Shrimp Scampi

February 6, 2016

Finally! Chris Kimball has badly needed to update his 16-year-old Shrimp Scampi recipe, which used just 1 tablespoon of vermouth and lacked lemon flavor. Over those 16 years I have adapted his old recipe, and published my own personal updates about 6 months ago. I felt that that recipe was much more well-rounded.

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

Today’s recipe is an even greater improvement. The biggest news with this recipe is a change in cooking technique; poaching the shrimp in homemade stock rather than sauteing them. By replacing the ever-so-slight caramelization of the shrimp, with a much more aggressive caramelization of the shells. Today’s recipe offers more tender shrimp and better flavor of the sauce; a win-win. 5-stars.

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball recommends serving with crusty bread. But to make a meal out of this I recommend serving with pasta, potatoes or rice.
  2. Extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) can be substituted for jumbo shrimp. If you use them, reduce the shrimp cooking time in Step 10 by 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Chris Kimball says he prefers untreated shrimp, but if your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate) then skip the brining in Step 3.

Rating: 5-stars
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 5:10 PM.  Ready:  6:00PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Brine Ingredients:
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  1. The best way to defrost shrimp is to leave them in a covered bowl overnight in your refrigerator; The next day rinse then with cold water. If you didn’t defrost your shrimp last night, fill a large bowl of cold tap water. Put shrimp in colander and submerge in cold water. After 10 minutes change the cold water and allow another 10 to 20 minutes to defrost. Peel (and devein) the shrimp, reserving the shells for Step 2.
  2. Start to boil water for pasta, potatoes or rice. Starting at the beginning is imperative because it can take longer to prepare than the actual scampi.
  3. If your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate), skip the following brining steps (and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the sauce in step 12). To brine your shrimp, add 1 quart (4 cups) water to a large bowl and dissolve 3 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add shrimp to brine, cover, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Remove shrimp from brine and use paper towels to pat them dry.
  4. Put a 12″-regular skillet over high burner and pre-heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add shrimp shells and cook for 4 minutes, stir frequently, until the shells and skillet start to brown.
  5. Briefly remove skillet from burner; reduce burner to medium. Add 1 cup white wine and thyme springs. Once the bubbling is over, put skillet over medium burner and gently simmer for 5 minutes; stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, thinly slice 8 cloves of garlic. Chop your 1 tablespoon of parsley. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into 1/2″-pieces.
  7. Strain mixture through a colander into a medium bowl; discard the solids. You should be left with 2/3-cup of liquid.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.
  9. Wipe out your skillet using paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to skillet, and set over medium-low burner for 3 to 5 minutes; until the edges of the garlic begin to brown.
  10. Add the 2/3-cup of reduced wine to the skillet and increase burner to high until it comes up to a simmer. Reduce burner to medium. Add raw shrimp to liquid, cover with lid, and cook for about 5 minutes; stir occasionally. When the shrimp are opaque, use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp to a medium bowl.
  11. Continue to cook sauce over medium burner and add lemon juice (from Step 8). Cook for just 1 minute to allow to slightly thicken.
  12. Remove skillet from burner and add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.  If you did not brine your shrimp than add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and adjust according to taste. Return the shrimp to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Toss to combine, cut 1 lemon into wedges, and serve with the lemon wedges separately.

 


Happy New Year

January 15, 2016

I know that I am a little late with my annual summary of favorite recipes; but I was traveling in Colombia and I was not able to really write much of anything while I was away. I hope to publish my travel posts, and additionally, I have about 5 new recipes that I need to publish. Hopefully I will be able to catch-up this week.

Best meal of the 2015.

Best meal of the 2015.

