Our Favorite Roast Chicken Dinner

Our Favorite Roast Chicken |via Dear Martini Blog Mmmmm, Our Favorite Roast Chicken Dinner has crispy skin, tender and moist meat, with plenty of roasted vegetables to go along with it.  Sound delicious so far?  But, who has time to wait for a chicken to roast ?  Enter the Rock Cornish game hen!

Game hens are just the right size for two servings and small enough that you can roast 2 of them easily in an average-size roasting pan.  To speed up the roasting time the first thing we do is spatchcock the hen.  Yep spatchcock, a word that can bring about raised eyebrows, sideways looks or even stifled giggles.  Spatchcock is the technique of removing the backbone from a chicken and flattening it like a book.

How to Spatchcock | via Dear Martini blog

Spatchcock’s etymology is believed to have originated in Ireland, where “dispatching the cock” was the phrase used to describe having to cook the bird by taking its spine out and laying it flat to cook.  One can only deduce that the abbreviated “spatch” and “cock” were married together to form a new word.

Why in the world would anyone spatchcock a bird?  The answer is simple:  THE BIRD COOKS FASTER!  The bird will cook faster and more evenly if it’s relatively the same thickness — of course, some parts of the bird are thicker than others; but imagine how long you normally wait for the bird to cook all the way through when you roast it whole.  Spatchcocking works great on all poultry — game hens, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese…

How to Roast a Chicken or Game Hen | Dear Martini

Flattening the bird creates more surface area – which results in more crispy skin and a bird that’s well seasoned on both sides.

The Benefits:

  • Cooks faster than a trussed up whole bird
  • Cooks more evenly – more crispy skin!
  • Allows more room in the oven to roast other side dishes like vegetables and potatoes
  • The spine and wing tips can be placed in a large ziplock bag and tossed into the freezer.  Collect enough and you’ve got the makings for some awesome chicken stock.

Once the bird is spatchcocked, you can then proceed to either roast it in the oven, grill it over your outdoor grill or press it in your panini machine (see:  http://paninihappy.com/spatchcock-game-hen/ Our good friend and author of Panini Happy wrote a blog post about this method a few months back).

We enjoy placing the bird directly on top of some potatoes or other root vegetables —  killing 2 birds with one stone (so to speak).  As the bird roasts, the vegetables are seasoned and flavored with the juices and get crispy at the bottom of the pan.  It’s totally a win-win! Believe us:  once you’ve spatchcocked, you’ll never go back!

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Serves 2

Plan ahead to spatchcock and season the bird overnight or the morning before you plan to roast the bird.  This allows time for the seasoning to really penetrate and the salt to do it’s magic and tenderize the meat.  For crispy skin don’t cover the seasoned bird with plastic wrap… refrigerating the hen uncovered will allow the skin to dry out.  If you’re a crispy skin fanatic (like we are) wait to oil the bird until just before you roast it too!  

1 Cornish Game Hen (defrosted if frozen)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

6 red potatoes, halved

Special equipment:  Poultry shears 

Preheat the oven to 400℉.

On a cutting board, place the hen breast-side down. Use the poultry shears to cut along one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck.  Cut along the other side and remove the backbone.  Set aside.  Open up the hen and flip it back over so it’s breast-side up again.  Use your palms to press down on the breast bone to flatten.  Use the poultry shears to snip off the wing tips at the joint.  Set it aside with the backbone for making stock later.

Sprinkle the hen with salt and pepper and rub all over both sides with vegetable oil.  Rest bird at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight uncovered.  

Arrange the halved potatoes in the bottom of a shallow pan large enough to hold the hen and potatoes; season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with oil.   Transfer the hen to the pan and place it directly on top of the potatoes.   Roast for 45 minutes, rotating once during cooking.  The internal cooked temperature of the bird should be 165℉ when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Remove from the oven and let the bird rest, tented with foil for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, cut the bird in half, lengthwise and serve each person a half.  Divide the potatoes and garnish with a mojo verde sauce or gremolata.

Cook’s Notes:  

You can muscle through spatchcocking with ordinary scissors or a knife, but it’s a whole lot easier with an inexpensive pair of poultry shears. 

