Monthly Archives: March 2010

Mad Easy DIY Chicken Stock

I cut up some whole chickens and saved the backs and necks. I had about 2 lbs worth sitting in the freezer so I decided why not give this stock thing a shot. I checked out a few recipes around the web to get some ideas and then I delved into my stock adventure. I felt that making chicken stock should be uncomplicated and an easy way to reuse scrap parts. So, with that in mind, I set out to make my own…I grabbed my scraps, some veggies, fresh herbs, and spices and tossed everything in a pot with water and let it simmer for a long ass time. A couple of additional steps were needed to refine the stock, but nothing crazy…strain it, fridge it overnight, then bottle, bag, store, and freeze the next day. Dunzo.

Prep time: ~10mins
Cook time: ~8hrs + overnight chill in fridge

Get yourself:

  • ~2-3lb Chicken parts (backs, necks, leftover carcass, etc.)
  • ~1C White wine
  • ~6 Stalks celery
  • ~2C baby carrots or 4 whole carrots halved
  • ~6-8 Parsley bunches with stems attached
  • ~10 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic smashed and skin removed
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Onion, top and bottom cut off and peeled
  • 1.5T Peppercorns
  • 1.5T Kosher salt
  • ~2Gallons water
  • Big sauce pot
  • Mason jar
  • Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Patience
  • A day when you can leave a pot on simmer for ~8hrs

Thawed chicken goes in pot

If you don’t have scrap chicken you can buy chicken backs at the supermarket…

…dirt cheap

Toss all of your veggies and herbs into the pot

Don’t kill yourself just rough chop, tear, throw in whole, who cares?

Toss in your peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves

Add in your wine and water

Water amount will vary depending on the size of your pot…

Don’t sweat it, just make sure it’s enough to cover all of the ingredients by at least 2″

Simmer for ~8hrs

Don’t boil (something about fat emulsification and cloudy stock)

When it’s finally done, strain all of it through a sieve

You can save the chicken and carrots, let cool, remove bones, and feed to dogs

My little guys loved it…

…nothing goes to waste!

(optional) Line sieve with mad layers of cheese cloth and strain again

Depends how fanatical you are…

Throw the stock pot in the fridge to cool overnight

Fat will harden on the top

Using a big spoon, skim all the fat off the top and trash it

You can strain again to get all the little fat pieces that get away from you…

…kinda like the last cheerio in the milk that you swear is intentionally swimming away from your spoon

Big bowl of stock

Time to store it…

Ahhhh…ladle some of that liquid gold into a glass jar

Freeze the rest

Here’s how…

Stuff a Ziploc sandwich bag into a 16oz cup and drape over

Grab your ladle

Fill with ~2 ladle’s worth of stock

Seal and set aside

Do this until all stock is used up

Store the Ziploc bags in a big Ziploc freezer bag

When you’re ready to use just take out to defrost

I ended up getting ~10 sandwich bags of stock…

Come on, how freakin’ easy is that?!

Stop wasting money on that garbage loaded with MSG and make your own!

…you’re welcome…

🙂

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Chicken Scarpariello

Chicken scar-par-ri-ello…bet you never heard of this one before. Think sausage and peppers marries chicken cacciatore and they have a menage a trois with hot peppers. This dish is jam-packed with flavor from the get-go, but truth-be-told it tastes even better the next day.

Serves: 6
Prep time: ~10mins
Cook time: ~40mins

Printable Recipe

Get yourself:

  • .25C Extra virgin olive oil
  • .5C Vegetable oil
  • 6 Italian sausage (mixed hot and sweet), keep in casing and cut each link into quarters
  • 4lbs Mixed chicken pieces (I used a fryer pack with legs, thighs, and wings)
  • .5 12oz Jar sliced sweet peppers (reserve juice)
  • 1 12oz Jar sliced hot cherry peppers
  • 1.5lbs Baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked and sliced
  • 3 Bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 2 Medium sweet onions, cut in half through root end and sliced into strips
  • 2 Cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1C Chicken broth
  • 1/2C Dry sherry or white wine
  • 1/2C vinegar from jar of sweet peppers
  • 1T Dried oregano leaves
  • 1t Garlic powder
  • S&Cracked pepper to taste

