Posts Tagged ‘supper’

I have no idea when I first roasted a whole chicken. I can tell you though that I have memories of crispy, blackened skin and meat needing a hack saw to cut through. This had nothing to do with poor culinary skill as much as poor attention to detail. I had cooked the chicken at 450 degrees for two hours when the cookbook clearly stated 350. Oops.

This dish is the best kind of one pot meal because all ingredients go into the pot raw and they all come out cooked at the same time. Other than some prep work and periodic basting, you will not have to work in the kitchen long. There are literally thousands of recipe variations for roasting a chicken. Here I offer a simple version that will show the basic technique. If you get nothing else out of this post, please pay close attention to step 4. It is the secret to even cooking and perfecting presentation without having to deal with trussing the chicken with kitchen twine.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 pound roasting chicken
  • 2 lbs butternut squash
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 large spanish onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then peel the butternut squash. Cut off the narrow end and set aside. Cut the wide part in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Repeat with narrow end of the squash. Put into a large dutch oven or at the bottom of a roasting pan.

2. Peel the onion and cut in half. Cut into 1 inch chunks and add to butternut squash in pot. Drizzle olive oil on top of vegetables. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Your chicken will be placed on top of the vegetables and the juices that will drip off. This will add more salt from the chicken into the squash and onion.

3. Remove the gizzards (should be in a plastic bag inside the cavity of the chicken) from the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out with water. Pat inside and out with paper towels until dry.

4. Working with the chicken, breast side up on a cutting board, cut a small slit in the skin flaps just next to the drumsticks. Insert two fingers to stretch the hole to the size of a quarter. Take the end of the drumstick and insert through the hole you just created. Repeat with the other drumstick. Then tuck each wing underneath the back of the chicken into what I call the Chicken Yoga position.

Note: I’ve pictured the process below. The purpose of this is to ensure everything cooks evenly and the wings do not burn. It also makes for a nice presentation when the chicken has finished cooking.

5. Place the chicken on top of the squash and onion mixture. Drizzle olive oil on top and rub into skin with your hands.

6. Zest 1 orange and then cut the orange into quarters.

7. Season inside chicken cavity with 1/2 tsp of salt. Rub the zest on the outside and inside of the chicken. Then, squeeze 2 of the orange quarters over the chicken . Place oranges quarters inside the cavity of the chicken. Season chicken salt, thyme, basil, and oregano. You can go heavier with the salt as it will melt into the skin and then into the meat. About 1 1/2 tsp should do. Let sit out for 20 minutes before cooking.

Note: The orange juice will not flavor the chicken, but will act as a browning agent. In the oven, the sugars will caramelize and give your chicken the beautiful brown color you see in magazines.

8. Cook chicken covered for 1 hour. Cut the second orange in half. Squeeze 1 half over chicken. Put squeezed half into pot continue cooking for another 30 minutes covered.

9. Squeeze second half of orange over chicken. Continue cooking for 15 minutes uncovered or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees in the thigh and the juices when pieced run clear.

Note: If the breast meat is already browned to the point below, cover the breast with aluminum foil to protect the meat from drying out.

10. Drain vegetables. Serve chicken on a platter accompanied by vegetables. Sit back and let your family and friends sing your praises.

Variation

For orange flavored skin, mix 2 tbsp orange marmalade with 1 tbsp dijion mustard and 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinager. Before cooking the last 15 minutes, brush this mixture onto the skin.

If you prefer squash al dente, cut the onion into thin slices instead and cover the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken on top. Add the butternut squash  around the chicken during step 8. Don’t forget to season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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Making your own salad dressing is rather easy and much more healthy than buying it off the supermarket shelves. You control the quality of the ingredients, as well as the quantity so each batch is custom to your personal taste and lifestyle preferences.

This recipe has been posted on the internet for several years now. I can only imagine that a disgruntled line cook posted the recipe after being laid off. It’s also possible that this is just someone’s guess at what would be in the dressing. If the latter is true, then I must say ‘Bravo’. I’ve cut the original recipe is half and modified slightly to my own liking. This recipe will make approximately 4 cups which is enough to fill 2 salad dressing bottles.

