Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Olive-Brined Chicken with Grilled Onions and Pimenton Oil

Are you looking for a great chicken recipe to serve for a 4th of July Barbeque? I have just the recipe for you. How do I know? I served this chicken for 4th of July last year, and I received rave reviews from my guests. Best of all, this chicken is easy to make for a crowd.

I found this recipe in Food & Wine’s July 2008 issue. Chef Paul Virant (a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2007) created this recipe, which he served with Warm Potato Salad with Arugula (among other recipes) for his 4th July magazine spread. I’ve made this chicken several times in the past year, and I can’t get over how moist the brined chicken is. The herbs de Provence in the brine give the chicken an almost flowery flavor, and the pimenton makes chicken deliciously smoky. The two flavors combine with the tart lemon juice and olives to create a complex dish that is simply delicious. I highly recommend Olive-Brined Chicken with Grilled Onions and Pimenton Oil.

Olive-Brined Chicken with Grilled Onions and Pimenton Oil
From Paul Virant in Food & Wine
2 quarts water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup herbs de Provence
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 cup pitted Spanish green olives, smashed
10 fresh bay leaves
12 chicken drumsticks
12 chicken thighs
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pimenton de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 large sweet onions, sliced ½ inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, sliced
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan, and simmer until the salt is dissolved. Pour the brine into a very large glass bowl and cool to room temperature. I poured the brine into two gallon Ziplock bags after if cooled. Add the chicken to the brine, seal the bags and refrigerate overnight.

In a small saucepan, whisk together the oil, pimenton and 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme, and place over moderate heat until the mixture is hot.

Light a grill. Brush the onion slices with the pimenton oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of thyme. Grill the onions over moderately high heat until lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the onions to a platter, and separate the rings. Toss the onions with the sliced olives, parsley and 2 tablespoons of the pimenton oil.

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning often until the skin is nicely charred and the meat is cook through, about 25 minutes. Brush the chicken with the pimenton oil and place the chicken on the platter with the onions. Serve.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fettuccini with Spicy Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce

A couple weeks ago I was craving spicy Italian sausage and pasta. I didn’t have a recipe in mind when I went to the store, so I just picked up the sausage and the pasta. A couple of days later, I needed to move my craving from an inspiration into a complete meal. I had the fettuccini and sausage on hand of course, and I also had some tomatoes, cream and parsley, but I knew my dish needed another flavor. I looked though my refrigerator and freezer and came up with the quintessential Italian ingredient of frozen edemame. No, not so Italian, but still good in my pasta dish. You could substitute some broccoli or spinach if you don’t like edemame. My family enjoyed this dish. My son loves Italian sausage, so he thought I was a hero to serve it with pasta. My husband and daughter enjoyed it too.

Fettuccini with Spicy Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
1 lb fettuccini
7 ripe medium tomatoes
11 oz bag frozen shelled edemame
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook the pasta following the package directions. Remove the sausage from the casings and brown in a large skillet. Once the sausage is brown, remove it from the skillet, and drain all but one tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook until the tomatoes are soft, and then add the cream, edemame and sausage. I added a couple of ladles of pasta water to loosen the sauce, and then I added salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pasta into the sauce, and add the parsley and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

I’m sorry I have been neglectful of my blog lately. My neglect did help me come to a realization that although, Tuesday’s with Dorie sounds like a fun group to join, I just can’t face having one more thing I have to do. And, I can’t kid myself, as fun as it sounds, I won’t always have the time to devote to the recipe of the week. That would take some of the fun out of the project. I will still be baking recipes from the book, and I will let you know my results.

Since I am not going to join the TWD group, I can post this recipe for Chewy, Chunky Blondies out of order. If you like baking at all, I do recommend buying Baking From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The recipes are beautifully photographed and the recipes I've tried are delicious. The Chewy, Chunky Blondies were a big hit in my household. They were sweet and chewy, and just plain delicious. And, in an effort of full disclosure, I have to tell you we enjoyed these brownies without the coconut. I would like to say I left the coconut out on purpose, but that would not be true. I was proudly placing the blondies into the oven, when I turned around and saw the package of coconut on the counter unopened. AUGH! The blondies were good despite my mistake, but I can't wait to try them with the coconut.

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

Recipe by Dori Greenspan Baking From My House to Yours
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325° F, and butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan, and put it on a baking sheet. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, and then add the eggs one by one beating for 1 minute after each egg. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients mixing just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, toffee bits, walnuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. Once baked, transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for about 15 minutes. Turn the blondies out onto another rack and cool completely. Makes about 32 2¼ by 1½ inch bars.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parisian Apple Tarts

I am trying to decide if I should join the Tuesdays With Dorie Group. This blogging group bakes something every week from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan and posts the results on their own blogs. Each blogger chooses one recipe on a rotational basis, and the TWD site posts the recipes for the month. The rules are simple. You must bake and post twice a month, and they ask that you don’t post the actual recipe on your blog. I’m not sure if I need the added pressure, but it could be fun to be part of the group. Let me know what you think.

