Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Rotisserie Duck not on the Rotisserie

As soon as I read the recipe for Ssam Bar's rotisserie duck in the latest issue of Lucky Peach magazine, I knew I had to make it.  It is Christmas Eve and we are celebrating my Christmas baby's birthday.  This duck was not Maggie's first choice for her birthday dinner, but we made an agreement and she will have two birthday dinners.  The first one, being her first choice, was had on Christmas Eve Eve:  steak with entrecote sauce and pomme frites.  This duck, or as it is coined in Lucky Peach, a Chinese Turkey, is really my choice.  Gosh I hope it doesn't go south.

The recipe gives you the option of cooking the duck either over a charcoal grill on a rotisserie, or roasting it in the oven.  The weather being what it is, and the larger issue that we don't actually have a rotisserie attachment for our charcoal grill, leaves me with the oven roasting option.   

For the duck:
2 whole ducks, about 4 lbs each
2 cups maltose
1/2 cup soy sauce
kosher salt

For the duck sausage:
1 lb duck leg meat (3-4 duck legs, meaning legs and thighs)
1/2 cup duck fat, cold
3/4 cup pork fatback, diced, cold
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sake, cold
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon nonfat milk powder
1 tablespoon pink salt (aka curing salt, goto Amazon.com)

For the complete detailed recipe, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of the Fall 2012 issue of Lucky Peach.  Here's an abbreviated version.
Butcher the ducks by removing the wing tips, removing the legs, and cutting off the backbone where it meets the rib cage.  The result is called a the crown.
De-bone the legs, cut the meat into chunks and place in the freezer while you get the rest of the sausage ingredients.
Make the sausage by combining all of the ingredients in a large food processor and puree until smooth.  

Blanche the ducks in a large stockpot of boiling salted water.  Dip the ducks into the boiling water for 10 seconds, cool in a large bath of ice water, repeat three times.  Place the ducks onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

To stuff the duck with the sausage, use your fingers to separate the skin from the flesh.  Start at the neck opening and be careful not to tear the skin... as I did on one of the ducks.  Bummer!
Use a pastry bag to pipe as much of the sausage to fill each pocket without bursting it.  
To glaze the ducks, heat the maltose and soy sauce over low heat until it is runny.  Brush each of the ducks all over with the maltose.  Let rest 15 minutes, repeat.

Put the ducks in the fridge for 2-5 days.  This will dry out the skin and help in making a crispy duck.

To oven roast, heat the oven to 475f.  Put ducks on a roasting rack and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Arrange the ducks with enough space between the two so plenty of heat can circulate around them and bake for 50 minutes.  The actual recipe calls for roasting the ducks separately.  I'm sure there must be good reason for this?  But I don't have the time or patience for this, so together they go into the oven.

Let the ducks rest for 10 minutes before carving.  Remove the breasts and thinly slice crosswise.  Serve with butter lettuce, hoisin sauce, and rice.
Again in the craziness of getting dinner served, I failed to photograph the ducks once they came out of the oven, before carving.  They were quite beautiful and crispy.

Duck Confit

A second birthday request from Maggie was duck risotto.  With all of the other duck I was making and all the fat I was trimming from the ducks, I decided to make duck confit for the risotto.  Duck number three was portioned out into 2 legs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts, bone in/on.  The fat was added to that from the other ducks.  The rest was frozen with the other bones for making stock at a later date.  On the recipe front, my goal is the easier the better.  I mean, I'm up to my chin in ducks at this point, so I'm looking for a little less fuss.  Here's one that has few ingredients and does not take hours and hours of cooking.

