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Category Archives: weeknight

How-to: Fry chicken

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I couldn’t wait to post this how-to on frying chicken.  I know a lot of people don’t like to fry chicken. I get it,  the mess, the grease, what  to do with the grease. How do I know the chicken is done?  Did I season it well enough?   This post will answer all those questions and more so I […]

creamy mashed potatoes with leeks

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   If my family were asked to participate in a poll as to whether they preferred rice or mashed potatoes rice would win almost unanimously.  Almost,  because my hand would be the one to go up for rice but I’d also raise it for mashed potatoes with the explanation that there is a time for rice […]

just like moms potato salad

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I really should have called this accidental potato salad, because how I came to make it and have it come out almost as good as my mother’s was completely by accident. Potato salad had always been on the short list of foods I love to eat but was not so enthusiastic about making.   The only explanation I have for not making potato salad as often as I should is because I never know which kind of potato to use.  In a regular supermarket alone you can find five or six different varieties-red bliss, new, Yukon gold, russet, all-purpose.  Complicating matters more is that not only are there different varieties but those varieties are categorized between waxy and starchy.  That’s a lot to remember when all I want to do is make a simple side dish.  Furthermore, I don’t ever remember my mom having this dilemma. I know for a fact that she never spent one second obsessing over whether she should use fingerlings or red bliss potatoes in her salad.  She used whatever potato was in the local supermarket and her potato salad was always perfect.

When I made my first potato salad I became further confused by all the contradicting recipes; always use starchy potatoes: never use starchy potatoes only waxy will do; peel the potatoes before boiling; never peel the potatoes before boiling lest you desire water-logged potatoes and on and on.  Let me explain something about myself.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and have a tendency to become overly involved in the simplest of tasks.  Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not so good. 

 Take for instance an obsession I have with trying to make the best ever bread pudding.  I cannot make a decent bread pudding to this day. It will curdle and weep watery yucky stuff no matter what I do.  So perplexed  by this I began to research this phenomena (and research ) and  today I can tell you all about the breakdown in protein from overcooking eggs and what eggs are composed of that makes them do this but I still cannot make a decent bread pudding. Or another time when I made what had to be the worlds most expensive tiramisu.  I couldn’t understand why my mascarpone cheese kept getting lumpy.  I had to keep throwing the lumpy mess in the garbage  and going back to the store to purchase more cheese.  Mascarpone cheese is (ahem) quite expensive and I made (ahem) many trips to the grocery store.  Finally, after some (more) research I found out that mascarpone cheese  becomes lumpy if stirred too much.  Good to know.  And now I make a pretty decent tiramisu.

You see, I just don’t know how to let things go and I did not want to become obsessed with another recipe and the reasons why it didn’t quite work out for me.  

A few Sundays ago I made oven ribs and I wanted to serve a classic side dish to go along with them-potato salad.  I went to the grocery store grabbed a bag of Yukon gold potatoes came home cooked them and threw things together for a dressing and amazingly enough I had a pretty decent potato salad.  It’s only flaw was that I had cut the cubes of potato too big and because Yukon’s hold their shape pretty well the chunks were too large  in the salad.  So as I was folding the dressing into the potatoes I used the side of the spoon to break the larger chunks into smaller pieces.  As I was doing this I realized I was crumbling and unintentionally mashing some of the potatoes.  But I liked the way this looked and the mashed potatoes made the dressing even creamier.  The result was a combination of chunky and mashed potatoes and a potato salad that had character and was quite good.  The mashed portion of the potatoes incorporated in the dressing and flavored it nicely.  This was an easy and delicious potato salad and best of all no obsessive researching was required.  

I am very excited to have a potato salad recipe that I can throw together in a flash and look forward to making lots of this summer.  Happy Memorial Day, Kat.

Recipe: just like moms potato salad

Note: I used Yukon gold potatoes. Russet potatoes can be found in every grocery store. You may use whichever of these you like.

Ingredients:

2 pounds   (3-4 medium-sized) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 medium celery stalk, chopped fine

2 tablespoons minced onion

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish ( I like Heinz in the squeeze bottle)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon or to taste ground black pepper

2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely chopped

Directions:

Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, celery, onion,pickle relish, mustard, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped eggs. Using a rubber spatula mix until ingredients well combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium and, simmer about 8 minutes, stirring once or twice.

When potatoes are done drain and transfer to large bowl.  Let potatoes cool a bit and while still warm add dressing.  Using a rubber spatula gently fold dressing into potatoes.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled about 1 hour.  Serves 4-6

 

chicken milanese with a pickled onion and arugula salad.

