Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Farfalle with Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This is a simple yet easy to fix pasta dish that can be made in minutes but still packs a lot of flavor.  Better still, it can be made from ingredients you probably keep in your pantry (or should) for those times when you just can't seem to make it to the grocery store.

Of course you could roast your own peppers, slice up fresh tomatoes, roll out your own pasta dough, and I'm not knocking that--I do it all the time.  But in some cases there are certain flavors that show up in canned or jarred versions of veggies that actually aren't found in fresh, and in the case of this recipe, I prefer that.

Farfalle with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

8 Oz Cooked Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 12 Oz Jar Roasted Red Peppers
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 6 Oz Can Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
Dash Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to Taste

Start salted water boiling for your pasta.

Heat a skillet with the olive oil in it.

When it is hot, add your diced onion

and cook until the onions just start to turn golden brown.  While this is going on, get your jar of roasted red peppers.

I really loved these jarred roasted red peppers, and always keep a few of 'em in my pantry for last minute dishes like this one.  They have a unique flavor from being both roasted and slightly pickled that I find I can't get when I roast my own fresh red bell peppers.

Anyway, pull 'em out of the jar.

They will be pretty large pieces, so chop them down to something around bite sized.  Add 'em to the skillet when the onions have started to turn golden.

Stir this around and let cook for a few minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar.

Cook for one minute and then add the tomato paste.  Follow up this by adding the heavy cream.

Give everything a good stir to combine.

Add the smoked paprika

and the red pepper flakes, then allow to cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring often.

While this is going on, cook your farfalle in the boiling water until al dente, probably 8-10 minutes.

After 10 minutes taste the sauce and adjust with salt if necessary to taste.  Place the pasta in a bowl, spoon sauce over and serve it with a little shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Until next time,

Savor the flavor, my friends.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stir Fry - On The Grill - Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts

I posted the first Stir Fry On The Grill post way back in 2010.  I've done a lot more Stir Fryin' on the Grill since then, but I haven't got back to this series as far as blogging, so it's time to remedy that.  This is a nice little stir fry side dish recipe that I did back in 2010 as well, and it has sat on the ole' hard drive since then.  Since we're clearing house this month, getting ready for changes to the blog, I thought I'd get this one out there.

To refresh everyone's memory, stir frying in a wok on my grills was an idea I got after seeing a photo in our wok cookbook of someone in China cooking in a wok that was sitting directly on a bed of charcoal, in this case, in a metal paint can.  Here's the photo:

I thought to myself, self, I can do that, and I don't have to use no paint can--I've got a Weber kettle grill.

Anyway, I soon discovered this wasn't really an original idea--Weber even makes a special wok ring for stir frying on their grills, but I've decided that I don't need to get that fancy, placing the wok down in the coals like the guy with the paint can works just fine--in fact, I think it works better.  Direct contact with the coals really gets the wok scorching hot, and that's what you want.  A good wok is born of fire and high heat, and they can handle the same whilst cooking, and that high heat translates to that special flavor that all good stir fry has known as 'Wok Hei," or "Breath of the Wok."  It's really hard to describe this flavor, other than to say its just that extra 'uumph' the flavor gets to when stir fried very quickly over very high heat.  Trust me, this direct-on-the-charcoal method gets it.

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts

8 oz Fresh Green Beans, Cut Into Bite Sized Peices
8 oz Fresh Button Mushrooms, Halved
1 Can Water Chestnuts, Sliced and Drained
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Chopped
2-3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped

Fire up your charcoal grill.  For this session, I'm using my little Weber Smokey Joe as a sort of side burner, as I had some Kung Pao Chicken going on the big Weber.

My 14 inch carbon steel wok fits perfectly in the little Smokey Joe.

Place your wok in a similar fashion over the coals (or on your stove, if you must) and let it got fiery hot.  When it's there, swirl in the peanut oil around the sides of the wok and add the water chestnuts.

Let them sit for 30 seconds, then stir fry 'em for a minute or two, until they just begin to get golden in color.

Add the mushrooms.

Stir fry these for a minute or so.

Add the green beans.

Stir fry this for two minutes,

then clear a little well in the center and toss in the ginger and garlic right on the wok surface.  Let sizzle for 15-20 seconds, then stir all together.  Mix the white pepper with the chicken broth and then swirl it into the wok.  Stir fry this for another 30 seconds or so, then pull off the heat.

Serve immediately, or, if you want, pose for a photo with your creation, as I've done here.

As you can see, cooking in one of our woks always sends my mind off on flights of fancy, and I feel as if I'm wokking in a fabulous Asian garden far over the sea.

Yeah, the woks do that to me.

Until next time,

Wok 'em if you got 'em,


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes

Potatoes are so dang versatile.  You can cook up so many different dishes with them.  Baked Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, French Fries, Tater Tots—the list goes on and on.  Here at An Eat’n Man, we like our taters pretty much any way we can find ‘em, from the aforementioned more ubiquitous ways to some of the fancier forms that potatoes can be lifted up to.  With that in mind, we’re going to start a series of some of the more ‘gussied up’ variety of potato dishes, starting with this one, Scalloped Potatoes. 

This dish is actually about half way between scalloped potatoes and potatoes ‘au gratin.’  What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, scalloped potatoes are potatoes cooked in a milk based sauce, and au gratin potatoes are potatoes sprinkled with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked.  In the former, the milk is what does the ‘scalloping,’ and in the later, a broiled cheese and breadcrumb topping is what makes something ‘au gratin’ or ‘gratinĂ©ed.’  If you do both, then you should call them ‘scalloped potatoes au gratin.’  In this version, I’ve done the scalloping, but I left out the bread crumbs, so it’s not a true ‘au gratin.’  Okay, enough definitions, let’s get to cooking!

