Well fed with a bad red

dscn3528To unintentionally complete my two-part series on what to do with an undrinkable bottle of wine, a friend recently (well, actually, not so recently) brought over a 2006 bottle of Bear’s Lair Merlot, which after one sip we promptly declared too bad even for our cheap tastes (I let her say it first). Since then I’ve been waiting for the right recipe and the right supermarket sale to magically appear at the same time. I waited quite a while. But finally, this week I found $2.49 a pound chuck steak and an old school Venetian recipe from my recent go-to man, Mark Bittman.

The recipe is extremely simple: it calls for boiling your wine with a few spices and sugar, marinating your steaks for a few hours, and either grilling (my personal choice), broiling, or frying dscn3532them up. Bittman’s recipe does ask for ribeye and a nice Amarone, but he points out that the recipe was traditionally used by peasants, on horse meat. So I figured what I had on hand would do the job. Even with my inferior ingredients, the steak was succulent and tender, sweet with very clear flavors of clove and cinnamon.

Check out the recipe here, and never let your wine shop miscues go to waste.

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A shoulder to feast on

With the long weekend before Martin Luther King Day, I decided to have a dinner party. Unfortunately all my roommates were out of town, which meant I’d be cooking, and paying for, all the food myself. I headed for the circular and leafed through until I found just the right thing: pork shoulder for 79 cents a pound.

pernilA good spice rub transforms the plain-sounding pork shoulder into pernil, a tender Puerto Rican roast that cooks for a whole afternoon. When it’s done the rich and spicy skin crackles, the smoky meat falls off the bone, and the fat and juices mix with the excess spices to make a sinfully delicious gravy. And your house will smell like heaven all day while it cooks.

I fed five people that night, and so far I’ve had another three meals of leftovers with more to come. At 79 cents a pound, I was able to buy ingredients for Brazilian collard greens and cornbread and still come in under $10. Even when shoulder isn’t on sale, it’s a great deal at $1 to $1.50 per pound.

Pernil recipes abound, but the simple technique I used comes from Mark Bittman at the New York Times (it’s worth watching the video, too).

Pancakes for dinner?

farinata_01After reading about the great deals on chickpea flour at Sahadi’s, Pennywatcher Jamie recommended I try a recipe with the same flour, but from the other side of the Mediterranean: Farinata Genovese.

A farinata’s like a giant Italian pancake, cooked in a cast-iron skillet. It uses remarkably few ingredients: just chickpea flour, water, olive oil, onion, and rosemary, but cooks up to a delicious consistency: crispy on the outside with a creamy interior.

The short ingredient list means it’s both simple to cook and cheap. The whole thing, which serves four as a meal or many more as an appetizer, costs less than a dollar to make and requires just a few easy steps. Find Jamie‘s favorite recipe, from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, after the break.

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Skip the bread line

bread-riotsThe price of bread has been a major cause of riot and revolution throughout history. The three or four bucks we shell out today for a loaf hasn’t stirred us to looting, but it may start a revolution in our kitchens.

All you need to make bread that blows the supermarket bakery away is a few pennies’ worth of simple ingredients–flower, yeast, salt, and water–a dutch oven pot, and patience. This recipe, dscn3183from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery via Mark Bittman of the New York Times, doesn’t require kneading, so no skill or experience is necessary. Just remember to mix the ingredients a day in advance, and nature will take care of the rest.

Find the recipe after the break, and save your rioting for the things that really matter, like sporting events and Rage Against the Machine concerts.

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