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KotW: Chicken Paprikash and an Imperial Variant. July 29, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, chicken, entertaining, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, pasta, saucy, tomato.
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With this recipe we once again plunge into the stringently prescribed arcana of Hungarian cooking.  Even what I say here will doubtless be counterargued, but whether or not you agree with my stipulations on paprikash — in particular, the inclusion or exclusion of tomato which has been debated for centuries — I hope you find the result delicious.  We must start with the axiom of my skilled friend Amory Lovins: “Meat and onions, weight for weight.”  So since, according to my faithful postal scale, a medium-to-large yellow onion weighs between eight and 10 ounces…

3 pounds chicken thighs, boned and skinned (may be frozen)
3 pounds yellow onions — about five or six large
one-quarter cup good olive oil

Skin and chop the onions.  Warm the oil in a six-quart pot, add the onions, and cook, stirring, until they achieve a uniform golden brown with no scorching.  This takes a while of steady attention.

Meanwhile, broil the chicken thighs, six minutes a side if thawed or ten minutes a side if frozen.  I prefer this to pan-browning since it leaves the chicken more tender at the start of braising.  Let the chicken cool slightly and, according to preference, leave the pieces whole or cut them up bite-size.

To the onions, add

one quarter cup real Hungarian paprika
one-half teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
one-eighth teaspoon caraway seed, or more to taste, crushed
one-half to one teaspoon red flake pepper, optional (sort of depends on your paprika)

Stir the mixture till the seasonings are well distributed, and add
one quart chicken stock, carcass or box
the chicken pieces
the pan juices from broiling, if any, through a strainer

Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and let mixture cook 25 minutes if chicken thighs are left whole, or 15 minutes if you’ve cut them up.  Meanwhile, start water boiling for pasta, then grate together

A small potato, between one (fist-size) and three (big-marble-size)
one ripe fresh tomato, halved and cored
four cloves garlic, peeled

Stir this mixture into the chicken and allow to simmer — not boil — for 15 more minutes.  The grated potato should disappear as far as possible, since its purpose is to thicken the gravy, rather than to make an appearance as an ingredient.  Seven to ten minutes before serving, start cooking

A 12-ounce package wide egg noodles

and when the noodles are ready, the paprikash also will be.  Serve immediately, very hot, to your guests, who will be impatient if they know what’s imminent.

The royal treatment

From the matchless work of Peter van Rensselaer Livingston — whose cookbook How to Cook a Rogue Elephant please do purchase if you find a copy for sale — we find that one good excuse for the Austro-Hungarian Empire was its culinary sophistication.  This is hardly a surprise, since imperial appetite (in whichever sense) provoked a collision and mingling of the best in Austrian, Hungarian, and northern Italian cooking.  Here, with credit exceeded only by my gratitude, I adapt a technique from his book to two of my own recipes.  You will need

three to four tablespoons basil pesto (see previous recipe)
chicken paprikash and noodles as above

When the noodles are cooked and very hot, toss them with the pesto; the objective here is a thin uniform coat on the pasta, rather than pesto as a primary sauce.  Then serve the chicken over the noodles as usual.  The interplay of raw and cooked garlic, basil, pine nuts, caraway and paprika is startlingly unusual and satisfying.

© /KC July 2009

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KotW: Not-Quite-Classic Basil Pesto. July 28, 2009

Posted by panterazero in cheesy goodness, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, pasta, vegetarian.
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[Part one of a two-part invention; the other part is above.]  This may be one of the simplest things I make, but hot pasta with pesto is a dish that our regular dinner guests ask for most often, and who am I to argue?

One bunch fresh basil sprigs (12-18 stems)
eight cloves garlic, peeled
one half cup sharp white cheddar cheese, chopped
one half cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
one half cup asiago cheese, shredded
one half teaspoon red flake pepper
one half cup broken walnut meats
one half cup pine nuts
one half cup good olive oil

Rinse the basil and pluck the leaves off the stems.  Put the basil leaves with the garlic in your food processor and grind both to a fine paste.  Continue grinding, adding the three cheeses to the food processor one at a time.  Stop grinding, add the pepper and nuts, and grind again until the nuts are finely chopped in the mixture, but not until they disappear.  Finally, add the oil and spin until blended.  The mixture should have the texture of soft clay and a dull finish, without containing so much oil that it’s semiliquid or its surface looks slick.

