July 23, 2009

Roasted Cornish Hen with Fingerling Potatoes

Cluck cluck cluck! Like everyone else, chicken is the main meat I eat. So really, how many ways can you cook chicken? Apparently, more than I thought. Searching chicken on food network returned 7,000 results. Hrmph, who knew chicken was THAT interesting? A tad overwhelmed at trying to figure out what I should do differently with the two cornish hen I had....I just realized, you know - I haven't perfected a roasted chicken recipe.
A dash of seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. and pop it in the oven and voi-la, you're suppose to have perfect chicken? Sorry sir, not me. There's always something that is slightly wrong each time - too dry, not enough flavor on the entire chicken, burnt wings, etc. So this is the third attempt and I think I got it.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Fingerling Potatoes
1 or 2 cornish hen
two lemons sliced into quarters (de-seeded)
fresh basil
2 tbsp melted butter
entire garlic bunch
olive oil
fingerling potatos
1/4 cup chicken stock
Tony's seasoning (durh, if you read my blog you know I LOVE this stuff...)

Wash and pat dry the two cornish hens. Season the inside cavity of the hens with pepper and a sprinkle of tony's seasoning. Let it sit in the fridge for around 3 hours (overnight is better). Take the chicken out of the fridge - let it warm up on counter for about 20 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375.

Slice the entire garlic bunch in half horizontally and then in half. I also like to smoosh each portion a little to get the garlic juices going. Zest the two lemons. Slice into quarter and make sure to deseed (but do not squeeze!). In a bowl, toss that with the sliced quarters garlic bunch, lemon zest and a quick dash of olive oil (roughly 2 tspn). Add basil and thyme. Stuff this into the cavity of the two cornish hen. Place hens in an oven safe pan. (I bet for a chicken - you can add other veggies like onions, carrots, bell peppers.)
Melt butter in microwave and once melted, use a brush and quickly brush skin of the hen. Season all over with salt and pepper. (I was tempted to season with tony's again, but I know I can overdo it at times. Ha!).
Wash and dry the fingerling potatoes. Slice in half. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add these to the pan. Pour chicken stock in the pan and pop into oven for 1 hour (For chicken - would think you'd keep in there for 1 and 1/2 hours). I covered the chicken lightly (don't fold down sides) with aluminum foil. After 45 minutes, I took it off and let it cook uncovered. You'll notice there greens mixed with the potatoes - I had lots of leftover basil so I chopped and just tossed it in there. Added to the aroma but not really the taste of the potatoes in my opinion.
Take out and let it cool. Don't cut into it right away. By letting it cool, you make sure that the juices say in. Now, after patiently staring at the hen and all its golden brown goodness, get a plate, knife and chow down!

July 08, 2009

Mussels in White Wine (Half Fail)

So this is my first time making this dish and instead of following one recipe, I go and combine three... While not a complete fail - very much edible and enjoyable, just not that throw down, omg moment, this is the recipe, I want to drink the sauce and eat bread forever kind of meal - I should have just stuck with one recipe and then adapted from there.

Anyways, why did I make this dish? Father's day of course. I actually wanted to cook lobster for my old poppers but the store ran out. They did, however, have a good selection of mussels. Mussels are interesting. Whiledirections usually say as long as they are closed or if they are open and when you touch them and they close - they're alive. I dunno, it still made me a little nervous that a single shell would ruin the entire dish - so making this dish added a few spurts of anxiety and anticipation as I waited to the end to find out if all the mussels were perfectly fine.

I couldn't find one recipe that sounds so delicious that I wouldn't change anything. Some recipes sounded good but they had random ingredients that my frugal self wouldn't purchase - like saffron, for instance - or had a variety of herbs that I thought would make this a tad overwhelming. I also didn't have a recipe with me in the store - since this was a spur of the moment decision - so I basically just bought ingredients I thought it would go well with. Ha!

After making it, I realized I did several things wrong. I didn't buy enough mussels to begin with (I only bought 1 lb instead of the recommended 3 lbs) so there wasn't enough shellfish flavor to balance out the amount of white wine (1 cup). As a result, the wine flavor was a little too overwhelming. I also cooked this a tad longer than I should have, especially after pouring in the wine which can start having a tart/tangy flavor than that sweet flavor you get with this dish. I'll try this again in a few weeks with some changes so watch out for the next time I make this!

Mussels in white wine sauce
Random variation off three recipes and whatever veggies I had around the kitchen
Serves 3

3 pounds mussels (I used 1 lb....mistake #1)
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots (5 to 7 shallots)

1 cup chopped leeks (1 large leek - only the white and light green parts)
Dry basil - just a dash for seasoning
Dash of Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
4oz can of chopped tomatoes

1 cup good white wine (I used La Crema Chard)
S&P to taste

Clean the mussels, put them in a large bowl with water and flour. Soak for at least 30 minutes so they get rid of any sand/dirt. Drain the mussels, then remove the "beard" from each with your fingers and make sure they're clean.
In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and leeks and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.

Add tomatoes, herbs and S&P
Add wine and bring to a boil

Add the mussels, stir and then cover the pot. Cook for about eight minutes or until the mussels are open. Mistake: I cook waaaay too long by letting it boil for almost 15 minutes.

Serve with toasted bread to soak up all that sauce and enjoy!