Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mushroom Smotherd Chicken with Potato Gnocchi

This is a true pantry recipe, I didn't want to go to the store so I basically raided the pantry and came up with this gem. When I speak about a pantry recipe, these are items that can be put together in a pinch to solve any cooking dilemma. They are the essential odds and ends to a meal. Items like garlic, potatoes, olives, pesto, different type of pasta; these are the co-stars to that complete meal. With a well stocked pantry and fridge a 30 minutes meal is possible. I mean this took me a little longer than 30 minutes but I enjoy the journey. I didn't know what this meal would turn out to be prior to making it. It just happened and I am pretty happy with that.

2 lbs russet potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
Boil potatoes until they are soft(roughly 45 minutes). While still warm peel and pass through a vegetable mill or a ricer.( if you don't have a ricer you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them with a fork) Add eggs, flour and a pinch of salt. Knead gently together until a ball is formed being sure not to overwork the dough. Knead for an additional 4 minutes until dry to the touch. Prepare a work surface dusted lightly with flour, roll out a baseball-sized dough into 3/4 dowels. Cut into 1 inch pieces, use a fork to or your finger tips to form an indentation by rolling the piece. Drop the pieces in boiling salted water a few at a time. When they start to float to the top remove and place in a ice bath to stop cooking process. Toss with olive oil and set aside.

1/4 cup of butter
1/4 olive oil
6 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cup of diced onions
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced green pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme (dried)
1 tsp basil(dried)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of broth
1 12 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese(optional)

Combine oil and butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and carefully place skin side down in the pan, work in batches and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain all but 2 Tbsp of oil. Reduce the heat and add the onion through peppers. Sauté until soft approximately 5 minutes, add garlic and herbs and season with salt and pepper for additional two minutes. Slowly add broth and scrape loose bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat to low and add soup and cream return chicken to pan and cover for 30 minutes until gravy has thickened. You can add additional water or broth if it becomes too thick. Remove chicken and keep warm add gnocchi to gravy and increase heat to medium. Heat thoroughly sprinkles with Parmesan, serve on a bed of gnocchi, top with chicken and sprinkle with additional cheese and serve. This makes 4-6 servings at a price of 2.15 per plate. Having all the essentials prior to making this meal is truly a budget friendly meal.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blackened Turkey Roulade stuffed with Dirty Rice

With it being the off season for turkey these days you can pick a whole bird for little of nothing. For this recipe I chose a bone in turkey breast. Since this isn't my first go at this recipe, cutting it off the bone is fairly easy for me. A boning knife and a little patience is all you need.

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 lb minced chicken gizzards
1/4 lb minced chicken livers
1 lb turkey sausage
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery and carrots
3/4 cups diced green peppers
2 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups cooked rice(cooled)
1/4 cup minced parsley
Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat, add minced gizzards, liver and sausage cooking until browned with no pink showing. Add onion thru bay leaves, and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add stock and loosen caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan,turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients cook until heated and stir in parsley. Remove from heat and cool completely

1 4-4 1/2 boneless turkey breast with skin
2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
Worcestershire sauce
1 12 oz jar roasted red peppers cut into strips
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Blackening seasoning
Butchers twine for trussing the bird
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay four pieces of plastic wrap roughly the size of your cutting board, two for the bottom and two for the top. Butterfly and cover the turkey with the two pieces of plastic wrap, pound until 1/2 inch thick. Place breast side down on cutting board, season with Creole seasoning and Worcestershire. Lay roasted red pepper strips evenly over turkey. Spread the cooled rice mixture in the middle of the turkey leaving 1/4 inch border around the edges of the turkey. Roll the turkey up over filling maintaining a tight roll using the plastic to keep it tight, use butcher twine to secure it. You can cut the twine into 6 to 8 pieces and bind it one section at a time.
Brush with butter and olive oil mixture and evenly coat with blackening seasoning. This process will result in quite a bit smoke, so turn on the fan and open some windows. Heat a heavy bottom skillet or grill pan over high heat add turkey and cook for two minutes on each side. Remove place in a roasting shallow pan insert an instant read thermometer in the center of the roll. Cook for 40 minutes or until the thermometer reads 155 degrees. Remove and tent for 10 minutes slice and serve. This meal can be stuffed and served with dirty rice or crawfish stuffing.
I always by the whole turkey when I do this meal because I can after I de-bone the breast I save the other parts and bones for later. And there is always stock in my future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


