Monday, October 17, 2005

Chicken Cacciatore

*The problem with this recipe is that I started with a quart jar full of tomatoes I had just stewed that morning, picked fresh from my garden. I used three or four large yellow heirloom tomatoes. I started with a medium onion and half of a large green bell pepper, diced. I sautéed those until the onion was translucent, then added some fresh ground black pepper, some sea salt, and poured enough white wine vinegar over the lot to get it nice and sizzling. I mixed the sautéed veggies in with the diced tomatoes, threw it all in a quart size jar, and canned them in a water bath for 45 minutes. I guess you could buy canned stewed tomatoes instead.

Mise en Place
  • Chicken, one whole plus a bit, cut up
  • Tomatoes, one quart diced
  • Garlic, a whole damn bulb, crushed
  • Bell Pepper, one large red one, chopped
  • Mushrooms, one pound? (whatever size that Clingfilm-wrapped package is, maybe 12oz), sliced
  • Italian Sausage, 3. I think they were turkey sausage, squoze out of the casing
  • *Stewed tomatoes, one quart, diced

Right, now for the chicken cacciatore.

First I poured the quart of stewed tomatoes into a casserole pan. Ok, that’s not quite true. Before that, I scrounged Dad’s cupboards for some half decent wine and came up with a 2001 Camelot Zinfandel. Not at all bad. I handed the bottle to Trisha to open and asked her to pour a glass for me.

Then I cut up and skinned a whole chicken (plus a sandwich sized ziplock of random chicken Mama had in the freezer), and browned the pieces in an iron skillet. I placed the chicken pieces on the stewed tomatoes as they browned, and refilled my wine glass.

Next, I cut up a large onion and a red bell pepper into largish pieces and set those to sauté in the pan that I had used for the chicken. This served to free up all the yummy brown chicken bits from the pan. Then I added three Italian sausages that I had found in the freezer, defrosted and smooshed out of the casing. Meanwhile, Mama had sliced the mushrooms, which I added to the pan once the onions had become translucent, along with a whole bulb of garlic. Yeah, I started peeling the cloves and got a little buck nutty. Once the mushrooms were wilted I deglazed the pan with some Marsala wine, then dumped in another quart jar of those yellow tomatoes from my garden, only these ones had been canned with just a little salt and nothing else. Refilled wine glass.

I let that simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid, then I poured it over the chicken in the casserole pan and put in the oven at 350f degrees for about an hour or an hour and a half. I probably was done after 45 minutes, but my sisters weren’t back from the store yet with the ceasar salad and garlic bread stuff.

Dad raved about the chicken to no end, so I guess the extra time didn’t hurt much.
This recipe served about 8 with a few leftovers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Giles' Salad, with French Dressing

Giles likes to make these special placed ingredient salads in summer. This salad isn’t tossed; it’s carefully laid out so you can pick and choose the ingredients in your bite. It almost always has bits of seafood, but we’ve made it with thinly sliced steak as well.


Use any or all of the ingredients below. Use your imagination

Fresh mesclun (mixed salad leaves with baby spinach, arugula, endive, escarole, rocket, whatever)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Avocado, sliced
Mushrooms, thinly sliced
Bell pepper, sliced into strips
Carrots, preferably grated
Cherry tomatoes
Boiled egg
Cucumber, sliced thin

Smoked salmon (Giles likes big chunks, I prefer to flake it or use thin cuts)
Shrimp (we found some awesome marinated big shrimp at Whole Foods that was perfect!)

First pile the greens on the plate. Then put piles of other ingredients around the plate.

French Dressing
This was even better than it looks

½ cup ketchup
½ cup white sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 large shallot, quartered
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Throw it all in the blender, and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water if it comes out too thick, until you get the consistency you like.

Chicken Korma

This was awesome! Giles wanted Chicken Tikka, but I didn’t have the tandoori paste nor did I have the time to marinate the chicken. What I did have, and wanted to use in something, was a fresh bulb of fennel. I read somewhere that this could be used in place of onions on Indian dishes. In this case, I used both.

Mise en place:

6 green cardamom pods, bruised to release the flavor
2" cinnamon stick
6 cloves
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder or pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander

Ginger & Garlic Paste
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 tablespoons water

The Meat
1lb chicken breast or thigh fillets, diced.

Other Ingredients
1/2c plain yogurt
1/4c vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 small bulb of fresh fennel, stems removed and sliced thin
1c chicken stock (or warm water)
½ c roasted unsalted cashew pieces
A pinch of saffron threads
¼ c heavy cream
½ teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

  1. Put the chicken into a large ziplock bag. Whisk the yoghurt (this prevents curdling during cooking) then add with chicken in the bag. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.

  2. Make the ginger & garlic paste by blending the ginger and garlic together in a food processor with a little water until it is a puree.

  3. Heat the oil over a low heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Let them sizzle for 25-30 seconds and add the onions and fennel. Increase the heat to medium and fry until they soften (~10 minutes).

  4. Add the ginger & garlic paste and fry for another couple of minutes.

  5. Add the remaining spices and fry gently for about a minute.

  6. Add the chicken and increase the heat to medium high. Stir until the chicken is opaque. pour in the stock or water, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, put the cashews and saffron in a blender and add the cream. Blend until smooth and add to the chicken.

  8. Add the garam masala and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.