Quick Chipotle Cheese Sauce

Chipotle Cheese Sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Do you ever want a sauce to dress up a meal? Something to put over plain rice? A bit of cheese sauce to perk up the last of the broccoli?

Have you ever opened an envelope of commercial dry sauce mix because making it from scratch seemed too hard at the moment, or would take too long?

Magic Roux Cubes to the rescue!

I had a bunch of odds and ends to make dinner from.  A little broccoli. Some slightly past its prime cauliflower. (For various reasons, we’ve been acquiring cauliflower from several sources lately. We like it, but it feels as if we’ve had our year’s allotment in three weeks… and it all came at once, and one large head was not that fresh when we got it, and… this did need a little help.) Cooked rice, of course…

Stirring chipotle cheese sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.comA cheese sauce? That’s a classic combination with cruciferous vegetables, and it’s lovely over rice. And I had a little – but not quite enough – leftover meat, so the additional protein would help the meal, too. How should I season it? I usually use a bit of mustard. I was out of prepared mustard… (How did that happen? Rich?? Oh, yeah, right, he did mention that…) I have whole mustard seed, but the point was to avoid fuss…  I have some of the chipotle puree I’ve spoken about before – simply a small can of chipotle in adobo, pureed. It keeps beautifully, and you can use just a little at a time – I’ve been using it in my refried beans for breakfast, as it adds a lovely smokey flavor as well as heat. That should go well with cheddar cheese… (I had some domestic Swiss as well – but the chipotle tipped my choice to cheddar.)

Heating milk with chipotle adobo puree - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI took a small sauce pan and started to heat a cup of milk over low heat. Got out the chipotle puree, and just used a regular teaspoon to put a blop in (such precise terms I use… but it was, in fact, just about a measuring teaspoon, and your measurements will vary by your preferred degree of heat.) If you prefer, you can certainly use prepared mustard for this… again, somewhere around a teaspoon, varied by both your own preference for heat and in that case, the heat of the mustard.

Then I took out 2 roux cubes. I wanted a fairly thick sauce, as I was making it seriously part of the meal. If you just want a drizzle of cheesy goodness over your broccoli, you might use just one. And I cut them in half, to make them dissolve more easily.

Golden corn roux cubes - www.inhabitedkitchen.comNow – looking at my original post you might notice that these look different…  I made the original ones with whole wheat, as I have for years. I’d started wondering about options, though… Some people don’t like the taste of whole wheat, some don’t like the way it looks in a white sauce, and, of course, some can’t eat wheat. And I wondered how well different flours would work – and also, how would the flavors affect the food made with them? What is the most neutral flavor, if you just want one kind? What flour would enhance some foods, possibly even enough that it would be worth making cubes in that flavor for a sauce or gravy you make frequently? (I’m starting to lean strongly to buckwheat roux cubes for beef gravy… but I’ve only tried a few kinds so far.)

Anyhow – I made these with the fine stone ground corn meal I was using for muffins. When I was making the cubes, and cooking the flour in that process, I thought the corn smelled delicious, so it seemed they would be nice for a chili cheese sauce. I did smell it very slightly while I was heating the sauce, but if there was any flavor addition it was pretty subtle – the stronger flavors of chipotle and cheese largely drowned it out. Worth trying…

Cheddar cheese for sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.comSo, anyhow… I had a small pot of milk over low heat, and had stirred in the chipotle puree. I dropped in the roux cubes, and stirred every minute or so. Meanwhile, I cut up about 2 ounces of cheddar – a fairly lightly flavored sauce, you could double that without it being too much…  Kept a close eye on the milk, and stirred often, as that seems to help the roux melt gradually off the cubes without lumps – and I find it can thicken pretty abruptly. (I find it amusing that the chipotle made the milk slightly pink… and then the corn started to add yellow to turn the whole thing orange even before adding the cheese!)

Adding cheese to thickened sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAs soon as it started to thicken, I started stirring constantly, and added the cheese in 2-3 parts. Stirred until everything was melted, and the sauce was nice and thick, and then turned the heat off.

