Archive for the 'Recipe' Category



Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The last several months have been as busy as any in my life.  We’re coming to the end of a large project at work which means that the hours are particularly long and I’ve had to travel for business for several weeks.  Add to that the holidays and a vacation, it means that I’ve barely had time to make dinner, let alone post about it.

But I did have enough time make some fried chicken the other night.  I’ve tried quite a few recipes for fried chicken, including one I posted before. And while some of them have been good, I never quite found one that was perfect. I think I’ve come a lot closer.

Before it was completely sold out nearly everywhere, Angela bought me the Ad Hoc Cookbook for my birthday. And one of the first recipes I had to try was for the fried chicken.

The brine keeps the fried chicken from drying out while adding flavor to the meat.  The crust is nearly perfect.  I kept picking out pieces that had fallen off the frying chicken and eating it.  It was even better eaten with the chicken.

Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Adopted from Ad Hoc at Home

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken
2 cups buttermilk
peanut oil for deep frying

Brine:
8 cups water
1 lemon, halved
6 bay leaves
1 small bunch thyme
1 small bunch Italian parsley
2 tbsp honey
5 garlic cloves, cut in half width-wise
1/2 cup kosher salt

Coating:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil in a large pot.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold.
  2. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 4 breast pieces).  Add to the brine and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least several hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 1/2 hours before cooking.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 320ºF.
  6. Prepare two baking sheets with cooling racks on them.
  7. Whisk together the coating in a shallow bowl.  Place the buttermilk in another shallow bowl.
  8. Dredge the chicken, first through the flour coating, then in the buttermilk, then again in the flour coating.  Place the chicken on one of the baking sheets.
  9. When the oil is hot, add the legs and thighs to the oil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it begins to color.
  10. Add the breast and wing pieces to the oil and cook for 10 to 12 minutes more or until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through.
  11. Remove the chicken and place on the second baking sheet.
  12. Allow the chicken to cool slightly then serve.

Serves 2 to 3.

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Happy Halloween

Egg Halloween Costume
This is a couple days after Halloween, but it’s taken me at least that long to recover. I just wanted to share Angela and my costume.

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)

Pork Sausage from Lucania

I have something of a love-hate relationship with my sausage stuffer.  I adore sausage but, now that I have a sausage stuffer, I insist that whatever sausage we eat at home be homemade.  There’s a certain amount of setup required to make sausages and I feel the need to make a large batch to make it worth the effort.  Therefore, I ended up rolling the dice when trying a new recipe as to how they’ll turn out.

In this case, I knew I hit the jackpot as soon as I offered Angela a piece of the sample I used to check the seasoning.  No words were needed.  I could see the answer in her face.  And while Angela likes sausage, her level of appreciation is not equivalent to my own.  This sausage may have changed her mind.

I had been looking for a new Italian sausage recipe to use. My last attempt, while decent, had too much coriander seed for one. It just wasn’t quite right.

While this sausage can fill in for an “Italian sausage” (it is in fact a recipe of Italian extraction), it is not an Italian sausage in the traditional American sense.  It doesn’t have the fennel seed which is almost the defining characteristics of such sausages. It does, however, have a lot of garlic and ginger to provide flavor. It’s a lot simpler but still tasty. It can also be used as a breakfast sausage in a pinch (actually the first way I cooked it).

When I have 5 lbs. of sausage in the freezer, I remember why I like to have a sausage stuffer.  When viewing the cornucopia of sausages at a megamart (or even the farmer’s market for that matter), it’s hard to remember why I enjoy making my own.  Part of it’s just enjoying making sausages with Angela, part of it’s the quality, and part of it is choosing exactly what I want in a sausage.

Grinding meat for sausage

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

12 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 oz. ginger, peeled and finely diced
6 oz. pancetta, chopped
5 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
1 lbs. pork fat, cut into 1″ pieces
tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup red wine

8 ft. pork sausage casings

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the red wine  sausage casings.  Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.
  2. Place the bowl containing the meat in an ice bath.  Grind the meat mixture through the smallest holes into another bowl in an ice bath.
  3. Add the wine to the mixture and beat with a paddle mixer at low speed for 1 minute.
  4. Cook a small portion of the sausage mixture in olive oil to verify seasoning.  While cooking the sample sausage mixture, place the remaining sausage mixture in the refrigerator.
  5. Stuff the sausage mixture into the sausage casings.  Twist into individual sausages.

Makes 6 lbs. sausages

Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

Last December, as we were getting the keys to our new house from our landlord, we walked in and there was a giant box sitting in the middle of the empty living room.  It turns out that Angela bought me a smoker for Christmas. It just turned out that it arrived before we did.

