Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sweet and Spicy mustard

So I hate to tell you but there are no great visuals for this one....even though I have made it numerous times. Quite frankly, it just looks like mustard - so not really earth-shattering photography, but here you go:

Regardless, I will tell you how to make it and then you can just see it for yourself, hopefully in better lighting!

First, you need to get out your saucepan (I am hoping you have all purchased one since I am forever invoking its name!) and start with some olive oil, enough to coat the pan, which you'll turn to a low/medium heat. Next you want to stir in mustard seeds (3 tsp should suffice) and some honey, maybe a spoonful. I personally use this sugar-free honey I find at WalMart and it is pretty damn good. Anyway, mustard seeds, honey, olive oil and stirring slowly over the low/medium heat. Then, use want to add some actual dijon mustard (2 tbsp) and continue to stir. Next up is chili powder - totally your call on how much to add, but start slow - and continue to stir. Now turn the heat down to low (the mustard should be quite hot by now) and let it thicken for a few more minutes. Give it a taste and add chili powder for spice/honey for sweet. I also sometimes add in a squeeze or two of lemon juice here if it is too thick - but that is optional.

I have served this with thin, boneless pork chops (shown above) and pork tenderloin, as a dip for cold shrimp and am planning to make it next as a side for simple grilled chicken. Let's just say it is versatile and a waaaaay better than slapping the grey poupon jar onto the table.

- Melissa

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dijon Drumsticks

Ever wonder what to do with chicken drumsticks, aside from using BBQ or Buffalo sauce? What about a more presentable and *slightly* less messy dinner option? I stumbled upon a recipe and then made some alterations and now we have this...

Using your cast iron skillet, you want to coat the pan with a little olive oil and then place the drumsticks in, seasoned with just a little salt and pepper. Cook them over medium heat for at least 10 minutes, turning frequently so the skin all starts to brown. Then you want to add in 1/3 cup chopped shallots (onion will work too, but I prefer the shallots here) and 3 cloves of minced/chopped garlic. Let the shallots and garlic start to soften around the chicken and continue to rotate the drumsticks.

Separately, whisk/stir together 3 tbsp of dijon mustard (Grey Poupon is preferable), 2 tbsp of sour cream and some tarragon. The measurements for this can vary on taste, for instance, I added at least another spoonful of mustard and at least 2 tsp of tarragon.

Now you want to add 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan and then stir in 1 tsp of crushed coriander (whether jarred or fresh - the fresh seeds you can crush with a mortar and pestle). Let this all continue to simmer and then slowly mix in the whisked mustard mixture and reduce the heat to low so it can all thicken, which should take another 5 minutes.

Is your mouth watering yet? It should be, these were delicious.
Once the chicken legs are cooked thoroughly (I recommend slicing into at least one since legs and dark meat can be tricky, not to mention there's almost not enough damn meat to use the thermometer), you are ready to serve! Spread the stew/sauce/what-have-you around, I even topped the rice with it. 

Served with a side of brown wild rice and a salad.

- Melissa 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oven Baked Pork Chops with Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes and a Homemade Raspberry-Jalapeno Reduction

So, despite having a Microbiology Lab final tomorrow morning, I am sacrificing for the greater good and posting something simple and delicious for our loyal followers.  This is so easy and so good you will wonder where the h#@^ your food went because you cleared your plate so fast!  It goes as follows.

Here is what you will need.

2-4 Boneless Pork Chops (Seeing as how this was an experiment, I used ones from Omaha Steak Co. because I did not want to risk the pork chops I got from the butcher.)
1-2 Lbs. of Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes (Use 1 pound if you are cooking for two and two if you are cooking for four.)
6-8 Oz. of Becky Crocker's Homemade Raspberry-Jalapeno Jelly. (My dear friend Becky sent me her homemade jelly and unless she sends you some, you have to stick to plain raspberry.  I would suggest going to a farmer's market and see if you can find some!) 
Salt, Pepper, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Here's what you do.

Reduce the Raspberry-Jalapeno Jelly for about 20-30 minutes in a saucepan over low heat.  You will need to stir this rather frequently to avoid burning the jelly.  This process does two things.  1.  Intensifies both the raspberry and jalapeno flavors.  2.  The sugar in the jelly actually candies the jalapenos and makes them amazing! 

Quarter the potatoes, place them on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil.  When you are done drizzling, sprinkle salt and pepper on the potatoes.  (I used a fresh four peppercorn blend with pink Himalayan sea salt but regular salt & pepper is fine.  Snobby, I know, but it's delicious.)  Bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender.  


Take the pork chops and pat the excess liquid off of them.  Rub them with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  (Again, I used a fresh four peppercorn blend with pink Himalayan sea salt but regular salt & pepper is fine.)  Bake at 425 degrees for about 6-8 minutes on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet, flipping them twice.  (The pork chops I had were kind of small so adjust your time accordingly.) 

When you are done, you will have a plate that looks like this.  Enjoy!

- Chris

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cornish Game Hens or that's perverse!

Sorry for the brief absence...the holidays do have a way of clogging up your schedule...though I am cooking a lot. Anyway, today's blog really stems from my deep and abiding love of Seinfeld. If you are unfamiliar with the episode, turn your television on any night of the week and you'll come across the exact one soon enough.

Unlike Frank Constanza, I was aware of what Cornish Game Hens were...and I'd even had one once...but I had never attempted them myself. So when I saw a huge display of them at the store (overflowing I might add, meaning no one was else was trying to make them either) I figured it was time.

First things first, you need to clean and 'empty' the little chickens just like you would with any whole piece of poultry. Then preheat the oven to bake at 450 degrees.  Next you want to season the birds' skin with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Next you place a fresh lemon wedge, two sprigs of rosemary and one of thyme inside the cavity of the birds. Jarred spices are ok a lot of the time, but here I'd opt for the real deal simply because you really want that flavor to permeate while the hens are roasting. Place your new little friends in the roasting pan and put them in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While that is happening you can mix together some white wine (dry people, always DRY) at your discretion, 1/3 cup chicken broth and about 1/4 cup olive oil.  After the 20 minutes have passed, you want to reduce the oven temp to 350/375 degrees and pour the mixture over the hens and into the pan. Next, place some cloves of garlic into the juices around the birds and return it all to the oven. *see below*

You want to them roast them for about another 30 minutes, though that can differ so have the thermometer nearby. When they are close to your preferred temp, pull them out and cover them with foil. Drain the juices from the pan, garlic included, and throw that into a small saucepan and boil them for a few minutes to thicken it into a sauce you can serve with the chicken. Presentation can either be friendly - a chicken on a plate, the end - or formal - cut each one in half before serving.

So next time you see them at the store, don't be afraid. They are affordable and seem decadent, so impress your guests with their own individual bird! Served with couscous and green beans.

- Melissa

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