Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta


For me, this is all about redemption.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Last month I published my first attempt at a tortellini dish that I made from scratch. Everything about the dish was satisfactory to me except for the shape of my pasta. I'll be honest and note here that the flaw haunted me, so I needed to exorcise my demon to retain my sanity. In addition, I also used the opportunity to document with more detailed pictures the process of making the tortellini.

Dish Details

I used my tried and true pasta dough recipe which can be found on pages 102 to 104 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer. I pulled from a number of sources for the tortellini filling including Two Peas and Their Pod, food.com and Cooking with Manuela. In addition, I relied upon a number of YouTube videos in order to shape each tortellino. I paired my tortellini with a seasonal vegetable side dish from page 174 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking By Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher. I would hope that this dish would be at home at any Italian trattoria.

Ingredients

For the filling:
8 ounces chopped spinach, rinsed
10 ounces ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta dough:
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the vegetable side:
1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, tough ends broken off, then cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup leek, thinly sliced, white and pale green sections only
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Prepare the filling. Place the wet spinach into a nonstick skillet and season with salt, then place over medium low heat and cover until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. After the wilted spinach has cooled, combine the it with the ricotta, parmesan and egg, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while the pasta dough is prepared.


2. Prepare the pasta dough. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and water in a small bowl, then set aside. On a clean flat surface (I recommend a rimmed baking sheet in the event the well breaks), place the flour and dig a well in the middle so the flour resembles the shape of a volcano. Add the salt to the well, then pour in the wet ingredients. Using a fork, stir the eggs in a circular motion while simultaneously adding flour to the eggs slowly until the eggs are thick enough not to spill over the side of the well. Add the remaining flour to the eggs, and once it has become a homogeneous mixture, knead the dough by rolling it over onto itself with the heels of the palms of your hands, then turning it 90 degrees and repeating the process until it is tacky but not sticky adding more flour or water, as needed. While kneading the dough, ensure its consistent throughout by periodically piercing it with your finger to test the inside. Once the dough is kneaded, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for one hour, however the dish can be prepared one day ahead up to this point.


4. Roll the dough. Open the setting of a pasta roller to its widest. Cut off a portion of the pasta dough and flatten it, ensuring to re-wrap the remaining pasta dough that isn't being rolled. Dust a clean working surface with flour and pass the portion of the dough through the pasta roller, then fold it into thirds and pass the dough through the roller a second time at its widest setting, dusting the dough with flour if it feels too sticky, as needed. Fold it into thirds again, passing the dough through the pasta roller a third time at the widest setting and again, dusting the dough flour if necessary. Adjust the pasta roller to the next thinnest setting (i.e. if the roller is widest at setting 1, switch it to setting 2), and pass through the pasta roller just once at that setting. Continue to pass the dough through the roller once at the next thinnest setting, dusting the dough with flour as required, until your pasta sheets have reached the desired thinness. (My Atlas machine has six settings, but I rolled my dough to setting 5.)


5. Shape the tortellini. Once the pasta sheets have been rolled to the desired thickness, use a ring mold to cut circles into the pasta sheets and retain the excess for another use.


Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each, then using your finger, wet with water the edge of one-half of the circle, as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below.


Fold the circles in half and seal the filling inside, ensuring that no air has been trapped inside the tortellini.


Fold one corner towards the center and, using a finger, wet the tip as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below. Fold the second corner towards the center to seal the two corners so they stick together.


As you finish each tortellino, place them onto a flour dusted sheet pan and put the sheet pan in the freezer so the pasta doesn't dry out.


6. Prepare the vegetable side; boil the pasta and finish the dish. Bring two pots of salted water to a boil over high heat-one medium and one large. While waiting for the water to reach its temperature, render the pancetta in olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until slightly crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Add the leek to sweat.


While the leek sweats, add the asparagus to the medium pot and cook until tender, approximately 3 or 4 minutes then drain and add the asparagus to the skillet with the pancetta and leek. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat the seasonings.


Add the tortellini to the large pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the cooked tortellini with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To present, spoon a tablespoon or two of the vegetables onto a plate, then top with 4 to 5 tortellini, then serve immediately.

