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September 2013 Cookbook of the Month, SMOKE AND PICKLES: Birds & Bluegrass and Seafood & Scrutiny

Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the September Cookbook of the Month:

Birds & Bluegrass pages 70 – 97
Seafood & Scrutiny pages 130 - 159

To post a review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below. If you are the first to report on a recipe, please reply to the original post. If a report already exists (please check before posting), please hit the reply box within the original report. This way, all of the reports on the same dish will be together.

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  1. Quick-Sautéed Squid and Bacon Salad with Grated Apple and Ginger (page 140)

    Undercooked the bacon; over emulsified the vinaigrette. Still, simply outstanding. Serving for four was dinner for one (overeating, but only slightly, and was sure ingredients would not hold up as leftovers). What an extraordinary combination of flavors. Again, except for user error, instructions were spot on.

    Squid was off the boat that morning. Couldn’t get over the texture of such fresh squid so quickly cooked (“ kiss it on the heat”). Not even a hint of rubbery.

    Vinaigrette: tahini, sesame oil, water, sherry vinegar, fresh lemon juice, and s&p. I blended on high in a blender as directed without stopping to think that I was using a Vitamix. I ended up with a great Asian mayonnaise, but had to thin it out with hot water to make a pourable dressing.

    Ginger/apple garnish: 1/2 a Granny Smith apple grated on a microplane mixed with 2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger.

    Another dish I will be making often.

     
    5 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      JoanN--I'm looking at this for sometime this week, but what the heck am I going to serve with it? I'm stumped. Bread? Pita? Rice? Suggestions?

      1. re: qianning

        I've been lo-carbing it so didn't go with a go-with. It's really a salad, though, so if I served it with anything it would probably be with pita to use more as a pusher and to soak up a bit of the dressing.

      2. re: JoanN

        Quick-Sautéed Squid and Bacon Salad with Grated Apple and Ginger (page 140)

        I made this a few weeks ago ago and we both loved it. Nothing to add other then I didn't have arugula. Instead I blanched chard (or was it kale?) greens. That looked kind of skimpy so I cut up part of a red cabbage. This combo, with the dressing delicious. Plus, the cabbage and blanched greens gave it a textural contrast that I loved. Next time though, I may only make half the dressing. I had some leftover but I fear it's now mold in my fridge.

        We just ate this straight, with no side. It's a pretty good meal for two.

        1. re: beetlebug

          OK, thanks for the info folks. Maybe if I bribe Mr. QN with dessert, he won't be looking for a carb fix to go with the "salad"...

        2. re: JoanN

          Quick-Sautéed Squid and Bacon Salad with Grated Apple and Ginger, pg. 140

          Sorry to buck the trend, but this one gave me trouble, and in truth we were very ho-hum about the flavors. Biggest problem with the recipe for me was how much should the squid weigh?

          As for the flavors, they just seemed a bit off kilter. Not dreadful, but not great either. I particularly disliked the sherry vinegar in the dressing, I would have much preferred just lemon juice. Who knows why, but it just wasn't a winner for us.

        3. Potato-Stuffed Roast Chicken (page 78)

          He says in the intro to the recipe that the perfect roast chicken had always eluded him. No matter how many recipes he tried, there was no way to cook the thigh meat without overcooking the breast meat. This recipe was the result of his experimentation to try to solve that problem.

          A large Yukon Gold potato is grated, squeezed as dry as possible, and sautéed for exactly two minutes. After cooling, the potato is spread evenly over the breast meat under the skin. The chicken is rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Before roasting, he has you place the chicken and hold it breast side down in a cast iron skillet for about three minutes until the skin begins to brown lightly. You then flip the chicken on it’s back and roast at 400F for 50 minutes to an hour. My chicken was a little over three pounds and the timing was perfect.

          Once roasted, the chicken is removed to a cutting board and the breasts are removed whole and cut into three chunks so there is a portion of crispy skin, potato, and breast meat in each serving. The remainder of the chicken is carved or cut up as usual.

