Turkey Ragu Bolognese

April 4th, 2016

Turkey Ragu 3

I am sharing another crock pot recipe with all of you.  When I have many chores to accomplish, the crock pot is my friend.  We are also trying to lighten things up a bit.  By using ground turkey and lots of vegetables this Italian sauce is light and goes well with a spinach linguine that is also lower in calories than regular pasta.Turkey Ragu BagPasta Valente is made in Charlottesville, Virginia by a Mother and Daughter team.  It is handcrafted, vegan and flavorful.  Plus it cooks in minutes. I found it at my local supermarket.
Turkey Ragu 1VThe Turkey Ragu Bolognese comes from one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks, The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone.  Another recipe that I shared with everyone last year was her Spicy Tuscan Sausage Ragu.  I make it often.

We traveled to Washington DC last week to attend the funeral and burial of General Earl E. Anderson in Arlington National Cemetery.  He was a part of our extended family.  His list of accomplishments in life is beyond belief, but his demeanor was always humble and kind.

General Anderson

It was a full marine battalion procession to the grave site with a 21 gun salute and a fly over.  The tribute to this amazing man was truly awe inspiring.

Turkey Ragu 2close

We are back at the cottage this week, cleaning, sweeping and freshening both the interior and the exterior of the house.  This Turkey Ragu Bolognese is the perfect slow cooker dinner to have on hand while spring cleaning.


Makes 10 Cups

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium celery ribs, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 28-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until tender and golden, about 20 minutes.  Stir in ground turkey and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, wine, and broth and bring to a simmer.

Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker and add the tomatoes, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until thick.  Stir in the cream and cook for 15 more minutes.

Note:  I saved the liquid from the can of tomatoes and added it to the crock pot also.

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Mississippi Roast

March 27th, 2016

Mississippe Roast 1

This is a recipe with a long history.  About 15 years ago Robin Chapman from Ripley, Mississippi made this roast in her crock pot. It required a stick of butter, dried ranch dressing mix, dried “au jus” mix and a few pepperoncini.  As most good recipes do, it was passed around, eventually landing in a church cookbook.  But when it hit the Pinterest boards it went viral.  I can appreciate that fact because my Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken did the same thing with thousands of pins.

But what brought the Mississippi Roast to my attention, was an article in The New York Times.  This recipe had hit the big times. I was kind of wondering why The New York Times would be publishing a recipe with such weird and artificial ingredients.  But it turned out that the back story of the recipe was the real reason for sharing it.  You can read it here.  And true to their beliefs in more sophisticated ingredients, Sam Sifton modified the recipe cutting down on the butter, increasing the number of pepperoncini, and making a homemade ranch dressing to slather over the top of the roast.

Mississippi Roast 3

The New York Times version of the Mississippi Roast is the one that I prepared on the day before we left our Florida house for our return to North Carolina.  It was a beautiful Spring day and it seemed fitting that we should eat outside.  The shredded beef can be served with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles, but I decided to make sandwiches with it.

Mississippi Roast 2

This a very good roast indeed.

Easter Table

Happy Easter Everyone!  I saw this table arrangement on Pinterest.  Thought you might like it.


  • 1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast, 3 to 4 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 to 12 pepperoncini
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Place roast on a cutting board and rub the salt and pepper all over it. Sprinkle the flour all over the seasoned meat and massage it into the flesh.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan set over high heat until it is shimmering and about to smoke. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes a side, to create a crust. Remove roast from pan and place it in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the butter and the pepperoncini to the meat. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and set the machine to low.
  3. As the roast heats, make a ranch dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Add the buttermilk if using, then whisk again. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and add the dressing. Replace the top and allow to continue cooking, undisturbed, for 6 to 8 hours, or until you can shred the meat easily using 2 forks. Mix the meat with the gravy surrounding it. Garnish with parsley, and serve with egg noodles or roast potatoes, or pile on sandwich rolls, however you like.

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Chicken Simply Roasted in a Skillet

March 5th, 2016

Simply Roasted Chicken 1

There are many reasons to love the cookbook Heritage by Sean Brock.  But one of the best reasons is this version of roast chicken.  I have roasted many chickens in my lifetime, but this is arguably the one I love the most.  It cooks very quickly.  It is broken down into 2 halves with the back bone removed, seared over high heat then finished in a hot oven.  The pan sauce with garlic and lemon that goes with it just gilds the lily.

