Instant Dinner Party

January 24th, 2011 · 80 Comments · Dinner, Entertaining, Favorites, Pasta, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy

Spoiler alert: If you come over to our house for dinner any time between now and the first day of spring, there’s about a 90% chance we’re going to cook this for you. The pork shoulder ragu you see above is our new obsession. It’s the ideal dish for Sunday dinner, or even better, an informal winter dinner party: It’s warm, it’s hearty, it smells insanely good, it goes well with red wine, and my God, is it tasty. But none of those are the main reason we’re so obsessed with this right now — no, the best part of this one is that, once the guests arrive, your work is already done. All the prep — what little of it there was — is four hours ago, a distant memory. Which is increasingly the way we like it. It seems like the older we get, and the more cooking we do, the simpler we want our entertaining to be. For sure, there was a day when we would have spent the afternoon, Martha-style, frantically scooping out little cucumber cups with a mellon-baller and filling them with creme fraiche and topping them with smoked salmon and dainty sprigs of dill, when we would have been stirring (and stirring) risotto and mandolining three different kinds of potatoes and being distracted, instead of hanging out with our guests. But then kids happened, and our tastes changed, and those days are gone. These days, I love nothing more than a one-pot meal — I am a braising machine! — and this really basic pork ragu over pasta is where our heads are at right now. It’s an instant party: you just take it out of the oven, shred the pork, boil some pasta, and you’re done. If the kids don’t like pork, they can eat the pasta; if they do like pork, then I love them, and there’s still plenty for everybody. Though I should add that, as good as this is on a cold winter night, it’s even better for lunch the next day. If it weren’t for a little thing known as coronary heart disease, I would eat this every day for the rest of my life. –Andy (more…)

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Pasta with Yogurt, Spinach, and Sweet Onions

April 7th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Pasta, Vegetarian

This recipe used to be our go-to for entertaining vegetarians — back when vegetarians were, you know, a rare breed. Now, thankfully, the dish has moved into our regular dinner rotation. The hardest part about it is securing the sheep’s milk yogurt — but not really, you can find it at Whole Foods or even a slightly-gourmet supermarket — then it’s just a matter of remembering to cook more onions than you think feels right. The contrast between their caramel-ly sweetness and the tangy yogurt……I don’t want to get overly precious here, but: Oh. Boy.  It’s so good that I don’t mind cooking two completely separate meals for the grown-ups and the kids, who, sadly, won’t touch it no matter how many chocolate-covered raisins and Michael Jackson youtube videos I promise them as a reward.

Can't win 'em all. Our dinner (left); the kids' dinner (right)

Pasta with Yogurt, Spinach and Sweet Onions
Adapted from Amanda Hesser, The New York Times.
3 glugs olive oil
4 yellow onions sliced
1 pound whole wheat fettucini
2 6-ounce containers sheep’s-milk yogurt, drained through a coffee filter set in a strainer for at least 20 minutes
2 cups-ish fresh spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown, 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot, adding spinach during the last 30 seconds. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In the same pot, whisk together the drained yogurt with the pasta water. Toss pasta with the yogurt mixture. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Sprinkle generously with cheese and top with onions.

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