Ingredients

  • 2c canola oil
  • 1/2c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2c white vinegar
  • 1/3c water
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

1. In a large measuring cup with a spout, measure out oils. If you do not have a measuring cup big enough, pour into a mixing bowl with a spout. This will make the emulsifying process much easier. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix garlic, sugar, ground mustard, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, thyme, and oregano. Pour water, white and red wine vinegar into the same bowl. Whisk until sugar has dissolved.

3. With one hand, drizzle oil mixture into large mixing bowl steadily while whisking vigorously with the other hand. This will emulsify the oil and thicken the dressing.

4. Using a funnel, pour salad dressing into 2 clean salad dressing containers. Refrigerate. Shake before using. Will keep for 3 months.

If you have not had the experience of dining at Maggiano’s Little Italy (www.maggianos.com), let me take a minute to highly recommend you make a reservation. The portion sizes are enormous, the wine list has something special for every budget, and the environment is friendly to large groups or enjoyable dinners for two.

Lamb is a prominent fixture in many Mediterranean cuisines like Greece, North Africa, and the Middle East, however, mutton (an older, female sheep) is a staple of United Kingdom cuisine including Scotland, Wales, and the northern Uplands.

Leg of lamb (unlike many pork and beef cuts) is exactly what it sounds like and is often sold on the bone and meant to be cooked on a spit. Here instead, I’ve ordered a boneless leg of lamb from the butcher. These can also be found deboned in your local grocery store.

Ingredients

  •  2-3 lb boneless leg of lamb
  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

1. If your leg did not come already tied, you will want to start with this. I am spoiled and I have my butcher tie mine ahead of time. If you don’t have a butcher, or would like to know how to do properly tie a roast, here is an excellent (if not overly thorough) video on how to tie a boneless leg of lamb.

Note: I do not endorse the cheesy music.

2. Chop the rosemary and garlic lightly and place into a mini chopper or food processor. Pulse until the rosemary and garlic have become well integrated. Add the salt and continuing pulsing. The salt will act as a abrasive and bring out the oils in the garlic and rosemary more.

3. Drizzle the olive oil over the lamb and rub in with your hands. Spread rosemary/garlic mixture over the entire surface of the lamb. Place on the rack of a roasting pan and leave on the counter for one hour. This will allow the flavors to permeate the lamb.

4. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Move the oven rack to the bottom third of your oven. When the oven has come up to temperature, place the roasting pan in the oven. Roast lamb for about 35 minutes per pound.

Note: The lamb is cooked medium rare when a meat thermometer reads 120 degrees inserted in the middle (about 1 hour). If you would like it cooked medium well, cook for an additional 20 minutes. If the middle is 120 degrees, the ends will most likely be cooked medium (around 140 degrees).

5. After you pull the lamb out of the oven, set on a cutting board and rest. Resting will allow the juices to redistribute. If you cut in the lamb too early, it will bleed and be dry.

6. As the lamb is resting, heat canola oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place potato slices in oil 4 or 5 at a time. You don’t want to crowd the pan. The potatoes should instantly sizzle. If little happens, the oil is not hot enough.

7. Flip the potato slices after 2 minutes and continue cooking for another 1 minute. Drain slices on a paper towel and season with salt. Cook second batch of slices.

8. Place potato slices on plate. Top with lamb. Garnish with mint sauce or jelly if you wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai cuisine is wonderful. Growing up in New Hampshire, I can’t ever remember seeing a Thai restaurant. It wasn’t until I lived in New York City that I had my first Thai dish – Tom Yum Goong. It was a rather unassuming dish that came highly recommended from the server. My first bite was impressive, the second divine. The soup was spicy, salty, sour, and sweet. Everything was in perfect balance. That, I learned is the basis of Thai cuisine – balance. The hot doesn’t outweigh the salty which doesn’t outweigh the sweet. You can taste everything.