Simply Roasted Chicken 3V

The house smelled of garlic, lemon and crisping chicken skin.  Although there were lots of splatters and heavy pots to contend with, it was well worth the mess.  I have learned over the years that the more you mess up your stove and work space, the better the results on the table.  It might be easier to open cans of already prepared sauces or broths, but the effort to make a dish from scratch is the way we were meant to eat.

Spring Blooms

The flowers of Spring are also reminders of the way things are supposed to be.  Renewal through Spring buds.  We are looking forward to returning to the season in the mountains of North Carolina.  We have a few more weeks in Florida; friends will be visiting next week and then we have to get the house ready for showings.  We are hoping that it will sell this Spring.

Simply Roasted Chicken 2

We really enjoyed this chicken.  Hope that you will give it a try.  Spring is in the air and we are thankful for the change in season.



Garlic Confit:
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil (or 1/4 cup if you brown the chicken in one pan)

Pan Sauce:
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves cut into very thin strips
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the Garlic Confit:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut two 12-inch squares of aluminum foil and lay one pice on top of the other.  Place the garlic cloves on the foil.  Sprinkle with the sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pour the olive oil over the garlic cloves.  Shape the foil into a pouch by bringing the edges of the foil together over the garlic and sealing them.  Flatten the bottom of the pouch so it will stay upright in the oven and place it on a baking sheet.  Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes, until the cloves are very soft but not falling apart.  Set the garlic aside in the pouch.  Leave the oven on.

For the Chicken:  Using kitchen shears, cut down along both sides of the backbone, then clip it out.  Cut the wings off at the first joint.  Split the chicken in half.  Use paper towels to dry the skin.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a baking dish and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Place two 12-inch cast-iron skillets over high heat.  When the skillets smoke, add 1/4 up of the canola oil to each.  (I fit the chicken into 1 skillet with 1/4 cup oil.)  As soon as the oil smokes, carefully add a half chicken to each skillet, skin side down.  (Or add to one skillet if they both fit).  Weight the chicken halves with another heavy skillet or pan so it stays flat and browns evenly.  Cook the chicken, with the weights on it, until the skin is crispy and evenly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove the weights.

Flip the chicken over, and place the skillet or skillets into the oven.  Roast the chicken for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155 degrees F.  Place the chicken on plates to rest while you make the sauce.

For the Pan Sauce:  Combine the roasting juices and fats from both skillets into one;  set aside.  Place the other skillet or a saucepan if you used just one skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into the skillet or saucepan and stir.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook to reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining cup of stock and set aside.

Place the skillet with the roasting juices over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour evenly over the juices and gently whisk it in until there are no lumps.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with the whisk; do not let the roux get too dark around the edge.  Whisk in the the chicken stock, making sure to fully emulsify it.  Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Add the parsley, lemon zest and juice, and 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil from the pouch of garlic and whisk to combine.

To Complete;  Place the garlic and pan sauce over the chicken and enjoy.

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Leek and Gruyere Bread Pudding

March 1st, 2016

Leek and Gruyere Bread Pudding 1

The inspiration for this leek and Gruyere bread pudding came from a side dish that I had in a restaurant in Washington DC last month.  It was served with roasted chicken and a light gravy.  One of the recipe sources that I use quite often is Epicurious.  Both my Daughter-In-Law and I think highly of the recipes found on this source.  It doesn’t hurt that the recipe came first from Thomas Keller.  It was outstanding.

You should use a brioche or challah bread.  The eggy bread adds richness to the casserole.  I adapted the recipe.  I used the same amount of leeks and cheese, but halved the rest of the recipe.

Leek Bread Pudding 2

At the restaurant the bread pudding was served as an individual cake.  So I experimented with cutting rounds out of the finished casserole with a biscuit cutter.  It worked very well and we enjoyed the scraps for another meal.  As an aside, we have not been eating much bread lately, but we made a happy exception for this delightful dish.

LEEK AND GRUYERE BREAD PUDDING (Adapted from Epicurious)

Recipe shown as written.  I used the same amount of leeks and cheese and halved everything else.


    • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
    • Kosher salt
    • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
    • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 cups whole milk
    • 3 cups heavy cream
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
    3. Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.
    4. Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.
    5. Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.
    6. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
    7. Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.
    8. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

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Husk in Charleston/ Shrimp and Grits

February 24th, 2016


Ever since Sean Brock’s meaningful book Heritage came out last year, I have wanted to visit his beautiful restaurant, Husk, in Charleston S.C. Sean Brock’s philosophy about food hits the right chords in my psyche.  The history of the Southern table, the heritage of lost flavors and varieties from the fields, and the importance of keeping these traditions alive with a new twist, all speak to me.  He illustrates his thinking with the story of Hoppin’ John.  His first experience eating hoppin’ John left him less than excited.  It was no wonder it was disappointing being made from commercial, enriched rice and old, flavorless black-eyed peas.  Once he tried it with Sea Island red peas, originally planted by African slaves, and with re-introduced heritage Carolina Gold rice, he knew why it was such a popular dish from the past.  Heritage seeds and varieties matter and it is important to keep them alive in our industrialized farming world.

