Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One $4 Chicken. Endless meals.

The $4 roasting chicken is a great thing. I can rotisserie it or roast it...get a good meal out of it. Then I can remove all of the remaining meat and use it for chicken salad, tossed into a salad, or use it for enchiladas. Then I can take the carcass and the giblets and make oodles of chicken stock. This $4 chicken can give me about 8 pints (16 cups) of stock.

Let's do the math. A box of chicken stock is around $3.50 a box. Maybe more. That's about 32 oz. I have about 128 oz just from one $4 chicken. That saves me at least $14.00.

Chicken Stock
1 $4 Chicken carcass and giblets
1 big pot of water
1 onion
3 carrots
3 ribs of celery
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

Simmer all ingredients together for about 6-8 hours. Done.


I'm revising this post. Since I've started making jambalaya, it's gotten better...and so have my photos. I use a lot of the Creole Seasoning, to give it some heat!

1 lb. boneless chicken
1 lb. shrimp, boiled in Zatarain's and peeled;
1 lb. (hot) smoked andouille
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 small cans tomato paste
1 28-oz. can tomatoes
8 cups good dark homemade
chicken stock
Creole seasoning blend to taste (or 2 - 3 tablespoons);
1/2 package of frozen okra
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
4 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

In a sauté or frying pan, brown the chicken, sprinkling with Tony Chachere's seasoning if you've got it; a bit of salt, black pepper and red pepper otherwise. Don't brown if using leftover cooked bird, but you still might want to season the meat. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.

Brown the sliced smoked sausage or andouille and pour off fat.

In the pot, sauté the onions, garlic, peppers and celery in oil until onions begin to turn transparent.In the same pot, while you're sautéing the "trinity", add the tomato paste and let it pincé, meaning to let it brown a little. What we're going for here is an additional depth of flavor by browning the tomato paste a little; the sugar in the tomato paste begins to caramelize, deepening the flavor and color. Keep it moving so that it browns but doesn't burn.

Once the vegetables are translucent and the tomato paste achives sort of a red mahogany color, deglaze the pan with the about 2 cups of the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix up any browned bits, and stir until smooth, making sure the sautéed vegetables, paste and stock are combined thoroughly. It should be fairly thick.

Add the Creole seasoning, tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and/or seafood and cook another 10 minutes; if you're using seafood, be careful not to overcook it.

Add the rest of the stock, okra, check seasonings, and stir in the rice, combining thoroughly. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. If you haven't checked your seasonings before adding the rice, it's too late! It's much better for the rice to absorb the seasonings while it's cooking. Check seasoning anyway, then turn the heat down to low-medium and let the sauce thicken up a bit, with the pot uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. When the jambalaya has thickened up a bit and has reached the "right" consistency (you'll know), it's done.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore

You can't go wrong with Ina Garten. You can't go wrong with Giada DeLaurentiis, either. This is my version of Giada's Chicken Cacciatore. As rich as it looks, it's a pretty light dish - even moreso if you don't bread the chicken.

4 chicken breasts (skinless/boneless)
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (San Marzano works best)
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Macaroni & Cheese Project: Recipe 004

Salt, to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 (12-ounce) can 2 % reduced-fat evaporated milk
2/3 cup low-fat milk (2 %)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
4 ounces fontina cheese, grated

1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
2. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar and gruyere until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.


DIFFICULTY: Very easy.

TEXTURE: Creanmy and smooth, yet it has a nice, thick texture. The longer you leave it on the stove, the thicker it becomes. Mmm.

TASTE: I'm realizing that fontina is the magic cheese. It makes everything taste wonderful! The extra spices gave the mac'n cheese extra depth.

REHEAT FACTOR: On pulling it out of the fridge, I noticed that it congealed into one large mass of mac'n cheese, similar to baked macaroni. Once nuked, it was a bit drier, but tasted just fine.

OVERALL: I was surprisingly pleased with this stovetop version of mac'n cheese. I would definitely make it again. I give this recipe 4½ out of 5 stars.

Crunchy, Beer Battered Fish

Everyone should eat more fish, but I haven't really found any way to prepare it that Josh really likes. His idea of fish is the frozen stuff - already coated in batter. There's got to be a better way! Since beer usually makes things better...I've added it to Ina Garten's recipe.

1 1/2 pounds fresh cod fillets (choose thick ones)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup beer of choice
1 extra-large egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

Lay the cod fillets on a cutting board. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Cut the fillets in 1 1/2 by 3-inch pieces.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in 1/2 cup of water and then the egg.

Pour 1/2-inch of oil into a large (12-inch) frying pan and heat it to about 360 degrees F.
Dip each fillet into the batter, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place it very carefully into the hot oil. Don't crowd the pieces. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil between 360 and 400 degrees F. Cook the fish on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through.
Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.