Friday, January 19, 2018

Chicken Stew from Cook’s Illustrated

Cook’s Illustrated is one of our favorite magazines. Published six times a year, Cook’s Illustrated often experiments with traditional recipes to make them better. More often than not they succeed and, for that, I am more than pleased.

chicken stew from cooks illustratedIn the November and December 2013 edition, Chef Dan Souza tries his hand at making a Chicken Stew. Dan is quite right when he argues that beef or pork is usually associated with stews. Chicken stew derivatives like coq au vin, tend to be more like a soup than a stew and while they are generally very flavorful often lack the substance of a “real” beef stew.

Dan’s goal was to make a chicken stew that was more robust and substantive and succeeded admirably.

The basic approach was to build a rich and flavorful gravy by cooking two batches of chicken: one for flavor and one for eating. In effect, he creates a rich gravy by extracting flavor (collagen) from chicken wings and then adds some big flavor boosters: bacon, soy sauce and anchovy paste to create a great chicken stew. (Editor’s Note: We ate the chicken stew last weekend and even granddaughter Corinne enjoyed it.)

Best Chicken Stew from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients (Serves 4 to 8)

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved crosswise and trimmed
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped (please use Benton’s bacon)
  • 1 pound chicken wings, halved at joint
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (yes, I suggest King Arthur flour)
  • 1 pound small red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325º. Arrange chicken thighs on baking sheet and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper; cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until fat renders and bacon browns, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to medium bowl. Add chicken wings to pot, increase heat to medium and cook until well browned on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes; transfer wings to bowl with bacon.
  3. Add onion, celery, garlic, anchovy paste, and thyme to fat in pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until dark fond forms on pan bottom, 2 to 4 minutes. Increase heat to high; stir in 1 cup broth, wine, and soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits; and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to sizzle again, 12 to 15 minutes. Add butter and stir to melt; sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in remaining 4 cups broth until smooth. Stir in wings and bacon, potatoes, and carrots; bring to simmer. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.
  4. Remove pot from oven. Use wooden spoon to draw gravy up sides of pot and scrape browned fond into stew. Place over high heat, add thighs, and bring to simmer. Return pot to oven, uncovered and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken offers no resistance when poked with fork and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes longer. (Stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
  5. Discard wings and season stew with up to 2 tablespoons extra wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Money-saving comment from a guest chef

“I’ve made this recipe three times now. It is absolutely delicious. Here’s a money saving variation. Yesterday, I made baked buffalo chicken wings. I used the “flappers’ from the family pack of wings in place of the pound of wings. I prepared the gravy up to almost the end of step three. I put in just the chicken wing tips, covered it, and simmered for an hour. Took the wings out and put the gravy in the fridge overnight. It was nice and thick when I took it out of the fridge today. I reheated the gravy with a little more water, added the veggies and continued as above. Used a chicken part that usually goes to waste, and you’re not wasting good wings. Tasted identical to the batches I made with a pound of wings.”

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Broccoli and Stilton Soup from Nigella Lawson

On a cold winter’s day, there are few things better than Broccoli and Stilton soup.  Personally, I like the distinctive taste of stilton in my soup and have doubled the recommended amount.  Do use a good stilton, preferably one from Borough Market.

broccoli_stilton_soupFound below is a photograph of broccoli and stilton soup sharing the soup bowl with another of my favorites:  lemony carrot and cauliflower soup.
I discovered this wonderful recipe in one of Nigella Lawson’s wonderful cookbooks and have added a few variations of my own.  Specifically, I added:

  • 2 chopped leeks,
  • 2 stalks celery to the sautéed veg and,
  • increased the Stilton to taste

I have highlighted by variations in bold, but do recommend that you experiment.  Found below is Nigella Lawson’s great recipe for Broccoli and Stilton Soup.

