Mediterranean-style lamb shanks

Posted March 23, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Lamb

Lamb shanks are one of our faves, and this is a lovely way to do them. Za’atar is a spice mixture that has been used for ages in the middle east. There is no one fixed recipe for it, but the three base ingredients are thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Middle Eastern markets will carry it and of course you can get it by mail order. A pressure cooker is ideal, but not required. I serve this with rice or couscous.

4 lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 c pitted and halved kalamata olives
1 TB za’atar
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 c beef or chicken stock

Pat the shanks dry, salt and pepper then and dust with some flour. Brown on all sides in a bit of olive oil. Remove from pan. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft. Add olives, wine, and stock and return shanks to pan. Sprinkle za’atar over all.

To pressure cook: Bring up to pressure using the high setting (if your cooker gives a choice). Cook for 1 hour, let the pressure release on its own for 15 min., then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove the shanks and keep warm. Boil the liquid down rapidly until it is the desired consistency. Skim off excess fat if needed. Spoon some sauce over the shanks and pass the rest at the table.

Regular cooking: The steps are essentially the same as above, but simmer gently for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Check the liquid now and then and add more stock if needed.

Porridge bread (oat bread)

Posted March 16, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Baking, Bread, Uncategorized

This is the best oat bread I have ever tasted. It makes marvelous toast and great sandwiches. I will warn you, it is not a bread for novices as it requires some judgement based on experience.

bread

2 c porridge (oatmeal) – see note below
5 c all-purpose flour + extra if needed
1 envelope yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
2 tsp salt
3 TB maple syrup or dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c plain mashed potatoes
½ stick butter cut in pieces and softened
1 c warmed milk

Note: Put 1 cup oats and 2-1/4 c water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until almost tender. This will take maybe 12 min for steel-cut oats and less time for rolled oats. I don’t recommend the instant kind. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 10 min. Let cool before using.

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for a few minutes. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, which it probably will, add more flour until the dough clears the sides but still sticks to the bottom. Make sure the bits of butter are being incorporated.

After 5-6 min, turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead by hand briefly to form a compact ball. Put in a greased bowl and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto the counter again and divide in 2 equal parts. Knead each part and form into a log about 8 inches long. Place each log in a greased loaf pan (I use the standard 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch size) and let rise until the dough is above the lip of the pan by about ½ inch. Bake at 350o for 30-35 min. Take out of oven and brush the top with oil or melted butter. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10-15 min and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

 

Chicken gravy without a chicken

Posted March 4, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Miscellaneous, Poultry, Sides

When I roast a chicken, I really  like to have gravy with it. But you won’t have the carcass to make stock until the chicken’s been eaten, and in my experience there are never enough pan drippings for good gravy. There’s no need to resort to the jarred stuff, here’s how to make your own before you cook the chicken. I use wings for this because, weight for weight, they have more skin, and they are usually cheaper than other cuts. You can finish this recipe in a slow cooker, on the stove top, or in a pressure cooker.

2 to 2-1/2 lbs whole or cut up chicken wings (about 12 wings)

Put the wings in a single layer in a roasting pan and pop into a 450° oven. Roast undisturbed until the wings have turned a lovely dark golden brown. Remove the wings to your stock pot, don’t worry if some skin sticks to the roasting pan.

If more fat has accumulated in the roasting pan than you want, pour it off. Put the roasting pan over low heat and add 2 c water. Bring to a gentle simmer while using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the stock pot.

1 large carrot in big chunks. No need to peel if the carrot is clean.
1 celery rib in big chunks
1/2 a medium (baseball size) onion cut in 2 pieces. No need to peel if the onion is clean.
2 halved garlic cloves, unpeeled (optional)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage OR 1/2 tsp dried thyme OR 2 bay leaves (optional)
6 whole peppercorns
Big pinch of salt

Put all the above in your stock pot and add water to cover by about an inch. Cook as follows:

  • Pressure cooker: Cook for 1 hour once the cooker has reached pressure. Let pressure release on its own for 15 min then release the remaining pressure manually.
  • Stovetop: Bring almost to a boil and then cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for 4 hours.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on the high setting for 10-12 hours.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove most of the solids. You can pick the meat off the bones for your dog or cat if you wish, but otherwise discard–99% of the flavor has been cooked out. Strain the liquid thru a fine-meshed strainer. If there’s more fat than you want, use a fat separator to remove it.

This recipe makes 2 c of gravy. You can scale it up or down as needed. Leftover stock can be frozen almost indefinitely. If you have saved some of the chicken fat, you can use it in place of the butter. For a cream gravy, replace 1/4 c of the stock with half and half.

2 TB butter
3 TB all-purpose flour
2 c stock

Melt 2 TB butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir over medium-low heat until completely combined. Add 1/4 c stock and stir until you have a smooth paste–the mixture should be gently bubbling through all this. Continue adding stock in 1/4 c increments, stirring each time until completely smooth. A small whisk is ideal for this. Once you have added 1 c of stock, add the rest all at once. Stir and simmer until completely smooth and thickened. Taste for salt and correct if needed.

Plaki (Greek fish in a pouch)

Posted February 17, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Seafood, Uncategorized

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our that served the most delicious plaki. When they closed we decided to try to develop our own recipe. This is what we came up with, and while it strays from the traditional recipe a bit, it sure is good! And it’s a great dish for company. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice, a green salad, and (of course) white wine.