Heat up the oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet

Grab your sausages

When the oil in the skillet is nice and hot…

Saute the sausage until browned on both sides, ~5-7mins

When done, remove with tongs to a plate lined with paper towels

In the same skillet, add the chicken and brown on both sides

When chicken is done remove with tongs to a paper towel lined plate, set aside

While the chicken browns start on the veggies

Slice up the bells into strips, about 1/4″ thick

Slice onions in half through the root end and cut each half into strips

Cook and slice up your potatoes

Check this out to see how to make potatoes real quick in the mic:

Quick Cook Potatoes

Cook peppers, onions, and garlic over medium-high until soft and beginning to brown

Once peppers and onions are done you can add in the sausage and chicken…

and…

The sweet peppers, hot peppers, potatoes, oregano, chicken stock, wine, garlic powder, reserved vinegar, and s&p

Stir it all up

Bring to a boil for ~5mins

Reduce heat to simmer and cook ~25 minutes

Taste and adjust for seasoning

Serve as is with some crusty artisan bread, over rice, or throw into some Italian bread for a  badass sandwich

Don’t get me wrong it’s good, but just wait until the next day and you’ll see what I’m talking about

Beer Tasting: Flying Fish Exit Series & Brooklyn Local 1

I had a chance to taste some pretty interesting beers this past weekend. Gotta love it when someone shows up to dinner with a drink you have never heard of or seen…

[enthusiastic beer guy] “Dude, check it out. This beer is going to change your life!”

[me] “That’s a pretty bold statement.”

[enthusiastic beer guy] “Seriously, this stuff is great you’re going to love it. Where’s the bottle opener?!”

[me] “Man, you didn’t even take your jacket off yet, chill for a sec.”

[me] “Let me break out the frosted mugs, hang on.”

[enthusiastic beer guy] “So you ready?! This Exit Series is brewed with oysters!”

[me] “Like the crackers?”

[enthusiastic beer guy] “No doofus, real oysters from the ocean!”

[me] “expletive”

[enthusiastic beer guy] “Shut up and try it, I guarantee you will eat your words.”

And so I did…eat my words. The first beer we tried was the Exit Series by Flying Fish Brewery based out of Cherry Hill, NJ…

Yup, it’s really brewed with oysters, read it for yourself…

Here’s what the website has to say about that…

“Oysters and stout had long been associated in the UK, but the tradition was gradually lost.  Exit 1, an “export style” stout brewed with oysters, celebrates this tasty combination.  The creamy flavor of English chocolate and roasted malts harmonizes with minerals from the oyster shells.  Irish ale yeast adds a bit of fruitiness and a dry crispness.  This rich stout is perfect for cool weather–and especially delicious when paired with a few Jersey oysters on the half shell.”

You’re dying to know…

No, it doesn’t taste like oysters…at all. If this were a blind tasting I would never have never known this beer was brewed with oysters. In fact, I’m not convinced the oysters really added much flavor to the beer whatsoever except for maybe a little brine. The beer poured black as night and had a light foamy head. The nose was earthy, slightly smokey, with a   little burnt coffee coming through (think Manhattan Special). It was creamy and had hints of coffee, chocolate, brine, and hoppy bitterness.

An interesting, tasty, and solid beer that took me by surprise. I’d have this again and maybe actually pair it with some oysters on the half shell.

Next up…

…was a beer brewed straight out of  Brooklyn, NY

A Belgium Strong Pale Ale with 9% ABV…

This guy right here was really tasty and reminded me of mead or honey wine. It was a nice golden color, a bit cloudy, it was pleasantly bitter and full of flavor. I definitely tasted citrus, honey, and apricots. Went down smooth and had a nice after taste. I’d have this again.

This guy definitely knows his beer…can’t wait to see what he brings over next!

Salute!