This can, of course, be simply and lavishly tossed with hot pasta and served.  But if you go one step further — okay, a few steps further — you will have re-created one of the greatest culinary pairings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Stay tuned.

© /KC July 2009

KotW: Summer Eggplant and Mushrooms July 24, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, cheesy goodness, pasta, tomato, vegetarian.
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This casserole is one of the most substantial vegetarian dishes I’ve made, and although the three subassemblies are a little bit of work, everything goes together quick, clean — and pretty — at the end.

one cup dried small white beans
two cups boiling water

Put the beans in a large measuring cup and pour the boiling water over them.  Cover the cup with a saucer and let stand one to two hours.

six large, flavorful (heirloom) fresh tomatoes
two large globe (Italian) or four to six long (Asian) eggplants
one-quarter cup good olive oil
one teaspoon salt
one-half teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475°, or 450° convection.

Core tomatoes, top and tail eggplants.  Cut both into chunks — larger than bite-size, since they will shrink.  Toss the vegetables like a salad with the oil and seasonings.  Put the vegetables in a heap in a 9×13 glass baking dish, and bake them in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  Meanwhile:  Put the soaked beans, with their liquid, in a saucepan, add more water until the beans are covered by about 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a high simmer.

one large yellow onion, diced fine
one pound fresh white mushrooms, sliced thick
two tablespoons oil

Sauté these ingredients altogether until the onions are translucent, and the mushrooms are tender and shedding liquid.

When the beans are fully cooked but still firm, after 30 to 50 minutes of simmering, add

one cup orzo

Bring back to a boil and boil for nine or 10 minutes, until orzo is al dente. Drain beans and orzo and put in large serving bowl; add eggplant and tomatoes, then mushrooms and onions, and mix thoroughly.  Top with

grated Parmesan, asiago, or smoked cheddar

to taste.  This is meant primarily as a hot dish, but the leftovers are quite good dressed with a vinaigrette as pasta salad.

© /KC July 2009

KotW: Portobello mushrooms and an application. June 18, 2009

Posted by panterazero in Kip of the Week, pasta, saucy, vegetarian.
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Again we are in the realm of the upscale vegetable.  As I write, decent portobello mushrooms are about the same price per pound as top-grade hamburger, and in my view offer a better reason for paying it.  But once you have them, you have to be careful; you want to bring out robust earthy flavor without bitterness, and alluringly meaty texture without toughness.  It took some experiments to hit the note, but here’s how.

4 medium-to-large portobellos
3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
one large clove garlic skinned and crushed
one teaspoon salt

Rinse the mushrooms well and trim their stems. Skin them by tearing off triangles of skin from the edge to the center.  Put the skin, the gill cover [if any], water, oil, and salt in the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Put the mushrooms, caps down, in a wide casserole, strain the liquid over them, and add the garlic.  Cover and braise in a 275°F oven for an hour and 15 minutes.  The mushrooms will be both tender and tasty, but save every drop of the broth, which is some of the most potent mushroom stock imaginable.

now make

MUSHROOM, TOMATO AND PEPPER STEW WITH PASTA

mushrooms from above recipe, cut in chunks
mushroom broth from above
3-4 fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped
2-4 red bell peppers or sweet red chiles, roasted, water pack
1/2 lb. penne, fusilli, farfalle or any chunky pasta
four to six cloves garlic skinned and chopped
two tablespoons good olive oil
one tablespoon fresh sage, minced, or one teaspoon dried sage, crumbled

Cook the garlic in the oil till golden.  Add the sage and stir till you smell it.  Quench the pan with the mushroom broth.

Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers and keep the mixture over very low heat — you want it quite warm but not cooking.

