Month: February 2012
I’m a glutton for punishment. Okay, maybe I’m just a glutton, but after hours of hardcore Ultimate frisbee in the morning (I have 2 – TWO bruises!) I really only wanted to eat what I was craving. When I want something bad I want to make it at home. More punishment. This way, though, I get to be part of the process, I get to save money (sometimes), and the tweaking – oh, the tweaking! I love it. Sometimes I need to have a dinner that screams immaturity and irresponsibility. In this instance I’m talkin’ ’bout hot wings. A whole dinner of hot wings. Screw salad, screw even cole slaw. I mean a whole dinner of wings and wet naps and beer.
Making chicken wings at home is seriously cheap and makes for wicked deliciousness.
1.5 – 2 lbs Chicken Wings, about about 14 wings (which when cut up equals 14 drumettes and 14 wind segments)
1 cup Franks Hot Sauce
2 TBSP melted butter
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
3 TBSP flour
First step: cut up yo’ wings into three segments, the drumette, the middle wing part (the less favorable non-drumette), and that end pointy bit that has no meat and it just a waste all around.
Find the joint in each area, line your knife edge in the joint, and slip through. It’s not hard. Chuck the lame little pointy ends, the farthest left in the above picture. Then rinse the remaining pieces, dry them really well, and set them aside in a bowl.
Pour about 3 inches of oil in a stock pot or deep dutch oven and heat to about 325 degrees. I used a pasta pot. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cayenne, peppers, and salt. Then toss the dried wings in the mixture. Once your oil is up to heat, gently -gently -drop the flour coated wing pieces into the oil and let fry for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. If you’re oil doesn’t look like the below picture when the wings are dropped in then it’s not hot enough.
And after 12 minutes they’re all beautifully golden brown like this…
Now, I’m not going to lie: These are awesome just as they are and you’re going to want to eat them, but don’t do it. Don’t give in. I mean, I guess if you have kids that can’t handle the extra spice or you don’t want sauce finger prints everywhere – and I do mean everywhere – then serve them like this. But if you sauce them, it’ll be like Dorthy stepping out of Kansas into Oz. I mean freaking amazing. So don’t be a coward: Stay strong, wait 4-5 minutes to allow them to cool, and sauce ’em.
In a big bowl mix together your Frank’s, the melted butter and any other flavors you’re craving. Extra cayenne? Sure. Chili paste? Go for it. Then throw in your slightly cooled chicken and toss away, either literally toss if you have the kitchen skills or toss with your hands – but then immediately wash them. And definitely don’t touch your eyes or lick your finger tips for the duration of this recipe. Then open a beer and eat away. I recommend in front of the TV. Notice I didn’t say “sports”. I don’t care for sports.
I’m hardcore: I have my wings with a beer in front of Antiques Roadshow. Ahhh, yeah.
Okay, so I have to be honest with you: These are not health food. Are they good for your soul? Fo’ shizzle. Are they good for your heart? Absolutely not. Enough of these will be the direct reason you go into cardiac arrest while on the treadmill one day. So, in an effort to just be plain bad rather than ridiculously bad, I also made a grilled wing that honestly was just as tasty as the above Buffalo wings.
Alternative sticky, spicy Asian grilled hot wing:
1 cup La Choy Orange Ginger sauce
1/2 TBSP srirachi
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup Spicy citrus sauce, cooled (from my chicken tender recipe)
Combine the La Choy sauce, srirachi, and black pepper. Toss the rinsed and dried chicken, and let soak in the coating for about 20 minutes. Heat your grill to medium – high. Once you grill is ready to go and the chicken has marinated a bit, grill with the lid closed for 12-15 minutes or until an internal temperature of 160 has been reached, turning once half way through. Let cool about five minutes once you remove them from the grill. Once they’ve cooled a bit coat them in the spicy citrus sauce. These are messy, but very delicious, and a welcomed healthier twist on traditional fried Buffalo wings.
I like creating something new in my kitchen, but sometimes I figure out a tasty recipe that’s a cinch to make and I just get stuck in a habit of making it regularly. In other words, new excitement has been leading to regularity. I decided to make an old family favorite to reignite the spark in my kitchen.
