Good evening everyone.
It’s been a few days, but I’ve been trying to clear away my leftovers.
Tonight was pork night. Slow, deliciously roasted pork loin chops. No knife needed.
2 pork loin chops
1/2 cup beef stock (home made preferably)
1/2 cup red wine
1 overflowing spoonful of creme fraiche
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
dried parsley (use your judgment)
5 or 6 small gold potatoes, cubed
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil & butter
1. preheat oven to 350F and chop, smash, season, etc. everything to get it out of the way.
2. rinse and pat dry the pork chops. season generously with salt and pepper.
3. in a saute pan with sides, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. once the butter’s foam subsides, sear the pork on both sides so a nice, brown crust forms. remove when done.
4. in the leftover fat, add onion and saute for about 2-3 minutes. add the garlic, thyme, dried parsley and beef stock. simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5. add dollop of creme fraiche and stir until melted completely. taste and add salt and pepper as needed (you should probably just make it a habit to taste your food constantly…and use a different spoon every time you do)
6. simmer for 1 minute, then add the red wine. simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the alcohol has cooked out.
7. add pork to a small roasting pan. pour liquid over chops, and add potatoes to the pan. cover the pan with foil and put in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours. After one hour, flip the pork. After 2 hours, check the pork. If you can pierce it easily with a fork, it’s done (the fork should really melt into the meat with little to no force on your behalf).
I’ve got the beginnings of a cold right now, and this was one of the best comfort-food dishes for it. It wasn’t too heavy, it was nourishing (pork is always good for the soul), and the meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender. It was practically falling apart as I sliced into it with the fork. UGH, SO GOOD. The creme fraiche added a whole other level to the sauce. It lightened it up while thickening it. So savory, so good. I could’ve eaten 5 more chops like this. The potatoes were perfectly cooked. They just absorbed all the delicious flavors of the pork, beef stock, creme fraiche, red wine, garlic….everything. Delicious. It seems like 2 hours, in my oven, was the perfect amount of time. I encourage you to braise things. Yes, these dishes take hours, but come on…I got all my laundry done in the meantime. Plus, your house will smell SO GOOD.
Chickpeas and purple potatoes – the first of my leftovers to go. I know it seems like I’m obsessed with purple potatoes, but you should know that this is the first dish I made using them. Anyway, this meal could not be quicker or easier to make. It’s really adaptable to whatever your tastes are. It is also a take on a Lebanese bean and potato casserole.
1-1 1/2 cup of dried beans of your choice (I used 1 can of low sodium, rinsed beans)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP parsley, chopped
approximately 6 or 7 small purple potatoes (you will have to eyeball this depending on what you want your ratio of beans to potatoes to be)
2-4 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
Scrub the potatoes, chop them into cubes. Chop up your parsley now, too. In fact, just grab all your herbage and things you’ll need now. Heat the olive oil in a skillet (preferably one with sides).
Add the potatoes and toss in the oil until they are golden brown. Once browned,
add 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and cover. The potatoes will steam for 7 minutes before being fork tender. If you can, resist the urge to lift the lid and check on things. Sure, shake the skillet every once and a while, but no opening.
While that’s happening, get out another skillet and heat up some oil. Dump the garlic and parsley in the oil, and fry it up for like 2 minutes, if that. Add this to the potatoes, along with your beans and turmeric. Toss everything together, and then serve.
This recipe may serve about 1-2 people, depending on how hungry you are.
Happy weekend, everyone!