Roasted Peppers DIY

One thing I don’t like to do is buy food that I know I can make myself. It’s my inner evolutionary instinct for self-sufficiency, I guess. One of those foods that I rather make instead of buying is roasted bell peppers. Not only is it cheaper to make your own, but FAR tastier than their jarred counterpart. Roasting fresh bell peppers will yield a sweet, nutty, smokey flesh that can play the lead role or just be in the background of many dishes. One of my favorite ways to eat roasted peppers is with fresh mozzarella, I’m talking the real good quality stuff made fresh at a local salumeria. Just sprinkle some sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and you have yourself an indulgent little appetizer.

Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins

Get yourself:

  • 4-6 Red bell peppers
  • 1 Clove fresh garlic smashed
  • 1 Clove roasted garlic
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 4T Good quality olive oil
  • Large Ziploc freezer bag or something to let the peppers cool in
  • Mason jar, 1 pint or quart depending on how many peppers you roast

Let’s roast some peppers!

Find yourself some nice big bell peppers with thick flesh

Remove stickers, rinse, dry

Line a cookie tray with foil and place peppers side by side

Set oven rack about 5 inches under broiler and turn broiler on

Pop under the broiler

Keep oven door slightly ajar using an oven mitt

Allow skin to blister and blacken

Remove from oven and turn peppers over

Blister and blacken entire outside of pepper

When peppers are evenly blistered and blackened…

Pop them into a Ziploc freezer bag or glass bowl

Seal bag or cover bowl and allow peppers to cool for ~30mins

While peppers cool, prep your jar that you’ll be storing peppers in

Smash one clove of garlic and remove skin

Pop into jar

If you have some…add one clove roasted garlic to jar

Peel skin from flesh then remove core and seeds

Dump peppers into a bowl with juices that collected while cooling

Tear flesh into strips

Pour the strips of roasted peppers and juice into jar

Pour a few tablespoons of good quality olive oil into jar

Add s&p

Stir gently to mix everything together

There you have it…

Your very own homemade jar of the best roasted peppers…

Ever

Period

Roasted Chicken with Veggies

Spring is right around the corner so I decided to make  a last-ditch effort to create a winter-ish dish. Not like anyone wants to be reminded of winter, but I figured it was the least I could to politely say bon voyage. So, as usual, I hit up the cookbooks and flipped through some of Ina Garten’s recipes (she rocks FYI), then I hit up the google to find some recipes and came across the Amateur Gourmet’s rendition of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc @ home roasted chicken. This looked really good and I was sold. Time to roast me a chicken and root vegetables…

“Hey, I’m looking for a rutabaga”

“Sure, over there in the barrel”

“The thing that says turnips?!”

“Yea”

“But I’m looking for a rutabaga…”

“Yea, same thing”

“Uh, OK, thanks…”

Good thing for produce guy and his thorough explanation right?! I mean, I would never know the difference if it weren’t for his extensive produce knowledge. Thanks vague produce man, thanks.

Anyway, who cares about turnips and rutabagas, let’s the roast the damn things and eat ’em. According to the Amateur Gourmet guy it’s worth it…

Serves: ~4
Prep time: ~25mins
Cook time: ~2hrs
Total time: Freakin’ long but worth it

Get yourself:

  • 1 4-4.5lb Chicken
  • 2 Rutabagas
  • 2 Turnips
  • 2 Leeks
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 8-10 Small red potatoes
  • 8 Long carrots
  • 1 Small head of garlic
  • 1 Lemon
  • 4T Butter
  • 1t Rendered duck fat (optional)
  • .5C Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • Butchers twine or something to truss the chicken
  • Big ass roasting pan or cast iron skillet
  • Digital thermo because when the temp hits 160F that chicken is done!

First things first, if you want crispy skin then you should let your chicken air dry on the counter for 2 hours before cooking. Then you should take some paper towels and dab the skin to absorb any residual moisture.

Dry skin = Crispy skin

Now we can move on…

Preheat oven to 425

Prep your veggies

I know it looks like a daunting mountain of veggies to peel

Put some music on and get to preppin’

Let’s start with the leeks

Cut the dark green off

I feel like I’m wasting money when I buy these I mean you end up cutting and tossing half of it away

Now, stand it up and slice almost in half

Turn, slice almost in half again

Got it?!

