Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coq Au Vin

This is Julia Child-ish, since I changed a few things from her original, but tried to keep the spirit of the thing. Julia adds cognac and flambés after browning the chicken, however she never had wooden cupboards above her stove like me, so I left that part out. Besides, I’m not buying a bottle of cognac I’m never going to drink.

Keeping with the theme of not taking a special trip to the liquor store, I used a bottle of red wine from the Loire Valley as opposed to the more traditional Burgundy called for. Also worth noting: the caramelized cippolini are the show stealer; I could eat them all by themselves and be a happy man.

Servings: 4 healthy portions
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes total

1 chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
½ pound bacon
~20 cippolini or pearl onions
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups red wine (Burgundy or Pinot Noir is best)
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Handful of thyme sprigs
Handful of parsley sprigs
½ pound crimini mushrooms
3 tbsp butter, divided
Egg noodles
Parsley for garnish
Crusty bread for serving

Cut the up your chicken, separating the legs from the thighs and slicing the breast in half. If you’re not familiar with breaking down a chicken, it’s Alton Brown to the rescue.

Place the bacon slices in a pan of cold water (covered by a few inches) and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. This is a Julia Child thing for removing some of the excess saltiness from the bacon. Remove the blanched bacon pieces and cut into 1” x ¼” strips.

Heat a dutch oven over medium and add the bacon, cooking until crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, and drain the excess grease (save enough to coat the dutch oven).

Up the heat to medium high and brown the chicken in 2 batches, seasoning the meat with salt. If there’s excess grease once all the chicken is browned, drain that.

Remove the chicken and lower the heat to medium. Add the leeks and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, assemble the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf into a cheesecloth bundle, for easier retrieval.

Pour the red wine into the dutch oven, and scrape up anything sticking on the bottom. Add the stock, the chicken and bacon back in, and the herb bundle. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

The wine I used

The cheesecloth looks like a gym sock in there, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, for the onions: Blanch for 30 seconds to a minute in boiling water, then remove and take off the skins. Cut off the root and stem ends. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 425°F oven for 20-25 minutes until they have some nice color on them. Flip them about halfway through. Set aside.

For the mushrooms: Clean them off, and roughly chop them. Set a pan over medium high heat and melt 1 tbsp butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes, seasoning with salt to help draw out excess moisture. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Okay, back to the main dish. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate. Remove the herb bundle, and the garlic cloves. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce by ½ to ¾. I probably could’ve reduced mine slightly more, but I was hungry.

While the sauce is reducing, cook your egg noodles according to the instructions on the package.

Once the sauce is in a good place, add the chicken back in, along with the onions and mushrooms to warm through.  Serve the coq au vin over the egg noodles, garnish with parsley, and serve with a heel of crusty bread.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Lime and Chili Aioli

I don't own any sort of dedicated deep fryer, so when I want to fry something I have to bust our the ol dutch oven and do it that way. Frankly, I think dealing with all that oil is more of a pain in the ass than it's worth, especially for making a side dish.

Luckily, the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has a great method for doing fries in the oven (well, a pot of water and then the oven). I decided to substitute the typical russets with sweet potatoes, and add a dipping sauce as well.
Sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Parsley, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

Cut the sweet potatoes into matchsticks approximately 3/8” thick. They can be a little bigger (since sweet potatoes are more irregularly shaped than russets, I think it’s perfectly acceptable if they’re not all 100% the same size), but don’t make them too large.

Add the fries (are they fries before they’re cooked, or just potatoes?) to a pot filled with cold water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes; the potatoes should offer just a bit of resistance to a fork piercing them.

Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet (I use a silpat for this, parchment paper could work as well or you could just grease the sheet well) and add to the oven.

Remove the potatoes with a spider/slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and place the fries on it in one layer. Season with salt and pepper and pour some olive oil on top. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping after 10 and 20 minutes.

1 egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon ground aji panca, or other powdered chili
1 tablespoon lime juice

Add the egg, mustard and garlic to a small jar (or do it in a blender). Add the oils to a measuring cup so they can be easily poured. Hit the egg/mustard/garlic with an immersion blender for 10 seconds, then slowly add the pour in the oil with the blender going. Add just a few drops at a time at first to start the emulsion, then start pouring in a very slow stream. Once you have about half the oil emulsified, you can pour a little more quickly. This should take about 2 minutes.

After the aioli is emulsified, season with salt, chili powder and lime juice to taste.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicken Fried Quinoa

I’ve been trying to eat moderately healthier, so for this week (with the theme being fried food), I opted for a healthy version of fried rice. Or at least I’m assuming quinoa is healthier then rice, but I’m no nutritionist, so take any claims of healthiness with a grain of salt. If the quantities in the recipe and the pictures don’t look like they match up, you’d be right. I made enough quinoa and chicken for two servings, but only cooked one finished serving.

Chicken Fried Quinoa (serves 2):
1 cup uncooked quinoa, washed
2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
1 large chicken breast, skin removed, diced
Broccoli, chopped into florets
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Frozen peas

1 egg
1 tbsp white vinegar

Purple basil
Green onions (green parts only)
Black pepper
Sriracha hot sauce

Make sure you rinse your quinoa before cooking, even if the package says it’s pre-washed. Bring the 2 cups chicken stock to a boil, add the quinoa, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain excess liquid and refrigerate overnight.

Gather all the ingredients and have them ready to go – this cooks fast, so you won’t have any time to chop things on the fly. Fill a medium saucepan with water, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, and heat to a simmer. Keep it simmering so you can start poaching your egg when the time comes.

Heat a pan over high heat. Add 1 tbsp of peanut oil, and the diced chicken. Cook for about 3 minutes, turning halfway. Remove to a plate. While the chicken is cooking, place the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add shallots and garlic, cook for 30 seconds (add the other tablespoon of peanut oil if the pan looks a little dry), and add back in the chicken and cooked quinoa. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.

Right after you add the quinoa to the frying pan, start poaching your egg. Crack the egg open into a small dish. Use a slotted spoon to create a whirlpool in the pan of water, and bring the bowl as close to the water as you can, and slip the egg into the center of the water. Keep the water at a simmer, and cook for exactly 3 ½ minutes.

Add the soy, fish, and oyster sauce to the quinoa, stirring to incorporate. Let cook for about 30 seconds, then add the frozen peas (straight out of the bag) and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and plate.

Remove the poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon, and drain any excess water. Lay on top of the fried quinoa.

Sprinkle on a good amount of black pepper, squirt on a generous portion of sriracha, and garnish with green onion slices and purple/Thai basil.