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pack a warm hat

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Recipe: pork chops with chanterelle wine and cream sauce

Ever since the calendar flipped to September, we’ve been getting out for longer hikes with the pups. It seems so late, yet in all honesty, I really do loathe hiking during the height of summer. It’s just too damn hot and buggy and busy. Sure we rise at puke-thirty in the morning and hit the trail long before the sun does, but by the time we’re heading back down the sun is a Giant Death Ray in the sky intent on broiling us for supper. By September, waking pre-dawn feels more reasonable on the body and the midday sun – while still toasty – is not nearly as oppressive when paired with cool mountain air. Most of all, I love that morning starts now require a warm jacket, gloves, and a warm hat as we pass through a blue-hued world delicately fringed in short-lived feathery white ice crystals.


above treeline in september, when one doesn’t spontaneously combust

meadows of gold and red are taking over the alpine as autumn arrives



We no longer run the fans at night to expel hot air from the house and draw cooler nighttime air in. It’s enough to open the windows and allow the chill to settle overnight. Before you know it, snuggy flannel sheets will replace our cotton sheets. The pups have already taken to cuddling on the bed each morning. Best of all, it’s huckleberry season. This year hasn’t been kind to the huckleberries, many of which are either green (due to a very late snowpack) and will likely get slammed by a hard frost before they even think of blushing pink then purple, or have already died on the stem and turned ghost white. Most of our secret patches have fizzled, but a couple managed to produce decent purple berries. Erin and I only took a few and left the rest for the grouse and bears and squirrels and everyone else who knows about the best berry in the land.

snuggy pups enjoying morning amnesty on the human bed

an early morning picking huckleberries with erin and banjo



I’ve only been foraging chanterelles for as many years as Neva is old – four years. Some years these beautiful, fragrant fungi flush early and some years they flush late. This season my chanterelle patches began with a promising effort and then the lack of rain caused them to shrivel and die. Whatever we managed to forage early on was all we had to show for the summer. It was better than last year’s haul (which was nonexistent), but not big enough for me to be throwing chanterelles in every dish I made.

pushing up through the forest duff

young ones are just as tasty as big ones



I set aside two-thirds of our chanterelles for sautéeing in butter and freezing them. The other third I reserved for new recipes including this simple chanterelle wine and cream sauce over seared pork chops. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It’s so good. SO GOOD. The pork chops can be pan-seared however you like. If cooked in the traditional way, I prefer Kenji’s method which involves bone-in, dry brined pork chops. But more recently I’ve been cooking my pork chops using Kenji’s sous vide method – also bone-in. Both are excellent. Sous vide produces a more consistent and juicy result. No matter how you cook your pork chops, I do recommend bone-in, 1-inch thick, and finished with pan-searing. Here I cooked a half recipe (the full recipe is listed at the end of the post) because it was just the two of us for dinner, and I did my pork chops sous vide with a pan-seared finish.

pork chops, pepper, cream, white wine, garlic, parsley, butter, salt, chanterelles

season with salt and pepper on both sides

vacuum seal (or seal in ziplocs, pushing as much air out as possible)

sous vide bath for 1 hour at 140°f



**Jump for more butter**

no complaints

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Recipe: morel-stuffed chicken fried steak

I have entered summer mode even though the atmosphere was several steps behind me for the last few weeks. School is out. People are on vacation. No one answers emails (apparently) and I’m letting the blog cool her heels with a reduced posting schedule of twice a month. I encourage you to get off the computer and mobile devices and engage with a carbon-based world.

Can you believe it kept snowing until last week? Snow in May happens all the time in the mountains, but a winter storm warning for the entire state in late May had all the skiers skiing and all the fair-weather folk losing their goddamned minds. That is springtime in the Rockies. We don’t fight the weather in the mountains, we live with it and enjoy it as much as we can. Some don’t have a choice like the moose who are looking for forage or the hummingbirds who arrived and can’t find flowers.