Final Thoughts

Unlike my previous tortellini attempt, I am pleased with the shape of the pasta I made. In addition, my suspicions were correct! By using a ring mold with a larger diameter, I was able to have better control over the final shape of the tortellini. Also, I might suggest to make the tortellini gradually, as each pasta sheet is rolled to the desired thickness before rolling more pasta dough so it doesn't dry out. Lastly, Mrs. Stuntman thought the vegetable side was seasoned perfectly and paired well with the spinach and ricotta filling. She even requested I prepare it again.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Presenting: Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Corn and Pea Purée

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Corn and Pea Purée


Call this a continuation of my recipe redux post from last September...

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Last autumn, I prepared a scallops dish for my friend, Gwen, at Simply Healthy Family. If you click through to the post I wrote for her, I describe the evening I prepared the dish when my daughter finished her scallops and asked for more, which was unusual for a dish that's not kid favorites, such as burgers and pizza. She remembered the experience because she recently asked when are you going to cook scallops again? so I decided to use the opportunity to replicate the first scallops dish I published here because, even then, I was unhappy with it's execution.

Dish Details

I hope that this dish would be at home on any fine dining menu. For it, I used the same pea purée that I utilized in the dish I referenced above (however I omitted the tarragon sprig since I didn't have any fresh tarragon that evening) and my tried and true technique I've utilized since I figured it out two years ago. I also adapted the corn salsa I originally paired with pork chops.

Ingredients

3 ounces bacon, diced
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces U-10 sea scallops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Lemon thyme leaves, for garnish

Method

1. Roast the corn. In a medium skillet, render the bacon fat over medium heat until just shy of being crisp, approximately two to three minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate, then drain the bacon fat from the skillet and reserve for another use.


Add the corn to the same skillet where the bacon was prepared and roast until brown over medium heat, stirring periodically, approximately twelve to fifteen minutes. Remove the corn to a bowl, then combine with the bacon pieces and season with salt and pepper to taste.


2. Purée the peas. Start on the peas while the corn is roasting. To do so, combine the peas and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cover. Check the peas every three minutes until the peas are soft. Once velvety, strain the fluid from the peas but reserve the fluid. Purée the peas in a blender, adding the reserved liquid and one tablespoon olive oil until the purée is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


3. Sear the scallops. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over high heat. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops on one side only until browned, approximately sixty to ninety seconds. Remove to a plate to allow for carryover cooking. To plate, smear two tablespoons pea purée, onto a round plate, top with three scallops close together so they resemble a triangle, spoon some of the corn mixture over the scallops, then garnish with the lemon thyme leaves.

Final Thoughts

I remember watching a TV show that only lasted for one season on Bravo Network about five years ago called Rocco's Dinner Party. Each episode started with three chefs that prepared a dish in a qualifying round, then two of the three moved forward to host a dinner party for Chef Rocco DiSpirito and his celebrity friends. The chef who did the best won a cash prize. In one episode, Chef DiSpirito was thoroughly unimpressed in a qualifying round when one of the contestants prepared a dish using the combination of scallops, corn and bacon.

My point is the flavor affinity of this dish isn't very creative, however the picture of the finished dish is now my new favorite. I gave my friend, Faith of An Edible Mosaic and Healthy Sweet Eats, an advanced copy of the picture of the finished dish and one of the things she liked about it is the use of negative space: the way the food was concentrated on the center of the plate and the black plate against the white background. I've noticed that a plate with multiple contrasting colors on it is more visually appealing, so I'm very proud of the six colors on this dish. In fact, this photo has replaced my steak au poivre picture as my lock screen wallpaper on my phone.

Finally, my daughter finished her dinner the evening I prepared this dish just as quickly as she did last autumn and she's requested I prepare it again.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pork Chop with Caramelized Onions and Cinnamon Rice Pilaf

Pork Chop with Caramelized Onions and Cinnamon Rice Pilaf


Last September, I published a pork chops dish for #SundaySupper that was not satisfying from the standpoint of it's plate presentation, so I decided to replicate it again.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

I remember reading in Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush and Sean Fri that Chef Colicchio doesn't change the proteins on his restaurant menus very often, but he will change the vegetable accompaniments depending on what's in season and what is at it's peak. Using this theory, I consulted The Flavor Bible to re-pair pork chops for spring produce. Spring onions are obviously in season around now and onions were strongly suggested as a pairing with pork. I knew caramelized onions were sweet and thought it would be a good substitute to apples that are in season in the autumn.