This week’s recipe was the Parisian Apple Tartlet on page 319, and can I tell you this was a great recipe to start with. It was easy and impressive. The only hard part was finding the all butter puff pastry. I heard that Trader Joe’s has some, but it was sold out when I stopped by, so I went to Whole Foods and got the Dufour puff pastry that Dorie recommends. The Dufour was a bit pricey at $10.99 for one sheet compared to $3.99 from Trader Joe’s. But, the Dufour was fresh tasting and buttery.

I will make this tart again. The results were delicious with very little effort. But I will make one change; I will cut the apples into smaller pieces. I found the large pieces of apple difficult to eat. Check out Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan for some great recipes!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Scott’s Chicken

Friday night I was, at last, able to try Scott’s much lauded chicken. And, do you know what? His chicken was worth all the praise it received. I almost don’t have the words to tell you how good his chicken is. I had a breast piece that was juicy and flavorful all the way down to the bone. I was polite at the beginning of dinner. I ate my chicken with a knife and fork, but then I reached the bone. Once I reached the bone, I couldn’t get the small pieces of chicken off, so I picked it up with my hands and sucked the bone dry. Umm, so good! (Thank you Scott and Beth for a delicious dinner and great company!)

Now, as I said before, Scott’s family tradition is to leave out an ingredient or two when sharing a recipe. I watched him like a hawk, so I think I got everything. He starts by butterflying the chicken, and he does it differently than I have seen before. He splits the chicken at the breastbone rather than at the back. I think this is the trick to keeping the breast moist while making sure the thighs are completely cooked.
His second trick is to completely coat the chicken with his special rub. Scott’s rub consists of cumin, Adobo seasoning and smoked paprika. He sprinkled them on separately starting with the cumin and ending with the paprika. I didn’t get a measurement from him, but it looked to me like he sprinkled between 2 Tablespoons and ¼ cup of cumin and between 2 Tablespoons and ¼ cup of Adobo, and he sprinkled the smoked paprika on top of that for color and flavor. He told me the only time he was disappointed with the chicken was when he didn’t sprinkle on enough of the spices. He lets the chicken sit for about 45 minutes on the counter to let the spices sink in. He cooks the chicken on the barbeque on indirect heat for about an hour.
Scott’s Chicken
1 whole chicken, butterflied
¼ cup cumin (or to taste)
¼ cup Adobo (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika

Sprinkle the spices all over the chicken, let sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Cook over indirect heat skin side up for ½ an hour, and then turn over to finish cooking. Take off the grill, and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Risotto with Red Bell Pepper, Tomato, Mint and Feta

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted, but I hope you enjoyed looking at Brian’s brisket as much as I enjoyed eating it!

I didn’t cook a single thing this weekend. I didn’t need to. We had our parish international festival. The kids love the carnival rides and games. Me? I’m in it for the food (I know, big surprise). The Italian Catholic Federation hosts a spaghetti dinner Friday night which I wouldn’t miss. I had chicken curry with rice and nam bread from the Indian group for lunch on Saturday. I had chicken adobo skewers and lumpia from the Filipino group for dinner. And, did I tell you about all of the treats my kids won from the cakewalk? No? Well, let’s not mention it. If I deny all of the sweets I ate this weekend the calories don’t count, right?

I was in heaven, but I didn’t cook a thing, so I am posting a recipe from a few weeks ago, and I thought we would go in a different direction, cuisine wise. Let’s head somewhere a little southeast. How about the Mediterranean? Risotto technically fits the bill since it is from Italy (duh!),and the feta and mint in the rice really make it Mediterranean. Mint, red pepper and feta cheese combine to make this a complex side dish. I served the risotto with steak and salad. Les and I loved the risotto, but the kids didn’t care for it. I expected my son wouldn’t like the risotto. But, I thought my foodie daughter would enjoy the rice dish, so when she turned up her nose, I was surprised. She said she didn’t like the red pepper, but for me the mint was the strong flavor not the red pepper. I liked the mint, red pepper and feta mix in this risotto.

Risotto with Red Bell Pepper, Tomato, Mint and Feta

From Williams-Sonoma Pasta Collection Risotto
5 ½ cups Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
2 tomatoes seeded and chopped
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, and then turn the heat down and keep the chicken stock hot. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, and add the onion and cook just until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper cooking for another 5 minutes or until the red pepper begins to soften. Add the rice to the onion mixture and stir until a white spot appears in the center of the grain of rice, about 1 minute. Add ¾ cup of the stock, and adjust the heat so that the liquid bubbles and is absorbed slowly. Stir until the liquid is absorbed, and then continue adding the stock to the rice in ¾ cup increments until the liquid is absorbed and the rice begins to soften. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking adding the stock now in ½ cup increments until the rice is tender and creamy about 10 minutes longer. Add the feta cheese, mint and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix, and then serve.


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