 

My top 5 recipes for 2015 were:

  1. Pot-Au-Feu. This was an amazing meal. The first time I have cooked with bone marrow; wow, I never knew bone marrow added so much. This recipe is an absolute must.
  2. Semi-Boneless Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing. This recipe was based upon Chris Kimball’s recipe, but I de-boned the thigh and trussed it back up (as in Julia Child’s turkey recipe). By combining these two recipes, it made a delicious 5-star recipe even better. I made the recipe many times over the summer, and had the biggest impact on my daily menu of any other recipe this year.
  3. Ultimate Charcoal-Grilled Steaks. Wow, perfectly evenly cooked steaks from edge-to-edge. The results are better than any other steak that I’ve ever cooked. It’s almost impossible to otherwise obtain such professional results at home.
  4. Authentic Baguettes at Home.  I know that I am not alone in my love of Paris, both for the food and for the sights. I made these Authentic Parisian-style baguettes that took two or three days to make; which required a few special tools and a lot of patience. I’m not sure that I will make them again; but it was definitely the best bread I made all year.
  5. Shrimp Scampi. While this recipe is for a non-Chris Kimball shrimp scampi; he recently came out with an updated recipe(which I have made, but not yet posted). His previous recipe was quite old, and lacked both punch and sufficient sauce.

Of course, the biggest (and saddest) news of 2015 was that Chris Kimball will be leaving the Cook’s Illustrated/ATK organization that he created. I hope to continue to follow him whatever his future endeavors may include.


Ultimate Charcoal-Grilled Steaks

October 27, 2015

I know I almost missed the boat (the S.S. grilling season). While this recipe came out at the beginning of summer (and despite its absolute simplicity), I was not able to make the recipe until now. I have always used wooden skewers, and this recipe requires metal skewers. I ordered the $7 Norpro 12″ skewers as recommended by Cook’s Illustrated.

Nice char on the outside; beautiful medium-rare on the inside

Nice char on the outside; beautiful medium-rare on the inside

The results were very-evenly-cooked, medium-rare steaks (in 2-1/2 hours). The intense heat from the chimney starter gave a beautiful char on the outside, and an even pink all the way through. No grey band. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the perfect evenness from top to bottom of the steak. Here are other people pictures of grey band, versus an even medium rare that you can expect with this recipe. 5-stars.

Comments:

  1. My steaks took 2 full hours in the oven to come up to 120-degrees. Because the oven is so low, it is easy to perfectly cook the steaks. But if you want medium steaks; be prepared to wait up to an extra 30 minutes.
  2. Kosher salt is always recommended for when sprinkling on meat, because the flakes adhere better to the mean that the granules of regular granules of table salt. Also, because it is less dense it is easier to get an even coating of salt.
  3. As you can see from my photos; I made 3 sets of steaks instead of the 2 called for in the recipe. But because the grilling time is so quick; there are no adjustments necessary.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Compound Butter Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

  1. Remove 1/2 cube of butter from refrigerator and allow to soften on counter-top for an hour; or microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the compound butter and refrigerate.

Steak Ingredients:
2 boneless strip steak, 1-3/4″ thick (about 2-pounds total)
Kosher salt and pepper
Chimney starter

  1. Cut away the fat cap from the steaks; to prevent flare-ups. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 200-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and set a wire rack on top.
  2. Cut each steak in half crosswise; creating four 8-ounce steaks. Cut 1/16″-deep slits on both sides of steaks every 1/4″; creating a crosshatch.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of each steak with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2 teaspoons total). Lay steak halves flat on counter and pass two 12″ metal skewers horizontally through the steaks; spacing them 1-1/2″ apart, Be sure to leave 1/4″ space between steak halves. Set the steaks on the rack you prepared is Step 1. Repeat skewering process with the remaining steaks.
  4. Put steaks in 200-degree oven for between 1h30m and 2h until the center of the steaks register 120-degrees; flip steaks half-way through cooking. If one set of steaks comes up to temperature before the other; remove it (And tent with aluminum foil)
  5. Tent the skewered steaks with aluminum foil (still on wire rack); allowing to rest while you light to coals in the next step.
  6. Ignite a large chimney starter halfway filled with charcoal briquettes (3 quarts). After about 15 minutes when the top-most coals are completely covered in fine grey ash. Reserve the foil and pat the steaks dry with paper towels.
  7. Use tongs to place one set of steaks directly over chimney; resting the skewers on rim of chimney; suspending the meat over the coals (see photo below). Cook for 1 minute per side until both sides are well browned. Return the first set of steaks to wire rack in sheet, season with pepper, and tent with reserved foil. Repeat the charring process with second set of skewered steaks.
  8. Remove skewers from steaks and serve with compound butter.

