Monday, February 23, 2015

Armagnac Chicken

I have no interest in violating any internet copyright laws but I don't have a NYT subscription and wanted to be able to access this. This is a genius recipe and all credit to Dorie Greenspan for it. I usually use more potatoes (though still small ones) and more baby carrots (because it's easier) and I rarely bother with the official gravy. But if you have the enameled cast iron pot, this is a great way to use it. I do not find that my chicken turns brown, though; it tends to stay an alarming shade of white. But none of us are skin eaters anyway, so as long as the meat is cooked (and it always is), it is awesome. The one thing to note: a 3.5 pound chicken is pretty darned small when you come down to it, so if you are feeding four or more, you will have very few leftovers, as indicated.
M. Jacques’s Armagnac Chicken
Serves 4.
From “Around My French Table,” by Dorie Greenspan.
This recipe, une petite merveille (a little marvel), as the French would say, was given to me years ago by Jacques Drouot, the maître d’hôtel at the famous Le Dôme brasserie in Paris and an inspired home cook. I’ve been making it regularly ever since. It’s one of those remarkable dishes that is comforting, yet more sophisticated than you’d expect (or really have any right to demand, given the basic ingredients and even more basic cooking method).
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
8 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and thickly sliced on the diagonal
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 chicken, about 3½ pounds, preferably organic, trussed (or wings turned under and feet tied together with kitchen string), at room temperature
½ cup Armagnac (Cognac or other brandy)
1 cup water.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You’ll need a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover, one large enough to hold the chicken snugly but still leave room for the vegetables. (I use an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.)
Put the casserole over medium heat and pour in the oil. When it’s warm, toss in the vegetables and turn them around in the oil for a minute or two until they glisten; season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the herbs and push everything toward the sides of the pot to make way for the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with salt and white pepper, nestle it in the pot, and pour the Armagnac around it. Leave the pot on the heat for a minute to warm the Armagnac, then cover it tightly — if your lid is shaky, cover the pot with a piece of aluminum foil and then put the cover in place.
Slide the casserole into the oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for 60 minutes.
Transfer the pot to the stove, and carefully remove the lid and the foil, if you used it — make sure to open the lid away from you, because there will be a lot of steam. After admiring the beautifully browned chicken, very carefully transfer it to a warm platter or, better yet, a bowl; cover loosely with a foil tent.
Using a spoon, skim off the fat that will have risen to the top of the cooking liquid and discard it; pick out the bay leaf and discard it too. Turn the heat to medium, stir the vegetables gently to dislodge any that might have stuck to the bottom of the pot, and add the water, stirring to blend it with the pan juices. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens ever so slightly, then taste for salt and pepper.
Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and sauce.
You can bring the chicken to the table whole, surrounded by the vegetables, and carve it in public, or you can do what I do, which is to cut the chicken into quarters in the kitchen, then separate the wings from the breasts and the thighs from the legs. I arrange the pieces in a large shallow serving bowl, spoon the vegetables into the center, moisten everything with a little of the sauce and then pour the remainder of the elixir into a sauce boat to pass at the table.
I can’t imagine that you’ll have anything left over, but if you do, you can reheat the chicken and vegetables — make sure there’s some sauce, so nothing dries out — covered in a microwave oven.
Bonne idée
Armagnac and prunes are a classic combination in France. If you’d like, you can toss 8 to 12 prunes, pitted or not, into the pot along with the herbs. If your prunes are pitted and soft, they might pretty much melt during the cooking, but they’ll make a sweet, lovely addition to the mix.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Memere's Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Another lost and found recipe. I never tried this one before tonight--Mardi Gras, before my Lenten chocolate fast. It was amazing. So glad we tried this one before I lost it forever. It is from Guideposts from February 2008 by Aylmer Given of Jaffrey, New Hampshire.  All credit where it is due!

Memere's Chocolate Fudge Sauce

We began serving this over chocolate waffles when the restaurant opened. Now we serve it on profiteroles with fresh strawberries. My kids eat it the way I used to, by spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.

1/2 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1 can (13.5 oz) evaporated milk
1/4 pound cold butter, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Start with a heavy-bottomed saucepan, at least 2 quarts because sauce doubles in size. Place sugar in pan with cocoa powder. Stir with wooden spoon until well-blended. Add evaporated milk. Continue to stir until blended well. Once it's mixed well, turn heat to medium. Stir constantly. Bring mixture to boil, about 5 minutes. Let it boil for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure chocolate doesn't burn. Pull sauce off heat and add butter. Stir sauce until butter is completely melted. Add vanilla and serve over ice cream. Store sauce in refrigeration and reheat in microwave or water bath.

So really a total no brainer that we would all love this, but we all LOVED this. My son ate a half pound of strawberries one by one after dipping them in this. We had it hot on vanilla ice cream and it was perfection. Highly, highly recommend.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

White Bean Dip

This is another lost-and-found recipe. I used to love this, then lost the recipe and couldn't replicate it.

Alas, no idea where I printed it out from but I will put it all here and maybe I can google it.

Party Pleasers

The bean topping can also be used as a dip for pita toasts, and the pesto can be dolloped into soup or mixed into any pasta dish.

White Bean Topping
makes 2 cups

2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 15-0unce can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until very fragrant, being careful not to let the garlic brown. Remove from heat. Place the beans in a small bowl. Add the flavored oil and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Using the back of a spoon, smash the beans to form a very rough paste. Add more olive oil if necessary. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper before serving. (This can be made 2 to 3 days in advance and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.)

Pesto Topping
makes 2 cups

3 cups fresh basil leaves
3 Tbs grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
2 Tbs pine nuts
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storing

Combine the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, pour in a thin, steady stream of the oil, blending until the mixture is well combined and emulsified. Sore in the refrigerator in an airtight container covered with a think layer of oil (to preserve the color) for up to 1 week. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan (and basil leaves, if you wish) just before serving. (This can be made 2 to 3 days in advance and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.) Note: to make this recipe even simpler, buy prepared pesto and spruce it up at home with chopped pine nuts and freshly grated Parmesan before serving.

Warm Corn and Shrimp Salad

I am so, so happy. I was looking for a shortbread cookie recipe that I never put on this blog (and hope I will rectify that soon) and I found the recipe I was desperately seeking last summer. I couldn't figure out what I was missing, and I was really sad because I love, love, love this dish. It is from the August 1996 Glamour Magazine Gourmet on the Run column by Susan Quick. All credit goes to her. And now as the wind blows outside in the nine-degree sun, I am dreaming of summer.

Warm Corn and Shrimp Salad
This salad supper takes only minutes to prepare. (Even fewer if you use Trader Joe's corn out of a bag. And I might have to do that now.)

1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (which of course I do not use but I am sure it would be delicious)
4 cups corn kernels (kernels and juice from 6 to 8 ears, or uncooked corn or 4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed)
1/2 pound shelled medium shrimp
1 C quartered cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 Tbs seasoned rice-wine vinegar
6 cups salad greens, rinsed and dried

In a large skillet with a lid, heat butter and 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, and corn kernels; cook, covered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If the mixture seems dry, add 1/4 cup water.)
Remove lid and add shrimp. Cook, stirring, until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. (YMMV--I find this more like 5-7 minutes.) Remove from heat. Add tomatoes, cilantro (or parsley) , vinegar, the remaining olive oil, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Arrange salad greens on 4 plates. Top with warm corn and shrimp. Makes 4 servings. (Or two.)

Calories per serving (with it being for 4): 315; fat per serving 10 grams.

Oh. I am so happy. I just love this. Thank you, Susan Quick, wherever you are.