Be careful not to overcook the bird…. we usually take an internal temperature after 30 minutes to determine how far along we are in the roasting process.

The potatoes should be done at the same time as the chicken, but the potatoes underneath the bird won’t have browned.  Remove the bird from the oven to rest and leave the potatoes in for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Roast Chicken Dinner via Dear Martini blog

 

 

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Great Gremolata!

How to Make Gremolata via Dear Martini

Gremolata is the classic garnish for Ossobuco Milanese the braised Milanese veal shank dish.  It’s an Italian condiment that’s traditionally made with minced garlic, lemon zest, and minced parsley. Think of it as a condiment that’s also a garnish.

Gremolata recipe and video via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

 

Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you… The tangy zest and refreshing parsley when combined with the bite of raw garlic enhances just about everything you pair it. We don’t think it should be reserved for just ossobuco and use it often to brighten up the flavors of boring weeknight meals.

Lemon zest, parsley and garlic are the classic gremolata ingredients | via Dear Martini blog

Gremolata is great with:

Rich meaty dishes

Grilled or roasted chicken and fish

Soups and stews

Steamed or roasted vegetables

Gremolata

Serves 4

A classic gremolata calls for garlic, lemon, and parsley.  We added orange zest to ours to personalize it, but that’s optional.  Italian cooks are legendary for adding secret ingredients to personalize a classic sauce and turn it into their signature sauce.  Try adding a teaspoon of chopped capers, a pinch of cayenne, or  anchovy paste for variety or come up with your own twist. 

1 lemon, zested

1 orange, zested

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the zest, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.   Garnish your dish with gremolata just before serving for the freshest flavor.

Cook’s notes:

Don’t skip washing and drying citrus (we use a paper towel to dry.)  When using citrus for zest it is important to start with clean fruit.  Washing the fruit removes dust and the wax used to keep the fruit looking shiny and fresh.  If you can afford organic fruit even better.

Don’t discard your naked zest fruit…save them to use for juice.  naked fruit stored in your fridge will last for several days.

Gremolata can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 1 day.

Need some help?  Click on the thumbnail to jump to the video:

microplane lemon mince garlic thumbnail mince parsley

Gremolata recipe and video via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

 

 

Mojo Verde Sauce

Mojo Verde Sauce Recipe via Dear Martini

Mojo verde or green sauce is a simple and easy to make sauce from the Canary Islands.  You’ll find mojo verde and variations in Spain, Cuba, and throughout the Caribbean.  Start with  fresh and tangy lime juice, a handful of herbal cilantro, a couple of garlic cloves, a little chile for heat (you decide how spicy you want it), and throw it all in the blender and your done.  Seriously, that’s it.  This week, get your mojo working…sauce that is!

Mojo Verde

Serves 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 limes)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground

Pinch of red pepper flakes or 1 serrano chile minced (to taste!)

Pinch of salt and pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or to taste)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

*Kitchen Notes:  If you love the bright green sauce in the photos and video — make and serve the sauce immediately after making.  Mojo verde has a tends to darken in color the longer it sits.

Need ideas for what to put it on?

We love mojo for its versatility…mojo can be used as a sauce, condiment, marinade, even salad dressing, and it practically goes with everything.  Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:

  • Drizzled on an avocado
  • Perfect for grilled Chicken
  • Serve with everything fish and shellfish
  • Garnish lamb chops
  • As a marinade for pork that tends to dry out
  • As a dip for vegetables
  • Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes

Mojo Verde Sauce with Roasted Game Hens | Dear Martini

Don’t have a blender?  Just mince everything up and stir together!  Hit the thumbnail to jump to the video!

mince garlic thumbnail Chop Cilantro Thumbnail jalapeno thumbnail spice blend toast how grind spices thubnail

 

 

How to Roast Salmon

Easy Salmon Recipe via Dear Martini Blog

You’ve just brought home a piece of wild-caught King salmon fillet that cost you an arm and a leg…now what do you do with it?  Roast it!  Quick and easy.  You can dress it up with your favorite herbs, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or if company is coming slather it with a little compound butter and your protein is done in 30 minutes (20 to come to room temp, and 10 to cook.)

how to select the best salmon via Dear Martini blog

Tips for Purchasing Salmon Fillets

  • Buy wild salmon. Go for the best you can find/afford.
  • Fresh is better than frozen and will have a firmer texture. Frozen is okay if you can’t get fresh.
  • Choose salmon that is fresh from the seafood counter and not wrapped in plastic. It should smell slightly sweet, and salty like sea air.
  • Choose center cut fillets (pieces will be thicker and harder to over cook) as opposed to tails.
  • How much do you need?  We usually allow 6 ounces per person.
  • Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app to your smartphone.  A fantastic resource, you can checkout their recommendations on the go– at the market or deciding what to order at your favorite restaurant.

