Farfalle with Pancetta & Sage

Rainy days are the best day to cook; it always was and forever will be! Rainy, fall days are even better. I can turn a few ingredients into a masterpiece as long as Anita Baker or Aretha Franklin are in the background serenading me. It’s been raining for days here and because I had some sage and mushrooms that were near expiration, I decided it was time to make my favorite pasta dish. Rainy days with pasta are epic, y’all.

Back when I was a broke graduate student living on food stamps and a dream, I’d make this dish for my family and friends to get us through to the next payday. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re hungry with a limited amount of groceries. We’d eat this and watch Netflix [back when it was $5 a month] or dance the night away to the MJ Experience on my Wii. I get really nostalgic when I think of this dish… it’s carried us over and through so many times. I’ve tweaked it since the mid-2000s because pancetta wasn’t something I was willing to spend money on back then.

No sunlight means somewhat shitty indoor lighting photos… sorry, not sorry! In my dream kitchen, there’s a window on the roof directly above my stove and island. But, here in present day, y’all get fluorescent lights, bad camera angles and pure imagination. Click the photos to enlarge.

Modifications for those that need them: If you can’t grab pancetta, use bacon. Same pig, different area. Be sure to use fresh sage instead of dried, and if you can’t find shallots, use yellow onion. My only suggestion is to ALWAYS use heavy cream. I’ve tried this with half & half, and I’ve tried this recipe with milk… it’s a no! Other than that, do what you do! I’ll post short clips of the end product to my Instagram page later today.

I hope you enjoy one of my easiest and most affordable dishes. It’s definitely in my top 3 favorites! You can add a side of salmon, beef or chicken with it. Not shown in the photos are four handsomely baked chicken thighs with herbs de provence and lemon zest. Let me know how you like it and I’m wishing you the best of luck in your kitchen adventures. Enjoy!

THE RECIPE

Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb. farfalle pasta

  • 1 c. cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 4 c. chicken broth

  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced

  • ½ c. heavy cream

  • ¼ c. asiago cheese

  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 2 shallots, chopped

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, salted

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped roughly

  • 2 Tbsp. herbs de provence

  • 1 Tbsp. white pepper

  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • Salt to taste

  • Fresh parsley to garnish

  1. Bring 4-6 quarts of water and 3 cups of chicken broth to a rolling boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir to keep from sticking. Cook about 8 minutes. The pasta should be firm and not completely done.

  2. While pasta is boiling, using medium high heat, fry pancetta in butter until browned. Add shallots, mushrooms, garlic and sage. If pancetta mix begins sticking, add some pasta water to pan. Cook until veggies have softened. Remove from pan.

  3. Turn stove to medium low heat. Add the remaining cup of chicken broth and heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Play with it and season to your satisfaction. Add asiago cheese in and stir. Allow sauce to come to a simmer then add pasta.

  4. Fold in the pancetta-veggie mixture. Toss until the sauce sticks to the pasta.

  5. Top with freshly parsley and grated parmesan or asiago cheese. Serve & Enjoy!


Red Beans & Rice

This dish reminds me of a time when I used to spend my summers laying in the grass with short shorts on, hanging with my friends and the boys from my neighborhood! It reminds me of a time before smartphones when late night phone calls always got interrupted by mom once she realized I was up past 10. This dish reminds me of grass, rain on concrete and riding through Regional Park on Sunday. Red Beans & Rice is a comfort, just like my childhood memories. My elevated recipe is the equivalent of a four-page love letter to my past. Seriously, this is all the feels and all the flavors in one pot and I’m happy to share it with each of you.

I do not believe in shortcuts when I cook. Shortcuts typically mean something gets omitted and I don’t play like that! I want food that is flavorful and I don’t mind spending time on the prep, if the outcome will be worth it. This recipe takes time. Don’t skip any steps then complain later. In fact, let this be a meal you make when you’ll be in the house not doing shit. Fry some chicken or bake salmon and you’ll have a banger for the family.

Soak your beans overnight. It softens them up. Don’t try to boil them for longer or microwave them, soak them… overnight. Also, if you’re not trying to use a ham hock, don’t even try this recipe. IDGAF what your cousin, aunt, granny or momma told you… the ham hock makes this dish. I don’t want to imagine this dish without it. Vegan Red Beans & Rice sounds like you’ll be farting for days and ham hock-less Red Beans & Rice sounds unappetizing. So, if you don’t like pork, this one ain’t for you!

