Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vinegar Braised Chicken

This is the second recipe I tested from the Michael Pollan article in Oprah magazine (April 2013).  This recipe was implemented exactly as it was written in the book.  It was later I improvised, but I'll get to that!

Note:  Mr. Pollan suggests seasoning the chicken with salt a day in advance.  I did it for about 6 hours and it worked great.

One 3.5 pound chicken, cut into pieces
2.5 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided use
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1.5 cups red wine vinegar (no, that is not a typo)
1 cup chicken stock (or broth)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup canned whole packed plum tomatoes, drained (I used chopped fire-roasted tomatoes because it is what I had on hand)
8 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 300.  Season chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt (or omit if you have already done this in advance) and pepper.  Heat oil in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven or wide, overnproof pot over medium-high heat.  Arrange half the chicken in pot in a single layer and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.  Transfer the chicken to the same plate.
2.  Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 2 minutes.  Add vinegar and cook until much of teh acrid aroma has dissipated, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add broth and 1/2 cup water, bring to a vigorous simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes.
3.  Whisk in tomato paste and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.  Add tomatoes, then arrange chicken in pot, skin side up, pouring over any accumulated juices from the plate.  Tuck garlic, thyme, and bay leaves in liquid.  Cover pot snugly with foil, then lid, and transfer to the oven.  cook 1 hour and 15 minutes, until chicken is very tender.
4. Let rest 30 minutes.  Discard thyme and bayleaves.  Scatter parsley on top and serve.

chicken is browned in the Dutch oven

First batch transferred to a plate

After chicken is browned and removed from the Dutch oven,
the shallots, vinegar, and tomato paste are added

chicken is placed back into the liquid ingredients

garlic, thyme, and bay leaves are added

base is covered with foil, lid applied

Dutch oven is placed in oven to braise at 300 degrees for 75 to 90 minutes

Result:  tender, flavorful (tangy!) chicken.

*I reserved the liquid ingredients in a separate container and chilled.
The leftover chicken was chilled separately.
The following day, I removed the chicken meat from the bone, skin and bones discarded.

I heated the liquid ingredients at a low to medium setting in a deep pan.  After allowing the mixture to reduce about 30% I removed about 1/4 cup into a jar to make a slurry by adding 3 tablespoons cream and one teaspoon corn starch.  This was shaken to mix and added back into the liquid to thicken.
I added the chicken (that I tore into shredded pieces) back into the mixture.  I added one tablespoon of my homemade Garam Masala (at the end of that post).  After allowing the mixture to heat through until steaming, I served it.  This mixture would be PERFECT served with rice.  Yummy delicious!  I think this was even better than the original dish, but it was the first dish that got me to this one and it is a great way to use the leftovers.
Try it!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yummy Vegetable Salad with Verde Dressing

This recipe was adapted from one I read in Oprah magazine in the article, "The Man Who Changed Food", about Michael Pollan.  I have a confession:  I have not read the recent books by Michael Pollan.  They are now in my ipad reading "queue", but I was in love with the first book I read by him called "The Botany of Desire".  If you haven't done so, I recommend reading it.  But, I digress.
The magazine article intrigued me.  Mr. Pollan, who has written about food extensively, only recently came to cooking.  He is still learning, but he has developed some pretty interesting recipes, several of which were published in the current (April 2013) issue of the magazine.  I decided to try a couple of them.  Of course, because I am the cook I am, I put my own spin on things.  As I have written before:  I see recipes as guidelines and this is no exception.

The first I'll write about is an amazing salad.  In the magazine he calls it Vegetable Salad with Salsa Verde.  I changed the name because some people will automatically veer away from the idea of salsa on a salad.  Really, this is more like a viniagrette, so don't freak out.

olive oil
grapeseed oil (optional)
flat leaf parsley
brined capers (in a jar)
one lemon
walnut dijon mustard (or a similar mustard of your choice)
fresh salad greens (a variety is nice)
beets, 2 red and 2 golden
blackberries (optional)
feta cheese (optional)
blue cheese (optional)
french fried onions (optional)
toasted, unsweetened coconut (optional)

The dressing (vinaigrette):
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used half olive and half grapeseed to lighten the flavor a bit)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons brined capers, rinsed well and drained, then chopped
zest of one lemon (finely zested with a plane)
1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon walnut mustard (or use a good dijon)

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a secure lid.  Shake well to emulsify and refrigerate until just before service.

Fresh greens, cut into bite-sized pieces depending on the greens.  I used a combo of arugula and baby chard, as well as some mixed spring greens from my farm box.

Roasted Vegetables:
baby carrots, or larger carrots, cut into long pieces.  Try to cut the carrots to approximately the same size.
Cauliflower, cut into large pieces for roasting
Beets (both red and golden, if you can get them), sliced into 1/4 inch lengthwise cross sections.
Leeks, thoroughly washed and cut into long sections

Heat oven to 350'.  All root vegetables need to be scrubbed with a vegetable brush prior to cutting.
Toss each type of vegetable, separately, into a bag.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the vegetables and toss gently to coat.  Spread the vegetables onto roasting pans, keeping each vegetable type separate on the pans.  Roast until slightly caramelized on the carrots and leeks, approximately 40 minutes or longer.  Cauliflower will begin to turn slightly golden on the edges.  Remove and allow to cool.

Before service:  place greens in a large bowl.  Emulsify dressing again and gently dress salad, being sure that the mixture is well-distributed on the greens.  Place the greens on a serving platter.
Distribute the roasted vegetables, one type at a time, over the greens.
Next, crumble bits of the blue cheese, then the feta, over the entire salad.
Distribute a small amount of the french onions and/or toasted coconut over the surface.
Finish with a handful of blackberries.
Note:  you can dress all the roasted vegetables, too, if you wish, but I found that dressing the greens was enough to flavor the entire dish.  The taste of the roasted vegetables is so good you don't need to add to them.  That is just my opinion, and your taste may dictate otherwise.

This salad is colorful, textural, and absolutely delicious!
Keep in mind that the cheese and berries are optional.  Well, really, all of it is!  Use the vegetables and add-ons of your choice.  I can tell you that this salad was served to a group of 10 with rave reviews by all.  The other surprise was that it the leftovers kept well to the next day.

I had some leftover roasted vegetables that I subsequently used on another, similar salad.  I also made enough of the dressing to have multiple uses by doubling the recipe.
Thyme, removed from the woody stem and slightly chopped

flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

The combination of olive and grapeseed oil,
into which the chopped capers have been added

a dollop (or for you measurers, one tablespoon) of 
walnut dijon mustard.
(If you have never tried this mustard, try to get some!  It is amazing!

Add the chopped garlic.


and lemon zest.  If you don't have a plane, such as this one,
mince the zest until it is very fine before adding to the mixture.
Emulsify by shaking.

Ugh!  To my great dismay I have accidentally deleted my gorgeous photo of the finished salad in its platter.  I apologize about this.  Please accept my apology and just know that it was gorgeous!  The next time (and there WILL be a next time) I make it I will add a photo.  I hope you will try it!