Semi-Boneless Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

August 2, 2015

About a month ago I made these 5-star Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing. They were easy to make and had amazing flavor. The only drawback was that the bone-in chicken was a little difficult to eat. Then I remembered back to last Thanksgiving’s deconstructed turkey thighs about how deliciously easy a semi-boneless leg quarter was to eat. Today I applied that same technique to chicken leg quarters. The technique opens up a slit on the inside of the thigh, leaving the skin in tact. Use a boning knife to carefully shave the meat away from the thigh bone; once exposed, cut through the leg/thigh joint to remove the thigh bone. Leave the drumstick bone-in. Finally, stuff the thigh and truss it together again using bamboo skewer and kitchen twine.

Best dollar I ever spent

Best $1.15 I ever spent

The results were spectacular, and the deboning/stuffing technique really elevated the presentation of the chicken. Stuffing the thigh made the flavor much more intense. While I gave it 5-stars as a bone-in, the recipe as I cooked it today was an out-of-the-park home run.

Comments:

  1. I adjusted the recipe below so that I would have more paste to marinade the chicken. The original recipe called for just a few teaspoons of spices; without any lime or cilantro.
  2. I would suggest trying the deboning/stuffing technique at least once. It adds about 20 minutes to the preparation time, but really transforms the meal into something very special.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (2 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 Tablespoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs. Remove any remnants of the backbone exposing the top of the thigh bone (probably need a chef’s knife for that). Using a boning knife follow the line of fat that follows the thigh bone, cutting into the thigh along the entire length of the thigh bone. Use the boning knife to shave down along the thigh bone until you reach the thigh/leg joint. Cut through the joint and discard the thigh bone.
  3. Trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 2 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  4. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  5. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20-to-25 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  6. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  7. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 11 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  8. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the pieces come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.

Shrimp Scampi

July 18, 2015

Chris Kimball has a basic recipe for Shrimp Scampi. The result is perfectly cooked and flavored shrimp. However his recipe has one problem huge problem; it yields barely enough sauce to flavor the shrimp with nothing left over for the accompanying pasta (or potatoes as I served it today).  While his original recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp, I’ve adjusted the recipe down to use just over 1 pound of shrimp, which is ideal for 3 people when serving with over a bed of pasta or potatoes. Also, instead of using 1 tablespoons of vermouth, I reduce 1 cup of white wine down to 1/4 cup. Even though this recipe yields more than twice sauce as Chris Kimball’s original recipe; I still find that there is never enough sauce.

Just enough sauce to complement the bed of garlic, cheese mashed potatoes.

Just enough sauce to complement the bed of mashed potatoes.

I posted Chris Kimball’s version of Shrimp Scampi over 5 years ago, but it bears very little resemblance to the Shrimp Scampi I’ve been making over the subsequent years.

Adjustments/Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball says to cook the shrimp for just 1 minute; stirring occasionally. However, I find that my shrimp always needs more cooking time. So in general, I’ve switched to using his technique to for cooking longer on one side of the shrimp to promote a little caramelization. The residual heat of the shrimp will finish cooking the second side after being removed from the skillet.
  2. I prefer to use cilantro instead of parsley, which I think is too muted. However, I use whichever I already have in my kitchen.
  3. Instead of 1 tablespoon of Vermouth, I reduce 1 cup of dry white wine down to 1/4 cup. It concentrates the flavor of the wine, and by using cilantro (instead of parsley) I do not miss the subtle herb flavoring of the vermouth.
  4. I increased to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, which I think makes the scampi brighter and more flavorful.
  5. I usually serve this over a bed of angel hair pasta, but today I served it over some extra creamy mashed potatoes.

