Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Old Man's Supreme Chicken (aka chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms en croute)

I have to clarify that this dish isn't from my "old man". Although my dad (aka pop) was a good cook, this recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Happy Day's cookbook and is referring to his "old man". Nonetheless the premise that this is a supreme chicken dish is not affected by this nuance.

The way this dish came about amuses me - it's a bit of a long-winded story, so I'll say that up front so you can indulge me.

We woke up this morning to frigid below normal (-33C) temperatures - did I mention below  normal?
So the objective for this evening's meal was to use the cooktop, oven or whatever cookery appliance it took to offer some extra heat to warm our chilled bones. 

I wasn't prepared. Although I love cooking, I get really uptight when I don’t have a gameplan - although I may have endless options at my fingertips, I enter a state of indecisiveness when just thrown to the wind.

Our first plan was a casserole of the pasta and ground meat sort. Only issue arising was the lack of ground meat (damn you inaccurate deep freeze log). So then what. Another log to the rescue. With the endless number of cookbooks I have, I've started this log of "want to try" recipes. I flipped there and found a Jaime Oliver recipe from his Happy Days cookbook  My Old Man's Supreme Chicken (aka Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Mushrooms En Croute). The first test - I had all ingredients on hand. The second test was to show the image to my husband to ensure he was interested to have said same dish (my concern here being he tends to prefer a healthier meal than me and this one involved puff pastry). He was onboard (thank goodness for numbing cold). So let the games begin.  

I used four boneless skinless chicken breasts. I had to defrost them as they were frozen (no, not because of the days events, but by design). I pounded them with a mallet to even thickness in a plastic bag (no fuss no muss). 

Whiles the chicks defrosted I had sautéed the mushrooms (a blend of dehydrated mixed mushrooms now rehydrated and fresh crimini mushrooms) with garlic. 

For preparation I placed about 1/2 cup of the mushroom mix into each chicken breasts, then wrapped in strips of puff pastry.

Baked in a 400F oven (notice the switch from Celsius - I must be Canadian). The topper was a simple whole grain mustard/white wine/cream sauce (how could you possibly go wrong with this combo). 

To serve I broke the mixed colour on the plate rule. I served with roasted cauliflower (yum yum) and a basic arugula salad with fig infused vinaigrette (double yum). 

This was a weeknight dinner. A little bit of work, but nothing crazy. Incredible tasting. Impressive presentation. Do try!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Southwest Pork Loin

Over at my other blog, I've talked about my love for Mexican cooking, and my recent evolution to Southwestern cookery thanks to Bobby Flay.

And recently I was craving some of that tasty, yet spicy flavour. So to satisfy my cravings I decided to adapt a BF Mesa Grill recipe for my likings.

I started with a pork loin roast. Pork loin roast on its own can be tremendously boring. In my opinion it really is one of those food products that requires some extra embellishment to turn it into a guest worthy dish. Enter the rub. 

I prepared a modified version of BF's southwestern pork rub. Modified on several fronts: i) his was for pork tenderloin vs. loin; ii) I didn't have spice powders on hand, just whole dried chiles; and iii) I reduced the cinnamon and allspice as I find that too much overwhelms the recipe.

Applying the rub is a very satisfying step. It makes the loin a lovely dark, appetizing colour. Searing the sides afterwards is even more satisfying as they colour turns a gorgeous blackened warm colour, and the smell infuses the whole house with a completely welcoming aroma.

After searing on all sides, you finish in the oven. Allowing just enough time to finish other side dishes. Serve with Bobby Flay's Bourbon Ancho Sauce (amazing) as the perfect complemetn.

Bobby Flay has this recipe posted on his website

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon

With the movie Julie and Julia out now it seems a bit cliché to be preparing Boeuf Bourguignon. But, it was because of the movie that my husband requested this dish. And even though its cliché, I had never prepared Boeuf Bourguignon.

The most essential element of Boeuf Bourguignon is Julia's recipe. I'm very fortunate to have a "fifth printing" 1963 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I just got it this past spring from a dear friend. It was such a surprise. We were having a visit and discussing other stuff and she wandered in with this cookbook. I whispered to my husband that it’s the one I've been wanting - I was keen to get an early issue, and not a current one that can be bought in stores. She simply handed it to me saying I could keep it. I was jaw dropped. And thrilled.

So when the request for Boeuf Bourguignon came in - I knew exactly where to go. Page 315.

Although this dish isn't particularly complicated, it does require a few hours cooking time. So it's one of those perfect dishes where you get things going, then go onto other things (in my case cleaning/organizing my cupboards - I love Tupperware Modular Mates!).

The method seems quite similar to other stew methods (e.g. Osso Bucco),but there are a few small differences. First, starting the base with bacon. A brilliant start as you can never go wrong with bacon. I didn’t have exactly the right cut for doing lardons, but the strips seems to work sufficiently.

Second, the meat is browned in the fat without first dredging it in flour - the way I've usually seen recipes. You do add flour to the meat - but after the meat is browned - you toss the meat with flour and put for a few minutes in a high-heat oven. "This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust" says Julia.

Third, the mushrooms and pearl onions are prepared separately and then added at the end.

Lastly, I found that saying "Boeuf Bourguignon" throughout the process (actually throughout the day) with a Julia Child type flare, really added to the whole experience.

Although Julia recommends serving with boiled potatoes, we opted to go with here alternative recommendation, buttered noodles. I had the perfect noodles for this. It's a brand that is sold exclusively in Canada by La Bottega Nicastro in Ottawa. They are a bit pricier, but amazing. They were the perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Bon Appétit!

No Smoke No Pressure

I have a blog called Smoke Under Pressure which is focused on pressure cooking and smoker cooking.  Even though I have provision to talk about other food stuff, it feels limited.  So the premise of this blog is that there will be no smoker cooking or pressure cooking posts.  No Smoke.  No Pressure. 

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