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January 2010 COTM: Patricia Wells MEAT AND POULTRY

Welcome to the MEAT AND POULTRY thread for the January 2010 Cookbook of the Month, featuring Bistro Cooking & Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy.

Please post your reviews of Poultry(BC), Meats, Roasts and Daily Specials (BC) and Poultry and Meats(T) here.

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  1. Trattoria, Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Oil, and Black Pepper, p.224

    A perfectly nice grilled (or broiled) chicken. Nothing to write home about, but just what I was in the mood for after holiday meals.

    Marinate spatchcocked chicken in lemon juice, olive oil, and coarsely crushed peppercorns. Grill or broil until done.

    My changes: since I was cooking for just the two of us, I used a split breast rather than a whole chicken. Since it's winter, I chose the broiling option. I did about 10 minutes on the skin side and only 5-6 minutes on the flip side (as opposed to 15 and 15, which would have been deadly). I forgot to salt it, but luckily it was Empire kosher, so it was fine.

    1. Lapin aux Olives Vertes (Rabbit - chicken in my case - with green olives; BC p. 194)

      Wells oks the substitution of chicken for rabbit. This was a nice, homey sort of braise - chicken, onions, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs and a cup of green olives. I served it over polenta. Very pleasant on a cold night, but nothing I'd serve to company.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        LLM: Why wouldn't you serve it to company? Too boring? Not tasty enough? Not fancy enough?

        I felt a bit slob-like since I have served soup as a main course to company....more than once.

        1. re: oakjoan

          More like too much like a lot of other dishes. For instance, I grew up eating chicken cacciatore a lot at home. So for me, it seems like a "just family" meal. And this was in that sort of group. Homey and tasty, but not company dinner-ish. Soup, I love, and have many I'd serve to company, but this just struck me as family food. Maybe it was serving it over polenta, which seems really homey.

          Quick aside about polenta. We live in the south, and one of the babysitters said to me one time, after feeding Lulu some of my leftover polenta "Why are your grits so much better than mine?"

      2. Bistro, Beef Stew with Wild Mushrooms and Orange, p. 200

        Long-time lurker, first-time COTMer, so bear with me.

        Wanted to love this dish, but didn't feel it rose above beef stew in a significant enough way...although, given that I am more of a fanatic recipe reader than chef and not a huge consumer of french food, perhaps the error lies with the kitchen (and it was also nearly 80 in LA today, so so I wasn't in the mood for stew at 3pm when it was ready!). .

        I halved the recipe given size of household and huge amount of meat (4.5 lbs for 8 servings -- ouch!), didn't use the cognac/marc (not worth it to buy for amount). I also upped the garlic a little and the onion down a little (preference). My wine was a petite syrah from paso robles (CA), not the french recommended (can't spend that kind of $$ on cooking wine). Beef was bottom round from whole foods, based on recommendation from butcher. I also made one major mistake -- added mushrooms in at the beginning with rest of meat and veg -- so might make a difference. Mushrooms were mostly cremini, with a little bluefoot to supplement ($40/lb at whole foods -- but only $2.50 for what I got). I also didn't marinade for full 24 hrs -- husband unexpectedly not home for sunday supper, so moved up to lunch -- but at least 18 hrs. Served over old-school egg noodles. I have a photo, but it doesn't seem to load...will try again. Hope not to embarrass myself among my many COTM foodie crushes! Happy new year.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mebby

          Good for you for posting your report, mebby! I often have had to - or wanted to - substitute ingredients when necessary. Some have misgivings about that but I assure you that we all encourage cook-along cooks to try what they are comfortable doing. Everyone's palate is different and we all understand that. I hope you continue to join us.
          Happy New Year to you!

        2. Bistro d’a cote’s chicken in wine vinegar (Bistro cooking)
          page 178

          I had very little time to cook, and I had not gone grocery shopping, but I was eager to finally get started on COTM, and since I had all the ingredients in the recipe, I chose to make this recipe for Sunday lunch.