There. Chipotle cheese sauce in under 5 minutes. No harder than a dry mix – just add the ingredients to milk and stir… I really liked the chipotle flavor. It added a nice smokiness as well as a little zing. I’ll still use mustard, often, since we like that too, but I’m adding this to my list. Now, you don’t have to add either – though in that case I would definitely add more cheese, or it will be bland… It really depends on what you and your family  like, and what you will serve it with.

In the pictures, this looks a little grainy. It didn’t taste or feel that way… Part of that is flecks of chipotle, but I’m also wondering if some of it might have been the corn… The alternate grain roux cubes are Not Ready for Prime time – I’ll have questions like that answered before I post about them. Today I just grabbed what I had… my other choice was buckwheat, which I did not think would work well, here – too assertive. Assuming that what you have in your freezer is wheat, since that’s what I wrote about before, that will work perfectly well. (You don’t have roux cubes in your freezer? What are you waiting for?)

Vegetables and rice with Chipotle Cheese Sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

Quick Chipotle Cheese Sauce

Make a chipotle cheese sauce in five minutes to dress up plain vegetables or grains, using a convenient pre-made roux cube.

Ingredients

  • 1 c milk
  • 1 t chipotle puree (puree a can of chipotle in adobo)
  • 2 roux cubes
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, cut up

Instructions

  1. Put milk in a small saucepan. Stir in chipotle puree.
  2. Add roux cubes. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. As sauce thickens, add cheese, and stir until smooth.
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Woman at Work

A nice cup of tea... www.inhabitedkitchen.com

I’m tinkering behind the scenes. I’m gradually making some changes that should, in the long run, give you all a better experience, and make it easier for me to continue to improve this blog.

The major one in the works right now will affect RSS feeds and email subscriptions. This post is really mostly a test run to make sure everything works correctly… if there’s a problem, I’d rather you not get this than that you not get a Real Post. If you use a reader, you probably won’t see any changes at all – if you are an email subscriber the changes right now will be trivial, but will allow me to improve the email in future. It will also give you more control – it will be easier to change an address, or, if you want to, unsubscribe. (It looks as if some of you may have had trouble changing addresses in the past – there seem to be duplicate email addresses with the same name and different providers. I’m trying to make this work better for you.)

So – relax, have a nice cup of tea…  look at this week’s CSA pickup and think about what you would do with these vegetables…   (I love the way the kale looks so blue! Red tomatoes and peppers, yellow squash, and green, orange and lavender… they really are so lovely!)

Late October Vegetables - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

We will return to Our Usual Programming shortly.

Roast Stuffed Pumpkin

Lovely little pie pumpkin - ready to roast - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

We got a lovely little pie pumpkin from our CSA. I really should have taken more pictures of it – it was prettier than the one I used last year for some of my header pictures.

Now, I can always simply bake it and use the flesh for various squash dishes, as I did last year. But this time, I thought I’d share one of my favorite special Fall dishes – a roast stuffed pumpkin. I’ve made this for an ordinary meal for ourselves, as a treat, but I’ve also served it as a side dish at dinner parties, and holiday meals, because of the elegant presentation. I used sausage in this, but if I have a vegetarian at the table, I’ll omit that, add more lentils, and have something I can serve as a side dish for everyone that can give the vegetarian a substantial part of a meal.

Little pie pumpkin - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI started with this lovely little pumpkin. Which I realize (too late) I should have weighed or otherwise measured to give you an idea of size… sorry about that. It was… um… a fairly typical pie pumpkin, neither particularly large nor small… That cutting board it sits on is 12″ wide, if that helps! In general, though, I go with whatever size I get or find  – if the stuffing doesn’t fill it, that’s OK. If there is extra, I’ve put it in the baking dish around the pumpkin, or in a separate baking dish – or even just left it for another time.

Cuttint lid off pumpkin - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAnyhow – starting with the pumpkin. I cut the top off, carefully, as I want to replace it both for baking and because it is an attractive presentation. I therefore cut at a sharp angle, so the lid would rest neatly on the walls of the pumpkin. You can see how that works. I don’t mind some irregularity in the shape of the lid, as that actually makes it easier to line up – but I don’t want something that will fall inside.

