Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To Get in Muh Belly.

There is nothing like having a roast chicken for Sunday supper.  Roasting chicken is great because there are so many things you can do with the whole bird. You can brine a it, make a rub and slather it down with deliciousness, fry it, make beer can chicken, smoke it, or do what I did - roast it with herbs, salt and pepper, butter, olive oil, and tons of lovely aromatics.

Plus it's super easy to roast a chicken. Really.  It's ridiculously easy.

Roasted Chicken

Whole roaster chicken
Olive Oil
6 T. Butter (sliced into 1/2 T. pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 lemon, quartered
1 med onion, quartered
1 med. russet potato, large chopped
3 carrots, peeled and large chopped
2 stalks celery, large chopped
12 cloves garlic, peeled

1. Remove any innards from chicken and discard.  Check the chicken to see if there are any pin feathers left and remove.  Pat dry.

2. Prepare your roasting pan.  I used a 9 x 13 pan lined with foil.   Place your chicken in the pan and prepare your vegetables.

3. Prepare your vegetables.

4. Stuff the bird with the lemon, garlic and onions.  You won't be able to fit all of the aromatics in - just do what you can.  I didn't have any fresh thyme, but it would have also been great to throw in.

5. Time to truss yo bird! Instead of explain in confusing detail, here's a great video to a YouTube demonstration on How To Truss a Chicken.
6. After your bird is a nice, tied-up poultry-football, side a finger or two underneath the skin to separate the skin from the meat.  Slide pieces of butter around the breast and down the sides of the chicken to the legs. Get the butter nice and smushed into the meat.

7. Now give your bird a nice sensual olive oil massage. Rub that little lady on the front and back and sprinkle with salt and pepper as well as the dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, sage). Rub your seasonings in. Seriously. Give your bird some love here.

8. Add your roasting veggies (potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery) to the roasting pan.  Set your bird on top.

9. Roast in a 425° oven for about 15 minutes per pound.  My 5 pound bird took 90 minutes.  Baste your bird with butter or olive oil periodically throughout the cook time.

10.  To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the thigh area ensuring that the internal temperature has reached 165°.  Once it has, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Red Pepper Flake Pan Fried Broccoli
I served my chicken with the following recipe.  It's actually the only way I eat broccoli as I can't stand eating anything that resembles a tree.  I got the recipe from my good friends Brighid and Thomas Uddyback when I went over to their place for dinner one night. Thomas whipped this up and to be polite, I tried a few bites.  Turns out I actually liked it and thanks to him, I have a new love for broccoli.  But seriously...I can only eat the green tree this way.

1 bunch broccoli
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 T. red pepper flakes
3 T. butter

1. Wash and trim your broccoli.

2. Heat butter in a large saute pan over high heat. Add broccoli and top with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.

3. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes.

BAM!  Throw that all on a plate and you have deliciousness.

Honestly though, roasting a chicken is so incredibly easy.  And shoving the butter under the skin allows a little extra fat to baste the breast meat allowing an easily dried out piece of meat to remain nice and moist.

If you have enough chicken left over, save it and use it in another dish like the following recipe.  If you don't have enough chicken left over, just go buy some and do the damn thing.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Chicken a La King
Being that I'm dating a Southern Boy, there are a few things that I'm learning about food.  I've learned how to properly appreciate a black roux, that Crawfish isn't pronounced with the "y" as us Northerners pronounce it, I've learned how to go HAM a good red beans and rice, and I've learned that Chicken a La King can be deliciously served over toast.  My Northern-ass has always had it over noodles.  *shrug* But as Chris requested the following recipe, I soon learned how the other half enjoy something I grew up with in my Yankee-home.

4 cups chicken (use leftovers from your roast chicken [above] or buy 3 good-size split chicken breasts with rib meat
3 cups chicken stock (or water, carrots, onion, and celery as I'm going to show you how to make below)
1/2 c. green peas (frozen works just fine)
1/2 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. sliced mushrooms (feel free to add more - I'm just not  a big fan of fungus)
1/4 c. chopped pimento
4 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2 c. half and half (looking to go a bit lighter?  You can substitute regular milk. I used Almond Milk for mine)

1. If you're using raw chicken, I suggest using chicken thighs or split chicken breasts with the ribs.  Trim the skin and any excess fat and place into a large pot.. Add 1 large onion (quartered), and then 2 carrots (chopped into large pieces) and 2 ribs of celery (chopped into large pieces - feel free to use the tops! They have great flavor).
Basically with your stock you want to add 50% onions, and then 25% carrots and 25% celery.  Toss in some bay leaves, fresh parsley and cracked black pepper.  Add enough water to fill the pot about 3/4 of the way full.  Bring the whole shebang a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking 4 hours and occasionally skimming off the "gunk" at the top.

