Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy — Down-Home Comfort
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
I love gravy. I really love gravy. I really, really love gravy. I’d like to think that there are rivers of gravy in heaven. Gravy is a down-home comfort food that soothes, satisfies and satiates like no other. And Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy is extra-special. This old-timey recipe is a mash-up of fried chicken and gravy, cooked together in a skillet: Where one ends, the other starts. In other words, pretty much the most nearly perfect comfort food. Ever.
Gravy is not actually created by angels. By definition, it is a thickened sauce made of meat juices and pan drippings, usually left over from a roast or searing meat in a skillet. There are a couple of key things to consider when making Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy.
For best flavor, it’s very important to sear the chicken until it’s golden, amber brown. Not searing it enough will result in flabby skin coated in bland gravy, and too much will result a scorched taste and tough chicken. Humble leg quarters are tailor-made for this country-style dish. You can also use chicken thighs or chicken breasts on the bone. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be tempting, but keep in mind that anytime you cook meat on the bone, it is more likely to be tender and moist.
Roux, a mixture of flour and fat, is used to thicken the gravy. The fat helps the starch to expand and separate, and it lubricates the starch so it can be incorporated into the stock. Then, when the starch is heated in the stock, the grains of starch swell and then burst, releasing starch and thickening the liquid into gravy. This recipe utilizes the flour used to coat the chicken and the residual oil from searing the chicken as the roux. When the seasoned flour is combined with the oil and the rendered chicken fat from searing, the individual flour granules become coated, which keeps them separate. This allows each starch granule the opportunity to absorb the heated broth relatively equally, which makes smooth gravy.
In terms of seasoning, the onion powder doubles up the onion flavor alongside the sliced onion, and the paprika gives it a boost of color and richness. Lastly, the cayenne gives it a bit of heat. Started on the stovetop and finished in the oven, this down-home comfort dish is perfect for a weeknight supper.
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Get the Recipe: Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy
Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.
Heritage — Off the Shelf
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Sean Brock’s new cookbook, Heritage, is easily one of the most-anticipated books of the year. Sean Brock, the Virginia-born executive chef of Husk restaurants in Charleston, S.C., and Nashville, is quickly becoming a titan of Southern cuisine, and the dishes in this book carry his signature blend of elegance and hearty Southern charm. It should be noted right up front that Heritage is not a Husk restaurant cookbook; it’s so much deeper and more thorough than that. Heritage is an edible historical guide to Southern cuisine, and if you give it a chance, it’ll be your new favorite cookbook in no time.
The book is broken down into chapters based on where the ingredients are sourced, including The Garden, The Mill and The Yard, and the introduction includes a whole aside detailing the history of and a recipe for Low-Country Hoppin’ John. Brock also includes for his readers his Manifesto on food, but don’t be fooled: The book doesn’t read like a stuffy, overly structured culinary curriculum. The whole book reads like a love letter to the raw ingredients and agrarians of the South, and getting an inside look at Brock’s passion for preserving Southern heritage seed breeds is a real treat.
What brings the book to life are the small histories and factual passages about ingredients, written with humor and attention to detail. The recipes leap off the page, vibrant and fun, and with deep roots — each of them. The dish offerings cover everything from Pork Rinds and Husk Hot Sauce to homemade bacon and the famous Husk Cheeseburger (recipe below for you to try at home). They run the gamut of savory to sweet, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to satiate your sweet tooth with the Charleston Ice Cream, the Apple-Sorghum Stack Cake or the mouthwatering Chocolate Chess Pie (a true Southern classic). This is the book for anyone who’s ever aspired to make real Southern cuisine at home, whether it be a perfectly tender and light biscuit or a low-country seafood boil. The overall tone of the book makes you feel like you’ve wandered into a Southern kitchen just as the big Sunday meal is being made and been fortunate enough to be invited to stay. Heritage by Brock is on sale now, and you can order a copy for yourself here.
Makes 10 cheeseburgers
When I opened Husk, I knew we had to have a cheeseburger on the menu. Everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect burger; mine was inspired by the drive-in that my family used to take me to when I was young. Robo’s was the only real “restaurant” in my hometown, and my family just loved it. We would go there after my Little League Baseball games. As a game wound down, I would be daydreaming about that burger, shake and crinkle-cut fries. It’s probably the reason for some missed fly balls.
What I remember most about the cheeseburger was the squishy bun and how wonderful it was to eat the double patty covered in gooey American cheese. This recipe is a tip of the hat to that burger. I’ve changed it a little to make it my own — I wouldn’t dare try and replicate the burger from Robo’s. This recipe feeds a crowd, but you can halve it for a smaller group.
If you don’t have a meat grinder, ask the butcher to grind the meats for you.