Variations on Nigella’s Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Ingredients:  (Serves 4 as a main dish and 8 as a starter)

  • 3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 chopped leeks
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 6 spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 kilogram frozen broccoli
  • 1250 millilitres hot vegetable stock (from concentrate or cube)
  • 200 grams crumbled or chopped stilton cheese (I would double the amount, but experiment)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 long fresh red chilli pepper (deseeded & finely chopped (optional))

Preparation

  1. Put the garlic oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the chopped spring onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the thyme and the frozen broccoli, and stir in the heat for a minute or so.
  3. Add the hot vegetable stock and the crumbled or chopped Stilton and bring to a bubble, then clamp on the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Liquidize in a blender (or failing that a processor) – in batches – then pour back in the pan and heat if it’s cooled too much while blending, and add pepper to taste.
  5. Scatter with a confetti of red chilli dice on serving, if you feel like it.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How to Make Authentic Chicken Mole

There are few tastes more distinctive than a well-made mole sauce. This Mexican classic is served in many restaurants, but rarely lives up to its reputation as one of the most noteworthy dishes of Mexican cuisine. Many think it is too spicy hot – it’s not; others are turned off by the somewhat sweetish taste of the dark chocolate, and still others have never experienced authentic Mexican cooking and continue to dine at Taco Bell.

Chicken Mole with rice and beans

Sesame seeds are optional

I will often give chicken mole a try in a serious Mexican restaurant, but am generally disappointed. There are hundreds of variations and mole sauce is often found on chicken, pork, beef and occasionally a few vegetarian dishes. I suppose that there are as many variations of mole as there are Mexican cooks. The recipe below for chicken mole is from Gloria, a self-taught cook from Mexico, who in my mind – and palette – captures the essence of a fine mole.

Note: This recipe is for chicken mole and we strongly recommend making homemade chicken stock and then use the skinless chicken in the mole sauce. Make beef or pork broth the same way. While the fowl and meats lose a lot of flavor when eaten this way, the real star of the show is the mole sauce that should be served with rice.

Gloria’s Authentic Chicken Mole

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)

  • 1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best – use chicken drumsticks or assorted chicken pieces if making chicken mole)
  • At least four varieties of dried chiles (the more the better, but avoid chiles that are too hot). In this recipe, we used the following 4 varieties of chiles which can be found in most Mexican or ethnic grocery stores:
    • Chile Pasilla – Ancho Entero
    • Chile Mulato Entero – Mulato chili
    • Chile Guajillo Entero – Guajillo chili
    • Chile Negro Entero – Negro chili
  • Oil
  • Six whole cloves
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 bar chocolate (Ibarra brand is preferred)
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Preparation

  1. Create chicken stock using 6 to 12 drumsticks, thighs or other chicken parts. The more concentrated the chicken stock the more taste will be imparted to the mole. Save the chicken parts to add to the mole.
  2. As the chicken stock is cooking down, take stems and seeds out of dry chilies and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When oil begins to ripple add the chilies turning once or twice to cover in oil and quickly heat (between 15 seconds to 45 seconds depending on oil temperature).
  4. Remove the oiled chilies and place in a saucepan together with about 2 cups or more of the chicken stock. Cook for a few minutes to allow the chilies to absorb the chicken stock.
  5. Transfer mixture to a blender and add the cloves, the garlics, a tablespoon of cumin and ground pepper to taste. Blend until you have a very fine paste (about 1-2 minutes)
  6. In a deep skillet add a couple tablespoons of oil. When hot add 1/4 cup of flour (finely ground bread is OK) and stir into oil until it becomes totally emulsified and begins to boil.
  7. Carefully strain the chile mixture through a sieve and add to the oil and flour mixture. The mole sauce should be like gravy (not too thick). Pulp captured in the sieve can be returned to the blender for further processing if needed.
  8. Add chicken broth if needed to get the desired consistency.
  9. Once the mixture is boiling, stir in the bar of dark chocolate (chocolate Ibarra)
  10. Add an 8 oz can of tomato paste
  11. Cook 20 to 30 minutes
  12. Add the deboned chicken (in this case the drumsticks) and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve with rice and tortillas.

This is an elaborate and time-consuming recipe that requires the better part of a morning to prepare. Be prepared for failure your first time around, but if you are hooked by the delicious and unique flavor of a well-prepared Mole sauce, this is the real deal.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Helpful Hints for a Perfect Prime Rib Roast

I serve a prime rib roast once a year and, as such, have become a bit obsessive on how I source the meat and – most importantly – how it is roasted.

prime rib roast

I recently came across a wonderful article by J. Kenji López-Alt entitled the Perfect Rib Beef Recipe on Serious Eats.

