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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

                    http://www.cortibros.biz/tek9.asp?pg=...

                    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
                book).

                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.