Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandma's Chestnut Dressing

This is one of the family classics, and never ceases to get rave reviews.  Unfortunately it's so bad for you and chestnuts can be enough of a pain in the ass to find that I typically reserve making it for the holidays.

1 1/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C chopped onion
4 C cooked chopped chestnuts (roasting chestnuts then peeling them is a major pain in the ass, but you can find them pre-roasted and peeled in some Asian grocery stores)
1 1/3 C melted butter
1/4 C parsley
1/2 C cream
3 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 C soft bread crumbs (you can also use dried stuffing mix, though it'll need more broth)
2 t fresh sage
broth from turkey or chicken, preferably homemade

Mix ingredients and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, covered for half.  The amount of broth takes some playing around, so you'll want low ball it and check occasionally to see if it's drying out.  You'll want the end product to be light and moist without being soggy.  You may also want to mix the dressing once or twice when you check it, but in the last stretch when it's uncovered you want to leave it without mixing so the top can crisp slightly.

Fennel, Cured Salmon, and Grapefruit Salad

A light salad with some more interesting flavors than your typical lettuce salad.  With curing the salmon and making the gastrique this one can take a little while though.

Fennel cured salmon, thinly sliced across the grain
Fennel, thinly sliced
Sweet onion, thinly sliced
Ruby red grapefruit, in supremes

Orange gastrique:
1 C orange juice
1 C sugar
1/2 C rice vinegar, plus some to taste

Make the gastrique by boiling the three ingredients together until it starts to become syrupy.  Taste and adjust the flavor and consistency by adding more vinegar and/or water if needed.

To assemble the salad, mix the fennel and arugula, along with two or three supemes per person and onion to taste.  Top with four or five slices of the salmon, and drizzle with the gastrique.

Fennel Cured Salmon

This is a wonderful quickly cured salmon with fennel, sweetness, and a little saltiness.  It's a slight modification of the recipe in Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn (which is pretty much THE place to start learning how to cure meat),

1/4 C sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar
6 T kosher salt
1 lb fillet of salmon, preferably wild caught
roughly 1/2 a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 C toasted fennel seeds
1 T white pepper, cracked

Mix the salt and sugar and put a layer down in a container just large enough to hold the fish.  Put down the fish, then add another layer of salt/sugar cure.  Lay out the fennel, fennel seeds, and white pepper.  Top with any cure you might have left.  Cover with plastic wrap and weight it down.  Keep this in the fridge for two days, making sure the fish is covered in the cure or the brine that will be produced as the cure draws moisture out of the fish.  At the end of two days make sure that the fish feels firm and dense uniformly (leave it longer if it doesn't), then remove, discard the cure and seasonings, and rinse the fish off.  Pat the fish dry, wrap in butcher or parchment paper and refrigerate for another day before thinly slicing; this could  be used in the Cured Salmon, Fennel, and Grapefruit Salad.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chicken Stock

If you really want a soup that will impress you need to make your own stock.  By roasting chicken and vegetables then slow simmering for hours you develop a depth of flavor that the stuff from the store couldn't hope to touch, and by using those bits of chicken that are usually discarded (wing tips, backs, necks, and whatever else you typically wouldn't eat) you'll fill the stock with the gelatin that imparts that richness and silky texture without adding any fat.  If you want to take this a step further you can then reduce this stock from a gallon down to a pint of glace de volaille, one of the best sauce bases around, and worth every second of the day and a half it takes to make.

7 lbs of cheap chicken bits (I personally like to save wing tips from hosting wing nights for friends, but you can use necks, backs, feet, or whatever else you can get your hands on.  The thing you're looking for here is cartilage and/or bone to create gelatin)
1 lb carrots, in one inch pieces
1 lb celery, in one inch pieces
1 lb onions, in one inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
7-8 sprigs of Italian parsley
20 black peppercorns, whole
1/2 t dried thyme, or 2 t fresh
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and roast the chicken bits in a large roasting pan for an hour, stirring a couple of times. 
Add the celery, carrots, and onions along with 2 C of water to the roasting pan, and cook for another hour, stirring every 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large stock pot (be sure to get anything stuck to the bottom of the pan), and add in the rest of the ingredients with enough water to come within an inch or two of the top.  Cover and bring to a simmer for at least 4 hours.

Remove the chicken, vegetables, and everything else you can fish out and discard.  Allow the stock to cool then put it in the fridge until the fat solidifies (or overnight).
Remove the fat and strain the stock through either a fine strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth.
At this point you can either use it as stock, or you can reduce it down to a pint to make glace de volaille.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fish Fragrant Sauce

This is more of an outline than a real recipe as I was improvising a sauce from the recipe for Fish Fragrant Pork, but it'll give you an outline for how to make the wing sauce.

1 T sugar
1 T Chinkiang vinegar
1-2 t soy sauce
2 1/2 t corn starch
1 T garlic, minced
1 T ginger, grated
2 green onions, finely sliced
splash of Shaoxing rice wine
4 T Sichuan pickled chiles, minced
6 T water
3/4 t Sichuan peppercorn, toasted and ground
2 T oil

Mix together the water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and corn starch.  Heat the oil until almost smoking, then add the garlic, ginger, and pickled chiles.  Stir fry until fragrant.  Add in the sauce and everything other than the green onions.  Adjust for seasoning and thickness, then add in the green onion and stir before removing from heat.

Buffalo Wing Sauce

The original Buffalo style wing sauce.  There's not a whole lot to it, and the only real secret is using some lecithin to emulsify it so the hot sauce and butter don't separate.

1/2 C Frank's Red Hot
7 T butter, melted
1 t worchestershire sauce
1/4 t garlic powder
1 t liquid lecithin

Stir the lecithin into the melted butter, then add the rest and shake or blend together well.  You may have to re-warm this occasionally during service as it will tend to solidify.

If you want this hotter you can add ground habanero to it (I do this to my Red Hot anyway), or stir in a little pure capsaicin for real kick.

Sweet Chile Soy Sauce

This one is really, really easy:
Take some sweet chile sauce (I get it at the Asian market, but even Meijer carries it) and add some soy sauce.  If you want to be fancy and thicken it up a little, add some lecithin.