Fava Beans…

To be honest, late Winter and early Spring are about my favorite time to live here in San Francisco. The rains are over, the hills are green, and there’s tons of delicious produce. It is just hard to hold too many grudges against the universe this time of year.

One of my favorite late winter treats is fresh fava beans. Though whomever discovered the best way to prepare them was ambitious. Maybe not quite as ambitious as the first person who ate an Oyster or an Artichoke, but still, they’re kind of a lot of work. Not hard work, but slightly tedious work. First you have to get the beans out of their out of their fuzzy shells.

Then you have to blanch and peel the individual beans. Put the water on for your pasta and start shelling. By the time you finish getting the beans out of their shells, the water should be boiling. Drop the shelled beans into the pasta water for a minute or two. Prepare an ice bath. Pull the beans out of the water and drop into ice bath. Now for the fun part. Using a paring knife, slit the skin of the bean opposite the stem. Squeeze the stem end of the bean and pop the meat out of the bean. It may take some practice so the bean meat does not fly across the room. Repeat until all beans are peeled. Some beer and music will be necessary.

One of my favorite fava bean dishes is pretty simple: Fava Bean Pasta with Pancetta. Put on some water for pasta. Clean the beans (see above). Chop some onion, garlic, and fresh herbs (Marjoram or Mint are nice complements to the flavor of fava beans.) Chop some fairly thickly sliced Pancetta. Sweat the pancetta until it releases its tasty fat. Remove the pancetta from the pan and raise the heat. Add the garlic and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add fava beans and return the pancetta to the pan, (a little crushed red chile if you like it spicy.) Add a splash of chicken stock (if you are being strictly Italian, Water). Cover and cook until the fava beans are tender. In the meantime, cook your pasta (Note: for some reason, after blanching fava beans, your water will turn an ugly green brown. As far as I know, this is harmless.) Pull the pasta from the water and add it to fava bean mixture. Add minced herbs and toss, loosening with pasta water if necessary. Top with freshly grated parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and, of course, a nice Chianti.

Pasta Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011

Wednesday is traditionally pasta and a bottle of wine night at the Flannestad Household, aka “Spaghetti Night”.

One of the dishes a coworker of mine made at Botticelli’s in Madison, Wisconsin was a pasta dish with Chicken Pieces, Chicken Stock and herbs. Ostensibly, a way to use up the chicken tenders leftover from butchering chicken breasts, I found it to be quite tasty and have been making variations on it for nigh on 20 years.

A few years ago I set about making a “green” version for St. Patrick’s day with a pureed sauce made from Dino Kale.

Tonight, I’m trying to use up some leftover grilled chicken thighs and legs from a grilling exercise a couple Saturdays ago.

Dino Kale (aka Tuscan Kale, Blue Kale, lacinato kale, and many other names) is one of my favorite greens. Actually, it’s about the only Kale I like, with great flavor and a not too long cooking time.

Stem, wash and chop the kale. Chop some mushrooms. Dice a Mirepoix and mince some fresh herbs. Saute mushrooms until tender, add mirepoix and saute until the onions are clear.

Deglaze the pan with Dry White Wine or White Vermouth. I like to use vermouth for deglazing pans, as it helps to go through bottles of White Vermouth faster. Happened to have Dolin Dry in the house at the time, which is a bit pricy for deglazing. Eric Seed likes to point out, Noilly Prat is actually preferred by the French for cooking. I have found Dolin Dry works equally well for cooking, it is just a lot more expensive. And, as Julia Child used to say, one for the pan, one for the cook. Or was that Graham Kerr?

After the wine has cooked down to a syrupy consistency, stir in a tablespoon or so of flour, cooking briefly over low heat. Stir in a cup of Chicken Stock, add the Chopped Kale, cover and cook until tender.

Enjoy a refreshing beverage and an appetizer while the Kale cooks. In this case a delightful, and quite pungent, washed rind cow’s milk cheese from Ireland. Purchased at Canyon Market it is called Ardrahan and comes to the US via Neal’s Yard.

Monty would also like some cheese, please! The stinkier the better!

Drop the pasta in boiling salted water, heat up some crusty bread, and stir some chopped chicken pieces and fresh herbs in to the dish. Open a bottle of wine and pour a glass for your sweetie and yourself. Check the salt level of the dish. Once the pasta cooked, remove it from the boiling water and stir it into the sauce. If the sauce is a little over reduced, include some of the pasta water.

If your lucky, you’ll hear the garage door open just as your plating this up, and your significant other will be greeted with a glass of wine and a delicious plate of Pasta with Kale and grilled chicken.

Chicken and Corn Chowder

Mrs. Flannestad has been a bit under the weather this week and requested chicken soup last night.

