Archived entries for roasting

A Salad for Fall

As a cook, I’m always a bit torn in the fall. Part of me is drawn toward the heartier dishes I can finally cook low and slow, when hours of stove time are no longer anathema. On the other hand, week by week, the more delicate vegetables are disappearing from the farmer’s market and I start to panic. No more tomatoes! No more berries!

Reminding myself to breathe, I fashioned this autumnal salad from some vivid green arugula (get it while you can) and a bit of curly endive. And who needs tomatoes when you can have sweet roasted pears!

The pears get a bit melty inside, and caramelized around the edges, with a great concentrated flavor. They’re sweet and rich, even if you don’t toss them with honey or sugar first. (Though feel free to do that, especially if you make a few extra for dessert.) I nabbed a few directly from the pan, but they’d also be awesome with a little dulce de leche ice cream.
The jewel in this salad, though, is a mellow blue cheese I discovered this week from Great Hill Dairy. I’m usually not a huge blue cheese fan, but this non-homogenized blue is smooth and pretty mild, with just a bit of tang.

You could throw in a little bacon (why not) or some toasted walnuts, but I went minimal with a walnut-oil based vinaigrette. We ate this salad alongside a cup of onion soup, but I wouldn’t mind this as a main course, served with a hunk of crusty bread.

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Not even remotely authentic Asian-style pork roast.

Living in New York, I am extremely spoilt in certain respects. Without leaving city limits, I get to see the best bands in the world; I can track down two dozen brass paper fasteners made to mimic those belonging to King George (you’d be surprised how often that sort of thing is necessary); I can consume real, true, honest-to-blog chinese food. Not that MSG-laden, gloopy, constarch, mall chinese food (though I will totally say there’s a time and a place for that–don’t get me wrong); I’m talking about the Real Deal. The good stuff. I’m talking, specifically, about roast pork. Crispy, salty, sweet, melting, roast pork. I slip into a bit of a reverie just thinking about it.

Totally inauthentic Asian-style pork roast

Sadly, I’m fairly certain that The Good Stuff is a pain in the ass to make; if the legends are true, people learn at the feet of masters for months (years!) to hone this skill and figure out what’s what. Getting it really right is the study of a lifetime, if you can even find a decent teacher; naturally, that means I am desperate to make it. Of course, I am a realist. I know that I am unlikely to ever showcase the mettle necessary to stand more or less inside an industrial oven with a whole pig for hours, learning how to determine the perfect texture by touch alone and burning myself into jerky in the process. I’ve accepted that. This knowledge, however, will not stop me from tinkering in my kitchen in pursuit of a reasonable facsimile.

Note: This recipe is not that reasonable facsimile. It is, however, incredibly delicious

More totally inauthentic Asian-style pork roast

The latest installment in this quest of mine is a faux-asian-style pork roast, easy to throw together on a weekday night. Essentially, it’s a glazed hunk of pork, tender and moist and delicious–though it bears absolutely no resemblance to the char siu of my dreams. It’s made aromatic by bucketloads of ginger and garlic, and given a savory mystique through hoisin sauce and rice vinegar. What really makes it shine, however, is the addition of some pomegranate molasses, a thick, tangy syrup whose awesome powers I have yet to truly unleash. It gives the glaze  mysterious, fruity depth, as well as a lovely sparkle. (Pomegranate molasses is probably available at your local Whole Foods, as well as at your friendly neighborhood middle eastern store. Should you have neither one nearby, you can also buy it here.)

As I said, this dish bears no resemblance to the buttery, savory roast pork of my dreams, but it is an interesting twist on a Sunday lunch favorite–and absolutely divoon in a sandwich the next day.

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Simplicity itself: Honey mustard salmon

salmon

Lean in, I’ll tell you something: this dish is my secret weapon.

Honey mustard salmon! It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s delicious. It’s also ludicrously easy to make, and (incidentally) has been the star player in every successful seduction of my adult life, platonic or otherwise. I bring this up only because it’s the week before Valentine’s day, and if I were not going to be playing a show on the day itself (shameless plug 9pm at the National Underground, for all you New Yorkers! Ask for Autobahn da Fe! www.autobahndafe.com /shameless plug ), this is the dinner I would be making for Bench to usher in another year of his fealty happiness and harmony. I typically pair it with roasted asparagus, but it really plays well with most vegetables; most recently, I paired it with cauliflower and purple potatoes.