3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 duck breasts
2 duck legs with thighs
2 duck wings, trimmed
About 4 cups duck fat

For the duck fat, you can purchase it or make it yourself if you are having a duck extravaganza like I am.  I took all of the fat I trimmed from the 3 ducks for Christmas Eve / Maggie's birthday dinner, and rendered it.  To render duck fat, simply place all of the fat in a heavy pot and cook over medium heat until it starts to sizzle.  Turn the heat down to low, cover and continue to cook until the fat/skin is crispy; then you know all of the fat has been rendered.  
In a dish or pan large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer, sprinkle 1 tbsp of the salt on the bottom.  Top with half of the garlic, shallot and thyme.  Lay the duck pieces on top and sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over the duck.  Then follow with the ground black pepper and the remaining garlic, shallot and thyme.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 day.
When ready to cook, remove the duck from the salt mixture and brush off any excess salt, and the garlic, shallots and thyme.  Place the duck in a single layer and a deep pan.  Dover the duck with the duck fat.  Place in a 240f oven and cook for 3-4 hours, or until duck will come easily off the bone.
Let cool and store duck in the fat until ready to use.  For me, this was no time at all.  I shredded the meat from the breasts to use for the risotto.  Then I shrink wrapped the rest to save for a future date.

Frozen Maple Nougat with Strawberries and Raspberries

We had this dessert this past summer up at Dent Island and Maggie has been asking for it ever since.  Well, it is Maggie's birthday and so I had to come through with something.  After some internet research, I concocted this recipe.  Hope it's a good one.

1 cup pure maple syrup, organic, medium amber
5 egg whites
1 3/4 cups 36% classic heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons maple sugar

Bring the maple syrup to a boil over low heat and cook for 4 minutes.
Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually drizzle in the hot maple syrup and continue whipping the egg whites for 10 minutes to cool the mixture.
Add the maple sugar to the cream and whip until stiff peaks form.
Fold the cream into the egg white mixture.
Put the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip, or use a large plastic zip lock bag like I did.  My pastry bag sprouted a hole the other day while piping some sausage, so the plastic bag route is a great alternative.
Place it in the freezer for at least 8 hours or up to several days.
Take the nougat out of the freezer and place into the refrigerator about 45min to 1 hour ahead of time so that it softens enough to pipe out.  In the frenzy of things, I failed to do this, resulting in a glob of nougat instead of a beautifully presented nougat.  Despite this failed effort, the nougat still tasted great.  Serve with fresh raspberries and strawberries.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Green Apple, Prosciutto and Gruyere Tart

This is one of those winning combinations of ingredients that makes it difficult to fail.  Make an appetizer or a meal of it... you'll be happy either way.

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, approximately 11 x 17"
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green apple, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 to 4 thin slices prosciutto
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
turbinado sugar
chopped fresh rosemary and thyme to garnish, about 2 tsp

Heat oven to 400f.
Lay the puff pastry out onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Let thaw a bit and then score the puff pastry around the perimeter, about 1/2" from the edge.
Brush the ed with egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar, kosher salt and pepper. 
Bake the puff pastry for 12-14 minutes, until light golden brown.
Meanwhile caramelize the onions by simply slowly sautéing them in olive oil until they are golden brown and tender.  Then add the apple and cook for another minute.  Let cool.
To assemble, spread the onion and apple mixture over the puff pastry.  You may not need all of it, use as much as you like.
Take the prosciutto slices and roughly tear them apart and spread them over top of the onions.
Sprinkle the gruyere cheese over top.
Turn the oven up to 425f.
Bake again for another 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with rosemary and thyme and cut to serve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Balsamic, Port and Honey Glaze

Yay it's Friday!  How about a little grilled lamb for dinner?  I asked Stella how I should prepare the lamb.  She said, "made it edible".  Now that the bar has been set so high, how could I fail?  

3 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup port
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the marinade ingredients.
Make sure the leg of lamb is evenly butterflied for even marinating and grilling.
Place the lamb in the marinade for several hours or overnight.
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Grill on a gas grill over medium high heat until desired temperature.  Chris grilled it at medium heat for about 15 minutes for side for medium to medium rare.  Watch for flareups as there is fat on the outside of the lamb and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  
Baste with the marinade as you go, and with the leftover marinade, I heated it up and drizzled it over the sliced lamb.  Happy Friday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chinese BBQ Pork and Scallion Rolls

In my never ending quest for snack and school lunch ideas, I turned to another easy bake item.  Here's a dough I've used before, but halved for a smaller batch in case it got the thumbs downs from the ole family.  The ready-made bbq pork from my favorite Chinese bbq spot made it much less work.  This is similar to the bbq pork bun I've posted about already, but in slightly different form.  I wasn't going to blog on this, but after tasting, it was worthy of adding for future reference.  As a result, no in-process photos...sorry.