This is what I made…

Corn Chowder

Chicken and Corn Chowder

2 Chicken Leg Thigh Combo
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig thyme
few whole black peppercorns
1 whole clove

1/2 pound bacon
Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Dry Oregano
Dry Thyme
Bay Leaf
1 TBSP Chili Powder
2 TBSP White Flour

2 Russet Potatoes, Peeled and diced

1 Package Frozen Corn
1 Cup Half and Half
3 Green Onions, sliced
Cilantro, Chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add Chicken to a pot, add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Cook until chicken runs clear.

Meanwhile chop you veggies for the stew proper. Add the bacon to a heavy pot large enough to hold a quart or so of soup. You may need to add a touch of olive oil to get this started faster without burning the bacon. Render fat from bacon and cook until crispy. Reserve bacon. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan and add chopped onion, bell pepper, and red pepper. Sweat over low heat until they begin to soften and add garlic and spices. Cover and sweat for a few minutes more. Add 1 TBSP bacon grease back in (or olive oil if you prefer), and add flour, stirring to cook for a few minutes. You are creating a roux.

Hopefully, before now, your chicken will be done. Pour off the cooking liquid, strain, and reserve. You should have a couple cups. If not, add extra stock to make it up. Add strained cooking liquid to the vegetables and roux above, whisking quickly. Bring to a simmer rapidly. Add potatoes and lower heat. Cook until potatoes are almost done.

Remove chicken from bones and dice. Add chicken, reserved bacon, corn, and green onions to the soup. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes stir in the half and half and check seasonings. When it again comes to a simmer, ladle into bowls and top with chopped cilantro. Serve with crusty bread.

Tasty Braised Chicken and Pasta

Oops! Rookie move, getting the shadow of the camera in the picture! Unfortunately, the others were blurry.

Kind of like “Hunter’s Chicken”

Shopping list:
4 Chicken bone-in Leg Thigh Combos
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
1 Bunch Basil, chiffonade
2 small Zucchini, halved and sliced

Pantry Items:
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Medium Onion, chopped
Olive Oil
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
Dry Vermouth or White Wine
Chicken Stock
Fettuccine
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan or other hard Italian style cheese.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat a pot of water for the pasta.

Separate the legs from the thighs at the joint. Salt generously. Heat pan, heavy, oven safe pan. Add a good amount of Olive Oil. Brown thighs and legs, in batches if necessary. Remove from pan and reserve. Brown zucchini. Reserve. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and dried thyme to pan. Reduce heat and cook briefly. Deglaze with Dry Vermouth, and cook until syrupy. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to split. Nestle Legs and thighs in with tomatoes and add chicken stock until it comes half way up the pan. Cook on top of the stove until it begins to simmer. Cover and transfer to oven.

Once the Chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and reserve. Return the (very hot!) pan to stove top and cook on high. Boil the Fettuccine. Add the browned zucchini to the tomato and stock mixture. Once the Fettuccine reaches al dente, pull and add to tomato mixture. Add half of the basil, check seasonings, and serve in pasta dish. Place a leg and thigh on top of the pasta, sprinkle with basil chiffonade and freshly grated Parmesan. Serve with tasty red wine and crusty bread.

Serves 4

Roast Chicken Breasts with Porcini Risotto

Had a friend over Friday night and made Roast Chicken Breasts with Porcini Mushroom Risotto. Unfortunately, too busy cooking to take pictures.

I first made a gremolata-substance as a sort of “rub” for the chicken.

Mince 3 cloves garlic, zest of one lemon, 1/4 cup parsley, and 2 tablespoons fresh oregano. To this add a good amount of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a quarter cup of olive oil. Rub this all over 2 bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts, taking special care to get the mixture under the skin over the breast.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Do the risotto prep:

Rehydrate a quarter to half cup of dried porcini mushrooms in enough boiling water to cover. After they have rehydrated and cooled enough to handle, remove the mushrooms using a slotted spoon. Mince the mushrooms. Strain the liquid through a couple layers of fine cheese cloth or a paper towel. Put it in a sauce pan over very low heat on the stove.
Finely dice 1/2 onion and 1/2 carrot.
Slice 1/2 onion, lengthwise.
Slice 6 Crimini Mushrooms.
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme.
Grate 1/2 cup Parmesano Reggiano.
You’ll also need 3 or 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock added to the mushroom liquid above, and a quarter cup of cream (optional).

Put the chicken breasts on a roasting pan and place in the oven.

Saute the sliced mushrooms until they have given up their water and start to brown. Add the sliced onion, season with a little salt, and cook until translucent. Deglaze the pan with white wine or vermouth. Cook until the wine or vermouth is syrupy, and remove the pan from heat.

Heat another large saute pan. Add a good amount of olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup Arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to smell toasted. Add the diced onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent. Begin by adding a good ladle full of warm stock to the rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Continue adding stock gradually as it evaporates and cooks into the rice.

