It’s starting to feel a bit like fall here in Menlo Park – which always brings to mind cooking roast chicken in the oven. We’re mostly wintertime roast chicken people – not wanting to bother with it during the summer. But as we get into the fall season, and the days cool off, roast chicken comes to mind as one of our weekend dinners.
I recently came across this simple roast chicken recipe from Mark Bittman. Click through for the recipe and also a link to one of his Minimalist videos where he shows the technique.
It’s a really simple recipe. His key breakthrough was discovering that the use of a cast iron skillet for roasting the chicken helped balance having the white/dark meat cooking appropriately. He recommends putting the skillet into the oven when you first turn it on – and use a high heat (he suggests 500 degrees which our oven won’t quite reach!). As the oven warms, the skillet warms up with it – so that when the chicken is put into the skillet to cook, the warm skillet will help the thighs and dark meat cook a bit faster while letting the breast meat cook normally. It’s this orchestrated imbalance that provides the magic to his recipe.
Give it a try for one of your weekend dinners!
Photo by Rosie 55.
Yesterday, I picked up some boneless pork chops from Trader Joe’s – each about 3/4 of an inch thick. These chops are perfect for a quick (25 minutes or so) meals when cooked in a skilled on the stove. They’re also low fat!
This technique involves first searing the pork chops on high heat for 2 minutes/side to get a nice flavor on the outside – and then slowing down the cooking with some liquid that helps keep them moist and flavorful on the inside. The mustard and lemon juice used for the finishing sauce adds a very nice sweet/sour taste to the chops – they’re delicious.
Here’s my recipe – modified from Mark Bittman’s recipe.
- An hour or two before I cook the the chops – or at the last minute if I forgot (!), I first coat them liberally on both sides with my favorite pork seasoning rub – Penzey’s Galena Street. This rub is an absolute must have for grilling thick pork chops on the Weber BBQ – and its equally good for these pan-fried chops. Trust me, Penzey’s Galena Street Rub is just the best for pork chops!
- Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in the skillet until it’s shimmering. Add the chops to the skillet and turn the heat up to high. Cook on high for 2 minutes per side.
- Add 1/2 cup white wine, 1 Tbsp minced garlic and 1 Tbsp minced shallots (we love both of these from Penzey’s – we’re fortunate to have a local Penzey’s outlet here in Menlo Park!). Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, you can toss a quick salad or sauté some fresh veggies to accompany the chops.
- When the timer is up, check the chops for doneness – firm to the touch – and, if done, remove them to a platter. You should still have some liquid left in the pan – if not add a touch of water. Then add 1 Tbsp lemon juice plus 2 Tbsp coarse mustard. Reduce this a bit over medium-high heat and then pour a bit over the chops. Put the rest into a small bowl or pitcher to accompany the chops to the dinner table. You’ll want to add more of the sauce to the chops – and maybe the veggies – during the meal!
That’s it – about 25 minutes start to finish – not counting the 5 minutes it takes to rub the chops in advance. Hope you enjoy!
We’ve made this recipe twice this week – and it’s a hit in our house! It’s another one of Mark Bittman’s simple and easy recipes that just tastes so great! I happened to find it on his iPhone app – How to Cook Everything.
I won’t bother with the usual ingredients box – it’s such a simple recipe. Pick up a salmon fillet from your local fishmonger on your way home from the office (our favorite here in Menlo Park is Cook’s Seafood on El Camino). Cooks sells wild king salmon fillets roughly .75 lb in size – a perfect size for a dinner for two.
Put a couple of tablespoons of butter into a glass baking dish large enough to hold the fillet. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees – with the baking dish inside, melting the butter.
While the oven is coming up to temperature (and the butter is melting), season the salmon with salt and pepper.
When the butter has melted into the baking dish, pull it out and put the salmon fillet in – skin side down. It should only be a few more minutes until the oven is at full temperature. At that point, in goes the salmon in the baking dish.
Cook it skin side down for 6 minutes then take it out, flip it and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve – with whatever you’ve made as a side dish (our favorite is sauteed mushrooms with cherry tomatoes, shallots, a bit of garlic, white wine, and anything else we feel like throwing into the mix!). Slice the salmon in half and serve.
You’ll love it – and it doesn’t smell up the kitchen! Total time start to finish is about 20 minutes.
We tried a modified version of our Harvest Time Roasted Tomato and Sweet Corn Soup recipe tonight – suggested by our friends at Bogle Vineyards and a recipe they sent out in their latest newsletter. Truth be told – we’re suckers for roasted tomato soup!
Essentially it’s the same as our original recipe – except after doing the puree at the end, we added about 8 oz of Trader Joe’s Super Sweet Frozen Corn kernels in lieu of any fresh corn (no longer available) along with 4 oz of crumbled TJ’s Blue Cheese and about 6 oz of Niman Ranch Uncured Maple Bacon chopped into bacon bits. Add a dollop of Creme Fraiche into each bowl after serving – and you’re good to go! Yum!
At lunch out yesterday at Mike’s Cafe in Portola Valley, the special soup was roasted tomato and corn – and it was really lovely. While it’s not exactly a soup day here today (temps heading into the 90’s), it’s the perfect time for both tomatoes and sweet corn so I decided to give this a whirl. It turns out magnificently – if I do say so myself! Total time to prepare – about an hour and 15 minutes.
Sunday’s are Farmers Market day in Menlo Park so I headed out first thing to pick up the ingredients – basically 3 pounds of tomatoes (mostly San Marizano’s but some yellow plum and others mixed in) and 3 ears of fresh sweet corn. I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pickup a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes – we had everything else at home. The core recipe was inspired by one of the Barefoot Contessa’s.
