Soy-Dijon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Roasted Chicken Thighs 14

I found this recipe online and halved it for a quick fall dinner to showcase a home-grown squash given to us by our neighbours.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Set 6 chicken thighs (with bones and skin still on) in a baking dish.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 1

Mix together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 2

Pour that over the chicken, turning the thighs to coat them completely.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 4

Mix together 2 tablespoons fines herbes (or an acceptable substitute — I used half Newfoundland savoury and half herbes de provence) and 2 teaspoons fennel leaves.  Add in some salt and pepper as well.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 6

Sprinkle that evenly over your chicken and cover it with foil. Bake the chicken like that for 45 minutes.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 7

Remove the foil and baste your lovely thighs in the juices they’re producing.  Scrape the bottom of the dish a bit to make sure nothing is getting stuck there.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 9

Pour 1 cup chicken stock into the dish so the tops of the chicken thighs are still exposed but they are otherwise happily bathing in broth.  Bake that for a further hour, and let the tops caramelize.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 10

When they’re ready, drain the juices into a gravy boat to serve separately, and have some lovely fall vegetables (like this roasted squash) as a hearty side.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 13

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Snow Day Dinner: Pasta Carbonara

Snow Day Dinner

As I said before, the charming Fussellette braved icy streets and our own half-assed driveway-shoveling job to make it to our house on Friday for a gluten-free extravaganza.  I decided to make pasta carbonara, not only because it’s freaking amazing, but also for another, rather peculiar reason.

Chel (she of the wedding cake), back before she married Invis, was dating this other fella who was from England.  And when she went to the UK to meet his parents, the fella’s mum made a pasta with a white sauce that Chel (who hates cheese and most things creamy) absolutely adored.  Problem is, of course, that the breakup didn’t go so well and she has since married someone else, someone who doesn’t know anything about this recipe.

So for the past year or so she has been puzzling this out.  She knew it wasn’t an alfredo, and she pooh-poohed my suggestion of a béchamel.  Last week she suggested it might be a carbonara.  Now, despite the fact that this woman is a tech genius, it didn’t occur to her to look on the internet herself and experiment with the various recipes.  Instead, she comes and asks me.  Silly girl (love you squishee!).  So it’s up to me to see if what I cobble together tastes like the heaven that SHE ate some time ago.  Also remember that she lives in Toronto, so it’s not like she can pop over for a bite.

So here goes.  I pulled inspiration from a bunch of different carbonara recipes, so I think you can be pretty flexible with your ingredients.

This is a pasta that you toss before serving, so it’s recommended that you use something like a penne, or that which is easy to stir around.  We had our fresh gluten-free linguini, so we just had to suck it up for this occasion.  This is also a recipe that you make on the fly — aside from cutting up the vegetables ahead of time, you pretty much have to do this all as you cook and then serve it immediately.

Snow Day Dinner

So let’s start with what prep work we can get out of the way.

Take 12 or so slices of bacon and cut them into little bits.  You can also use pancetta or prosciutto, or any other strongly flavoured cured pork.

Snow Day Dinner

Dice up an onion, a handful of mushrooms, and the florets from one head of broccoli.  You could also use zucchini, sweet peppers, any number of vegetable.  Go with what you’ve got in your fridge.  Don’t try to be too fancy.

Snow Day Dinner

Finely grate up about two hefty handfuls of parmesan cheese.  Because I have tiny munchkin hands, I got the Pie to do this part (also because I hate grating cheese and I’d already skinned off part of my finger).  His hands are sizeable.  He can cover my whole face with part of one hand.

Put one handful of cheese in a pretty serving dish and put it on the table for garnish.  Take the other handful and dump it in a measuring cup with 1 cup whipping cream and 4 egg yolks.

Snow Day Dinner

Give that a good stir and set it aside.

Snow Day Dinner

Set a pot of slightly salted water to boil (if you’re using fresh pasta, add a few drops of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together). Cook your pasta.  You need to time it so that the vegetables are ready at the same time the noodles are.

Snow Day Dinner

In a very large, deep frying pan, heat up about 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Chuck in your bacon and fry until it’s crispy.

Snow Day Dinner

Chuck in the onions and stir for a few minutes until they start to become translucent.

Snow Day Dinner

Then add the rest of your vegetables, and cook, stirring often, until they are all tender and bacon-flavoured. I also sprinkled on some herbes de provence for extra flavour.  Thyme or oregano would also work well.

Snow Day Dinner

When you drain your pasta, reserve about half a cup of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta in with the vegetables and add a bit of the water.  Use only as much as you need to help coat the pasta with sauce.  If you like your sauce thick, add a few tablespoons.  If you like your sauce thin, add the full half cup.

Snow Day Dinner

Remove the pan from the heat and pour in your cream/egg/cheese sauce.  Toss to coat the pasta and then serve immediately.

Snow Day Dinner

Garnish with the extra parmesan, and go back for seconds.  Serves 4 generously.

Snow Day Dinner

O Canada: Moose Pizza

Moose Pizza

Gren killed a moose and was kind enough to share it with us.

Big Game Hunter

Just kidding.  Gren is about the size of a moose’s hoof.  If anyone were to be killed and eaten in that situation it would surely be the tender tasty corgi.  Hell, sometimes *I* want to eat him.  He does look pretty delicious.

Moose Pizza

Fusselette’s dad likes to hunt and fish and as a result we have a pile of fresh-frozen cod and moose roast and moose sausages in our freezer.  This can only mean good things for you, my readers.

In any case, I couldn’t continue my Canadian feature month without including a dish made from Newfoundland’s biggest (and I mean that in more ways than one) pest.  On an island where “Nature comes in extra large,” moose are certainly vermin to be reckoned with.  I had some more to say about moose back when Rusty and Mags were in town.

Moose Pizza

So.  Yes.  We have moose.  We are going to eat it.  When we were in Gros Morne this summer, I had the opportunity to try moose pizza for the first time.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s a Canadian dish, most likely invented right here on the Rock.  Of course, Hawaiian pizza was invented on the Canadian prairies, so who’s to say?

Moose Pizza

First we start with the dough.  For the sake of variety, I’m going to use a different dough recipe than normal.  This one I pulled out of The Joy of Cooking and cut it in half.

Sprinkle 1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast on the surface of a small bowl filled with 2/3 cup warm water.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is all dissolved; then you can stir it up.

Moose Pizza

In a larger bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.

Moose Pizza

Pour in the yeast and water and stir until all ingredients are completely combined.  Then keep stirring for another minute or so.

Moose Pizza

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.  You will find you have to add quite a bit more flour in to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to make sure all the sides are coated.  Cover it with a clean cloth and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour.

Moose Pizza

Preheat your oven to 475°F and start prepping your toppings.  If you are going to use a pizza stone (like we did) then put your stone onto the rack in the oven when you turn it on, so it can preheat too.

I decided that mushrooms and red onion were a good complement to the moose sausage that was sizzling in a pan.

Moose Pizza

I sliced up the sausage as well, and grated some mozzarella cheese while I was at it.

Moose Pizza

When your dough is ready, flatten it into a pan sprinkled with cornmeal, or, if you’re using a stone, onto a peel or surface covered with parchment paper.  I made a circle out of ours, to match the stone.  Make a slight lip at the edges of the dough to keep stuff from spilling off and press your fingers into the dough to make dimples.  This prevents crust from bubbling up.

Moose Pizza

Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil to prevent it from becoming soggy, and sprinkle with some herbs.  We like herbes de provence in our pizza.

Moose Pizza

Crack open a can of pizza sauce.  We generally use half a can for each pizza.  Smooth that sauce on the dough.

Moose Pizza

Add your ingredients.

Moose Pizza

Don’t forget your mounds and mounds of sausage. There might be a bit too much sausage on this pizza, but what’s done is done.

Moose Pizza

And lots of cheese.

Moose Pizza

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Slice and serve!