My recipe for Thai Coconut Pork balances sweet and salty together by melding coconut milk and peanut butter. If you so desire, you could easily spice this dish by adding hot sauce or a diced chile. This is a quick and easy go to dish that can be made in under thirty minutes.

Ingredients (4 servings)

For the sauce

  • 1/2c Coconut Milk (highest fat content you can find)
  • 1/3c Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp Honey (only if using natural peanut butter)
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (substitute 1 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (Thai hot sauce) – optional
  • Corn starch slurry (2 tbsp corn starch and 1 tbsp water whisked together in a separate bowl)

For the pork

  • 4 center cut Pork Chops
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/4c Flour
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt

1. Measure all of the sauce ingredients, put into a mixing bowl, and whisk together until combined. Coconut milk is canned and can be found in the ethnic aisle of any major grocery store. The milk used in this recipe is 12% fat which is one of the highest I ‘ve ever seen. When you open the can, you will most likely find a solid mass at the top and water underneath. If this is the case, pour out all of this into a separate bowl, whisk together and then measure. If you are going to add Sriracha, don’t go overboard and break the balance.

Now do yourself a favor, taste the sauce. This is the time to adjust anything. Can you taste the ginger? Can you taste the coconut and the peanut butter separately? If you added hot sauce, can you feel the heat without it overwhelming the rest of your senses? If something is missing, add a little more in to the sauce, whisk again thoroughly, and let it sit a minute or two. Then repeat until you are happy. As a note, cooking the sauce is going to mellow the sweetness of the coconut milk, so if you think it is overpoweringly sweet, that will subside.

2. Before we dress the pork, this is the time to prepare whatever side dish will go with the pork. I served this alongside blanched and sauteed green beans. This would also be wonderful served atop a big pile of rice. You will also want to take the time to dice the red pepper if you haven’t already.

I highly recommend you do not skip the pepper. It adds a cool, crunchy texture that will offset the smooth, hot sauce.

3. On to the pork. Place the flour, paprika, and salt on a plate and stir with your fingers to combine. I use salt minimally here because the sauce contains most of the salty flavors we will need and we don’t want to over salt the dish. Salt is a flavor enhancer, not an additional flavor. Put each pork chop into the flour, flip over to coat both sides, and shake any excess off. You should have a red-speckled chop by the time you are finished.

4. When your side dish is five to seven minutes from finishing, it is time to cook the pork chops. Put some olive oil into a saute pan and turn to medium high (that would be a number 7 on the dial). When the oil is hot, put each chop in. If you don’t hear a sizzle, you didn’t wait long enough. Cook the chops until golden, flip and cook on the other side.

I’ve demonstrated in the picture to the right what happens to meat when the pan is not hot enough.The chop in the back and to the left of the pan were placed inthe pan shortly after putting oil in the pan, the chop in the middle and the right were put in at the right time.

Color = flavor = happy smiles when eating.

5. Press on the center of the chops. If it is firm but springy, it is most likely done. This is what I call the push test in cooking. If you can master the push test for meat, you will never worry whether your meat is finished cooking on the inside. Still, if you want to be sure, you can use a meat thermometer to check. Take the chops out and place under some aluminum foil or in a separate pan with a lid over it to keep warm. Turn the heat of your skillet to high. Pour the coconut-peanut butter sauce into the pan. With a whisk, scrape up as many of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you can. When the sauce comes to a boil, slowly pour the corn-starch slurry into the mixture while whisking the sauce in the pan. The slurry will thicken the sauce. Ensure that you keep whisking until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will happen very quickly.

6. Now it’s time to assemble your plate. Place the pork chop on the plate, spoon on a healthy serving of sauce, and top with raw red bell pepper and peanuts. If serving this alongside rice, I would put a serving of rice on the plate, and pile this on top. The juices from the pork and coconut sauce will seep into the rice. Here, I’ve served this alongside some basic sauteed green beans.

