Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook" & "For the Love of Food" by chefs of the IACP - Bistro Chicken w/Potato and Root Vegetable Mousse and (Chocolate) Negrita

Date I made these recipes:  December 25, 2012 (Christmas Day)

Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook – Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes Presented by Renewing the Countryside; Foreword by Garrison Keillor
Published by:  Voyageur Press
ISBN:  978-0-7603-3142-2
Recipe:  Bistro Roasted Chicken with Yukon Gold and Root Vegetable Mousse – p. 21-23 (from Chez Jude, Grand Marais, Minnesota and Wild Acres Game Farm)

For the Love of Food – recipes and stores from the chefs of IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals)
Published by:  IACP
ISBN:  0-9764517-0-0
Recipe: (Chocolate) Negrita (similar to a chocolate mousse) – p. 10- submitted by Chefs Sam Arnold and Holly Kinney of Colorado
*Note, this book was purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores

People, every once in a while, out of all the cookbooks and all the recipes, I select a winner -  a real home run, a touchdown, a checkered flag.  Today’s bistro chicken recipe is a winner.  Perhaps it was the wine (3 cups – yee haw) or the spice rub or the accompanying vegetable mousse or even the bacon used in the sauce.  Perhaps it was the fact that the recipe and cookbook were from Minnesota.  Whatever it was, this goes down in the “let’s make this again real soon” annals and that, folks, is hard to achieve.  In fact, I believe I waited until my second bite to tell my husband “We should make this for Thanksgiving next year.”  Oh yes, I was just that excited.

This cookbook is broken out by region and I am pleased to say that I have been to several of the restaurants featured (many headed by well-known and well-loved Minnesota chefs), and each restaurant teamed with a local farm/ranch/produce grower that supplied the ingredients (and I’m pleased to say that I know a few of these people as well) for the recipes.  The result: a list of recipes so fresh that I feel healthy just looking at them (the photos, by the way, are glorious).  You had lamb, beef, bison, walleye (the king of fishes in these parts), fresh cheeses, fresh vegetables and some fruit-based desserts that make me want to pull this book out again come summer.  In fact, the “menu” from Chez Jude was the chicken, rubbed with herbs de Provence, and the root vegetable mousse and a wild blueberry maple crème brulee.  Sadly, blueberries and Christmas do not go together in my book and so I passed on that recipe in favor of the Negrita found in the IACP cookbook.

Written in similar fashion to the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook, the IACP book compiles recipes from culinary professionals who belong to this organization – the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  The who’s who list in this book mirrors the one in the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook:  in Minnesota, we have chefs Alex Roberts (a James Beard award winner); Lucia Watson (my personal hero); Lenny Russo (a Beard finalist) and Brenda Langton, just to name a few.* In the IACP book we have Charlie Trotter; Tom Douglas; Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken; Gale Gand—the list goes on and on.  (*Alex Roberts owns Restaurant Alma and Brasa; Lucia Watson owns Lucia’s; Lenny Russo owns Heartland and Brenda Langton owns Spoonriver.  Both Lucia and Brenda have published cookbooks and yes, they are part of my collection.)

Together, the bistro chicken (and mousse) and the chocolate negrita made for one outstanding Christmas Day dinner.  And can I just say that for once, I am damned glad that it was just the two of us for dinner because now all those wonderful leftovers are mine, all mine (and okay, I saved some for Andy!)

Now, an important word about the chicken:  this dish is intended to be made in advance (up to 2 days ahead) and reheated but I wanted it when I wanted it and so I made it in one day.  To do that, roast the chicken at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then lower your oven temperature to 350 and roast for 15 more minutes.  You still have to make the vegetable stew (see full instructions below) but you can do that at the same time you are roasting the chicken.

As to the negrita, we used very high quality chocolate but still ended up with a very thin layer of oil on top that then set as it cooled down.  No worries – skim it off and eat it anyway.  Or mix it in and don’t tell anybody.  We made half the recipe because we really didn’t need 10 servings of this dish…or did we?

Happy Holidays everyone!