I’m not a big pork fan. I love a good banh mi, and ribs here or there, but that’s where my interest stops. Growing up, however, we had pork most Sunday’s at family dinner. My grandmother would make her usual marinara sauce (something I can make with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back), but she would a sometimes add fatty, bone-in pork chops and let them simmer low and slow for a few hours, cooking in the sauce while the sauce absorbs the delicious porkiness to make the usual Sunday meal a little more special.
I figured I’d give this a shot. Besides, cooking sauce on the weekend is great, because you have it for pasta and pizza for the rest of the week.
3 TBSP olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced or 1/2 cup diced onion
1 very ripe peach, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup wine, your favorite
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can whole or diced peeled tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
8 large button mushrooms cut into 1/4’s or 1/8’s depending on your own bite preference
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 TBSP fresh chopped basil
1 TBSP parsley
1 TBSP kosher salt
1/2 TBSP black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp sage
1 TBSP tomato paste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2.5-3 lbs center cut, bone-in loin chops
Juice of 1 lemon
Like most Italian recipes, this one starts with a shit ton of garlic. If you can’t get a shit ton, a butt ton will do. Or five large cloves. Which ever works. In 2 TBSP of the olive oil over medium heat, warm the minced garlic cloves, the shallot or onion, which ever you decide to use, and the peach. You want to sweat the garlic and onions a little, but don’t allow them to brown. After about 5 minutes add the wine (because of the pork I used a white wine I like, but anything that’s good will work), and stir. Add the tomatoes, both canned and cherry, mushrooms, chicken stock, and the spices. Sprinkle in the salt, stir, and incorporate the tomato paste. Once the paste is dissolved into the rest of the mixture, toss in the parm and mix well. Congratulations: you got yourself some marinara. Also, just as a side note, you can make this as thin (for pizza) or as chunky (for anything else) as you want. Add green bell peppers or chunks of fresh tomato to cook down and swap the crushed canned tomatoes for a second can of whole. If you want a smoother sauce omit the mushrooms and do a second can of crushed.
I like making entrees over baking because baking is exact. Dinner is whatever the hell you want it to be.
Bring the stock pot of tomato magic up to a bubbling simmer. Then turn the heat to low, so the sauce is still very hot, but barely bubbling, and add the pork chops. Cook these on low for about 2-2 1/2 hours. You can sear them before hand, but I chose not to, simply because I was too lazy to dirty another pan. The slower you cook the chops the more juice they will retain.
After about two hours, or when the chops reach an internal temperature of 160-165 remove them from the pot. Add the lemon juice to the tomato sauce. Stir and taste; add any additional salt or pepper. And viola!
I served mine with penne & salad. Classic Italian dinner.
I’m hosting a few friends for dinner to watch the Oscars this year. While I except the award show to be filled with mediocrity, my dinner will not. I wanted something bright, filling, delicious, and cheap. Feeding a lot of people adds up fast, so I like to keep costs down where possible.
Normally, I would not choose Pasta Primavera as an exciting meal, per se. More of a pathetic meal would sound more apt to its usual description. America’s Test Kitchen, however, inspired me, as the always do, to look at the usual in a different light. Cook the pasta like risotto and -BAM – awesomeness in every bite. Use the pasta’s own starch as a thickening agent – BOOM – creaminess without the heaviness.
It’s like Alfredo and Primavera had a baby. A delicious, delicious baby.
Now, most of this is directly from America’s Test Kitchen, so I don’t really deserve any credit. I made tweaks here and there to make it even more delicious, but I couldn’t have done it without ATK. I love this recipe because you can really plan ahead and do many of the steps far in advance to make serving a group of people even easier.
1 bunch Asparagus
1 cup frozen peas
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed in a garlic press
1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
1 TBSP ginger
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cup water
1 TBSP mint
2 TBSP chives
1/2 TBSP rosemary
zest of 1 lemon
5 TBSP olive oil
1 box pasta, penne, cavatelli, or campanelle recommended. This won’t really work with spaghetti or a strand style pasta.
