Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chicken Bolognese

There isn't much to say about this recipe. It was really tasty and quick to make for a week-night dinner. I'm not convinced it's actually a bolognese, but I don't want to doubt Wolfgang Puck. My understanding is that a bolognese is a rich, thick meat sauce (usually made with a combination of beef, veal, and pork) with a bit of cream and usually a tiny hint of cinnamon. Have I been wrong all these years? Or am I right and Wolfgang is taking liberties with his recipe titles? You should make it and then decide for yourself.

Chicken Bolognese 
Recipe by Wolfgang Puck, adapted
Serves 4
Cook Time - 20 min
Prep Time - 40 min

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb penne pasta

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook until browned, stirring occasionally; about 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook about 5-8 minutes, or until veggies are soft.

Deglae the pan with the wine and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated.

Add the tomato sauce and tomato juice and simmer about 20 minutes, until the sauce has a thick consistency. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

While the sauce is cooking , cook the penne to al dente. Drain and set aside. If necessary, add a few TBSP of the starchy cooking water to the sauce (I didn't do this). Add the pasta to the sauce. Top the pasta with the Parmesan cheese and toss until well combined. Garnish with parsley leaves and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fried Chicken

What's not to love about fried chicken? I maintain there is nothing. I'm pretty much always willing to try a new recipe, and considering I had a bunch of buttermilk to use up one day, this Alton Brown recipe fit the bill perfectly. Most of my fall-back recipes don't marinade in buttermilk, so I was curious what the difference would be. 

This was a great chicken recipe, though a bit salty. I would probably cut down the salt if I make it again in the future. I couldn't tell much difference in the flavor of this chicken meat compared to other recipes I've made where the chicken was not soaked in buttermilk, but I'm sure in a side-by-side comparison it would've been more clear. I'm not sure this will be my go-to recipe for the future, but it's certainly something I'll consider the next time I make fried chicken.

Fried Chicken
Recipe by Alton Brown, adapted
Serves 3-4
Prep Time - 20 minutes (plus 12-24 hrs inactive)
Cook Time - 15 min

1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 TBSP kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBSP paprika
flour, for dredging
peanut oil, for frying (Alton uses shortening)

Put chicken into a large plastic bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hrs (the longer you let it sit in the buttermilk, the more tender the chicken will be).

Heat the oil to 325 degrees (we used our deep fryer, but if you're using a pan, let the oil come up to about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch up the side of the pan). Do not let the oil go over 325 degrees.

Drain the chicken in a colander.

Combine the salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Season the chicken with this mixture. Dredge in the flour and then put in the oil. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes per side. We used chicken legs only, so I think our total cook time was about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack before serving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Chili

I'm finally able to admit to myself that I generally like Rachael Ray's recipes. Her personality I could do without most of the time, but I will occasionally watch her show and usually find she has some great tips and is really encouraging for people to use their creativity when cooking rather than strictly follow the recipe. 

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is a recipe I've had printed out for a long time but always passed on for one reason or another. I love buffalo wings, but had a hard time imagining how it would translate into a chili. On top of that, it was so hot this summer that eating a spicy chili wasn't high on my list. Then one day a couple of weeks ago, when it started to get cooler, I had the right combination of ingredients in my fridge and pantry that I decided it was time. 

We both liked this. I think I liked it more than my husband did. He said he had a hard time deciding what he thought of it because it wasn't really like anything he'd had before. I did change up the original recipe quite a bit, but I think I all were changes I'd keep if I make this again.

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Recipe by Rachael Ray, adapted
Serves 4-6
Prep Time - 15 min 
Cook Time - 30 min

1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 lb shredded rotisserie chicken
1 carrot, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP paprika
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
cheese, for garnish
tortilla chips, for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 min, stirring frequently. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, just to get the chicken warm.

Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and stir. Simmer for a minimum of 15 min (but 30 is better).

Serve and garnish with cheese (Rachael recommends Blue cheese, but we don't like it so we used some shredded cheddar) and tortilla chips. Use extra chips for dipping.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Italian Beef Stew

Beef stew is something I never liked growing up. I'm not completely sure why. I loved gravy, so it should have been a perfect fit. I think it's a combination of not having it very much and not really liking beef in an not-ground form.

It took me going to Ireland and trying Guinness stew at a little pub tucked away in the Wicklow Mountains to discover what a wonder stew could be. After having moderate success recreating Guinness stew over the years since, I've broadened out to stews that don't involve stout. My most recent was an Italian version - that used white wine and tomatoes. My husband is somewhat of a stew purist, and he was skeptical (to be polite) after reading the recipe but in the end, we both agreed. This was a great recipe for a change, but we prefer our "regular" recipe. I think he may have had a higher opinion of it if I had put more carrots in the stew, though.

Italian Beef Stew
Recipe from Italian Foodies blog
Serves 4ish
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 2 1/2 hrs

1 1/2 lb stewing meat, cut into small cubes
3 TBSP canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
5 TBSP dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 big sprig of thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
2 TBSP flour
2 cups beef broth

Heat oil in a big pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5-7 min, or until soft. Add bay leaves.

Add carrots, celery, and thyme and cook for about 10 min, stirring occasionally.

Add meat and flour and cook until browned.

Add wine and cook until it is almost all evaporated. Add tomatoes and beef broth (start with 1 cup of broth and then add more if it's looking a bit dry. Season with salt & pepper (I think I ended up using about 1/2 tsp of both). Cover and cook over low heat for about 2 hrs. 

Serve with thick bread for dipping.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Cake

Perhaps I should've called this post "Apple Butter Cake." Or "Death by Butter." At any rate, I'll clear the air before you read any further. This cake uses almost 3 sticks of butter. Yes, you read that right. As much as I love her recipes, I've got a hunch that Pioneer Woman has a phobia of cooking without butter. 

I made this cake one night when I had a bunch of apples I needed to use up. I'd heard many raves about this cake, so I was really excited to finally try it. Unfortunately, I was just a tiny bit disappointed. I thought that the cake was a bit dry and too dense. So, why I am I posting it, you ask? Well, two reasons. First, I seemed to be alone in that opinion. Because of the aforementioned 3 sticks of butter, we pawned off about half the cake on nearby relatives. They all went crazy over the cake. Second, the apple portion of this cake is basically to die for. I still have dreams about it on occasion. I want to eat a big bowl of apples sauteed in butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. Or eat it over ice cream.  Or perhaps just eat it out of the skillet.

Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet
Recipe from Pioneer Woman, adapted

4-5 whole tart apples, peeled & cored, and cut into 8-10 slices
1 3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into tiny pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 3/4 sticks butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir. Place sliced apples in the pan. Don't pack them too tightly, but try not to leave many gaps.

Cook over low or medium low heat while you make the cake batter, or about 15 min.

Beat 1 stick of butter with 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the cake batter and mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped apple.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spoon the batter over the top and spread it around gently so that the batter is evenly distributed. Bake for about 20-25 min, or until the cake is golden brown and bubbly.

Allow cake to sit and cool for 5-10 min, and then flip over onto a serving platter. Cut a big slice and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.