For the dough:
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Cup hot water
1/2 Cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
2 2/3 Cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon oil
Combine the sugar, water and milk.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Then stir in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with a hook attachment.
Add the oil and water/milk/yeast mixture and knead the dough on low until a ball forms.  If the dough does not come together, add a little more water.  
Once the dough is formed into a smooth ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot to rise for 3 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/8-1/4" thickness.

6 oz bbq pork, finely chopped
2 Scallions, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water

Combine the pork and the scallion in a bowl.
Brush the rolled out dough with the butter.
Sprinkle the salt evenly over top.
Spread the pork and scallion mixture over top.
Roll the dough up into a round and slice into 1 1/2" thick slices.
Place onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a clean towel and let rise for another hour.

Heat the oven to 375f.  Brush the top of the rolls with the egg yolk and water mixture.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.
Happy eating.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gunpowder Chili by Chris

Guest posting here.  I got excited for chili on Sunday and dug into the spice pack I ordered from Gunpowder Foods, that included Texas Red Chili Powder and Pendery's Fort Worth Light Chili Powder a few years ago.  I don't know how I found this recipe but maybe it caught my eye because it had nothing but meat and spices.  How can you make chili from that, but trust you can and should.

Bob's Championship Recipe 

Gray 2-1/2 pounds of cubed beef chuck tender, keep the pieces fairly big in 2 TBSP lard

12oz - Beef Broth 
6oz - Chicken Broth 
1 - 8 oz Can - Tomato Sauce 
Float 2 Serano Peppers 
Bring to a boil and add the following: 

First Spice bomb 
2 TSP Granulated Onion 
1/2 TSP Cayenne 
2 TSP Wylers Beef Granules or beef stock 
1/4 TSP Salt 
2 TSP Wylers Chicken Granules or chicken stock
1 TBSP Pendery's Fort Worth Light Chili Powder 
2 TBSP Gunpowder Foods Texas Red Chili Powder 
Cover and cook 1 hour - squeeze peppers and discard pulp 

Second Spice bomb
2 TSP Pendery's Ground Cumin (I did not use any cumin as Mary refuses to smell it)
2 TSP Granulated Garlic 
1/4 TSP Gunpowder Foods Hot Stuff (I did not have this so I skipped it)
2 TBSP Gebhardt Chili Powder 
1 TBSP Pendery's Fort Worth Light Chili Powder 
1 Packet Sazon Goya 
Adjust liquid with remainder of chicken broth, if necessary 
Cover and cook 1 hour 

Third Spice bomb
1 TBSP Gebhardt Chili Powder 
1 TSP Pendery's Ground Cumin 
1/4 TSP Granulated Garlic 
1/4 TSP Cayenne 
1/4 TSP Brown Sugar 
Reduce heat to a slow boil 
Cook 30 minutes or less at this point it is up to your taste 
Adjust Salt, Cayenne, and Gebhardt Chili Powder to taste

I had this with a left over twice baked potato and some sour cream and that is exactly how I am planning on having it from now on.  As with everything this tastes better when you freeze it and defrost it. I have a serving for 4 aging in the freezer for another time.
A post script from Mary... I was having dinner out with some friends when I received this text from Chris:  "Chili and twice baked potato just blew my mind and the button on the front of my pants"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pheasant Ragu Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Arugula

Chris worked his magic and managed to get a couple of freshly caught pheasant from a co-worker.  He insisted on having his pheasant whole, and as such, they were delivered, full feathered and full bodied.  We hear there is a quick and easy way folks normally clean pheasant that results in two lovely breasts being pulled away clean.  Things were not going to be so easy for the Emertons.  