1 cup white wine. I used a pinot grigio and it was fantastic.
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 TBSP heavy cream (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Leeks! Leeks are the sandiest thing ever next to a beach. Chop off the top two inches of outer leek area and cut off the bottom inch. Then roughly chop the top half, the darkest green area, and rinse 3 cups of it in a bowl and set aside. Then cut the remaining light green parts into 1/2 inch pieces, throw in a separate bowl, and rinse. So much easier to rinse once the leeks are in chunks.
Saute the light colored leeks over medium heat in 2 TBSP of oil for about five minutes or until the leeks brown a little, stirring periodically.
While the leeks are sauteing, snap off the ends of the asparagus. Take a stalk of asparagus and start bending from the end; it will snap naturally at the freshest point. You want to eat from the natural break to the tip. Chop the ends that you would normally discard into 1/2 inch pieces and dump into the bowl of darker leek slices. Cut the edible pieces of asparagus into 1 inch bites.
Once the leeks have cooked a bit, let go of some of their moisture, and browned a little, add the i inch asparagus pieces and crushed garlic, and stir. Continue to cook until asparagus is just tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the frozen peas and saute for an additional minute until the peas are just warmed, 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and set the cooked veggies aside.
In a deep stock pot or sauce pan, heat up the veggie stock, water, dark leeks, asparagus, red pepper, and ginger. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
While you’re doctoring the stock, chop up the chives, mint, and rosemary, and combine with the zest of a lemon in a bowl. Set aside. Once the stock has simmered for 10 minutes, strain into a bowl. Discard the strained vegetable remnants. This step and the vegetable cooking step can be completed a couple of hours in advance if necessary. You want there to be 5 cups of rich, doctored and strained stock left. If you’re going to immediately cook the pasta, place the strained stock back into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Keep the stock warm, as it will be added to the pasta in a few minutes.
Once you’re ready to cook the pasta, heat 2 TBSP oil in a pasta pot over medium heat. Toss in your pasta of choice and brown a bit. This is similar to cooking a risotto, which gives each bite tons of flavor. This only takes about 5 minutes, but you want to stir the pasta regularly to get each piece to brown a little. once the pasta is showing signs of golden deliciousness, add the cup of white wine to the pot and stir until the pasta has completely absorbed it, about 1-2 minutes. At this point the pasta is still raw, but tastes like magic, richly buttered bread. It’s amazing.
When the wine has been absorbed, add the stock and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for an additional 8- 10 minutes or until the pasta is done stirring every . I used Simply Smart pasta, which takes closer to 12 minutes to reach the correct texture.
At that point, turn off the heat and add the juice of one lemon. Stir. Add the 3 TBSP of heavy cream, 1/2 of the herb mixture, and grated parm, and stir well. Once the sauce has reached your desire consistency, dump in the cooked veggie mixture. I like my sauce a little thicker so I put the pot back over heat to stir for an additional 4 minutes, just until it was rich and creamy. Add the cherry tomatoes and – you guessed it – stir. You want the heat of the sauce & pasta to just warm and wilt the tomatoes. Plate each serving and sprinkle on a little of the remaining herb mixture. It’s a beautiful thing.
I topped mine with shaved parm and had a side of steamed broccolini with lemon juice as a side, because one can never have enough veggies. It. Was. INCREDIBLE. It can serve 6 reasonable people or 4 hungry ones.
Let’s do this. And then let’s get some sushi.