The amount of vegetables can be varied. You can use less, say 1/2 c per fillet and you will get the flavor, or as we like to do about 1-1/2 c per fillet and you will have your veg dish cooked along with the fish.

You can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, snapper, flounder, etc. Try to get fillets that are about 1 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400o

Four single serving-size fish fillets, or 2 larger fillets cut in half crosswise
Thinly julienned fennel bulb, onion, and carrot (see note above)
½ c roughly chopped kalamata black olives
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

4 sheets of parchment paper, each large enough to wrap 1 fillet

Mix the julienned vegetable and the olives in a bowl. Use roughly equal amounts of fennel, carrot, and onion—it’s not critical—but we are fennel-loves and always add extra. Dribble with olive oil, maybe 2 TB, and season with S&P. Mix.

Place 1 fillet on each piece of parchment and season. Mound the veg mixture equally on them. Drizzle with a bit more oil and lay 2 lemon slices atop each. Wrap up the parchment paper and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 min. Place 1 pouch on each diner’s plate, cut open with scissors, and serve.

Variation: Add ½ c drained, diced tomatoes and/or 2 cloves minced garlic to the veg mixture.

Korean-style chicken wings

Posted January 18, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Poultry

Korean chicken wings are often deep-fried, which is certainly tasty but more hassle than many people want to go thru at home. With baking, you still get an excellent result with much less work. I provide  two methods–one is more involved but gives a better skin texture while the other is dead-simple but still excellent.

If you cannot find gochujang, sriracha is a good substitute. But given that sriracha is garlicky and gochujang is not, you might want to cut down on the minced garlic.

Ingredients

12 chicken wings, tips discarded and separated into drumettes and wingettes.
1/2 c gochujang
1 TB finely minced garlic
2 TB toasted white sesame seeds
Salt and pepper

The more involved method

Place the wings in a steamer, bring to a boil, and steam for 12 minutes. Remove, pat dry, and place on a rack on a baking sheet. Set in the fridge for at least an hour to dry. Remove baking sheet and put in 425 degree oven and bake for 30 min. Remove from oven and transfer wings to a bowl. Toss with a bit of salt and pepper and the garlic and gochujang. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 min. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Simpler method

Follow the above steps but omit the steaming, putting the wings on the rack directly into the oven. Make the first bake 40 minutes, then proceed as above.

Mexican chicken enchilada casserole

Posted January 7, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Poultry, Uncategorized

Greatly simplified by the use of a jarred enchilada sauce. Homemade tortillas are best, but not necessary.

About 12-6 inch corn tortillas, preferably home made
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Adobo seasoning (preferred) or chili powder
1 small or ½ large green bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 cans red or green enchilada sauce (you may have extra, which can be frozen.)
1 small can chopped jalapeño peppers, or 2 fresh
1-12 oz package shredded Mexican cheese blend

If you have a sous vide gadget, dust the chicken with adobo seasoning or chili powder. Seal in the bag and sous vide at 165o for 90 min. Remove from bag and shred. Set aside.

Lacking a sous vide, poach the chicken in gently simmering salted water for 25 min. Remove to bowl and shred, then dust with adobo or chili. Set aside.

Seed the bell pepper, peel the onion, and dice. If using fresh jalapeños, seed and mince.  Sauté all in a little oil for a few minutes. If using canned jalapeños, add them at the end. Set aside

Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a 12” square casserole. Cover with a single layer of tortillas, cutting to fit as needed. Distribute 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the pepper mixture, ¼ of the cheese, and enough sauce to just cover. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with a layer of tortillas, then sauce, then the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at the middle level in a 350o oven until bubbling around the edges, about 40 min. Let cool for 10 min before serving.

Roast game hens with red rice and fruit stuffing

Posted November 29, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Poultry

Red rice has a slightly nutty flavor that works perfectly in this recipe. Cooking it like pasta–lots of water–gives the best results.

2 Cornish game hens
Salt, sugar
1/2 c raw red rice
1/3 c raisins or currants
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c chopped celery
1/4 c chopped onion

Remove giblets from the birds and put them (the birds!) in a soup pot. Add cold tap water to cover the birds, measuring the water as you go along. Remove the birds and add, for each quart of water that you used, 1/4 c kosher salt and 2 TB sugar and stir to dissolve. Return the birds to the brine, make sure they are fully submerged, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Bring 4 c water to a boil and add 2 tsp salt. Add rice, stir and lower heat to a simmer. Start checking after 30 minutes, and when done to your liking drain thru a strainer and set aside in a bowl.

Put the pine nuts in a small saute pan over medium heat. Shake the pan frequently and when toasted to a light brown add to the rice. Add a bit of oil to the same pan and saute the celery and onion for about 5 min. Add to rice along with cranberries and raisins. Mix well and taste for seasoning.

Remove the birds from the brine (discard brine) and pat dry. Stuff the cavities (you will likely have some leftover stuffing) and tie shut with small skewers and kitchen twine. Tuck the wing tips under the body and, if necessary, tie the ends of the drumsticks together. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast at 375 for about 90 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer in the thigh and when the internal temp reaches 165 remove from oven. Let rest for 10 min before serving.


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