Who doesn’t love spring? Flowers blooming, weather warming up, and March Madness! Ally loves March Madness every year, but this year was extra special. She, along with all the rest of the Cavalier faithful, had incredibly high hopes for redemption for this year’s team. And they DID IT! Monday night, way past our bedtime, the Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA men’s basketball title game!
Since Ally made/ate this pasta on game night, we definitely have to document it, so she can superstitiously eat it for years to come. I’ve had the idea of making a light sauce with melted Brie floating around in my head for awhile now and am pleased how this turned out. It’s simple enough for a weeknight (or while nervously pacing, waiting for a championship game to start…) and light enough to welcome spring, despite what you might assume from the ingredients. It’s also a great use for leftover ham! By thinning out the Brie, you end up just lightly coating the pasta, so it doesn’t eat like a heavy Mac n cheese or something similar.
Spring Pasta with Brie, Ham, & Peas
1 tsp neutral oil
8oz ham, chopped (leftover or otherwise already cooked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
1/2 cup chicken stock
4oz Brie cheese, rind removed
1/2 cup green peas
2 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper
Heat oil in a large pan over low-medium heat. (If you have some fatty pieces of ham, you may be able to skip this step.) Toss the ham and minced garlic into the pan and cook until ham is warmed and garlic is fragrant.
Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and cook pasta per instructions. Drain and set aside.
Remove ham to the side for the moment. Whisk the Brie and chicken stock together; lower heat if needed. Allow these two ingredients to come together over the low heat for the next approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the peas at this time as well.
Return the ham to the pan, along with the pasta. Toss together to coat the pasta with the Brie sauce. Top with pepper and salt as needed.
While the rest of you are celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, I’m vacillating between the five stages of grief over UVA’s loss last night. I guess this post is helping me move past the denial stage, given that I just wrote the words “UVA’s loss.” My very caring and loving husband, is being even nicer to me than usual, which is actually relevant to this dinner. Selim is basically the opposite of a simple meat and potatoes kind of guy, whatever that is. This dinner, which not only checks the box of timely blog post, but also caters to my wanting to wallow in comfort food self, is definitely not what he wants to have for dinner tonight. Yet, here we are.
I, however, love a simple carb-filled dinner of sausages and potatoes. Dublin coddle is basically just that. Recipes for Dublin coddle should include pork sausages, potatoes, and onions. Many don’t include much more than that and water. Parsley is a common garnish. We’ve added a few more ingredients for a little more flavor, as you can see. We also didn’t cook the dish the way the Irish mothers back in the day would have. This hearty winter dish dates back to the 1700s and many believe started out as a way for Catholic mothers to use up meat before Fridays during Lent. I think we turned our version into a flavorful dish that still pays significant homage to the original. And honestly, since the “original” was basically a vehicle to use up leftovers, variations from household to household are basically a given. So, I give you our personal version! I’m not going to lie, though the sausage and potatoes are delicious, I think my favorite part is all the onions! They absorb all the delicious flavor from the broth and are just perfect! This dish may not look like much (the stews and braises that we tend to favor never do), get past our humble photos and give it a whirl the next time you’re feeling Irish.
And, from an approximately 18.9462874% Irish person on the day when everyone claims to have Irish ancestors:
1 lb pork sausages (traditional Irish bangers would be the most legit option)
2 large onions, sliced into rings
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, etc)
3/4 cup stout beer
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brown mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
2 lb potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 bay leaves
Fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop the bacon roughly and cook in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Stir occasionally until they are brown, but not yet crispy. Then remove to the side.
Place the sausage whole into the dish with the bacon grease, still over medium heat, and brown on all side. (You do not have to cook them all the way through at this point.) Once browned, remove these to the side as well.
Now add the onions and garlic to the dish, stirring to coat in the remaining bacon grease. Top with 10+ turns of fresh black pepper. Partially cover and cook, until softened and browning, roughly 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the broth, beer, worcestershire, mustard, and thyme.
Remove the onions/garlic when they’re done and again set to the side.
Add the potatoes and a splash of liquid stock mixture to the dish. Stir to coat and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook potatoes for ~5 minutes.
Slice the sausages into large chunks and then return all of the removed ingredients to the dish. Remove from stove heat and stir everything together.
Top with the stock mixture and add the bay leaves.
Place in the oven, covered, for at least an hour. Keep cooking up to an hour and a half if the potatoes aren’t cooked to your liking at the hour mark.
Serve in bowls with a good amount of broth. Add a dash of salt if you think it needs (save this for the end, given that your bacon, sausages, and even broth may have a fair amount of salt in them).
Selim and I have been in Virginia for a great long weekend to celebrate my younger sister’s graduation from college. She’s the last of our family, youngest of the four siblings, to graduate college. Our day was filled with family & friends, pomp & circumstance, caps & gowns, diplomas & honors… and a college party. Amy’s housemates (all 9 of them!) threw a party for their families and then one for their friends afterwards. Even with all the parents that were present for both parties, we were still the boring old couple, as there were parents partying hard and clearly reliving some good old college memories. Flash forward to Sunday and our family is hosting a family graduation party. Any time we get the family together there’s always the classic dips, spreads, salads, snacks, and drinks. We’ll highlight some of the unique ones that we think you’ll like in the next few days.
Happy middle of March! Who cares about mid-March you say?? I do! Mid-March means the NCAA basketball tournament. I love the Madness! The brackets, the buzzer-beaters, the underdogs, the team spirit, the heart and soul… I love it all!
This weekend has been a little bit of a roller-coaster for me though. I’ve enjoyed my time glued to the couch, flipping between games. But then my hometown VCU Rams fizzled out in the first round. My Virginia Cavaliers and South Carolina Gamecocks each had strong second halves to win their respective first round games. We went to Greenville, SC to hang out with my brothers and immerse ourselves in the tournament festivities downtown, which was really fun! But then… UVA lost in the second round in pretty much the most soul-crushing fashion imaginable. So that was definitely a down moment. And by down I mean, I may or may not have shed a tear or two.
I pretended it didn’t happen today and watched the games all afternoon. This pasta dish may not be your most traditional game-day food, but we enjoyed it none the less.
Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce
2 large red bell peppers
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp milk
4 cloves garlic
6oz herbed goat cheese
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
5 turns of fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Rub 1 tsp of olive oil over the peppers and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast peppers for 30 minutes. They will begin to blister.
Allow the peppers to cool slightly. Remove the seeds and stems.
Place the peppers and the milk into a food processor. Give it a few spins until you have a nice puree.
Meanwhile, heat the other 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.
Mince the garlic and brown in the olive oil for ~3-4 minutes.
Turn heat down to low and add the red pepper puree, goat cheese, and all of the remaining spices to the pan.
Cook over low heat for ~15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are well-combined and heated through.
As the sauce is coming together, prepare your pasta.
Serve sauce overtop of pasta and enjoy!
Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller side dish servings.