*Shamrock shakes are back at McDonald’s and are now available at every location. Run out and get one, and get fat…ter. According to USA Today
“The Shamrock Shake weighs in at 540 calories and 16 grams of fat for a small, or 840 calories and 24 grams of fat for a large…”
Awesome. [USA Today]
* A daughter wasn’t supposed to use Facebook and she certainly wasn’t supposed to talk shit about her father while using the social networking site. What’s a parent to do? Well, according to her father, Tommy Jordan, the answer is to murder the laptop. But before you go believing he’s an abusive mad man, Jordan makes an 8 minute video case to his daughter explaining the actions – and where she went wrong. There’s a difference between freedom of speech and a punk, spoiled brat. I’m all for tough love. Unless the daughter worked a part time after school job to purchase that laptop herself, I certainly don’t feel this is any form of abuse. She broke the rules, and I know that if my parents merely took my laptop away and hid it, that I would find it. Nice. [MSNBC]
* So, a few months ago, somebody posted on a Civil War era photo on eBay. The seller pointed out how much the gentleman in said photo resembled Nicholas Cage…and then speculated on the possibility that Cage was, in fact, a vampire. Because apparently vampires can either have sparkly skin or a massively receding hairline. Anyway, in an attempt to stay relevant, Cage brought up this photo while on The Late Show with David Letterman last night. And, no, starring in the next skull-on-fire movie thing isn’t keeping him relevant. [Blastr]
* Every Best Of… List always lacks something, and this tournament for the Best Sitcom Episode Ever is no different. Splitsider is giving fans the opportunity to vote for their favorite of all time, but be prepared to be disappointed. Also, be prepared to totally want to go watch some 80’s and 90’s tv after reading through their list – ooooh, Marge vs The Monorail – Classic! [Splitsider]
* Amy and Rory are leaving us. It’s not up for discussions; it simply has to be accepted. But I am not up for Moffat to tease us with the possibility of a new sidekick. I really liked Rory and Amy, just as I really liked Rose Tyler. If he continues to go through companions like popcorn, we’re going to have to change the The Doctor’s name to the Space Whore. In regards to the Doctor’s 50th anniversary Moffat states “There will be shocks, surprises and heartbreak—the Doctor is about to say goodbye to his very best friends, Amy and Rory…And then he’s about to say hello to someone very different.” Oh, Moffat. This I don’t need. [Blastr]
* I don’t need any more of a complex. I am a chubby-lady-geek. I wear that badge with pride and a crap ton of girly insecurity. It’s what I do, it’s my thing. So, the dude who totally photoshopped classic works of art to have the women featured appear thinner as today’s standards? Oh, he is just begging for me to key his car. Which I imagine is a Douche Mobile. [The Gloss]
* I don’t want an XBox 360. I don’t. I mean, a PS3 makes much more sense…So stop trying to woo me, Lucas Arts! A c3po/Artoo special edition Kinect?! EVIL! [MTV Geek]
* Speaking of Star Wars, a dude made a custom Millennium Falcon guitar. It totally shreds and dodges asteroids. But the coolest thing about it? The little bit are R2-D2 detailin’. Bad Ass to the max! [GeekIsAwesome]
* And, finally, this happened:
Photo credit Blastr
Thank you, and good night!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ChicGeekDaily !
It’s trailer madness Wednesday! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
*Time has the new trailer for Masterpiece: Great Expectations. Between Downton Abbey to NOVA and Ming Tsai, PBS has never been so popular and magical, nor has it ever received such rave reviews. In this particular adaptation in honor of Dickens’ 200th birthday Gillian Anderson will be taking on the role of Miss Havisham. [Time]
* The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore is an animated short that is up for an Academy Award. Like so many of Oscar worthy shorts, this is both beautifully done and heartwarming. Watch it below.
*Speaking of the Academy Awards, here’s a cynical, cranky chef making their Oscar picks. Wait…I don’t remember making this list. Oh! It’s Anthony Bourdain. I get it. We so similar in our cranky personalities that I got confused there for a minute. As usual, his responses to the questions are witty, comical, and make for a very enjoyable read. [NYT]
*The Amazing Spider-Man trailer is out. It’s all very teenage angsty, but Emma Stone was so good in SNL, maybe she’ll be awesome as Gwen Stacy in this, too. [MoviesWithButter]
* In light of MIA behaving like a child, BBC News has posted an article on the history of the middle finger. I love things like this. There’s nothing I enjoy more than studying the rude and crude of history. I’m not kidding. [BBCNews]
* And, finally, The Avengers trailer hit on Sunday night during the Super Fun Time Sports Dish thing there. Captain America looked downright plastic in it, and Scarlet Johannson looked pretty blase compared to the rest of the crew. Also, this is the third person to play the hulk since – what? – 2002 or whatever, so I’m not even sure which actor is portraying him this time. But, hey, I’m sure plenty of people will see it. And then want their money back. The extended addition trailer is below.
