Archive for October, 2011

October 13, 2011

Truffled Mushroom Risotto with Chicken Confit

Fall has definitely arrived here in the Pacific Northwest and despite my love for the sun, I am excited for fall to be here.  There is a nice crispness to the air and it’s time for some hearty, warming meals.  I wanted to surprise Margie with a nice dinner and knowing her love for mushrooms and risotto, I mixed these two recipes together to make a really nice fall/winter meal.  It actually came out much better than I had hoped and was really decadent.

Truffled Mushroon Risotto with Chicken Confit

This dinner is not for the faint of heart.  I’m not going to lie…this is not a healthy dish, but it sure is outstanding.  I had not previously done much “confit-ing”, so it was a lot of fun trying a new technique.

Confit – is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France

The slow cooking really makes the chicken moist and tender and the smell that permeates the house is amazing.  This rich meal is easily now in my top 10 favorite decadent meals.  It is worth all the effort and time involved in cooking.

Chicken Confit

1   whole chicken, divided into 7 parts

2-2.5 cups duck fat

5 cloves  garlic, smashed

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Place rinsed, dried and chicken in a glass baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle garlic over chicken.  Cover chicken completely with duck fat.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 4-5 hours.

Remove chicken from liquid duck fat.   The chicken can be pan seared for crisping or preserved for a later meal.

chicken in duck fat after an couple hours in the oven at low temp

after the 4-5 hours in the oven, I quickly browned the chicken in a frying pan before serving

Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles

Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon in Portland, OR, published in Bon Appetit

Yield: Makes 6-8 first-course servings

Leeks:

2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)

3/4 cup whipping cream

Mushrooms:

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices

1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 tablespoon white truffle oil

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Risotto:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 cups (or more) hot vegetable broth

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons shaved or chopped black truffle (you can also use truffle oil, which is what I did when I made it)

Chopped fresh parsley

For leeks:

Bring leeks and cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are tender and cream is thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Re-warm before continuing.

For mushrooms:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss all ingredients on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until mushrooms are tender and light brown around edges, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

mushroom mixture before roasting

For risotto:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in leek mixture, mushroom mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cheese, and truffle. Transfer to large bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Top risotto with a piece of browned chicken confit.

Truffled Mushroom Risotto w/ Chicken Confit

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October 9, 2011

Spinach Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce, Roasted Tomatoes and Crab

In celebration of our 1-year wedding anniversary, we decided to re-create the first joint dinner we made together when we first started dating. We clearly selected the spinach gnocchi for its sentimental value rather than its heart health rating.

This dish is rich and will easily serve 6 hungry gnocchi lovers.

Decadence on a Platter

 

Gnocchi Ingredients

1   lb. package chopped frozen spinach

8   oz. ricotta cheese, drained

1   c. all purpose flour

2   eggs, beaten

2-3 pinches freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground salt and pepper

24  cherry tomatoes

16 oz lump crab meat (omit for vegetarian option) – canned is fine since Alfredo sauce will dominate

Parmesan cheese to garnish

Alfredo Sauce Ingredients

*I am trying to recall what I actually included in the Alfredo sauce. This is not exact nor what my cooking that night. If feeling risk averse, look up a recipe online.

5 tbsp butter

5 tbsp flour  – many recipes did not call for flour but I found that creating a good white sauce base with flour (like my mom used to make) worked really well

2 cloves minced garlic

2 c. Half & Half or heavy whipping cream

1-2 c. parmesan cheese (according to how thick you like the sauce)

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook spinach according to instructions. Cool, drain, and squeeze dry. Chop finely. In a bowl, mix together spinach, ricotta, flour, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. With generously floured hands (keep re-flouring), form mixture into small sausage shapes and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Patience will dictate how reasonably sized your gnocchi turn out (we had two clearly distinct size patterns).  Refrigerate 1+ hour or until firm.

To roast the cherry tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400F. Oil a roasting pan. Cut tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up in pan. Season with salt and pepper and roast 20 minutes or until blistered.

To make the sauce: Make alfredo sauce while the tomatoes are roasting. Melt butter, mix in minced garlic, and mix in flour until pasty but blended well. I can’t recall for sure, but I think I mixed in a little white wine at this point. Add cream in increments, making sure you blend until smooth before adding more cream. Add parmesan cheese in a couple of batches, melting and blending until smooth. Add white pepper and salt to taste. Keep on low heat while you finish cooking the gnocchi, stirring on occasion to prevent burning. Mix some of the smaller crab pieces in with the sauce (reserve the largest lumps to top the dish).

To cook the gnocchi: Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Drop spinach gnocchi, a few at a time into water. When floating at top, removed with slotted spoon. Drain and keep warm while cooking remainder.

To finish: Serve the gnocchi, add tomatoes, and cover with sauce (you might want to use less enthusiastic quantities of alfredo sauce than we did). Top with the larger pieces of crab. Finally, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. This dish pairs well with a bottle of chardonnay.

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