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

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our town 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-lovers 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

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.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory cabbage pancakes)

Posted October 20, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Miscellaneous

Okonomiyaki is, in essence, just a fancy, savory cabbage pancake. In Japan it’s available in many regional variations—you’ll hear about Hiroshima okonomiyaki, Tokyo okonomiyaki, and so on. This relatively simple version should, I guess, be called Okayama okonomiyaki because that’s where my wife’s cousin lives (it’s her recipe). It is served with okonomiyaki sauce and traditionally eaten with hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) and a small metal spatula for cutting. And, of course, white rice and a selection of oshinko (Japanese pickles)! Our approach is to put a large electric skillet on the table and cook as we go along, but you can cook in the kitchen and keep warm in the oven.


1 c low protein flour such as White Lily or cake flour (not self-rising).
1 c water
½ lb small peeled shrimp, thinly sliced pork chop, chicken breast, or a combination
3 c thinly sliced (as for coleslaw) freshest green cabbage
1 egg
½ c bean sprouts
½ c slivered scallions

Mix the flour and water, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the egg. Mix the cabbage, sprouts, scallions, and shrimp/meat in a large bowl. Add the flour slurry and mix well.

Heat your skillet to medium-high and add some vegetable oil, just a thin layer. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage mixture in about 1 c dollops and use a large spatula to flatten each into a pancake about 3/4 inch thick. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip. Continue until cooked thru, but not mushy, and remove to a plate. Continue with the remaining cabbage mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot with the accompaniments mentioned above.

Miso-glazed chicken

Posted October 12, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Poultry

Miso, a fermented soybean paste, is a prime source of umami, the mysterious fifth flavor that is so valued. It comes in two basic varieties, white (milder and a bit sweet) and red (stronger and saltier). It makes a great coating for baked chicken.

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces (see note)
1/2 c white miso, or a mix of white and red
2 TB honey
1 TB soy sauce
4 TB softened butter
Black pepper

Note: This means 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and each breast piece cut crosswise into 2 pieces. Use the wings and trimmings for stock. Or, use 4 whole chicken legs, divided.

Put the chicken in a large bowl. Mix all the other ingredients until well blended–you may still have some flecks of butter visible. Add to the chicken and mix well. Place skin side up in a baking pan with some separation between pieces. Bake at 375f until nicely browned and the inside of a thigh registers 165f.

Hash browns at home

Posted October 8, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Breakfast, Sides, Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

A lot of folks, myself included, would think of these as a treat to have when eating breakfast at a diner. But they are so easy to make at home, so why wait? They are a simpler version of the classic Latkes and are a favorite accompaniment to breakfast.

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2 c finely chopped potatoes*
2 TB minced onion (optional)
2 TB bacon fat or vegetable oil (not butter)
3 TB heavy cream (optional)

If using onions, mix with the potatoes. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, medium heat. When a speck of potato starts to sizzle, add the potatoes. Use a spatula to shape and press them into a pancake no more than 1/2 inch thick. Let cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is nicely browned, 5-10 minutes. Flip over (easier if you cut the pancake in half first). If using cream, dribble over the potatoes. Continue cooking until the 2nd side is browned. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

* about the size of a raw navy bean, or a bit smaller

Gazpacho

Posted June 22, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Soups, Vegetarian

A wonderfully tasty and refreshing cold soup, perfect for the summer when the markets are bursting with super-fresh produce. There are jillions of recipes, here is mine. All proportions and amounts are approximate. The soup benefits from sitting for a few hours before serving, in the fridge, but it is not strictly necessary.

4 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium or 2 small cucumbers
1 small or 1/2 large sweet bell pepper, yellow preferred (for the color)
1/4 red onion
1 clove garlic
Jalapeño pepper, to taste (or omit)**
4 c tomato or V-8 juice
2 TB sherry vinegar
1/4 c best olive oil
Pepper

** An option to the jalapeño is to allow each diner to stir in hot sauce to their liking at the table.

Halve the tomatoes along the equator (not thru the stem) and remove seeds and pulp with a spoon. Set pulp aside in a strainer and save juice. Dice the tomatoes and put in a large bowl.

Seed and dice the cuke and sweet pepper, put in the same bowl.

Thinly slice, then dice, the onion. If it smells harsh, soak in hot tap water for 10 min, drain, then add.

Finely mince the jalapeño, if using, and add.

Peel the garlic and put thru a press into the bowl.

Add the tomato/V-8 juice plus the reserved juice, the vinegar, olive oil, and pepper. Stir well. Add salt if needed. Chill, preferably for a few hours, and serve.

 

 

BBQ ribs in the oven

Posted April 27, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Grilling, Pork

When you have a hankering for BBQ ribs but the weather prevents you from firing up the grill, try this. I confess to having been doubtful at first–how could an oven duplicate the flavor of cooking over wood or charcoal? I was pleasantly surprised.

The coffee, with its bitterness, mimics the slightly charred flavor of the grill, and the liquid smoke adds authentic smokiness (it is, after all, a natural product made from condensing wood smoke).

2 racks St. Louis style pork spareribs
1/2 c ground dark roast coffee
2 TB liquid smoke
1 TB salt
Store-bought BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

If it hasn’t been done already, remove the thin white membrane from the underside of the ribs. If desired, cut each rack in half crossways.

Put the coffee and 1 c water in a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 min. Strain thru a paper coffee filter or paper towel; discard grounds.

Add water to the coffee to make 3 c, then add the smoke and salt, stirring to dissolve. Put ribs, meat side down, in one layer in a roasting pan. Pour in the liquid, cover the pan tightly with foil, and bake for 90 min.

Remover meat and discard liquid. Brush the ribs on both sides with sauce and place on a rack on a rimmed cookie sheet. Return to the oven and bake for 90 min, brushing more sauce on the top after 45 min. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil, and let sit for 30 min before serving.


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