Will Ferrel starred in an ad for the Super Bowl!
Don’t remember it?
That’s probably because you didn’t watch the game in Nebraska, which was the only place the ad ran.
It was a commercial for Old Milkwaukee. Me, I wasn’t blown away by any of the ads yesterday. And I thought the Half Time Show was good, though I’m not really a fan of any of the participants. And MIA giving the bird to everyone? What the hell is that? It was like a 6 year old spoiled brat crying for attention. “I’m above the fakeness of the Super Bowl, but will gladly take a pay check”? Uh-huh, sister. You sold out well before your stage rose with Nikki Minaj.
So, anyway, for some reason Ferrel’s ad only showed up in Nebraska, even though the whole nation tends to like him.
Never fear: you can catch it here!…though the quality is just….not very good.
I’m not a fan of football. I’m more of a super fan of eating.
And that’s exactly what Super Bowl Parties are for.
I generally enjoy entertaining, but football is just not my thing. I let other people get this one. Besides, since the world is apparently forgoing winter with exception to areas that normally rarely get it (like Rome), my lawn is entirely too long to have guests to the house and our lawn mower takes forever and is easily distracted.
As the New England Whatsits are playing in today’s little game against Madonna or whoever hell the opposing team is, I have decided to make Clam Chowder. To clarify: New England Clam Chowder. Because Manhattan Clam Chowder is like choosing to have a grilled cheese with Kraft singles when you have the option of Gruyere. It’s a joke.
I’ve offended my husband.
Chip likes Kraft singles. Oh, well.
After the last year or so of warm to deadly hot temperatures, Austin is finally experiencing a day of pseudo winter: the high temperature is expected to be a low 54 degrees with skies overcast and a wee bit rainy. Yeah, it’s not “winter” per se, but when seasons have been phased out due to global warming you learn take what you can get. What I’m saying is that today is as close to a perfect Austin day for Chowdah as one could ask for.
The Cliff House in Maine serves incredible clam chowder and has since 1872. My father, inspired by their famous dish, worked to create a simple, but truly delicious version of creamy clam chowder to make at home. And Dad likes good food. While I strive to make things lighter just as my preference, sometimes I like to play after dinner and don’t want to feel weighed down, I know I can always depend on Dad for something rich, something perfect for winter, something to induce a completely content food coma. So…the plus side: this recipe, which feeds 8-10 hungry people, contains only a single tablespoon of butter. The not-so-plus side? It also calls for 3 cups of heavy cream. You heard me.
NOTE: The spice blend is very important and use chopped clams from a fish monger, as opposed to canned, if at all possible. You will have extra spice blend left once you mix it all together, but you can put it in a ziploc baggie and freeze it – yes, freeze the spices, until the next time you want to make clam chowder. All in all, this recipe costs about $30 to make and when you consider the amount of people it feeds, we’re talking peanuts in terms of cost.
4 tsp dried oregano 2 tsp dill weed 1 tsp sage
4 tsp dried parsley 4 tsp thyme 4 tsp rosemary
2 tsp marjoram 4 tsp basil 2 tsp tarragon
1 TBSP flour
If possible, blend everything in a mortar & pestle. If not, mix everything in a bowl and mash together with the back of a metal spoon (wood would absorb some of the oils you want to go into the chowder).
The actual Chowder Recipe:
9 Slices bacon, minced
1 TBSP butter
3 yellow onions, minced
3 medium to large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium to large shallot, minced
4 teaspoons of the above spice blend (Seriously, freeze the remainder. It’s tasty.)
6 TBSP all-pupose flour
3 – 4 cans clams (6.5 oz.) or 1.5 – 2 lbs previously frozen chopped clams
3 cups clams juice
3 cups heavy cream
1 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1.5 lbs potatoes, diced and boiled. You can peel your potatoes, too. I’m using smallish buttercreams, so I’m leaving the skins on. Mash 1/2 of the potatoes for a richer Chowder consistency.