1 3/4 cups mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
1 1/4 cups yellow mustard
5 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickles, drained and cut into 1/8-inch dice
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, drained and cut into 1/8-inch dice
Grated zest (use a Microplane) and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Husk Hot Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons pepper vinegar, preferably Texas Pete brand
One 3-pound fresh boneless chuck roast
12 ounces fresh flank steak
3 ounces bacon, preferably Benton’s
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 hamburger buns, preferably potato rolls
1 cup shaved white onion
20 slices American cheese
50 bread-and-butter pickles
For the sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large container and stir together to blend well. Cover, and refrigerate. (Tightly covered, the sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.)
For the cheeseburgers:
Grind the chuck, flank steak and bacon through a meat grinder fitted with the large die into a bowl. Mix gently to combine. Then run half of the mixture through the small die. Mix the two together.
Portion the meat mixture into twenty 3-ounce patties, about 1/2 inch thick (each burger gets 2 patties). If not cooking right away, arrange on a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (The patties can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook; it’s important that the patties are not ice-cold when they hit the hot pan.)
Generously butter the tops and bottoms of the buns. Toast on a griddle until nice and golden brown. Reserve.
Heat two 12-inch cast-iron skillets until as hot as possible. Divide the patties between the two hot pans. When the patties are nice and charred, about 2 minutes, flip them over and cook for 2 minutes more for medium. Place the onion slices on 10 of the patties. Place a slice of the cheese on all of the patties and allow it to melt, about 30 seconds. Stack the non-onion patties on top of the onion patties. Remove from the heat.
Smear both sides of the buns with special sauce. Place 5 pickles on the bottom half of each bun. Add the burger patties and top with the top halves of the buns. Serve at once.
Excerpted from Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.
Save Your Pumpkin Seeds: A Simple Roasting How-To
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
With Halloween just one week away, you’re likely getting set to carve tricked-out jack-o’-lanterns in preparations for next Friday’s fright night. As you roll up your sleeves and scoop out the mushy innards of your pumpkin, keep an eye out for the seeds; these flat, tear-shaped bites are indeed edible, and when they’re roasted with seasoning, they turn into crunchy, savory bites ideal for seasonal snacking. Learn the basics of How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds below, then check out Food Network’s complete guide to master the easy technique.
After harvesting the seeds from the pumpkin, clean them of the pulp by separating them from the flesh and rinsing them off.
Be sure to dry roast the seeds so they lose their moisture, then toss them with oil and seasoning before sending them back to bake again. After just a few more minutes in the oven, they’ll have turned deliciously crispy and golden brown.
Get the details on How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds, and check out Food Network’s Halloween headquarters to find party-ready recipes for your fright night bash.
25 Ways to Use Sauerkraut
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Oktoberfest in Germany may have ended, but you can keep the celebrations going all month long.
Sauerkraut, a traditional German fermented cabbage, isn’t just a delicious hot dog topping or stuffing for Reuben sandwiches. It contains probiotics (those same ones found in yogurt), which help maintain healthy stomach functions, so eat up!
Break out a beer stein and your lederhosen to prepare these delicious sauerkraut-stuffed dishes.
1. All you need to make Alton Brown’s Sauerkraut recipe is cabbage, some spices and a fair amount of time; it takes about two weeks for the cabbage to ferment. Pickling salt is a fine-grain pure salt that doesn’t contain additives like anti-caking agents or iodine that other cooking salts may have.
2. Rachael Ray’s Reuben-Style Casserole with Pastrami Meatballs, Sauerkraut and Barley is an easy make-ahead meal, perfect to warm you up on chilly fall evenings.
3. If you’re an adventurous baker, make Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes with Beer Frosting.
4. Serve Michael Symon’s Bratwurst Stewed with Sauerkraut (pictured above) on a baguette at your next tailgate.
5. A simple Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage is hearty enough to be a full meal.
6. Cook Good Luck Pork and Sauerkraut low and slow on the stovetop or in the slow cooker for meat so tender it falls right off the bones.
7. Brian Boitano’s Sausage Schnitzel with Quick Sauerkraut is everything you want in a game-day snack: breaded and pan-fried sausage topped with a simple sauerkraut that takes minutes (and not weeks) to make.
8. Speck, an Italian cured meat similar to prosciutto, is used to flavor Mario Batali’s Sauerkraut and Bean Soup.
9. Save the juice from the containers of store-bought sauerkraut and use it to flavor an easy homemade hollandaise for Roasted White Asparagus with Sauerkraut Hollandaise and Toasted Pumpernickel Breadcrumbs. White asparagus is the same as the green variety, but it’s grown under dirt to prevent pigmentation from the sun.
10. An easy one-pot dinner that will satisfy even the hungriest members of your family: Ham, Bean and Bacon Soup with Sauerkraut.