Preparing pumpkin - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThen I scooped out the insides – the seeds and stringy pulpy part. Once the inside was clean, I sprinkled it very lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper, and set it aside to marinate. The salt will pull out some liquid – I just periodically swirl it around to cover the inside with the seasoning. How much salt and pepper you use will depend on both your own taste but also how highly seasoned the sausage you use it – if it is hot and salty, you won’t want much seasoning in the pumpkin itself. I really used just a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill for this.

Cooking stuffing - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThen, letting that rest, I started my stuffing. I took a quarter of a pound of breakfast sausage and started it browning in the pan. When it had started to release some fat, I added a small chopped onion, and stirred it all around to saute the onion while the meat browned. Once the meat was brown and the onion was soft, I added 2/3 of a cup of brown rice, and 1/4 cup of lentils. (If I wanted a vegetarian dish I would skip the sausage, saute the onion in a little oil, and increase the lentils to 1/2 cup.) I stirred the rice and lentils around in the pan and let them brown a little, as in a pilaf, and then added 2 1/2 cups of water. I brought the water to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and covered the pan – let it cook for 45 minutes. At about 40 minutes, check to see if it is done – or if it needs more water and time. You don’t want it cooked to mush, as it will cook more in the pumpkin, but you also don’t want it undercooked…  (If you did add more lentils, you will need more water – start with 3 cups.)

Stuffeed pumpkin, ready to roast - www.inhabitedkitchen.comShortly before it is finished,  preheat the oven to 400°. Take the pumpkin and fill it with the stuffing. You want to pile it in loosely, not pack it in tightly. Then replace the lid, and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Ready for the oven - www.inhabitedkitchen.comNow – you have some freedom with this step. You can make the rice mixture an hour or two ahead – useful for a company meal. You can even make it the day before and refrigerate it – then prepare the pumpkin that afternoon, and stuff it right before baking. If you can, take the stuffing out of the fridge about half an hour before using it to take some of the chill off – I don’t have the counter space to do that… The timing I give is using a hot stuffing – you’ll need to increase it to an hour or a little more if the stuffing needs to heat through. Don’t prepare the pumpkin more than a few hours ahead, though – it will dry out and be unpleasant and unattractive.

Roast stuffed pumpkin - www.inhabitedkitchen.comServing this to company I put it on a pretty platter and serve it at the table. (And I should have done that for a picture… but we were hungry, so I just served.) It is, of course, quite hot, so handle it carefully. Remove the lid, and scoop out spoons full of both the pumpkin and the stuffing together. The two of us made a meal of this and a tossed salad, finished the stuffing and had about a pint of pumpkin left over – as a side dish it easily serves four to six. (More, of course, if more dishes are served – for Thanksgiving, say…) I love serving it with pork chops and broccoli or Brussels sprouts – it looks festive, and dresses up the whole meal, without any last minute fussing.

Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin - www.inhabitedkitchen.com

 

Roast Stuffed Pumpkin

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Roast Stuffed Pumpkin

Roast a stuffed pumpkin for a special Fall dinner - a meal for 2, a festive side dish for a dinner party.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2/3 c long grain brown rice
  • 1/4 c lentils
  • 2 1/2 c water

Instructions

  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin to make a lid. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside. Set aside.
  2. Start to brown sausage in a saute pan. Add chopped onion, and saute until it is soft and the meat is browned, but not cooked through.
  3. Add rice and lentils, stir around to coat with any fat in the pan, and brown lightly. Add water, bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes until done.
  4. Fill pumpkin lightly with stuffing and place in a baking pan. (Any extra stuffing can be placed around the pumpkin in the pan.) Bake in a 400 oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Serve, scooping out spoons full of both pumpkin and stuffing together.
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WIAW 39

Monday's Meals - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAnd it is Wednesday – time for What I Ate Wednesday!

For anyone new, I join Jenn at Peas and Crayons in a weekly round up of one day’s food. I find it interesting, as it shows what I am really eating, not just what I am writing about – and, at the same time, it’s a way to show the way that the recipes I write about fit into my daily life. You’ll see leftovers and how I use Convenient Food and the everyday meals I don’t otherwise talk about. Continue reading