Neither Chris or I have ever defeathered any sort of fowl nor have we cleaned one.  I have done plenty of fish cleaning and after having done the pheasant, I can say it is really no more gruesome or gross.  The plucking of the feathers was tedious and not much fun but we got through it having found no real 'trick' to doing so.  It was definitely an experience that brought us closer to our food.  No happy shiny packages of perfectly butchered meat for this meal.
Now, what do I do with these pheasants?  I thought about it for a couple of days and there was no revelation.  In the end, I decided on a ragu.  Perhaps not the most thrilling way to go, but I thought because of how lean the pheasants were, braising them in a rich sauce might be the best option.

2 Whole Pheasants
2 Tablespoons bacon fat
1 Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
3 Ribs Celery, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2/3 Cup Madeira
2 Cups medium body red wine
3 Cups chicken broth
2/3 Cup Madeira
1 Dried bay leaf
1 Sprig fresh rosemary
2 Sprigs fresh thyme
1 Sprig fresh sage
5 Sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

Generously salt and pepper the pheasants.  Heat oven to 500f.  Place the pheasants on a rack on top of a pan and just brown the outside.  
Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, heat the bacon fat over medium high heat and saute the onions, carrots and celery until lightly browned.
Add the flour and tomato paste and stir in well to combine.  
Deglaze the pot with the madeira.
Add the red wine and bring to a boil, and then add the chicken broth.
Toss in the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley.  
When the pheasants are lightly browned, remove from the oven and cut them in half lengthwise.  Add them to the pot trying to submerge them as much as possible into the sauce. 
Reduce the heat of the oven to 325f.  Place the pot into the oven and let cook for about an hour.  Check the pheasant about half way through and adjust them in the pot if needed to make sure they are still covered in the sauce.
Remove the pot from the oven.  
Pull the pheasant out onto a pan and cover with foil until cool enough to handle. 
Allow the sauce to continue to cook in the stove top for another 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain sauce through a sieve and discard the solids.  Remove the fat by skimming the top of the sauce or using a fat separator.  If you are making this a day ahead, you can refrigerate the sauce overnight and remove any hardened fat the next day.
Once the pheasant is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the bones and skin.  Shred the meat with your hands.
Combine the meat with the sauce and simmer until sauce is thickened, another 30-45 minutes.  You don't want it to be too soupy but not too dry either.
Set aside until ready to use.

For the risotto:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Garlic clove, finely minced
1 Cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 Cup white wine
Chicken stock
1 Cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/3 Cup mascarpone
1/3 Cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Good handful of arugula
Balsamic vinegar to finish

Heat the olive oil and saute the shallots and garlic until softened.  Add the rice and stir and let cook until the rice kind of starts to whistle.  Deglaze with the wine.  When wine is almost all evaporated, start your chicken stock addition. 
Add just enough stock to cover the rice, stir once, let simmer until stock is almost fully evaporated, then add more stock.  Repeat this process until the rice is about half cooked.  
Add the mushrooms and the ragu.  
Bear in mind there is enough ragu here to make this about half and half rice and pheasant.
Continue to cook the risotto until it is tender.
Add the mascarpone and parmigiano cheese.  Stir to combine well.
Then add the arugula and stir in right before serving.  
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar and shaved parmigiano were the perfect finish.

A big 'thank you' to our pheasant suppliers!  Pheasant risotto coming your way!  
For those of you who may be skittish about trying pheasant, I'd say it is in the game hen, quail or duck category.  Not really gamey, but more flavor than chicken.  This worked out to be a fabulous way to have the pheasant.  We loved it!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Soy Braised Beef with Scallions and Carrots

It's another braised meat night.  I like to think of this as the Chinese version of boeuf bourguignon, only no bourguignon.  Served with rice and wok fried nappa cabbage and tofu, all is good on a dark fall night.

