Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oven-roasted Chicken Kababs

In near-winter, grilling outdoors seems unappealing. But kebabs can be roasted in an oven and make a hearty dish with rice and yogurt.

Here's a kebab I suggested to a local restaurant, one of my regular hangouts, that makes excellent thin-crust pizza and pita bread, if you order it specially, in their wood-fired oven. Ultimately they didn't decide to make the kebabs.

These are based on a kebab I learned from a Turkish friend, a chef who was a co-founder of the Istanbul Café in Decatur. (Kazim has since moved elsewhere, and the current owners of Istanbul Café do their “Mediterranean Chicken” somewhat differently.)

The recipe, though different, is reminiscent of what I developed for our restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen, in Athens, GA. It is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant, where we serve it with pilaf rice and tsadziki (called cacik [ja JEEK] in Turkish).

There are recipes on this blog for pilaf (1/5/07, 3/30/08) and for cacik/tsadziki sauce (4/25/08).

The chicken is marinated 1 to 3 days in advance.

Makes 6 portions.

Oven-roasted Chicken Kebabs

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (remove tough and fatty parts), cut in 1-1/2 by 2-inch pieces, 3/4-inch thick
1/2 inch of fresh ginger
1 very small onion
1 medium clove of garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive-canola oil mixture

Prep chicken.

Peel ginger (with teaspoon), then thinly slice it. Puree it in food processor with onion, garlic and lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl, scraping out the container. Add dry seasonings, cornstarch and oil. Add chicken and mix well.

Let marinate (zip-lock plastic bag works well)at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight, and up to three days, refrigerated. Stir, or squeeze bag, occasionally.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Set chicken on a flat wide baking pan with space between the pieces. Roast on the top shelf. After 6 minutes, turn the chicken pieces with a spatula. Let bake an additional 4-5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Do not overcook.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pork Stewed with Quince

Here's an autumnal stew. Pork is remarkably cheap right now. Quinces are in selective markets -- like Dekalb Farmers Market -- for a few weeks. Nothing is quite like the fruity taste of quinces, but Granny Smith apples with 1 cup grapefruit juice replacing some of the water would be a substitute.

The quantity is large, due to the size of the pork loins. But leftovers are very tasty.

A spicy medium-bodied red wine, like a Spanish Garnacha, Cotes du Rhone, or California or French Syrah would complement well, as would a dry Riesling.

Pork stewed with Quince

3 1/2 pounds pork loin

Trim off fat and tough parts, and render fat in medium hot stewing pot. Cut meat in 1 1/4-inch chunks.

Fry pork, part at a time, in some of the rendered oil, sprinkling moderately with salt and pepper. Remove pork to bowl.

In some more oil, fry until softened:
2 medium-large onions, diced
2 large bay leaves

When softened, add pre-fried pork,
1 cup white wine
2 cups water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quinces, peeled, cored, and chopped

Simmer until pork is beginning to become tender, stirring frequently. Add:
3 teaspoons salt
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces

Simmer, adding a little water as needed, until potatoes are becoming tender. Taste and add salt as needed. Stir in:
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Let sit a while, or refrigerate overnight. Reheat, stirring frequently so it does not scorch. Taste and adjust salt, if needed,

Serve with brown rice, noodles, or boiled potatoes

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Aubergine Provençale: At the end of the season, the best eggplant dish

Having a pair of late eggplants from Roots Farm near Athens, courtesy of Kevin and Maria, I needed to make something I've thought about for a long time.

In France with the family of our "French Son," Thomas Ménard, who spent three summers with us in Atlanta as a teenager, I tasted a wonderful eggplant dish his mother made. Sylvie was from Marseilles and her cooking remained Provençal. I thought she told me this was a "gratin" of eggplant, despite having tomato rather than béchamel (cream) sauce as most gratins do.

Recently Thomas, now an engineer with four kids and working for an American firm, visited me in Atlanta. I recalled the eggplant gratin with him, and he claimed that Sylvie's eggplant gratin did indeed have béchamel. Apparently what I recalled was a different Provençal dish, simply called Provençal eggplant, or in French, Aubergine Provençale.

That's what I made this afternoon. And if that's possible it was even better than what I recalled. Christina and I finished the entire casserole. Then Bona licked out the casserole dish.

The dish makes a delicious supper on its own, or serves as an elegant side dish to grilled chops or roasted meat. We ate it alone, without even salad or bread.

We had a California Merlot, which went well with it. The traditional Provençal red wine would be a Côtes du Rhône, or some other Syrah and Grenache combination.

The recipe serves four to six.

Eggplant Provençal -- Aubergine Provençale

2 (1-pound) eggplants
Salt and pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for topping and for sauce
1 large clove garlic minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can finely diced tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
Several small sprigs fresh oregano and basil

Cut stem and 1/8 inch off bottom of eggplants. Peel eggplants in alternating strips, leaving half the skin. Slice 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle generously with salt, and let sit 1 hour to extract the bitter juices. Rinse and drain well.

Beat egg and water lightly in flat dish. Put breadcrumbs in another dish.

Heat griddle. Oil well with canola oil. Dip eggplant slices in egg, and shake off most. Lightly sprinkle both sides with bread crumbs (use only part), and fry eggplant over medium-low heat. Do this in several batches, removing fried slices to a 9 by 11-inch casserole as they turn lightly golden. Add more oil as needed for frying the subsequent batch(es).

Sprinkle fried eggplant slices evenly with the cheese as they are added to the casserole.

Set oven for 350 degrees.

In small pot, fry minced garlic briefly with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add tomatoes plus 1/4 cup water to rinse out can. Add paprika, sugar, fresh herbs, and salt to taste. Simmer about 5 minutes, crushing tomato with spoon to soften.

Spoon tomato sauce over eggplant slices. Moisten remaining breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Sprinkle crumbs over the mixture.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until liquid is bubbling throughout and crumbs darken a little. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.