Cook the pasta in oiled salted water till it’s about two minutes short of your preferred doneness. Drain it, add it to the vegetables, and bring it to serving temperature.  I swear this is one of the most flavorful dishes I ever made, or ate.

© /KC June 2009

KotW: Triple Pepper Bowties September 24, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in all-in-one, Kip of the Week, pasta, vegetarian.
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So the NEW MEXICO REDHEAD posts a recipe seasoned ONLY with BLACK pepper and calls it “balanced!” I’ll show her some balance

two tablespoons corn oil
12 cloves garlic, diced
one medium yellow onion, diced
10-oz bag crimini mushrooms or white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup wet-pack dried tomatoes, chopped
15-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
9-oz package shelled edamame
two big roasted red bell peppers, diced
4-oz can green chiles

1/2 lb. mini-bowties or mini-penne

red flake pepper, or taco mix
shredded Romano cheese

Warm the corn oil in a deep saute pan, add the garlic and onions, turn heat to medium and stir frequently until garlic is well browned and onion is transparent to golden. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until raw look is gone and mushrooms are shedding liquid. Add tomatoes, corn, edamame, and red and green peppers. Keep this mixture warm while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta till nearly done, drain it and add it while very hot to the vegetable mixture. Stir thoroughly.

Serve with flake pepper and grated cheese.

© /KC September 2008

Pork, pasta, and veg. September 23, 2008

Posted by sarawr in all-in-one, pasta, pig pig pig, saucy.
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Hello there! I know I promised you a gingerbread post last time I popped in, but I’m hung up on a quest for molasses — I am determined to make genuine gingerbread, which requires molasses. Not honey. Not caramelized brown sugar. Not Splenda. Molasses. So. That will happen later.

In the meantime, I came up with something very yummy that I thought I’d share. I was browsing through the frozen foods aisle at Wal-Mart (hush now, I’m all right) when I came across these… uh… well, I don’t know what they’re called. They’re bags of food all frozen together so that when you heat them up, they make a meal. Beef and potatoes, chicken and broccoli with sauce, that kind of thing. One of the bags caught my eye — it was elbow pasta with chicken and alfredo sauce, and it might have had a vegetable of some sort, too. I don’t remember the particulars now, but it looked good. I wanted it. Except, I didn’t want to pay eight bucks for two servings’ worth, especially since those two servings were all flash-frozen and preservative-laden. What to do?

Well, I got creative, is what. I picked up some cavatappi pasta (elbow noodles, but somehow fancier) and pancetta (soft bacon, but smokier and also fancier) and thought about what I already had at home. I didn’t have chicken, but I did have some pork loin. I didn’t have peas… or peppers… or whatever was in the frozen stuff, but I did have spinach and some native corn (maize, to you non-New Mexicans). I hate alfredo sauce, but I thought garlic cream sauce might be nice. Bingo!
I diddled about with the proportions and various cooking times, and here’s what I ended up with. I wasn’t going to post it here until I’d given it a few trial runs, but guys: This stuff is delicious.

YOU WILL NEED:

Half a pound to a pound of cavatappi (or farfalle, or whatever — just stay away from stringy noodles)
1/4 to 1/2 pound pork loin, cut into strips or cubes
A splash of olive oil
One to two cups fresh spinach, chopped
An ear or so of native corn (or regular corn)
One cup pancetta, crumbled or diced very finely
This garlic cream sauce

WHAT TO DO:

Whip up the garlic cream sauce beforehand; with this recipe, it’s best if you add extra pepper — maybe three dashes instead of one. Then get your pasta boiling with a little salt. Pop your spinach and corn into a colander or steamer (a double boiler would be handy here, but I didn’t have one) over the pasta so that it can wilt/steam properly. While the pasta and veggies are doing their respective things, stir-fry the pork loin in olive oil for about ten minutes on medium heat. Add the pancetta to the pan about eight minutes in and let everything sizzle together for the last couple of minutes. Drain the pasta, shuck the corn, and throw everything into a pan over very low heat. Slowly stir in the garlic cream sauce.

Ta-da! Dinner. It’s even sort of well-balanced. Who’s the top chef now, huh?