Filed under: Easy but not quick, How To Land A Man, Poultry, Supper, Vegetables | Tags: Chicken pot pie, roasted chicken
It’s that whole Fall thing, that desire for rich and creamy and not-exactly-lite fare. Frankly, I am tired of salads. Around April, I get excited for them, with the snow peas and baby greens and all, but come September we all start a’hankerin’ stews and pot pies and anything with an obscene amount of buttery gravy and possibly alcohol.
Now that it’s mid-to-latish October and we actually get to put a real blanket on the bed and not just another sheet pretending to be a blanket, I am making rich
fattening filling meals. Because Winter is coming and we need that extra subdermal layer of adipose tissue to provide energy during the hibernation period. Except that we’re not bears or squirrels. O well.
Ok so we don’t need that, but isn’t there something wonderful about knowing that your house has the aroma of roasting vegetables, garlic, and chicken, and you can catch a whiff even as you turn into the driveway and KNOW that you did something RIGHT and your family will approve? Yes, there is.
This chicken pot pie recipe was first spotted in a Fine Cooking magazine eons ago…I don’t remember which issue, but in the interest of full disclosure, this is not my own unique recipe. However, I have made a few changes, particularly in the top crust.
I am not a pastry chef. Whenever possible, I buy the pie crusts in the refrigerator section of the store. Sometimes I use those crescent rolls. The original recipe had you making this buttery puff pastry from scratch and the 3 times I tried it, it turned out this greasy unpleasant stuff. So, I switched to a biscuit top. Who doesn’t love that? I reckon you could use canned biscuits, but with so much effort going into the filling, I’d rather make semi-homemade. Yes, you could make biscuit dough from scratch and it would be lovely. I am tired. I have spent the entire day making the filling and doing endless loads of laundry so I used a biscuit mix. I wanted biscuits with herbs mixed in and that’s hard to do with canned ones. They are slightly customized with buttermilk (add a bit of baking soda to the mix) and lovely chopped oregano and thyme.
As always, after picking all the meat off the chicken, I roasted bones with an onion and a couple of carrots, then threw it in the crockpot with a gallon of water to make stock. I am mildly embarrassed to admit that I used commercially made stock for the recipe, because I was all out of the homemade. It was a sad state of affairs, but one punts when one has to.
This recipe makes a very large amount, so divy it up into 2 casserole dishes, and then cook one of them until the biscuits aren’t quite brown, cover it with foil, and freeze it or give it to a sick friend, so they can warm it up when comfort food is required.
Roasted Chicken Pot Pie
1-4 pound whole chicken
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 cups baby carrots (or 6 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks)
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut lengthwise then sliced thin
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper
generous handful of fresh chopped oregano and thyme (or parsley, or AND parsley)
1/2 cup white wine (or water, tho wine is very nice)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1- 32 oz carton chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the cut up vegetables and garlic in a big bowl and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Put them all in the bottom of a really big roasting pan, and put the chicken on top. Drizzle a little oil,salt and pepper on the chicken. Put it in the oven and roast for an hour, until the chicken is crispy and brown, and the veggies are brown and it all smells so good your 24 yr old son wanders in and announces that he’s hungry.
After an hour, take it out of the oven. The vegs underneath the chicken might not be completely done and that is OK. Also, the chicken might not be 100% done and that is OK too. Let it cool long enough that it is easy to handle (about the amount of time it takes to fold 2 baskets of laundry and watch an episode of CSI you DVR’d last week). Pick all the meat off the chicken and tear it into small pieces. Put it in a huge bowl, and scrape the vegs over into it too. Add the chopped herbs.
There will be crusty stuff in the roasting pan. If it’s a metal pan,set it on the stove and turn the stove on to medium. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the crusty bits. Set that aside.
In a pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Let this cook on low, stirring occasionally until it is a light toasty brown and smells like something you want to eat all by itself with a spoon.. Slowly pour in the carton of chicken broth, stirring with a whisk. Turn the heat up a little. Scrape the crusty wine stuff from the roasting pan into it. Stir frequently until you have a nice medium-thick gravy.
