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roasts

Tomato Pesto over Gnocchi

Tomato Pesto over Gnocchi

I spent the last few days in Chicago visiting a dear friend, and those days were surprisingly warm. I was all ready to embrace the fall and I even packed two sweaters to combat against the wind tunnel effect, but they and the jacket I packed were completely unnecessary. It was sunny, and warm, and largely reminiscent of not only the last third of this past summer, but also of our time last year in Barcelona. Between Thursday and Friday, I walked all over Lincoln Park, and the Loop, and revisited West Loop which was the neighborhood I stayed in the first time I was in Chicago ever. As a belated housewarming gift to my friend I brought him an immersion blender, and ever since then I was kind of preoccupied with making my favorite tomato pesto because it always comes out better using that than the traditional blender.

If I also wanted an excuse to post this recipe again to tempt T into making it before the tomatoes are lousy, well, I’ll never tell. Read More

Mustard-marinated roasted chicken

I can’t say I’m the most organized person, but one area in my life where I do crave order and lists is grocery shopping. My mom is a freaking ninja when it comes to it–not only does she write lists weekly, kept in a little stenography notebook, but she lists everything in the exact order she’ll find them in the store. By aisle. It’s hardcore–and she started doing it back when I was little and she needed to get through the store as quickly as possible before I started getting fussy.

I am nowhere nearly this organized with lists, but I am pretty good about whipping out a Post-It or one of our restaurant waitstaff notebooks (you know, those guest check pads you can buy at Staples) and a Sharpie and meticulously* noting down everything we need for a meal.

*or not-s0-meticulously

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Rostit de Festa Mayor (Holiday Roasted Chicken)

Four FC Barcelona/Real Madrid matches in eighteen days: it’s enough to make the most ardent Spanish football fan both excited  and terrified at the same time, because so much can happen in one game, much less four. It’s hard in America to find something to relate this phenomenon to, and the best I can offer is to imagine the Yankees and the Red Sox competing for three separate titles over the course of two weeks–it would be crazy and as a fan you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself so you’d likely sink into a banquette of a sports bar either in Manhattan or near Fenway, drinking beers and rapidly losing your grip on sanity as the games proceeded.

I’d use the Subway Series as another example, but that would be too low a blow to Mets fans right now.

I’m channeling much of that nervous energy into cooking (or at least planning meals), to the point that I peeled an entire head of garlic in 45 minutes thanks to a whole lot of antsiness during the hour leading up to the first game–a rematch of the Liga clásico that saw Barça destroy Real Madrid 5-0. Given how the teams have played since then this wasn’t considered the most important of the four, but being the first the anticipation was very high nonetheless. Read More

Braised lamb shanks with Asiago risotto

It would be wrong of me to declare winter on the way out.  That would assuredly bring several additional feet of snow/sleet hurricanes/what have you depending on geography and disposition and I won’t be responsible for that.  Indeed, we in NYC were not spared winter’s wrath with a freak couple-a feet last Thursday.  As the sun finally broke through on Sunday it occurred to me that even as we looked out the windows onto snow piles that used to be street-parked cars with out-of-state plates that we didn’t have many weekends left to fill the house with the warmth of the oven and aromas of long, slow roasting before it gets too humid once more and we’d rather subsist on ice chips than light the stove.  It may seem far off, but believe me friends, it’s not. Read More

Roasted Pork Shoulder with Braised Lentils

Just about everyone who could possibly reading this has had, I’m sure, to alter some of their plans due to snow over the last few weeks.  Typically, when the weather is nasty, we opt out of our normal trip into the Harlem Fairway, and instead we sojourn via subway to either the Whole Foods on 97th street or, as in this case, the UWS Fairway on 74th and Broadway.

It is always a very interesting proposition when switching Fairways.  I’ve never been to two different locations of the same store so close to one another that have such a different selection.  Elizabeth says that it’s their intention to make each spot special, and in this capacity, they definitely succeed.  With Christmas around the corner, we needed little by way of groceries, but when in Rome, you have to at least see what the Romans are up to…

The meat cases at the UWS locale is very different from the other, perhaps only because the top meat man has different tastes.  I found half pork shoulders for a very modest payout, meaning I get a 3 pounder for less than 5 bucks.  In fact, I got two.  I knew I could throw them into the freezer for a week or two.  I had my parents coming in after the holiday to visit NYC for the first time since our landfall here and I wanted something that I could do a lot with (soup, tacos, sandwiches, roast).

