Monthly Archives: March 2011

Coq Au Vin Blanc

>Coq au vin – chicken with wine – is a traditional French country dish, in which a whole chicken is cut into 8 pieces, marinated in a Burgundy wine, and slowly cooked in bacon fat and vegetables and then accompanied with pearl onions & mushrooms.

Well, I had boneless skinless chicken breasts to get rid of…not a whole chicken. So I have already offended Julia Child immediately. To piss her off even more, I used white wine and I didn’t marinate my chicken in it, I just added it to my sauce. I’m not sure that I care too much that she’s rolling over in her grave, because my version of the French classic turned out to be delectable. I based this off a recipe by Virginia Willis (Bon Appetit, Y’all), and used the aforementioned variations.  Virginia Willis, by the way, does say that it is perfectly acceptable to use chicken breasts…so take that JC.

This is a looooooooong recipe. Which is why I chose to make it on a Sunday. It took me about 3 hours to prepare.

Coq Au Vin Blanc (por deux)
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
6 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 crushed clove of garlic, plus 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups white wine
bouquet garni (3 sprigs of thyme, 2 springs of parsley, 1 bay leaf)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 button mushrooms, quartered
12 pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
salt & pepper to taste

1. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Set aside.
2. Add bacon to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate (important note: you will need the bacon later. In other words – NO BACON SNACKS! It’s possible that not all of the bacon made it back into my sauce when I made this recipe. oops!!!)
3. Add chicken breasts to bacon grease and cook until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Add onion, carrot, celery, and crushed garlic to the pan and cook until vegetables start to brown, about 7-8 minutes.
5. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute, and then added the 1/4 cup flour.
6. Stir the mixture constantly until flour begins to brown. Return the chicken to the pan, and cover with chicken broth and 2 cups of white wine.
7. Cover and reduce hit to simmer. Cook for one hour.
8. To cook the mushrooms and pearl onions, heat oil in a skillet and add the tablespoon of butter. Add mushrooms and onions to skillet, cooking until tender, about 10 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, and 1/4 cup white wine to deglaze the plan. Add the bacon (if you haven’t eaten it all). Cover to keep warm.
9. After an hour has passed, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Ladel the vegetables and broth into a blender or food processor and puree. The sauce should thicken considerably. Return to pan, and cook about 10 minutes over medium high heat. Add the bacon, mushroom, and onion mixture. Return the chicken to the pan and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Serve immediately.

Told you it was long…this ain’t 30 Minute Meals.
This is definitely a recipe I’ll keep in my back pocket. Yes, it takes a bit of effort and time, but I felt so accomplished once it was done. It’s so hearty and filling, too…it’d make a great Crock Pot meal and is definitely comfort food to a T.

Bon Appetit!


>Blackened Swordfish and Lemon Saffron Risotto

>Swordfish was on sale at Sunflower Market so we bought some and froze it. Swordfish comes in fairly thick sliced steaks, kind of like a tuna steak. I ate a TON of it when I studied abroad in Spain, so I’m fairly familiar with it.
Jon really wanted to blacken it so I let him be in charge of that.

Blackening is a technique commonly used for fish. It’s ubiquitous in the South; you’ll see blackened catfish on many a Louisiana restaurant menu. First you coat the fish in butter and then you dredge it in a spice rub. I think Jon just used a Cajun seasoning we had, a long with some cayenne pepper and black pepper. You need to get your pan smoking hot (we cooked the fish in butter, too), and when the butter browns, the spices will brown with it creating a black crust on the fish – hence the name blackening.

We wanted to make a risotto but I wasn’t sure what kind. Apparently I’ve gotten more comfortable with the risotto after making it last time. I thought lemon would go well with the fish, so I googled lemon risotto and actually found some recipes – fairly easy across the board, just a simple risotto recipe with lemon added at the end. I also added saffron to give it the yellow color. This is the recipe I came up with:

Lemon Saffron Risotto        
1 qt chicken stock
1 stick butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
juice of 3 lemons
1 pinch saffron threads

1. Empty the container of chicken stock into a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and keep covered.
2. While stock is boiling, melt butter and add to it the chopped onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
3. Add the rice, coating with the butter.
4. Add the white wine to deglaze the pain, stir for about 10 minutes until wine is absorbed.
5. Begin to add the chicken stock, half a cup at time, stirring between every addition until absorbed. On the last addition of the stock, add the saffron. The spice will need a bit of extra liquid to absorb.
6. Add the lemon juice to the risotto and mix well. Serve immediately.

*A little note about saffron: the flavor of it is very nondescript. There’s not much else that it does taste like, but I think it’s a bit bitter. In this recipe, I just used it for the color, and the lemon definitely outweighs the bitterness of the spice. Also, it’s incredibly expensive. So if you can’t find it, then it can be omitted from this recipe.

>Red Beans and Rice

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Red beans and rice is a Southern Louisiana staple. It’s commonly eaten on Mondays, a tradition that originated in the early days of New Orleans’ history, because Monday was laundry day. The beans can simmer all day long, thus making it easy for housewives to do their washing all day, and still have dinner ready by nightfall. Also, the beans are flavored with pork fat, and since Sunday usually meant a big dinner that might involve a ham or some other cut of pork, the bones and leftover meat would be saved for red beans and rice the following day. What makes this din din even more attractive is that dried kidney beans and rice cost next to nothing, PLUS you’re using your leftovers from Sunday. Pretty handy, eh?

Nowadays, housewives – or housegirlfriends, I suppose – don’t exactly have Monday to hang around and wash their husband’s undies and have to go to work. Enter my bff, the Crock Pot.

I can remember my mom making red beans when I was little. I even remember her totally 80s Crock Pot, with its lovely orange color scheme, sitting on the kitchen counter when I came home from school. God, that smelled so good. And that smell brings back so many great memories. It’s so comforting to walk into the house after a long day of work/school and smell that…

Disclaimer: If you try to make this on the stove and use canned kidney beans, may God rest your soul. Please don’t do that. It’s sacrilegious to New Orleanian culture. Cook it low and slow… and you gotta soak the beans first! I usually soak my beans overnight at room temp – I just pour them in bowl, fill with water to the top (need extra water here in CO) and cover in plastic wrap until the morning. I also chopped my sausage and onion before I go to bed the night before so I can just toss it into the crock pot in the a.m. Also- the sausage: any smoked sausage will do. I like to use andouille when I can find it because it adds some spice.

Ham hocks are incredibly hard to find out of the South. I harass the guy at the meat counter all the time. Finally someone at Sunflower Market told me that they even ASK for ham hocks, and have a hard time getting them. If you can’t find any, you can chop up a ham steak and just use that. But I promise you, ham hocks make it taste so much better. When I do see them at the store, I buy all of them. Sorry to anyone else in Denver who needs them.

Red Beans & Rice
1 bag of small red kidney beans, soaked overnight    
1 package of smoked sausage, sliced into coins
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ham hock (or ham steak, chopped)
cayenne pepper to taste
4 servings of cooked rice
Tobasco, for serving

1. Soak red beans overnight.
2. Add chopped onions and sausage to crock pot. Pour beans on top.
3. Fill crock pot to the brim with water and add bay leaves.
4. Add cayenne pepper for some heat (or don’t if you don’t want it).
5. Cook 8-10 hours on low heat in crock pot.
6. At the end of the day, I take out the ham hock and slice it up and put it back into the beans before serving.
7. Serve over rice. Tobasco is optional.