          Next time I make this I’ll remove the wishbone to make it easier to remove the breasts. Also, I need to remember to use my largest CI skillet; the chicken fit perfectly in the skillet I used, but neither legs nor wings browned as much as I would have liked.

          This was just superb, with the breast meat unbelievably moist, the potatoes buttery and flavorful even though cooked with only a tablespoon of butter. His carving suggestion needs to be followed for this recipe so you get a bite of crispy skin, luscious shredded potato, and perfectly cooked breast meat in every bite. I usually don't like white meat. This could make me a convert.

           
           
          13 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            Wow, what a great write up and picture of the chicken in the pan--gorgeous. This one was already flagged, but now it is moving on up the list.

            1. re: JoanN

              Potato-Stuffed Roast Chicken, p. 78

              I approached this as a skeptic: the lightly-cooked grated potato seemed to make for an overly fussy prep; we’re dark meat lovers and the potato layer is over the breasts only (though I did shove a little into the thigh area). How fantastic could buttery grated potato cooked between chicken skin and chicken flesh be, anyway? Well, pretty damned fantastic, Folks. I'm joining Joan in the Ravers Club.

              Those potatoes really flavored the breast and kept it moist. My husband even opted for a piece of breast before his favorite, the drumstick. He can’t stop talking about this chicken or those potatoes.

              I prepared a 3 ½ lb clucker, as directed. [ ] I opted to add thyme to the potatoes (about 12 oz, grated and squeezed dry) as they cooked in 1 T butter for *exactly* 2 minutes, “no longer.” I stuffed the cooled mixture under the skin, rubbed the bird with olive oil, salt, and pepper, browned it briefly, breast side down, in the cast-iron pan before transferring the pan to a 400F over and roasting for an hour, and. (The only tweak: I stuffed a small lemon that had been pretty well stripped of its zest and a handful of thyme into the cavity.)A really beautiful roast chicken, with crisp skin and a very tasty sauce pooled in the bottom of the skillet.

              To be honest, the potato prep wasn’t that onerous. If only I could figure out a way to end up with more of those unctuously delicious shreds of potato.

              The second photo is of the cold chicken and shows better (I hope) the layer of potato.

               
               
              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                nomadchowwoman and JoanN: do you think this prep would work well with chicken pieces, too?

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  You might be able to make it work with half a chicken, but I can't imagine it with already cut up pieces. How could you layer the potato shreds between the meat and the skin and still keep the skin attached? His whole point here is to ensure that the breast doesn't overcook in the time it takes to cook the legs and thighs. There are other methods of ensuring that if you're just using the pieces anyway. Don't mean to discourage you from trying, but I can't picture it. Let us know how it works out if you decide to give a go.

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    I'm inclined to agree with Joan, Christina--I think a lot of the potato would fall out, It would still be good, but you probably wouldn't end up with the nice layer intact. W/leg quarters you might be able to push more potato under the skin and forward.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Potato-Stuffed Roast Chicken, p. 78.

                    So after reading the glowing reports I decided to make this with the 4.5 lb. organic, extremely free-range chicken in my CSA box. I was torn between making the Zuni Cafe recipe that everyone loves, but this would have entailed starting a day or two before with the salt-rub, and I picked up my chicken at noon today for tonight's dinner. So I opted for this grated-potato version and I have to say, I was amazed at the flavor and moistness of the result. Who would have thought that pushing a layer of butter-sauteed grated potato underneath the breast meat and then briefly browning the chicken's breast before simply roasting it in the oven would produce such a tender, buttery result? No brining or rubbing, no trussing, no basting or turning; just put it in the oven and take it out an hour later. Carve (according to the instructions about keeping the skin and potato layers intact) and eat with gusto. So simple and so flavorful. I opted to add some fresh thyme leaves to the potato mixture, and I did put half a fresh lemon into the cavity, but that was it.

                    Everyone ate up every scrap; the white meat was as delicious as the drumsticks.

                    1. re: Goblin

                      Sounds delicious, my only worry with this one is carving. I am really terrible at it and I expect the separation of the breasts with skin and potato will be challenging for those of us who are all thumbs, but I think I will put this one on the list as well.

