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Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

Upon arriving home from work today, there was a pair of chicken quarters starring at me from the refrigerator accusingly.  My original plan was to grill the chicken but, despite the very obvious heralds of Spring, my plan was thwarted by the appearance of rain.  While sitting on an endless conference call at work today, I contemplated my predicament.  And, from some recess of my brain, came the idea of chicken teriyaki.

My experience with cooking Japanese food is basically non-existent.  To me, Japanese food is intimidating.  It is not only rooted in alien and unfamiliar techniques, it is also known for its simplicity and attention to detail.  It is not only outside my comfort zone, it also has the reputation, to me at least, of being exacting and requiring skill to pull off correctly.

Despite my preconceived fears, this is a very simple recipe.  The hardest part is probably the shopping but sake and mirin are commonplace anymore.  While the ingredients are fairly simple, the outcome is definitely more than the sum of its parts.  But it’s also self-evident that the quality of the ingredients is paramount.  Good chicken, pasture raised, preferably from a small farmer or farmer’s market (as mine was) will elevate this dish from the pedestrian to the sublime. And, while I’m no expert on Japanese food, that is the exact impression I’ve always gathered from it.

Chicken Teriyaki
Adapted from The Best Recipes in the World

4 bone-in chicken quarters
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup sake
1/3 cup mirin
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce

  1. Pre-heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning as needed, until the chicken is mostly cooked (to an internal temperature of approximately 150°F).
  2. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium.  Deglaze the pan with the water.  Add the sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.
  4. When the sauce begins to bubble, return the chicken to the skillet.  Cook, turning the chicken in the skillet, until the sauce becomes almost a glaze and the chicken is well coated.
  5. Serve immediately with sticky rice.

Serves 4.

Fried Oysters

Fried Oysters

In honor of health care reform passing last night, I thought we should eat some fried foods.  That may be the best form of socializing risks that I know of.

In reality, I had bought some shucked oysters at the farmer’s market and had already been planning to fry them.  We’ve been lucky that a seafood vendor has been attending the farmer’s market.  Initially, they had only agreed to attend during the winter.  Given the quality of their products (particularly, the rock fish), to encourage them to continue attending as well as to eat more seafood, I decided to try and buy at least one thing from them every week.  Last week was clam chowder. This week, at Angela’s encouragement, was fried oysters.

Despite being from and currently living in the Chesapeake Bay area, I’ve had little experience with oysters.  My parents don’t like them (or at least think they don’t), so I never ate them growing up.  My first experience with them was at a local restaurant; from there, I was hooked. Angela’s obsession started after eating a fried oyster topped burger in Boston.

I also must admit that the recipe I use for frying oysters comes from a New Englander. In my defense, my lack of Chesapeake Bay cookbooks not withstanding, it’s really quite good. It’s also said to be a “southern style” fry mix. And while most Marylanders would probably put Old Bay on the oysters, it would probably overpower the mild taste of the sweet oysters I’ve been buying.

I like to serve fried oysters with french fries.  If I’m taking the time to start deep frying, I might as well make some french fries while I’m at it.  Plus, it makes a convenient “one pot” meal.  If you want to make french fries, I’d suggest cooking them before the oysters.  The oysters cook very quickly and can add odd flavors to the french fries.

For the dredge, don’t use a very coarse cornmeal (i.e. polenta); it will make the oysters too gritty.  However, I would recommend a stone-ground cornmeal if at all possible.

For the frying, I like to setup two half-sheet pans, each with a cooling rack on top.  One sheet pan gets the dredged but uncooked oysters.  The other sheet pan can be used to rest the cooked oysters.

Homemade French Fries

Fried Oysters
Adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food

1 half-pint shucked oysters
2 cups buttermilk
4-6 cups peanut oil or enough to deep fry

Dredge:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven to 360°F.
  2. In a bowl, put the buttermilk.  In another bowl, mix together the dredge ingredients.  Dredge each oyster, first through the buttermilk, then through the dry ingredients.  Set aside.
  3. Deep fry the oysters at 360°F until they are lightly browned and cooked through.  Initially, the oil will boil very heavily, when the oil subsides and boils lightly, the oysters are done (the change is distinct).
  4. Remove from the oysters from the deep fryer and allow to drain for a minute.  Season the oysters with salt.
  5. Serve immediately with cocktail sauce.

Serves 2-3.

