Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baked Eggs with Potatoes and Pancetta

This recipe is really an easy dish idea that you can adapt depending on what you have on hand. Today, it was fingerling potatoes, crispy pancetta, a hint of cream and some Parmesan cheese. Serve it with a simple green salad and dinner is served!

These are the types of meals I never get tired of. When all deadlines seem to pile up at the same time, the one thing I try never to take out of my schedule is a home-cooked meal. It really does give you that extra boost of energy, recharges your batteries and relaxes you in the process. I guess the kitchen really is therapeutic in that way - it's the one place where most of your worries momentarily disappear leaving you with a wonderfully comforting homemade meal.

Baked Eggs with Potatoes and Pancetta
Serves 2

2 eggs
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
6 cooked fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon of finely diced pancetta
2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan
A small handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 400F. Take out 2 individual-sized ramekins. Dice the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Place a pan on medium heat and add the finely diced pancetta. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until the pancetta is just cooked and crispy. Remove from the heat and drain excess fat using paper towels.

Divide the potatoes, pancetta and cream between the ramekins and spread into an even layer. Crack an egg into a small bowl and pour over the potatoes and pancetta. Do the same for the 2nd ramekin. Season with a little salt and pepper (not too much as the pancetta and Parmesan are quite salty). Top with the Parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the egg is just set. If the yolks start cooking faster than the whites, cover with aluminum foil until the eggs are set. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley. Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Drizzled Honey and Lemon

Sorry for my lack of posts in the past couple days folks, but I've been really busy! Every year around this time, for some reason, times starts to fly by. It seems like yesterday I was wondering around Soho and waiting for new years to make its way and now, it's February already and I have an never-ending list of To-Do's - which is always a good excuse to get over-priced notepads to jot down things down and hang them on the fridge (where else would I never forget to look?), although, that's quite besides the point! Being uber busy isn't a bad thing really, especially since I've always been the type to be most productive the more there is to be done.. it's a sort of adrenaline thing, really.

All to say, that I have been cooking, and haven't forgotten you, just trying to manage my time! This buttermilk chicken was a weekend treat, well worth the time it took to brine the chicken. Thank you Thomas Keller! The chicken was moist and flaky and the fried coating perfectly seasoned and crisp. I'm definitely no expert on fried chicken (not exactly a Parisian's girl Saturday night ritual!) but it was delicious. We served it with a fresh spinach salad with roasted almonds, and drizzled honey and lemon over the fried deliciousness. It was quite the treat!

Let me say a few words about Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. First off it's really, really a beautiful book. It's one of those coffee table books you can pick up at any time of the day and read just to learn more about the cooking process. The text is beautifully written and will echo in the minds of everyone who has a true passion about cooking. The explanations are clear and honest and meant to make us all better cooks, at home. A lot of what Keller writes is a shortened version of what I learned at culinary school, which makes me smile because it reminds me of the first time I stepped into a professional kitchen, and how utterly clueless, excited and nervous I was. The recipes are really written for the home cook to improve, learn from his/her mistakes and have fun in the kitchen. My only problem is that the book is quite hefty and not that easy to have next to you in the kitchen especially if you like keeping books out of the kitchen war zone!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Drizzled Honey and Lemon

Adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc
Makes 24 Pieces

24 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
18 bay leaves
30 unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
5 large fresh rosemary sprigs
1 1/2 bunches fresh thyme sprigs
5 lemons, halfed
3 3 1/2 pound chickens

6 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons garlic powder
5 tablespoons onion powder
4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for serving
6 cups buttermilk
12 cups peanut oil (for deep-frying)
Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs (for garnish), deep-fried 30 seconds

Brine: Bring all brine ingredients to a boil in large pot (except the chicken). Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve salt. Cool completely. Chill the brine until cold, about 2 hours.

Rinse chicken; add to brine, pressing to submerge. Chill at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain chicken and pat dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Cut each chicken into 8 pieces and lay on parchment-lined baking sheet for about 2 hours or until completely dry. Make sure the chicken is completely dry before frying or the water will spatter in the oil and it can be very dangerous!

Frying: Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix first 6 ingredients and 4 teaspoons coarse salt in large bowl. Place buttermilk in another large bowl. Dip each chicken piece in flour mixture to coat; shake off excess. Dip pieces in buttermilk, coating completely, then dip into flour mixture again, coating thickly (do not shake off excess). Place chicken on prepared sheets.

Pour peanut oil into heavy large pot. Attach deep-free thermometer to side of pot and heat oil over medium-high heat to 320 degrees Fahrenheit and 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Working in batches of 4 pieces at a time, add leg and thigh pieces to oil (use splatter screen to protect yourself from hot oil). Adjust heat as needed to maintain temperature. Fry until cooked through and skin is deep golden brown, turning once using wooden spoons, about 10-13 minutes. Using wooden spoons, transfer chicken to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with course salt.

Add breast pieces to oil and fry until cooked through and skin is deep golden brown, turning once, about 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with course salt.

Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Serve with a good drizzle of honey, a squeeze of lemon and fried rosemary. Enjoy!
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