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 I’m jumping right into the cooking portion of todays post.  Only because the recipe is a bit on the long side, but don’t let that discourage you.  This technique is beneficial and one that should be added to your cooking repertoire.  

So let’s get to it.  The dish is Chicken Milanese.  Or chicken in the style of Milan. The name references foods that have been dipped in beaten egg and dredged in a combination of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese then fried in butter.  Sounds yummy right?  Any time you see a food described as “alla Milanese” or “in the style of Milan”, you will now know it’s food that is breaded and fried. 

Usually meat are cooked alla Milanese.  And it’s usually meat that has been lightly pounded so it’s thin enough that it will cook quickly and the delicate, breaded coating won’t burn.  Veal can be cooked this way as well as pork chops and boneless, skinless chicken breast.  The coating, along with being crispy and delicious, helps keep the meat moist during the quick cooking time. 

I mentioned before that the recipe is a bit lengthy, but it’s really a series of small steps that can be done ahead so you don’t have to do everything at once and feel overwhelmed.  The salad is a quickly thrown together bonus that marries well with the fried meat.  Piling the lightly dressed salad atop the chicken allows the acidity of the dressing and pickled onions to mingle with the warm meat so no other dressing is needed.

What I’ll do now is explain how I broke this recipe up into smaller steps.  The recipe is included at the end of this post.

Start small, use 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Once butterflied and separated you will have 8 cutlets which is a good serving amount for 4 people.  The night before cooking butterfly each breast and separate so that you now have 8 thin cutlets. Place a cutlet inside a ziplock bag and lightly pound  cutlet just to even out. You can use a rolling-pin or the bottom of a small pan to do this.  Set the cutlets aside.

Set up a standard breading station: 3 medium-sized shallow containers-one to hold the flour, another for the lightly beaten eggs and the last one for the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture.  A good way to remember the sequence is FEB (flour, egg, breadcrumbs). Have ready a large sheet pan or a container large enough to hold the breaded cutlets in just about one layer a little overlapping is ok.

 Lightly salt and pepper the cutlets on both sides. Take one cutlet and lightly coat with flour-shake off excess. Now dip into beaten egg, removing excess egg if necessary. The egg should not be thick just a light layer to help the breadcrumbs adhere.  Lay cutlets in breadcrumb mixture and pat breadcrumbs all over both sides of the cutlet covering completely.  Put the breaded cutlet in the reserved container.  Do this procedure until all the cutlets are breaded.  Cover the container or wrap tightly and keep refrigerated until ready to cook the next day.

Now you have most of the work done.  The next day all you have to do is pickle the onions and fry the cutlets.  I will stop here and you can just follow the rest of the recipe when you’re ready to fry the cutlets..  Please give this recipe a try.  Once you’ve done it the first time the next time you won’t even need the recipe. It’s that easy.  

  Recipe: Chicken Milanese with arugula and pickled onion salad

Arugula and pickled onion salad:

1 small red onion sliced very thin

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 tspn sugar

salt and pepper to taste

a few drops of hot sauce or sriracha (optional)

mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit in fridge at least one hour.

3 cups loosely packed baby arugula

When the chicken is done and you are ready to eat with clean hands toss the arugula with the pickled onions and dress lightly with some of the pickling juice.  Make a nice pile of salad on each chicken breast you are serving.  Drizzle over some of the pickling juice if you like.

Chicken Milanese:

4 organic chicken breast butterflied and sliced through so you have 8 separate thin cutlets

salt and pepper

2 cups of flour

3 eggs mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and lightly beaten

2 cups plain or flavored breadcrumbs

1 cup parmesan  cheese finely grated and mixed in with breadcrumbs

oil for frying (peanut or vegetable)

Note: If you have already breaded your cutlets and have them waiting we’ll start with the frying of the cutlets.  If you did not prep your cutlets see the explanation of how to bread the cutlets before the recipe on this post.

Cooking the cutlets:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and have a half sheet pan ready with a wire rack inside the pan.  You may need 2 set ups like this.

In a large frying pan or cast iron skillet heat about 1 cup of oil over medium heat until oil is shimmering.  You can test if oil is hot by dipping a small end of a cutlet in the oil if it starts to fry immediately the oil is ready.  Fry 3 or 4 breaded cutlets at a time but make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.  If you can only fit 3 just do 3.  Over crowding will prevent cutlets from getting crispy and browned.  Fry about 2 minutes on first side until chicken is golden brown. Flip over and cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain off excess oil on cutlets and place on prepared sheet pan.  Cook remaining cutlets in this manner, placing on sheet pan in oven as cooked.  Serve warm topped with pickled onions and arugula salad and some of the pickling juice drizzled over.  Serves 4.

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