                      1. re: delys77

                        You know, this was one of the easiest to portion out roast chickens I've ever carved at a dinner (and I am not an expert carver.) After I had carefully sliced off both roasted breasts from the bird, the crisp skin was still intact. It seemed to keep the cooked grated potato layer from sliding off the top of the chicken breasts. They were very tender and surprisingly easy to carve into pieces. I chose to cut each breast into halves rather than thirds as suggested by the recipe, since I knew that two of my six guests preferred a drumstick-leg portion anyway.

                        The instructions are very detailed about how to push the grated potatoes carefully under the skin of the breast without tearing it, and it seemed to work.

                        1. re: Goblin

                          Well that is good news Goblin, when I do try this one I will make sure I read very carefully. Thanks!

                    2. re: JoanN

                      Joan, judging from this post and others from this cookbook I think Mr. Lee needs to pay you a commission. All of your posts as well as other hound's post have convinced me to buy the book.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Potato Stuffed Roast Chicken

                        This was a very clever take on Roast Chicken and makes a tasty bird with some luscious potatoes to go with them. We are not big white meat fans and I have to say that I probably won't make this again, because even though the breast meat was very moist, it still didn't convert us from preferring the dark meat. And the dark meat is not really any different from a normal well-executed roast chicken.

                        The potatoes are very good, but I found myself wishing they were crispy like a hashbrown. I am glad I tried this recipe, but I think all in all, I would rather just make a hash brown and a regular roast chicken.

                         
                      2. Honey-Glazed Roast Duck (page 92)

                        You score the breast of a 5-pound duck and pour boiling salted water over it to begin to render some of the fat. The duck is roasted at 325F on a bed of peeled garlic cloves breast side up for 45 minutes, then turned and roasted for another 15 minutes before being turned breast side up again for an additional 15 minutes. Then the oven is turned up to 450 and the duck is glazed with a mixture of honey, fresh orange juice, and soy sauce and roasted for another 15 minutes, brushing the glaze over it a couple of more times.

                        He doesn’t say specifically how to serve the duck, whether it’s to be sliced or chopped up Asian style, but from the photo on the following page it seems as though the meat was sliced from the carcass. He suggests serving it with any number of optional sides, saying “choose any or all” of Hot Sauce, Hoisin sauce, Pineapple-Pickled Jicama, Bourbon-Pickled Jalapeños, fresh cilantro sprigs, fresh basil sprigs, or sliced cucumbers. I made both the Hot Sauce (report below) and the Bourbon-Pickled Jalapeños ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9152... ). Although he doesn’t say so, and no lettuce is listed in the optional ingredients, the photo shows people putting the condiments and pieces of duck on leaves of romaine lettuce and eating it that way, so that’s what I did, more or less.

                        This is the first recipe I've made from the book that didn't work for me. The duck didn't render a sufficient amount of fat and the skin wasn't as shatteringly crisp as I like it. The meat was also quite tough, although that might have been a factor of the inexpensive frozen duck I bought at an Asian market. The flavor of the glaze was excellent and the garlic cloves roasted in the duck fat and the glaze that dripped into the pan were delectable. I loved the flavors and may well try this again with a better duck and adjusting the timing to try to achieve that crispy skin which to my way of thinking is the whole point of making a roast duck.

                         
                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JoanN

                          Sorry to hear this didn't thrill, Joan, as it is way up on my to-try list. But maybe I'll try it with a "special" duck from the "special" (read: expensive) butcher.

                          Sure looks pretty!

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Honey-Glazed Roast Duck, p. 92

                            I should have known that if this didn't work for Joan, it wouldn't work for me although I agree that the glaze and the garlic cloves were glorious.

                            When I couldn't get my hands on a duck without added "water solution" anywhere, I bit the bullet and went to the fancy butcher and foolishly paid too much for a 5-lb duck, no matter what its pedigree.