Cocktail Sauce
Adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food

12 oz. Heinz chili sauce
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

  1. Mix all ingredients well.

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)
Last Saturday, we had a party where we served Mexican food.  I even invested in a tortilla press and tried my hand at making fresh tortillas.  Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to prepare in advance, I was too busy and too tired to take pictures to generate a blog post.

But armed with a new tortilla maker and some left over ingredients, I wanted to try to make more Mexican food.  I haven’t made a lot of Mexican food previously.  When we lived in California, Mexican food was omnipresent.  They even served passable tacos at the corporate cafeteria.  In northern Virginia, good tacos are few and far between.

Given that there were shrimp in the freezer, shrimp tacos seemed a wise choice.  These tacos are very easy to make.  The cooking of the shrimp is somewhat unconventional but it does work.  Given the flavoring of the tacos, they would be just as good, if not better, served either at room temperature or chilled on a hot day.

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)
Adapted from Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Ed: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

For the shrimp:
1 quart water
1 lime, halved
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 bay leaves
12 oz. shell-on shrimp

For the dressing:

1/2 small red onion, coarsely diced
1 medium tomato, cored and diced
1 1/2 tbsp dice cilantro
2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt

  1. In a sauce pan, combine the water, black pepper, allspice, and bay leaves.  Squeeze the limes and add them to the sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Uncover the sauce pan, turn the heat to high, add the shrimp, cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and drain off the liquid.  Keep the pan covered and set aside for 15 minutes.
  4. Peel the shrimp and cut them into 1/2″ pieces.
  5. Combine the red onion, tomato, and cilantro in a bow with the shrimp.
  6. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and vegetable oil.  Pour over the shrimp mixture.
  7. Serve the shrimp mixture in tortillas.

Serves 2-3.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

It has been raining on and off since Friday.  Yesterday, when I went to the farmer’s market, it was more on than off.  As I was driving there and the rain started to let up, I was hopeful that my shopping would end up being dry; I was wrong.  With the raining come down as I stood half covered by the awning of the seafood vendor, I decided that the only appropriate option would be clam chowder.

I’m not from New England.  I’ve only been there a handful of times and I’ve never eaten clam chowder there.  Previously, clam chowder was a bland, generic milky soup that either came out of a can or was served at a generic restaurant.

Despite all the bad versions I’ve had, the Platonic ideal of New England clam chowder has always appealed to me.  Somewhere, there was a creamy but flavorful soup that actually tasted of clams.

This may not be the form of the perfect clam chowder but it’s still quite good.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s always worked out for me.  The original doesn’t include any cayenne pepper or Tabasco but they both help to cut through the brinyness of the clams while not overpowering the flavor of the clams.

On this rainy, chilly night, clam chowder matched the mood.  With a sliced baguette to sop up the  broth, it was nearly perfect.

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food

1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 or 4 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
12 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and diced, divided
1 bay leaf
salt
1 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 pint of shucked clams, drained, juice reserved
12 fluid oz. clam juice
1.5 cups heavy cream
black pepper
cayenne pepper
Tabasco

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large dutch oven.  Add the bacon and cook until well browned and the fat rendered from the bacon.  Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, half the thyme, and celery to the dutch oven.  Season with a pinch of salt and book until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the reserved clam juice and bottled clam juice. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the clams and simmer for one minute more.
  6. Add the heavy cream and simmer until the cream thickens slightly.
  7. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco to taste.
  8. Add the remaining thyme and the bacon, stir well, and serve immediately with bread.

Serves 2-3.

Bavette de Veau Boucherie Duciel (Veal Flank Steak Boucherie Duciel)

Veal Skirt Steak
One of my favorite things about shopping at the farmer’s market is that there’s always a surprise.  At a supermarket, you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be available every week but the selection changes week-by-week at the farmer’s market.

This past week, EcoFriendly Foods had an impressive selection of veal, including veal skirt steak, which is virtually unheard of in a grocery store (what happens to the rest of the calf normally?). So how could I resist?

The first recipe I found was very simple and that suits me just fine.  For something as mild as veal, simple recipes usually work best.  And, continuing the focus on farmer’s markets, high quality veal is much better than mass-produced veal, particularly for a recipe as simple as this one.

Bavette de Veau Boucherie Duciel (Veal Flank Steak Boucherie Duciel)
Adopted from The Paris Cookbook

1 lbs. veal flank or skirt steak, divided into two pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp heavy cream

  1. Dry the flank steak on both sides well with a paper towel and season it on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat.
  3. When the butter is hot and finished foaming, sear the flank steak on both sides until well browned.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the heavy cream.
  6. Pour the heavy cream over the steak and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

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.

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.