Saturday, April 18, 2015

Poulet Mere Blanc

I recently read the memoirs of chef Marcus Samuelsson (Yes, Chef) and this dish was mentioned a time or two. Always looking for different ways to prepare chicken, I let my fingers do the walking on my keyboard to see what recipes were out there.

Not surprisingly, there were many to choose from. I decided to go with this one, mostly because the ingredients made me laugh and there was just enough of a challenge to see if I could it off.

You will note that the first ingredient calls for "one beautiful chicken". Well as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I thought these chicken thighs were delightful. I also figured the dark meat would add even more richness to the dish. 

You might also note that "Paris mushrooms" are called for. Having no clue what a Paris mushroom is, I figured by its name alone it wouldn't be something I could get in Corozal. But the Internet came to my rescue again. Turns out, it's basically a standard, button mushroom. Well heck, even I can get those (most of the time).

I got the dish started by browning the chicken thighs on both sides, using an obnoxious amount of homemade butter. The quartered onions hung out in the pan during this process.

With the thighs all nice and brown and set aside, I added the mushrooms and garlic to the pan and let the 'shrooms give up their liquid.

When that was done, I deglazed the pan with white wine and let the liquid reduce. 

From there, I added the inordinately crazed amount of cream and, instead of a bouquet garni, stirred in some Herbs de Provence. When that was all mixed together, the thighs went back into the pan, along with the accumulated juices.

This all simmered away for about 30 minutes. About halfway through the cooking process, I took a taste of the sauce. was amazing. Like swoon amazing. Like I wanted to down it all, right then and there. Fortunately, I gathered my senses and let the cooking process continue.

Final plating:

I do not exaggerate this is one of the best meals I've ever made. The chicken was moist and tender, the sauce was so rich and flavorful, and those crazy mushrooms just helped to bring it all together. 

We reserved some of the sauce and David used it to make a white pizza that weekend. Oh my goodness. If it wasn't for the artery clogging, cholesterol-laden elements of the dish, this sauce would be our constant companion.

P.S. I highly recommend Yes, Chef. It's an excellent read about Chef Samuelsson's life, multi-cultural background, and all the people and events that led him to his love of food and cooking.

Pasta Salads

We've hit that time of year when the combined heat and humidity produces "feel like" temperatures in the triple digits. As much as I love to cook, there are days when dishes that are cool, light, and refreshing are the order of the day. Enter pasta salads.

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing 
(Courtesy of The Recipe Critic)

While the ingredient list may appear long for some folks, don't be put off by it, especially as about half the items belong to the dressing. 

There were a couple of things I needed to adjust. I used green cabbage, instead of red because I couldn't find any at the market. The red would have really been a great addition to give the salad a pop of color. I also couldn't find chow mein noodles. Again, they would be a nice addition for added crunch.

That all being said, we loved this pasta salad. The sesame dressing was so good that I might just make a batch to have on hand for other salads.

(Courtesy of Epicurious)

So this is another recipe where substitutions were made, due to some ingredients being unavailable. For instance, I decided to go with linguine instead of rice noodles. Instead of green beans, broccoli joined the party. And instead of cherry tomatoes, I diced up a couple of regular ones.

In spite of the changes to the line-up, this was still a very tasty dish. The blanched broccoli added its lovely green color and a satisfying crunch.

And should we decide to change up the flavors a bit, I made some Italian dressing that can be drizzled over the salad. If you've never made your own, please give a go. It's easy and so much better than store bought. 

Casatiello - Italian Easter Bread

When I saw this recipe (Alimentari), there was no doubt in my mind I wouldn't give it a try. I mean bread stuffed with meat, eggs, and cheese? Wow.

First step was to make the dough. For this go round, I opted for lard over butter. Once the dough went through its two rises, I rolled it out.

Next up, were the fillings. 

I was able to score some salami, but subbed bacon for the pork cracklings. All of this was sprinkled on the dough...

...then topped with some grated Parmesan.

I rolled the dough into a cylinder shape and popped it into a spring form pan.

The pan went into a pre-heated 355-degree oven and baked away for an hour.

I served it warm that night for dinner and we both thought the dough to be lighter and flakier than expected. This was a good thing. The filling components all worked very well together, especially the hard boiled eggs. A couple of days later, I served it at room temperature, and it was still just as delicious. 

But besides the taste, I really like this recipe for its versatility. The filling ingredients could be just about anything your heart desires. And because it can be served warm or at room temp, it can be a great brunch or dinner dish or even an appetizer. 

Looking forward to indulging my imagination and making this recipe again. Hmmm...I bet schmearing the dough with basil pesto might be nice.