Saturday, March 10, 2018

Roasted Young Chicken with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Today I'm roasting poussin, which is a young chicken less than 28 days old. You don't see them much here in the USA, but they are common in all of Europe. If you can't find them, you can substitute a Cornish game hen, which is not really a game bird at all or a young chicken, but rather a fully grown poultry variety that was bred to be small.

Julian's Roasted Poussin
I've posted previously about methods for these US birds, and preparation can be just the same for poussin. But as it's winter I'm doing these indoors and all in one dish, which makes clean up easy.

Ready for the Oven
As the poussin are actually very young chickens, they are more tender and juicy than a Cornish game hen. So they do particularly well in this dish as they cook quickly (about the same time as the potatoes) and release their delicate juices into the dish adding extra flavor.

Ingredients

poussin (or Cornish game hens)
     1 per person
salted water
baby potatoes
baby Brussels sprouts
olive oil
fresh garlic
    1 large clove per bird, plus 1/2 more per person
lemon (1/2 per person)
fresh thyme or rosemary
butter or duck fat, melted
butchers twine
Seasonings of your choice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Make sure the birds are thawed if previously frozen and rinsed. Add 1/4 salt to a large pale of water big enough to hold the hens. Submerge them and let them soak in the brine for about 30 minutes. While they brine, cut up the baby potatoes into halves or quarters. They should be bite sized. Clean the Brussels sprouts by removing the dry end of the stem, cutting a cross deep into the bottom of the stem, and removing any loose or black leaves.

Place the potatoes and sprouts in a large roasting pan big enough for the poussin to roast on top. Peel the garlic and set aside one large clove per bird. With the remaining garlic (about a half clove per serving), chop it and sprinkle among the potatoes and sprouts. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and other favorite seasonings.

Dry the hens by blotting with a paper towel. Cut the lemons into quarter wedges. Use one to squeeze the juice inside the bird. Place the un-squeezed half into the cavity and add a whole garlic clove.  Add a spring of thyme or rosemary to the cavity, and tie the legs closed. Tuck the tips of the wings under the breast.

Brush the trussed bird(s) with melted butter or duck fat. Season generously using salt, pepper your favorite seasonings and some of the fresh thyme or rosemary you selected for use in the cavity.

Place the birds on stop of the potato sprout mixture.   Place in the preheated oven and roast for 40-55 minutes, until the juices run clear and an instant read thermometer  inserted into the bottom area thigh reads 165F degrees. Turn halfway through cooking if needed for even browning and stir the vegetables a bit to stop them from sticking.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve.

Ready to Serve



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Mostly when I make a pineapple upside-down cake I use canned pineapple and my Bundt cake recipe which is always moist and popular. Today however, I had a fresh pineapple and wondered if I couldn't use it instead to make a classic pineapple upside-down cake.

Julian's Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
There are several versions including those made solely in a cast-iron skillet but today I'm making the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, which bakes in a standard cake pan. This one is made with fresh pineapple and covers the entire top in chunks of the golden fruit. It looks beautiful and tastes great too.


Ingredients

Pineapple Topping
1 fresh pineapple (about 4 pounds)
Cooking the Pineapple
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick),
                    softened but still cool
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 egg white at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk at room temperature

Instructions

Cut the pineapple into chunks. I use a pineapple tool for this, but alternatively you can use a chef's knife to cut the bottom and top off the pineapple, trim off each side, cut in half and remove the hard core. Then cut into chunks. If using the tool, just twist it down the pineapple top as you typically would, remove the rings from the tool, and cut them into equal sized chunks as shown.


Lightly spray 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Pineapple Topping: Combine pineapple and brown sugar in 10-inch skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally during first 5 minutes, until pineapple is translucent and has light brown hue, 15 to 18 minutes. Empty fruit and juices into mesh strainer or colander set over medium bowl. Return juices to skillet, leaving pineapple in strainer (you should have about 2 cups cooked fruit). Simmer juices over medium heat until thickened, beginning to darken, and mixture forms large bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes, adding any more juices released by fruit to skillet after about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla; pour caramel mixture into prepared cake pan. Set aside while preparing cake. (Pineapple will continue to release liquid as it sits; do not add this liquid to already-reduced juice mixture.)

Cake Batter: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat to combine; one at a time, add whole eggs then egg white, beating well and scraping down bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add about one-third of flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half of milk and beat until incorporated; repeat, adding half of remaining flour mixture and remaining milk, and finish with remaining flour. Give final stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to ensure that batter is combined. Batter will be thick.

Assemble and Bake: Working quickly, distribute cooked pineapple in cake pan in even layer, gently pressing fruit into caramel. Using rubber spatula, drop mounds of batter over fruit, then spread batter over fruit and to sides of pan. Tap pan lightly against work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Begin testing at 35 minutes, and retest every 5 minutes until done. Do not over bake or it will be dry. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack, then place inverted serving platter over cake pan. Invert cake pan and platter together; lift off cake pan. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours; then cut into pieces and serve.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Egg in the Basket

This breakfast dish, also called Egg in the Hole and other names, is simply an egg fried in a thick slice of good bread.

