too much about how thawed my frozen corn was, either. Like I said, easy.
Melt 1T butter over med-high heat, and add 1 cup chopped onion until clear. While your onion is cooking, whisk together 3T cornstarch into 3 cups chicken broth (mine included some homemade stock, which I would normally caution against in a veggie soup, but a bisque can handle it). Right about now your onion should be cooked through (about 3 minutes), just quickly chop up a clove or two of garlic and add to onions for 30sec or so.
Add broth/cornstarch mixture, and 4 cups corn kernels (= 8 ears = 2 standard frozen bags). Don’t forget salt and pepper, and be generous with cayenne pepper. The creaminess of the dairy and sweetness of the corn are a great match for some kick! Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes:
Using a food processor (or blender), puree the soup in appropriate batches. Strain each batch through a sieve or mesh. A generous mopping of your mixture over the mesh will increase your soup yield, and it’s also fun and mushy. You can either discard your mush, or play around with it for some fried corn cakes! Once you have strained your soup, add a 1/2 cup each milk and half-and-half. Chill in fridge.
When ready to serve, bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes. The bisque is great with 2-3T crab meat and 1T avocado. I soaked canned crab in milk (to reduce tin flavor) during the room temp period, and didn’t bother draining since it was going into a creamy bisque. The original recipe calls for fresh chopped basil, which would be a great compliment, but is not missed too much if you don’t have it.
In total, this recipe made me about 6 appetizer servings of bisque, and it was totally worth it. Simmer, strain, fridge, serve. Pretty easy. The key is to get enough cayenne, but I am in the habit of never measuring spices anymore so you’ll have to go with your gut!
Now to the heavy stuff. Historically speaking, I’m not a big pork fan. I like cured pork meat, but that’s about the extent of it. But this summer I have been embracing the pulled pork sandwich like nobodies business. I also have a beautiful Crock Pot I have not used yet, despite deep longing to. So, it seemed obvious to make this recipe when it was handed down by a friend.
The really fun part about this was preparing the meat and Crock Pot before going to work. It reminded me of childhood meals, I felt like a multi-tasking professional mother. (Although, you could probably cook the pork for 4h on High, if you needed to sleep in before hosting a weekend bbq!)
This morning I took my 3lb pork shoulder (bone in preferred) and knife-cut 10-15 deep X’s in the tissue and shoved whole cloves of garlic into each cut in the meat. Rub all sides generously with a spice blend of whatever you want. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and even a few dashes of dry mustard and cumin. You can always spice at the end, if neccesary (although I doubt it will be!):
Brown the edges of your pork in a pan, starting with the fattiest side. This should take about 10 minutes, all told. This helps seal in flavors and texture, but the meat will fully cook in the slow cooker so no need to worry about perfection on this step. Toss your shoulder roast in the Crock and top with a whisked mixture of 1 cup root beer (or other dark soda) and 1 cup bbq sauce. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours or until you get home.
When you get home your house will smell really good. Simply drag your shoulder roast out, and start peeling the meat off with two forks. Discard the fat and bones. It’s really fun.
Combine your meat back with the sauce in a pot, and cook over low heat until the liquid thickens (you can also do this in your slow cooker), maybe 10-20 minutes…
Enjoy on a bun with coleslaw: