Courter's Kitchen: Making the best of the storm with "lights-out" cooking

Courter's Kitchen: Making the best of the storm with "lights-out" cooking

May 4th, 2011 by Barry Courter in Entertainmentfood

BARRY COURTER: Last week's storms left many of us faced with varying degrees of hardship and challenge. We were fortunate at the Courter house that all we lost was power. With a little luck and ingenuity, we managed to save most of what was in the refrigerator. In fact, thanks to Kelley's talents and creativity, we ate fairly well.

Combining what we had in the fridge, some fresh herbs from the garden and some fresh bread and sausage from Chattanooga Market, Sunday's meal, eaten al fresco on the porch, was an homage to old-school cooking and doing things local. We called it our Lights-Out Ragu.

All of our meals were cooked over charcoal, and most of it was cooked in a cast-iron skillet made down the road at Lodge Manufacturing. I even used my morning newspaper to light the charcoal.

KELLEY COURTER: I hate to throw anything away, especially when it comes to food. So when the power went out, I knew we would need to quickly use the things we had on hand. After the first day, it seemed possible we would not have power for a few days, so the cook in me kicked into high gear.

I really wanted something Italian but knew from earlier in the week, when we tried to boil eggs on the grill (which did eventually cook, by they way), that the water would not come to a boil for pasta. That's when I thought that beans would be a good substitute, and so it began.

Then I remembered that it was the first day of Chattanooga Market, so I was off to see what other items might be fitting for the feast. I ended up with Italian sausages from Link 41 and freshly baked roasted-garlic ciabatta bread from Bluff View Bakery. We rounded out the meal with fresh seasonal strawberries with whipped cream.

We have made the best of a bad situation this past week. It has been a challenge to acclimate our routine for the past few days, but I can't complain, as others have it much worse. My own mother and father's home was destroyed in the Easter tornado in '97. I remember the devastation, destruction and shock that one goes through. I also remember the wonderful people who helped with supplying coffee, water and a simple sandwich.

Barry and I extend our prayers to all the families dealing with hardships caused by the storm.

Lights-Out Ragu

11/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1/2 bag matchstick carrots

1 stalk celery, sliced

4 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

3/4 cup diced grilled roast pork loin

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup Nicoise olives

11/2 teaspoons brown sugar

Black pepper to taste

3/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes

In olive oil, sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic until wilted. Add cinnamon, rosemary and pork, and sauté until slightly brown. Deglaze with white wine, then add remaining ingredients and simmer to a slightly thickened sauce.

Set aside.

Beans

3 teaspoons butter

3 fresh sage leaves

1 can canellini beans

1 can Navy beans

Sea salt

Add butter to skillet along with sage leaves.

Slowly cook until leaves are crisp. Be careful not to burn the butter, but cook to slightly brown. Coat the beans, which have been rinsed of their liquid, and heat till warm. Season with sea salt.

Grilled Sausage and Ciabatta Bread

We grilled one sausage link (4-5 inches in length per link) and one piece of sliced garlic ciabatta for each person. Cook the sausage until done, and keep an eye on the bread so that it doesn't burn.

To serve: Place beans on plate and top with ragu, sausages and shaved parmesan. Serve with grilled bread.

COURTERS' KITCHEN

This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.