Saturday, June 27, 2009

Green Olive and Herb Chicken with Root Vegetables


(this is a new riff inspired by the Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Chicken recipe published March 1st, 2000 in Cooks Illustrated)

1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt, for brine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole chicken, no bigger than 3 1/2 lbs., preferably organic, giblets removed, fat around cavity trimmed and discarded
2 1/2 pounds of root vegetables (we prefer carrots, parsnips, and purple sweet potatoes) peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp melted butter
10-15 large green olives, pits removed, finely minced
2/3 cup finely minced parsley
3 tbsp. finely minced lemon thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced

1) Dissolve the kosher salt and sugar in 2 quarts of cold water, in a large container or pot. Immerse chicken and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2) Adjust oven rack to lower middle and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line the bottom of your broiler pan with tinfoil and spray evenly with the cooking spray.
3) Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold water. Place the chicken on a cutting board and butterfly it. First, cut through the bones on either side of the backbone with kitchen scissors, discarding the backbone or reserving it for stock if desired. Flip the chicken over backbone-side down and flatten the breastbone with your hand; you'll hear it break. Now slip your fingers between the skin and the breast meat to loosen.
4) Combine 1 tbsp. of olive oil with the melted butter, minced green olive, parsley, and thyme. Season the green paste generously with salt and pepper. Using either a spoon or your fingers, push the paste in a fairly even layer between the skin and the meat of the breast. Repeat process with the thighs and drumsticks, and pat dry any excess water on the skin with paper towels. Transfer the chicken to the broiling rack and lift the legs toward the middle to rest between the thighs and the breast.
5) Toss your root vegetables with 1 tbsp. olive oil, the minced rosemary, and plenty of salt and black pepper. Spread them in an even layer in the foil-lined broiler pan bottom. rub chicken with remaining olive oil and season the skin with salt and pepper. Place broiler pan rack with chicken on top of the root vegetables.
6) Roast chicken for 20 minutes, until spotty brown. Rotate pan and continue to roast until skin has crisped to a deep brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, 20-25 minutes longer.
7) Transfer chicken to a cutting board and remove the broiler pan rack with potholders. Invert the foil and transfer the roasted root vegetables to a cookie sheet, patting off the excess grease with paper towels as needed. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the carrot, parsnip, and purple sweet potatoes.

Good pairings: we served this with southern-style kale. Spinach would be nice, or mustard greens, or just a big leafy salad or some sauteed green beans.

Hop Sun Summer Wheat Beer is from one of our favorite New York brewing companies of all time: Southern Tier. Their 22 oz. specialty brew are stellar, but this is one if their several 12 oz. seasonal offerings (March release), and a delicious one at that. The makers tout it as a dry-hopped unfiltered session ale, and that's exactly what they've accomplished--you get the soft, smooth mouthfeel of a wheat beer, but balanced by the grapefruit and orange zest citrus of the hops. If you like wheat beers and hefeweisens in general because they're only very mildly hoppy, this beer might not be for you--but it's a superbly quaffable eating-chicken-by-the-poolside beer with its tender lemon yellow color and cereal malts.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Salsa Verde Brasied Pork Shoulder Two Ways

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 easily, with brunch leftovers recipe following):

1 5-pound bone-in pork shoulder or Boston Butt, preferably from a pig who was happy in life
2 tbsp. olive oil
10 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 bottle of Hoegaarden
1 bottle of Southampton Altbier
2 cups chicken stock, as needed
1 7-oz. can of Herdez Salsa Verde (if you can't find it in a Mexican market, substitute another brand or finely mince 2 tomatillos, 1 small onion, 2 serrano peppers, and a few springs of cilantro)
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tbsp. Anaheim chile powder
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and black pepper