The magic to this dish is in your technique. My great-grandmom affectionately dubbed this technique as “Almost, but Not Quite”. It’s when you cook something to the point of it being almost, but not quite burnt. I swear! When I was a kid, I’d call my granny crazy AF and go sit somewhere with my side-eye judging her for almost burning the beans, but not anymore. It’s a real thing. Don’t be afraid to cook your meat and veggies down in this recipe. That’s where the flavor resides.

Finally, I’m going to share my secret to fluffy ass rice in hopes that you’ll leave that rice in a bag on the shelf. First of all, you need to rinse your rice in warm tap water BEFORE you boil it. You’ll notice the water will be murky as fuck… good. That’s residual dirt and starch and it makes your rice sticky if it stays so rinse it off! Next, add salt and bring the water to a rolling boil. Once it starts rolling, add the rice and lightly stir it make sure it’s not sticking together. Put the lid on the pot, turn the heat on the low and move on with your life for the next 17-18 minutes. Don’t open that lid for any reason… don’t worry about checking it. Set it and forget it! Once the time is up, take the pot off the stove and leave it alone for another 5-7 minutes. After the time elapses, you can fluff it with a fork. It’ll be perfect, I promise!

THE RECIPE

Serves 6-8

  • 7 c. Water

  • 2 c. White Rice

  • 2 c. Chicken Stock

  • 1 lb. Red Kidney Beans, dried

  • 1 lb. Smoked Ham Hocks, scored

  • 1½ lb. Andouille Sausage, cut into rounds

  • ½ lb. Pancetta, diced

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly

  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 shallot, chopped

  • ¾ tsp. dried sage

  • ½ tsp. white pepper

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • ½ tsp. smoked paprike

  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano

  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped roughly

  • Fresh Thyme, chopped roughly

  • Cajun Seasoning or Salt to taste

  1. In a large pot, on medium heat, fry pancetta until golden brown then add vegetables. Cook until softened and caramelized, or about 10 minutes.

  2. Turn stove to medium-high heat then add sausage to the pancetta & veggie mix. Cook until both sides are browned, or about 7 minutes. Add in the fresh parsley, thyme and all seasonings. Stir and mix well. This is where you’ll almost, but not quite burn your food. Take special care to make sure the sausage is brown but not burnt. Trust yourself!

  3. Add ham hocks, chicken stock and water. Bring to a rolling boil before adding beans.

  4. Once beans are added, boil for 5-10 minutes then bring temperature down so that it simmers. Cover with a lid and for 3-4 hours until the beans have softened. Be sure to check and stir periodically so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. If the liquid evaporates, add no more than a cup at a time.

  5. Once beans are soft, use a wooden spoon to smash about half in the pot. Smashing the beans allows for a creamy texture that enhances the flavor of the dish. Use a clean spoon to taste. Add cajun seasoning or salt, as needed then cook for 10-15 more minutes.

  6. Serve with rice and garnish with green onions or parsley and enjoy!

Basic Pizza Dough

I'm constantly making pizza... I'm at a point in my life where I want what I want when I want it. I make at least one pizza a week (judge me). I make fruit pizzas, breakfast pizzas, dessert pizzas and pizzas loaded with meat & veggies. IDGAF as long as it's pizza.

So, in my quest to make pizza, I've finally figured out my own pizza dough. It's mine. You can use it, make it at home but if you blog, you better give me credit (if you don't I'll talk shit about you on Twitter & Snapchat).

Pizza dough is fairly easy to make. You toss the ingredients in a bowl, mix and let the yeast do it's job... really, that's it.

Of course, you have to shape it too...

And let it sit so it can double in size.

Like this one.

