Monday, February 13, 2012

How I'm roasting chicken right now

The bird comes from Little Red Hen now. They are just too good, in every way. I split it and roast 1/2 at a time. The other half I freeze for another night. There's only 2 of us and somehow still always leftovers, even with cooking just half at a time. Turn the oven up to 450 and let my cast iron pan heat up with it. Dry the chicken, rub on olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe paprika. When the oven and pan are hot, in it goes, cut side down. After 15-20 minutes (depending on size of the chicken) I turn off the oven and let it stay there for another 15 minutes. It is done perfectly every time.
 If I want veggies--wedge half a red onion, some carrots, always garlic cloves (still in their peel), dress them in just a little olive oil. Nudge them in under the chicken after about 10 minutes of cooking. This time I added fresh shittake mushrooms too, but a bit later on--maybe at the 20 minute mark. They came out crispy yet tender. 
 I barely know what to do with myself now, but how can you not love a dinner that basically makes itself?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Momofuku Bo Ssam

My parents got us a NY Times Sunday subscription for Christmas (and it is fabulous, every Sunday morning we tune out completely for a couple hours to drink coffee, listen to the bizarre reggae show on 88.5, and read the paper, it's heaven.) and a couple weeks ago they had a recipe from Momofuku. I have never been to Momofuku, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to it. This recipe offered melty roasted pork cooked in a salty-sugar crust that you basically just pull apart and eat all rolled up in lettuce leaves with tangy sauces. Pretty great! I tore it out and saved it for a week or so, analog style. 
Now, observe: 1.) any given pork butt is way too big for just us to eat on our own; 2.) the actual eating of this meal sounds fun and communal; 3.) the recipe is wicked easy and basically fail-proof. This adds up to a recipe tailor-made for a casual dinner was super fun and everyone freaked out about how yummy it was.
Here's the recipe, more or less as God and the January 15, 2012 Times Magazine intended it:
Pork Butt:
1 whole pork butt [they said 8-10 lbs; I used about 7 lbs.]
1 cup each [!] sugar and kosher salt
Mix the sugar and the salt; rub all over your pork butt. Put said pork butt in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, at least 6 hours, or overnight which is what I did.
The next day, turn the oven to 300 and put the pork in there in a roasting pan for about 6 hours.
The best thing is how the recipe now says "meanwhile, make the sauces." These two sauces will take you approximately 10 minutes to make. Count on having 5 hours and 50 minutes to "meanwhile" on something else. For example, I cleaned the house and studied some Supreme Court nuttery for school. Here's the two sauces:
Ginger-scallion sauce:
Mix 2 1/2 cups thin sliced scallions with 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger, 1/4 cup oil [I used peanut; they recommended grapeseed, fight!], 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Ssam sauce:
Mix 2 tablespoons ssamjang paste with 1 tablespoon kochujang, 1/2 cup sherry vinegar, and 1/2 cup oil [see above]. Ssamjang is a fermented bean-chili paste. You'll need to go to an Asian market for it; ditto kochujang, which is a Korean chili paste. They are totally worth having around; you will find a thousand delicious uses for them.
To accompany the roasted pork butt you'll have both these sauces, plus white rice (2 cups, cooked), and several heads of Bibb lettuce to wrap it all up in. Kimchi is good in there too.
 When you are close to being ready to eat, take out the pork. It should be really soft and falling apart to the touch. Stir together 1 tablespoon salt with 7 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub it all over the pork and put it back in the oven, crank it up to 500 and let it get dark and caramel-sticky for about 10 minutes. It should have a really nice, dark crust all over. Pull it out, get all the accompaniments in little bowls, call your friends and eat. You just pull off bits of pork, stuff it into lettuce leaves, and add sauces as you like. It's ridiculously good and a lot of fun.
Here's a link to the actual article in the New York Times, if you want to see a really trustworthy version of what I just told you and if you haven't hit your paywall for the month yet. Their pictures, of course,  are nice too.

Monday, February 06, 2012

There and back again

Super simple lunch time. Black beans--2 cups dried soaked in very hot tap water for 30 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water (probably at least 4-5 cups) and bring to a boil with 2 tablespoons epazote (can be hard to find but here, Penzey's can explain it) and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed. Let simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Drain, but reserve a cup or so of the cooking liquid. Saute 1/2 onion (and I had a little bit of carrot in there too but only because it needed using up) in oil or butter then put the beans back in with their cooking liquid. Stir often and let cook for 10 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar plus a drizzle of soy sauce and a splash of hot sauce, if you like hot sauce. Add salt to taste and stir it all really well together to combine.
Meanwhile cook 2 cups quinoa in 3+ cups water. I've noticed that quinoa lies somewhere between couscous (1:1) and rice (1:2) in the ratio of solid to liquid as far as cooking goes. Bring it to a boil with a little salt and a pat of butter, then turn to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. 

For lunch--a scoop of the quinoa and a scoop of the black beans, topped with chunks of queso fresco or whatever tangy cheese you have in the fridge. Add cilantro, hot sauce, leftover pulled pork, a hard-boiled can go on like this all week long...