Goulash Recipe, Hungarian Goulash

The holidays are over and the long, Maine winter has set in. But cold winter weather gives us an excuse to make bold hearty meals, like Chuck’s goulash soup – one of my favorites! Warm your kitchen, and your tummy, with this comforting goulash recipe.

Serves 6 People

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 lbs boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 large Russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Garnish: sour cream and fresh dill, chopped

 

PREPARATION

In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat while stirring. When crisp, transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. In the remaining bacon fat, brown the chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring the browned meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium and add the oil. Add onions and garlic and continually stir until golden. Add in mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring for two minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking for one minute – the mixture will be very thick. Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer the soup, covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

Peel potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and add them to the soup and simmer, covered, until tender – about 30 minutes. Add in sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill.

I hope you enjoy this goulash recipe as much as I do on cold winter days!

New Years Foods

Here at CVC we’ve toasted the New Year and are looking forward to the year ahead.  With that in mind, we want to help you kick off 2017 right by drawing your attention to some well-known foods recognized far and wide to lend themselves to good fortune or prosperity in the upcoming year.

 

Greens

If you’ve resolved to eat healthier in the new year, leafy greens are a great place to start! Not only are leafy greens healthy, but they also resemble money, and will supposedly bring you financial prosperity. So make sure to eat some of these ASAP this year!

 

Beans

Beans are thought to represent coins because of their size and weight. In this way, beans are another food that signifies money and financial prosperity for the year.

Hoppin’ John, a new year’s dish originating from the southern U.S is made of black-eyed peas and rice, and eating the peas is said to bring wealth to you. To go one step further, it’s said that leftovers from this meal are called Skippin’ Jenny. Eating Skippin’ Jenny is representative of frugality and an act that is considered to bring a financially prosperous year.

 

Noodles & Grains

Craving pasta in the New Year, despite your resolution to cut carbs? Here’s one good reason to eat them: long noodles like spaghetti or soba are said to represent longevity, while copious smaller grains like quinoa, rice, and barley represent plenty, or abundance.

 

Ring-Shaped Foods

Donuts and other ring-shaped desserts symbolize the year coming full circle. In Eastern Europe, a single coin is baked into a large lemon-flavored cake called vasilopita. Whomever happens to get the coin in their slice will have good fortune in the new year, just don’t bite into it!

 

Pomegranate

If you’ve never eaten a fresh pomegranate, now is the perfect time to start! The inside of a pomegranate is filled with small red seeds, and unlike other fruits like apples and oranges, you eat the seeds and leave the flesh. The plentiful seeds found in pomegranates represent prosperity, as do other fruits with many seeds, like figs.

 

Pork

Among meats, pork is considered the luckiest because of the pig’s rotund body shape, which represents prosperity. Additionally, the pig’s act of rooting with their nose in a forward direction represents progress. Here’s to progress!

 

Fish

Besides being packed with flavor and nutrition, fish offers abundant representations of good luck. Their shiny coin-like scales are associated with wealth, and their habit of travelling in large schools represents prosperity. What’s more they swim forward, which most identify as the direction of progress. Eating a whole-roasted fish is the traditional way to take advantage of all the good fortune that comes with fish.

 

We hope these foods bring you good fortune in 2017. Please let us know which ones you decided to try!

Holiday Catering

The holiday season is in full swing, and while you might be feeling jolly as you blast your favorite holiday tunes in the background, it’s possible that when you begin to plan your holiday parties, you might start feeling stressed.

Everyone wants to plan a holiday party that will dazzle their guests, but the combined pressures to decorate, organize a menu, cook, and bake for the party can become overwhelming. But have you ever thought about catering your party?