Pour the gravy over the chicken and vegs in the big bowl and stir it all up.
Spray a couple of casserole dishes with no stick stuff, and put the filling in each dish. I used a 9×9 and an 8×12 oval pan.
For the topping:
3 cups Jiffy or Bisquick biscuit mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
a generous handful of the same herbs you put in the filling
1-1/2 cups of buttermilk (maybe more, you want a sticky dough)
Stir it all together.
Drop by generous spoonsful onto the filling.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes,until the biscuits are brown and the filling is bubbling up.
(The thicker the biscuit crust is, the longer it needs to cook. Check it after 40 minutes to see if the dough is done underneath. If not, give it 10 more minutes.)
Ok see, it’s gotten cold here. Coldish, anyway. Enough so that we had to put a quilt (as opposed to a thin cotton blanket) on the bed, and I actually closed the windows a little because wide open was TOO cold.
Anyway, I love Creole and Cajun food. They are similar but not exactly the same. Also, this post is about how I am feeling, due to situations with work stuff, not about a fancy pants recipe that you need to be impressed with…I mean (in order to refrain from offending my English Teacher Friend)…not about a fancy pants recipe for which you should be impressed.
Did I mention that I am on my second pear vodka with mango juice and Pellegrino water? No? It’s good. Equal parts each. You’re welcome.
So I fixed it today. It’s cool. The weather is approaching the semblance of cool fall weather that asks one to give up the salads and embrace the stew.
Also? It has beans. Lots and lots of many different kinds. I love beans. They’re cheap and high in protein and wonderful.
Anyway, the roux. It smells like…toast and butter and angels wings and babies after a nap. Throw in some mirepoix and let cook a minute before you add it to the cooked beans and the angels start singing loud songs and warming you with their angel-breath (which smells like butter and toast)
Do I have clever pictures, artistically photographed with stylish bowls and comfortable spoons? No. Of course not.
However the roux with the mirepoix…oh my heavenly saints and angels that smells good. Then, after the whole mess is dumped in the stewed beans and sausage, scraping the pan of the last little tidbits of butter and toasted flour flavored with the onion….happy sigh. So flamin’ good. I am waiting for the family to all go to bed so I can shamelessly lick the pan.
It’s the kind of thing you want to keep eating even though you’re full. You want to eat it until you throw up so you can eat some more.
Gross? TMI? maybe…but the Roman would do it and I used to think that was weird but now I totally understand why.
Once upon a time, a long time ago (22 years ago! Wow!) we lived in L.A. Lower Alabama, that is, in a sweet little town called Monroeville. Among it’s multitudinous charms, there is a lovely restaurant called David’s Catfish House. Best. Catfish. Ever. It’s served family style, with big bowls of fabulous cole slaw and creamy amazing cheese grits. Do you know what they do? They use evaporated milk in the recipe (which will follow). It makes for amazing and creamy grits.
Anyway, back when we lived there, the boys (now 24,22 and 21…#4 hadn’t been born yet) were 3,1, and An Argument Thanksgiving Weekend. David, our second son, quickly learned that he and the restaurant shared a name, and it became His Restaurant. It was obvious, what with his name right there on the sign and also written in the linoleum tiles in the entrance. All the boys learned that when I said “I think we should eat catfish tonight” didn’t mean fishsticks from the oven. It meant hot, crisp fried catfish,rolled in cornmeal and fried in fresh peanut oil. They didn’t fry it until it was ordered, so it was always piping hot and delectable.
However, I am not writing about their (amazing and…throw in a few more adjectives…) fried catfish, but instead about the baked ones. One day I didn’t want fried catfish (seriously?? I cannot imagine it now that the restaurant is a solid 8 hour drive away) but instead tried the Continental Catfish- a spicy baked version. It was delicious and the kitchen was happy to share the recipe, even though it is so simple it meant I probably wouldn’t order it anymore, because it could be made at home in the amount of time it takes to put 3 preschoolers into the minivan and drive to the restaurant. That’s ok though, because I’d still order the delectable fried ones.