Rating: 5-stars
Cost: $11.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 5:00 PM.  Ready:  6:15 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pounds large shrimp (21-to-25 per pound)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Put shrimp in a large bowl filled with cold tap water. Allow to defrost for 1 hour. To speed defrosting you can replace the water a few times.
  2. Put a large pot of pasta cooking water on stove, season with salt, cover and bring up to a boil. When water has come up to a boil, plan and start your pasta based upon the cooking instructions on your pasta. I like to use fresh pasta with this recipe, which cooks in only a minute or two.
  3. After the shrimp has defrosted, drain shrimp in a colander. Peel and devein shrimp; leaving the tails on to protect the narrower tail. Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sugar.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to 12″ skillet and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Pre-heat over high burner for 3 minutes until very hot, and the oil begins to smoke.
  5. Cook your shrimp in two batches, adding half the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 3-1/2 minutes without moving or flipping. Empty shrimp into a clean bowl. While the second side will not appear to be fully cooked, it will finish cooking with the residual heat of the shrimp in the bowl.
  6. Wipe out you skillet using paper towels; and repeat with another 2 teaspoons oil and the rest of the shrimp.
  7. Turn down the burner to medium-high, add 1 cup of white wine and reduce for 5 minutes until thick; and has reduce to about 1/4 cup. Melt 3 tablespoon butter, add minced garlic, and saute for 30 seconds.
  8. Remove skillet from burner. Stir in lemon juice, minced cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Return shrimp and accumulated juices to skillet. Toss to combine; serve immediately.

Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

June 25, 2015

For some reason my DVR has stopped recording Cook’s Country episodes, so I went online a few days ago I saw this recipe for grilled chicken quarters; a perfect match for the beautiful June weather. I also love this recipe because it doesn’t require me to separate the thigh from the leg; but the downside is that it is a little more difficult to eat as one big piece. Most of the preparation takes place the night before; making a flavorful paste and preparing the chicken. It’s best to leave let it marinate overnight; allowing time for the bright flavors to work their way deep into the chicken (Chris Kimball says a minimum of 1 hour). The chicken was very flavorful and bright. 5-star, for its simplicity, ease of preparation and it’s fullness of flavor.

Delicous 5-star meal

Delicious 5-star meal

My house it 90 years old without central air conditioning, so at this time of year, I love keeping the heat of cooking is outside. My kitchen (and my whole house) stays much cooler.

Comments:

  1. The original recipe says to reserve just the 2 teaspoons of paste for up to 24 hours. Instead, I added the olive oil in Step 1 (instead of Step 8). I think it preserved the paste from oxidizing and gave more time for the flavors to permeate the olive oil.
  2. The sauce was perhaps a little salty. The original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons kosher salt, but next time I will try it with only 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  3. I with their was a little extra sauce, to eat with my bread and potatoes.
  4. If you plan to make this on a gas grill, pre-heat by turning all your burners on high. Cover, and allow to heat up for 15 minutes, before cleaning and oiling. To cook turn down the primary burner to medium, and reduce the other burners to low. Adjust the primary burner as necessary to maintain a grill temperature of between 400 to 425 degrees.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (1 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 teaspoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs, trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 4 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint, and 2 across the thighs. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  3. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  4. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  5. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  6. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 9 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  7. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the prices come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and
    2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.

 


My 500th recipe: Pot-Au-Feu

May 20, 2015

Wow, my 500th recipe; five years in the making. For such a momentous occasion I wanted to make something special;  so I picked Pot-au-feu (“pot on fire”) from the May/June issue. Chris Kimball calls this recipe “Simple Pot-Au-Feu“, because it uses only one cut of meat, plus it’s made entirely in one day. Instead of cooling overnight and peeling the hardened fat, this recipe calls for skimming the fat using a ladle. I used a fat separator; as there was a lot of fat. As with many of Chris Kimball’s recent recipes, instead of brown meat on the stove-top, this recipe uses his technique of “browning” in the oven.

Best meal of the year; so far.

Best meal of the year; so far.

The dinner was fantastic; my first 5-star meal of 2015. The flavors were well-balanced; the bone-marrow infused parsley sauce was powerful, and the soup bones made for the most delicious broth I’ve ever tried. The staggered cooking time for the vegetables in the final steps meant that everything was perfectly tender, without anything being overcooked. Next time I might try to brown the beef on the stove-top, because I think the “caramelization” is a little muted as written in today’s recipe. I would also recommend serving with crusty bread; a little crunch was the only thing this meal was lacking.