One person’s own interpretation of what a sauce is can vary from city to city, from country to country. It can either serve as a component to a dish or a condiment simply passed along the table. Whether your preference is a chunky salsa filed with creamy avocado and tomatoes, or the sweet and warm spiced curried chutney. A sauce can and is another way of imparting flavor and bringing a sort of elegance to a dish.
The simple art of deglazing with a liquid and reducing that by half, and scraping of those brown bits of fond that result in a pan sauce to compliment a dish. The fond are those brown bits left in the bottom of the pan after sautéing a meat or a vegetable. Most people struggle with the thought that those brown bits can be whipped into an incredible sauce. A lot of us think whose going to clean that "stuff", I'm not on dishes this week.
Chefs have always known about the mother sauces and there ability to be transformed into various combinations. These sauces are a hollandaise, an egg and butter sauce; espangnole, which is basically beef broth thickened with a roux; velouté, or a whole broth thickened with roux or flour; béchamel, which is milk thicken with a blond roux or flour, mayonnaise, and tomato sauce. A beurre blanc or a butter sauce should also be considered when talking about the mother sauces.
The techniques used to develop a sauce are pretty standard practice, and can be accomplished with minimal skill. Sauces can be thickened in a variety of ways. A Roux most often is fat (oil) and flour cooked together, brown and white sauces benefit from this application. Also milk or cream and flour can be combined in the same way if appearance is important, cream gravy and a cheese sauce come to mind. In recent years butter and pureed vegetables have been used with the same effectiveness. Paired with the addition of aromatics such as garlic, shallots or even some herbs can play an important role when developing a sauce. A sauce can be combined with a host of ingredients depending on the individual tastes.
Understanding the simple and elegant differences between these sauce and there uses and technique to develop them can take your ordinary cooking to new heights. A sauce should enhance the flavors of the food you use them on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Let's talk Lasagna

Maybe it is because it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be used, whipped out in a flash and popped in the oven and ready to go. Or maybe it is because it is the ultimate crowd pleasing and most perfect embodiment of the one pot dish. It is a very easy recipe to master, because once you get it that is it. You won’t need to refer to a recipe and you can start changing the ingredients to suit your taste. Instead of Parmesan maybe smoked Gouda, instead of Italian sausage maybe a pork ragu. It lends a lot to interpretation and freely adapts to any situation. Lasagna also freezes well so making two at a time and freezing one of them always works. At the core it is a meat sauce, noodles and cheese, who doesn't love that. Lasagna is a great meal for the budget cooking family looking for a real bang for the buck. With the addition of a simple salad and bread you have meal that can become a family favorite.

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 120z cans of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of stock
1 cup of heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
12 no bake Lasagna sheets
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp of stock
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 15oz container of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
4 cups shredded mozzarella(divided)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese(divided)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey and turkey sausage
1/2 cup onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds constantly stirring, add dried herbs through tomatoes and continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes until it becomes thick, the sauce should stick to the back of a spoon. Turn down the heat to low and add remainder of the ingredients and simmer for additional 10 minutes, remove the bay leaf set aside. In another sauté pan heat oil and butter over medium heat, add the 2 cups of mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic through lemon zest and continue to sauté over medium heat until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add stock and reduce slightly about another 2 minutes, remove from the pan and cool. Heat oil in same sauté that you cooked the spinach in when hot adds the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes; add meat and sauté an additional 10 minutes until no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside. In a bowl beat the eggs, stir in the ricotta and spinach mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan to the mixture and set aside. Spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom and layer 4 uncooked sheets, 1/3 cup of spinach mixture 1/3 of the meat mixture, 1 cup of mozzarella and cup of sauce. Repeat two more times. Top with Parmesan cheese and cover with foil cook for 50-55 minutes. Uncover and top with more cheese cook an additional 5 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Makes 12 servings at about $1.37 per serving.