Last night, as promised, I tried roasting a chicken. This was the first time I have roasted a chicken without help. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve roasted a chicken period (cornish hens don’t count!). Despite my oven’s unreliability and temperature inconsistency, I think the chicken came out fine in the end. I did not commit the ultimate sin by drying the bird out, which is something I was afraid of doing. There are several things I would do differently regarding my own technique, but this recipe is genuinely foolproof. If you have a good oven, or even if you don’t, this is going to work out. Here is Anthony Bourdain’s recipe for poulet roti from his Les Halles Cookbook:
1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs (1.8 kg), giblets reserved
Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly crushed black pepper
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 tbsp (28 g) herb butter*
3 tbsp (42 g) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (340 ml) white wine
A little chopped flat parsley
*for the herb butter, just take about 1 TBSP basil (finely chopped), 1 TBSP parsley (finely chopped), 1/2 TBSP thyme (finely chopped), 1/2 TBSP rosemary (finely chopped) and add it to 1/2 cup softened butter. Add 1/2 tsp honey (that is what Bourdain’s recipe calls for, but you can omit it if you want), a pinch of salt, a pinch of finely ground white pepper and combine in a bowl with a wooden spoon. You can form it into a stick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and keep it in the fridge for future use.
Prep the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Cut off the wing tips, leaving the last joint only. With fingers, remove excess fat from the chicken’s inside cavity. Trim off excess skin at the neck. Remove the giblets packet. Wash the inside of the chicken thoroughly with cold running water. Allow to dry. Season the inside cavity with salt and pepper.
- Take a paring knife and just below the end of the chicken’s legs, poke a small hole on each side, and tuck the leg carefully inside. Now gently – and generously – rub the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the lemon half, half of the onion, the rosemary, and the thyme inside the chicken cavity.
- Carefully taking hold of the edge of the skin on each side of the chicken, lift the skin and gently push a tablespoon of herb butter underneath, prodding it along so that one lump of herb butter sits on each side of the bird’s breastbone. Rub the outside of the chicken with about half of the plain (softened) butter.
Cook the chicken
- Remove the giblets from the bag and place them and the remaining half of the onion in the center of the roasting pan. Place the chicken on top of same. Pour 1/2 cup (110ml) of white wine into the pan and roast for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with the fat and butter that collects. Move the pan around your oven to avoid uneven cooking.
- After 30 minutes, increase the oven temperature up to 450F (230C) and cook for another 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Stir in the remaining wine and scape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to dislodge the fond (the brown bits). Bring the wine to a boil and cook until it’s reduced by half. Discard the giblets and onion and whisk in the remaining softened butter. Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside the chicken in a boat or gooseneck.
Foolproof, yeah? I think so, too.
Here is what my bird ended up looking like the first time I took it out of the oven. Despite poking the fat part of the thigh and seeing clear juice, it was still undercooked in some areas. I didn’t take pictures of the final product because at that point, I was ravenous. As you can see, I did not cut the wing tips off (I personally love that part of the bird when it gets crunchy). I also did a few other things differently. I used less herb butter than he recommends, and I did not rub the chicken down with soft butter. I put olive oil on the skin, instead. I have nothing against butter, trust me. I just didn’t want to use THAT much.
I also did not have white wine for the sauce, so I used balsamic vinegar. I’m a huge fan of balsamic vinegar, and although most would argue it is overused, I see no problem with using it as often as you want. It turned out to be a really, really good sauce. I would probably add shallots to it in the future.
As you can sort of tell from the picture, I made some garlic purple potatoes to accompany the bird. They turned out quite nicely. I want to try mashing them at some point, I think it would look so cool.
Although I am a little dismayed at my first roasting experience, it could have been worse. Nothing burned to an unrecognizable crisp, and in the end, it was moist, fragrant, really flavorful and worth the challenges. I have so much left over, I think I may end up substituting some of it for the lamb in tonight’s recipe, Khoresh Karafs. I know, grossly untraditional, but I need to get rid of some of these leftovers!
Also today, I’m going to attempt to make my own chicken stock. Due to VERY limited space, I’m only going to be able to make enough for probably two dishes.
I hope this week went well for everyone. I am having a bit of a hard time adjusting to this semester’s new schedule, but otherwise things are moving along.
I have an interesting menu planned for the next few days. Since my schedule doesn’t permit me to cook every day of the week, I have to compensate for it on the weekends (which actually allows me to enjoy making the food). It’s going to be a bit of a fusion week, beginning with tomorrow’s big dinner. I am finally going to be breaking in my copy of Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook by making his poulet roti. This, as you know, is just a roasted chicken. He employs a French-style of cooking, which is going to be fun trying out. Admittedly, I have never tried a French recipe before (can’t wait to start cooking from my Julia Child cookbook!). I think I am going to make a potato dish to go along with the chicken (perhaps some purple potatoes). As I will have a chicken carcass on hand, I am going to try making my own dark chicken stock on Saturday. It should be great for a lazy day.
