Archive for October 2011

Chicken in a Pot

October 29th, 2011 — 10:12am
braised chicken thighs with curried rice

Braised Chicken Thighs with Curried Rice

I have often wondered how recipes have evolved from the time of skewers and meat over a campfire to the time of induction cooktops and microwave ovens. I am of two thoughts on this. One follows the idea that necessity is the mother of invention, the other is that the desire for leisure is the mother of invention. Being the laziest cook on the planet I am of the opinion that our desire for leisure has probably created more inventions for the kitchen than anything else. For example you can still finely dice all the vegetables before cooking (I almost never do) but if you want to cut a few corners you can use the food processor and end up with very finely diced vegetables. The desire for leisure clearly created the food processor. And by the way I am even too lazy to reach down for the food processor. Very few recipes of mine call for finely diced anything. It just has a way of eating into cocktail hour.

Way back when, in the time when we figured out how to smelt metal, cool it, and then hammer it into a concave shape, somebody figured out that it was a lot easier to cook everything in the same concave metal thing we call a pot and the asians call a wok. Once this was invented cooks the world over were probably inventing the cocktail hour to do something with all that leisure time. It is of course a bit of genius. Throw all those roots and vegetables in a pot with some meat and let it cook for a bit and you get a nice meal of cooked vegetables and meat without having to burn your fingers using the old skewer method, or the old heated rock method. And after you are done you wipe it out and use it the next day. Absolutely brilliant!

braised chicken thighs with curried rice

Serving of Braised Chicken Thighs

I realize that my dutch oven is probably the 100th generation of the original pot. It is brilliantly crafted with a ceramic glaze over cast iron. With the incredible heat properties of the cast iron combined with the ceramic to prevent acids coming in contact with the metal, you can cook just about anything in it. I use my dutch oven more than any other item in my kitchen. It is a lazy cooks dream! So with a doff of the hat to our cooking ancestors and with a desire to use chicken thighs (I love chicken thighs) in a new way, I came up with braised chicken thighs in curried rice. Simply put you brown the chicken in the dutch oven first, remove them to a plate, then add a few vegetables, some spices, some rice and some chicken stock. Back in go the chicken thighs on top of the liquid stuff, into the oven for about 30 minutes, and you have a delicious one-pot dish. Quick, easy, and delicious. And you only have to clean one pot. Primordial pot cookery at its best!

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Keystone Kop Kookery

October 12th, 2011 — 11:09am
ground turkey hash

Ground Turkey Hash with Pepper and Avocado Coulis

We are starting to have an abundance of peppers coming off the vines as the temperatures have fallen to where they can actually germinate. The cubanelle, hatch, and jalapeno peppers seem to be appearing out of nowhere. Wanting to use as many as possible in one recipe I began ruminating over stuffing the hatch chiles with meat or cheese and incorporating the cubanelles and jalapenos in the mixture. So I went to work roasting six hatch chiles, removing the skins, and then realized that those tasty, flaccid torpedoes were not going to hold much more than a thimble-full of filling.

I turned to my filling ingredients goat cheese with the backup alternative of ground turkey to decide if I could use my three types of chiles another way. I came up with the great idea of turning my roasted hatch chiles into a pepper coulis and turning the other peppers and ground turkey into a turkey hash! Patting myself of the back I went to work.

The hash came together fairly easily with some potatoes seasoning and of course the jalapenos and cubanelles. When I went to make the pepper coulis I realized that even six hatch peppers are not really enough to make much of anything and all I got was a poorly chopped paste of peppers in the blender. You could of course add more water or oil. But then you would basically have a water and oil coulis. Not to be dissuaded I threw in half an avocado and a bit of red wine vinegar and the now pepper and avocado coulis came out tasty if a bit thick.

Despite the fits and starts, in the end it is all about the taste. And even though my stuffed hatch peppers morphed into a turkey hash with pepper and avocado coulis the whole thing turned out to be a delicious. You could of course prepare the hash without the coulis, or the poached egg for that matter. The ground turkey hash can certainly stand on its own.

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Short Cut to a Tart

October 9th, 2011 — 10:21am
apple and pear tart

Apple and Pear Tart

It is that time of year when the fresh apples and pears start to roll in. When the temperatures start dropping there is nothing more satisfying than smelling something baking in the the oven with brown sugar and cinnamon. I suppose it is the quintessential fall smell! Despite the fact that baking is one of my least favorite endeavors, if you want to smell brown sugar and cinnamon baking in the oven, well then, you just have to bake something.

Of the few baked things I have included in the blog (other than great submissions from real bakers) you will probably notice that anything that requires a lot of ingredients is not something to which I will dedicate much time. And of course cutting corners here and there (I bought the pie crust, and used apricot preserves for flavoring) makes me smile even more. After all you get to smell the brown sugar and cinnamon cooking in the oven that much quicker.

I am calling this an apple and pear tart. It may actually fall into the pie category. I am not sure where the tart ends and where the pie begins. It is about as complicated as slicing one apple and two pears (leave the skins on, too much work to peel), mixing it with granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon (how original) arranging the mixture in a pie crust, and then pouring on some apricot preserves that have been diluted with a small bit of water. I learned this shortcut from Jacques Pepin many years ago.

The result is quite nice. The apples and pears are still a bit firm. The cinnamon and sugars come through but it is not so cloyingly sweet like so many tarts. The apricots give it a neutral sweetness that allows the flavors of the apples and pears to shine through. So if you are a lazy as me when it comes to cooking I would give this apple and pear tart a try.

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