The veg, the myth, the legend…the rutabaga

It’s waxed

Peel off the outer skin and then cut into wedges

Rutabaga, done

Turnip time

Same thing

Peel and then wedges

For the onion just cut the tip off lay flat

Then cut through the root end into quarters

Pull three cloves of garlic off the head, peel and smash with knife

Quarter your carrots

Gather 4 stalks of thyme

Rinse potatoes, but leave whole and unpeeled

Add all of these plus the veggies from above into a big bowl

Toss in the olive oil and 1tsp each of salt and pepper

Mix it all up real good and throw ’em into whatever your baking them in

I used a nice big cast iron pan

Veggie’s, done

Chicken time…

Separate the skin from the flesh with your fingers

Inconspicuously slip 4T of butter under the skin

I rubbed duck fat all over the skin, but you can use butter or a light oil like canola

Sprinkle 1tsp salt and cracked black pepper over the chicken skin

oh yea, don’t forget to remove the giblets from the cavity

Add 1 tsp of salt and pepper to cavity

Quarter your lemon and stuff it in

Stick the remainder of the thyme stalks in

Get the remaining head of garlic and slice the top off, stuff it in there

Truss the chicken legs and tuck the wing tips under the body

Push the veggies to the side and nestle the chicken right in the middle of the whole thing

Put in the 425F oven feet first

Roast for 25mins

Drop oven temp to 400F

Rotate so the feet are facing you

Roast for 45mins or until a meat thermo reads 160F

In due time, a gorgeous, fragrant, crispy chicken will grace you with its presence

Put the chicken aside and let rest so the juices can redistribute

You can throw a foil tent over it

I like my roasted veggies really caramelized so at this point I threw ’em back in for another 25mins

That’s all folks…

A classic roast chicken

If you’re into roast chicken and veggies then this is right up your alley

The chicken was SO juicy and had great flavor

Skin was crispy and buttery

The veggies were packed with flavor

Definitely a go-to comfort dish

Enjoy!!

Escarole & Beans

Escarole and beans is an Italian classic, except in my house it’s more like–‘shcarole and beans. Escarole, for those not familiar with it, is like something between romaine lettuce and Bok Choy…it’s really good, I promise.  This is the type of soup where you sop up the juices with a big ol’ chunk of crusty artisan bread and then go back for more. It’s all good though because it’s healthy, and we like healthy…sometimes.

Serves: ~6-8
Total time: ~30mins

Get yourself:

  • 2 Heads escarole
  • 2 Cans or 4 cups Cannellini beans (drained)
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic (If only using fresh, 5 cloves sliced thin)
  • 8 Cloves roasted garlic (If you haven’t roasted garlic yet, now might be the time)
  • 1 Can plum tomatoes
  • 1 C Chicken broth (Pacific Organic; it has great flavor)
  • 1 C Beef broth (Same brand as chicken)
  • 1 C reserved tomato juice
  • 1 C Water
  • .5 C Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5t Kosher salt
  • 1t Black pepper
  • 1 Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • .5 Box Ditalini pasta
  • Pecorino Romano for the finish

The most laborious part of this dish is cleaning the escarole. Seriously, I don’t know what it is with this stuff but it’s like it gets sprayed with dirt before it’s shipped out. Fill your sink with cold water, discard discolored and broken leaves, and toss into the water. Swoosh it all around to loosen the dirt and rinse each leaf.

Fill a big ass pot with ~2″ water, break up your escarole and toss in

Bring flame to medium heat and cover

Escarole will wilt down…

…and shrink, a lot!