2.5-3 lbs Beef Chuck roast
2" piece of ginger, sliced into 4 pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 onion, sliced
1 ripe pear, peeled, seeded, sliced
1 Star anise
1 cup apple cider
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup rice wine
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
2 bunch scallions, cleaned and cut in half cross-wise
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 Tbsp white vinegar

Combine apple cider, water, wine and soy.  
Cut beef into large, approximately 3" x 3" pieces.  In a large dutch oven, heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot.  Brown the beef on all sides.  Do this in batches so not to crowd the pot.  Remove beef to a pan as you go.  Once finished, discard all but 1 tbsp of the oil.
Saute the ginger, garlic and onion over medium high heat until onion is just softened.  
Add the pear and star anise.  Saute for one minute longer.
Deglaze the pot with the cider water mixture.  Bring to a simmer.
Add the beef back to the pot.
Cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
Add the scallions and simmer for another 40 minutes.
Add the carrots and vinegar and simmer for another 20 minutes.
The beef was fabulous and tender.  I saved the extra sauce for a beef noodle soup base.  Yum!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Braised Veal Shoulder with White Wine and Mushrooms

There's no doubt fall is upon us.  It's dark dark when I wake up in the morning and dark dark before dinner time.  It feels damp out even when it's not raining and the leaves are turning and shedding from the large wisteria that gives us privacy from our neighbors above.  The squirrels are digging and hiding their stock all around our garden and I go out daily to find the garlic bulbs I've planted inadvertently unearthed by them.  Stella's had another birthday, her 13th, and Halloween is just around the corner.  It's time to cozy up and braise some meat.

3 pounds boneless veal shoulder
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove smashed
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
several sage leaves
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound white button mushrooms, thickly sliced

If veal pieces are large, cut each one in half for serving purposes.  Generously salt and pepper the veal and dust with flour.  
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add 2 tbsp oil and brown the veal on all sides.  Do this in batches so not to crowd the pot.  Remove onto a dish/pan.
In the same pot, saute the vegetables until softened and lightly browned. 
Deglaze with the wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
Add the chicken stock and herbs and bring to a boil.  
Return the veal to the pot.  Cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes or until veal is fork tender.
Remove the veal from the pot to a pan and tent with foil.
Strain the stock from the pan and discard the solids.  Return the stock to the same pot and bring to a boil to reduce and thicken slightly. 
Meanwhile saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil until browned.  Add the mushrooms and the veal back to the stock in the pan and simmer until the veal is heated through.
Serve with a good crusty bread or in our case, mashed potatoes.  Happy fall!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tofu Salad

We had a really nice meal the other night at Mojimi on Capitol Hill and surprisingly, one of my favorite items was their tofu salad.  But truthfully, everything we had was really really good.  The menu there is expansive, so it will take several visits to break it down.  We look forward to making it happen.  

1 12oz package extra soft tofu
Daikon sprouts
Micro greens or pea vine sprouts
Thinly sliced red onion
Finely diced tomato

For the Dressing:
1 1/2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp plum sauce
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper

Combine dress ingredients and whisk together.  
Slice tofu into 1/2" thick squares
Put a little of the dressing on the center of your serving dish.
Lay the tofu over top.
Sprinkle some of each of the red onion, micro greens, daikon sprouts, tomato over top.
Drizzle some of the dressing over top.
This is so fresh and clean, don't let the tofu turn you off if you are not a tofu lover.  The extra soft tofu is like eating luscious silk and takes on whatever flavor you marry with it.

Duck Prosciutto, Want Some?

That night that I dragged Stella to the store to buy chicken livers for my roasted crispy chicken dinner, there was a man behind me in the check out line with 2 ducks and 2 packages of duck fat.  I looked back and said, "you are making something good!"  I assumed there was going to be duck confit involved, but he added that he was also making duck prosciutto.  Whaaaat?  Duck prosciutto?  What's that all about?  I finished my check out process and then left.  On the way to the car, I said to Stella that I should have inquired further.  I loaded my bag into the car and then said that if I saw him coming out, that I was definitely going to have to stalk him down and question him further.  Stella would not let that kind of crazy behavior ensue, so I was left with sorting it out on my own.