Aside from being texturally unimpeachable and just generally delicious, this dish has two major things going for it:
1. It has precisely four ingredients, including the salmon.
2. It takes approximately 45 seconds to assemble.

It’s really the perfect meal for those days when you want to make an impression but have a thousand other things to take care of before you can do so. Go ahead and clean the bathtub! Run to the bank! Go to the nail salon! Live dangerously! All you need is ten to fifteen minutes to get this dish from fridge to plate (if you’re using filets; slightly longer if you adapt it for a bigger slab o’ fish), so you can get home (or emerge from your lair) with as little as twenty minutes to go time (I’m giving you an extra five minutes to actually round up the ingredients in your pantry). Your date will be putty in your perfectly manicured hands. I am not kidding. Putty.

Be sure to make him/her do the dishes.

Honey mustard salmon

2 salmon filets

1/4c honey
1/4c wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix the honey, mustard, and soy sauce.
  3. Coat the salmon with the glaze
  4. Put the salmon in a roasting dish and whack it in the oven until the center is opaque (5-10 minutes, depending on how rare you like it. I prefer it pretty much still flopping around, so I tend to give everyone else’s portions a 3-4 minute head start before putting mine in.)

Just Let Go: Walk Away Roast Chicken

Shiv and I have started a recipe index for Pithy and Cleaver—the link is on the top of the page. We’ve been busy in our tiny New York kitchens and there’s quite a list of things we’ve cooked! Apparently we like dessert a little. We’ve tried out all kinds of recipes for vegetables. And despite Shiv’s protests that she’s afraid of poultry, we’ve cooked up quite a few birds for P&C.


But I’ve been holding out on you, and I’m going to make it up to you now. This recipe is my go-to, the chicken recipe that all others must be measured by. It’s easy. No trussing, no fussing, no basting, no worrying. And it’s delicious. Make it for a date, make it for your roommates, banish all fear of cooking when you see how easy this is to master. Then you can buy the Zuni cookbook, if you like, but you just might stick with this method, courtesy of Boston chef Gordon Hamersley.

Here’s the main trick. Rub the chicken all over with a paste made from herbs, mustard, and olive oil. Throw it in a pan on a bed of root vegetables (Hamersley calls for potatoes and onions, but I like to add yams and whole heads of garlic.) You don’t need to tie it up, you don’t need to say a prayer, just throw it in the oven and come back an hour and a quarter later. The bird takes care of itself, and the potatoes benefit from the lovely juices.


Too simple, you say? Well, ok. Two things to keep in mind. First of all, don’t skimp on the chicken. Buy a small fresh one, ideally organic and not pumped up with all kinds of hormones. If you’re feeding a crowd, do two small chickens! They’ll cook more evenly and not dry out, and they’re more likely to be flavorful to begin with. I got this lovely white plume Bobo chicken from Jeffrey the butcher (feet on! ack!), though I’ve also gotten flavorful antibiotic free chickens from the farmer’s market, too.

Second, if you happen to have the chicken a day early and you want to improve the flavor even more, dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels and toss some kosher salt on the outside. It’s really not hard to do, and does make a difference. Apparently the salt draws moisture from the meat which is then reabsorbed, effectively brining the chicken without waterlogging it. If you don’t have time, skip it. Hamersley’s original recipe doesn’t call for it anyway. If you don’t do this, add a little salt and pepper to the mustard paste. When you’re all done, take the lemons out and cook the carcass for stock!

Walk Away Roast Chicken, salted Zuni Style
Adapted from Gordon Hamersley and Judy Rodgers
serves three, depending on the size of your chicken

3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 whole roasting chicken (about 3-1/2 lb.)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 Tbs. fresh, chopped)
1 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 Tbs. fresh, chopped)
1 lemon, halved
1 small onion, cut into thick chunks
2 small new potatoes, halved but not peeled
2 yams, peeled and cut into chunks
2 heads garlic, optional
1/2 cup water, stock or wine if you want to make gravy

A day ahead, remove any fat or innards inside the chicken. Pat chicken dry with paper towels—if it’s moist, it will steam. Place on a platter or dish. Sprinkle the kosher salt over the chicken and add ground pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Cover loosely and refrigerate. Check the chicken the day you want to cook it, you may want to dry it with some paper towels.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, the mustard, thyme, and rosemary. Squeeze the juice from one lemon half into the herb mixture; squeeze the juice from the other half into a small bowl and reserve. Reserve the squeezed lemon halves. Spoon the herb mixture over the chicken, rubbing to coat the bird thoroughly. Put the reserved lemon halves inside the chicken’s cavity.