Additional Comments:

  1. One traditional suggestion for the extra bone marrow is to spread it on toasted bread as an accompaniment.
  2. Pot-au-feu (“pot on fire”) refers to the traditional cooking method of putting inexpensive cuts of meat and root vegetable into a pot and into the fire.
  3. I have three kinds of salt, but didn’t buy flake sea salt. My regular sea salt was in grains, so I used flaky kosher salt in lieu of sea salt for the final dish (in step 14)

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $38.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start: 1:00 PM. End time: 6:00 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Meat Ingredients:
3-1/2 to 4-lbs beef chuck-eye roast, boneless
1-1/2-lbs marrow bones
Kosher salt
1 onion
1 celery rib
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Parsley Sauce Ingredients:
2/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
10 cornichons, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Vegetables:
1-lb small red potatoes, between 1″-to-2″.
6 carrots
1-lb asparagus
Kosher salt and pepper
Flake sea salt

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Pull your chuck roast into two pieces, which should naturally come (mostly) apart at the seam. Trim away any large knobs of fat. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, then use 3 pieces of kitchen twine per piece to tie into two separate loaf shapes.
  3. Peel and quarter onion and thinly slice celery stalk crosswise (not lengthwise).
  4. Put tied beef, bones, onion, celery, bay leaves, and peppercorns into Dutch oven. Add cold water until it comes up halfway the sides of roasts; about 4 cups. Set over high burner until simmering. Partially cover the Dutch oven and put into 300-degree oven for 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 hours, flipping beef over halfway through cooking time.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the parsley sauce, by combining all ingredients into small bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature.
  6. Towards the end of cooking time; prepare your vegetables. Cut your potatoes in half (or quarter any potatoes that are larger than 2″). Cut carrots in half cross-wise; then quarter the thick halves length-wise, and cut the thin halves into two lengthwise (sounds confusing; each carrot should yield 6 pieces).  Trim asparagus by snapping off the cut end; wherever the asparagus naturally breaks is where each individual stalk needs to be trimmed (as if the asparagus knows).
  7. When the meat is fully tender, a sharp knife can easily slips into meat, but it should not be shreddable, remove the pot and turn off oven. Use tongs to remove beef loaves and set on large platter and tightly cover with aluminum foil. Return to turned-off oven to keep the meat warm while you finish cooking.
  8. Set bones on cutting board and use the end of a spoon to remove the marrow. Mince marrow until it is paste-like and add 2 tablespoons to parsley sauce.  Save any remaining marrow for another day.
  9. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl. Use a ladle to skim and discard the fat from the broth (I used a fat separator). Measure out broth (I had just under 2 cups), and augment with cold water to make 6 cups; adding back to Dutch Oven.
  10. With the Dutch oven over high burner, add potatoes and bring up to a simmer. Reduce burner and continue to simmer for 6 more minutes. Add carrot sticks and cook for 10 minutes. Finally, ass asparagus and continue to cook all vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes; until everything is tender.
  11. Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables to large bowl, and toss them with 3 tablespoons of the parsley sauce; sprinkling with salt and pepper.
  12. Taste broth and adjust salt; leaving in pot.
  13. Remove beef from oven and set of cutting board. Cut away twine and slice against the grain into 1/2″ thick pieces.
  14. Arrange large, shallow bowls into individual servings. Arrange vegetables, slices of beef, and drizzle with 1/3 cup broth. Top with a dollop of parsley sauce, and sprinkle meat with flaky sea salt. Serve, passing the extra parsley sauce separately.

