Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Flinstonian Lamb Chops and Grilled Baby Zucchini

I like Michael Symon because of his cute bald head and homey mid-western accent. I also like him for his delicious herb brined lamb chops featured in last month's Bon Appetit.

The recipe called for 24 lamb rib chops cut from a 1 1/2 lb rack. I had 2 mammoth lamb chops from the CSA - I think they were probably double chops, I don't really know. Elaine and I brine meat a lot, usually a mixture of salt/sugar/water, sometimes some herbs or other spices. This recipe is intriguing because it uses a dry herb brine instead, sort of like a dry rub. The proportions below were for my 2 big chops, see the original for proportions for 24 smaller chops, plus, you know, the standard, I didn't have all the ingredients situation.

2 large shallots, minced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 large garlic cloves, minced
s&p to taste
lamb chops
olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon

Mix the shallots, oregano, mint, garlic and s&p in a small bowl. Press a tablespoon of the mixture onto both sides of each lamb chop. The recipe calls for you to then cover the chops with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. But maybe sometimes you have a really long week at work and you don't get home until 9 o'clock several nights in a row at which point it is too late to make a complicated dinner. In which case, you will be happy to know that you can actually let the chops brine for 3 days and you'll be totally fine.

Once you are ready to cook your chops, whisk olive oil, lemon juice and lemon peel until well blended. You want a 2:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice. Season with s&p. Spoon mixture over both sides of the chops and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Grill chops until they reach an internal temp of about 140 degrees for medium rare - mine took at least 5 minutes a side since they were so thick.

As always, tent your meat and let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving. I served these with grilled baby zucchini that I tossed with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper - because obviously very large chops go well with abnormally small vegetables.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chinese Style Spareribs

We had a tiny little rack of spareribs from the CSA, and I felt like trying something different with it than my usual barbecue. Actually, this is just another kind of barbecue, and wonderfully, can all be done in your oven. There are a lot of recipes out there if you ask the internet, many based on hoisin sauce. But I was out of hoisin sauce. So I used (gasp!) ketchup (actually I read that it's kind of the legit Hong Kong approach, though I'm not sure that's actually true...) You need to be able to set these to marinate ahead of time - at least 2 hours; more is totally ok, so if you want to do this on a weeknight, put them in the marinade in the morning, they'll be ready to cook when you get home from work.

Chinese Style Sticky Barbecue Spareribs

a rack of pork ribs (plan on having 4-5 individual ribs per person)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed then finely minced
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c ketchup
2 tbsp oyster sauce (or hoisin, or black bean paste)
2 tsbp sweet chili sauce (optional)
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp white wine, sherry or rice vinegar
1/3 c hot water
2 tbsp honey

Start by cutting up the rack into individual ribs. Combine the garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce (if you have/use hoisin sauce, you can use more, like 1/4 cup), chili sauce, sriracha (use more if you like spicy) and the wine (or sherry or vinegar) in a large, shallow dish, big enough to hold all the ribs in a single layer. When it's all thoroughly mixed, add in the ribs and toss around till they're all thoroughly coated. Leave to marinate at least a couple hours, preferably more.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with foil, and on top of that put a rack (I used one of my cookie racks) that fits well inside the pan and will hold all the ribs. Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off some of the excess, but leaving them pretty well coated, and arrange them on the rack.

Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile mix your hot water and honey. Halfway through the first 30 minutes in the oven, pull out the ribs and using a pastry brush, brush on the honey/water mixture, and flip the ribs over. Bake for another 30 minutes, basting and flipping again.
They should be getting pretty nicely dark and lacquered looking by now. Let them go longer if not.

Serve with rice and stir fried broccoli* on the side.

*Toss broccoli (cut into florets, stems sliced) in a hot pan with minced garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and 2 tsp of sugar. Fry till the garlic and ginger become fragrant and take on a little color, then add 1/4 c water and cover; cook for two minutes, just until the broccoli is tender and bright green. Uncover the pan and cook off the water over high heat. Optional yummy addition - make your very first step to fry some cashew pieces in your oil (in the pan you're going to cook the broccoli) until nice and dark; drain them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and reserve till you've cooked up the broccoli. Throw the toasted cashews on top before serving.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicken with Spinach Two Ways

Calling this chicken with spinach two ways is really just a fancy way to say that all I had in my fridge was a chicken breast and a half a bag of spinach. And I was really bored and cranky and didn't want to eat something boring which would make me even more cranky. So, I improvised. What you see above is a sauteed chicken breast on a bed of garlicky spinach, topped with a spinach pesto. Super simple, but a ton of flavor.

What you need:
Chicken breast(s)
Lemon juice
Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil

For the garlicky bed of spinach, thinly slice one clove of garlic and saute in about 2 tbs of olive oil. Add your washed spinach (about 2 cups in this case) - no need to dry it too thoroughly as the excess water will help to cook the spinach in the pan. Turn the spinach to coat it in the garlic and olive oil and allow to wilt until done.

For the pesto, add 2 cups spinach, a handful of hazelnuts, 1 clove garlic and 2 tbs lemon juice to a food processor and combine. Slowly stream in olive oil, about 1/4 cup to start - check your should be, well, pesto-y. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt and pepper according to your liking. I like to add grated parmesan cheese at the end just before serving, in this case about 1/4 cup.

This method for the spinach pesto is exactly like a regular basil pesto. I also like to make this with arugula or kale and walnuts. Its a fresh accompaniment to grilled chicken or a nice piece of fish.

I just sauteed my chicken very simply in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

To serve, and pretend that you made something way fancier than you actually did, make a bed of sauteed spinach on your plate, place chicken on spinach and spoon pesto over top.