2. Once your chicken has been cooked, remove from the pot and rough chop, removing all bones and discarding.  Reserve in a dish.

3. Using a strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain your stock into a bowl.  Set aside and discard the veggies.

4. (Now let's make the Chicken a La King already)  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add green pepper, mushrooms, onion, and peas.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until tender.

5. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until flour coats all of the veggies.

6. Gradually add half-and-half (or milk) and chicken stock, whisking constantly.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring until mixture is hot and thickened.  If your sauce is too thin, continue to cook or remove 1/4 cup of liquid and stir in 2 T. cornstarch to make a slurry.  Whisk back into the sauce to thicken.

7. Add chicken and pimento to sauce, heating thoroughly and stirring occasionally.

8. Once sauce is thickened and chicken is hot, remove and serve over toast (or egg noodles if you're a Yank)

Bam!  Look at us making the most out of roast chicken and leftovers.  And I know, I know, I know.  Chicken a La King is about a '80s as an Iroc-Z, jean jackets and Belinda Carlisle, but it's so good.  And I for one think that comfort food never goes out of style and that sometimes old favorites can make a comeback.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Better than Middle School Cafeteria Salisbury Steak

I know I haven't updated this in a week or so, but I've been super busy with work. PLUUUUSSSSS, Chris and I got a dog!  Since I was adjusting to a new routine, getting Roux, the Wonderdog acclimated to her surroundings, and working my tail off at work, I haven't had a chance to cook anything substantial.  Seriously - delivery Chinese, Subway, and leftovers ahoy!  I even ate a bowl of lima beans for dinner one night. No joke.  I had no energy.

A few weeks ago, Chris requested a recipe.  So  since I like doing what I can to make him happy, and since I love cooking for people, I cheerfully obliged. Daww love. It's precious.

And what was it that he asked for?  Salisbury Steak.

Typically when people hear the words "Salisbury Steak" visions of elementary school lunches and Banquet frozen dinners pop up in their heads.  But the difference between school lunch/cardboard Salisbury Steak and mine is the flavor of the patties, and the amazing gravy/sauce that smothers the meat.  It's really not what you were served in the lunch line.

Yes. I promise.

So without any more hesitation, here's this blog entry's solo recipe.  Seriously.  It's been crazy around here.

Salisbury Steak

Meat Ingredients
1 1/2 lb. Ground Beef (I really like an 85/15)
1/2 c. seasoned breadcrumbs
1 T. mustard
1 T. beef bullion
1 tsp. Worcestershire
2 T. ketchup
Salt and Pepper
1 T butter
2 T. veg oil

Gravy Ingredients
1 Onion - halved and thinly sliced
2 c. beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1 T. ketchup
2 T. beef bullion
salt and pepper
Corn Starch (for thickening, if necessary.  Or just make a roux)

1. Put all ingredients in the "Meat Ingredients" list (except for butter and oil)  in a bowl and knead until combined.

2. To make even patties, I form the mixture into a large bowl and use my hand to divide into 4 even sections by scoring the meat across horizontally and vertically.  Then, taking each lump of meat (well doesn't that just sound attractive), I form 4 circular patties (like I'm making a hamburger).

3. I tried scoring lines across the patties to give them a "steak" appearance but then once I fried them up realized no one would know my faux-grill feel free to skip this step.
4. Add butter and vegetable oil until a skillet or pan. Heat over medium-high until pan is nice and hot.  Add the patties to the hot skillet and cook until no longer pink in the middle (about 4-5 minutes, each side).

5. Remove "steaks" from the pan and set aside on a plate.
6. Reduce heat on the skillet and add sliced onions.  Allow to cook until they're beginning to get translucent.

7. Add the beef broth and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the sucs (those little delicious little flavor bombs that get stuck to the bottom of your pant).  Then add the Worcestershire, ketchup and beef bullion.  Allow to liquid to simmer away.  If you think your gravy is a little too thin, add a bit of a slurry ( slurry = cornstarch + liquid) or make a roux and whisk to thicken.  If it is too thick, just add a little more beef stock.

8. Add a couple of the cooked Salisbury Steak patties back in to the cooked liquid and onion mixture. Let simmer, about 3 minutes.

9.  Take a Salisbury Steak patty out of the pan, place on a plate and top with tons of cooked onions and gravy.  I served mine with homemade mashed potatoes and peas.  Yep. Trying to make it as frozen-meal authentic as possible.

That's it for recipes for now.  I plan on making a roast chicken within the next few days and a few other things this week that I might share.  I've been craving Beef Stroganoff like nobody's business for some reason.

Or cake.  Lots of cake.  