Of course, what happened next was an immediate return to the store to buy duck.  I searched around locally, but was only able to find Pekin duck breasts, not the larger Moulard duck breasts which I thought would be better for prosciutto.  So, I went for the easy to procure Pekin duck breast from Uwajimaya.

I prepared the breasts by rinsing them and drying them well on paper towels.  
Then, I combined: 2 1/2 Cups kosher salt
1/2 Cup brown sugar

**2/25/20 update: This time, with only 4 duck breasts, I decided to cut the dry brine down by quite a bit:
½ cup kosher salt
⅛ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper

From 2/25/20 edit

In a glass or ceramic pan, place half the salt and sugar mixture on the bottom.  Lay the duck breasts on top, and then pour the remaining mixture over top.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours, depending on the thickness of the duck breast, to cure the duck.  I had mine in for about 32 hours, which produced a slightly salty result.  Next time, I'll go with 24 hours.  
After curing, remove the duck from the salt mixture, rinse the salt off, and dry on paper towels.
Wrap the breasts individually in cheese cloth.  Tie tightly with string.
If you have an airy and cold basement, you can hang the breasts there to dry.  I opted to go with my refrigerator and rigged a couple of hanging lines.
Hang the duck for 6 to 10 days for the Pekin duck sized breasts.  The ones I had seemed particularly smalls, so 6 days was all it took.  But check on them daily by just lightly squeezing the duck feeling for any dry hard spots.  You don't want them to get too dry.
I chose to shrink wrap each one individually.  I'm not sure of the refrigerator shelf life, but I think we are good for a couple of weeks.  The rest I will freeze.
Serve slicing the duck very thinly.  It's salty and delicious and tastes like, well, duck prosciutto.    Yum!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pan Fried Pork Chop Dinner

This is an essential "lunchbox" item in Taiwan.  A favorite of ours, this tender fried pork chop is usually served with rice, pickled vegetables and a soy sauce egg.  We're going to have this for dinner tonight.  

4 Pork rib chops
1 Clove garlic, crushed
1 Scallion, cut into 1" pieces
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
pinch of 5 spice
pinch of ground white pepper

Pound the pork chops to 1/4" thickness. 
Combine the remaining ingredients.  Place pork chops into a dish or zip lock bag. 
Pour marinade over pork.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
About 30 minutes to an hour before cooking, add 2 Tbsp corn starch and 1/4 cup rice flour to the pork chops and make sure you coat them evenly.
Set them onto a wire rack, cover and let sit at room temperature until ready to fry.  
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add enough oil to fill the pan about 1/8" deep. 
Fry the pork chops until golden brown on both sides.  Let rest on a wire rack before serving.
I served the chops over rice along with wok fried pea vines and oyster mushrooms, soy sauce egg and braised bamboo shoots.  Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crispy Chicken, Toasted Brioche, Oyster Mushrooms, Spinach, Chicken Liver Mousse and Madeira Jus

It's generally true that if Chris goes out to dinner, he will return home with something I have to make.  This combination was so "Oh, yes" that I just went ahead and tried making it before tasting the original from Quinns Pub.  For the crispy chicken part, I went back to this roasted chicken recipe from an earlier post.  One addition I made was putting some herb butter between the skin and the meat of the chicken.  My herb butter consisted of butter, rosemary, thyme and sage that were all finely chopped. Toasted brioche seemed easy enough.  Buy a brioche roll and toast in the oven.  Saute some oyster mushrooms in olive oil.  Saute some baby spinach leaves in olive oil.  The chicken liver mousse and madeira jus were going to be just a bit more work.
Soon after we were married, I started collecting recipes, mostly from Chris' mom, and placed them in the guest book from our wedding.  When I started to think about making a chicken liver mousse, I remembered a recipe I got from her for Currant Studded Chicken Liver Pate.  This is the first, and really, only pate I've ever made.  It's been so long, I can't remember if I loved it or not, but I kept the recipe, so out it came for another go.