Mr. López-Alt is the chief culinary consultant of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab, in which he unravels the science of home cooking.

Mr. López-Alt connects on many levels:

  1. I prefer to raise the temperature of the meat slowly and finish it off with high heat toward the end;
  2. This cooking method leaves plenty of time to prepare gravy, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and rolls;
  3. Most importantly, it allows you to serve the crusty roast warm.

In addition to Mr. López-Alt’s suggested slow-roast cooking technique, I recommend allowing the roast to “dry” on an open cookie tin in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours (48 hours is best).

Also, make sure the butcher removes the roast from the shin bone and then reties it to the bone.  Liberally season the roast with salt and pepper and a little flour for a nice crust.  I also add a touch of fenugreek to accentuate the flavor of the meat.

How to Cook a Prime Rib Roast

  1. Preheat oven to lowest possible temperature setting, 150°F (66°C) or higher if necessary. (Some ovens cannot hold a temperature below 250°F/121°C.) Season roast generously with salt and pepper. Place roast, with fat cap up, on a V-rack set in a large roasting pan, or on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until center of roast registers 120-125°F (49-52°C) on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare, or 135°F (57°C) for medium to medium-well. In a 150°F oven, this will take around 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours; in a 250°F oven, this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  2. Remove roast from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to highest possible temperature setting, 500 to 550°F (260 to 288°C).
  3. Ten minutes before guests are ready to be served, remove foil, place roast back in hot oven, and cook until well browned and crisp on the exterior, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, carve, and serve immediately.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How to Cook Prime Rib Roast

J. Kenji López-Alt is the chief culinary consultant of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab, in which he unravels the science of home cooking. He recently published an article in Serious Eats entitled Perfect Prime Rib Recipe.

His directions (shown below) suggest reversing the traditional way of cooking a prime rib roast by slowly bringing up the internal temperature of the meat before searing the outside of the meat at a very high temperature just before serving.

Standing Rib Roast

I fully subscribe to Mr. López-Alts recommendation.  In fact, I take it one step further:  I allow the roast to “dry-out” on an open rack in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours before bringing the roast to room temperature before cooking.

Before “drying” the roast in the refrigerator, I liberally apply salt and pepper and a little flour to all sides of the meat.  Also, I may add a little fenugreek which has long been a family favorite to flavor a standing rib roast.

Aside from controlling the internal temperature of the meat, there are plenty of good reasons to use this technique:

  1. The meat is served warm;
  2. If frees up the oven earlier to prepare gravy from the drippings or make Yorkshire pudding;
  3. Opportunity to prepare side vegetables, bread rolls and, perhaps, a salad.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to lowest possible temperature setting, 150°F (66°C) or higher if necessary. (Some ovens cannot hold a temperature below 250°F/121°C.) Season roast generously with salt and pepper. Place roast, with fat cap up, on a V-rack set in a large roasting pan, or on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until center of roast registers 120-125°F (49-52°C) on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare, or 135°F (57°C) for medium to medium-well. In a 150°F oven, this will take around 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours; in a 250°F oven, this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  2. Remove roast from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to highest possible temperature setting, 500 to 550°F (260 to 288°C).
  3. Ten minutes before guests are ready to be served, remove foil, place roast back in hot oven, and cook until well browned and

Hint:  When purchasing a prime rib roast plan on 1 lb per serving.  Also, have your butcher cut the roast off the shin bone and re-wrap.  It makes carving so much easier.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Guaranteed Get Better Soup Recipe

My husband has a nasty cold, so I decided to prepare my world-famous “Get Better Soup.” Actually, it is not my “Get Better Soup,”  This winter soup recipe was published in the New York Times some time ago by Marian Burros.

soup recipe, winter soup recipe

You are looking at between 8 to 20 garlic cloves so please make sure you stay well downwind of your sick patient. Actually, cooked garlic doesn’t smell all that bad. This soup is guaranteed to give you a sharp kick in the backside to help speed your recovery.

Get Better Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rich turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 HEADS of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 4 to 6 small fresh jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped, or less if desired
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pepper Jack cheese

Preparation

  1. Combine the stock, garlic, jalapenos and herbs in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes
  2. Transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Season with salt, and serve in mugs, garnished with the Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pepper Jack cheese if you are up to it.

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