Bistro Roasted Chicken with Herbs De Provence Meat Rub - serving size not given but we roasted three breasts and four thighs

For the rub
1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons herbs de Provence (dried mixture of thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, fennel seed, marjoram, summer savory, available in the spice section of your local grocery)
Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

For the chicken and vegetable stew
½ lb. applewood smoked bacon, cut in small pieces (Ann’s Note:  we used regular bacon that we had on hand)
A 3 to 4-lb free-range chicken (from Minnesota supplier Wild Acres if possible) quartered and rubbed with herbs de Provence rub
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons unbleached organic all-purpose flour
3 cups red wine; a burgundy is the traditional choice.  Do not use a wine that is very fruity.
3 cups chicken stock or organic broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup baby gree top carrots
3 cups pearl onions, blanched and skinned (or use frozen)
3 cups fresh mushrooms, shiitake, and crimini, quartered
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Yukon gold and root vegetable mousse
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
¼ lb. parsnips, peeled and diced ¼ inch
¼ small rutabaga, peeled and shredded
2 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup butter
1 green onion, chopped
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
Freshly chopped Italian parsley, salt and pepper to taste

Ann’s Note:  As stated above, I cut to the chase and made the chicken all in one day and so browned the chicken as directed, roasted it for 30 minutes at 400 degrees and then lowered the temperature to 350  and roasted the chicken for another 15 minutes.  In between things, I made the vegetable stew and potatoes.  For accuracy’s sake, the instructions below are exactly as printed in the book:

Two hours prior to cooking, marinade the chicken with the herbs de Provence rub.  To make the rub, whisk all ingredients together (olive oil, minced garlic, herbs de Provence), rub on meats and let marinade for the allotted time. 

When you are ready to make the chicken, in a braiser or Dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.

Brown the chicken in the drippings, on both sides, over medium high heat.  Remove the chicken and place into a roasting pan in a 400F wood-fired or conventional oven.  Roast for an additional 30 minutes or about 2/3 of the way done.  Don’t overcook; you will be reheating the chicken at a later time.  Cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready for the final preparation.  Chicken can be stored at this point up to 2 days.

Note:  Add any roasting juices into the braiser or Dutch oven.  Do not forget to scrape up the browned bits and add these into your stew pot; they add another layer of rich flavor.  Then, make the vegetable stew.

To make the vegetable stew, add the chopped onions to the pan that was used to brown the chicken; sprinkle with salt, pepper and the flour.  Stir constantly, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  This will “cook” the flour and remove the starchy taste.  This also aids in thickening the stew in the simmer reduction stage of cooking.  Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, crisp bacon and rosemary; bring to a boil.  Add carrots, pearl onions, and mushrooms.  Cover the pot and turn down the heat to medium low or simmer.  Continue to cook until the vegetables are cooked through.  You can remove the cover and cook until the sauce is reduced or thickened if needed.

Add the red currant jelly and parsley, to heat through.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  This stew can be prepared up to 2 days prior to serving.

On the day of serving:  Prepare the Yukon Gold and Root Vegetable Mousse.  When ready to plate, reheat the chicken in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.  Bring the roasted chicken in a large rimmed bowl upon a nest of root vegetable and potato mousse (or soft polenta or cooked egg noodles).  Ladle the red wine stew of vegetables over the chicken.  Garnish with a drizzle of crème fraiche and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

To make the potato mousse, boil the potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, and minced garlic cloves together, about 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy.  Drain and return to the pan to dry over low heat.

Place in mixer outfitted with a paddle, add butter, and mix on low speed until the butter is melted.  Add the remaining ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until the desired texture is achieved, from slightly chunky to smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

(Chocolate) Negrita – serves 10
1 ¼ pounds Ghirardelli sweet dark chocolate
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup rum
½ pint heavy cream, whipped, for toopping.

Place the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water; do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl holding the chocolate.  Cook until half-melted, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and leave it over the warm water to finish melting and to keep it warm.  It is important not to let the chocolate cool too much before blending with the other ingredients, or it will become grainy.  If you think it has become too cool by the time you’re ready to use it, place on the heat to warm it slightly. 

Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg whites until stiff in a clean dry bowl. Beat the egg yolks carefully, then fold into the beaten egg whites, mixing until thoroughly blended.  Ladle into 2 ½-ounce ramekins or wine glasses and chill.  Serve topped with whipped cream.

Ann’s Note:  You’ll definitely taste the rum in this recipe!

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