Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicken with Spices and Sweet Potatoes

I thought of this right before I fell asleep one night last week. I'd say it was of divine origin, but actually I got the idea from Bill Buford's book Heat, which talks about a pre-Columbian Italian recipe of meat cooked with sweet red wine, orange zest, and spices. Here I've taken this and adulterated it with some post-1492 tomatoes and sweet potatoes. The recipe is slow, but it's really simple. Brown the chicken, braise the chicken, and then when you're close to done, add some sweet potatoes and carrots.

  • 2 chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • half a 28oz can of tomatoes (or a smaller can), crushed
  • zest of an orange
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, preferably the white kind, in 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 heaping tsp. honey
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs. oil over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken on both sides. When you're done with this, remove the chicken, turn the heat down and cook the onions for about ten minutes with another tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the orange zest, spices, tomato, wine, and some salt. Bring the heat back up to get this simmering, and then put a lid slightly ajar on top of the pot and turn the heat to low. (If you're using a dutch oven, you might try cooking this in the oven at maybe 300 or 325 degrees.) Cook for an hour, adding more wine if it needs it (though it probably won't). Add the honey, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and cook until these are tender, another 20-30 minutes. If the dish is still liquidy, remove the lid and turn the heat up to dry it up a bit. Serve with bread.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spaghetti with Sardines, Almonds, and Orange

Lately sardines have been much in the news. The last American sardine cannery is closing. Mark Bittman is cooking with sardines, and he encourages you to try too. A kind person has published this ranking of sardines that I found here. Now it's time for my contribution to the sardine genre. My recommendation is to buy sardines packed in olive oil. I've never actually eaten the ones packed in water, but if I were a fish doomed to spend a year in a dark can surrounded by liquid, I would want it to be olive oil. The distinguishing thing about this recipe is the almonds and orange zest. I got the idea from a restaurant review that claimed this was some famous chef's signature move, but I can't remember whose or find the review. This recipe only takes 40 minutes or so, and it serves two or three people depending on what else you're having.

  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 1 can sardines without bones, packed in olive oil (mine was 85 grams, not counting the can)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 dried mild chilies, crushed up (or some red pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • zest of an orange
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs. oil, plus the oil from the sardine can
  • salt, pepper

Put on a pot of salty water, and start cooking the spaghetti as soon as it comes to a boil. Heat a small pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat and put the almond slices in it to toast. Shake them up from time to time and keep a close eye on them. Take them out when they start turning brown, and add the orange zest to them.

Meanwhile, start cooking the onion in a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil and some salt and pepper, stirring occasionally. Add the chilies. Cook the onion until it softens up and browns a bit, 10-15 minutes. Add the sardines and their oil, mush them up a bit, and cook them till they're heated through. Add the lemon juice and some more pepper. Mix all of this with the cooked spaghetti, add the almonds with the zest, and serve with Parmesan (or without).

Hale's Ales Kölsch

Hale's Ales, Irish Style Nut Brown Ale
Seattle, WA
5.3% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

This is my favorite beer from Hale's Ales yet. It has a nice malty flavor for an ale.