I cut the original recipe in half and made just a couple of changes:
3 Tbsp white wine
1 Tbsp cognac
1 Tbsp currants
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Cup white button mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz Chicken livers
3 Tbsp very soft butter
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Soak the currants in the wine and cognac over night.  
At least 4 hours ahead, drain currants and reserve liquid
Melt the 1 1/2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet.  Saute the mushrooms, green onions, garlic and salt until softened.  Add the chicken livers and saute until brown on the outside and pink within.  
Stir in the reserved wine and currants. 
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  
Cool, then transfer to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. and process until smooth.
Add the 3 Tbsp softened butter, blend until smooth.
Pass the mixture through a sieve.
Clean the bowl of the food processor, and then return the mixture to it.  Add the cream and process for a couple minutes until mixture becomes a little lighter and airy - mousse like.
Place into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a 3-4 hours before using.
I dragged Stella to the store with me to buy the livers last night.  She asked me "why do you have to make something that's not good?"  So, apparently liver is not at the top of my kids' list of foods they want to consume.  While I was pressing the processed liver through the sieve, Maggie said, "what is that?", to which I replied, "chicken liver puree", to which she answered,  "aughh!  I thought that was chocolate pudding".  "That's like pate and I don't like liver anything."  Strike two for me.  Chris had better like this!

For the Madeira Jus:
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 Cup madeira
3/4 Cup chicken stock
Remove the roasted chicken from the skillet/pan.  Remove all but 1 tbsp fat and add 1 tbsp of flour to make a roux.  Deglaze the skillet with 1/2 cup madeira.  Bring to a boil and using a whisk, blend the madeira and roux together until smooth.  Then add in the chicken stock and whisk together.  Add any juices that collect while the chicken is resting and let it all boil together for a minute.

Happy to be cooking fall meals again, and this one is a mainstay.  A little liver mousse with each bite adds a little more depth to the chicken.  The girls both tried it and confessed it was actually pretty good, but they are still trying to maintain their stance against liver.  Chris & I loved it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shepherd's Pie - Another Make-Ahead Meal

It's Monday again and we need another make ahead meal.  Last night we had some nice steaks and with the leftovers I decided to make a version of Shepherd's Pie.  To be honest, I'm not sure if this is remotely close to what Shepherd's Pie should taste like, but I am calling it that because I'm using chopped beef as the filling with mashed potatoes on top.  I hope it's good.
I took last night's beef, cut it into cubes, then chopped it up in a food processor.  
I browned the beef in olive oil, then added chopped onions and carrots.  
Then I added freshly chopped rosemary, thyme and sage.
Deglaze the pan with a tawny port and then add some beef stock and a little bit of milk.
Add a splash of Worcestershire.
Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Adjust seasoning, adding kosher salt and pepper as needed.
Allow to cool a bit. 
Add some peas to the mixture.
Fill small individual portion shallow dishes about half way up.
Cover with mashed potatoes.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

For the mashed potatoes, I used Yukon gold potatoes, cut them into 2-3" pieces and boiled them.  Once the potatoes are fall apart tender, drain, add cream and butter, more butter than cream and yes, until it seems unreasonable to be using so much butter, and mix together using a hand mixer.   Use a sliding scale for amount of butter to use.  How tasty do you want your potatoes?  The more tasty, the more butter you must use.  It's not what any of us want to hear, but it's the truth.  You could also use a potato ricer first to "mash" the potatoes, but I prefer to just throw the potatoes in with the butter and cream and whip them together.  Add salt as needed.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 400f.  Unwrap the pies and bake until pies are heated through and tops are slightly browned, about 20 minutes.
I must admit, this was better than anticipated.  I was not thrilled about dinner, but I ate every last scaping bite.  I will do chicken pot pies the same way...buttery mashed potatoes on top!