Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It was requested that I share three of my recipes that I listed on the menu, so here they are:

Thai-Style Chicken Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)
For a more substantial meal, serve the soup over jasmine rice.
Serves 6-8 as appetizer, 4 as main course

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 lemon grass talks, tough outer leaves removed, bottom 5 inches halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise
3 large shallots, chopped
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped coarse
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk, well shaken
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 lb white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and sliced on bias into 1/8 inch thick pieces (place in freezer for 30 min for easier slicing)
3 tablespoons juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 Serrano chilies, sliced thin (we leave these out because of the kids)
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add lemon grass, shallots, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce; cook, stirring frequently, until just softened, 2 to 5 minutes (vegetables should not brown). Stir in chicken broth and 1 can coconut mil; bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until flavors have blended, 10 min. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer and discard solids in strainer. Rinse saucepan and return broth mixture to pan.

2. Return pan to medium-high heat. Stir remaining can of coconut milk and sugar into broth mixture and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms, and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove soup from heat.

3. Combine lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce in small bowl; stir into soup. Ladle soup into bowl and garnish with cilantro, chiles, and scallions. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Herb-Crusted Pork Roast (from Cooks Illustrated)
If only "enhanced" pork is available (the label will state that the pork was injected with a water-salt solution), do not brine the roast. Instead, simply season the stuffed and tied roast with salt before browning. Note that you should not trim the pork of its layer of fat. While it is possible to substitute dried rosemary for fresh, do not substitute dried thyme for fresh or the herb crust will be dry and dusty tasting. The roasting time will vary widely depending on the thickness of the meat. The roast can be brined, stuffed, and tied a day ahead, but don't prepare the bread crumb topping until you are ready to cook.
Serves 4 - 6

2 1/2 - 3 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast (see note above)

Table salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 large slice hearty white sandwich bread , torn into pieces
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese , or pecorino cheese, (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons olive oil , plus an additional 2 teaspoons

Ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 large clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1. Following illustration 1 below, lightly score fat cap on pork, making 1/4-inch crosshatch pattern. Following illustrations 2 and 3, cut pocket in roast. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt and sugar in 2 quarts water in large container; submerge roast, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse roast under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about sixteen 1-second pulses (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Transfer crumbs to medium bowl (do not wash food processor workbowl) and add 2 tablespoons Parmesan, shallot, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using fork, toss mixture until crumbs are evenly coated with oil.

3. Add parsley or basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, 3 tablespoons oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to now-empty food processor workbowl and process until smooth, about twelve 1-second pulses. Transfer herb paste to small bowl.

4. Following illustrations 4 and 5, spread 1/4 cup herb paste inside roast and tie. Season roast with pepper (and salt, if using enhanced pork).

5. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add roast, fat side down, and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, lowering heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

6. Using scissors, snip and remove twine from roast; discard twine. Following photos below, spread remaining herb paste over roast and top with bread crumb mixture. Transfer baking sheet with roast to oven and cook until thickest part of roast registers 145 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 50 to 75 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 150 degrees. Using spatula and meat fork, transfer roast to carving board, taking care not to squeeze juices out of pocket in roast. Cut roast into 1/2-inch slices and serve immediately.

STEP BY STEP: Preparing Herb-Crusted Pork Roast

1. Score the Fat: Using sharp boning knife, lightly score fat cap on roast to make 1/4-inch crosshatch pattern.

2. Make First Incision: Starting 1/2 inch from end of roast, insert knife into middle of roast, with blade parallel to work surface.

3. Make the Pocket: Cut along side of pork, stopping 1/2 inch short of other end. Pull open roast and use gentle strokes to cut deeper pocket.

4. Stuff the Roast: Spread 1/4 cup herb paste evenly into pocket, using spatula and fingers to make sure paste reaches corners of pocket.

5. Tie the Roast: Fold roast over to original shape and tie at even intervals along its length with 3 pieces of kitchen twine.
STEP BY STEP: Building a Better Crust

Apply the Paste: After browning roast in skillet and removing kitchen twine, use rubber spatula to spread remaining herb paste evenly over top of roast.

Affix the Crumbs: Sprinkle Parmesan-laced bread crumbs on top of roast and then gently press them in with hands. Finish cooking roast in oven.

and finally,

White Chicken Chili (from Cooks Illustrated)
Adjust the heat in this dish by adding the minced ribs and seeds from the jalapeno as directed in step 6. If Anaheim chiles cannot be found, add an additional poblano and and jalapeno to the chili. This dish can also be successfully made by substituting chicken thighs for the breasts. If using thighs, increase the cooking time in step 4 to about 40 minutes. Serve chili with sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat and skin (we are using thighs)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium jalapeno chiles
3 medium poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into large pieces
3 medium Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
2 medium onions, cut into large pieces (2 cups)
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 (15-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons juice from 2-3 limes
1/4 minced fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, white and light green parts sliced thin

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos; mince flesh. In food processor, process half of poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions until consistency of chunky salsa, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of workbowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor blade or workbowl).

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapenos, chile-onion mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now empty food processor bowl. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees (175 degrees if using thighs) on instant read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes (40 for thighs).

5. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plat. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. Mince remaining jalapeno, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds, (see note), and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite size pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions and remaining minced jalapeno (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

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