Dish Details

I prepared my pork chops using a tried and true method from Chef Tyler Florence. In addition, I utilized the guide to making rice pilaf and my love for caramelized onions can be traced back to this recipe on epicurious which I found about six years ago. I'd imagine this dish would be at home on any casual chain restaurant, however I'm unsure if one would go through the trouble of brining their chops.

Ingredients

1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt plus more as needed
Thyme sprigs
4 pork rib chops with the bone frenched
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thin
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
Italian parsley leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Method

1. Prepare the pork chops. Brine the chops by combining the water one cup kosher salt and brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the thyme sprigs and the pork chops, then cover and refrigerate covered for two hours.


Once the two hours have elapsed, drain the brine and discard the brine. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels, then season on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, sear the pork chops in the skillet, approximately three to four minutes per side, then remove and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm while the onions and rice are prepared.


2. Caramelize the onions. In the same skillet used to prepare the pork chops, melt two tablespoons butter in an additional two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and stir, coating them in the fat. Continue to cook the onions until they reduce, soften and turn a golden brown, stirring occasionally, approximately twenty to thirty minutes. Stir in the granulated sugar, then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


3. While the onions are caramelizing, prepare the rice. In a medium saucepan, melt one tablespoon unsalted butter in one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot to sweat, then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, approximately two minutes. Perfume the shallots by adding the cinnamon, then the rice. Stir the mixture until the rice is toasted and coated in the oils, approximately 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let it steam until the rice has absorbed, approximately twelve to fifteen minutes. Once the rice is finished, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. To plate, spoon a portion of the rice off center on a warmed plate, then rest the pork chop on the rice so that the frenched bone is raised. Drizzle some caramelized onions over the pork, then garnish with parsley leaves.


Final Thoughts

If you look closely, you'll find that I seared the pork chops in a stainless steel skillet in the picture above yet I instructed to sear them in a non-stick one. I made this change because I thought the onions might be able to pick up some of the pork fond but I found the sear on the pork a little too dark and I didn't want my onions to have a charred taste when they were supposed to be sweet so I switched pans. Additionally, Chef Florence instructs to finish the chops off in the oven and I did in this case but I omitted it from the instructions because I found them to be a little dry, despite the fact that they were brined. If the pork chops are one-inch thick or more, roast them in the oven at 350° Fahrenheit until their internal temperature reaches 140° Fahrenheit, approximately thirty minutes. In the end, I found the onions a very good substitute for apples and am surprised it isn't more common.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper


My long time readers know that one of my passions I've explored on this website is Italian cuisine, so I couldn't let this week's #SundaySupper theme of Italian Fest go without participating. It's hosted by Manu of Manu's Menu. Thank you, Manu!

As this passion has developed over the years, I've tried to learn as much as I can on the topic. What fascinates me is the differences between authentic Italian food and America's version of Italian food which is the reason why I'm so appreciative of an article my friend Caroline of La Cucina Della Prima Donna wrote a few years ago that explains how Italians can still eat healthy despite calorie-laden dishes such as pasta, pizza and gelato.

As I noted in a dish I published this past fall, Italian pasta dishes tend to be simple, so I've struggled to balance genuineness with my desire to continue to prepare foods that challenge me, either in flavor profile and/or preparation. However, I think I found a compromise with an article I discovered several years ago on about.com that reviewed recipes for flavored pastas and have been using it as a source of inspiration ever since. Such is the case with this dish.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

The idea of this dish was born from episode 16 of season six's MasterChef, where the elimination challenge charged the contestants with preparing three fresh pasta dishes. One of the assigned dishes is a squid ink striped farfalle. At the time, I hadn't even considered the concept of striped pasta so I was intrigued and wanted to explore the notion. In addition, my long time readers will remember I prepared a Paglia e Fieno dish two years ago which is the second source of inspiration for this updated version.

