Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rotisserie Chicken

Yes, you have to have the correct cooking equipment for this week's food idea, but I've been talking about my fabulous convection oven for nearly a year - so I'm sure you've all run out and purchased one by now!

Whole chickens were on a great sale at Ralphs - so I had to have one. And they're SO easy to broil in the rotisserie mode of the oven, as long as your oven has a rotisserie mode! Our Delongpri convection oven has a rotisserie contraption that hooks up quite easily, and accommodates a whole chicken up to 6 pounds. I always try to find one that is between 5 - 5 1/2 pounds. The meat guy at the grocery store was just putting out a fresh batch of birds, and he selected a beauty for me to take home.

First I take all the gross things out of the bird and toss them. I know, you are supposed to save the gizzards and the neck and all that other disgusting stuff crammed in the cavity for gravy - or, even worse, to actually cook and eat? YUCK - I just toss it all. (If you want to save it to use as part of your base for soup if you're going to do that later, I do approve of that use of the gross stuff, because eventually, it still gets tossed!)

Give your bird a nice bath, then towel-pat dry.

I like to fill the cavity with herbs from the garden - today we had rosemary, thyme and dill. I also threw in a lime, with the ends cut off and slits throughout, and an onion, peeled and also slitted, but still whole.
Use string from the butcher to truss your stuffed bird. I don't really truss so much as I just tie the bird up with string. This has two purposes - it keeps the onion, lime and herbs in the cavity during cooking, and it keeps the wings and legs from flapping all over the oven while the bird is turning on the rotisserie.

Next, skewer the rotisserie bar through the center of the bird, and fasten the ends in a place that will allow the bird to rotate freely in the oven. You may need to test it a couple of times before you're completely happy with your chicken placement on the skewer and the rotisserie rack.
(I usually prepare the chicken up to this point in the morning, then wrap in plastic and put in the fridge until evening when it's closer to dinner time. If you do this, take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before the next step.)

Lightly rub oil all over the chicken, and season to taste. I use salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Hook the rack into the convection oven and cook away. I set my oven temperature to "Broil" and the function to "Rotisserie." I set the timer for 1 1/2 hours, but I start checking the internal temperature after about an hour - it's always premature, but by that point the house is smelling so delicious that you could SWEAR that bird is ready to be eaten.
My food thermometer has the poultry setting at 180 degrees, but I go by the Julia Child method and cook the bird to 160 - 165 internal temperature.

Let it rest for 20 - 30 minutes, but I'll bet you'll be picking off and nibbling the delicious crispy skin from the entire bird - and you might as well, because it loses its deliciousness as the chicken sits longer... or so I've been told.... we always eat it all right out of the oven.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artichokes and dipping butter, with a side of New York Steak

This menu is what you should plan when you want something delicious, somewhat fancy, yet extremely simple. (Of course, I say that because MY job was to prep and cook the steaks, and Brian's job was to prep and cook the artichokes!) For basic artichoke selection and preparation tips, I refer you back to a post several months ago titled "Ask Gourmet Gibbs" - (December 2009) but I will give additional suggestions here.

Artichokes - you'll want one choke per person, italian salad dressing and some lime juice.

Cut off the stem at the base, slice off the crown of the choke, and snip off the prickly tops of the outer leaves. Using a spoon, scoop out the "choke" part of the artichoke - that's the purple furry-spiney-prickly part.
Trim the woody/fibery end off the stem, then cut up the rest into small pieces and put in the center of the artichoke. and drizzle with the Italian dressing. Drizzle lime juice over the outside leaves. Place on a the microwave safe dish, wrap with plastic wrap, and microwave until the leaves are tender and pull away from the stem without too much resistance. Remember, they'll continue to cook a little while after they're out of the microwave, and you can always put them in for a little more time, but you can't undo over-cooking!
New York Steaks (or whatever cut is on sale at your local market) - before you prep the artichokes, take the steaks out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature - about 30 -45 minutes. Next, I lightly seasoned the steaks with salt, garlic salt and a Costco steak rub, then heavily seasoned with fresh ground pepper. Season one side, press the seasonings into the meat, then flip and repeat.
Steaks are always yummier on the grill, but I just panned fried these for convenience - besides, I had to stay in the kitchen to snap photos of Brian's artichoke magic. We like our steaks medium rare - so just a few minutes on each side was sufficient. While Brian melted butter in the microwave, I sliced and trimmed the steak into tasty bite-sized medallions of deliciousness.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ham Fried Rice

Remember when we made that Ham - at Easter?.... I hope you put the extras in the freezer, because now we're going to use the left overs in our Ham Fried Rice. I'm really sorry that I don't have any measured amounts for you - you just have to wing it.

I cheated and bought a little package of pre-chopped Trader Joe's onions, shallots and garlic.

I also chopped some celery and green scallions, and I diced the ham.

In a large frying pan, sautee your Trader Joe's veggies - I used mostly canola oil and a splash of "stir fry oil" (also known as sesame oil).
When the onions have just started to brown, add your chopped ham. Next, add in the rice. I've found it best to use rice that is at least one day old - even 2 or 3 days old. So when you're making rice for another meal, make extra and put it aside for your future Fried Rice meal.

Season with Nam Pla - Fish Sauce - you can find it at Asian markets, and possibly at grocery stores with larger Asian food sections. Basically it's water that has had fish soaking in it forever, and then the fish pieces are strained out and I'm sure it's processed and treated so you won't die when you use it in cooking. It's very salty and has a pungent odor to it - I know, makes it sound real appetizing, right? Don't use too much, or it will overwhelm the rice. Also season with Soy Sauce - to taste.

After it's all mixed up and good and fried,push the rice over to one side of the pan and crack an egg or two (depending on the size of your fried rice) on the other side - scramble it up first, and after it's cooked - mix it in with the fried rice.

Squeeze a bit of lime over the rice, and toss in sliced green scallions - for color and texture.

To be authentic "Thai" fried rice, you must serve the rice with a slice of cucumber on the side.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

80-Year Old Food

Many of you may have heard of the 1000 year old eggs from Asia... well, we spent the last 2 weeks in Utah for my Mom's 80th Birthday, and while she isn't yet 1000 years old, we did have great food that could give the 1000 year old egg a run for it's money.
I didn't have enough time to do a "real" blog with recipes and such, but I DO have enough time to post numerous shots of the food we enjoyed over the past couple of weeks on our "Trip to Bountiful" - ha ha, cause I'm origianally from Bountiful.
We spent a few days in St. George at a condo that Mom has in a time share, and we enjoyed food cooked in the condo, as well as dinners out.
Pan-fried pork chops; French Toast with fresh strawberries and sausage; Pork salad bar....

okay, there's a pork theme going on here!

We spent a lovely day in Snow Canyon, and enjoyed a chipped beef sandwich, on wheat bread bought from the farmer's market, with cheese and, a diet coke.

And after our St. George Trip, we had a fabulous 80th Birthday party for Mother Mary, and Cousin Heather wowed everyone with her birthday cake made entirely of Rice Crispie Treats - commemorating the numerous places in the world Mom has traveled during her 80 years.

Happy Birthday Mom ! Love you!

Next week, really, a recipe-related blog.