AND, since I've got Roux and I'm a big fan of giving the pup as few preservatives as possible, I may start making homemade treats. I'd love to share those as well.  Who knows?  I feel like as I grow and change, so does the blog. It's actually quite wonderful to look back on and celebrate.  Pop botttles n' whatnot.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Super Bowl Recipes that Will Make You Feel Like a Champ... Even if Your Last Name is Manning

I'm a big fan of any excuse to cook a bunch of food, drink and watch sports.

And since football is my absolute favorite sport, in true "I may have gone overboard" fashion, I decided to make a boatload of food to shove in my face while rooting on two teams that aren't mine.

Yeah... my beloved Packers sat at home on the couch. Whomp whomp whomp. And my gripes with the offensive line, atrocious play calling, and incredibly-special special teams will be saved for another blog.

It's time for nomcity.

I was hoping people would come over and watch the game (*cough*helpmeeateverythingImade*cough*), but was only Chris and me, and since sharing is caring, and diabetes and heart disease are better shared with someone you love, here are some of this year's football food recipes.

Shredded Chicken Nachos
I know, I don't really need a recipe for nachos, but I wanted to share with ya'll the method to my madness and the following plate of nachos that will make you want to dive head first into your plate of cheesy, crunchy, spicy, meat like you're a kindergartner in a ball pit.

Tortilla Chips (eyeball it)
1 sm. can sliced olives (drained)
banana peppers (drained)
2 shredded chicken breasts (recipe follows - you'll need chicken breasts, salsa, and a packet of taco seasoning)
1 sm. yellow onion, diced
2 sm. tomatoes, seeded and diced
Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips
3 green onions, sliced thinly

1. To make the shredded chicken, place a chicken breast in a crockpot and top with a jar of salsa and a packet of taco seasoning. Put on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8 hours.  When done, shred using forks.  Remove meat from sauce and drain excess juice.

2. Layer tortillas on an oven safe cookie sheet.  Top with shredded meat, sliced olives, banana peppers and onions.  Top with a layer of cheese, then add another layer of the tortillas, meat, and veggies. This picture is all ready for the second layer of a heart attack.

3. Pop in a preheated 425° oven until cheese is bubbly and melted.  Top with additional olives, banana peppers, tomatoes, shredded chicken, and onions...or whatever veggie you have left.  Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or anything else your little heart desires.

Crab Rangoon
One of my absolute favorite things in this world is Crab Rangoon.  I love crab (even the fake stuff - don't judge).  Cream cheese, fried fabuousness...I can you go wrong?  So I dreamed up the following recipe and have been tweaking it a bit since I started making the fried pillows of heaven and gloriousness.

2 8 oz. packages imitation crab meat (The real stuff would be better, but a lady's on a budget here)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)
3 scallions
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. Soy Sauce
3 T. mayo
2 T. minced garlic
1 package Won-Ton Wrappers
Vegetable Oil (for frying)

1. Dice crab meat into small pieces and add to a bowl.  The goal here is to be able to put the meat in a won ton wrapper, so make sure the things you dice are small enough to fit in the wrapper without blowing it to smithereens.

2. Thinly slice the whites and greens of 3 scallions. Add to the bowl with crab. Add cream cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper, Worcestershire, mayo, and garlic.   (Note:  I didn't add all of these at first - it was about halfway through the recipe that I thought "What if..." and loved the addition.  See? That's why cooking is so great - feel an inspiration? BAM!  Change it up.)

3. Time to get messy - combine the mix in the bowl so all of the ingredients are good and incorporated.

4. For the won-tons, take half of the package and place them on a plate covered with a damp paper towel.  Cover the won-tons with another damp paper towel. Place the remaining half package in a baggie and reserve in the refrigerator.  (You don't want your won tons to dry out - they'll crack and be impossible to work with)
5. There are a couple of ways you can package up your Crab Rangoons.  To start, take a won-ton wrapper and place it on your cutting board, place approximately 1 T. of the filling in the center of the won-ton and brush all sides with water.

One method is to create Won-Ton packages.  Fold wrapper over the filling, forming a triangle, press all sides to seal, then press two of the triangle ends together.

Orrrr you can make a cute little purse! Gather up all corners and bring to the center, pinching together to form a sealed delicious Crab Rangoon-vuitton.

6. If you're making these bad boys ahead of time, spray with a little vegetable oil, cover with a damp paper towel, and pop in the fridge until ready to use.

7. To fry,  heat oil to 350-375° and fry in small batches until golden brown (about 3 minutes each).  For a healthier option (hah...really though, you're eating cream cheese and fake crab), bake in a preheated 425° oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Bacon and Cheese Potato Chips
Another no-brainer recipe I suppose, but I wanted to include it anyway.  I first had these chips at The Barn, the bar that was in the apartment community where I lived in Columbus.  It was probably one of my favorite bars in Columbus not only because I could literally stumble back to my apartment after drinking, but because they have "$4 You Call It" drinks on Thursdays, live bands on the weekends, and for residents - a gym downstairs, and a pool was right out back.  Seriously. I was in love.