Over low heat in a stock pot, soup kettle, or – in my case – a wide pasta pot, saute the bacon and butter, allowing some of the fat to render from the fatty pork. Once a good bit of fat has eeked out, but the bacon is still a bit uncooked, add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Add the spice mix and don’t allow anything to brown. Continue sauteing over low heat, stirring periodically, for about 10 minutes or so, until the onions have softened a bit, but aren’t quite translucent.
Add the flour and clam juice. I whisked the flour and clam juice together in a bowl so I wouldn’t have to worry about flour clumps and added it to the pot. Once everything is mixed well, bring the temperature up to a boil. When a boil is reached, turn everything down to a simmer and throw in the heavy cream and milk. After that’s been simmering for 20 minutes or so, add the pre-boiled potatoes.
Do not add the clams until just a few minutes before serving.
If you are making this at your home to be served in right then and there then:
Toss in the clams after the potatoes, sprinkle in the white pepper, and turn heat up to reach desired serving temperature, but do not bring to a boil. Over cooking the clams or cooking them at too hot a temperature, say a boil, makes them tough and chewy rather than tender and flavorful. I like to top mine with a little sprinkling of the greens from the tips of fennel. I love the color and look, and it’s not as strong as dill would be (similar in look) and adds a delicate new flavor that’s only just noticeable, but very delicious.
As I will be bringing this dish to a friend’s home, ideally I would bring the chowder mixture to their house, covered and on a towel on the floor of the backseat, commandeer a burner on their stove top, reheat, and throw in the clams and white pepper, and bring to serving temperature at that point.
My recommendation: Don’t travel with hot clam chowder. Just eat it at your house.
And don’t share.
I wish I had a better picture to share, but once the food hit the table everyone dug in. The chowder was rich and flavorful, the clam chunks abundant. It was excellent on a cold, wet day to celebrate New England! Go sports!
This week was incessant. Stressful, disappointing, overwhelming. It’s been months since I’ve written so little, but time keeps passing and life goes on. At the same time I’m writing so little, my brother is writing more than ever, hysterically documenting his trip to Thailand and parts beyond. The pictures are great and the writing very sarcasticly funny. I recommend it.
So after a
shitty, no good, very bad week, the weekend arrives in an attempt to break me out of my funk.
Saturday morning grocery shopping reminds me that weekends are for experimenting!
Tomorrow is game day! I have no idea what that means! All I do know is that most of the thirteen original colonies are so bad at American Football (a sport I abhor, by the way) that many of them had to apparently band together to form a single team: The New England Patriots. And what an intimidating mascot that is. A guy who really likes his country can defeat a Giant, no problem. I guess they operate under the power of positive thinking. Yeah, that’s totally super cool and masculine.
Sorry, bit of a rant there. So for this weekend, my husby is making a new red beans and rice recipe and I’m making clam chowder and sauteed fennel.
Today I’m going to post the fennel and beans.
My It’s So Good That It’s like Salty Candy Fennel:
2 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
2 heads Fennel, sliced in 1/4 – 1/3 inch slices
2 medium to large garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 small or 1 medium shallot, sliced thinly
1 TBSP ponzu
freshly ground black pepper
Growing up in a stereotypical Italian-American family, meant much of my youth was spent in or around a kitchen. My grandparents had an impressive garden, and as a kid bouncing around with a million cousins amongst the many legs of mother, aunts, and grandparents it was common for a hand from above to drop slices of fennel, tomatoes, figs, or hunks of other veggies in our paths. The flavors of ripe fruits and vegetables were abound, building a deep respect of their versatility in me at an early age, yet I didn’t have cooked fennel until I was a teen.
Often the flavor of fennel is described as a more delicate version of black licorice. I happen to like black licorice, but not because I like fennel. Fennel does have a unique flavor, but when it saute’s, it caramelizes, becoming sweet and a little smokey, much like an onion does. Generally when cooking, the first thing that hits the pan once the oil is hot is garlic, but in this super simple and quick recipe, garlic comes last. And this recipe is so quick that the longest part is the prep in slicing everything.