I’ve used it a number of times since then and have mostly stuck to the “classics.” I’ve done pulled pork several times but I have trouble cooking it long enough to get it truly tender (I haven’t made myself get up earlier enough). The same issue came with brisket. But what truly shows the beauty of smoked meat is poultry. It’s not classic barbecue but chicken and turkey absorb the smoke beautifully. Not to mention the gorgeous exterior. I’m already planning to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving this year.

I decided to change things up slightly on this chicken.  I usually smoke foods with hickory but I decided to give mesquite a try. I’ll gladly admit to be a novice smoker but there is a definitive difference between the hickory and the mesquite. The mesquite is a bit sharper and tangier in taste. While I don’t think it would work as well as hickory on pork, it adds a really nice bite to the chicken.

A smoker is really a bit of an extravagance but the more I use it, the more I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.

Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Brine:
1 gallon/4 liters water
1 1/2 cups /350 g kosher salt
1/2 cup / 125 g sugar
8 tsp / 42 g pink salt

1 3-to-4 lbs. chicken, trussed

Glaze:
1 cup/250 milliliters whiskey
1/2 cup/125 milliliters maple syrup
1/4 packed cup/50 g dark brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from the heat.  Cool to room temperature.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold.  Place the chicken in the brine, weight it down, and brine it for 18 hours.  Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under running water, dry it with paper towels, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  2. An hour before smoking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator.
  3. Hot smoke the chicken at 200ºF until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF, 3 to 4 hours.
  4. While the chicken is smoking, place all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the glaze is reduced to 1 cup.
  5. An hour and a half into smoking the chicken, brush the chicken with some of the glaze.
  6. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the smoker.  Brush it with the remaining glaze and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Strawberry Lemon Marmalade

Strawberries

I started making jam somewhat by accident.  I originally bought a canner and associated tools so that I could get chicken stock out of the freezer and into jars.  Last summer I decided to branch out and try my hand at making jam.

Making jam in southern California is more relaxed.  There, strawberries are available virtually year round (I like to tell the story of asking in November when the last strawberries would be available and being told by the farmer that it was just the beginning of the winter crop).  On the east coast, there’s a much tighter time period where fruit is available and it turns out that I almost ran out of strawberry season in which to make jam.

My mom used to make lots of jams and other canned goods when I was much younger but had gotten busy and fallen out of the habit.  Given we were on the same side of the country now and that we were coming up to visit for father’s day anyway, we decided to do some strawberry jam making together.

So, this morning, we drove to a couple of farm stands.  Mason-Dixon Farms was out of berries for the year (but did have some of the first eastern shore corn of the year) and Brown’s Orchards didn’t open for another 45 minutes.  We decided to drive on for a bit because it was a beautiful morning and came across a sign proclaiming strawberries and pointing down a long driveway.  At first we drove past, but a u-turn later, we followed the road long enough that we thought we might have passed it.  But sitting in the back of a truck were several quarts of strawberries and a box to place money in.  After we almost bought them out of strawberries, we headed back to Brown’s to pick up some of the blueberries that their sign promised.

We first made strawberry jam from a very simple recipe.  Then we moved on to the strawberry lemon marmalade.  I first stumbled across this last year as I bought more strawberries than the jam recipe I was using called for.  Knowing Angela’s penchant for lemons, I decided to try my hand at marmalade.  The fact that I made it again is description enough of how it turned out last year.

Credit to my wonderful wife for the photographs.

Hulling Strawberries with my Mom

Strawberry Lemon Marmalade
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

1/4 cup thinly sliced lemon peel
4 cups hulled and crushed strawberries (from about 2 quarts of whole strawberries)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 package regular powdered fruit pectin
6 cups granulated sugar

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
  2. In a sauce pan, place the lemon peel and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and then boil for 5 minutes.  Drain the lemon peel, discarding the water and reserving the peel.
  3. Place the crushed strawberries, lemon peel, and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pan.  Stir in the pectin until it is well dissolved.
  4. Measure the sugar into a bowl.
  5. Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.   Add the sugar all at once.  While stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil that can’t be stirred down.  Continue stirring and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.
  6. Skim any foam off the top of the marmalade mixture.
  7. Carefully transfer the marmalade into the prepared jars, leaving a 1/4″ head room.  Wipe the rims, add the lids, then screw it in place.  Put the jars into the canner.
  8. Bring the canner to a full boil, then process for 10 minutes.  Remove the canner from the heat, allow to set for 5 minutes, then open the lid and remove the jars.  Allow the jars to cool overnight.