Read on for ingredients and directions!
- 3 lbs mostly plum (San Marizano, Yellow Plum) tomatoes
- 3 ears sweet corn
- 28 oz canned plum tomatoes
- 1 qt organic chicken broth
- 2 yellow onions – peeled and chopped
- 3 tsp minced garlic (from jar)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat over to 400 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half, mix in large bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet – bake for 40-45 minutes.
- Using an 8-quart pot, saute the onions and garlic over medium heat with 2 Tbsp olive oil and the butter. Add the red pepper flakes. Stir, cooking about 10 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes and the chicken stock. Add the roasted tomatoes and any liquid on the baking sheet. Season with 1 Tbsp dried basis and 1 tsp dried thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, microwave 3 ears of sweet corn wrapped in wax paper on high for 10 minutes. When finishing, use knive to remove corn kernels onto plate. Reserve aside.
- When soup has finished simmering, use hand-held blender to mix to coarse consistency. Add in the sweet corn. Serve!
[First posted: September 26, 2010]
Last weekend we picked up some fresh peppers at the local Farmers Market and made Elise’s Peperonata recipe. Delicious and highly recommended!
My son and family stopped by this afternoon following today’s Sunset Celebration Weekend and we did just what we did last year – grilled a couple of tri-tips on our Weber charcoal BBQ. Turns out, we did just about the same thing last year! With the unusually wet and cool spring we’ve had in northern California this year, today was literally the first time we pulled the cover off the Weber to grill something!
I picked up two plain tri-tips earlier today from Bianchini’s Market in Portola Valley. The first we seasoned with Tom Douglas’ All Purpose Smoky Barbeque Rub – picked up this morning from Tom’s booth at the Sunset event. The second we seasoned with rock salt – with a healthy dose of fresh ground Penzey’s Special Extra Bold™ Black Peppercorns on both. We seasoned the tri-tips about 5 hours before we started grilling and put them back in the ‘frig.
Like last year, I used Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal – which burns hotter than briquets, cooks to tri-tips faster and adds a very nice charcoal cooked flavor to the meat. Once lit in the chimney lighter, spread the coals all to one side of the Weber – that’s going to be the direct heat side.
I seared the roasts over direct heat 5-7 mins per side (to a bit of nice char) and then cooked them on the indirect heat side for another 20-25 minutes until they reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees. Once they’re at that temp, wrap them in foil and let them sit for at least 15 minutes to let the juices re-enter the meat. Then slice thinly across the grain and serve – preferably with an nice accompanying BBQ sauce. I had also picked up a jar of Tom Douglas’ Ancho & Molasses Barbecue Sauce this morning at Sunset – and it was a perfect accompaniment to the tri-tip!
We also grilled some veggies to accompany the roasts – including corn on the cob, onions, baby bok choy, zucchini and bell pepper. We cooked the veggies mostly over direct heat – taking care not to let them burn – while the tri-tips were cooking on the other side of the grill.
A great meal and first time BBQ of the season!
If you’re in the Bay Area and have a change to find these Pimientos de Padrón peppers from Happy Quail Farm in East Palo Alto, be sure to pick them up – they’re a great addition to a steak or chicken BBQ.
We found them yesterday at the produce market at Market Hall on College Avenue in the Rockridge district of Oakland. Happy Quail Farms sells at a number of Farmers Markets in the Bay Area as well including the Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco on Saturdays and Tuesdays and the Sunday morning Menlo Park Farmers Market.
Cooking these lil guys is also super easy: olive oil in a pan, stir until small white blisters appear, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve! Yum! (Beware that “typically one out of about a dozen is mild to scorching hot”!) Our batch yesterday was mild-mannered!
We’re having a struggle this Spring weather-wise – trying to shake off the winter storms and get into the usual – boring – late spring and summer weather in northern California. Today, a blustery set of heavy rain below in – with chilly winds, etc.
Anyway, it was a great day for soup – so we dusted off one of our favorite recipes from last year – Barley Soup With Mushrooms and Microgreens – made mostly with ingredients from our local Trader Joe’s. It’s a tasty and healthy soup that goes just right with days like today.
A few weeks ago, I noted Mark Bittman’s alternative approach to cooking a great tri-tip steak. Tonight, we made Mark’s recipe – with (naturally) our own tweaks. The result – steak and a modified Remesco sauce – was outstanding!
I followed Mark’s recipe with respect to the tri-tip itself – cooking it 5 minutes over very high heat in a cast iron skillet – followed by putting the cast iron skillet into a very hot (450+ degrees) oven for (in our case) about 15 minutes (our oven peaks at 450 – not 500 degrees). The key is watching the tri-tip to reach 125 degrees internal temperature.
While grilling the tri-tip in the skillet, I also cooked the small plum tomatoes in the other half of the skillet. The tomatoes got nicely soft and a bit roasted. I took the tomatoes out of the skillet just before flipping the tri-tip as I was putting the tri-tip in the skillet into the high-heat oven.
The tomatoes went into another pan – along with some slivered almonds, some minced garlic, a healthy amount of olive oil and – a few minutes later – a few tablespoons of sherry wine vinegar. While the tri-tip finished cooking and resting for 5 minutes, the sauce simmered – developing an amazing flavor.
As usual, I sliced the tri-tip against the grain and smothered the slices on the serving plates with the sauce. Wow – what a great combination of flavors! With this technique, I avoided using a food processor and was able to use simpler ingredients (sliced almonds, minced garlic) to produce an amazing result! Thanks to Mark Bittman and his recipe for his suggestions on this Romesco sauce – the flavors are superb – and a great accompaniment to tri-tip!