1) Pre-heat oven temp to 275 degrees. If using a picnic cut, trim off the skin. Score the fatty side of the pork shoulder, at spaces about 2 inches apart, and then repeat perpendicular so the fat is still attached but appears cubed. Make several more deep cuts into the meat to allow the braising liquid to penetrate.
2) Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole, Dutch oven, or soup pot. When oil is very hot and smoking, sear the pork, browning it on all sides. When all the sides are a nice, deep brown, remove to a plate.
3) You'll have some rendered fat in the pot now. Turn down heat to medium. Add minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.
4) Add all the dry herbs and spices, stirring constantly to toast, for 1 minute.
5) Incorporate the wet ingredients (both beers and the can of Herdez), and add salt and pepper. Bear in mind when salting the liquid that you will be reducing it by half later in the process. Note: if you can't find the same beers we used, the recipe would work just as well with other options. We liked the orangey-coriander spice of the Hoegaarden combined with the rich brown of the Altbier, but truly, use what you like.
6) Return the pork to the pot. Bring to a simmer. The liquid should come halfway up the sides of your meat--if needed, add chicken stock.
7) Cover and braise in the 275 degree oven for AT LEAST 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, more like 4 hours if you have the time.
8) Remove pork to a cutting board. You will have a great deal of rendered fat in your pot. You can a) use a spoon and skim it off when it cools enough to handle, b) use one of those nifty fat-separating teapot looking thingies, or c) put the pot in the refrigerator overnight and peel the hardened fat off in the morning. This is not a fast recipe. We used a spoon.
9) Return the cooking liquid (minus most of the rendered fat--feel free to save that for another purpose) to a burner and reduce by about half.
10) Meanwhile, shred your pork. It should fall right off the bone.
11) Season your reduced cooking liquid to taste and return shredded pork to the pot, mixing it all together.
12) Serve, with guacamole, cilantro, and corn tortillas.

This recipe already uses two beers. Either would work fantastic with these pork tacos. ANY beer in the WORLD would go well with these pork tacos. Maybe have a Negro Modelo. Let me know how it goes.

You folks are seriously getting two for the price of one in this blog post. For brunch the next day, (serves two, feel free to double the recipe):

1 medium purple sweet potato, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1 cup braised pork shoulder
6 cups of water
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 eggs

1) Heat the oil and add the garlic, paprika and sweet potatoes. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is cooked through. Season to taste.
2) Meanwhile, add the vinegar to the water and bring to a boil. Crack the eggs into the water. Cook at a strong simmer for exactly 4 minutes for perfect runny-in-the-middle poached eggs, longer if you like a harder center.
3) Reheat the braised pork shoulder and layer it over the sweet potato, making a small nest in the center of the bowl. Sprinkle cilantro generously over all.
4) Remove the eggs from the boiling water after 4 minutes with a slotted spoon, placing the poached egg in the center of the hash. Season egg and serve.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Honey-Chili Glazed Copper River Salmon with Oyster Sauce Slaw and Herb Potatoes

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

(for the salmon)

1 large (we used a 2-pound) fillet of wild Copper River salmon, cut into single portion-sized steaks, skin on
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp naam prik pow (Thai red chili sauce)
3 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. (about 5 sprigs) minced fresh tarragon
Salt and black pepper

1) Pre-heat oven with a rack in the middle to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the chili sauce and honey over medium heat. When the sauce thickens slightly and all the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 minutes later, remove from burner.
2) Set the salmon steaks skin-side down on a oiled, foil-wrapped cookie sheet. Brush half the glaze onto the top of the steaks, sprinkling liberally with the tarragon. Season.
3) Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, pull steaks out and brush the remaining half of the glaze over the tops. Return to oven for another 4 minutes.
4) After approximately 8 minutes total cooking time--10 for very thick steaks--remove from oven when just barely cooked through.

(for the oyster sauce slaw)

1/2 pound shaved bicolor cabbage (use one color if you prefer either all red or all green)
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp good-quality oyster sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup minced chives
1 tsp. flax seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Whisk all the ingredients except the cabbage, chives, and flax seeds in a small bowl, or shake in a jar. Adjust seasoning to taste.
2) Sprinkle chives and flax seeds over the shredded cabbage and then drizzle dressing over all. Toss and serve.

(for the potatoes)

1/2 pound baby red potatoes, well scrubbed
1 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves, minced
1 tbsp. toasted black cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp. rice, herb, or cider vinegar (depending on preference)
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1) Steam the potatoes until tender. Cut them in halves.
2) Whisk the remaining ingredients very briskly, or shake them in a salad dressing shaker or lidded jar.
3) Dress the potatoes, coating them well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

(for the beer)
1 bottle Hoegaarden witbeer

1) Open Hoegaarden
2) Enjoy together

Most folk are already pretty well versed in the most famous of the Belgian styles, but Hoegaarden deserves a shout-out nevertheless. It's not only a great summer beer and a lovely beer with fish, it's also the most balanced and tasty of all the witbeer styles we've tried. In addition to the water, yeast, wheat, and hops, that all beers contain (one hopes) witbeers add spices--in general, coriander and dried Curacao orange peel, but occasionally other notes as well. The problem with the style as a rule is that when it's done wrong, the brew can get a touch soapy, which is rather unpleasant. Hoegaarden, however, avoid such pitfalls and just tastes like an unfiltered summer's day in Europe. Enjoy it with salmon!