Drain in a colander and if you have a spinner then spin some of the water off

Prep your garlic

Don’t you dare skimp on the garlic…

and seriously, if you haven’t roasted garlic yet, you should…

the mellow roasted garlic flavor disperses throughout the broth and makes the dish 10x better

Add the red pepper, fresh, and mashed roasted garlic to the olive oil

Saute for a couple mins over medium heat

While the garlic does its thing…

Grab those tomatoes and drain the juice off into a bowl

Crush tomatoes by hand while dodging the juice that squirts out

Toss the escarole and tomatoes into the pot and stir

Sprinkle a little of that salt and pepper on

Add in all of your broth, tomato juice, and water

Break open your beans

If you’re a bean connoisseur and prefer fresh beans, well, that’s your problem…

The canned ones are perfect and probably even preferable in this dish

Drain the bean juice

Toss ’em in

Stir it up

Add the rest of the salt and pepper

Taste, say mmmmmmm…

Bring to a simmer for ~10 mins

Add 1/2 a box of Ditalini pasta directly to the soup

Raise flame to medium and let pasta cook for ~10mins or until al dente

Taste for salt and pepper

Don’t add garlic powder, please.

There she is ladies and gentlemen…

‘Scharole and beans

Top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano and cracked black pepper

Tear off a fat chunk of Italian bread

Sit at the table in a white v-neck tee and mangia!

In the words of my girl Lidia Bastianich…

“TUTTI A TAVOLA, A MANGIARE!”
“Everyone (come) to the table, to eat”

p.s. there’s plenty of leftovers if you’re only two people…

Focaccia 2 Ways

It’s Friday night. You cooked all week and you’re probably looking for something uncomplicated to cook tonight.

[enter stage left] Focaccia

[shocked audience] But Focaccia, you are boring compared to Pepperoni pizza!

[an insulted Foccacia] How dare you say this! I am far better than a greasy slice of pizza. I have depth of flavor, I’m voluminous, I smell fantastic, and I can wear almost anything.

[pondering audience] Well, if you are so much better than why don’t we see more of you?!

[defensive Focaccia] Ah! You see, my dear peoples, you are afraid to embrace me. You say I am hard to understand, “Is he a bread or is he a pizza?!”  You misjudge me as being fickle and cumbersome. You say I’m a bit of a prima donna because I like to be gently massaged with oil then baked in a pan . My friends, these are shameful lies! Please know I am not who you have painted me as. I beg you to see past these misconceptions and accept me for the easy, versatile,  and delicious food that I am.

[confused audience] Ummm…OK, but seriously, what are you a bread or a pizza?!

[fed up focaccia] Simpleton’s!

[audience storms stage; Focaccia makes a run for it; screams heard in the distance]

Before you get started, click here for a refresher on making dough.

Apply the same dough making techniques, except use the slightly modified recipe below.

You can easily halve the recipe

Focaccia Dough
Inspired by ABin5
  • 6C AP flour
  • 2 1/4C lukewarm water
  • 1 1/4T active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 3/4T Sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2T
  • 8 Cloves roasted garlic mash (optional)

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Whip up a batch of this dough and let it proof until it doubles in size
  • Punch it down
  • Cut off 1lb portions (I made two and stored the rest of the dough in the fridge)
  • Form the dough into balls; dust with a little flour
  • Let rest in oiled pan for ~20mins

Caramelized Onion & Rosemary Focaccia

  • 1lb Dough ball
  • .5 Onion sliced into strips
  • 1T Dried Rosemary
  • 2T EVOO
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper

Brush a 9″ nonstick round pan with 1T EVOO

Plop your dough in and roll it around in the oil

Let dough rest for 20mins

Chop half an onion into strips

Add 1T of oil to frying pan, add onions, fry over medium-high heat

Toss…it’s fun

Onions are done when they turn a light golden brown

Don’t over-cook, they will caramelize in the oven

Spread the dough out to fill the pan

Use your fingers to make indentations into the dough

Top with the onions, don’t smother

Sprinkle with rosemary, sea salt, and cracked black pepper

Bake in a 375F oven for ~30mins

Dough will poof up in the oven

Focaccia is ready when it’s golden brown

Fresh Mozzarella Focaccia

  • 1lb Dough ball
  • Pizza sauce
  • 6oz Fresh mozzarella sliced
  • Salt & Pepper

Bake focaccia with a little bit of sauce in a 375F oven

Take it out when it doubles in size, ~20mins

Top with fresh mozz and a little more sauce

Pop in oven for ~5mins

Cheese should be melted

Carefully remove from pan

Let cool a little bit

After you stop staring at this pic…

Go make some and dig in!

Mangia, mangia!!