Moose Pizza

O Canada: Maple-Glazed Salmon

Maple Glazed Salmon

You won’t see too many fish or seafood dishes on here, because the Pie won’t eat them.  You can’t do a feature on Canadian cuisine without talking about Canada’s vast ocean resources, so I’ve kind of snuck this one in under the radar.  I discovered the recipe a few years ago when the Pie and I had two other roommates who were a little more into sea creatures than he is, and I made it often.  The plus is that the marinade works really well on pork chops as well, so when I make this I can make a piece of salmon for me and a piece of pork for the Pie and we’re both happy.

Maple syrup forms the basis of this marinade, but the lemon juice, ginger, and soy sauce give the sweetness a bit of a snap.  Quick and easy, too.  I pulled it from an issue of Canadian House & Home a million years ago.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup genuine maple syrup, 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (I used organic tamari), 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger.  This is enough marinade for 4 pieces of fish.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

You’ll notice here that I butterflied the porkchop I had, just to make it the same thickness as the salmon. That way I could cook them at the same time.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Place your salmon* (or your pork) in a shallow dish and, saving about 1/4 cup of the marinade for later, pour the sauce over the fish.  Refrigerate that for an hour.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

While that’s heating up (mine takes forever), peel 2 very large carrots and wash 3 very small zucchini.  Or whatever ratio you prefer.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Use a mandolin to slice the vegetables thinly lengthwise.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Plop them in a pot with a few inches of water.  Add a generous pat of butter and some fragrant herbs, like herbes de provence.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the carrots are all bendy.

Thinly slice up about 3 tablespoons scallions or green onions.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Spray a glass dish and set your fish in it with a bit of marinade to coat.

Maple Glazed Salmon

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, basting halfway through with some leftover marinade.

Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with some of that 1/4 cup of marinade you saved earlier.  Sprinkle with the sliced onions. Drain the vegetables and serve as well.  Mmmmm … This makes up a little bit for the poutine we had last week, but won’t stand up in the face of what I’ve got planned for you on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Maple Glazed Salmon

*** THE END ***

*If you’re reading this asterisk-ed caveat, you got me: that is actually trout, not salmon.  It was in a big jumbled pile at the seafood counter and I picked it up by mistake, okay?  Sheesh.

O Canada: Poutine

Chicken and Poutine

This dish comes to you from the Ottawa-Gatineau region, where most street corners in the downtown area are dotted with “chip trucks”, mobile vendors of French fries and hot dogs.  And poutine.  A melty mix of hot fries, squeaky cheese curds, and oozing thick gravy.

Like most foods we hold dear to the Canadian heart (though if you hold this one too close you are apt to have a heart attack), the origins are contested.  The version I like best I heard on CBC a few years back.  This particular chip truck also sold cheese curds, a Québec specialty.  A customer wanted the vendor to simply chuck his order of cheese curds on top of his fries.  The vendor protested, saying “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (it’ll make a damned mess), but the customer insisted.

Chicken and Poutine

A new delicacy was created out of “a damned mess”, though the gravy drizzled over the fries and curds to keep them warm came a little later.

My mother grew up in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, so I trusted her judgment as a child when she told me that poutine was absolutely the most disgusting thing in the entire world.  Then, when I was a teenager, and we moved to Ottawa, I discovered that my mother had never in fact eaten poutine in her life.   I promptly went out and discovered what I had been missing.

My mother did, at the age of 60, eventually eat her first poutine.  The dish has a new fan.  If you’re in the Ottawa area, the best place in the city for poutine is JP’s Crispy Chips, a high-end chip truck on the corner of Merivale and Baseline Roads.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

That’s not to say you can’t get good poutine at other places in the city.  The chip truck near my high school had a decent recipe.  If you wanted to get fancy you could head down to the Elgin Street Diner and try their Philly Cheese Steak Poutine, among other variations.

Chicken and Poutine

But poutine outside of the Ottawa-Gatineau area tends to fall a little short of my expectations.  The Pie and I once ordered a poutine in Parry Sound, Ontario.  What arrived was a plate of Tex-Mex seasoned frozen fries, grated marble cheddar, and a gravy that obviously came from a powder packet.  Most disappointing.  The only decent poutine I’ve had outside of Ottawa-Gatineau has actually been here in St. John’s.  Newfoundlanders are good at eating potatoes, so they picked up on poutine right away.  Venice Pizzeria has a version served with “dressing,” what I call stuffing — the kind that goes in a bird.  And Aqua has a ridiculously rich version with chorizo and LOBSTER.