                            Joan has covered the process quite well. I did the same things. (I have read for years about this salted boiling water "spa treatment," but I did not see any appreciable positive results). .The glaze started to blacken in my oven during the 450F phase so I pulled the duck out a few minutes early (and the legs were a tad underdone). My complaints are much the same as Joan's--much fat remained under the skin, skin was not wonderfully crisp, and worst of all, the meat was tough(though flavorful).

                            It's certainly not a total loss. We enjoyed our meal--just the duck and a few veggie sides; I'll remove what's left of the meat and make pot pie and of course make stock with the carcass. But I much prefer the results of my usual recipe (the "amazing five-hour duck" that has appeared in Best American Recipes and other places). I will, however, add the garlic cloves and glaze next time I roast a duck.

                             
                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Can't tell you how disappointed I am to read this, ncw. I was really hoping the next person who tried this would nail it and have some advice for me. There are so many good things about this recipe, it's a shame it just doesn't come together as a whole. I still think I might play with it again sometime, although probably not with an expensive bird.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I went back and looked at the two roast duck recipes I know well: the five-hour duck (usually more like 4-4 1/2 for me) cooks at 300 and then at 350 for the last hour; the other, for duck served at a local restaurant (the recipe also appears in one of the BAR books), has you parboil the duck for 15 minutes, then roast it at 450 for 1 hour, 15 minutes, then at 350 for another 45. Finally, the duck pieces are put under the broiler. While I find this recipe too fussy for me, it, like the first, yields a crisp-skinned, succulent bird.

                                Who am I to question Chef Lee, but I wonder if the trick is either low and slow with slightly higher heat at the end to crisp the skin OR the blast of high heat first and finishing at a lower heat? The 450 blast at the end of the Lee recipe seemed to toughen the meat--and I'm not sure 1 1/2 hours was enough time to render all the fat. (I also wonder if more of the salted boiling water--4 c didn't seem like much--might not have helped with the skin.) Please report if you figure it out because the glaze is divine. (And I've got about half those garlic cloves in the fridge, waiting to be spread on crostini. I think I'd double the # of garlic cloves next time.)

                          2. Hot Sauce (page 93)

                            Made 1/4 of the recipe to accompany the Honey-Glazed Roast Duck on the previous page. The whole recipe makes four cups and he says it keeps for two weeks in the fridge. I like hot sauce, but four cups would last me a bit longer than just two weeks. I couldn’t find red jalapeños, so substituted red banana peppers from the Asian market. Otherwise, I made the sauce as directed with a mix of green jalapeños, Thai bird peppers, and habaneros. The peppers are trimmed and cooked with garlic, cider vinegar, hoisin sauce, water, Red Bull (I used the suggested substitute of ginger ale), sugar and fish sauce. Puree in a blender until smooth, add sesame oil and blend again.

                            This was very flavorful, but waaaay too hot. I discovered when I used them in another preparation that my jalapeños were killers. Should have tasted one first, but it’s been ages since I’ve had jalapeños that hot. Had to thin the sauce with water, but once I did it was a great hot sauce. In addition to using it as a dipping sauce for the duck, I put some on the sandwiches made from his Pulled Pork Shoulder and even used it on some takeout Chinese. This is really good stuff.

                             
                            1. OK, so I have a feeling I know the answer to this question (and that it isn't going to help the space situation in my refrigerator) but how much of a difference is there between light miso and dark? I'm thinking of making the Miso-Smothered Chicken and have some light miso in the fridge, and really don't want to have another tub of miso sitting around just so that I can make this one dish. Anyone know more about miso than I do?

                              18 Replies
                              1. re: LulusMom

                                The darker the miso, the longer it's been fermented and the stronger the flavor. I'd just go ahead and do it. At worst, the dish will be milder than intended.

                                Funny you mention this at this moment. I bought some red miso a couple of weeks ago and just now finished my shopping list, including four bone-in chicken thighs. Too bad we don't live closer to each other; we could have a taste off. And I could have a sip of your Kentucky Mule.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Funny, I just bought chicken thighs for the same reason. But I wonder if you know: is red miso the same as dark miso, or is there an even darker one? I saw a brown rice miso on the shelf as well and wondered about that. Guess I need a primer on miso.