Dish Details

When I conceptualized this dish, I imagined it to be served at a modern Italian fine dining restaurant. The dish the contestants on the show I referenced above made pasta with only stripes on one side, so I did a little digging and found a method to ensure the stripes appear on both sides. I also wanted to use seasonal ingredients so, after consulting The Flavor Bible, I decided to use artichokes for my filling in addition to mushrooms, spinach and peas. Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush and Sean Fri played a role in two components of the dish. The reduction was comprised from the basic sauce making technique described on page 75 and the artichoke filling on pages 129 through 130 and 134. Pasta dough was adapted from the about.com article I linked above. I also added the pancetta because The Flavor Bible noted it worked well with artichokes and I've also found I enjoy the pairing of cured pork with mushrooms.

Ingredients

For the artichoke filling:
3 lemons
3 artichokes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 leek, tops trimmed and green outer leaves discarded
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
7 to 8 baby carrots, sliced thin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs lemon thyme
1 3/4 cups white wine

For pasta dough:
8 ounces raw spinach
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided plus more as needed
Kosher salt
8 eggs, divided

For the vegetables and reduction:
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces pancetta, diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced thin
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon thyme sprigs, for garnish

Method

1. Complete the artichoke mise en place. Combine the juice from 2 1/2 lemons and 2 quarts water in a large bowl. Trim the stem (leaving only 1-inch), then remove the outer leaves and cut off the inner leaves. Next, peel away the outer layers that encircle the heart with a pairing knife, similar to peeling an apple. Scrape out the fuzzy choke and immature leaves using a spoon, then trim the top of the choke, rubbing it with the remaining half lemon frequently to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown. When finished place the artichoke into the lemon water and repeat the process with the other two artichokes. Cut the yellow onion in half lengthwise, then slice thinly. Repeat the process for the leek.


2. Braise the artichokes. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a high sided pot over medium heat until the pot begins to smoke. Add the onions, leek, carrots and celery (i.e. mirepoix) to the pot to sweat, reducing the heat to medium low, seasoning with kosher salt and stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes.


Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and add to the pot. Drizzle the chokes with approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon thyme sprigs. Add the wine to the pot and enough water to cover the artichokes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and let them simmer until the chokes can easily be pierced with a knife, approximately 30 minutes.


Once finished remove from the heat and allow the artichokes to cool in the braising fluid. Purée the artichokes with the mirepoix adding just enough braising fluid so the mixture has the consistency similar to toothpaste. Cover and set aside until the pasta dough has been prepared.


3. Prepare the spinach. Coarsely chop the spinach, then rinse it under cold water. Place the wet spinach leaves in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add a pinch of kosher salt until the spinach wilts, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan and let it cool. Once the spinach has cooled enough to handle, place them in a double layer of paper towels and squeeze out as much water from them as possible. Purée the spinach in the blender.


4. Make and roll the pasta dough. Make two mounds of flour, each using 3 cups. Dig a hole in each mound to form a well big enough to hold the eggs, then add a pinch of salt to each mound. Whisk 4 eggs together, then pour them into one well. Whisk the remaining 4 eggs together with the puréed spinach and pour it into the second well. Make, knead and roll each dough separately by following the instructions of Steps 4 and 5 in this prior agnolotti dish, however stop rolling the dough one setting thicker than desired. (For example, my Atlas machine has 6 settings but wanted my pasta as thin as setting 5 so I stopped rolling the dough at setting 4.) Many pasta dough recipes direct the cook to use a clean flat surface but I recommend using a sheet pan because the sides will contain the eggs in the event that the well should break. Dust both sides of each pasta dough with flour and then roll each dough up as if you were rolling a cigarette, then cut it lengthwise in half similar to this picture, cutting along the blue rubber band. Unroll each half and wet the edge of the cut side of each green pasta sheet with water, then lay a yellow pasta sheet next to the green so the yellow sheet overlaps the green sheet by a 1/4-inch. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets. Pass the combined dough through the pasta roller at the final setting.