Here’s what you need:
2 pounds catfish fillets (8 or so)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from the bottle is fine)
1 stick of butter, cut into 8 pats (or however many fish fillets you have)
Your favorite Cajun or Creole seasoning blend. I use Zatarain’s Creole Blend, but Emeril’s or Tony Cacheries’ works too.
Put the frozen catfish in a 9×13 casserole dish. Pour the lemon juice all over (it will freeze onto the fillets, which is very cool), and put a pat of butter on top of each fillet. Sprinkle generously with the seasoning blend. Use however much seasoning you like. Bake at 400 degrees until the catfish is opaque and flakes easily.
How easy is that?!
Serve with Cheese Grits:
4 cups water
1 large (12 oz, I think?) can evaporated milk
1 cup long or quick cooking grits (NOT instant! Those things are a travesty!)
1 teaspoon each salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like stuff (or use paprika if you absolutely don’t like hot pepper)
1 to 1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (or mild, or colby, if sharp cheese isn’t your thing)
Put the water and canned milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits and seasonings. Turn the heat down to simmer and put the lid on it. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking on the bottom of the pot. Cook until the grits are done and nice and creamy. Stirring frequently is important. I use a whisk to break up any lumps, as my husband says “life is too short to eat lumpy grits.” When the grits are done, stir in the cheese. Taste it and see if it needs more cheese, salt, or pepper. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Turn off the heat and put the lid back on. Serve with the catfish.
If you put the catfish in the oven, then you can make the grits in about the time it takes for the catfish to bake, if you use quick cooking grits. If you use long cooking (like I do), make the grits first, give them about 20 minutes to cook before you make the catfish. The grits I use are actually really coarse, so they take nearly an hour to cook. As long as you keep stirring them so they don’t stick, you really can’t overcook them (even with the quick cooking ones) and as long as they don’t scorch, the longer they cook the creamier they get. Use as low a temperature as you can to keep them at a simmer. Low and slow…that’s the idea to get creamy grits.
Serve them up with your favorite cole slaw. Terry likes the simple kind- no fancy ingredients like dill or white wine vinegar or blood orange juice., Just simple Southern Style slaw:
8 cups finely shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup good mayonnaise (Duke’s, if you can get it. Otherwise Hellman’s or Kraft)
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Mix together the cabbage and carrots. In another bowl, mix together the mayo, relish, and mustard. Stir that into the cabbage mix. Do not make this way ahead of time, and the dressing will draw water out of the cabbage and you’ll get watery slaw. Mix it up right before you serve it.
Filed under: Easy but not quick, How To Land A Man, Meat, Staples | Tags: Chili
It isn’t really cold yet. I mean, it never is COLD cold in Deepest South Georgia. The best we do here is a 2 day stretch in January where socks are required. Although last year we had an entire week where it was below 30 every night. You’da thought it was a new Ice Age, the way people grumbled about heating bills and lack of wool socks at the TBM (that is the local feed-seed-hunting supply place).
We like coldish weather. Well, the menfolk do, anyway, but they all have pelts and I don’t. What we do agree on is cold weather food. Spicy stuff that is filling and warm in the belly and rich with spices and meat. Stews are a household favorite, as are Thai curries and chowders in their myriad forms. Later on I’ll do a post on Low Country Crab Stew…which is like New England clam chowder only with crab meat and more crab meat replacing the potatoes and a dollop of sherry.
So last week I was anxious for cool weather. Mother Nature was teasing us with 60 degree nights and 75 degree days that allowed for open windows and a semblance of a blanket on the bed. The menfolk were making their stew-needing noises and I, frankly, was hankering some myself.
CHILI! I shouted! With FRITOS! They replied. Because that’s how we do it. Also with cornbread but mainly with Fritos because they are elemental and perfect in every way. And no, not tortilla chips. Thick, salty Fritos. And not knockoffs, either. Frito-Lay brand Fritos.
