It's my best friend's birthday this weekend, and to celebrate, a group of 12 friends are headed to my parents' cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We'll enjoy lots of delicious foods and decadent desserts. To kick things off on Friday night, we'll make a huge pot of Italian chicken chili with pancetta crouton toppers. This hearty and filling dish is the perfect start to a cold Winter weekend. On Saturday morning we'll recharge with breakfast burritos stuffed with eggs, cheese, black beans, and chorizo. After a day of snowshoeing, we'll come home to comforting grilled fontina and mushroom sandwiches and roasted red pepper soup.
These recipes are great for the season, so get them now and read more.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds ground chicken
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 jarred roasted red peppers
4 to 5 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1/3 pound pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick and finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch squares
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- In a large, heavy pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onions, carrots and bay leaf and cook until browned, about 8 minutes more.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar, scraping up the pan drippings. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a food processor, puree the roasted peppers, then stir into the pot. Throw in the thyme sprigs, chili powder, paprika and allspice; season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the fat from the surface, if desired.
- Preheat the oven to 375°.
- In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small plate. Add the butter to the skillet and turn off the heat.
- Place the bread and garlic in a large bowl. Pour the butter mixture evenly over the bread. Sprinkle the pancetta, cheese, rosemary and lots of pepper over the bread and toss to coat. Place the cubes on a baking sheet and bake until golden, tossing every now and again, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Serve the chili in mugs and top with the pancetta croutons.
4 large tomatoes, about 2 1/2 pounds, seeded and roughly chopped
3/4 cup chopped white onions
5 teaspoons minced garlic
4 serrano peppers, stems and seeds removed, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound crumbled chorizo sausage
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 (12-inch) flour tortillas, lightly toasted and kept warm until ready to use
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 cups cooked black beans, divided
2 cups cooked yellow rice, divided
1 cup sour cream, divided
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, for serving
Make the salsa: Combine all the ingredients and stir well. Let salsa sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
- Set a 10-inch nonstick saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and once hot, place the sausage in the pan. Cook the sausage until most of the fat has rendered and the sausage is no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove the sausage (leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible), and set aside until ready to use.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the pepper. Saute the pepper until soft, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pepper from the pan and set aside until ready to use.
- Return the pan to the stove and add the butter. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, heavy cream, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk thoroughly to combine all of the ingredients. Once the butter stops foaming, add the egg mixture to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally using a rubber spatula. Scrape the bottom of the pan and fold the cooked egg over itself. Cook the eggs for about 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
- To assemble the burritos, place 1/8 of the egg on the bottom 1/3 of a warmed tortilla. Top with an 1/8 of the sausage, followed with 2 tablespoons of cheese, 1/4 cup of the black beans, and 1/4 cup of the yellow rice. Top with 2 tablespoons of the sour cream and roll the burrito from the bottom up and rest in an oven-proof casserole dish with the seam down. Place the casserole in the oven. Continue with the remaining tortillas and place them in the casserole as well, to keep warm.
- Serve the burritos with the salsa, and pickled jalapenos.
Makes 8 burritos.
3 tablespoons butter, 2 melted
1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried sage
8 slices from a large round loaf of country-style bread, or other bread
1/2 pound fontina, grated (about 2 cups)
- In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and dried sage, if using, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh sage, if using. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and wipe out the pan.
- Using a pastry brush, coat one side of 4 slices of the bread with half of the melted butter. Put them, buttered-side down, on a work surface. Top the bread with the cheese and then the mushrooms. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread; brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
- Heat the frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the sandwiches and cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.
2 1/2 pounds red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 cups (or more) canned vegetable broth
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sliced fresh basil
- Char peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag and let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and slice peppers.
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and thyme and sauté 3 minutes.
- Add 3 cups broth and all but 4 slices of roasted pepper. Simmer uncovered until peppers are very soft, about 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth. Return to same pot.
- Add half and half, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Rewarm soup, thinning with additional broth, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with reserved pepper strips and basil.