 

Roasted Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard and Brandy

Serves 4

1-1/2 pounds center cut wild-caught salmon fillet (skin-on)  

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Mustard Brandy compound butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drizzle salmon with olive oil and coat on all sides. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and set aside to come to room temperature, 20 minutes.   Transfer salmon to a sheet pan lined with foil.

Place salmon in oven and roast until cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove salmon from the oven and while still hot, spread 2 tablespoons of butter over the salmon.  The butter will melt creating a simple sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Simple and delicious salmon recipe via Dear Martini Blog

Looking for some flavor ideas to go with that salmon?

Hit the thumbnail to jump to a technique video for inspiration!

aioli steam artichokes Trim asparagus saute bacon saute mushroomsmince parsley mince shallots mince thyme peel and grate ginger thumbnail pomegranate thumbnail microplane lemonblanch asparagusblanch green beansblanching peasflash roast asparagus

 

Better Butter

Better Butter | Dear Martini Blog

Better butter…what could possibly be better than butter?  Compound butter!  Compound butter is a combination of softened butter and flavorful aromatic  ingredients.

From savory to sweet versions, compound butter is versatile and a great way to add a little creativity to your cooking.  Use them as a finishing step to add glossiness and flavor to sauces, enhance a piece of fish or add flavor and moisture to cuts of meat that tend to be a little drier. Add a tablespoon to plain rice or pasta, melt it for popcorn, make a sweet version for waffles and pancakes, or simply slathered on a piece of toast.  They freeze well and can be made in advance, so we always have a log or two tucked away in our freezer.

6 compound butters to try | Dear Martini Blog

The beauty of compound butter is that you really don’t need a recipe for compound butter.   The basic ingredients are unsalted butter (no margarine) and a tablespoon or two of  your choice of ingredients.  Try chopped fresh herbs or dried spices, citrus zest, garlic and shallots, fresh or dried fruits, wine or liqueurs; whatever compliments your dish and your mood.  Here are 6 to try:

INGREDIENTS

1.  Pucker Up
1 stick unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of half an orange

2.  Cherry Almond
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup fresh or frozen cherries, minced or chopped
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar (more if you like sweeter butter)

3.  Mustard & Brandy
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

4.  The Classic
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

5.  Spicegirl
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon minced red onion

6.  Verde
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 green onions, white and green finely minced
zest of 1 lime
1 serrano chile, minced

You don’t have to be precise with the ingredients…mix it up, use what you have.

Savory and Sweet | Dear Martini Blog

A little is all you need. 1 tablespoon added to a sauce or on top of a steak amps up the flavor immensely.

HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the butter is very soft and all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Remove butter from the bowl and spread on a piece parchment paper or plastic wrap.  Roll into a tight log.  Tie with string or twist the ends of the paper to seal.  Place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Butter will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days or freezer for up to 2 months.

Look here for some aromatic inspirations!  Click on the thumbnail to jump to the video:

Dear Martini how to zest orange microplane Dear Martini How to toast a spice blend Dear Martini How to Mince Thyme Dear Martini How to Mince Shallots Dear Martini How to Mince Parsley Dear Martini How to Mince Jalapeños and other Chiles Dear Martini How to Slice Green Onions and Scallions Dear Martini How to Make Garlic Paste Dear Martini How to Cube Butter Dear Martini How to Chop Cilantro

We’d love to hear which ones you try– and about your own creations!

Colcannon and Champ

Colcannon  and Champ:   Sounds like the name of a rock band or a law firm?  Think again!