Now. I come from a chili-making family. My father, a Proud Texan, has his Own Recipe which he got from Wick Fowler. He, when he was a professor of Veterinary Medicine, would make 30 gallons at a time for the Omega Tau Sigma fraternity of which he was advisor. I would help because…y’know. Fraternity of veterinary students. Hellooo. His method involved chuck roasts and pinto beans and quart jars of Mom’s home canned tomatoes and more quart jars of his Own Special Blend of Herbs and Spices. It was (and still is) delicious. And it took all day because all that meat (like 30 pounds of it) would have to be cut into 1/2 inch chunks, then cooked in pair of massive cast iron pots over a low fire outside where the entire Fraternity Row would smell it and have jealousy. The beans were cooked the day before, and everything blended in perfect harmony to be slow simmered for several hours until He Pronounced It Ready. Oh, and he always made a gallon of “Special Chest Hair Growth Formula” chili that involved Mom’s home grown habeneros.
Then I married Terry, who’s chili background was South Georgian, thus deemed ‘inferior’ by my Texas-born self…I have since learned that was pretty tactless, and actually come to like his version of chili…which involved opening cans and a pound of hamburger. It’s certainly faster and honestly, no less tasty than Dad’s (please don’t tell him that.)
Now, the version I make is a hybrid of the 2. I open a few cans- tomatoes, mainly, but occasionally beans if I decided at 5 to make chili, and not the day before where I could cook beans myself. I also use a package of chili seasoning…but it’s Wick Fowler’s which tastes remarkably like Dad’s recipe. Sometimes, if I am feeling Authentic, I’ll cut up a 2 pound chuck roast but mostly I just use hamburger (ground round, because it’s leaner and I always spill and make a mess when draining browned meat).
Terry’s the one who taught me to eat it over Fritos. Bless him. We’ve also eaten it over rice, which is really quite good and a great way to stretch it if one (or 2…sometimes 3) of the household sons brings a friend over. I also keep spare cans of beans for stretching, as well.
Here we go!
1 pound ground beef, browned in the bottom of a great big pot.
1 package Wick Fowler’s 2 Alarm Chili Seasoning Mix (ignore the directions on the package)
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
4 cups cooked pinto beans (or 4 cans, drained and rinsed)
Once the meat is browned, dump everything (EXCEPT the little package of masa from the seasoning kit) into the pot with the browned meat, and stir. Simmer low and slow for an hour or so…OR…you could make this up in the morning in a crock pot, set it on low, and go to work (or shopping, or take a nap, or do your regular stuff…whatever that is).
About 10 minutes before you serve it…let’s say, before you set the table or sit down for an after work Adult Beverage…stir the little package of masa into a 1/4 cup (or so…precision is not paramount) of water until well mixed and not lumpy, then pour that into the chili and stir it up. It will help thicken it and gives another layer of flavor…mild sort of corn-in-the-background flavor. If you forget to do this, that’s ok, but it’s worth it.
Now, the chili seasoning mix comes with a tiny packet of red pepper. This will take the chili to 2-alarm level. I don’t care for that, so I don’t add it. However, you might, and that is fine! The household menfolk like chili at 3 or 4 alarm level, so they add this dried pepper blend Terry’s father gives us, that is made from 6 types of peppers some friend of his grows in his garden, that includes habenaros, Thai bird chilis, and some other Satanic version of hot pepper. But, since it is much easier for them to add heat than it is for me to remove it, I don’t put it in the pot with the other stuff.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the publishing of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, you are invited to participate in a global event;
at 11:00 am wherever you are.
Inspired by the ideals cherished by Hobbits everywhere: camaraderie, companionship, and of course, a love of good food. The Hobbit Second Breakfast is your chance to pop the kettle on, sit down with friends, family or colleagues, and take a moment to eat, drink and be merry.
So wherever you are in the world at 11am (sharp) on 21st September, come and join us for a Hobbit celebration. We’re looking forward to it!
Please, feel free to take the image of the invitation and PASS IT ON!!
