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November 2008 COTM The Art of Simple Food: Poultry & Meat

November 2008 COTM:

Alice Waters - The Art of Simple Food

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for poultry and meat here, including those recipes that fit in these categories that are in the first section of the book. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Pork Shoulder Braised with Dried Chilis, Pg. 139

    This was very nice... not as spicy as I expected, but very nice indeed.
    The recipe begins with a 4 lb. bone-in pork roast and a dry rub composed of S & P, oregano and ancho chili powder which is left to work it's magic for 24 hours in the fridge. The meat is taken out of the fridge an hour before cooking. Meanwhile chopped onions, carrots, a whole head of garlic with cloves peeled, peppercorns, oregano, and a combination of dried chilis are prepared and laid in a roasting pan to provide a bed for the meat. I used a combination of Anchos and Guajillos. She says any combination of chilis can be used. Two cups of broth are poured around the roast and the pan is put into a preheated 375* oven. The meat is turned over after 1 hour 15 minutes and then every 30 minutes till done... a total of 2 hours.

    The meat is then removed to a platter, the veggies are passed through a food mill and returned to the juices remaining in the pan. She said to skim the juices before adding the milled veggies but because I pretty much trimmed most of the fat off the meat to begin with, I didn't have to strain the juices. In hind sight I probably could have left more fat on the meat, but it turned out just fine...tender and juicy. To serve, the sauce is ladled over the slices of pork.

    I served this with the Braised Savoy Cabbage on page 296. A tasty evening meal.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I was thinking of making this but I don't have any ancho chilli powder or chipotles. Do you think it would work if I subbed half regular chilli powder and half chipotle flakes? I do have dried anchos and another South American dried chilli I forget the name of.

      1. re: greedygirl

        Oh yes I do think you can use any other chili powder. In fact I wish now that I had used a spicier mix.... even in the dry rub, perhaps even cayenne. AW mentions in her Notes that any combination of chilis can be used and I take that to mean anywhere in the recipe.

        1. re: greedygirl

          You can also make your own ancho powder by toasting the anchos you do have and then running them through a (clean) blade-type coffee grinder.

          About the only chile I keep on hand in powder form is chipotle, so whenever I encounter a recipe that calls for some other type of chile powder, I grind my own.

          1. re: hohokam

            gg: I think the most important flavoring ingred. in this recipe is the chipotle for its smoky flavor (which she prob. mentions), so the flakes should work well. The chile powder should be fine for the rest of the seasoning.

          2. re: greedygirl

            I might try with Aleppo chile powder, which I discovered last year cooking from Ana Sortun's great book SPICE. Great color and fantastic punch! of flavor. Hmmm -- I don't have a food mill though. Guess I could just serve the veggies in with the pork, un-milled! Or throw them in the the blender?

            1. re: foxy fairy

              Or mash with a potato masher. Either way it will be good. Had a bit of the leftovers for lunch yesterday and the sauce had developed a spicy flavor. Very tasty!

              1. re: foxy fairy

                I think the reason Alice has us put the vegetables & liquid through a food mill is that once the veggies have cooked for so long, they have given up their flavor to the sauce. It's very clever, IMO to mush them up.
                A food mill comes in very handy and is a fairly inexpensive item when purchased at an Italian food store; apparently all home kitchens in Italy have a food mill.

          3. Crow (page 122)

            Okay, okay. It’s really Pan-Fried Pork Chops. But crow is what I was eating after having made the nasty crack in the announcement thread about not needing a cookbook to tell me how to pan-fry pork chops.

            I had some farmers market chops and figured what the hell. Salt and pepper, oil to coat pan, brown five minutes on one side, turn and cook until done, let rest four minutes. Not as attractive as my usual brine and braise method, but much tastier than I expected. This won't become my go-to recipe, but I'd definitely do it again if I had heritage breed chops and no time to brine. Top quality ingredients really do make a difference (as if I didn’t know that already.) Served them with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions (page 295) and another helping of the Hopkinson roasted potatoes, which were so terrific I just had to do them again.

            Sorry about the photo. Way too underexposed. But I’ve got it so I’m posting it.

             
            17 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              HAHAHA! You crack me up, Joan. I've wanted to try these pork chops earlier this week, but the ones I picked up at the butcher were too thick, more like an inch than half an inch as the recipe calls for. I'm afraid of undercooked pork so decided to try it another day instead. I'm glad they were worth a try!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: JoanN

                Sometimes it's good to try a new method of cooking something familiar. I once saw a TV programme where someone cooked slow cooked sausages, and I've been using the method ever since. Mr GG even makes sausages like that now on the rare occasion that he cooks (usually for his Dad)!