We’re going to do it the simple way here.  I don’t think my arteries could take it any other way.

A note before we begin, however.  You can buy your fries pre-cut and frozen from the store.  You can use powdered or canned gravy rather than make it from scratch.  You can use chicken gravy, turkey gravy, beef gravy, moose gravy, or mushroom gravy.  Whatever gravy you want.

But you absolutely MUST use cheese curds.  Must.  Otherwise it’s just fries with cheese on them.  And if you can get the cheese curds from St-Albert, Québec, by all means do so.  You can definitely taste the difference.  We used these ones from Montréal, Québec, and although they were good, they just weren’t the same.

Chicken and Poutine

Because we were serving the poutine as a sort of pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner, we decided to roast a chicken to serve on the side (because everything takes a backseat to poutine).  This also gave us a base from which to make our gravy.

Chicken and Poutine

First I fried up some onions with butter and herbes de provence, then I stuffed them into the chicken, which I roasted at 400°F until the thickest part of the thigh registered at 180° and the juices ran clear.

Chicken and Poutine

I used the juices that came out as the foundation for my gravy. I have more info on making gravy here.

Chicken and Poutine

I poured the juices into a saucepan and added a ton of organic chicken broth.  Here’s your gravy base, if you’re going for chicken gravy from scratch.

Chicken and Poutine

Make a slurry of flour and water and add that as well.  Bring the gravy to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer to thicken.

Chicken and Poutine

The Pie was also engaged in making a pumpkin pie while this was going on. Gren got to lick the pumpkin spoon. Cooking dogs are so very helpful.

Chicken and Poutine

While that is going on, chop up 6 medium potatoes into shapes resembling French fries.

Chicken and Poutine

Rinse off the starch and let the potatoes soak for half an hour.

Chicken and Poutine

Drain them and dry them with a paper towel when you are ready to cook.

Chicken and Poutine

In a large saucepan, bring about 4 cups vegetable oil to a temperature of 350°F. Use a candy or deep-fry thermometer to be accurate.

Ease about half your potatoes into the hot oil.  A wire spoon is handy in this situation.  A fry basket would be even better.

Chicken and Poutine

Leave them in there, sputtering away, for about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fries. The sputtering will calm down after a while.

Chicken and Poutine

Pull them out and let them sit on a paper towel for about 5 minutes, while you cook the rest of the fries.

Chicken and Poutine

After you have cooked each batch once, allow the heat of the oil to rise to 365°F.  Now you put the first batch back into the pot and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until light brown.

Drain on paper towels again, season with sea salt, and get ready to serve immediately.

Chicken and Poutine

Pour half the fries into the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle half a package of cheese curds on top.  Add a bit of gravy to get everything melty.

Chicken and Poutine

Repeat with the remaining fries, curds, and some more gravy.  Serve immediately.

Chicken and Poutine

We had ours with our roasted chicken, stuffing onions, and some carrots.  And all that extra gravy, of course.

Chicken and Poutine

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

This is pretty much the same recipe as the Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt, but with lemon rind and herbes de provence instead of rosemary.  Easy peasy.

So you take your potatoes.  We used baby white ones.  A couple pounds’ worth.

Parboil them. 

Remove the rind from two lemons.  I used a zester designed to take off long threads of peel, for visual stimulus.  Also if you’re going to roast it for a while it’s going to shrink and get all black, so you might as well make sure that you have lots of it to start with.

Toss your parboiled potatoes with olive oil, then add the lemon rind and herbes du provence.  Add in a bit of sea salt as well.

Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes until wrinkled and crispy.  You can also roast them at the same time as other things at lower temperatures (such as a Thanksgiving turkey) — just roast them for longer.

They’re also wicked good cold the next day, or sliced up and tossed into scrambled eggs.