Filed under: Easy but not quick, James Beard Project, Poultry | Tags: broiled chicken, dinner, James Beard chicken recipe
When I was making out the menus this weekend, I decided to consult James Beard for some chicken ideas, and the first one that caught my eye was his recipe for Piquant Broiled Chicken Halves.
Then, today happened. It started with a squirrel running under my tire and dying tragically. I hate it when that happens. Poor squirrel. Later on I bought groceries and even though I had my usual compulsively organized (by aisle and type of container) list, I kept having to backtrack for that one stupid thing that was under something else on the list and then there was this…child…I guess it was a child, but it sounded like some kind of electronic sonic weapon used by the government to incapacitate enemies…and I don’t think the child took a breath for 15 minutes. That was a little icing on the squirrel doughnut.
Then there were Highly Charged Issues with a certain son (no longer a child) of mine, involving parking at the Race coming up this weekend (NASCAR, baby!) and the apparent (to him) inability of people who handle these things to know what to do with all the cars that will be showing up there and how we need to get there the day before and stake out a place. O HAIL NO. That was sprinkles on top of the icing of the squirrel doughnut.
So, I decided what was needed was some serious pouting. I pouted. With vigor and the honed skill of a 47 year old Southern Housewife. After shedding a few tears of deep self pity, it was time to focus on something productive, and today’s menu featured this lovely chicken recipe.
James Beard’s recipes tend to be rich…and that was just what was called for since I wasn’t willing to drive the 3 miles to Daylight Donuts and get a chocolate frosted with sprinkles.
Also- I’d never split a chicken before. I can carve one like nobody’s business, but the whole split-it-in-half-take-out-the-backbone thing sounded…complicated. Until I remembered those Marvelous Kitchen Shears (heretofor used only for cutting roses) that my brother gave me for Christmas a few years ago, and sort of recalled having seen something on TV of someone cutting a chicken in half and that was all there was…easy as pie. First,, you cut up either side of the backbone and remove it, just chomp on through the ribs. Then, you fold the spineless bird open and cut through the breast bone. And there it is. No pictures because I had my hands full of raw chicken.
You know, I hate having chicken goop on my hands. I dislike any sort of goop, really. Slimy sticky wet stuff on my hands is gross and when I am working with chicken parts I have to wash the hands several times or become unable to function due to the grossness. I suppose I could wear gloves but that’s just as bad.
Ok anyway, the ingredients are simple and easy to find in any grocery store. That is another thing I like about his recipes. They’re interesting and delicious, but don’t require living in a large city to find the stuff.es
James Beard’s Piquant Broiled Chicken Halves
1 cup ground walnuts
6 shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter (I used olive oil)
1 teaspoon salt (I’ll use 1/2 tsp next time, it tasted salty to me)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 small chickens (2-1/2 pounds or so), split in half with backbones and necks removed
2/3 cup melted butter (I used olive oil)
1 teaspoon paprika
Loosen the skin on the chicken by siding your fingers between the skin and the meat (then compulsively wash them after each half), and stuff the paste under the skin (again compulsively washing your hands, and make note of the can of Badger Balm on the shelf for later when you realize how chapped your hands are). Put the chicken on a roasting pan, bony side up.
Combine the melted butter (Olive oil), paprika, and several dashes of Tabasco, and brush all over the bony side of the chickens. Put under a broiler for 15 minutes,4 inches from the heat, brushing once or twice while cooking (actually, I didn’t…and it was fine)
Turn them over, brush with the basting mixture, and broil for another 12-14 minutes.
The skin gets delightfully crusty, the shallots sweeten up, and the nuts are an amazing rich flavor and texture that go so well with the tender small birds. I used the amounts of Tabasco he recommended, and I think it could stand a bit more. Next time I might use half again as much. If you are not fond of spicy-heat, cut back on it a bit, but definitely use it, because the flavor is good in there.
It improved the quality of the day, especially served with a heap of buttery homemade mashed potatoes.