Scalloped Potatoes

3-4 Large Potatoes, Thinly-Sliced
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cups Milk
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Cups Grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Dash Paprika

Peel your potatoes and slice them thinly.  This is best done with a mandoline, which can make paper-thin slices quickly and easily. 

Just be sure to use the cutting guide and perhaps a knife glove like this one here as well.  Never cut bare-handed like you see ‘em doing on the cooking shows.  Trust me, I can tell you from experience that these babies are very sharp.

When you’ve finished with your taters, melt the butter in a skillet,

then sift in the flour, let cook a minute or three, then stir. 

Next, slowly stir in your milk and whisk to combine. 

Season with the salt and pepper, then cook on medium heat until just boiling.  Turn off heat. 

Layer some of your potato slices into an oven-proof dish. 

Sprinkle some of the cheese over them,

and then ladle some of your milk sauce over that. 

Repeat with another layer of potatoes, cheese and sauce.  Keep doing this until you fill up the dish, probably six or seven layers. 

On the last layer of potatoes, just add cheese on top—no sauce—as this is what is going to form a nice, melty, golden-brown layer on top. 

Sprinkle on a little paprika if you like, then bake the potatoes uncovered for about an hour at 350˚F, until they are cooked through and golden brown on top.

Let potatoes rest for ten minutes or so out of the oven, then serve.

Until next time,



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Piri Piri Chicken

During a visit to Portugal over a decade ago, I had the chance to sample one of the most delightfully hot and spicy dishes I’d yet had, Piri Piri Chicken. 

We were on a day trip out of Lisbon, in the picturesque little coastal town of Sintra, 

where we had just toured a palace, and lunch time was approaching.  We drove down to the harbor area and found this non-descript little place that friends told us was famous for their chicken.  We ordered a couple and a few beers to wash said chicken down, and waited for the chicken to arrive.

While we were waiting, I snapped a pic of the cooks preparing the chickens on skewers over a wood fire.  

I don’t have to tell you the place smelled wonderful!

When the chicken arrived it was wonderful as well.  It was an entire half chicken, marinated in the spicy piri piri sauce and grilled to perfection.  But, man was it spicy—we’re talking fire-in-the-hole hot!  But it was a tasty heat. 

I’d always remembered this meal fondly, but never got around to trying to make it until about a year ago.  I think the main reason was the lack of authentic ingredients available—this is a West African dish after all.  I found some sauces claiming to be piri-piri online, but when I tried them, I was disappointed—didn’t taste anything like the stuff in Portugal.  So, I decided to make my own.  The recipe that follows was tweaked over time, and it is close to what I had in Portugal, but not exact.  It is by no means authentic, as I freely bastardized various recipes I found until I got the taste I wanted, and also I lacked the main authentic ingredient—the piri piri, or bird’s eye chile pepper from Africa.  I subbed some Fresno Reds instead, and it worked out fine. 

There do seem to be literally hundreds of premade piri piri sauces available, 

so I may keep trying them until I find one I like.  If I do, I’ll update this recipe.  I’d like to have that authentic bird’s eye pepper in the recipe in some form, so hopefully I’ll find a good one.  In the mean time, this version is not too shabby:

Piri Piri Chicken

For the Marinade

1 Jar Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 Red Onion, Peeled and Quartered
3 Cloves Garlic
4-5 Fresno Red Peppers or Similar
1-2 Habanero Peppers
2 Tablespoons Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Juice of One Lemon
1/4 to 1/3 Cup Olive Oil

2-4 Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Breasts, or pieces of your choice.

For the Glaze

3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Fine
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/2 Cup of Unused Reserved Piri Piri Marinade
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

As I said earlier, this is a pretty bastardized version of what an authentic recipe might be—I’m just trying to get to the same flavor I tasted in Portugal, and taking another road to do so.

Anyhoo, open your jar of roasted red peppers and coarsely chop them.  

Toss ‘em into your food processor.  Quarter your half red onion; 

toss this in as well.  Coarsely chop your Fresno Reds and Habaneros 

and toss these in, along with the hot sauce, smoked paprika, Worcestershire sauce and the juice of the lemon.  

Process for a few seconds to get everything chopped up nice, then begin to add your olive oil.  Process until a chunky yet very liquid-y mixture forms. 

This should make about a little over two cups of marinade.  

Can be made up to a day ahead or more.  Will keep for several days.  

For the chicken, I'm using just two bone in skin on breasts 

since it's just the wife and I dining tonight, but the above marinade recipe makes enough for 8-10 chicken pieces, or two (or more) chicken halves.  Place your chicken in a large Ziploc bag and add a cup of the marinade.  Shake well to make sure the chicken is well-coated.  

Let the pieces marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

You can use the roasted red pepper jar to store unused marinade, some of which you'll use later to make the glaze.  

When you’re ready to cook, fire up your charcoal grill for indirect cooking.  Add a piece of smoking wood to the coals for some authentic flavor and aroma.  Allow the grill to settle in at 325˚F, place the chicken on the opposite side from the charcoal...

grill for 30-45 minutes, placing the until the chicken is ruby-red in color and cooked through. 


While the chicken is cooking, make your glaze.  Melt butter in a small saucier or sauce pan.  Add the other glaze ingredients and heat through. 

When the chicken is done, bring it in off the grill and immediately brush with the glaze.  

Allow to sit for a few minutes for the glaze to set up.  Then serve. 

Here we served it simply with some sun dried tomato cous-cous.  

You can also serve a little of the glaze on the side as a dipping sauce. 

Until Next Time,

The Heat is on!