We’re here to assure you: catering is not a cop out. In reality, it’s the perfect idea! Think of us as the merry little elves to your Santa, the key assistants to your survival of the holiday season with your sanity in tact. So in case you’re not already on board, we’ve got five reasons to cater your holiday party this year:

  1. You can avoid the supermarket crowds. One of the most stressful aspects of planning a holiday event is shopping for the ingredients. Around this time of year, grocery stores become jam-packed with customers and there’s always the possibility that shelves might empty once you make it out. If you cater the party, you won’t have to worry about navigating the holiday grocery gauntlet!
  1. No cooking pressure – except in the pressure cooker. If you’re one person who is not used to producing a full course meal on the regular, it’s possible that cooking flubs might occur, resulting not only in ingredients over-crisping, but also your food menu. Professional caterers can plan your menu and deliver quality food without any mishaps. With trained professionals around, you won’t have to worry about improperly cooked meals. People like us get it right when it matters most.
  1. There won’t be an after-party cleanup. The worst part of hosting a holiday feast? Cleanup duty, no doubt. If you decide to put caterers on the job, you won’t have to pick up a single dish. Caterers will clean every glass, plate, and piece of silverware. And we even take the trash with us! Isn’t that awesome?
  1. You get to do what matters most. What’s the whole point of hosting a holiday party? Enjoying the company of your guests. This is the time of year we are able to sit down with our relatives, friends, and close colleagues, and are finally able to enjoy candid conversations with them. So you shouldn’t let the stress of party planning and hosting ruin the fun. Rather than being holed away in the kitchen the entire night, catering will allow you to act as a true host would – as the center of the party.
  1. Experience and expertise. Hiring a caterer for your holiday party is more than a stress relief; it can also serve as a welcome dose of expertise. At CVC Catering Group, we pride ourselves on being experienced, creative, and passionate. Each dish has its own flair that adds to the party, and we can collaborate with you to make sure we’re crafting the event to match what clients envision. We are known for solving problems and assuring that your celebration will be one that goes down memorably.

If you choose to cater your holiday party this year you will likely decide to start a new holiday tradition. We’re here to tell you that CVC’s catering services are top notch and we absolutely love serving the good people of Maine. So call us at (207) 756-7599 to discuss your catering needs this holiday season. We look forward to bringing fun to your holiday festivities this season!

Gravy, CVC Catering

This month, I’ve decided to have our gravy guru Zach McBean tackle the time-honored tradition of making gravy from your Thanksgiving drippings. Enjoy, and let us know how it turns out!
– Nancy

That oh-so-special time of the year is fast approaching. Thanksgiving means time with family and friends, the last throes of fall giving way to snow, and the panic-stricken moment when you realize it’s time to turn that pan of shiny roasted meat juices into gravy.

Now personally, I love gravy….a lot. I mean, I will turn anything left in a pan from any kind of roasted anything into gravy. This has been a lifelong love affair, but I certainly was not successful right away. I’ve learned a few simple rules and tricks that can up your protein-topping credentials and have everyone fighting over who can chug from the gravy boat the longest. Ok, that’s a little gross…..but let’s make some good gravy!

 

Method 1 – Strain and Thicken
This is the tried-and-true reliable way to make gravy. For the gravy novice, this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients:
1 or 2 Bay leaves
1 Onion, chopped
1 sprig each of rosemary, thyme, or other aromatic herbs

For Slurry – equal parts:
1 TBS Cornstarch
1 TBS Water

For Roux – equal parts:
½ Cup Whole butter
½ Cup All-purpose flour

Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking. Heat roasting pan on the range burners. Gently scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on bits of tasty goodness.  For those of you that binge-watch Food Network, you will know this process is called deglazing.

Place the drippings in a sauce pot with the bay leaves, onion, and herbs and simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

At this point, you can use your drippings base to make one of two styles of gravy: a shiny, velvety, and less viscous version known as a slurry, or a hearty and creamy version called a roux.

 

Slurry
For making a slurry, you can thicken your gravy with equal parts cornstarch and cold water mixed together with your fingers. Add this mixture to the gravy base, a little at a time, whisk slowly, and return to a boil as you watch it thicken. How thick is up to you – keep adding the cornstarch mixture until it’s just right.

Strain the mixture and serve. This method will also be the most effective at preventing lumps.