instead of hiking, we were still skiing

a young moose passing through and making the most of our wild currant bushes

aspens waiting to bud as soon as it warms up



These past few days have actually been springlike, just in time for true summer. The prolonged cold gave us a grace period to transition into summer living – installing a new screen door, tidying the garden in Crested Butte, swapping winter and summer tires, more spring cleaning (we should just agree to call it eternal cleaning, because that’s what it is). Windows are open and fresh mountain air circulates the house. Yuki and Neva receive scoldings from local hummingbirds for standing too close to their feeder. And despite being three weeks late, the flowers are coming and so are the mushrooms.

glacier lily

yuki and neva enjoy the last day of flannel sheets

i have been waiting for this (fun) guy to make an entrance



If there is one thing I eagerly await in spring, it is the arrival of our mountain morels. You must understand my anticipation is not solely stoked by the prospect of finding black morels. It is the whole experience of walking ground that hasn’t been uncovered since last October and witnessing the green blades and buds emerge, hearing birds converse through the leafless forest, smelling the earthy odor as mats of dead leaves drenched in snow melt warm under a high sun. Life. Death. And all of the rest. All at ground level and intimately so, because that’s what morels demand. Think like a morel.

I try to strike a balance between consuming the fresh morels now versus processing them and freezing for later. Jeremy’s favorite morel preparation is basically sautéed morels with steak. It’s easy, delicious, and involves a hunk of meat with good wine. I turned that concept on its ear and came up with something a little less easy, but just as delicious. How does morel-stuffed chicken fried steak sound? It’s like regular chicken fried steak but with a surprise! I break it down into three steps. First, we cook the morels.


morels, bourbon, shallots, butter, salt

chop the morels

minced shallots, diced morels

sauté the shallots in butter, then add the morels

pour the bourbon in when the morel liquid has simmered away



**Jump for more butter**

transitions

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Recipe: sweet and sour beef short ribs

A solitary patch of snow remains in our south-facing yard, determined to hold on for as long as it can. I’ve had to change to shorts in the afternoons when working inside the house thanks to the sunlight that floods our picture windows. And today, we swapped out a winter’s worth of air for fresh spring breezes that flowed mild and pleasant through open windows. Still, other parts of town and sections of nearby trails remain under thick layers of snows that have thawed, refrozen, and compacted into slick, hard, uneven surfaces. It’s not quite trail running season and it’s not the end of ski season by a long shot.


yuki and neva sit atop a good foot or two of snow



I spent a few hours last week sorting through fabrics and yarns, collecting materials for donation and realistically streamlining those items I plan to use for projects or gifts in the near future. I am okay with walking away from knitting since I don’t use any of what I knit (allergic to wool and do better with clothes that are not fragile), it’s slow, and I get repetitive motion injuries when I do knit. Lately, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the sewing machine and acquiring other skills.

tea towels are always handy in our house

from my book binding class this weekend



Strawberries are showing up again, and I don’t mean strawberries from the other hemisphere. As I passed a stack of fresh strawberries on display in the store, the image jogged my memory of making and canning jam. It’s almost that time of year. Ten years ago I didn’t know the first thing about canning and now I have to prioritize what I want to preserve in jars because there isn’t enough time in my summers to tackle all of the jams, pickles, syrups, tomatoes, salsas, and fruit butters. I have several excellent resources to thank for bringing canning in to my life, but Marisa of Food in Jars has certainly been my greatest guide through her blog, her cookbooks, and her friendship. Which is why I was delighted to receive a review copy of Marisa’s latest book, The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry.

recipes that use food in jars



The recipes range from savory dips to sweet bakes to beverages to main dishes. Seeing as another snow storm is en route to Colorado, I opted for a decadent beef short rib braise. It’s so simple to make and the oven does most of the work. What makes it a Food in Jars recipe is that it calls for 2 cups of jam – preferably of the drupe variety like cherry, plum, or nectarine. And don’t worry if you don’t have 2 cups of homemade jam in your cupboard, because I didn’t. I bought a jar from the store. Marisa also lists pomegranate vinegar in the ingredients, but if you can’t find that you can just as easily substitute red wine vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar is on the spendy side around here, although it does lend hints of sweet and fruit to the vinegar.

olive oil, leeks, carrots, cherry jam, pomegranate vinegar, garlic, onion, short ribs, thyme, salt, black pepper, water

chopped, sliced, minced



**Jump for more butter**