That plan didn’t exactly come to fruition, though, because there was no way we could thaw one out in time their first night here, and a late lunch/gorge session at Katz’s Deli left us with no appetite Monday evening.  So we saved the noble porker for Wednesday with the intentions to finish it up Thursday night as part of our moderately epic traditional New Year’s Eve dinner.  It was nice, Elizabeth was working from home and I had only a few meetings to attend, so one of us could be in the apartment while the oven was on.

Most preparations call for a minimum of 2 hours in the hot box with 15 minutes of high heat to begin.  Some extreme treatments even call for 12 hours of very low heat to break everything down.  I took what I could take time-wise, settling on 20 min at 500 F then almost 3 hours at 225 in my roasting pan with the removable rack in.  I started the whole ordeal with a rubdown with my Penzey’s Fox Point, some chili powder from the Fruit Exchange and some cayenne & extra salt.

I’ve done the pork shoulder now, twice before, I guess.  I tried it French-style in the cast iron dutch oven, but the proper oven roast seems to do better, at least in my opinion.  I still think I’m making mistakes in the stove-top version, whereas this method is more fool-proof.  At the behest of the wife, I paired it with Anne Burrell’s lentils, which matched surprisingly well.

French Green Lentils on Foodista

Roasted Chicken with Cara-Cara/Chayote Salad

Sometimes, I get this feeling.  I just get this yearning, this urge.  Insane vegan women handling out pamphlets on the subway notwithstanding,  I get an inescapable urge to roast a chicken.  Roasting a chicken is a simple,  straightforward and rewarding exercise, absolutely perfect for a chilly Saturday.  It only takes about 90 minutes from truss to table and the bird comes out delightful.

Roasting a chicken is simple and best set forth in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  To me, the most important decision is what to coat the birdie with before he goes for his trip down the high-heat highway.  My favorite is still a mixture of dijon mustard, salt, red pepper and cracked grains of paradise.  This time I tried for dried chipotle and Fox Point found at Penzey’s in Grand Central Market.  It was good, but in order for the coating to really take charge, it needs to be sterner stuff.

I found a few chayotes at Whole Foods on 97th street and after a few Top Chef flashbacks, I decided to give a simple salad a whirl.  It’s special citrus season, and instead of making my standard fennel/grapefruit salad, I mixed the chayote, shaved very thin with some Cara Cara oranges, their juice and some olive oil.  I let the whole affair sit in the fridge for a few hours before dinner and the result was a crisp salad that paid well with the sumptuous poultry.    One great thing about all the food on TV these days is that it can turn us on to ingredients we’d never even had heard of otherwise.  So fear not the unknown, readers, and until next time, cook on!

Whole Chicken on Foodista

Chateaubriand with Stewed Lentils

Chateaubriand with Stewed Lentils

Elizabeth and I could think of no finer meal to commemorate our 100th post than the one snapped above.  Neither of us makes any claims regarding our ability as photographers, but amateur or not, sometimes the subject matter speaks just fine for itself.

I expect I probably watch too much food-related TV.  I suspect it colors my opinions about eating and cooking and all the trappings that follow.  Food is such a massive topic, though, that maybe the only way to examine it’s many facets is the info-onslaught that is television.  If I had five or six extra lifetimes at my disposal, perhaps it’d be a different story.  My only hope, I guess for me and all the food-TV junkies out there, is that we take away the factual material, the benefits of the presenters’ experience and that we don’t get snared in the nets of faux-celebrity devotion/hatred or entertainment-for-its-own-sake.

Any reader of the site will know of my devotion to Good Eats.  They will also know that I have twice undertaken the butchery of a whole tenderloin into its constituent filets, etc.  Here we see that I reached deep into my fridge to liberate the small center-cut roast born of this process, the chateaubriand.  Prep was really a snap, all I did was dust the guy with salt, pepper and cumin, sear on all sides and cook in a relatively cool oven (250 F) until rare.  In the photo you can see how rare I’m talking about.  That’s the way we like it at TBYK, but with your trusty meat thermometer, you can leave it in until any doneness you like.  Really, elegance in simplicity.

The lentils were equally TV-inspired.  I picked up a great trick from Anne Burrell’s show.  I never thought to saute my veggies separately from my lentils and add everything together once it all was done in its own time.  It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a good cautionary tale about following cookbooks carte blanche without giving the matter any extra thought.  Still, I changed a lot of what she did: I used different vegetables and herbs, I omitted the bacon, but still, there’s no shame in following some guidance from the boobtoob so long as you’re still standing on your own afterwards.  This is always something I try to stress- a recipe is a beginning of a good meal, not the end of one (this obviously is not true in baking).  Inspiration and technical data don’t typically mesh well, yet this essentially is what a recipe is.