          I followed the directions closely, except I used boneless chicken thighs instead of whole chicken. S&P the chicken, brown it 5 minutes each side, take the chicken out and toss the fat. Chicken goes back in the skillet, in goes 1 cup red wine vinegar (Wells’ says to use best quality and I am sure mine isn’t - it’s colovita). When the vinegar is reduced by half, add tomatoes and cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Then take the chicken out in the serving dish, add butter to the sauce and add the parsley (she says to sprinkle parsley on the final dish). Pour the sauce over the chicken.
          I served it with potato gratin and salad. And it was a lovely meal all in all (easy ingredients, easy cooking and very tasty too)

          11 Replies
          1. re: cpw

            We went to see a French film this afternoon, and as it's also the last day of January and this particular COTM, and I had a chicken in the fridge, I decided to make this version of Poulet au Vinaigre.

            We really enjoyed it. I used vinaigre de moscatel, which had a mild, sweet flavour and the sauce was delicious. Definitely something I'll make again.

            1. re: greedygirl

              We made this last night as well and loved it. Used an organic red wine vinegar that seemed a little stronger than others I've had. Very easy recipe to put together with time for a more complicated second dish as the chicken is left to finish cooking.
              I paired it with an eggplant, zucchini, tomato gratin from Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home. Ooooohhhh la la.

              1. re: Gio

                Ooh la la, oui,oui, as my granny used to say (in a broad Yorkshire accent).

                1. re: greedygirl

                  This recipe is not only easy to put together, but its great for company too, especially last minute announced guests.

                  I like your description of vinaigre de moscatel, and I'll look if I can find it around as I am in look for a "good" red wine vinegar.

                  1. re: cpw

                    Fairway carries Unio brand Moscatel Wine Vinegar


                    and it's really marvelous. Love the stuff. Can't wait to try this recipe with it.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Thanks for telling me where to look and for endorsing this one.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        That's the one I've got - only it's a lot cheaper over here!

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Yes, I was surprised, too, when I saw that mail order price. I paid only $6.49 at Fairway. But that was a while ago (my bottle is almost empty) and the price may well have gone up a bit with the decline of the dollar. Doubt it's gone up that much, though.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            I've had mine for a while as well, so maybe it's gone up quite a bit since my last purchase.

                2. re: greedygirl

                  Made this tonight with the Vinaigre de Moscatel. During that last 20 minute simmering my brother came into the kitchen and wrinkled his nose. Not in a good way. I thought, uh-oh. But he loved it. What a terrific dish.

                  I served it with her Pommes de Terre Solognotes, a potato gratin, which was very good (and which I may get around to reporting on separately), but brother and I agreed we would have preferred plain rice to soak up the sauce.

                  Oh. Neighbor visited in the middle of prep, it threw me off, and I never got around to peeling the tomatoes. Just cored, seeded, and chopped. Didn't seem to matter and I'd probably do the same again.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Thanks for the tomato info. You never know when it will be fine or when you will have bits of tomato peel floating around in your sauce. I like this recipe too and have been making it for years. But not recently . . . hmmmm....

              2. Wells, Bistro Cooking: Lapin a la Moutarde Cafe des Federations, p.192

                DH refuses to eat "bunny," so I substituted chicken (8 pieces--legs and thighs); I removed the skin as I do not like chicken skin that's been braised or stewed. Coated everything well w/the Dijon and seasoned it w/salt and pepper. In hot peanut oil and butter, in a large enough skillet that I could brown the chicken in one batch, which took about 15 minutes rather than the 10 on each side suggested by the recipe. (If I'd had to brown in two patches, I fear the mustard in the pan would have burned.) A nice deep brown fond developed; I spooned off probably 1/4 c. or so of oil, leaving some, and deglazed with about 1/4 c. of sauvignon blanc. I then added the finely chopped two onions and cooked about 5 minutes longer. Using the entire bottle of wine seemed excessive for the amount of chicken so I added more of the sauvignon blanc but ended up using slightly less than 3/4 of the bottle, total. Also, I had 1/2 c. rich chicken stock in the fridge, and I wanted to use it, so I added it too, along with several branches of fresh thyme and a bay leaf. I simmered for about an hour--and it really perfumed the kitchen. When it was done, I sprinkled the fresh parsley on top and served w/ a potato "cake" and a simple salad of bibb lettuce as well as a pear pound cake (all recipes from the Wells