Leeks are great. They are the juggernaut warriors of the vegetable world. While their cousins and neighbors run from the cold, the leek is often left in the ground through the winter until needed. Given that they are in the ground longer, leeks sold in winter months are often far larger than summer sold leeks and offer much more value.

Ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2c Ricotta cheese
  • 4oz Spring green mix (or any kind of lettuce you like)
  • 1 small lemon
  • Olive Oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Dice the red potatoes into small cubes and put into a pot of cold water. If you see the water is dirty, rinse and repeat until the potatoes are clean. Set over high heat until boiling. Cook potatoes until tender, but not so much that they break apart. This could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on how big your pot is and how much water is in it. Best to keep an eye on this periodically while moving on to the next step.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, clean the leek. Only the white and light green parts of the leek are generally eaten. The dark green stalk is quite bitter. To start, cut off the dark green stalk to reveal the light green underneath. I like to cut in an upwards diagonal motion, but do what feels comfortable to you. You can see in the pictures that there is quite a bit of edible stalk that would be lost if you cut the leek at the end of the dark green.

3. Now cut the leek in half lengthwise.  Leave the root end on. When you go to wash the leek, it will help keep everything together. It is important to wash leeks because they grow underground and are subject to lots of dirt particles attaching themselves inside the individual sheaths. Once cut in half, run the leek under running water and brush your fingers in between each wall. A pile of dirt can ruin any meal and you do not want to risk it by skipping this step.

4. Cut the leek into thin strips.

4. By this point, the potatoes should be done. Remove from the heat and drain. Before we go any further, now is the best time to prepare the rest of your ingredients as it will go quickly from here.

  • Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. Pour 3 times as much olive oil as their is lemon juice into the bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and salt. Whisk vigorously until the vinaigrette comes together.

5. Set a large nonstick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat (a 7 on your dial). Place a couple tablespoons of olive oil and bring up to temperature. Once the oil is hot, place the garlic in the pan and saute until fragrant. Then, add the leeks and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If in doubt, put half the salt you think you should, stir to combine and taste a potato or leek. If it is tasty and not bland, you’ve properly seasoned  your vegetables. Otherwise, add a pinch more and repeat until you are happy.

6. When the leek is translucent (or just looks like the picture above) pour the egg mixture into the pan. Stir to combine ingredients in pan. Mound three scoops of ricotta cheese on top (alternately, you can whisk the cheese and the egg together and pour in all at once).  Stir a few times to combine ingredients. Cook until the egg has began to set on the bottom – 2 minutes max.

7. Place pan in oven for 7 to 10 minutes until the egg has set throughout and the cheese has melted. The edges should be browned and crispy.

8. Toss the spring mix in some of the lemon vinaigrette, and serve alongside a healthy slice of frittata.

Homemade pasta is not nearly as hard as it seems. Essentially, it’s two ingredients: Flour and Eggs. That’s it. But, before you decide if making homemade pasta is right for you, there are three things to consider:

1) Do I have time?

Making pasta at home will not take eons of time. Making the dough will take roughly 20 minutes, but filling ravioli, tortellini, or pressing and drying other kinds of pasta does require a time committment. On a good note, if you are a parent, this is a fantastic project to do with children as it requires no knives, dangerous machinery, or the stove.

2) What kind of pasta should I make?

There are many accessories that will help you make perfectly uniform cuts. If you don’t want to make a big investment in these, I would stick with ravioli or tortelinni. Strand shaped pasta like spaghetti, linguine, and fettuccine requires uniform sized noodles so they all cook at the same speed. Otherwise, some will be al dente and the rest will be mush.

3) How much should I make?

While you are putting in the effort, make lots. Filled pastas will freeze and strand pasta will dry the same way you buy it in your grocery store.. This requires some additional time and steps, but this is a much healthier alternative to ingesting the sodium riddled frozen pasta we have all come to love.

Once you try homemade pasta, it will be difficult for you to go back to the boxed stuff.

Making Pasta

Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Eggs

Before I start, I want to note that I am using the ratio method of cooking here. Pasta dough uses a 3:2 flour to egg ratio. The reason for this is because each egg weighs something different. To simply say, use 1 egg, would be inaccurate. However, if you don’t have a kitchen scale (and if you are going to cook alot, I would recommend getting one), I have included approximations as well.