Colcannon Recipe | Dear MartiniColcannon is a rustic country dish of potatoes, cabbage (or kale), green onions and sometimes leeks.  If you make the same mash using only potatoes and green onions then you have champ. In many Irish recipes white cabbage is always used, but we’ve substituted the white cabbage with Savoy cabbage because it is our favorite (And when you cook at your house you get choose your favorites too!).  The two things you cannot substitute are the butter and cream.  Of course, you can vary the amounts to make the dish lighter to your preferred tastes, but please:  always use the highest quality unsalted butter you can find… and the best cream available.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

We were inspired to post this video and recipe after reading our dear friend Michael’s blog on colcannon.  We hope our version meets his standards!

As always, we bring these recipes to our blog with bite-sized technique videos you can find on our YouTube channel. Please click the ingredients in blue to see the videos!

Colcannon – Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3 cups shredded Savoy cabbage (about 1/2 a head), white cabbage or kale

1 medium leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced

3 green onions, minced

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them no more than 2 potatoes deep.  Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water.  Add the salt, and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.   Simmer potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pan over medium-high heat melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the leeks.  Sauté leeks until they are tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions and sauté 1 minute more.  Stir in the heavy cream and remove pan from the heat.  Set aside.

Drain potatoes in a colander.  Shake the colander to make sure the water has completely drained out. Return the potatoes to the hot pot and allow them to completely dry.  Potatoes will look crumbly and white around the edges.

Add the cream and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy.  Season colcannon with salt and pepper.  Serve with a knob of butter melted in the center of your piping hot potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to Make Colcannon with Dear Martini

Baked Alaska – A flaming dessert for Valentine’s Day

Dear Martini Baked Alaska

Q:  What’s sweet, frozen and yummy… and set on fire?

A:  Baked Alaska!

Originally, the chef of New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant created this show-stopping flaming dessert in 1867 to honor the United States acquisition of Alaska.  Though the chef didn’t invent the flambéed ice cream cake, Delmonico’s is credited for coining the name “Baked Alaska” to the delight of generations of ice cream cake enthusiasts.

If you’re in the habit of making a special dessert for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, chances are sooner or later you’re going to run out of ideas that have to do with chocolate.   We’ve found Baked Alaska usually wins over even the diehard chocoholics.  All you need to do is assemble your favorite ice cream (we love strawberry!) on top of your favorite cake and slather or pipe the entire thing with fluffy meringue.  Then, when it’s time to serve, ignite an ounce of your favorite eau de vie (any flavor that pairs with your ice cream, as long as it is at least 40% alcohol by volume or higher) and carefully drizzle the flaming liqueur over the dessert.  If your sweetheart hasn’t fallen for you by now, this flaming dessert will definitely seal the deal.

Baked Alaska

Makes 6-8 individual servings

1 recipe Yellow Cake, baked into a 9X13″ pan (or, you can use any cake you like – even frozen pound cake!)

1 quart of your favorite ice cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

8 large egg whites, brought to room temperature

1/4 cup Kirsch (or any of your favorite distilled eau de vie – must be at least 40% alcohol by volume) 

Special Equipment:

Round cookie cutter, 3 inches in diameter

Large ice cream scoop

Piping bag fitted with star tip

Kitchen torch

Small, long-handled saucepan

Long reach (fireplace) match

Punch out rounds of cake and arrange on a sheet pan.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.  Scoop out the ice cream and place one mounded scoop on top of each cake round.  Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the meringue by first cooking the sugar and water together until the sugar reaches 240ºF.  Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly pour the syrup in and whip until stiff peaks.

Pipe the meringue in decorative swirls around each ice cream cake.  The fluffier the better. Return the cakes to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Just before serving, lightly torch the surface of the cakes with a kitchen torch.  Transfer a cake to an oven-proof plate. Pour the kirsch into a small long-handled saucepan and heat over the stove for a few moments, just until the Kirsch is hot.  Carefully ignite the Kirsch in the pot with a match.  While the Kirsch is flaming, drizzle over the cake and allow the liqueur to flame out on its own before enjoying!

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Here are some helpful videos – just click on the photo and jump to the video:

Dear Martini How to Make Italian Meringue VideoDear Martini How to Fill a Pastry Bag VideoDear Martini How to Use a Star Tip Video