                This was a homey chicken stew, very tasty, and not mustardy tasting despite 1/2 c. dijon. I was expecting flavors more like those of another chicken dish I do, which is finished with dijon and creme fraiche, but this was quite different: dark and oniony w/strong hints of thyme.

                Everyone at the table liked this a lot. I'd make it again, but I'd probably serve it with egg noodles, as Wells suggests, the next time because there was plenty of sauce. I think mushrooms would be a nice addition.

                4 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  It's a shame your hubbie won't eat bunny, because this is one of my favourite classic French bistro dishes and it really does need to be made with rabbit, imho. Rabbit is cheaper too (well it is in the UK)!

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Yes (sigh), I've tried, and he just can't separate the stuff on the table from his idyllic images of Thumper, or something. I have, however, just ordered one from a local butcher to make a fabulous rabbit sugo for pappardelle next week, and I'm going to make it and not mention that it is rabbit. Sounds devious, but this a chef's recipe for a pasta dish I had in a NYC restaurant last year. I was so enthralled with my dish that DH asked for a taste--and he loved it, obviously not realizing it was rabbit (he is absent-minded that way, often not paying much attention to what I order). I didn't remind him. So I know I can make that w/confidence and serve it. But I'm not sure I could get away w/serving something in which I can't really disguise that it's rabbit. I did make a wonderful dish of rabbit pieces roasted w/pancetta, lemon, garlic, and some rosemary once. He tried eating it, even said it was tasty, but ended up pushing it away. And, no, he never had pet rabbits.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Rabbit is not cheaper in the U.s...or at least in California. ..... Northern California anyway. I do love it, though there's not that much meat, or maybe we just have skinny bunnies.

                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                      I made this tonight using wild rabbit, and substituting dry pear cider (perry) for white wine. I simmered for an hour and then had to eat because I needed to leave for work. Unfortunately, the rabbit was not falling-off-the-bone tender, probably because it was not a farmed rabbit like the ones normally used in France. The sauce was delicious though - next time I would probably finish it with a little creme fraiche.

                    3. Le Sauté D'Agneau aux Flageolets le Perraudin (Braised Lamb with White Beans), Bistro Cooking, Pg. 216

                      Well.... This was a very nice dish indeed. French comfort food. The recipe calls for dried small white beans or dried lima beans but because of time constraints I used Goya tinned cannellini beans, which I slowly heated in a bit of chicken broth, and started with step #3. Two pounds of lamb shoulder meat and bones cut in 2" cubes are browned in peanut oil, seasoned with S & P, removed from skillet and placed into a flame-proof casserole. A bit of flour is sprinkled over the meat, and stirred to cover all the pieces. Two cups of dry white wine are added and brought to a boil then 6 cups of water along with chopped veggies: 3 carrots, 4 onions (I used 3), 5 small tomatoes (I used 3 large), plus bay leaves, thyme and parsley. The pot is covered and the whole thing is cooked for an hour.

                      To serve, pieces of lamb and vegetables are placed in a bowl , the beans are placed along side, sauce from the lamb is spooned over all, and the dish is sprinkled with chopped parsley. I served a slice of crusty bread and that was all we nedded. Delightful!

                      1. Beef in Barolo (Trattoria)
                        I made this a week ago but found the wine flavor overpowering. Tried adding a milk gravy to try to counter this for my family and this helped a bit.