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Once the oil moves around the pan easily toss in the fennel, trying to keep the slices in one layer. Let them sit for 3 -4 minutes and then stir – or toss if you’re skilled – to continue caramelizing. After the fennel has been in the pan for about 5 minutes, add the shallots. After an additional 1-2 minutes, add the sliced garlic. You want the garlic to warm, but not brown. Add the Ponzu and continue cooking for an additional minute, stirring to coat. You want the fennel to be just tender, caramelized on the outside, but with a good bit of bite in the center. There’s nothing worse than mushy vegetables.
This is crazy delicious. It’s sweet and salty, it has bite, it’s just a little spicy from the barely cooked garlic, and it’s got great texture. It’s the dish that changes a dissenter’s mind about fennel. Now this as it is makes an excellent side dish and if you’re on Weight Watchers it’s next to Zero points. Immediately upon diving into this for lunch all I wanted was to have thrown in some shrimp the last 2-3 minutes of cooking and served with brown rice. Perhaps even a dash of Srirachi. That would have been a mega simple, quick, filling, and healthy dinner!…In fact, stay tuned for that recipe later in the week.
My husband has a bit of a man-crush on John Besh. And who can blame him. It’s impossible not to fall in love with all things N’Orleans and Besh is certainly an integral part of their current food culture. Chip likes to make his lunches for the week on the weekend prior and as I’ve gotten more interested in new recipes so has he. What used to be his standard Yakisoba or hummus and veggies lunch, has evolved to include homemade bean salads that change with the seasons, and now red beans and rice.
But this is serious red beans & rice. Chip choose to double the amount of red beans, added an extra ham hock, a little extra water and bacon grease, but otherwise his loyalty remained intact. Rendering bacon fat is easy, but it does make you house smell strongly of bacon. I only like to smell bacon right when I’m eating it. Then I need all evidence of it being cooked to disappear. This is because of one time when we were house hunting a few years ago. Chip and I walked into the most claustrophobic, messy home and it just reeked of bacon. We took one look at our realtor and read each others mind at once: Get Out! Ever since I just can’t stand the smell of that stuff, but I put the dislike to the side for today.
Rendering bacon fat is easiest if the bacon is cut into 1-1 1/2 inch chucks and cooked over low to medium-low heat. I did not cut up the bacon ’cause I didn’t want to smell like bacon for the rest of the day. No matter how many time I wash my fingers I swear they’ll smell of bacon for hours. You want all the fat to cook off, but you don’t want the grease to cook into brown bits.
John Besh’s Red Beans & Rice with “Chip Tweaks”
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 TBSP rendered bacon fat
2 pounds dried kidney beans
3 smoked ham hocks
3 bay leaves
1/2 cayenne pepper
3 green onions
salt and pepper
3 cups rice
In a heavy stock pot, Chip sweated the celery, peppers, and onion until the latter was translucent over medium high heat. Then he threw in the kidney beans, ham hocks, bay leaves, and dash of cayenne, and gently stirred everything together. After a few seconds of stirring, Chip poured water into the pot until the beans were submerged by 2 inches of liquid. Some items may float to the top, but that’s cool, let them do their thing. Just do you best to measure 2 inches above the beans.
At that point he cranked the heat to high and water for a boil. Once there was a good boil going, Chip turned the heat to low and covered to simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Everything needs to be covered by at least an inch of liquid at all times, so adding water periodically might be necessary, though I’m sure you could use chicken broth or low sodium stock as well. When the beans are crushed to a creamy consistency easily with the back of a spoon, everything was done. Chip removed the ham hocks, easily pulled the meat off the bone, roughly chopped it into small chunks, and then added it back to the pot.
He continued to reduce down the mixture until it was the consistency Chip wanted. You can make this as souped or thick and creamy as you want. And, yes, red beans are healthy for you, but when they’re cooked with ham hocks in veggies that were sauteed in bacon fat, I make no promises of their diet power.
For a final touch he added chopped green onion, salt and pepper, and hot sauce to his liking.
Red Beans & Rice finished and very tasty, rich and hearty without seeming too heavy. An excellent alternative to the usual winter stews and chicken soups.
Clam Chowder tomorrow!