11. Robert Irvine stuffs sausage casing with a mixture of scallops, shrimp, sea bass and salmon for his take on the traditional hot dog in Seafood Hot Dogs with Sweet Mustard Sauerkraut.
12. Topped with sauerkraut, a pickle slice and crushed potato chips as a garnish, Reuben Sliders are an easy passed appetizer that looks really impressive to guests.
13. Smoked Michigan Beef Pierogi are the perfect weekend meal. They take a little time and elbow grease to make, but homemade pierogi are worth it.
14. Rachael Ray’s Reuben-Style Shepherd’s Pie is everything you want in a Reuben sandwich, topped with quick mashed potatoes.
15. Even better the second time around: Use leftover braised brisket to make BBQ Brisket Reuben Sandwiches.
16. Brine hamburger patties overnight and then smoke them to create The Ultima Pastrami Burger.
17. The festivities take a creative turn with German Beer Pizza, topped with cheese, beer-braised pork, potatoes, sauerkraut coleslaw and a sourdough pretzel garnish.
18. Turn your kitchen into a German beer garden with Emeril’s Sausage Pot.
19. There’s nothing better to celebrate the end of baseball season than a New York-style hot dog like Top Dog Frankfurter.
20. Boil brats in beer and then crisp them up on the grill before serving with a reduced beer sauce, mustard and sauerkraut on rye for Naffke Beer Brats.
21. Make Dubliner Steamed Mussels for a simple, yet elegant dinner; steam and serve mussels and fingerling potatoes in a beer-sauerkraut broth.
22. Sauteed Duck Breast is served with apples and sauerkraut for a fall meal. Don’t be intimidated by duck; score the fat, then sear fat-side down and finish cooking it in the oven. Save any excess duck fat for other uses like duck fat fries.
23. Fry Montasio, a creamy Italian cheese, and stuff with sauerkraut, chopped pickles and shredded chicken to make savory Crisp Cheese Cookies.
24. Mario Batali’s Pork Shank and Apple Gremolata is a braised pork shank served with fresh chopped apple salad and blaukrauti, an Italian sauerkraut made with red cabbage instead of green.
25. The Triple Play Reuben is stacked high with corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and Jarlsberg on rye. The key to this amazing sandwich is making your own Thousand Island dressing with ketchup, mayo and chopped pickles.
More 25 Ways:
25 Ways to Use Quinoa
25 Ways to Use Avocados
25 Ways to Use Cottage Cheese
This Week’s Nutrition News Feed
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
In this week’s news: Gluten-free diets spark a grain of concern; slow and steady may not win the weight-loss race; and that regrettably fattening lunch may have been your brain’s fault.
For people with celiac disease or who are, for whatever reason, adhering to a gluten-free diet, a new study brings worrying news. Because rice is doesn’t contain gluten, it is used as a key ingredient in a host of gluten-free versions of breads, pastries, pastas and dairy products. But rice also naturally contains arsenic, in some cases quite a bit. The risk may be minimal for occasional rice eaters, but those who eat a lot of rice or rice-based products, like the increasing number of people who are going gluten-free, may be putting themselves at risk for arsenic poisoning. The co-authors of the study, published in Food Additives & Contaminants, say their analysis shows “we cannot exclude a risk to the health of people who consume these kinds of products.” Scary.
Slow Dieting May Not Be Worth the Weight
It is a commonly held belief that, to keep weight off, you have to lose it slowly and gradually – and that weight you take off fast will be put back just as quickly. But a new study has found that the speed at which you take off weight does not affect the likeliness that you’ll put it back on. Australian researchers divided 200 obese people into two groups: One lost weight on a 12-week severely calorie-restricted (yet nutritionally sound) diet; the other shed pounds on a more moderate 36-week weight-loss regime. Those in both groups who had lost 12.5 percent of their weight (and more succeeded on the shorter diet, by the way) were placed on a weight maintenance diet. After three years, the rapid dieters had regained 70.5 percent whereas gradual dieters had regained an average of 71.2 percent – meaning the differences between them were not significant.
Beware the Calorie Counter in Your Brain
Why do we scarf down those fries when we know we should lighten up with a salad instead? Blame our brains. A new study, published in Psychological Science, has found that our brains prompt us to make eating decisions based, in part, on a food’s caloric content. Researchers showed people pictures of 50 foods and asked them to rate how much they liked them, estimate their calorie content, and bid on the foods in an ersatz auction. Even though people’s calorie estimates were way off, their bids correlated with foods actually higher in calories. What’s more, brain scans taken while participants were looking at the food images indicated that activity in the area known to predict immediate consumption, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, also matched up with high-calorie foods. “Our study sought to determine how people’s awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options,” the study’s lead author said. “We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods.”
Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.