Authentic Baguettes at Home

January 4, 2015

People travel for different reasons. I usually travels with two main goals. (1) Appreciate the local culture by trying to meet and interact with regular people (i.e. those outside the main-stream tourist industry). And (2), eat as much of the local food as possible. While my first goal is nearly impossible in well-trodden Paris, my second goal is always the Parisian-equivilent of a home run. Paris is perhaps the worlds great culinary city (see here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Crusty, open texture

Crusty, open texture

I am not alone when I say that one of my favorite simple pleasures about Paris are the deliciously ubiquitous baguettes. Always warm and fresh; a Parisian treasure for just €1. Here in the US the baguettes are usually lacking in flavor or crusty texture, but if you are lucky they can sometimes be found. When this recipe first came out, I balked at the length, complexity and additional kitchen gadgets the recipe required (couche, flipping board, diastatic malt powder, and special lame). In the end, I didn’t buy any of the gadgets, but made the delicious baguettes over two-to-three days. They turned out amazing. 5-stars for flavor and texture.

On a side note: the second great city for bread is my home town of San Francisco, which has the best sour dough bread in the world. As is the case for many things in life, it wasn’t until I moved away that I came to appreciate San Francisco’s uniqueness in the world of bread (for a few details see harvesting wild yeast for sourdough). A few years ago, I bought a loaf of Sour Dough from Panera in New Jersey, but the loaf was soundly rejected by my boys.

Comments:

  1. The recipe calls for a flipping board, but Chris Kimball explains that you can just table a double layer of cardboard.
  2. The first 5 minutes of baking call for two inverted disposable pans. Because I didn’t have one long enough to cover the loaves, I cut the ends off both pans which allowed it to slide like an accordion.
  3. The optional diastatic malt powder called for in this recipe allows the crust to brown and become crispier.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $2.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start: At least 2 days before baking. End time: 5 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (1-1/3 ounces)
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
1-1/2 cups water (12 ounces)
2 disposable aluminum roasting pans (16″x12″)

Day 1: Mix the dough, allow to rise and refrigerate. (2h15m)

  1. Add whole wheat flour to a fine-mesh strainer and sift into the bowl of a standing mixer; discarding the bran. Add the all-purpose flour, salt, instant yeast and malt powder too. With the standing mixer on low-speed, use the dough hook, add the water and mix for 5 to 7 minutes until dough forms. Empty dough into a large bowl that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Fold the dough over onto itself; pick up the edge of the dough with your fingertips and gently lift it towards the center of the bowl; turn bowl 45 degrees and fold again; repeating a total of 8 folds. Again, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  3. Repeat folding and rising 3 more times. Immediately after the fourth set of folds, cover the dough and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, but up to 72 hours.

Day 2: Shape and Bake the loaves in two batches ( per batch)

  1. Lightly flour a counter and empty dough without deflating. Carefully pat into 8″-square, and cut in half. Refrigerate the other half of the dough which can be shaped and baked anytime within the 72-hour time frame.
  2. Cut dough in half again, leaving you with two 2″x2″ squares. Move to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap; allowing to rise for 45 minutes.
  3. Roll out each of the two pieces of dough into a 3″x4″-long cylinder. Return to the floured baking sheet, cover again with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  4. On a second baking sheet, lightly spray with water the underside of a couche or piece of parchment. Dust the top with flour.
  5. Return the dough to a lightly floured counter and gently press one of the pieces into a 6″x4″ rectangle. Fold 1-inch over to form a 6″x3″ rectangle, then fold the other 1-inch edge over to form a 6″x2″ rectangle, and gently stretch into an 8″x2″ rectangle.
  6. Fold dough in half again, lengthwise, and use your thumb to form a crease along the center of the dough, as you work your way folding over the length of the loaf, using the heel of your hand to reinforce the seal (without pressing down on the loaf).
  7. Cup your hands gently over the center of the dough and roll it gently to tighten the dough (t should form a doggy-bone shape, i.e. wider at the ends).  Continue to gently work the dough, beginning in the center, rolling and stretching, and working towards the ends, until the dough measures 15″ long and about 1-1/2″ wide. Roll the ends between the palms of your hands to form sharp points.
  8. Move loaf with the seam-side upwards onto the couche or parchment prepared in Step 4. Pleat the couche on both sides of the loaf which will gently help the loaf maintain its shape. Loosely cover with large, unscented plastic garbage bag.
  9. Repeat Steps 5 though 8 with the second piece of dough, then move the loaves inside the large trash bag and fold top over onto itself to close. Allow to rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until it has doubled in size. You should be able to gently poke and the dough will slightly spring back.
  10. Meanwhile, set a rack to the middle of your oven, put a baking stone or overturned sheet pan, and begin pre-heating to 500-degrees. Also line a pizza peel with 16″x12″ piece of parchment paper, so that the long edge is perpendicular to handle.
  11. Remove and dough from bag and pull the ends of the couche to flatten (ie, removing the pleats). Use a flipping board to roll so that it is seem side down, and tilt/flip the loaf on top of the flipping board. Move to parchment lines pizza peal with the seem-side down; about 2″ from the edge of parchment. You can use the flipping board to straighten the loaf. Repeat with the second loaf, leaving at least 3″ between the two loaves.
  12. Use the lame to make a series of three 4″-long, 1/2″-deep slashed at a 30-degree angle across the length of the loaf. The slashes should slightly overlap. Repeat the slashing on the second loaf.
  13. Use Pizza peel to move loaves and parchment onto baking stone. Use the inverted disposable pans to cover loaves and bake for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the plans a continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes longer; rotating the loaves/parchment half way through baking. The loaves will be done when they are evenly browned.
  14. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes, but be sure to consume within 4 hours. I was able to extend their freshness by a few hours by putting them in a plastic bag after 2 hours of cooling.

