Sunday, December 30, 2012

White Chicken Chili

We made this dish in the Cafe tonight:

White Chicken Chili

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 48 ounces of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed.
- 2 16 ounce jars of salsa (1 medium, 1 hot)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Place the chicken breasts in a crockpot and add cover with two cups of chicken broth.  Cook on low overnight.

In the morning, remove the chicken breasts from the crockpot and shred the chicken.  Place the shredded chicken back in the crockpot and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  Add the beans, salsa, diced onion and cumin.  Mix the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours.  Occasionally stir the chili while it is cooking.

Cook's Notes: One of my co-workers shared this recipe for me and we have not been disappointed.  It does take a little planning to prepare this recipe as the meal is made over the course of two days.

I used three 15 ounce cans of beans, and a single jar (38 ounces) of Pace salsa.  We topped the chili with sour cream and shredded Mexican blend cheese.  This is an incredibly easy meal to make and the results are out of this world good.

Prime Rib au Jus

This was our main course for dinner last night.  It is an amazingly simple meal to make but the flavors are incredible.

Prime Rib Roast au Jus
- One 8-9 pound rib roast 
- ½ cup kosher salt 
- ½ cup freshly cracked black pepper 
- 2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced 
- 2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced 
- 3 stalks celery, diced large 
- 2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced large 
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled 

For the Au Jus Sauce 
- ½ cup dry red wine 
- 3 cups beef stock 
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
2. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub it all over with the salt and pepper. Pressing gently to be sure they adhere. Place the meat on a sturdy rack in a roasting pan and then arrange the onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and garlic around it. Place in the oven and cook until well browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F, stir the vegetables around and roast until the meat it done the way you like it. To check for doneness, insert a remote meat thermometer into the dead center of the roast monitor the temperature. 120F is rare, 126F is medium rare, 134F is medium, 150F is medium well and 160F is well-done; we like to pull it at 125F. 
3. When the roast is done to your liking, place the roast on a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil. Set it aside for 15-20 minutes or so and allow the roast to rest. 
4. Place the roasting pan, with all the drippings and cooked vegetables, on the stove over high heat. Add the wine and bring to a simmer to deglaze, stirring to dissolve the brown crusty stuff on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, bring back to a simmer and reduce the volume of the liquid by about one third (10-15 minutes). Season the sauce with salt and pepper and strain into a gravy boat. 
5. Carve the beef into slices about 1 inch thick and serve with the au jus. 

Cook's Notes: I used pre-made beef stock for the au jus (I did not have time to make it from scratch). It is important to allow the roast to rest for at least 10 minutes before you slice it.  It is also critical to use a remote sensing thermometer to monitor the temperature of the roast.  You can pick one up at most kitchen stores (or Bed, Bath and Beyond) for $25-35.  Once you cook a roast with a remote sensing thermometer, you will wonder how you ever cooked without one!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve and Filet Mignon

For our Christmas Eve dinner, we made this dish:

Filet Mignon with Shallot Pepper Cream Sauce

·         1/4 cup coarsely crushed black peppercorns
·         4 (6 ounce) beef tenderloin filets, 1 1/2 inches thick
·         salt to taste
·         2 tablespoons butter
·         1 teaspoon olive oil
·         1-2 shallots, finely chopped
·         ½ cup beef broth
·         ½  cup heavy cream

Preheat an oven to 275F.

Place the peppercorns into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the beef tenderloin filets with salt on both sides, and coat both sides with crushed peppercorns. Place the filets on a cutting board or dish and cover with foil. Let the filets sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

After the filets have warmed, place them in a pan and put the pan in the pre-heated oven. Cook the filets until they have reached an internal temperature of 95F (12-15 minutes). Once the filets have reached an internal temperature of 95F, take the filets out of the oven.

Melt the butter with the olive oil over high heat in a non-stick pan until the foam disappears from the butter. Gently place the steaks in the pan, and cook until they start to become firm and are reddish-pink and juicy in the center, about 3-4 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 125 degrees F (52 degrees C). When the filets are done to your liking, remove them from the pan and cover tightly with foil.

Cook the shallots in the pan for 1-2 minutes, then pour the beef broth into the pan and use a whisk to stir the broth and scrape up any dissolved brown flavor bits from the skillet. Whisk in the cream, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, then simmer the sauce until it is reduced and thickened, 5 to 6 minutes.  Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, place the steaks back in the skillet, turn once to coat with sauce, and serve with the remaining sauce.

In this image above, you can see the filets covered by aluminum foil as I simmered and reduced the shallot and pepper cream sauce.  The trick to cooking a perfect medium rare filet mignon is heating the filets to approximately 95F before you cook them in the pan.  The filets cook through evenly and you do not burn or singe the outside of the filets.

To compliment the filets, we enjoyed a bottle of St. George Skouras, which was recommended by our personal sommelier, Amy Ruis, who is the proprietor of Art of the Table.

And I am happy to report that Deirdre's reindeers were in attendance as well.

We served Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Cous Cous and Deirdre's Famous Tossed Greens with the filets.  All in all, not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Roasted Chicken

Or we could call it It Takes a Village Roast Chicken.  For whatever reason, I wanted to roast a whole chicken.  The $4.99 chicken-in-a-plastic-container wasn't enough.  No, I needed to make a mess of the kitchen.  Good thing I like to clean up.

I put a request for help on facebook.  I had so much help that I didn't even need the other sites.  We had everything we needed from friends.  I started with this recipe:

1 (3 pound) whole chicken, rinsed
1 small onion, quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
I added lemon, garlic, and an apple.     

My friend Tamara wrote this:
Take a dull knife, like a butter knife and lift the skin off the breast, slicing through the membrane. Make a marinade of rosemary, olive oil, lemon, sea salt, garlic and pepper in the blender. Pour 3/4 of the mixture under the skin, into the cavity. Pour the remaining 1/4 onto the outside of the bird. Cook. Eat.

Other great friends sent links, ideas, and advice.  Like make sure the chicken is dead.  And plucked.  Excellent advice.





We cooked it to:


Tamara,  it was MAGNIFICENT.  While it's a little messy, it sure beats the store-bought stuff. 

Cheers to Christmas vacation!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Sunday

Well, we are going out on a limb ... figuratively of course ... and trying something new. I found this recipe in Real Simple and right now, it's simmering away.  

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu 

1 large carrot (I used three)
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes - I used diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1 1/2 lbs pork




Combine all ingredients in the crockpot and cook - 5-6 hours on high,  7-8 hours on low. 

The recipe says to serve with fettuccine.  I will serve it over orzo. With Parmesan cheese of course!

Full report to follow.