Husk at table

Husk is located on beautiful Queen Street in the historic district of Charleston.  We have walked that street often over the years.  On our first trip to Charleston years ago we stayed at The Elliot House Inn, which is almost next door to Husk. Also next door is Poogan’s Porch, another lovely restaurant with a long history.  It used to be a favorite of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Husk is housed in a Queen Anne style house built in 1893 during the grandeur period in Charleston. “The building retains its antique charm and stately exterior while the interior has been renovated with a modern, minimalist theme, designed by Michael Shewan of Michael David & Associates of Charleston, SC.  We were charmed by the dining room with three fireplaces and original tall windows that added light and warmth.


But food is the reason that Husk shines.  The standards are high here.  The food is locally sourced.  The restaurant grows many of its own vegetables.  Whole pigs are purchased and all parts are used.  The kitchen has a pantry of in-house canned and pickled vegetables.  They have a wood burning oven to impart a homey smokiness to many of their dishes.  An example of a winning dish is Husk’s Shrimp and Grits.  The grits are milled from heirloom corn ( A good commercial brand is Anson Mills).  The shrimp are often caught by free-casting a net along a creek bank or from trawlers that go to the deeper waters offshore.  The smokey taste to my dish came from a combination of tasso ham and wood-oven smoked tomatoes.  It was truly one of the best shrimp and grits dishes that I have ever eaten.


David had Husk’s house-made Maple Sausage, Kentucky Bacon Sandwich with Caramelized Onions and Peppers. It came with their signature homemade ketchup and potato wedges.  It was delicious.  But he would have preferred the Shrimp and Grits if he hadn’t had it the night before at another restaurant.  Husk’s version was the winner.

We left the restaurant on a quest for ingredients to make our own Shrimp and Grits.  I should make that singular, not plural.  David was on the quest to find Tasso Ham and good grits.


We found Tasso Ham and the local grits at a nearby market.  David’s version of Shrimp and Grits was not quite the same as Husk’s version, but we loved it all the same. If you can’t find Tasso Ham you can always use a good quality smoked bacon.


(Adapted from a recipe by Stephen Crowe, at The Farmers Shed in Lexington, SC, as featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)



4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable or seafood, or any combination)
1 tsp salt
4TBL butter
1 cup stone-ground white grits
1/4 cup half & half
1/2 cup good pimento cheese spread

Tasso Gravy:

3/4 cup leek thinly sliced across the stalk
1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
1/2 cup julienned yellow or orange bell pepper
1/4 cup finely sliced shallot
2 oz finely diced tasso ham
1 TBL chili powder
1 TBL smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Small pinch seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 cup half & half
1/4 cup white wine, e.g. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3 tsp melted butter (for thickening sauce if necessary)
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions for garnish


2 lb medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 TBL butter


Grits:  Bring the broth, and salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Very slowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat, and continue to cook for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently until done. Add the butter, half & half, and pimento cheese, and stir well to combine.  Keep warm over a water bath until ready to serve.

Tasso Gravy:  Saute the tasso ham in a large saute pan with a little olive oil until the ham is slightly browned and most of the fat has rendered. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and reserve on some paper towel. Add the leeks, peppers, and shallot to the grease in the pan and saute until soft or even lightly brown.  Add the chile powder, paprika, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic, and seafood seasoning, and stir well to mix.  Add the clam juice, tomato juice, and white wine and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the half & half and simmer for 15 minutes. If the sauce seems too thin, make a roux with the flour and melted butter in a small bowl, and add a little at a time to the gravy, stirring constantly, until the desired consistency is reached.  You don’t want a thick gravy. It should be fairly runny, and you may not need the flour roux at all.  Add the ham to the gravy and reduce the heat to very low.  Saute the shrimp in 2 TBL butter in a separate large saute pan until pink, then transfer the shrimp to the gravy pan using a slotted spoon, and simmer for 2 minutes.

To Serve:  Spoon some grits onto each plate or bowl, and spoon some of the shrimp mixture around the grits.  Top with some of the finely sliced scallion to garnish.  (I forgot to buy scallions)

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.