Some final words at the end of Post #100:  The important thing is to just keep cooking.  Repetition leads to comfort, comfort leads to confidence and confidence in the basics leads to creativity.  With a ownership of the basics and a willingness to experiment you’ll master that room of the house that’s such a cause of dread, drudgery and consternation in others.

Recipes mentioned today:

Chateaubriand and Lentils

French Green Lentils on Foodista

Greetings one and all.  Today we (finally) get around to posting the next installment in our foreign film-inspired-dinner series.  This time, selected Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night (originally la nuit américane).  Set in the French countryside, this movie-about-making-movies is a modern classic.  To mirror the flick that night, we opted for a French Bistro menu, straight out of Anthony Bourdain’s modern classic, The Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking.

There are plenty of clips from the movie available on the youtube, but below please find a loving tribute to the ideas and style of the film in the form of a hilarious AmEx ad by Wes Anderson.

We began with a simple mushroom soup consisting of little more than the beloved fungus, some onions,  butter, finished with a touch of sherry.

Mushroom Soup with Sherry

Mushroom Soup with Sherry

We found another pork shoulder recipe in this beloved tome, and dissatisfied with my first attempt, we struck out again (Avid readers may remember this trial being referred to already in the Cuban Sandwiches post.  Yes, this was the shoulder that born those self-same cubanos, consider this exposition for the sake of completeness or perhaps ret-conning, if you like.)  This shoulder wasn’t slow-roasted via oven, but rather simmered in our dutch oven for several ours with a crust of homemade breadcrumbs and mustard.  Pork Shoulder is a bit fatty, and a little on-plate surgery may be required when the finished product finally makes it to the table, but it’s completely worth it.

Pork Shoulder, browned and ready to stew.

Pork Shoulder, browned and ready to stew.

Breadcrumbs...before they were breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs...before they were breadcrumbs.

Pork Shoulder resting...

Pork Shoulder resting, breadcrumbs cooked on. Ah, the circle of life...

 

Pallette de porc à la bière, avec du couscous et des légumes braisés

Pallette de porc à la bière, avec du couscous et des légumes braisés

Above is the finished plate (consideration for authentic French titling provided by Elizabeth).  Onions, carrots and garlic from the roast pot decorate a little couscous, a holdover idea from the first attempt.  I highly recommend Bourdain’s book, Truffaut’s  film and any pig’s humble shoulder for a Saturday night that’s humble and exotic, relaxing and exciting.

dscn2809

Pork Roast with Couscous

I was thinking about calling this post “Pork Roast FAIL”, but it wasn’t a failure, per se, but it did… defy expectations.

I had a very general recipe for a 7-8 lb boneless shoulder roast and I purchased a 4 lb bone-in roast.  I salted/peppered the roast and placed it in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking.  Next, I let it warm to room temp then threw it into a 350 F oven for ~2 hrs, 30 min per pound.  While cooking, I added some cut up carrots, onions and garlic to roast with the roast.  To finish, I cut the roast into large pieces and roasted for another 30 minutes.

To go with, I prepared some couscous and dressed with the veggies and the pork drippings.  I had some tomato salsa left over from my roast chicken and added it too.

So, why the notions of failure? Well… first off all, I shoulda gotten a boneless roast.  Secondly, the preparation was supposed to yield plenty of leftovers, but after spending the day lusting after the roast all day, I ate FAR too much of it.  Lastly, since it’s essentially coated in pork fat, it left my entire house reeking of bacon for days after.

So please, dare to be great, dear reader, but beware: if you’re gonna go whole hog, go the full nine and expect the unexpected.

Chicken Diavolo with Risotto Milanese

Chicken Diavolo with Risotto Milanese

Chicken Diavolo, fresh from the oven

Chicken Diavolo, fresh from the oven

Balsalmic-Glazed Spanish Onions with Roasted Red Peppers

Balsalmic-Glazed Spanish Onions with Roasted Red Peppers

Mario Batali trifecta. The chicken was by far my favorite part of this meal. I love, love, LOVE to roast a good chicken and the mustard and spicy pepper rub on the skin was fantastic. When the English make something spicy, they call it “deviled”, the Italians, diavolo. Both mean the same thing, but in Italian, it sounds much nicer…

The caramelized onions were fun to try, all those sweet balsamic sugars do well and I threw some roasted red peppers on there for good measure. The little salsa on the chicken was tiny tomatoes, sliced onions and lots of parsley. I made some risotto with saffron to go with.

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