Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Chicken in Thyme Marsala Cream Sauce
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and then place in the pan and brown for 2 to 3 minutes*, until the chicken has given up a bit of its fat, and you can move the pieces around. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, until nearly cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a separate bowl and set aside.
(*If using chicken breast, add a couple of teaspoons of oil first; thighs already have just enough fat around the edges to get the job done.)
Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt to the chicken fat in the pan and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock, cream, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and bring just to a boil. Cook until the sauce has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for 1 minute. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve over noodles or rice.
I'm really proud of this impromptu dish. I was planning on making chicken marsala with a side of buttered rice and peas, but as luck would have it, I saw a status update from The Saucy Southerner on her Facebook page that mentioned sherry and cream and shallots and butter. My gears started turning and I thought maybe I could make it all one dish, with chunks of chicken simmered in a marsala cream sauce...
The end result is a riff on my Chicken in Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce and just like garlic, white wine, cream and mustard are "obvious" together, so, too, are shallots, Marsala, cream and thyme. It really can't fail.
Even at that, it exceeded my expectations. I loved this dish so, so much. Instantly repeatable. Sweet, savory, with amazing depth... and reminiscent of something I can't quite put my finger on... like a prelude to fall.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Puerco en Chile Colorado
(pork in red chile sauce)
5 dried New Mexican chiles
4 dried chiles de Arbol
2 dried Ancho chiles
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Cut the heads off the chiles and shake out all the seeds. Cut the chiles up with a pair of scissors or rip them by hand into small pieces. Place the chiles into a non-reactive bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to cover the chiles. Place a lid or plastic wrap over the bowl and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to soften the chiles.
Transfer the chiles to a blender and add 3/4 cup of the soaking water. Blend until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in heavy pot or large skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle the pork generously with Kosher salt and black pepper. Add the meat to the pot and brown well on all sides. Don't overcrowd the pan; cook it in batches, if necessary. Add another tablespoon of olive oil if the pan starts to get too dry.
Once all the pork is browned, place it back in the pot and add enough beef broth until meat is just covered. Stir, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Add the chile puree, onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and mix well. Cover and simmer until the pork is very tender, about 1 hour more.
Serve with Spanish rice and corn tortillas.
You thought the one with beef was good? Yeah, I did, too. I do. But the pork... oh my goodness, the pork.
I can't explain it, but the difference was so astounding, we already decided I am not making this with beef again for a very, very long time. Steve's best guess was that the pork fat melted into the sauce and made it more velvety, more savory, more "round." Probably. Whatever it was, the pork made the dish so mind-blowingly wonderful, we nearly wept with joy. I'm barely exaggerating.
Ridiculously, blissfully good, hearty and filling, spicy in the right way, that "warm heat in your chest" kind of way, stores and reheats well. I don't know what else to say other than what the heck are you waiting for? Go make this!
Friday, August 5, 2011
Claussen Knock-Off Pickles
very slightly adapted from Rebecca
35 to 40 small to medium pickling cucumbers
8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
4 fresh dill heads OR 4 tablespoons dried dill seed (*not dill weed*)
1 gallon cold water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices
2/3 cup canning or kosher salt
1. Wash cucumbers but do not scrub them.
2. Trim 1/8-inch from the blossom end of each cucumber and slice in half lengthwise or into quarters, depending on how large your cucumbers are and how big you want them to be when they're done.
3. In a gallon jar, layer the dill heads or seed, garlic cloves and sliced cucumbers.
4. In a separate pitcher or bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until the salt is dissolved.
5. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, taking care to make sure all of them are fully submerged.
6. Cover lightly with a lid just perched on top or secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.
7. Leave out of direct sunlight on the counter for two to four days, or until the cucumbers taste like pickles throughout. If at any point "fuzz" or "foam" develops on top of the brine, use a spoon to remove it. If there is "fuzz" attached to any of the cucumbers, remove the ones affected and be sure the others are still fully submerged.
8. When the pickles are ready, fix your lid tightly onto your jar or container and chill. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months provided you keep them covered with brine.
I love pickles. Any kind of pickles. Even the neon green store bought pickles. I was worried I would never be able to make homemade pickles that were crunchy, but Rebecca proved me wrong.
These are crunchy, garlicky and perfect as a late afternoon snack, especially in this hot weather. I ate a whole jar myself the first day they were ready, they are THAT good - AND they take no virtually time or effort.
Cooking notes: Best in a large jar, but if you're like me and are scaling the recipe and storing in smaller jars, you may have to cut a bit more off the ends of the pickles so that they will be submerged fully when you pour in the brine. If they have any pieces sticking out, they will develop fuzz and you'll have to throw them away (lesson learned!).
Also, if you do scale down for smaller storage, split the pickling spice evenly among the jars and then mix just the water, vinegar and salt and pour that over each jar. It's not really possible to smoothly distribute the pickling spice among numerous jars once the seeds have sunk to the bottom of the pitcher (second lesson learned!).
Monday, August 1, 2011
Raspberry Streusel Bars
(makes 24 2-inch bars)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) flour
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened to cool room temperature
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) quick oats
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans, chopped fine
3/4 cup (8 1/2 ounces) raspberry preserves
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil so it hangs over the edges. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, granulated sugar and salt at low speed to combine, about 5 seconds. With the machine on low, add 1 cup of the butter, 1 piece at a time, then continue mixing on low until the mixture resembles damp sand, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. (You can also use a food processor for this: process the flour, granulated sugar and salt until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter the 1 cup of butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand, about twenty 1-second pulses.)
3. Measure 1 1/4 cups of the flour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside; distribute the remaining flour mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Using your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup, firmly press the mixture into an even layer to form the bottom crust. Bake until the edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes.
4. While the crust is baking, add the brown sugar, oats and pecans to the reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter by rubbing the mixture between your fingers until the butter is fully incorporated. Pinch the mixture with fingers to create hazelnut-sized clumps; set streusel aside.
5. Combine preserves, raspberries, and lemon juice in a small bowl; mash with a fork (or your fingers) until combined, with a few berry pieces remaining.
6. Using a spatula, spread the filling evenly over the hot crust; sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the filling (do not press streusel into filling). Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, 1 to 2 hours; remove from the baking pan by lifting the overhanging foil extensions. Cut into squares and serve. The bars can also be stored for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
One of the easiest, quickest and best things I've ever baked. Tender, buttery shortbread. A substantial layer of tangy-sweet jam. Crunchy, nutty top. I have a bit of a soft spot for raspberry bars but have never found one that lives up to my idea of what one should be, not until I made these. Absolutely perfect.
Recommended: lots of people to share them; otherwise, you may eat, oh, a third of the pan in one night. *Whistles*