The potatoes are not only crispy, they're covered in cheese and bacon and if that wasn't enough to make you get a cardiologist on the phone, they also come with sour cream and barbecue sauce.

Since we already had so much food, I decided to just use one super large russet.  Feel free to adjust the recipe to suit your needs and the mouths you're feeding.

Russet Potatoe(s)
3 strips Bacon
1/2 c. Mild Cheddar Cheese
1 Scallion, thinly sliced
Sour Cream (for dipping)
Barbecue Sauce (for dipping)
Vegetable Oil

1. Cook your bacon and slice into thin strips.  I cooked mine on a baking rack on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray at 425° for 24 minutes, flipping the bacon halfway through.

 2. Peel your potato and slice, using a mandoline, set on the "Medium Slice" thickness.  I love my mandoline - I received it as a gift and it's such a handy tool to have. If you don't have one, that's ok...just slice slice slice.

3. Place your sliced potatoes in a bowl of water.  The water will help remove the pesky starch from the potatoes and allow you to achieve maximum awesome-crispyness in your chips.  Let your potatoes soak for at least an hour, but if you forget about them and they soak for several hours, that's ok, too.

4. When you're ready to fry up your potatoes, drain them and pat dry.  Heat oil to 300°.  Add potatoes, a small batch at a time, about 3-4 minutes each batch. You don't want to get them golden brown, you're just blanching them at this point.  Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels.

5. Now crank up the heat in your oil to 375°.  Again, in small batches, fry your potatoes, getting them good and crispy.  When browned, remove from oil and drain on paper towels.  Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to season.

6. Now time to layer the potato-sexyness!  In an oven safe dish, spread a layer of your drained potato chips out.  Add your bacon strips and cheese. Pop into a preheated 425° oven and let the cheese get bubbly and melty.  Remove and garnish with the chopped scallions.  Serve with ramekins of sour cream and barbecue sauce.

Hot Wings that Won't Burn Your Face Off 
As a note, I almost typed the title "waaaaaangs" in an attempt to be funny.  And then I read why I typed outloud, and after giggling about "wangs", I decided to delete it all and not be funny for now.  Oh well.

I'm not a big fan of buffalo wings because the sauce bothers me. I just don't like the tang of a Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  Chris requested these, and since I know the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, Chicken wings it is.   I know I made Sriracha Honey Ginger Wings previously, but those were baked. I wanted to try my hand at frying some wings.

Ingredients For The Dredge
1 package chicken wings (1 - 1/2 pounds)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
3 c. flour (divided)
1 c. corn meal
2 Dried Ancho Chiles steeped in water
1/4 c. chopped, dried ancho chiles
1 1/2 c.Milk (I use almond milk since I don't have regular cow's milk in my home)
6 T. Garlic Powder (divided)
Vegetable Oil (for frying)

Ingredients for the Sauce
3 T. chopped, hydrated ancho chiles
1/2 c. tomato sauce
2 T. garlic powder
3 T. honey
1 T. sherry vinegar
1/3 c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. cold butter

1. Trim off the wing tips of your chicken.
2. For the wet dredge, combine half of the flour and garlic powder, salt, pepper, half of the dried ancho chiles, almond milk, and ancho chile steeping water.

3. For the dry dredge, combine remaining flour and garlic power, salt, pepper, corn meal and remaining dried ancho chiles.

4. Coat chicken in wet dredge, rubbing the mixture into the meat and transfer to the dry. Coat well and shake of excess.

5. You can skip this step if you're not a fan of super-breaded wings.  Since I like a lot of crunch on my chicken, I decided to give the chicken another pass through through the wet and dry.

6. Heat oil to 375°.  Drop chicken, a small amount at a time into the hot oil, allowing chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165°.
7. For the sauce, combine all ingredients except the butter into a small saucepan.  Heat until simmering and reduce heat. Allow to combine, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Shortly before service, add cold butter and stir to combine.
Why wait until the last minute to add your butter? And why cold butter? Too much heat will cause the butterfat in yo butter to separate and leak out. Basically the molecules in the butter don't like to play nice with other molecules and since you don't have an emulsifier in your sauce, shit gets weird.  Just add it at the end.  ( can also add mustard powder as an emulsifying agent).

8. Remove chicken and allow to rest on paper towels to drain grease.  Place chicken in a bowl and drizzle sauce around the edge of chicken.  Toss to coat and serve on a platter with celery.

Those were a lot of recipes for this week - phew!   And Chris and I had so much food I really should have brought the leftovers into work the next day and shoved them all in front of people's faces. 

But hey... it was an occasion to make tons of food and drink non-light beer.  After all, the Super Bowl comes around only once a year.... and after experiencing Seattle's Defense, I'm sure Peyton is pretty ok about that.

Sorry, Peyton.