Makes about 8 jars.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Angela and I have gone out to a restaurant for dinner on Valentine’s Day exactly once.  From the crowded restaurant to the subpar, but expensive food, it was an experience that we didn’t want to repeat.  So last year we went to our favorite pizza place. Given that Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday this year, I decided that I would make a special dinner for Angela. I decided on Tagliatelle alla Bolognese as it is one of Angela’s favorite foods. I made some bread and crème brûlée.

And then I went and ruined it by spilling hot chicken stock on my toe.  I had taken advantage of the fact that I had to stay home to watch the sauce to make a large batch of chicken stock.  All was going well until I was about to strain it.  I cook the chicken stock in a stock pot with all the solids inside a pasta strainer.  To get as much liquid out of the solids as possible, I had picked up the strainer and was trying to push any remaining liquid out.  This is when tragedy struck.  The strainer slipped out of my hands, sending chicken stock flying.  Some of it flew up and landed on my sock-clad foot.  I got the sock off as quickly as possible but the damage was already done.

My foot is finally starting to heal, a week and a half later.  I’ve been forced to wear sandals and socks to work since then.  It did, however, take my manager until yesterday to realize that I was wearing them and duly make fun of me.  Apparently wearing orange toed socks makes it more conspicuous.

Luckily, I only ruined the romantic mood on Valentine’s Day and not the food itself.  The bread and crème brûlée were done.  All that was left was to make the fresh pasta and it helped take my mind off the pain.  Angela can comment on the funny dance I did to distract myself further.

Bolognese sauce is deservedly one of the most classic Italian pasta sauces.  The long cooking in milk and wine helps mellow the beef to almost be reminiscient of veal.  It also helps mellow the normally acidic bite of tomato sauces.  In many ways, however, it almost seems to be the anti-Italian pasta.  It’s one of the few times in Italian cooking where the sauce is the star and the pasta merely the sideshow.

Despite my mishap, this was still the right choice for Valentine’s Day.  It’s a special meal, taking a good bit of time.  But that time and effort pays off in a dish that can only really be described in superlatives.

Homemade Bread

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 lbs ground pork
salt and pepper
1 cup whole milk
nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1 1/2 lbs. fresh tagliatelle (made with 3 eggs and 3 cups of flour)
grated parmigiano-reggiano

  1. Put the oil, 3 tbsp butter, and the onion in a large dutch oven and place over medium heat.  Cook the onion, stirring occassionally, until it has become transluscent.
  2. Add the celery and the carrot and cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring regularly.
  3. Add the ground beef and ground pork.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring the meat, until it loses its pink color.
  4. Add the milk and bring to a simmer.  Cook at a low simmer until the milk has completely cooked away, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
  6. Add the wine and bring to a simmer.  Cook at a low simmer until the wine has completely cooked away, 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook at the barest of simmers for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  If the sauce dries out, add 1/2 cup of water, whenever necessary.
  8. Cook the fresh pasta and toss it with the sauce, adding the final tablespoon of butter.
  9. Serve immediately with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Serves 6.

Penne con le Zucchine Fritte, Piselli e Pomodori (Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes)

Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes

When I announced to Angela what I was making for dinner last night, she was distinctly less than excited.  In her defense, my motive for choosing this recipe was mainly that I had a zucchini that had been sitting in the fridge long enough that I had started to worry whether or not it had turned into a home for something else.  Luckily for us it had not.

I say luckily as both Angela and I enjoyed it immensely.  This pasta was significantly better than it had any right to be given its ingredients.  It’s very simple and I always appreciate simple food but, looking at the recipe alone, I didn’t see anything that would differentiate it from the mass of other pasta recipes that have a base of tomatoes.

However, the distinct flavor of the fried zucchini slices makes the dish truly compelling.  It provides a nice counterpoint to the acidity of the tomatoes.  The peas are nice but mainly from a color and nutritional perspective.

But what will really keep me coming back to this recipe is how quick it is to make.  The longest part of the preparation is waiting for the water to boil and then cooking the pasta.  The sauce can be made entirely in the time that the pasta cooks.  It also reheats the next day fairly well.

Zucchini Frying

Penne con le Zucchine Fritte, Piselli e Pomodori (Penne with Fried Zucchini, Peas, and Tomatoes)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1 lbs penne
1 cup grated Parmigiano Regiano

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne for one minute less than the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and cook until both sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Add the garlic and stir briefly.
  4. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over high heat until most of the tomato juice has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the peas and the butter and cook over low heat until the peas are warmed through, about 1 minute.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.  Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for one minute over medium heat, stirring regularly.  If the pasta is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the parmigiano.
  8. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmigiano.

Serves 4.

Sliced Zucchini