5. Form the tortellini. Using a ring mold, cut circles in the pasta sheets in a manner that half of the circle is green and the other half is yellow. Using the reserved artichoke filling and the pasta cirecles, fold the tortellini in the manner demonstrated in this YouTube video, ensuring that each tortellino is folded in a manner so the half circle has a different color on each side. If you're not preparing the dish immediately, place each tortellino on a sheet pan dusted with flour and place in the freezer.

6. Prepare the sauce and finish the dish. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the tortellini to the pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the tortellini from the pot and set aside to reserve. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the pancetta to render the fat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pancetta to sweat and reduce, stirring occasionally. Add the peas to the skillet and cook until heated through.


Remove the pancetta, mushrooms and peas from the pan and reserve. If the pan is dry, add the remaining tablespoon to the skillet, then the shallot to sweat for approximately 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine and scrape the bottom to release any fond and reduce by half. Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain out any solids in the sauce and return it to the skillet over low heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To plate, spoon some of the reduction into a bowl, top the reduction with the mushrooms, pancetta and peas, then place tortellini onto the vegetables. Garnish with lemon thyme sprigs.


Final Thoughts

I was discussing this dish with my friend, Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Kiss My Smoke before I published it today. I explained that this dish is as far as I can escalate the complexity of fresh pasta. As I stated above, I intended this dish to be an example of food that could be served at a modern Italian fine dining establishment. Overall, I was pleased with the taste of the dish, as it was well balanced with strong flavors, however I was not happy with it's presentation. If you perform a google image search for tortellini fine dining, you'll get a general idea of what I had in mind. I think the issue is the size of the pasta circles I cut. I used a 3-inch ring cutter so when I went to wrap them around my finger, I found that they didn't reach all the way around. so I ended up folding both corners over to seal with water. When I make tortellini again, I'd use my 5-inch ring mold. I hoped to document the process of forming the tortellini in a little more detail with pictures, however I so focused with making the tortellini I forgot about my camera.

I've reviewed the process of making fresh pasta several times in the past and I've hoped to dedicate a post focused solely on this one aspect, however my hands get rather messy with flour and eggs when I knead the dough so it's difficult to take pictures. Probably the best demonstration I've found is this one by Chef Tomm Johnson I found on YouTube. He initially combines the wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl instead of using the well method I describe above, however.

Be sure to check out the other great Italian dishes before you go!

Appetizers:
Mains:
Dessert:
Beverages:
And Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Filet Mignon with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette, Sautéed Mushrooms and Toasted Baguette

Filet Mignon with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette, Sautéed Mushrooms and Toasted Baguette


When my birthday occurred a couple of months ago, Mrs. Stuntman took me out to dinner the day prior because she had to work on the evening of my actual birthday. On my actual birthday, I posted a picture of the dish I ate for dinner on instagram. Call this an update but this could easily be served this weekend for Valentine's Day if you don't want to go out to eat.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

I was surfing the net recently and came across a dish that won a Top Chef challenge in a prior season. It paired halibut with a vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are ubiquitous in dressing salads, but are more uncommonly used by home cooks as a sauce to complement a protein and I wanted to explore the idea. In addition, the supermarket I normally patronize had USDA Choice New York steaks on sale, however they were a little too large of a portion for my family so I purchased filets instead. A quick review of The Flavor Bible revealed that beef steaks pair well with shallots, mushrooms and Dijon mustard.

Dish Details

I would like to think that this dish would be served at any fine dining steakhouse. I adapted a vinaigrette from Food & Wine but the remaining components of this dish are original.

Ingredients

2 shallots, sliced thinly
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 8-ounce beef tenderloin steaks, approximately 1-inch thick
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 baguette, cut into 1/2" slices on a bias
Basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (for garnish)

Method

1. Prepare the vinaigrette. Combine the shallots and 1/2 cup olive oil in a saucepan over medium low heat and sweat, stirring frequently until softened, approximately 10 minutes.


Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and let it cool slightly. Add the vinegar and mustard into the blender and purée until smooth. Add in the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste, then keep warm over low heat.


2. Sear the steaks. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat until the oil starts to smoke. While the oil is heating, season the filets with salt and pepper then add them to the skillet to sear, approximately 4 minutes. Flip the steaks to sear on the opposite side but reduce the heat to medium, until desired doneness is reached, approximately 6 minutes for medium rare.


