Thursday, October 29, 2015

Devilishly Good Chicken!

Foods that are highly seasoned (e.g., mustard, chilies, etc.) or sinfully rich (e.g., chocolate cake) have been referred to as "deviled" since the 18th century. In 1868, The William Underwood Company began selling a mixture of ground ham with seasonings which they named "deviled ham." In fact, their devil logo is one of the oldest trademarked logo still in use today. While I love highly seasoned food, canned ham is not my kind of thing. Trust me. I used to audit food processing plants (like Ballpark Franks), haven't eaten one since!
Image result for deviled ham
The original Underwood Deviled Ham logo.
With Halloween almost here, I want to share this wickedly addictive recipe from Williams-Sonoma for "Chicken Thighs Diavolo." Diavolo means devil in Italian, but only dishes invented by Italian-Americans use the term. In Italy, they would refer to a spicy dish as all-arrabiata meaning "angry-style." I digress. Anyway, these chicken thighs are marinated in a wonderful blend of cider vinegar and five different chili spices, then grilled to juicy perfection. Delicious! I love this marinade so much! In addition, you could use it on practically any cut of chicken or even pork. I don't know who created this spice blend, but they must have sold their soul to the devil to create it!


Chicken Thighs Diavolo

Serves 6

Ingredients:
For the marinade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste or red pepper flakes (I use Chili Garlic Sauce by Huy Fung Foods, Inc.)
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce (I use Cholula.)
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken Thighs
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of any excess skin and fat
1 or 2 handfuls wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes. (I use mesquite.)
1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan

Directions:
In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk until the salt and granulated garlic dissolve. Taste and adjust the seasonings; the sauce should be bright red and very spicy. Pour half the sauce into a small serving bowl and set aside.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, score the chicken to the bone in several places to expose the flesh. Place the chicken in a large disposable aluminum roasting pan, pour the remaining sauce over the top and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.

For a charcoal grill: Sprinkle the wood chips over the coals. Place the pan with the thighs on the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the coals, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

For a gas grill: Increase a burner to high. Heat a smoker box half full of chips until smoking, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the pan with the thighs over unlit burners, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the heat, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Serve immediately and pass the reserved sauce alongside.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall for Cashmere Potatoes

The first frost of the season is predicted for tomorrow. Brr! Fall is officially here. It's time to resuscitate my beloved cashmere sweaters that have been whimpering in my closet all summer long. Hooray! In honor of the occasion, I want to share a wonderful recipe for "Roasted Rosemary Potatoes" from the king of Italian cashmere, Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli headquarters in Solomeo, Italy.

Cucinelli began his luxury brand in 1978, which now consists of the finest Mongolian cashmere, silk, suede, and shearling. His headquarters are located in a completely restored medieval hilltop villa in Solomeo, Italy. Complete with a castle, church, piazza, and amphitheater, it also contains what can only be described as the world's most historic and, of course, luxurious cafeteria. The cafeteria is decked out with crest-bearing china, bottles of local wine, and Cucinelli's own olive oil. However, the food is not created by world-famous chefs, rather three Umbrian women who make everything from scratch and traditional, like these potatoes. 

This recipe caught my eye because the potatoes are parcooked in vinegar water, which sets the starches prior to baking. They are then tossed with garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper, and white wine. The result is a more refined and elegant dish that has become a favorite in my household. I make them whenever I roast pork, and always with Arista (Tuscan Roast Pork Loin). While the Cucinelli brand is far beyond my means (Thank God for JCrew), I can always make this luxurious recipe and dream.


Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (aka., Cashmere Potatoes)

Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold; about 5), peeled, cut into 3/4" wedges
4 garlic cloves, smashed
6 small sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup dry white wine (*Cooking Tip: You can always use shelf-stable Vermouth, which I always have tucked away in my kitchen.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, and 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; drain.



Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with garlic, rosemary, wine, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes, tossing occasionally, until completely tender and just beginning to brown, 35-45 minutes. 

Recipe from the June 2013 Bon Appetit.

Monday, October 5, 2015

We Don't Truss Lawyers

Thomas Keller is a multiple 3-star Michelin Guide chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author. He owns many restaurants, Bouchon, Per Se, and Ad Hoc; but, The French Laundry in Yountville, California is where the magic began. He has received numerous awards, and is considered one, if not the Best American Chef. No wonder his recipe for Mon Poulet Roti is hands-down the best roast chicken EVER! Believe it or not, it is also the simplest I've ever made. The keys to this recipe is a dry chicken, a "rain" of salt, and being able to truss a chicken.  Can't truss?  Watch this:


Got it?  Now make this juicy, crispy, delicious chicken!


Mon Poulet Roti:

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:

For the chicken:
One 2-3 pound fresh chicken (if the chicken is slightly larger, like 4-5 pounds, roast it for an additional 15 minutes in the oven)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)

To serve:
Unsalted butter (optional)
Dijon mustard

Directions:

"Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.

Now, salt the chicken-I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon).  When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin.  Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a saute pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone-I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board." (When I make this, I don't baste the chicken until cut and served, otherwise it ruins the crispy skin.)

Remove the twine, carve it up how you like it (with bones/deboned), and serve with fresh butter to slather over the meat (optional) and dijon mustard on the side.  I like to serve this with mashed potatoes and those amazing french green beans called harticot vert. You won't believe how good this is!  Thank you, Keller!