                (I don't understand the crow thing. Is it the same as humble pie?)

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    So, GG, what is Mr. GG's method? I always claim (and I'm sticking to my story) that sausages are not as fatty as they used to be and thus tend to dry out when cooked.

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Put your sausages in a heavy pan on a low heat (don't prick them), with perhaps just a smear or spray of oil to stop them sticking. Leave for at least half an hour, turning a couple of times. They will swell up a bit and become very juicy. Not dry at all, and the ones we had last night were very meaty with hardly any fat. I use my cast-iron frying pan. Try it - you'll be convinced!

                  2. re: JoanN

                    You're funny, JoanN. After that initial comment, you were destined to try that recipe! We haven't had pork chops in ages, and I think it's about time now that apples and hard squash are in season. And I've got to look up those Hopkinson potatoes!

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      Funny, I don't know if it's Joan's wonderful post or the changing of the seasons or MMRuth's post that Hopkinson's "Second Helpings of Roast Chicken" has just been released in the U.S. what, but I am so inspired to dust off Hopkinson again. I just remember a really wonderful poached salmon and strawberry pots de creme I've been meaning to return to...

                      ~TDQ

                    2. re: JoanN

                      Much as I love my Chez Panisse Vegetables book, I've been dubious about TASF, and this recipe simply confirmed that impression. It's both too basic for an experienced cook, yet doesn't provide enough info for a beginner. Five minutes on the first side for a 1/2" chop? Awfully long! I only did three minutes. Then you cook the second side 'until done', a rather vague direction for a novice, especially with no temperature given or means of telling what 'done' means in this context. Then rest for four minutes (how terribly specific, all of a sudden), yet no direction whether you rest in the pan off heat or on a plate, whether you cover or not, etc.

                      In any case, the chops came out fine, a bit overcooked imho, but DH was happy. I pressed fresh sage leaves into both sides of the chops, which was a nice effect. But I'm afraid this book is failing to impress me.

                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                        Karen, I know what you mean, although, I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet. I've given this book as a gift to a friend who is an experienced cook (that I know is a fan of Chez Panisse) and was planning on giving it to a friend who is a novice. I've already decided that, no, I'm not going to give or recommend this book to a beginner. Too vague.

                        As far as experienced cooks, I'm not sure I'm ready to give up yet. I personally still think there could be a place for a book like this --delicious yet simple recipes--on the shelves of an experienced cook, assuming that the majority of the recipes and techniques do turn out delicious, which, in your case, they didn't due to the chops being overcooked. :( Sorry about that.

                        I'm still undecided, though, frankly, I no longer consider myself a beginner cook, but I definitely wouldn't call myself an experienced cook either. I'm a tweener cook! Anyway, the jury's still out for me.

                        ~TDQ

                      2. re: JoanN

                        JoanN - do you think your chops were thicker than half an inch? I'm going to buy some chops at the Farmers Market this morning, but I suspect they'll be thicker than that. Thanks.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Yes, I do. I really didn't think about it until after I read Karen's post (which I totally agree with). I hadn't paid attention to the half-inch direction, and although mine were thinner than the ones I usually buy at Citarella, I suspect they were more like three-quarters of an inch.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Interesting! I bought some pork chops earlier this week, but didn't try the recipe because I thought they might be too thick, but maybe I should have tried after all..

                            ~TDQ

                        2. re: JoanN

                          I made these last night, also with chops I picked up from the farmers' market. Mine were just over an inch thick. I cooked for five minutes on one side, in a cast iron skillet, as called for, then wasn't sure how long it would take for them to be 'done' - cooked for another five minutes, and my meat thermometer registered about 140. I let them rest for the four minutes. The carmelization is beautiful, but they were slightly over cooked - next time I might do four minutes on one side and four on the other. I served them with sage butter from the book, the brussel sprouts with bacon & onions, and the potato and celery root puree. I had made a savory apple sauce from a Jane Grigson book the day before, and was happy to have it with the dry-ish pork. For dessert, we had the poached pears, with vanilla ice cream. I'd make these again, with the shorter cooking time, and am thinking that I do like this 'back to basics' thing - and that it will probably come in helpful for off the cuff weeknight meals.

                           
                           
                          1. re: MMRuth

                            MMR, sounds like a wonderful meal overall, in spite of the slightly over-cooked chops.

                            I, too, am enjoying the "back to basics" aspect. I am in desperate need of delicious weeknight recipes that aren't super time consuming. I have a lot of delicious elaborate recipes, but I love the idea of expanding my repertoire to include some fast ones, too.