                        1. Daube de Queue de Boeuf (Oxtail Stew) (Bistro Cooking, page 209)

                          I’ve never made oxtail stew before. In fact, I’ve only ever eaten it once, and that was too many years ago for me to remember anything about it. I debated between trying this recipe and the one in “All About Braising,” but decided to go with this one because it uses a lot more carrots and I had a lot of carrots to use up.

                          I followed the instructions more as less as written, but they’re not written very clearly and I had to keep checking other sources to try to figure it out. Still not sure I did what she intended, but I think so.

                          I marinated 5 pounds of oxtails for 5 days in 3 (!) bottles of Pinot Noir (she recommends a Cotes de Rhone, but I had the Pinot), a pound each of onions and carrots, 8 ounces of shallots, cloves, a head of garlic, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme. The day before serving you’re supposed to brown 10 ounces of cubed salt pork then brown the drained oxtails in the rendered fat. She doesn’t tell you to remove the browned pork from the pan before browning the oxtails, but I did so thinking it would burn if I didn’t. She then tells you to return the browned oxtails and salt pork to the marinade, but doesn’t say whether or not the marinade should be strained of the vegetables and seasonings. I decided to do so since the herbs and spices weren’t in a bouquet and the vegetables were in big chunks. Everything is simmered until the “meat is falling off the bone, at least 2 to 2-1/2 hours.” I simmered for about three. The stew is refrigerated overnight and the fat removed the next day. Man! Was there a lot of fat! And I thought I was being good about removing all of it.

                          Then you add “fresh” carrots (which also made me think you were probably supposed to discard the carrots in the marinade; I also sliced up the shallots from the marinade and added them because why waste them?) and “cook again until the mixture is heated through.” But the mixture was “heated through” long before the carrots were tender. I simmered some more until the carrots were cooked, at least half an hour, maybe more. To serve, she has you remove the oxtails to a cutting board and remove the meat from the bones with two forks before placing the chunks of meat on cooked rigatoni, and spooning the vegetables and sauce over the meat. Removing the meat from the bones was a far more fiddly and time-consuming process than I’d anticipated, especially since I was trying to clean the chunks of meat of as much fat and gristle as possible. Luckily, I had already decided not to serve the stew that night, so I covered the meat with sauce and refrigerated it separately from the vegetables, also in some sauce. The next evening I was almost shocked at how much fat had separated out of the meat and sauce because I thought I’d done such a good job of defatting it all the day before.

                          Thank goodness, after all of this uncertainty, the finished dish was just wonderful, very rich, but very flavorful. I’m so pleased to have tried it and now that I know how much I like oxtails (and now that I know more or less what to expect), I’m especially eager to try Molly Stevens’s recipe and see how it compares.

                          ETA: Browse button still not working for me on the Home Cooking board so I posted the photo on the Tech Help Board and here's the link to it.


                          6 Replies
                          1. re: JoanN

                            JN: Weird, but I was looking at this recipe today. I've wanted to make it for some time but have not because I got so irritated that oxtails (once a poor man's meat) are now expensive. Considering that a good part of the oxtail is bone, you have to buy more pounds than you would if it were chops or steak. After reading your post, I've finally decided to discard my penny-pinching ways and go for it.

                            I did notice that Patricia Wells, in my edition anyway, does tell us to remove the pancetta before browning the oxtails. Maybe they got complaints. I have the paperback edition.

                            I love oxtails. We have them twice a year in Reno where you go to play in a Scrabble tournament. A bunch of us eat at Louis' Basque Corner every time we go. It's family style and oxtails are one of the courses. They make magnificent oxtail stew. I've never tried it before and am looking forward to it.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              Poulet Saute Aux Echalotes, p. 176-7, Bistro Cooking

                              Made this last night using mostly onions and only 3 shallots. My final result may be totally different from hers since her recipe calls for SIXTY (60)!!! Shallots. I subbed 2 onions for the 60 shallots. I also cut down the other ingreds. since I was cooking just for the 2 of us.