                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    The one I bought is labelled "Organic Miso Red-Type" but is actually more of a medium-brown color. I am most definitely not an expert on miso. This may be only the second time I've bought it. But my understanding is that they are made with essentially the same ingredients and that the color is indicative solely of the length of fermentation time. Maybe someone who knows more about it than I could jump in here with more information.

                                  2. re: JoanN

                                    Thanks to everyone, and I'll pass along the pitcher of Kentucky Mules. I'll just go for it, thanks to you all (or y'all, as we say down here).

                                  3. re: LulusMom

                                    I'd go for it. Red (dark) miso is more assertive in flavor (saltier and eathier) where white (light) miso is subtler and sweeter. Just taste the sauce when you add the orange juice, soy sauce and miso. You may need to add a little more soy or salt. Hope it turns out. It's on my list too.

                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      Thanks--that is helpful. I have red and white; glad to know red is "dark": I'm all set for the miso-smothered chicken, which sounds odd to me, but I trust Chef Lee. He hasn't let me down yet. He's also scuttled my attempts at low-carbing, gotten me frying up a storm so I can eat his remoulade--and going through bourbon like crazy (even drinking it!).

                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        I suspect the miso will be in the background adding a savoriness to the dish.

                                        I'm impressed by how much you have made from his book already. All of the accolades have me anxious to try the perfect rémoulade, and the potato stuffed chicken and pickled peaches (and the list goes on).

                                        1. re: BigSal

                                          Well, I cheated and got started early since I didn't own last month's book. Also, this is a busy month so I wanted to be sure I got to try lots of recipes. But work and social commitments be damned, I'm going to make the effort to cook on!
                                          (And what a great start you've gotten us off to, BigSal. Thank you.)

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      I also have plans to make the miso chicken, as it seems to be the easiest one in the entire list of chicken recipe.

                                      My question is, are you planning to serve it with the pineapple jicama? We don't have jicama in the UK, and even daikon is hard to get in my neck of wood. I wonder if the dish would still be ok without it. I've thought about using jerusalem artichokes, but it's out of season at the moment.

                                      1. re: lilham

                                        Gosh, I don't even remember seeing Jerusalem artichokes in the list - yikes. My guess is that it will be fine without though.

                                        We have jicama, but I wasn't planning on serving it with that slaw. I was going to serve it over grits and be done with it. Maybe I need to relook at this recipe before proceeding.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          It specifies jicama in the recipe. But google says daikon is a good substitute, and failing that, you can use jerusalem artichokes.

                                          If you aren't planning to make the pickle to serve with the chicken, I'd love to hear how it tastes before I plunge into making it. It's mid autumn festival season at the moment, so I'm learning to make mooncakes (that keeps me very busy). My first batch failed miserably. They tastes wonderful but more like dumplings than mooncakes.

                                          1. re: lilham

                                            Funny you should mention mooncakes. They came up in a discussion on my local (southeast) board recently, and I've been sort of looking to see if I can find some locally. Good luck with yours.

                                            1. re: lilham

                                              Off thread, but can't resist asking what filling for the mooncakes?

                                              1. re: qianning

                                                I'm making the ice-skinned versions and using custard as filling. It is the easiest filling to make, but I hear custard powder isn't common in the US? But they turn out more like 糯米糍. I think I might need to add more flour when kneading the dough.

                                                1. re: lilham

                                                  Sounds fabulous even with your current dough. I can't imagine making these at home.

                                          2. re: lilham

                                            In my experience with the book so far, many of his suggestions for sides are just that: suggestions. I've made some; haven't made others. I do have the Pineapple-Pickled Jicama curing in the fridge to serve with the chicken, but that's mainly because I've been so enjoying (mostly) his pickle recipes and wanted to try this one as well. But you could just serve the chicken on rice with any other accompaniments that appeal to you.

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              This is good to know. I'm not madly in love with pickles (although I do love pickled okra) and they probably wouldn't add much for me.

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                Thanks, JoanN. I'll give the miso chicken a go.