Pot Stickers with Scallion Dipping Sauce

July 22, 2014

While comparing different recipes is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, this may be my favorite ATK recipe of all time. These dumplings are filled with flavor, are tender on the inside with have nice carmelization on their bottoms. The soy based sauce is a little predicable, but the saltiness is so traditional that I haven’t yet strayed from the original recipe. The base recipe is very straight-forward, only requiring a little bit of patience during the filling/sealing process. Be careful not to overfill them or they will close properly, but you can squeeze some of the excess out if necessary. The only logistical problem is that the batches take 20 minutes and yield between 12 to 14 dumplings, so unless you have two non-stick skillets they are difficult to make for a regular sit-down dinner for 4 people; coming and going from the table every 20 minutes to eat 3 dumplings. But worth the inconveniences, I absolute love them and give them a full 5-stars.

Perhaps my favorite ATK recipe

Perhaps my favorite ATK recipe

Comments / Issues:

  1. My 12.5″ non-stick skillets (the Chris Kimball recommended T-Fal), makes 14 dumplings at a time, and based upon my wrappers I needed 3 batches. I froze on the batches for cooking next week; they cook the same way with no need to thaw.
  2. I used to be able to buy round gyoza wrappers from my local supermarket. While I guess I may be able to find a local Asian market, in the meantime I am using frozen .
  3. Be careful that the dumplings don’t stick to the sheet pan is step 3. Some of mine did, and I suggest a very light spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Sometimes I just use regular cabbage (rather than napa cabbage), especially around St. Patricks day because it tastes the same and is much cheaper.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $9. For about 40 dumplings.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Last Batch at 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here and the dipping sauce recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared everything today are given below:

Filling:
3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves (from 1/2 medium head)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 pound ground pork
4 minced scallions
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Dumplings:
24 round gyoza wrappers (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water, plus extra for brushing

Scallion Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chili oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium scallion, white and green parts, minced