                            The problem is, I'm at about 50/50 with this book in terms of success. I don't know if it's the recipes (probably not) or that I've made a mistake in technique (more likely). I'm encouraged when I see everyone else's favorable reports, though, which convinces me, "It's just me" and that I just need to keep at it.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I don't think I mentioned it, but everything I cooked was bought at the farmers' market the day before, which was fun. I also made that cauliflower soup yesterday, but haven't eaten it yet - maybe for dinner tonight.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I think that cauliflower soup is better the next day, anyway. :)

                                Further to your farmers market point, I will say one thing I'm enjoying about this book is that the recipes do work seasonally. So many cookbooks call for a combinations of various produce items that are never in season at the same time where I am... I live in a pretty extreme climate so it's probably more of a problem for me than for others, but it's still nice when you don't have to pair your wonderful CSA "this vegetable" with frozen or shipped-green-from-long-distances "that vegetable."

                                ~TDQ

                          2. re: JoanN

                            I really liked these pork chops as well. I made these twice. The first time, my chops were too thick, so I finished them in the oven. But, the problem is that the recipe is too vague. How long in the oven? Or more importantly, what should the temperature be, when you finish frying them? I guestimated and it was fine.

                            The second time, I used pork chops from my CSA and they were terrific. There was just enough fat that crisped up beautifully.

                            Both times, I dry brined (a la Zuni) for about an hour and used fresh sage with both. I agree with JoanN. Top notch ingredients do make a difference with this recipe.

                             
                          3. Braised (Duck) Legs with Leeks and Olives, p. 349

                            Organic free range chicken legs were on sale at Whole Foods, so I substituted.

                            Leeks and carrots are sauteed, then parsley, thyme, a bay leaf and a cup of (unpitted)green olives are added. Now add the chix skin side down and pour in 1/2 cup white wine and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a simmer, then shove into a 425 degree oven for 30 min. Flip the legs to skin side up, lower to 325 and cook for 1 hour more (1.5 hrs if you use duck instead of chicken).

                            Delicious, simple, easy! I've always hated the splattery mess of browning meat, plus chicken and oil smells gross to me, so I liked that the browning was done via dry heat at the end of the process, instead of the usual. I wanted it extra crispy so I cranked on the broiler for 2 minutes before I pulled everything out of the oven too. The skin came out perfect, the meat was tender and flavorful, and the winey-olivy sauce was great spooned over the chicken and all over the mashed potatoes I served alongside. I'd make this again for a weeknight dinner for sure- it took a while but I liked the long stretches of time in the oven to work on sides and dishes.

                            (Apologies for the weak cell phone picture.)

                             
                            3 Replies
                            1. re: yamalam

                              I made this dish too for Sunday supper. It is sooo good.

                              I omitted the carrots and used picholine olives. Getting the fat out of duck was the only hard part, but I guess I did a good job as there wasn't much fat in the end dish.

                              We ate with a fresh crusty bread to soak the briny juices.

                               
                              1. re: yamalam

                                I used whole chicken legs as well. I thought this recipe was ok. But, to me, it wasn't a true braise. There was too much liquid for it. It also did NOT improve as leftovers.

                                But, I liked the last bit of browning and following yamalam's lead, I also broiled for a couple of minutes.

                                 
                                 
                                1. re: yamalam

                                  I made this tonight with free-range duck legs that were on offer at the supermarket.

                                  I screwed up the recipe a couple of times because I was making mince pies at the same time and was a little distracted, but it was still delicious. My skin didn't brown because I cooked it in a covered Le Creuset pan rather than a skillet, and I also forgot to flip the duck legs over after half an hour and turn the heat down (I couldn't do that anyway as I was making mince pies at the same time).

                                  Anyway, still delicious and I loved both the flavour of the duck and the braising juices. There wasn't actually that much fat, possibly because they were free-range legs.

                                  Really yummy with mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage and a very easy dish that I'd serve to guests.

                                2. Braised short ribs, pg. 352

                                  I made this dish for Saturday lunch and it was just great. This is such a simple recipe and I was hesitant to cook it in the beginning, as it is rather too simple.

                                  I used bone in short ribs, s&p them and left them out to come to the room temperature. Then dry roasted them at 400 degree for half an hour. I took the ribs out on a platter, browned onions and garlic in the same pan, then added thyme, parsley and bay leaf (recipe calls for carrots and celery too, but since I don’t care for them, I ignored them). Then you are suppose to add chopped tomatoes (I added canned), chicken stock (I added water and better than bullion) and wine (loved opening the wine in the morning). Add back the ribs, and in the oven it goes, first at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and then at a reduced temperature for 1.5 hours. When it’s out of the oven, take the ribs out and strain the juices from the vegetables. I wanted to puree the veggies in the fp, but husband walked by and he is a purist, so he insisted I do the same as AW says. So I made him strain it!

                                  I loved this recipe, tasty and so simple to make. And I hate to admit that straining the vegetables was a better idea. I served it with succotash.

                                  I took few pictures, with and without flash, but all of them are blurry, so I am not attaching them. I guess it takes time to learn to take food pictures.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: cpw

                                    I have this tagged to make as well, we must think alike! I often find short ribs too fatty, or maybe rich would be a better word. How do these stack up? Also, did you use grass-fed beef as she recommends, or grain-fed? I figured using grass-fed would help cut down the fattiness, but just curious on your results.

                                    1. re: yamalam

                                      The short ribs I bought did not say that they were grass fed, so I assume they were grain fed. They did have quite a bit of fat on them and I was very tempted to buy the boneless ones, but stuck to AW recommendation of chosing the bone in ribs.

                                      The recipe starts by dry roasting the ribs for half an hour at 425 degrees and this basically rendered all the fat and I found none while eating the ribs.

                                      I would say I was very happy with the results. I have made more complicated recipes in the past and have had much worse results.

                                  2. Beef Pot Roast, Pg. 355

                                    Yesterday afternoon the chowpup was having a serious craving for steak and mashed potatoes. But Mr. Clam has a beef allergy that can only be thwarted by thoroughly cooking the beef, so we decided to make a pot roast. Previously I had only made pot roast in a crock-pot, so without having the lead-time to do it that way, we checked Alice's book and voila! A pot roast recipe.

                                    This recipe calls for browning a 3 lb. grass-fed (can't get that here so used regular) chuck roast on both sides then sprinkling 1 tbsp flour on all sides and browning again. Oh yeah, you are supposed to season with salt and pepper "at least several hours ahead." Well, it was already 4:30 so...anyway, it was fine. Then one adds cut up veggies (carrot, onion, leek, garlic and celery) to the pot with 1/2 cup red wine and water or broth to come up almost to the top of the meat. I was using what I thought was a larger "dutch oven" so I used 3/4 cup of wine. You also add some thyme, parsley and a bay leaf. The whole thing is brought to a simmer and then covered and simmered slowly for 2 1/2 hours.

                                    Meanwhile, Alice calls for cooking additional carrots, celery and potatoes separately to be added at the end. Also at the end, one is supposed to strain the sauce (before adding the potatoes, etc.). I not only skipped the straining but added my raw potatoes and carrots directly to the pot about an hour before it was all supposed to be done, because to me, it just wouldn't be pot roast without those veggies soaking up the flavors.

                                    Dinner was met by great expectations, or should I say torture? It smelled terrific. Chowpup kept asking if it would be "meltingly tender" And, she was starving....Well, it was meltingly tender. Mr. Clam said it was "killer." And the dog? He liked his scrap of fat so much he pushed/licked his bowl around the kitchen and right up to the stove to get some more from the chowpup who was picking at bits in the pot.

                                     
                                    1. Braised Lamb Shanks (p. 336)

                                      I have tried many recipes for braised shanks, from the winey to the tomatoey to the simple stock w/ tarragon. Alice's seemingly simple recipe was the best balanced in flavor I have ever made.

                                      As w/ braising generally, you sear the meat, remove and saute onions, carrots, garlic -- no mincing!; add a small dried chile pepper (good idea!). Add peppercorns, rosemary sprig (I tied w/ some fresh thyme), bay leaf.
                                      You're supposed to add white wine to deglaze, but I'm not drinking so I used a bit of (homemade, ah hem) chicken stock along w/ 1/2 small can of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes. I didn't want a big tomato flavor and in true Alice fashion, that didn't happen and all was happily balanced. More chicken stock. I added a long slice of lemon peel that I read about somewhere else. (Acid -- the new flavor!)

                                      Braise away in oven. I used Molly S's technique of parchment paper close to contents under a lid.
                                      Then a brilliant Alice technique -- remove the meat, and pass sauce and worn out veggies through a food mill. Return all to pot.
                                      At that point I thought I'd add back some new veggies -- carrots, parsnips, potatoes, pearl onions -- but they took *forever* to cook. I thought 20 minutes as in boiling water, but no sirree-- more like 3/4 hr. Then I added frozen peas.
                                      Next time I'd boil new veggies separately; perhaps it's the acid that keeps them from softening in a reasonable time; I could check Shirley C, but too lazy.
                                      Since I'm trying to adhere to some semblance of the South Beach diet, I served w/ braised kale and quinoa. Fantastic, truly.
                                      Not on a diet a better choice would be luscious polenta.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        Thanks for your report. I too have made many variations on the braised lamb shank (including the one in All About Braising) but haven't found my go-to recipe quite yet. I'll try this for sure over the winter.

                                        If you want to add veggies next time, then I would either steam or roast separately while lamb is braising and then incorporate at the end. Good luck w/ your diet.

                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                          I'm a sucker for Rose Carrarini's Braised Lamb Shanks With Cumin, Aubergines, and Chickpeas.

                                          During Batali Month, I failed to notice (in the only Batali book I own) his recipe for Lamb Shanks with Oranges and Olives. Gotta go check to see if anybody made it and reported to CH.

                                        2. re: NYchowcook

                                          I made this last night for my parents, mainly because my mother was raving about some lamb shanks I cooked for her YEARS ago (and that's rare - she's not a foodie).

                                          The bottom line is I wasn't overwhelmed. It was tasty enough, but there are much better braised lamb shank recipes out there. I wish I'd used the recipe my mother loved all those years ago, which is from an Irish chef, Ian Rankin.

                                        3. Braised Chicken Legs with Tomatoes, Onions and Garlic, Pg. 133 (I think)

                                          We made this twice this month and yesterday substituted turkey legs. We had Thanksgiving dinner at DD's house so we thought we'd have our own mini Thanksgiving meal after the fact. The first times with this recipe I made the mistake of cooking it in my Mario Batali dutch oven from the start. The finished dish was OK but not terrific. Satisfying but without the strong flavors I like. This has happened with other recipes this month...lots of seasoning and aromatics somehow didn't amp up the taste.

                                          To try to get more from the turkey legs, we first seasoned them "aggressively", as Mario says, and let them sit for 5 hours. Then they were browned in a skillet with half butter and EVOO. The legs are removed from the pan. Into the Dutch oven with heated EVOO: a bay leaf and some thyme and garlic, 6 chopped cloves!..... we threw in a good sized sage sprig as well. After a few minutes diced onions are added to the mix.. We then added dry white wine before the tomatoes, and for the first time in his life DH had a flaming experience. It took him by surprise but he managed to stay focused and it soon died down. (He watches Mario from time to time). After the wine is reduced the legs are returned to the pan and broth is added. This was cooked for about 40-ish minutes. The finished dish wasn't what I expected but DH liked it. I served the legs with bread & sage dressing with sauce from the pan, steamed broccoli, roasted acorn squash, and yes,,,, the ubiquitous tinned cranberry sauce with the ridges cuz it's DH's favorite. ( I got the cranberry chutney I love on T-Day!)

                                          I'm not sure I'd make this braise again, given the mediocre response I had but there's enough leftover to make hot turkey sandwiches later in the week so we haven't finished with it yet. However, I know I'll be adding more seasonings to the sauce when I make the gravy.

                                          1. Braised lamb shoulder, p335 (I think)

                                            I was looking for a recipe for a lamb shoulder I bought from the farmer's market and remembered this one. It's not a bad basic recipe and very simple - you basically season your lamb shoulder and bung it in a casserole dish with red wine, carrots, stock, thyme and onions. I decided to put the carrots in later on in the braise because they were lovely young ones which I wanted to eat rather than puree into the sauce, as she suggests. I also added some potatoes along with the carrots for a one-pot meal effect.

                                            Waters says to cook for a couple of hours or so - I think it would have benefitted from at least an extra hour and possibly two but it was late and we had to eat. I'd also sear the meat first next time.

                                            All in all this was perfectly acceptable and tasty enough, but it didn't wow me.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              The one and only time we ate at Chez Panisse restaurant (as opposed to the Café, where we were regulars) we were served this, or something very close to it. The only main course on the set menu. Blah.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                That's the thing about C.P. You get what you get. Hopefully, you love it. If not, well, you're really out of luck.

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Yep, turned us off. Far prefer to have a variety of things to choose from - and they should accomodate special requests since you have to book so far ahead and don't know what you'll land up with. Even Per Se does this, with good grace.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Also, doesn't it kind of frost you that you ordered a dish that is apparently "simple food"? Leave the simple food for at home!

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Yeah. This was so long ago though - it was part of a week's worth of dinners honoring Richard Olney who was all the rage then (never liked his books either). Served with a sort of greyed puree of potato and celeriac. Might as well have been at boarding school!