Julian's Egg in the Basket

I like to make it when I have fried bacon or sausage and have some drippings I can use to fry the bread, as this imparts a lovely flavor. However, it can be made simply with melted butter.

To make the dish, simply choose any good quality bread. I prefer a heavier, thicker bread for this recipe as you are going to fry the bread and standard white sandwich bread really isn't up to the task.  Then simply select a biscuit cutter or even use a small drinking glass to make a whole in the center as shown.



Crack your eggs into individual cups and set aside. Fry your bacon or sausage in a skillet. Remove from heat, and place the meat on a platter and keep warm. Drain the meat drippings into a measuring cup that his heat resistant (Pyrex). If there are burned bits on the bottom of the pan, wash them out and dry the pan.



Pour some of the drippings back into the skillet and set it over medium heat. When the drippings are hot but not smoking, place the bread with the hole in the skillet and fry until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the bread over and begin frying on the other side. Add the egg to the hole.

About ready to flip.
I prefer the eggs with a runny center, and for this just cook the eggs for 2 minutes until they are firm on the bottom.  If you prefer the eggs to be solid, after placing the egg in the bread, use a knife to break up the yolk and stir it into the white just slightly. Cook the egg until firm on the bottom. Add some salt and pepper. Then, regardless of which version you are making, gently flip the eggs and bread over and fry for another minute or two on the other side.

Serve with the bacon or sausage.

Note: I also fry up the round centers and serve them with the breakfast. No need for good fried bread to go to waste.
A Runny Center is my Favorite

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Classic Beef Stroganoff

After the holidays you're likely to have some beef tenderloin tips (steak tips) in your freezer if you purchased a whole tenderloin and trimmed it for a center cut for your Christmas dinner table. As this is often my case, I use those steak tips to make a class Beef Stroganoff.


Julian's Classic Beef Stroganoff
I do have a simple one-skillet recipe, but today I'm making the classic version. A little more work, but a little more flavor too. This classic Russian dish, first published in 1871, consists of beef tips cooked in a velvety sauce made so with sour cream.

This recipe was originally from Cooks Illustrated, but have made modifications over the years which are minor and my version is presented below.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces mushrooms, white button or other of your choice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin tips cut into bite-sized pieces
Dry the Beef Tips
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces curly egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter
parsley flakes (for garnish)

Instructions (Serves 4)

Wash the mushrooms. Depending on their size, cut them or slice them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the beef tips into small bite-sized pieces. Place the tenderloin tips on a paper towel and dab dry with a second towel. Dry meat will improve browning. Let air dry while you continue.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering, about 2 minutes coating the pan. Add mushrooms and cook over high heat without stirring for 30 seconds; season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to medium bowl.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling with a tablespoon salt.

Return skillet to high heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat pan. Place the dry tenderloin tips in skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan. If necessary cook in two batches. Using tongs, spread the meat so pieces do not touch, and cook without turning until well-browned on first side, 2-3 minutes. Turn beef and cook on second side until well-browned, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to bowl with mushrooms.



Add beef broth to skillet, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon; simmer until broth is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer broth to bowl with mushrooms and beef.

Return skillet to medium-low heat and add butter; when butter foams, add onion, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is lightly browned and softened, about 4-5 minutes; stir in flour until incorporated. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and wine; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, whisking occasionally, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk liquid from mushrooms and beef into sauce and simmer to incorporate. Stir about 1/2 cup of hot sauce into sour cream, then stir mixture back into sauce. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper as needed. Add mushrooms and beef and cook until beef is cooked through another 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat.

While the beef is cooking in the sauce and the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to package directions, about 6-7 minutes. Drain and butter the noodles when tender.

Serve over buttered egg noodles. Garnish with dried parsley flakes.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

Rigatoni with Broccolini and Sausage

This is a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. It changes up your typical red-sauced pasta dish replacing it with a lighter, natural sauce and adding green vegetable to your meal. It can be made with rigatoni noodles as I am here, or with ziti or penne pasta, or any tubular pasta you have on hand.

Julian's Rigatoni with Broccolini and Sausage
The one question I always get when sharing this recipe is about the green vegetable. I prefer to make it with broccolini or baby broccoli. You could swap it for broccoli rabe or rapini, or even just fresh baby spinach, the latter of which is particularly good. Below I will review the differences for you.

Broccolini is not the same as baby broccoli, though it may look similar. It’s actually a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli with long stems, larger florets, and less leaves. It has a sweeter taste that’s more similar to regular broccoli, which is why I prefer it in this dish. If they have baby broccoli feel free to use it.


Broccoli rabe is in the same family as turnips, which is why the leaves look so similar to turnip or mustard greens. It has long stems, smaller florets than broccolini, and larger leaves (all of which are edible). The flavor is bitter but becomes more mild as it's cooked.


Rapini and broccoli rabe are not the same vegetable but are very closely related. I find it even more bitter than broccoli rabe. As such, you rarely see it served in restaurants in the United States. To cook this vegetable you must first blanch it in plenty of salty water to tame its bitterness and coax out its sweet side. This is not necessary with the above two choices.

Rapini
Unfortunately in most U.S. grocery stores, the names are used interchangeably so ignore the signage and pick the correct vegetable based on the images provided here.

Use more or less of most of the main ingredients. You can have more/less sausage, greens or even cheese if you prefer. The recipe will come out great with any combination.

Simple Ingredients
Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1 tablespoon for the pasta water
1 pound rigatoni, ziti or penne pasta
1/2- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk
1/2 cup white wine (chardonnay preferred)
1 pound broccolini, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated cheese, plus more for serving
      Parmesan, Romano, or Grana Padano

Instructions
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or wok with a lid. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta  and cook until al dente, per package directions usually 10-13 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, add the sausage to the skillet with the oil and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir, cooking until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the wine and cook 2-3 minutes, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the broccolini, pepper flakes and 1 cup boiling pasta water. Stir to combine. Cover and steam 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the broccolini is just fork tender.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce/broccolini, and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the pasta, toss again, then distribute the remaining cheese over the pasta and toss again. Serve immediately and sprinkle with a bit of additional cheese on each serving.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is considered an Indian ethnic dish consisting of chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, then baked in a oven and served in a masala (spice mixture) sauce. A tomato and coriander sauce is most common, but no recipe for chicken tikka masala seems to be standard or authentic.

Julian's Chicken Tikka Masala
The origins of the dish are actually unknown and hotly contested in foodie circles. Rahul Verma, a food critic who writes for The Hindu said,"Its basically a Punjabi dish not more than 40-50 years old and must be an accidental discovery which has had periodical improvisations." However, an Indian restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland claims to have invented it, where a large British Bangladeshi community resides. In 2009 a British member of parliament actually tried to get EU protected geographical status for chicken tikka masala for this region, although failed to get the matter voted upon.In any case, in Indian restaurants everywhere you will find it on the menu.

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati or white rice.

Ingredients

Chicken Tikka
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala seasoning*
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup frozen peas (optional)

fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

*If you can't find the garam masala seasoning, make your own by combining 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Instructions

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and turn heat to very low to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 15 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then stir into warm sauce. Defrost the optional peas in a microwave until just beginning to warm. Add the peas to the sauce. Let the chicken and peas cook gently in the sauce for another 15-30 minutes.  Serve over rice and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Braised Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy

This is a great winter dish, as it cooks for several hours in the oven, warming the kitchen. It also provides a wonderful fragrance throughout your home as it's slowly braising in the juices.

Julian's Braised Beef Brisket with Onion Gravy
Perhaps the most amazing part of the meal is the sauce that is produced. It's very flavorful with a sweet yet salted flavor. While it's great over the meat it also makes a perfect gravy for mashed potatoes.

Julian's brisket on a small platter.
The recipe does have a few steps and takes quite a while to prepare, especially if you count the time it takes to tenderize in the refrigerator (24-48 hours in advance of cooking day.)  But it's worth the wait and a great way to make this tough, inexpensive cut of meat into a flavorful dinner the who family will enjoy. I got this originally from Cooks Illustrated but have modified it over time.

Ingredients
1 3-pound beef brisket, flat cut, fat trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large Spanish/yellow onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced to paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

Instructions
Note:A small brisket (3 pounds) as I'm cooking here, is ideal for 4 adult servings. It may sound like a lot but it does cook down during the long time in the oven. If you have a large 4-6 pound brisket which is more than 1 1/2 inches thick, cut it in half lengthwise with grain., so you have two wide but short pieces brisket. This permits better salt penetration during the dry brine.

Using paring knife or metal skewer, poke the brisket 20 times, pushing all the way through roast. Flip roast)s) and repeat on second side. Sprinkle roast evenly on all sides with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt on each side. Wrap each roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325F degrees. In a Dutch Oven or large roasting pan with lid, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and baking soda and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have started to soften and break down, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in anchovies, tomato paste, cayenne, and 6 grinds freshly ground pepper. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until onions are evenly coated and flour begins to stick to pan, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine, broth, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in gelatin. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil.

Unwrap roasts and place in Dutch Oven or roasting pan. Cover with lid, transfer to oven, and cook until meat registers 180 to 185 degrees at center, about 1 1/2 hours. Reduce oven temperature to 250F degrees and continue to cook until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 to 2 1/2 hours longer. Transfer roast(s) to a cutting board and wrap with foil.

Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Let liquid settle for 10 minutes. If fat accumulates use a wide flat spoon to remove it. (If you trimmed the meat well, there should not be much fat.)

Transfer sauce to a small pan. If the sauce is not gravy consistency (i.e., it is too thin) heat and cook until reduced to proper consistency. Taste and add salt/pepper if necessary. Otherwise keep warm until you are ready to serve.

When ready to serve, slice roast against grain 1/4 inch thick; transfer to wide serving platter or plates and spoon sauce over roast.