  1. Minced 1/2 head of napa cabbage leaves, add to a colander and toss with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Set over a bowl and allow to wilt for 20 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to press down to extract any excess moisture. Empty into a medium bowl, combine the remaining filling ingredients and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (up to 24 hours).
  2. When ready to assemble, work with 4 dumplings at a time to prevent the wrappers from drying out. Keep the remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap. fill, seal, and shape the dumplings using a generous 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling per dumpling
  3. As you complete the dumplings, set the on a baking sheet and repeat step 2 until you have made all your dumplings. Once assembled you can refrigerate for up to 1 day, or freeze them for up to 1 month. (If frozen, do not thaw before cooking.)
  4. Line a large plate with two layers of paper towels, which you will use after cooking. Make dipping sauce by combining all ingredients in small bowl, which will make about 3/4 cup.
  5. Brush 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12″ cold non-stick skillet. Arrange 12 dumplings in the skillet with the flat side down, overlapping the tip as necessary. Put over medium-high burner and lightly brown dumplings for 5 minutes without moving.
  6. Turn down burner to low, and add 1/2 cup of water and immediately cover. Cook for 10 minutes until the water becomes absorbed and the wrappers are slightly translucent. Uncover and turn up the burner to medium-high and cook (again without moving) for 3 to 4 minutes until the bottoms are well browned. Put dumplings onto paper-towel lined plate (browned-side down) and allow to briefly drain, before setting onto a serving platter.
  7. Allow the skillet to cool until just warm and wipe out using paper towels. Repeat from step 5 with the next batch of 12 dumplings.
  8. Serve alongside the scallion dipping sauce.

Chicken Saltimbocca

April 26, 2014

This was the second recipe that I ever made on this blog, over 4 years ago. It continues to be one of my favorite Chris Kimball recipe of all time. The recipe as I’ve listed below is portioned slightly different from Chris Kimball’s original recipe; this version yields 6 cutlets rather than 8. I make it every few weeks, because it is so easy and perfect for a mid-week meal; it is ready in about 45 minutes with minimal effort. My kids love it and the pay off is immense. The only thing that can go wrong with the recipe is you don’t reduce the wine sufficiently in Step 11. Otherwise a fool-proof 5-stars.

Delicious and takes about 15 minutes of work

Delicious and takes about 15 minutes of work

Comments:

  1. I sometimes make Saltimboca when visiting friends and relatives, and noticed that many supermarkets only sell pre-packaged prosciutto. The pre-packaged stuff is always domestic, and I prefer Prosciutto de Parma available only at deli counter. Ask them to cut it thick enough for the slices to hold together.   It they are cut too thinly sliced, or shaved, you risk losing the prosciutto when you flip the chicken. On the other extreme, thick slices won’t stick to the chicken.
  2. If you get the thin end of the prosciutto, then you’ll need 6 slices.
  3. The only thing that can go wrong with this recipe is that you don’t reduce the sauce properly in step 11. If you don’t concentrate the wine sufficiently, the sauce will not be intense. Also be careful not to burn the sauce, it goes quickly from 1/4-cup down to burned goo.

Rating: 5-star.
Cost: $8.
How much work? Low
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5:30pm. Dinner time 6:30pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1/3-cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
3 slices prosciutto (1/4-pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups dry vermouth or white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper

  1. Trim away any ragged edges as necessary, and cut away the pointy tips trimming back 1 inch to form a rounded cutlet. Lay chicken flat on cutting board and put in freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put flour in a shallow dish or plate.
  3. Lay your hand flat on top of chicken, and with knife flat (parallel to cutting board) slice each breast to form two thinner cutlets. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half to form 6 pieces. I like to cut it at a bit of an angle to approximate the shape of the chicken cutlets.
  4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200°.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in 12″ skillet (regular, not non-stick) over medium-high burner until begins to shimmer; about 4 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, work in batches of 3, pat cutlets dry with paper towels. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off any excess and lay cutlets flat with the flattest side upward. Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each cutlet, pressing lightly to try to get it to adhere. (mine never adheres, but it’s okay)
  7. Add 3 cutlets to skillet with the prosciutto-side down. Cook for 4 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Flip and cook on other side until golden brown, about 6 minutes more. Ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken
  9. Transfer to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven.
  10. Repeat with another 1 tablespoons olive oil and remaining 3 cutlets, then put in oven to keep warm while preparing sauce.
  11. Pour off any excess fat from skillet. Turn up heat to high and add vermouth/wine. Use metal spatula to scrape up any browned bits, and allow to reduced for 7 minutes to about 1/4 cup. Add lemon juice and whisk in butter, a tablespoon at a time.
  12. Off heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from oven and place on platter. Spoon sauce over cutlets before serving.

%d bloggers like this: