Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Post-Holiday Cooking Therapy

I don’t know about you but me? I fall into a post holiday funk and the only way I can pull myself out of it is to cook.

I love to cook, especially when it’s cold outside and cook some of my best recipes in the month of January when I have nothing but food on the brain.

The recipes below were from a New Year’s dinner. The main dishes are from the January issue of Bon Appetit.

Although the pork is not quite as good or as easy as the Perfect Steak (or chop) recipe I cooked last April, the flavor of the meat basted in the seasoned butter was well worth the extra steps it takes to achieve the outcome.

Butter basting is addictive and once again I used my cast iron grill pan with great success.

I’m not sure at this point if I care for brined pork chops. I would much rather buy Berkshire Pork and skip a step.

Bon Appetit!

Pan Roasted Brined Pork Chop

½ cup kosher salt

½ cup sugar

1teaspoon juniper berries

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 unpeeled cloves for basting

2 large sprigs thyme

2-inch-thick bone-in pork chop (I prefer Berkshire)

2 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Flaky or coarse sea salt

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add kosher salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, halved head of garlic, and 1 thyme sprig; stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 5 cups ice cubes. Stir until brine is cool. Add pork chop; cover and chill for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 450°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Remove chop from brine; pat dry. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet. Cook chop until beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Keep turning chop every 2 minutes until both sides are deep golden brown, 10-12 minutes total.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast chop, turning every 2 minutes to prevent it from browning too quickly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of meat registers 135°, about 14 minutes. (Chop will continue to cook during basting and resting.)

Carefully drain fat from skillet and place over medium heat. Add butter, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, and remaining thyme sprig; cook until butter is foamy. Carefully tip skillet and, using a large spoon, baste chop repeatedly with butter until butter is brown and smells nutty, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer pork chop to prepared rack and let rest, turning often to ensure juices are evenly distributed, for 15 minutes. Cut pork from bones, slice, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Paillard

It was the Wondra Flour that made this recipe so good and produced a light coating that was wonderfully crisp.

I think that you can actually reduce the amount of butter you use and still get the same results.

28-ounce skin-on bone-in chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wondra flour or all-purpose flour (for dusting)

3tablespoonsunsalted butter

1lemon, halved

Preheat oven to 400°. Using a thin, flexible knife, cut chicken breasts away from bones, leaving skin intact. Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; using a mallet or heavy skillet, pound chicken until 1/2-inch thick (which will help it cook evenly and stay juicy). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dust with flour; shake off excess.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Spoon off milk solids (the white foam that separates from the butter) to make clarified butter. (It has a high smoke point and won't burn over high heat.)

Pour clarified butter into a large ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. When butter begins to shimmer, place chicken in skillet skin side down. Cook, occasionally pressing on chicken with a spatula so skin maintains even contact with skillet, until skin is brown, 5-6 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven; roast until chicken is just cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Remove skillet from oven; turn chicken breast over. Let stand in skillet for 1 minute. Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with lemon halves alongside.

Holiday Salad

Oops – forgot to take a photo of the best part. This delicious salad is great with the cashews and the homemade dressing.

2 bags spinach
2 apples diced
4 oz cashews
6 oz shredded mozzarella

1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp onion salt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard

Use a Tupperware with a top to make the dressing like a water bottle - it’s really oily and you have to keep shaking and stirring.

8 ounces Brach's butterscotch candies, unwrapped, plus extra for garnish if desired
1 quart heavy cream, divided
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For garnish: almond brittle, butterscotch sauce and/or mascarpone
In the bowl of a food processor, pulverize the candies until they break down into dust.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 cups of the cream over medium low-to-medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot. Add the candy and cook until it melts, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring the remaining 2 cups heavy cream to a simmer.
When the candy has completely melted, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the gelatin over the flavored cream. Stir until the gelatin dissolves.
Slowly add the simmering cream to the candy mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
Pour the mixture into individual serving dishes, cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.
Garnish each serving with blueberries and almond brittle, as benjy's does, or berries, whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candies.

2 lb organic lemons

750 ml bottle 100 proof vodka (or everclear)

Zest the lemons, mix with vodka and put in a tightly sealed bottle. Place container in a cool, dark, dry place for 5 days. Shake the jar at least twice a day. Strain the zest from the liquid through a fine sieve several times and discard the zest.

Mix 4 c water with 1-1/4 c sugar over low heat stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Cool syrup to room temperature and mix with strained lemon vodka. Store in tightly sealed bottles in the refrigerator. Chill and enjoy