3. Sauté mushrooms and finish the dish. If the skillet is dry once the steaks are removed, add the remaining teaspoon olive oil then the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they shrink, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and stir until fragrant, approximately one minute, then deglaze with the white wine, scraping any fond from the pan. Season with salt and pepper and continue to simmer until the wine has evaporated.


While the wine is reducing, put the baguette slices on a aluminum foil lined sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Place under the broiler, checking every 30 seconds until the desired color is reached.


To plate, follow the classic design of starch at 10 o'clock, protein at 2 o'clock with sauce under the protein and vegetables at 6 o'clock by spooning a tablespoon of vinaigrette onto a plate right of center, then placing the filet onto the vinaigrette at the center of the plate. Using a slotted spoon, drizzle some mushrooms off to the side of the filet then lean a baguette slice against the filet on the opposite side of the vinaigrette and garnish the dish with the chiffonade basil.

Final Thoughts

This dish is about as spontaneous as I'll get because I did not plan to publish it here when I went shopping for the ingredients in the morning I prepared it. In fact, I composed it while I was there in the supermarket based upon the ingredients I knew I had in my pantry. Still, it was well balanced with the baguette offering a texture contrast. In addition, the acidity of the vinaigrette balanced out the sweet flavors in the basil and the savory steak from the standpoint of the flavor profile. From an execution standpoint, I altered my method slightly in preparing a filet because I found that, by following my prior method, the center was too rare for my taste and, in many cases, blue in the center.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Light Stunt: Buttermilk Battered Chicken Wings for a Big Game Day Party Recipes #SundaySupper

Light Stunt: Buttermilk Battered Chicken Wings for a Big Game Day Party Recipes #SundaySupper


My long time readers might remember a chicken wings dish I published two years ago for a similar #SundaySupper theme. After looking at it again, I'll admit that the dish I published previously is a little labor-intensive, especially if you're hosting a game day party. Call this an update that is a little easier so the host can spend more time with their guests.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Last autumn, I accepted a consultant role for a student business organization that is working to establish itself at the University of Washington's Bothell campus. I joined the organization when I was at school in California so I am familiar with it's operations. When I met this group of students, I told them I write a food blog so I thought I should put up or shut up when they hosted a barbecue on a Friday night a few weeks ago. I chose chicken wings because they can be served as a finger-food hors-d'oeuvres and it is an easy way to serve a large crowd, which translates well to a big game watch party.

Dish Details

Chicken wings are a sports bar staple, however I found this recipe on foodnetwork.com a little more intriguing. More on that below. The night I prepared this dish for the barbecue, I had to double the ingredient quantities since I was feeding approximately fifty people but I replicated it again a couple of nights later using the original amounts.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds chicken wings, split at the joints with the tips removed
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
Vegetable oil, for frying
Flat leaf parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Method

1. Place the chicken wings in a resealable bag then pour the buttermilk over them and add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Ensure all of the chicken is submerged in the buttermilk, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. While the wings are soaking, combine the flour, paprika and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl, then fill a stockpot with vegetable oil to at least a 1-inch depth and heat to a temperature of 350° Fahrenheit.

2. Once 30 minutes have expired, drain the wings, then dredge them in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.


Deep fry them in batches until the wings are golden, approximately ten minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain the wings on a paper towel lined plate before serving, garnished with parsley leaves.


Final Thoughts

The link I referenced above has fifty chicken wings recipes but I specifically chose the eighth for a couple of reasons. First, the members of the student organization requested that they not be too spicy and second, I wanted to test the pairing of buttermilk and chicken for myself after hearing of Chef Thomas Keller's legendary buttermilk fried chicken.

The feedback I received from the student organization was positive, but I really only had a bite or two that evening just to evaluate doneness. When I went back and replicated the dish a few nights later, I was surprised to find the wings so well seasoned considering only 1 teaspoon of salt was used.

Hopefully, these other dishes prepared for this week's #SundaySupper theme will be helpful if you're still planning for a watch party. They're listed below.

Appetizers and Sides
Main Dishes
Desserts and Drinks
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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