Hopefully, somewhere around here, your chicken breasts will have reached around 155 F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and allow to rest until you finish the risotto.

When the risotto is nearly done, but still a little toothsome, check the seasonings, stir in the cream and sauteed mushrooms and onions, and chopped dried mushrooms. Add minced herbs. While stirring, add in the Parmesan, reserving a bit to add on top when serving. If it seems too Sticky add a bit more stock or cream to loosen.

Place the Risotto on the plate, sprinkle with a little parm and freshly ground pepper. Slice the chicken breasts and lay next to the risotto. Serve with a crusty bread, a nice red wine, and maybe simple salad of greens in a light vinaigrette.

Sweet Potato, Parsnip, and Tofu Curry

Another easy, old favorite. You can make it with any root vegetables you like.

You’ll need a couple sweet potatoes, a couple parsnips, tofu, an onion, 3 tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, an inch piece of fresh ginger root and curry powder.

I usually make my own curry powder by toasting 1 teaspoon of whole fennel seed, cumin seed, fenugreek, coriander, mustard seed, cardamom, and 3 cloves over low heat in a dry pan on top of the stove. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, and the whole is quite aromatic, remove from heat, cool, and grind in a coffee grinder or spice mill. Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, cayenne, and tumeric.

Cut up your veggies and tofu. Mince the garlic and ginger.

Heat a large pan very hot, add a bunch of oil of your choice, and add the garlic and ginger. Once those start to smell nice, add the onions and continue cooking until soft. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they more or less disappear. Add the root vegetables and half the curry powder. Add a bit of water or stock to loosen, cover and cook until the vegetables are close to done. Add the tofu and a bit more liquid, if necessary.

Serve with rice. A nice addition is some yoghurt thinned out with lemon juice and chopped fresh cilantro on top.

Stacked Enchiladas

When I worked at a “Southwestern” restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, we would sometimes offer these as a special.

If I remember correctly, we would call them New Mexican Enchiladas.

Instead of rolling the ingredients in the corn tortillas, you would build a stack.

Put down a sauced corn tortilla, add an ingredient, add another sauced tortilla, then an ingredient, tortilla on top, sauce, and cheese. Then microwave the whole shebang.

Sort of like a tortilla lasagna.

Tonight I had some leftover chicken. I bought some salsa verde, spiced it up with minced chipotles en adobo, reserved half the sauce, and then stirred the leftover chicken into the remaining sauce. Then I put down a layer of spiced salsa verde, a tortilla, some chicken, another tortilla, some more chicken, a tortilla, the remaining sauce, feta cheese, and cheddar cheese. I baked it in the oven until browned.

At the same time I had crisped some bacon, then sautéed some onions, garlic, and chile powder in the rendered fat. Added a small can of black beans, and simmered. Added the crisped bacon back in.

Yep, not bad for a quick Sunday night dinner.

Mac And Cheese Friday Night

The usual Mac and Cheese…

1 cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock. I only use two tablespoons each of butter and enough flour to make a stiff roux. Add the milk and stock to the roux. I add a bit of nutmeg and cayenne to my sauce and stir in a bunch of cheese. In this case it was Vintage White Cheddar from Marathon Cheese Company and some garlic cheese curds that were getting a bit old. I sauté mushrooms with 1/2 onion, fresh thyme, deglaze with wine or vermouth, then combine with the cheese sauce, and mix with the pasta. Cover with bread crumbs and bake in a 325 degree oven until browned.

I thought this little pasta porthole was funny looking.

Miss Sweetpea was quite happy for me to get home…

Chicken, Okra, and Sausage Gumbo, Illustrated

Check the post from yesterday for the whole recipe for Chicken, Okra, and Sausage Gumbo.

2 Medium Onions, Chopped
1 Large Bell Pepper, Chopped
3 Ribs Celery Chopped

5 Cloves Garlic, Minced

½ Pound Okra, sliced

2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp. Black Pepper, ground
1 tsp. White Pepper, ground
1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp. Sage
1 tsp. Thyme

2 Quarts Chicken Stock (I had cooked the chicken and made the stock the night before.)

Meat from Chicken above, chopped

½ cup Flour, 1/2 cup Peanut Oil

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil and whisk in the flour over medium high heat.

…stirring constantly until it reaches a dark reddish-brown color (This was a little light. We wanted to have dinner before 9.)

Reduce heat, add the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic. Stir quickly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the vegetables are slightly browned.

Add the stock, seasonings, and sausage. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Add chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes, add Okra and simmer for another 15.

Make yourself a Sazerac. Savor while things simmer.

Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice (or potatoes) in large shallow bowls. Accompany with good beer and lots of hot, crispy french bread.