When I was living in NYC, three-day winter weekends meant ski weekends in Vermont. There was no better feeling than leaving work early on a Friday so I could pack my car with luggage and essential provisions for a long-weekend in the mountains. Note that these provisions always involved several bottles of wine (finding good, cheap wine in VT isn’t particularly fun) and ingredients for easy yet filling cold-weather dishes. Normally when I travel, visiting new restaurants is part of the fun, but when I ski I’m usually too tired to manage a long dinner out. Instead, I like to cook a giant dinner at home while wearing an enormous sweater and sipping through the weekend’s wine stash. Having everyone in the house help out keeps the whole process simple and relaxed, which is exactly what you want after spending a day swirling through sub-zero temperatures and snow. Yes, Vermont gets that cold!
Here are two of my favorite recipes to make while on a ski trip. Both are easy and can be made in the most basic AirBnb kitchen. I recommend packing ingredients like spices that you’re not likely to have in the vacation kitchen. Little button bags from new clothes work great.
P.S. Always travel with a wine bottle opener, tea or ground coffee, advil, and emergen-c. I’ve found again and again that these things are inevitably needed during weekends away, and they tend to be things that when you need them, you REALLY need them.
Pasta With Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
(for a veggie dinner, omit the bacon and replace with roasted broccoli or eggplant)
What I’ve found is that ½-⅔ a regular box of linguine serves two people but adjust for your group necessary and then of course increase the amount bacon and brussels.
½ box linguine
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
3 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons butter
Freshly grated parmesan and/or pecorino cheese (optional)
Bring large pot heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is just al dente (do not overcook!).
While the water boils, heat large a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the bacon and sauté until the fat on starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and bacon turn richly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread sprouts mixture in pan and press down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat. This helps brown the sprouts. Add the butter, and sauté for another minute.
Drain pasta and add it to pan with brussels sprouts mixture. Cook, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Drizzle a little more olive oil and mix in cheese and extra pepper flakes. Serve hot.
Suggested wine pairing: Gruner Vetliner, especially a young one. These tend to be crispy with notes of lemon, minerals, and white pepper. Perfect for the garlic and cheese.
Pan-Seared Steaks with Asparagus and Mac + Cheese
(inspired by this NYT recipe. serves two)
This one might sound like a lot of work but it’s actually incredibly easy, especially if you opt for a box of Annie’s mac and cheese instead of making at home. Of course nothing beats the homemade stuff, here’s a recipe for it if you’re feeling up to the task apres apres-ski.
2 beef tenderloin steaks, 6 ounces each, cut 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon coarsely crushed black pepper
1-2 tablespoons steak seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, finely diced
½ cups rich beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon Cognac or bourbon
¼ cup crème fraîche
1 bunch of aspargus (you’ll have leftovers)
1 box of Annie’s Organic Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Hot sauce and fresh pepper to jazz up the mac
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and when ready place the asparagus (trimmed, salted and drizzled with olive oil) on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes. While the asparagus cooks, boil water for the pasta and put steaks in a shallow dish. Season the steaks well on both sides with salt. Sprinkle seasonings over both sides and leave for 10 minutes.
Put a large cast iron skillet over high heat. When surface is nearly smoking, swirl 1 tablespoon butter in the pan and add steaks. Adjust heat as necessary to keep steaks sizzling briskly.
Cook for 3 minutes on first side; seared side should be nicely browned. Flip and cook for 3 minutes more for medium rare to medium steaks. Transfer steaks to a warm platter.
By now the pasta water should be ready, and prepare according to the instructions on the box.
Make the sauce: Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Add shallots and sauté for a minute or so, stirring, until they begin to brown. Add broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add Cognac and continue to simmer until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche and cook until sauce is lightly thickened.
Return steaks to pan to warm, spooning sauce over them and turning once. Arrange steaks on platter or individual plates and top with more sauce. Serve immediately.
Suggested wine pairing: French Malbec. There's something more rustic about them than their Argentine counterparts, which makes them perfect for steaks on a cold night.