                              First you brown the chicken. She leaves them in while the shallots and garlic are sauteed, but I had only breasts (recipe calls for whole chicken) and so didn't want them to dry out so removed them while onion mix browned. After browning the onions/shallots I put the chicken back in and cooked it for about 10 minutes.

                              2 Tbsps of Cognac are called for but I used one. It's heated and then ignited and added to the chicken. The recipe calls for 4 tomatoes, but I had only small tomatoes as this is not exactly high tomato season. I added a few of these, cut in half, and a teaspoon of tomato paste. It's now simmered for about 5 minutes more to blend the sauce.

                              The last touch is to sprinkle a handful of fresh parsley over the dish. I really liked this. I used really fresh flat leaf parsley.

                              She serves it on a bed of rice, but I was lazy and just heated a nice baguette for sauce soaking. I think it'd be very good over noodles as well.

                              My husband loved this dish. I thought it was very good and quite simple and easy....as long as you're not removing the skin and chopping 60 shallots!

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Good lord, 60 shallots? This must be one of those "things are smaller in Europe" situations. I remember cutting two onions for something in the Hopkinson book and having entirely too much onion (I think it was for the onion and olive tarts).

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Hes, but I'm sure she's talking about the tiny French shallots (that I've never seen here) that are more the size of garlic cloves. I've been eyeing this dish, and I think I'd use enough shallots to get maybe 2 c. worth--probably 4 or 5 of the largish ones in my market lately.

                              2. re: oakjoan

                                Curious that you say that in your edition she says to remove the pancetta. No panchetta in my edition; just salt pork. And my edition is a paperback. First printing, 1989 with a 1989 copyright. Could it have been printed in a hardcover edition after it was printed in paperback? Or perhaps simultaneous. Very unusual, but possible. Anyway, interesting that your recipe seems to have instructions that are different from mine. I'll be very curious to hear, if you do try it, how you think it compares to the one in Reno.

                              3. re: JoanN

                                JoanN, Thank you for such a detailed and vivid report -- and your beautiful, inspiring photo -- it's all that I love about COTM! (And I have had the same problem with the Browse button -- but I thought it might be because I am on a Mac.). --Mebby

                              4. Poulet au Vinaigre Le Petit Truc, (Le Petit Truc's Chicken with Tarragon), Bistro Cooking, Pg. 173

                                We both loved this dish. It's easy, quick and satisfying. Oh, and tasty, too.

                                After seasoning with salt & pepper a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, is cooked in a combination ov EVOO and a bit of butter till "golden brown and to the desired doneness." This takes about 12-ish minutes on each side. The chicken is removed to a platter and kept warm. The fat in the skillet is poured out and dry white wine is added to deglaze the pan. She recommends using a Macon-Village but I used Noily Pratt dry vermouth. Chopped shallots and tomatoes are added, cooked for a few minutes then tarragon vinegar is slowly added. This is cooked for few minutes. A bit more butter is whisked in then the chicken is returned. The pan is covered and the whole thing cooks for another 3 minutes. A bunch of minced fresh tarragon is sprinkled over and the chicken is turned to coat in the sauce. I simply cannot describe how fragrant this dish is. It's like being in the garden at mid-summer. I love tarragon and have a lovely French tarragon plant growing in the garden...alas, now under a foot of snow.

                                I used greenhouse grown tarragon but removed the leaves from the rather thick stems. Also, I used 2 canned organic whole tomatoes which I chopped instead of the pitiful red orbs now in our markets. I will make this recipe again. Really a delicious dish. I served the chicken with kale braised with mushrooms, onions and garlic, and hot red pepper flakes.
                                Nice. Very, very nice.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Gio

                                  Poulet au Vinaigre is my husband's favorite dish in all the world. Whenever I make it he keeps saying "Oh boy! Oh boy" Vinegar Chicken!!! all day long.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    Good boy. It *is* very flavorful...isn't it. That's not a question. I can't count how many times I've made variations of this recipe. This one is one of the best.

