Sunday, January 31, 2010

Julia Child inspired chicken with mustard and black rice risotto

Julia Child has been a big source of inspiration for me over the years. When I was very young I delighted at her practical approach to French cooking on PBS.  She was just happy to be there and share with us and I was charmed by her.  I still reference her books for inspiration and recently found some.


I am always getting e mail about chicken. Everyone seems to be tired of it but at the same time it is cheap, it cooks quickly and they buy it, but are bored by it. Julia Child had a pretty wonderful duck prep that I have adapted for chicken that is full of flavor and so good. 

The big problem is that in typical grocery store meat the chicken might as well be tofu for all the flavor it has.  It is just bad. If you can't get a good free range chicken from a reputable farmer or butcher I would say use tofu and do the marinade, but not the simmer. There is no reason to eat flavorless grocery store meat. You are not doing your body or the planet any favors.

When you find a good chicken you need a good butcher, this chicken needs to be hacked into small pieces. Chinese duck cut would be the term needed, but if you are not in NY or San Francisco they may not know this cut. The wing needs to be separated into 3 pieces, The drumstick in half meaty end cut off. The thigh in 3 pieces across the bone and the breast, once separated should have 3 cuts rendering 4 pieces. 

Once cut like this, the chicken will happily feed  6 people. 

Marinade/braising liquid

4 cups orange juice
11 garlic cloves crushed
4 hot red peppers crushed (fresh or dried)
1/2 cup salt well dissolved in juice

Remove and save the skin and place chicken in Marinade for one hour minimum or as long as 24 hours. 

Take skin and spread out on a plate,  salt lightly and leave uncovered in the refrigerator. Take the skinny part of the drum and wing, the back neck, etc and with salt and onion, brown and bring to a boil and make stock for your risotto.

Once the flavor has gone into your chicken bring your marinade to a boil with the chicken in it and then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool. 

1 cup Mustard (I have used both Dijon and Spicy Brown and they both were good) have more on hand if needed.
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
Cooking Spray

Heavily coat chicken with mustard (you can't use too much here) and then roll in bread crumbs til covered.  Place on a sheet coated with cooking spray and spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray. You will bake at 400 for 30 minutes til crisp and lightly brown. 

Black Rice Risotto is a stunning dish to accompany the lightly toasted chicken with a bright green vegetable you will have a beautiful plate. There are a lot of varieties of black rice. I used the Thai because for me it was the easiest to source. Just watch your cooking time and taste and any variety will work. 

1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine (give or take)
A little water if needed
A good splash of heavy cream
1 cup grated hard cheese (any kind)
2 tablespoons butter
A little olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in a bit of oil until soft, add in rice and stir til you get that toasty smell. Begin adding the stock bit by bit stirring often.  When the stock is absorbed, add the wine, if you need more liquid a little water is fine. You want the rice just barely tender to the tooth, not soft or mushy. 

When the rice is ready melt in the butter and cream along with the cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. That's it...serve. 

The skin you have kept have two choices. If you are adept you can fry it to crisp in a little oil and crumble the crackling on the risotto just before serving, or if you are a selfish cad like I, you can save it and fry it up for yourself and have with the leftover risotto the next day. 

This combo is dinner party ready and with some veg on the plate and absolutely beautiful presentation. 

(Thanks again to my Datalounge edit team who pointed out to me the many typos in this post. I can cook, but I clearly can't type or spell sometimes. I do appreciate the email allowing me to correct my editorial errors)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Broccoli Tacos

Ever since my friend Alan introduced me to the
pleasure of the tortilla I have been warming the tender flour tortilla in butter and stuffing it with all manner of things. Everything is better in a tortilla.

Last night one of my neighbors came over in a panic. She had gone into labor and could not reach her mother. With her husband in the military she was alone with her 8 year old. I got Kaitlin and she hopped in a taxi to run off and have her baby.

Never ask an 8 year old 'What do you want for dinner?' Macaroni and cheese or tacos was the strong reply.

I looked in the frig, tortillas of course, cheese of course, no meat. No canned beans, nothing one might think of as taco.

I told her, 'I have broccoli.'

'So make broccoli tacos.'

How could I not have thought of it?

These turned out to be so incredibly delicious I had to share. Broccoli and cheddar have a natural affinity for one another and the entire dish was a pleasure, and a healthy one.

1 head of broccoli chopped, stem peeled and chopped as well.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Chili powder

1/2 ounce of cheddar per tortilla

Toss broccoli in olive oil with salt and a good sprinkling of chili powder. 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Warm tortillas in butter and melt a sprinkling of cheese on each one. Stuff with broccoli and sit down with your favorite 8 year old for tacos. These are so good you will find yourself making them again for the adults in your lives.

Several hours later when her Grandma came to pick her up my sleepy friend thanked me for one of the best dinners EVER!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Zucchini and Tomato Salad

In the winter the quality of vegetables can be less than those wonderful organic local vegetables you buy at the Farm Markets during the summer. Local root vegetables are available year round but every once in a while you need the fresh light taste of summer.

It is at this time many of you have resolved to lose a few pounds and you head to the vegetables to do this. It helps to buy organic and tomatoes need to be kept on the counter for a few days to fully ripen before using. Often the Roma tomatoes will be a better winter choice but use what you like.

This tomato zucchini salad uses vegetables that are lightly caramelized. This ups the flavor profile.  It is a favorite of mine when I am in the mood for a light supper.

This recipe will serve 4 as an appetizer.

2 large zucchini
6 tomatoes
1/4 lb Bulgarian Feta (If you can't get the fresh Bulgarian style any will do.)
A drizzle of good balsamic*
A drizzle of good olive oil**

Thinly slice the round ends off of the tomatoes (use them in soup) and cut in halves or thirds depening on the size.

Wash and thickly slice the zucchini.

Brush two pans (cast iron or nonstick) with oil. Using one for each vegetable make the pans hot and sear the cut ends of the vegetables. Arrange on plates and while warm  sprinkle lightly with salt and crumble a little feta over each one.

Give a light drizzle of olive oil and do the same with the balsamic.


* Most balsamic vinegar sold these days is fake. Read the label, if it includes wine vinegar and caramel color it is not legit. Not a single balsamic sold at Trader Joe's is legit. It will separate and spoil and does not taste the same.

**As the New York Times reported (of 73 olive oils ... in the U.S. Only 4 per cent were pure olive oil. The rest were adulterated" - New York Times) many if not most of the cheap olive oils, even the extra virgin were actually Canola oil and some color or a blend.  Good Olive oil is not cheap and it should have a strong taste, often peppery.