1) Measure out eggs first. You will need one egg for each serving. I am making 6 servings, so six eggs are cracked and weighed. This amounts to 324g.

2) Measure out the flour. Remember, we need a 3:2 ratio. I’ve shown the math below. You can use this method to figure out how much flour you need by solving for X. This also proves that your math teacher was right and this stuff can be used in real life. (3 1/4 cups of flour — ish)

3) Now make a well in the flour. You’ve probably seen on the Food Network that they tend to dump the flour on the counter. This is a terrible idea. You are going to pour the eggs into the well. If your walls break, you are going to have egg everywhere. This will make you sad. My method is to keep the flour is a large mixing bowl and use a glass to make a well. Then pour the eggs into the middle. You can see from the picture below that if you do it right, the eggs will smile at you.

4) Now the fun part! Take a fork and begin to scramble the eggs. As you move around, flour with become incorporated into the egg mixture. Make your circles bigger until you get a solid mixture. I’ve taken the liberty to attach my YouTube video demonstration below.

I removed the soundtrack from the video due in part to the noxious egg mixing sound. I replaced it with “Help, I’m Alive” by Metric. And yes, I realize I”m a dork.

5) When you get the pasta to look like the video, stop there and use your hands to finish the task. Keep kneading the dough until the flour has incorporated itself into the mixture and the dough is smooth and elastic. This can take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. This also counts as your strength training work out for the day. The dough will still be slightly sticky. DO NOT ADD EXTRA FLOUR. You will want to. Hold in the impulses.

6) Lay out some saran wrap on your counter and spray it with cooking spray. Then put the disc of dough in the middle, wrap it, and chill it in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours. You can make this up to 24 hours ahead of time, but I don’t recommend leaving it too long. Dough will absorb all the odors in your fridge and you may not want your ravioli to taste like last weeks leftovers. 
That’s it folks. You’ve made pasta dough. From here, you can roll it out, put it through a pasta press, use a pasta machine, whatever you want. Need some inspiration? Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the recipe for my Mushroom Ravioli.

Chili is classic cowboy food. During cattle drives, cowboys would pound together dried beef, fat, spices, and dried chile peppers into squares. They then would rehydrate these “chili bricks” on the trail with a pot of boiling water. Trail cooks even went so far as to plant onions, peppers, and spices along the way for future trail rides.

My turkey chili recipe would be laughed out of Texas if I brought this on the trail. However, this version is heart healthy by replacing the chuck beef with lean ground turkey and loaded with protein with the addition of kidney beans. Prepared salsa bought in the store will save you time from dicing tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 28oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 2c salsa (16oz jar)
  • 12oz beer (darker the better)
  • 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1/3c light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp chile powder (homemade is best)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 chipotle peppers, minced (from 7oz can in adobo sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat a large dutch oven or oven-safe skillet over medium high heat (7 on the dial). Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Put turkey in dutch oven, season with salt, and cook until all traces of pink are gone. Drain fat.

2. Return turkey to dutch oven and turn heat to high. Put chicken stock, beer, salsa, and kidney beans into dutch oven and heat until beer begins to boil.

3. Add brown sugar, cumin, chile powder to chile mixture and stir to combine. Allow ingredients to cook until the liquid can be seen primarily on top.

Note: If you prefer smoky, spicy flavors, you could also add a couple minced chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeno peppers and can be found canned in adobo sauce in the ethnic section of many supermarkets. You can also add the adobo sauce. The more you add, the hotter your chili will be.

4. Cover dutch oven and place in preheated oven for 1 hour. In the oven, starch will be released from the beans and thicken the liquid inside. If there is not enough liquid, the sides will begin to burn so you may want to check on the chili after 40 minutes. If the stew is dry, add another 1/2c of chicken stock.

5. Serve chile as is or top with cheese, raw onion, sour cream, or other condiments.