Roux
For a roux, follow these steps after the initial simmer. In a separate pan, melt the butter on low heat and once it is melted, whisk in an equal amount of flour. Cook the roux on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Set the roux aside for a few minutes to cool – adding hot roux to a boiling liquid will cause lumps!

When your roux has come to room temp, whisk it into the gravy base in small amounts. This will also not thicken until it boils so keep adding a little at a time and keep on whisking. Once you have the desired thickness, strain and serve.

 

Method 2 – Milk Pan Gravy
I remember being mystified watching my grandmother do this. It’s a little more challenging, but the tradeoffs are fewer dishes, no straining, and a nice rich finished product.

Ingredients – equal parts:
¼ Cup Whole milk, to taste
¼ Cup All-purpose flour, to taste

Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking and measure the remaining drippings. Add the whole milk in an 8:1 milk-to-drippings ratio and bring to a simmer. Mix equal parts flour and cold milk until smooth, usually about ¼ cup each, to thicken a quart of gravy.

Whisk in the milk-flour mixture to the simmering pan. Allow to thicken and serve.

 

Method 3 – Traditional Pan Gravy
This style appeals to the thrifty chef in me and utilizes everything brought to the table by roasting a turkey.

Ingredients:
Chicken stock
½ Cup All-purpose flour, to taste

Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking. Pour the drippings into a cup or shallow Tupperware container and let cool. Ladle off the fat from the top of the drippings (the fat will be a clear yellow, the juices brown) and measure. Mix the fat in a pan with equal portions of flour.

Deglaze the roasting pan with chicken broth, then add in the drippings. Thicken by slowly bringing to a boil and whisking in the fat/flour mixture. Strain if desired and serve.

Hopefully, these recipes will take some of the pressure off the daunting task of this holiday favorite. Enjoy!

salmon, Thanksgiving Alternatives

Since at least the mid-19th century, Thanksgiving has been the turkey holiday. Turkey is a traditional staple at Thanksgiving feasts nationwide, with an average forty-six million turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving Day across the United States. Though turkey is in popular demand, it’s not everyone’s favorite meal. If you’re interested in turkey alternatives for your Thanksgiving meal this year, here are some suggestions:

1. ChickenIf you don’t care for turkey, try chicken this Thanksgiving. You can prepare chicken however you like: roasted, grilled, rotisserie, baked, the list goes on. Chicken is affordable, simple to prepare, and is typically a good fit for anyone’s palate.

2. TofurkeyVegetarians deserve their own little treat on Thanksgiving, too. Consider preparing some tofurkey this holiday. Tofurkey is a soy-based vegetable protein that can be eaten as a patty (like burgers) or link (think sausage-style). Some tofurkey recipes are stuffed with rice and served with gravy. This is a delicious alternative for the vegetarian or vegan at your dinner table.

3. LasagnaFor some, Italian-style is the way to go no matter what holiday or occasion. Try lasagna as an alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving. Soft noodles, warm sauce, and melted cheese are delectable for all pasta lovers. Surprise your holiday guests with this indulgent meal.

4. HamHam is always a classic option. It’s easy to prepare and can feed an entire dinner party with one roast. Ham is also typically cheaper per pound than most turkeys. Add a glaze of brown sugar on top and you’re good to go! The best part? Cranberry sauce pairs well with ham, too. This makes for a great alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving.

5. SeafoodFrom salmon to lobster, seafood is a great alternative to turkey for your Thanksgiving meal. For seafood fans, it’s an ideal feast! You can go all out with shrimp, crab, or even oysters. There are so many delicious options in the seafood family that you can add to your Thanksgiving menu. Try it out this year!

Holidays often follow personal traditions, but there’s no reason why you can’t change things up this Thanksgiving. There are many tasty alternatives that don’t involve turkey if you’re in need of something different. Chicken, tofurkey, lasagna, ham, and seafood are only some of the many menu items you can enjoy this holiday. If you want to cater your Thanksgiving dinner and create a completely fresh menu, feel free to contact us at 207-756-7599. At CVC Catering Group, we want your Thanksgiving to be as fabulous as possible. We are here to serve!