THE RECIPE

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour + about ¾ c. for kneading
  • ¾ c. warm water, 105-110 degrees
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Olive Oil, to prevent sticking
  1. Sprinkle active dry yeast and sugar over the warm water and let it sit until yeast becomes foamy, about 5-7 minutes. Stir until yeast dissolves.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt (no sifting required).
  3. Add the yeast mixture and stir until soft dough begins to form.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface (I use my countertop) and knead. You'll need to add that additional flour as necessary until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. You'll know it's ready when you can stretch it and it doesn't tear off easily. It takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Coat another bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl.
  6. Cover with a warm towel or plastic wrap and place in warm place for 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. I turn my oven on 250 and sit the bowl on top.
  7. Uncover the dough and punch out the air. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape into balls. If you nee more flour, that's fine... add it.
  8. Cover both dough balls with plastic wrap and allow to double (about an hour).
  9. Roll out and top with something delicious.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

So let me explain that my love for chicken is endless. This fried chicken is the holy grail. It's the type of chicken that changes lives. The buttermilk and creole seasoning merge to form a mouth-watering, melt in your mouth chicken. Nothing but sex makes me happier than fried chicken or any pasta with cheese. Judge me if you want, but the crispy skin takes me to new places. Bay-bay... listen to me when I say that you can't beat a good fried chicken, you just can't. 

Fried Chicken

This chicken doesn't take long to make, 25-30 minutes at most but it does take at least 4 hours to prep... more if you want the chicken to fall off the bone. You are REQUIRED to soak your chicken in buttermilk for at least 4 hours. In real life, don't contact me if you soak your chicken for less than 4 hours. I soak mine for 12-16 hours, but 4 hours will do the trick!

Let's start with the spices I used. Whenever I make fried chicken or my grandma's "Sunday" chicken, I use creole seasoning. The seasoning is a blend of spices and it can be found here.

What you need to know about this recipe is that the buttermilk really does all the work. Put buttermilk in a ziploc bag with chicken wings, close the bag and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. When you take it out of the refrigerator, season the chicken with the creole spices, flour it, fry it then eat it.

It's really quite simple. I learned how to fry chicken when I was in the 3rd grade. I remember living in 809 Popular Street with my aunt and my great grandma when I wasn't with my mom & my great grandma would pull up a chair and put one of her t-shirt's on me so that I could "assist". By the time I was out of 3rd grade, I was fully capable of frying chicken by myself without asking any  questions.

If third grade me can do it, you can do it! Bon appetite! 

THE RECIPE

  • 2 lbs. Chicken Wings
  • 3 c.+ 3 Tbsp. Buttermilk
  • 2 c. Flour
  • Creole Seasoning (recipe can be found here)
  • 2 Tbsp. Mild Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. White Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Fresh Parsley, Chopped
  • Oil for Frying

PREP: Grab a gallon size ziploc bag & toss chicken, creole seasoning and 3 cups of buttermilk. Allow the buttermilk and chicken to sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours minimum. I leave mine overnight (approximately 12 hours). When you are ready to cook your chicken, remove from the refrigerator and allow the chicken to warm to room temperature (approximately 15-20 minutes).

  1. Preheat oil to 360 degrees.
  2. In a container, mix together the flour, salt, paprika, peppers and garlic powder.
  3. Whisk in the 3 Tbsp of Buttermilk to form shaggy dough balls. There is no other way to describe them. You won't see a container full, just enough to get you crispy chicken.
  4. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk, shake it dry and coat in the flour then place aside. Pay attention to make sure you get the flour in every nook and cranny. of the chicken wing. 
  5. Once the oil has reached 360 degrees, carefully add the chicken in batches of 3-5, depending on the size of your pot or fryer. Make sure you do not overcrowd the pot or fryer... you don't want a grease fire nor do you want raw ass chicken with burnt skin. It smells horrible and you'll have to shit for days!
  6. Check the chicken periodically, you need to flip it every so often so that one side of the chicken is not cooked longer than another.
  7. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees. It'll be golden brown in color and have that Church's chicken crunch look to it.
  8. Remove from the oil & allow the chicken to drain on some paper towels.
  9. It's ready to eat... My family is greedy and sometimes we don't make any sides to go with it because it's gone as soon as our lips touch them. Enjoy!

How to: Make Creole Seasoning

There's not much to explain with this one. Some of my snapchat followers keep asking me what's in my creole seasoning so here's the recipe. It takes less than 2 minutes to throw together, you can change the ratio depending on your tastes. My granny's recipe is far more complicated than mine and it takes me 20 minutes to make BUT you can't have it. I'm not ready to share it yet. 

THE RECIPE

  • 1 Tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Mild Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. Herbs de Provence

There's a trick to this. Use 1 Tbsp of each ingredient per POUND of meat. Which means, if you use 3 pounds of chicken, use 3 tbsp of each ingredient. You'll have to play with it. This might be too spicy for you or not spicy enough... Let me know what you do with it though! I'm sure you'll love it.