Put the vegetables in a roasting pan. If you’re using garlic heads, cut the top quarter-inch off the head, exposing the cloves. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper (and a little additional rosemary, if you like, and toss them with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Scatter the ingredients around the pan to make room in the center for the chicken.

Put the chicken in the pan, breast side up. Cook until the meat is tender and the juices run clear at the thigh, 1–1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. By this time, the potatoes and onions should be tender. Check the temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer—it should measure 165 degrees at the thigh.

You can serve straight from the pan after five minutes of letting the bird rest, or fancy it up as follows: transfer the vegetables to a serving platter. Pour the juices from inside the chicken’s cavity into the roasting pan and transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest. Spoon off and discard as much fat as possible from the juices in the roasting pan or separate with a gravy strainer. Set the pan with the juices over medium-low heat and pour in the reserved lemon juice along with 1/2 cup water, stock, or wine. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cut the chicken into pieces. Pour the pan juices over the chicken and serve.

Fair and fowl: Cherryaki Roast Duck

duckdinner2

When I first took a stab at cooking poultry, I did so with a silent promise to myself: Thou shalt take these lessons you learn and ultimately use them to cook a duck. Why this particular piece of fowl was so important to me, I couldn’t begin to tell you; why I couldn’t bring myself to START with this is no easier to explain. Suffice it to say, it had something to do with compressed air blowers, chinese restaurants, and the general fatty nature of the duck.

Mostly the fatty part, I think. Despite the fact that it is, truly, what makes the duck delicious, I find the sheer volume of fat that comes attached to a duck a little daunting. But, after our little trip to the Essex market, I was determined to be daunted no longer. So, I turned (as I so often do when looking for info about basic technique) to Mark Bittmann, who not only had several excellent tips on roasting duck, but an excellent suggestion for how to solve the fat conundrum: harness the power of steam!

By steaming the duck before roasting, you melt some of the prodigious fat layer, allowing it to drip out of the duck before you commit it to the oven. You’re left with a delicious bird (with a significantly more manageable fat quotient) and a cup or two of nicely rendered duck fat, which you can whack in your freezer and use intermittently in place of butter or oil. Steaming the duck also gives you an early opportunity to add flavor to the bird; flavoring the steaming water imparts a subtle flavor to the meat. Since I decided I wanted an asian-style duck (I have a moderate obsession with peking duck), I used star anise, mustardseed and cinnamon; I used the same flavors during the roast itself, and in the sauce/glaze. Hitting the seasonings three times made the taste of the meat unbelievably delicate and luscious.

duckroast


Being the sensible, frugal girl that I am, I used some of the fat I’d rendered out to roast up the potatoes. Believe me when I tell you that you should try doing that, too. It’s not for the faint of heart, but good goddamn, it is delicious.

Roast Cherryaki Duck

1 duckling, 4-6 lb

To steam:

2-4 c water
2 sticks cinnamon
2 tsp mustard seed
3-4 star anise, whole

To roast:
2 tsp cinnamon
kosher salt
1 orange, zested and then sliced
1/2 large yellow onion (or one small red onion), sliced

For the sauce:
1/2c cherry preserves
1/2c soy sauce
1/2c chicken stock
1/4c white wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 pieces star anise
1/4c honey

  1. Start by steaming the duck on your stovetop–put a rack in a nice, large pan, and then fill it with about 1-2 inches of water. Add spices. Prick the skin of the duck all over with a sharp knife or fork (take care not to prick the meat–you have about 1/4 inch of fat before you hit it), and then place it breast side down on the rack. Set heat to high, cover tightly and steam for about 45 minutes, replenishing the boiling water when it starts to run a little dry. I used my wok for this, wrapped in about eight hundred wasteful (yet effective!) layers of foil. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before doing anything else with it.
  2. While it’s cooling crank up your oven to 375 and start the sauce–put the preserves, soy sauce, honey, cinnamon, star anise, stock, and vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, then drop the heat to keep it simmering.
  3. Once the duck’s cooled a bit, rub the skin (on both sides) with a little kosher salt, orange zest and cinnamon, and stuff the body cavity with sliced onions and oranges. Place breast-side down on a rack in a roasting dish, and baste. Cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the bird). Remove from oven, flip over, baste the other side. Crank your oven to 425, then roast for 15-20 more minutes, until the skin is nice and crispy.


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