Monday, June 28, 2010

Act 3: Cornmeal Fried Chicken

It's time for the final act.

I love fried chicken as much as anyone (if not more), but I don't want to prepare it the same tired way every time I make it. Usually I experiment with different permutations of herbs and spices, but today I wanted to do something more. I've heard of frying catfish in a cornmeal crust, so why not chicken? And I must say that I enjoyed the result thoroughly. The cornmeal gives the chicken an extra *crunch* when you take that first bite that just can't be beat.

  • chicken (any kind you want)
  • seasoned salt
  • pepper
  • garlic salt
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • flour
  • cornmeal
Season the chicken pieces in the spices listed above. (I did this early on in the day and let the chicken rest in the refrigerator for a while. This lets the meat take in the flavor a little more, but it definitely isn't necessary.) Dredge the chicken pieces in a combination of equal parts flour and cornmeal. Then fry to a golden perfection in a deep pan with about 1/2" or so of vegetable oil and place on paper towels to drain. Enjoy your summertime meal!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Act 2: Got a Leek?

...I do! Here's another Hungry Hutch first. I'd once heard of this mythical creature, but never knew of its true essence. I mean, what exactly is a leek anyway? Let this relative of the onion be foreign no more.

  • leeks
  • butter
  • garlic salt
What I present here is a very simple preparation that only takes a peek into all that leeks can do. To begin, chop off the top dark green leaves and the very bottom of the stem. (When you buy a bunch of leeks you will end up only using half of what you see in the store, so keep that in mind when determining quantities.) Next, slice the leeks lengthwise and then chop into about 3/4 inch pieces. After your vegetables are all chopped up, you'll want to rinse them thoroughly to remove any dirt/sand that may have gotten stuck between the layers as it grew. To cook, I simply sauteed them in a tablespoon or two of butter and sprinkled with some garlic salt. In trying to figure out how to handle my first encounter with the leeks, I read somewhere that you only wanted them to soften and not get brown. (As you can see from the picture, I got a little distracted trying to change a light bulb...) With this in mind, one easy way to keep this from happening is to put a lid over your pan and voila! Beautifully cooked leeks. Bon appetit!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Act 1: Potato Salad

A little while ago I decided that I wanted to make a feast. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon in the beginning of a New York City summer. Feeling eager to revel in the beautiful day, I decided that it needed to be matched with an accompanying delicious meal. One component of said meal was determined to be potato salad. I associate the starchy goodness with blue skies, a gentle breeze, the sound of kids playing in the streets, and running through the lawn sprinkler to cool off on a warm sunny day. What better way to commemorate the dawn of summer?

  • 2 lbs of russian fingerling potatoes (but any potato on hand will do)
  • ~2-3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • a few swirls around the bowl of yellow mustard
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of mayonnaise
  • ~2 tbsp of sweet relish
  • ~1 tsp of celery seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
Dice the potatoes so they are all about the same size. (You may also want to peel the skin depending on what variety you use, but I left it on with the fingerling potatoes.) Place the diced potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook until they are fork tender (i.e. you can easily pierce the potato flesh with a fork). [Note: Add potatoes to pot and then bring to a boil as opposed to boiling the water first and then adding the potatoes. I learned somewhere that it allows the potatoes to cook more evenly.] Once the potatoes are done, drain the water and immediately (or at least very shortly thereafter) pour the vinegar over the potatoes. Doing so while they are still hot lets them absorb the vinegar better. Then in a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients together and you're done!

I prefer to make potato salad before the meal so that it can chill in the refrigerator. No one wants warm potato salad, do they?

Be sure to stay tuned for the next act...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Provolone Burger with Sauted Shallots and BBQ Sauce

  • 1 lb of ground beef (makes 2 burgers)
  • seasoned salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • provolone cheese
  • 1 shallot (sliced)
  • Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce***
  • bread/bun
Take the ground beef and form into patties. Season both sides with the salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. Cook the burgers in a skillet over medium-high heat until they reach the desired done-ness. (You may want to add some fat to the pan depending on how lean the ground beef is to help prevent from sticking and to add some extra flavor.) During the last few seconds of cooking, top with a slice (or two) of cheese and allow it to melt. If you want to aid in the melting process, then place a lid over the pan with a tiny bit of liquid added to steam the cheese. Once you remove the burgers, saute the shallots in the pan until they're tender and sweet. (Again, you may want to add some oil or such if there is none in the pan from the burgers.) Alas, assemble your beautiful beef-wich and go to town.

***Of course you can use any brand of barbecue sauce that you like, but I have a strong affinity for Sweet Baby Ray's. As the name implies, it is sweet and delicious. I believe it originated in my home town, which is how I got introduced to it, but I believe you can get it nationwide as I found it on the shelf in a Target in Brooklyn. While we're on the topic of Chicago sauces, mild sauce is AMAZING. It's not really ketchup. It's not quite barbecue sauce. It's sweet. It's tangy. It can make a flip flop taste good. Unfortunately, the only place I know to get it is from Chicago chicken joints. If you know where else I could find it, or if you know the recipe, then PLEASE let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicken Andouille Sausage with Red Beans and Rice

  • 12 oz packet of chicken andouille sausage (cut into half moons)
  • rice cooked with chicken broth (for some extra 'umph)
  • 1/4 onion (diced)
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • red pepper flakes
  • 3 or so roasted red peppers from a jar (diced)
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans
  • ~1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • ~1 tbsp of olive oil
Saute the sausage and onions in about a tablespoon or so of oil until the onions become soft and translucent (the sausage came pre-cooked, so no need to worry about that). Add the beans and roasted red peppers along with the seasonings to taste. Then add the tomato paste and let simmer for a few minutes (or until you can't wait any longer). Serve atop the rice you made, and you can also sprinkle some cheese on top (if desired).

Wham. Bam. Thank you ma'am.