Monday, January 19, 2009

Chicken & Sausage Hash on Crispy Polenta with Frizzled Sage

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 lemon, ½ sliced, ½ squeezed
½ tsp olive oil
½ lb bacon, sliced
3 spicy Italian sausages (salsiccia or similar, can substitute with brats)
1 ½ cup onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
10 small new potatoes, unpeeled, cubed
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh sage, chopped
¼-1/3 cup flour
¼ cup cognac
4 cups (or 2 cans) of chicken broth
1 cube of frozen pesto or 2 tsp dried basil

Preheat oven to 400.

Place chicken bone down on a baking sheet and gently separate chicken skin from the underlying meat to make a pocket. Place lemon slices under skin. Season chicken with salt & pepper and drizzle slightly with oil. Bake until chicken tests 170 degrees, approximately 40 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tent chicken with foil for 10 minutes. Let cool, then pull meat from the bones and shred into bowl. Save the skin and bones to freeze for stock. Discard the lemon.

In large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat then add the bacon. Cook until browned. Remove bacon from oven with a slotted spoon and lay on paper towels to drain. Add sausages to oven and cook until browned, then remove to paper towels. Add onions, red pepper, potatoes, salt and pepper to pot and cook until vegetables are slightly softened and browned, about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and chopped sage and cook for 1 minute.

Add between ¼ and 1/3 cup of flour, depending on the amount of grease in your pan. You want enough flour to evenly coat all the vegetables and soak up all the grease, but not so much that it cakes up. Stirring constantly, continue cooking the flour until it becomes darker, but not burnt, and releases a nutty scent, about 5 minutes.

Add cognac and stir, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and stir until smooth, adding more stock if sauce is too thick. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. While sauce is cooking, cut sausage into 1 “ chunks and add to pot. Add drained bacon, shredded chicken, and pesto. Stir to combine. Cook uncovered 7-10 minutes, until sauce is thick and creamy.

Crispy Polenta
Heat FryDaddy (makes this a snap). Slice pre-made polenta into ½” rounds. Blot with paper towels to remove any extra moisture. Gently place in heated oil, frying until golden brown, turning once to ensure even frying. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Frizzled Sage
Wash 10-12 whole sage leaves. Blot on paper towels to dry completely. Place the individual leaves in hot oil for 10 seconds. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels.

Serve hash on polenta topped with frizzled sage.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Alice & Julia's Apple Tart

Look, I’m going to cut right to the chase. I have taken the best parts of recipes from two very, very famous women – Julia Child and Alice Waters – and combined them for the perfect Apple Tart. It simply turned out to be the loveliest, most delicious apple pastry I’ve ever made…and I’ve cooked a lot of apple pies. This was hands down the best.

So here’s the recipe: Julia Child’s Pâte Brisée + the filling and glaze from Alice Waters’ Apple Tart, as described here. I get that as recipes goes mine isn’t much of one, but you know what? Theirs are classics, and they work perfectly together. I can't pass off some sad facsimile of them as my own, so go forth and conquer as I did with Julia and Alice’s help.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Black-Eyed Peas and Hog Jowl - New Year's Day Tradition

In the South, at least where I come from, you eat black-eyed peas and hog jowl on New Year’s Day to bring good luck for the upcoming year. Some regions are slightly different like Hoppin’ Johns, a black-eye pea and rice dish, or black-eyed peas and collard greens. But for me, we had black-eyed peas and hog jowl every January 1st. I like black-eyed peas, though I prefer purple hull peas. Hog jowl is from the jaw/jowl/check of a hog and is like fatty bacon (if that is at all possible). It can be a little difficult to find. I went into a grocery in one of the more affluent areas of St. Louis and after looking in the meat section and not finding it asked the butcher who gave me a little smirk and said “No, you will not find that in this store.” All I can say to you citizens of Frontenac is that 2009 will not be kind to you. Lucky for me, I did finally find some hog jowl and 2009 is going to be a good year.

This is not culinary masterpiece. Having it once a year will be fine for most. But, it’s tradition, fun to do, and it's for good luck. It can't hurt. I served mine with some picked onions I made a year or so back.

1 small slab of Hog Jowl
1 15 ounce can Black-Eyed Peas
Freshly ground Black Pepper

Cut the hog jowl into thin bacon like strips. In a large skillet, fry hog jowl over medium low to medium heat until desired doneness and crispness. Place hog jowl on a platter lined with paper towel to drain. During this time, heat black eyes peas in a sauce pan over medium heat until hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves good luck for 365 days

I find hog howl in a whole piece. But, I have read on other blogs where they have found it pre-sliced. I have never found it that way. If you slightly freeze your hog jowl, it will make slicing it a little easier – about 20 minutes in your freezer. You will get a good amount of fat renderings from the hog jowl and if you fry it too hot a lot of smoke.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Last night we co-hosted a New Year's Eve party with the Nemanicks at their house. I love all the preparations that lead up to a big party and it was great fun to be able to tackle the effort as a team of 4 (Chris & me, Rik & Dawn). Rik and I both love to cook, so we split the responsibilities for food prep. We went with easy dishes that can fuel a crowd; having thrown a New Year's Eve party for more than 5 years I've learned that people will politely nibble and graze up to midnight, then once the champagne kicks in they're diving into the food like they haven't eaten in weeks.

One of the dishes I made is a perennial favorite - Cowboy Caviar. Tagert actually introduced us all to this dish several years ago, and we've all started making it for parties. It's a simple yet delicious mix of black-eyed peas and spices that you can serve as a dip with chips, and since black-eyed peas are a New Year's Day tradition in many parts of the country, I thought this was a clever dish to crank out for a New Year's Eve crowd.

I always make too much, by design. The flavors continue to develop over a couple of days, so I use leftovers as a topping for chicken or rice. Oh, one last thing - I (we) use canned black-eyed peas. I've tried using the dried ones and preparing them from scratch, but honestly the flavor wasn't any better and it was WAAAY more complicated that just opening a few cans. I know, I know...but look, when you're cooking for a crowd you want to figure out some dishes that you can easily throw together with a delicious result, and this recipe definitely fits those requirements. Enjoy!

3 cans black-eyed peas, drained
2 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 T cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T vegetable oil
2 T cider vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Combine ingredients in a big bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop. Serve with chips, or as an accompaniment to meats or rice. (Told you it was simple!)