Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I wish I was a butcher

I say this to myself every time I have a big hunk of meat like a leg of lamb, or a pork shoulder or a whole chicken, turkey etc. As much as I enjoy cooking, a significant part of that enjoyment is the trans-formative aspect of turning raw ingredients into a finished product that tastes, smells and looks delicious.
I do need to work on the looks part for the blog, I make some darn tasty looking food but I just don't think of taking pictures. Usually because I am too hungry to wait.

All that introduction leads me to tonight's dinner. Broiled butterflied chicken with roasted carrots and onions, mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed kale with feta and olives.

The chicken is yet another Alton Brown recipe. The butterflying step is one of the things I really enjoy. Breaking down a whole chicken into a big flat canvas of meat just waiting to be seasoned and roasted is pretty special. And of course it is the reason you can roast a chicken on a weeknight. Toady Kerrie made gravy instead of the jus in the recipe.  The jus is wonderful and I strongly recommend you try it. It also works out well because the roasted vegetables soak up a lot of the juice so you don't have quite as much as you would if you just roasted the bird on a rack.

Roasted carrots and onions and perfect examples of the trans-formative aspect of cooking that I love. I enjoy onions just about any way you want to serve them, raw, cooked, steamed, sauteed, fried etc. However there is something about roasting them in the oven and finding that perfectly caramelized bit of onion that has stuck to the pan that just makes me a happy boy. Carrots might as well be a completely different entity. Raw carrots are tasty, roasted carrots are sweet earthy tender bits of awesome.

I could never be a vegetarian, carrots and onions roasted in meat juice would call to me. I could actually give up the chicken but you would catch me some night scooping up big serving spoonfuls of meat juice and carrots from a pan. it would not be pretty.

I don't really measure for mashed potatoes so it's tough to put together a recipe. I use the standard amount of potatoes I was taught by my mother which is one potato per person and one for the pot. So a family of 4 potato eaters needs 5 potatoes. Wash and cut the potatoes into about one inch pieces and boil them in salted water until soft drain well then add them back to the pot.

about 1/2 cup milk (skim is all we have in the house, cream is of course awesome)
2 Tbsp of salted butter
a few grinds of black pepper
and the star recently is about 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. it adds a great tangy flavor and richness.
Lately Greek yogurt has become a staple in our house for a variety of reasons. This is one

Mash with a potato masher and add more salt and pepper to taste. I almost always leave the skins on unless I know I have picky eaters around who will turn up their noses at the skins. They may be wrong and out of their minds, but I cater to guests.

the kale was a new recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. I love this book for veggies.

It is a pretty simple recipe that would be equally good with collard greens. you will need

8-10 big kale leaves or more depending on your pan
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup of dry white wine
A block of feta cheese ( we used crumbled it was fine)
Kalamata olives
1 tomato (I did not have a tomato on hand so I skipped it)

First wash and slice off the kale leaves from their stems. If the stems are not to thick you may not need to do this for all of them. Chop the stems and garlic into small pieces then saute  in oil. Place some feta pieces and some broken up olive pieces into the individual leaf strips and roll them up. Place them in the pan on top of the chopped stems and garlic,  pour a half cup of dry wine over. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cover tightly and simmer for about 10 minutes until kale is tender and feta is melted.  This was really tasty. the tomato would have been a nice addition as the acid would have cut through some of the saltiness of the olives and feta.

The whole meal was served with a delicious  un-oaked chardonnay from  McGregor Winery, which of course was the wine I used in the kale. Any dry white would be fine.


ews said...

I knew the chicken was an Alton Brown recipe before I read the next paragraph; I've been meaning to try it for a long while now! Thanks for reminding me


Mark said...

It is a great one. I must say I have never had it cook quite as quickly as he says in the recipe but it is still pretty quick