                                  2. re: Gio

                                    I made this version of Poulet au Vinaigre yesterday for lunch and it was yummy. Like Gio said, it was like being in the garden at mid-summer. This is my first time using tarragon vinegar, and I think it is going to be a staple in our house.

                                    I seved it along with pototo and celery gratin (on oakjoan's recommendation) and it was a perfect meal. I heated up left overs for lunch today and it was still perfect!

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      The first time I set out to make this dish I couldn't decide between it and the Chicken Saute with Shallots (not at home so don't have the book at hand), so I made a hybrid of both. I drained off some of the fat, cooked up a lot of small whole shallots and deglazed w some cognac, before proceeding with the recipe. While I eventually made it the way it was meant to be made, I've just as often continued with this hybrid. And I agree, Gio - it does smell fresh and fragrant, bright and summery. Mystifying since there isn't anything specifically summery about it.

                                    2. Poached Chicken (with Fresh Herb Sauce), Trattoria p. 226

                                      Very simply, it's poaching chicken in simmering water with some vegetables and seasonings. She calls for 2 large onions stuck with cloves, 3 cloves of garlic, some parsley, celery, thyme, carrots, and peppercorns. I used the contents of my stock bag from the freezer (trimmings from onions, celery, fennel, carrots, parsley, etc.), plus cloves, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 hours. I have the "fresh herb sauce" in parenthesis, because that didn't happen (I was exhausted from a big project plus it was pouring rain so it would have been hard to collect any herbs). We used leftover Chicken Marbella sauce instead.

                                      On the plus side: What an easy way to have comforting chicken ready for dinner. It was falling off the bone tender. We ate the legs for dinner, I made soup today with some scraps and part of the breast meat, and we'll have the rest of the breast meat on a salad tomorrow. I got 10-11 c of nice stock, some of which went into soup and the rest frozen.

                                      On the down side: The breast meat has a chalky texture to it that I dislike. Do you know what I mean? I don't know if it's due to the technique or the chicken (it was a Trader Joe's 'natural'). Was my simmer too high? Was 3 hours too long? And the legs, which we had hot out of the pot the first night, were greasier than I would have liked.

                                      She says to serve the vegetables with the chicken, but I can't imagine they'd have any flavor left at that point. It wasn't relevant for me anyhow because I used scraps, so I just squeezed them for the broth and tossed.

                                      She doesn't call for salt anywhere in the recipe. Surely that's an oversight! I realized this partway through the simmering and added a couple tsp of kosher (which isn't much in 10-12 cups of water).

                                      I think I'd do it again, although maybe just with legs + back & wing trimmings, unless I can figure out why the breast meat came out as it did. Or take the breast meat out sooner/put it in later? That calls for deconstructing the chicken before cooking. Hmm.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                        Karen I think the chicken was cooked way too long. I use organic or natural chicken as often as I can and if I were poaching one I'd cook it for about 1 hour - 1 1/2 hour tops depending on what size it is. Also, I think you were correct in discarding the vegetables after all that time. Good that you got some nice stock but I'm not touching that recipe. Many thanks for your report...it is very important for us.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Normally I buy a Rosie organic chicken, but it was convenient to pick up the TJ bird. Maybe I'll try roasting one sometime, then I could tell better if the bird was a problematic factor in addition to the timing. Anyhow, the chicken breast worked out fine for chicken salad.

                                          Poking around and looking at other poached chicken recipes, I agree with you that 3 hours is way out of line (although I did find some other recipes that called for 3 hrs as well!). One recipe called for freezing the stock, then using it again the next time you poach, making it richer with every iteration, an interesting idea.

                                          I'll certainly make something like this again, but I would probably start the stock with just backs/wings/giblets and put the main parts in for the last 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. Maybe even less for the breast.