Filed under: Breakfast, Easy but not quick, Fruit, Grains, Nibbles, Technique | Tags: granola bars, snacks, vegan, whole grain
I have a son who is very health conscious. He rides his bike 25-30 miles every morning before he goes to class (he’s studying to be a computer engineer), and likes to eat whole-grain high quality food with plenty of protein goodness that doesn’t have anything in it he can’t pronounce. Like me, he thinks store bought granola bars taste stale and weird.
So,a while back (maybe a year ago?) in the interest of making it myself, I took to investigating recipes. I’d never made granola bars before. The recipe I like is Alton Brown’s (seriously, I never met a recipe of his I *didn’t* like!), so I made them.
Only…too much honey. We’re not fond of a heavy honey flavor. Also…butter. Animal fats are supposed to be bad for you. I needed a non animal fat that wasn’t shortening (thus hydrogenated). Also…I didn’t have any sunflower seeds. A seed is a seed is a seed. How about a grain instead? I know! Quinoa! it gives a great crunch and it’s high in protein! And…I don’t have enough sliced almonds. I’ll used 1/2 sliced almonds and 1/2 whole. Who doesn’t like whole almonds?
So, I ended up altering the bejeejums out of his recipe and totally kind of almost made it my own. So be it. Also? I doubled it. A 9×9 [an of granola bars would last about 10 minutes here. And I used a jellyroll pan, which makes for kind of thin bars, that bake nicely. And cranberries, because that’s what I had. And 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts left over from something else because WHY NOT!?
preheat the oven to 350 degrees
4 cups rolled whole oats
1 cup quinoa, rinse (quinoa has a naturally occurring resin-like coating that rinses off. It’s not poisonous, but has a bitter flavor)
1 cup each sliced and whole almonds (or 2 cups sliced, or any other assortment of nuts. Walnuts would be lovely!)
Mix all this together in a big bowl. Put on a couple of cookie sheets or roasting pans or whatever, and bake for 15 minutes, until it all starts to smell a little toasty.
Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.
In a pot, mix together
1 cup dark corn syrup*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil**
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
Bring this to a very slight simmer over medium heat on the stove- just so it’s starting to bubble around the edges and the brown sugar is dissolved.
In a great big bowl, mix together the toasty stuff from the oven, and 2 cups of dried fruit. I used cranberries. Raisins would be nice, so would dried blueberries, or apricots, or cherries, or a blend of stuff. 2 cups worth, tho.
Pour the liquid sugar mix over the oats and stuff, and stir it in so everything is well coated and you don’t have any dry things. It will be lovely and sticky!
Use a bit of coconut oil to grease a big jellyroll pan. I used a 10×14 stonewear pan, but metal or glass is fine. If you don’t have a pan that big with a lip,you can pat it out on a flat cookie sheet, since it won’t spread while it’s baking.
Dump the mixture in the pan and spread it out evenly. Press it down with greased hands or a spatula.
Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, until it starts to brown and smells lovely.
remove from the oven and press it down again. I used the flat bottom of a skillet to mash it, it’s hot so you probably don’t want to use your hands. Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then carefully flip it over onto a piece of foil and it *should* drop onto it (if the pan was well greased). Let it cool a while longer then cut it into bars.
*I used dark corn syrup this time. Then I made another batch and didn’t have enough corn syrup, so I used 1/2 cup of corn syrup (all I had!) and 1/2 cup of plum jelly. I like the jelly idea and will probably use it again, because I get many jars of plum jelly every Summer and we aren’t really jelly eaters around here.
**coconut oil adds a nice delicate coconut flavor to the bars. You can also use plain vegetable oil or butter. I wouldn’t use olive oil. Wrong sort of flavor.
If you like, add a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Use any sort of nuts! Play around with the fruits, add MORE if you want to! In the second batch, that I used the plum jelly in, I scrounged the pantry and found many bags of dried fruits that didn’t have enough of anyone kind for a recipe of anything, but all together made about 3 cups worth, so I made extra fruity bars with walnuts and no quinoa…they have currants, cherries and cranberries.
The main thing is the technique and proportion of syrupy stuff to dried oaty stuff. Mash it all firmly into the pan before and after baking, let them cool before cutting, that sort of thing.