Saturday and Sunday, I will be experimenting with Persian food. Saturday, I’ll try making Khoresh Karafs (the source of the recipe can be found by clicking on the picture), which is a celery stew.
Sunday, I will attempt to make khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi (another stew), whose recipes can be found all over the internet. It’s a popular dish, and I’m excited to try it out!
Monday, I’ll be returning to the Les Halles Cookbook for a mushroom soup. I personally love mushrooms. They are so meaty and earthy. Perhaps I will make a spinach salad with some tomatoes and carrots to go along with this dish.
Finally on Tuesday, I will try making salade d’onglet. This recipe, yet another from Bourdain, requires an onglet (hanger)
cut of steak. It’s hard to find this cut in a general grocery store, so if you’re really into meat, hit up a butcher. I’m not so keen on red meat (this is the first time since living here I have bought it), so I just bought stew meat. The recipe involves marinading the meat, so it should work out well. Accompanying the beef will be a spinach salad with a red wine vinaigrette.
Whew! Hopefully this all gets accomplished! I’ll have recipes and pictures for you of my attempts within the coming week!
Last Friday at the grocery store, I found some purple potatoes.
I’ve cooked with these potatoes before, and I think they’re quite tasty. Not as starchy as the typical red or russet potatoes, but nevertheless delicious. And hey, who doesn’t love aesthetically pleasing, genetically engineered food (why, I do! I do!)?
One thing I noticed when I oven-roasted them was that they tended to cook considerably faster than other potatoes. Whether this is due to their darker color or their apparent lack of starch I’ll never know, but they came out unappetizingly dry the first time I worked with them.
With that lesson learned, I decided to take a different approach. The oven I’m working with in this apartment never keeps a consistent temperature. I sauteed, then steamed them. They came out melt-in-your-mouth tender, flavorful, and fragrant.
If you want to get creative with your food and are never daring enough to try different combinations, try experimenting with potatoes. They take on generally any flavor you give them, so go all out! Throw in some rosemary and thyme! Hell, make them spicy and add red pepper flakes or paprika with some basil for an interesting combination. And that’s just herbage! Think of the possibilities…..It’s easy, it’s fun, and messing up is just a part of the process.
Here is my recipe for a side dish, cooking for 1 person (depending on how much you eat, you may have some leftovers):
approximately 6-8 small purple potatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
approximately 3 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 TBSP
about 2-3 tsp* of any of the following: basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, oregano, parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of water
*I tend to eyeball my herbage. If I like the herb a lot, and want it to stand out, I may put more than 2tsp. It is your call, I trust you.
Cut your potatoes, chop your herbs.
Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably one with sides) on medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough (if it’s fragrant, you’re good to go), dump the potatoes in and toss them around in the oil. Try to get them coated nicely. Sprinkle them with some salt and pepper (be generous about it). Toss again to get them coated evenly in the salt and pepper. Toss until they start to get a golden color.
Now, you’re adding water to hot oil and we all know how that works (right?!?!?!). SLOWLY add the water to the potatoes and cover. Let them cook like this for about 7 minutes. No taking the lid off.
(Side note: You’re not adding a lot of water to the skillet, so it’s going to boil and evaporate pretty quickly. If at the end of the 7 minutes your potatoes aren’t quite fork-tender, then add a little more water and cook for a little longer.)
While that is happening, heat some oil (1 TBSP) in a smaller skillet. Sautee your garlic and herbs, stirring constantly. You just want to get a nice flavor out of them, not make them crispy bits of black stuff.
Once the potatoes are done, add your herb and garlic mix to them, toss, and there you have it. If you want to get fancy, add a garnish of some sort (like basil or parsley). Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
I hope this recipe works out for you! If you have any suggestions, or if you made some cool alterations, let me know!