Braised Radishes (w/ bacon or browned butter)

First appeared on CAFE newsletter January 12, 2020

Edited by: Ellie Sharp

In the middle of the winter, finding colorful crunch is hard without the beautiful radish! Most people put radishes in salad. While they certainly are a tasty, crunchy addition to a salad, there are other ways to use them! The most common way is to simply dip them in soft butter and sprinkle with salt. Seriously, don’t knock it until you try it! If you can’t quite swallow that, you can spread some bread with a (thick) layer of butter, then a layer of radish, then top with salt (black salt pictured). Don’t forget about the tops too! They are thinly sliced and placed on top of the radish sandwich here, but radish tops make an excellent addition to homemade pesto and soups (think in place of spinach, kale, or mustard/turnip greens!).

Perhaps though, my favorite way to prepare radishes is to cook them. They are wonderful roasted on pan amongst other vegetables (like potatoes or squash). I’m a big fan of “sheet pan meals” and love to throw potatoes, radishes, broccoli, and some local sausages on a pan to roast and call it dinner! But I want to leave you with a very tasty addition to your recipe box. Braised Radishes. I hope you try it and love it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon OR ¼ cup butter
  • 2 bunches of radishes, about 1 pound, or about 14 radishes
  • 3 large shallots or a small red onion, sliced and 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Water or chicken/vegetable stock 2TB-1/4 cup
  • Italian parsley, leaves chopped into about scant ¼ cup
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Trim away bottoms of radishes. You can keep nice looking greens intact or remove and save for another use (or compost!). Slice each radish in half from top to bottom. Peel the shallots and slice into thin rings.
  2. Cook the chopped bacon in a large heavy skillet – preferably cast iron. When the bacon is crisped remove from skillet and set aside. If you need to, drain some fat away. You should have enough bacon fat covering the skillet (about 1-3 Tablespoons). OR melt butter in pan. Over low, allow butter to cook until small bits start to brown on the bottom of the pan ~3 minutes.  
  3. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they start to brown slightly. Move to the outside of the skillet, away from heat. Add the radishes, placing each cut side down in the skillet. Let them cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms just start to color.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and some water/stock – the liquid should just come up around the sides of the radishes. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and continue to simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until the water has reduced into a syrupy sauce. Add the parsley/herb of choice and sauté for about a minute or two, until it’s wilted.
  6. If using, add the bacon back in and season with salt and pepper. Serve over grits!

A formula recipe: Skillet gratin

Edited by: Ellie Sharp, first published in the CAFE newsletter

This time of year I crave hearty, deeply satisfying dishes like shepherd’s pie and baked au gratins. I turn to these and others time and time again, with just one regret: the inevitable stockpile of pots and pans that such recipes require when each component is cooked separately and then combined into a final baking vessel. With snow in the forecast this past week (it eluded us this time – boo!) I was hankering for a hearty, hot soup alternative that wouldn’t put my kitchen cleaning into overdrive. The result was combining the likes of a shepherd’s pie with an au gratin into a single skillet supper.

This meal is exceptionally adaptable and can be tailored to flavor preferences as well as meat or meat-free diets. Once a filling is chosen, it is topped with a starchy vegetable and cheese “crust”. With this basic formula as your guide, the resulting outcomes are truly limitless. Play around with what’s in season, try combining new-to-you ingredients with a familiar base, or switch up seasonings for Tex-Mex, Greek, Asian or Italian flair.

For my first creation, pictured here, I used bacon, leek, shiitake, and cabbage with a rutabaga topping: a true celebration of CAFE offerings these days!

Skillet Gratin 
The formula:

Protein: 1 lb ground meat, 8 oz chopped bacon, 1.5 cups leftover roast meat, OR 1 can of drained beans/lentils 

Vegetables: You need roughly 6 cups of chopped vegetables. Ideas include mushrooms, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.

Gratin topping: 1 pound starchy root vegetable such as potatoes, rutabaga, turnip, even beets. Slice chosen vegetables thinly with a mandolin.

Seasonings and Herbs: Start with 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped, freshly chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Nice additions include tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, wine, etc.

Cream and Cheese for Topping: Save the cream from the top of your raw milk or, as pictured here, the top layer of canned coconut milk. Nut milk might work, too, if you can make it thick enough (give it a whirl). You’ll need about ½ cup of the milk choice and ½ cup of preferred cheese.

In addition to the following specific recipe, here are some combination ideas to get you started:

  • Chicken pot pie inspired with chicken, carrots, mushrooms, peas and topped with Yukon gold potatoes.
  • Roast pork from the freezer with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and topping with some potatoes and goat cheese.
  • Ground beef would do well with spinach or broccoli plus tomato and an addition of tomato paste.
  • Lentils! I can’t wait to try this with lentils and some kale topped with turnips. 

The possibilities are truly limitless or at least as far as your taste buds and imagination can take you!

Bacon, shiitake, leek, cabbage with rutabaga skillet gratin (pictured recipe):

  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 leeks washed and sliced into half moons
  • 1 small (or ½ large) cabbage head, quartered, core removed, sliced into ribbons
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 pound rutabaga, sliced thin with a mandolin
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (not shaken and poured from the cream on top)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. If using pre-cooked meat or beans continue to step 3. Otherwise, heat a 10-inch iron skillet over heat and brown the meat. Remove from the pan, place on a plate and set aside. Drain off all but 1 TB fat. Continue to step 4. 
  3. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat fat of choice.
  4. Add mushrooms and sauté until they release liquid, about 5 minutes (if using onions, I’d add them at this point too). 
  5. Add remaining chopped vegetables. Season assertively with salt and pepper. Sauté until they begin to cook and become slightly wilted/limp. Remember you will be cooking this in the oven for a time, so the vegetables don’t need to be entirely cooked, just get the process started, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add your herbs, garlic, and any other seasoning of choice at this point. 
  7. Add the cooked meat or protein of choice into the skillet and fold everything together until warmed and combined thoroughly. Turn off the heat. 
  8. Starting with your ragged looking slices (saving the pretty ones for the end) of gratin topping choice, began layering these over the mixture. Continue layering until all the slices have been used. Season with salt and pepper. 
  9. Slowly pour cream over the skillet, taking care to wet each slice and top with cheese, if using.
  10. Cover your skillet with aluminum foil. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  11. Test your potatoes/topping for doneness by sticking a knife through them. If there is any resistance, continue baking another 5-10 minutes.
  12. Uncover the dish and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top has browned in spots.
  13. Let it cool for about 10 minutes while you throw together a salad. Slice and serve!