Over the last two nights, I made two dinner meals that came out perfect. Both were modifications to dishes I was familiar with. The reason I'm sharing them is that they are both easy, fast, inexpensive, and absolutely best of class, at least in my house. They are; first, made on top of the stove, cheese macaroni; and second, a dish which around her, we simply call Ralph (a name given to this delicious casserole when it was first concocted by my MOL. Don't worry, it doesn't look or taste like it's name, so feel free to name it something else at your house
This is made entirely on top of the stove and produces a super rich and creamy version of this classic dish.
1 cup whole wheat Penne or Gemelli pasta
1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese, finely grated
1/8 cup high quality Sharp Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
1/8 cup Pecorino Romano, Parmisano Regiano, or Asiago Cheese, finely grated.
3 tbs. butter
3 tbs. all purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. evaporated milk
Bring water to a boil. While it is heating, melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the flour and whisk into a paste. Let cook over low heat for two minutes. Slowly add the evaporated milk while whisking until a smooth white sauce is formed. Add the salt. Remove from the heat. Slowly add the three cheeses, a little at a time, and whisk into the sauce, until all is combined. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing it down onto the sauce. Cover and set aside.
Add the pasta to the boiling liquid and cook for about ten minutes, or until al dente. After five minutes have elapsed, again stir the sauce to blend in any small clumps of cheese.
When the pasta is done, drain and add to the cheese sauce. Pour in 1 tbs. of either truffle oil, or your favorite olive oil and stir. Serve with green veggies (or a great salad) and your favorite sausage, such as a good kielbasas.
Ralph: This dish is usually made with ground beef that has been browned and mixed in with the other ingredients. But this time, I altered everything. Here's how it came together.
1 cup brown rice
1 whole onion, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced (you could also grate the carrot)
2 country style spare ribs, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes.
1 pkg. Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup
3 cups water
2 tbs. safflower oil
Heat the oil in a ten-inch skillet. Add the rice and stir around until it begins to turn white. Add the water and everything else except the meat. Stir to distribute all of the ingredients, cover, and turn down heat to a gentle simmer. Set timer for 30 minutes.
After 20 minutes has gone by, cook the meat until gently browned on all sides, in a heavy pan. Remove the meat from the pan, lightly salt, and set asided. Don't overcook. You want it tender and juicy.
De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup water and add that to the rice mixture. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Check it occasionally to make sure it doesn't dry out and scorch on the bottom. Stir it if necessary.
When the rice mixture is tender, serve by placing equal portions of meat on everyone's plate, and covering with the rice.
There's no need for gravy with this dish. The pork perfectly compliments the sweetness of the rice, onion, celery, and carrot. Serve with a garden salad together with a good raspberry vinaigrette.
I hope you try both of these as they came out so good at my house. I know you will love them.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North