Suzi’s Blog

Roasted Chicken in Adobo from Eat Mexico by Lesley Tellez

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Eat Mexico is the new cookbook by Lesley Tellez devoted to the street and markets foods she discovered walking, literally walking Mexico City. Eat Mexico is filled with delectable dishes, ones Lesley has written up for the American cook.

But the recipes themselves remain intensely Mexican. “Tastes like chicken” is not the worst phrase in the culinary world but it can be uninspiring. This recipe is inspired, really intensely inspired. It does take some ingredients and some time. This recipe is a two-day enterprise but that picture, from Penny De Los Santos, should at least make you pause before considering other chicken ideas.

The bird marinates overnight in an adobo sauce made from 14 ingredients: chiles galore, onion, peanuts, cinnamon, vinegar, vanilla. I can’t quite imagine how this bird is going to taste, but taste it will.

While roasting, vegetables are added for an automatic side dish. There are garlic and potatoes and onions, of course. But I’ve never tried roasting beets with a chicken before. It’s going to bring color to the table and I’m sure that beets nestled next to that adobo-covered bird will achive sensational flavor.

For our next long weekend, Suzen and I are buying a big chicken and cluster of chiles. You need to begin this recipe early Saturday morning for your Sunday table. What better way to organize you entire weekend then around a chicken. It gives “tastes like chicken” a whole new context.


Roasted Chicken in Adobo

Yield: serves 10

Ingredients:

For the chicken and sauce:

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets removed [about 4 pounds]

  • ½ teaspoon of salt per pound of chicken

  • 2 plum tomatoes

  • ½ medium onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled

  • ¼ cup raw peanuts

  • 1 3-inch stick of cinnamon

  • 2 morita chiles

  • 2 guajillo chiles

  • 2 dried arbol chiles

  • 2 dried chipotle chiles

  • ¼ cup white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 small bunch thyme

For the vegetables:

  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 12 small red or white potatoes, cut in half

  • 6 small beets, cut into quarters, or eighths if large

  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into eighths

  • Olive Oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Preparation:

A day ahead, season the chicken generously with the salt and refrigerate in a covered container for about 4 hours.

Meanwhile, warm a comal or nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and cook until soft and blackened in spots, 4 to 8 minutes.

Place 3 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Heat a small skillet to low heat. Toast the peanuts and cinnamon, stirring constantly, until the peanuts turn a golden brown color, 2 to 3 minutes. (If black spots appear, lower the flame.) Transfer to a bowl. Raise the heat to medium and quickly toast the chiles in batches, 5 to 10 seconds per side or until aromatic, careful not to burn them.

Snip off the chiles’ stems, and shake out the seeds. Add the chiles to the boiling water and cook until the skins soften, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender jar, and discard the water. Add the charred tomatoes, onion, garlic, peanuts, cinnamon, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Blend on high into a very smooth, thick paste. Season with salt.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drain off any excess liquid. Slather with the adobo sauce, spreading it over and underneath the skin. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and pour any remaining adobo on top. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day, bring the chicken to room temperature, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place the chicken breast-side up on a V-shaped rack set over a roasting pan. Cut the lemon in half and place it and the thyme in the chicken’s cavity. Set the chicken in the middle of your oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Toss the vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper and add to the roasting pan. Lower the temperature to 425°F and cook until the chicken is crispy and the juices run clear, or the internal temperature measures 165°F, about 1 more hour, turning the vegetables occasionally so they don’t burn.

Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving. Remove the lemon and thyme from the cavity, and slice. Serve with the vegetables.

Source: Eat Mexico by Lesley Tellez [Kyle, 2015]

 

Cookbook Review: GQ Drinks

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In the world of mixology, two cities dominate: New York and London. It is an intense competition, perhaps rivalry. There is no formal declaration of a cocktail war but the two cities dominate the ever spiraling lists of concoctions that we taste, savor, and relish. This is the Golden Age of cocktails. And GQ Drinks presents the Golden Age from the London viewpoint.

There are ten chapters here, each devoted to one style of spirit or cocktail:

  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Whisky
  • Brandy
  • Champagne
  • Modernist Cocktails
  • Classic Cocktails & Specialist Spirits
  • Alcohol-Free

Each chapter has a two page history and survey of the spirit followed by a dozen recipes or more from one contemporary London mixologist of note. Each of those recipes has headnotes providing the history and background of the cocktails, acknowledging now and then that the origins may not be known but the fame rightly persists.

As an example, you may not have heard of, say, Milos Popovic of the Old Bengal Bar in London, but Milos knows how to use his spirit, rum, to maximum potency. Here’s the list of some of the Milos’ rum recipes you will find in GQ Cocktails:

Dark and Stormy, a classic with rum and ginger beer

Plantation Daiquiri, the perpetual with lime and sugar syrup

The Painkiller, adding pineapple juice, orange juice and Coco Lopez

El Presidente, combining Antica Formula, orange curacao, and bitters

Vic’s Mai Tai, the original with curacao, lime and orgeat syrup

Scorpion, more orgeat plus lemon juice, cognac, orange juice and orange bitters

Planter’s Punch, from 1908 with lemon and orange juice and sugar syrup

Pineapple Head, using overproof rum, lemon juice, maple syrup, fresh ginger, fresh pineapple, and orange bitters

Hemingway Daiquiri, adding lime juice, sugar syrup, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit bitters

Daiquiry Multa, combining that rum with lime juice, sugar syrup and now white crème de cacao

Hurricane, a classic with fresh pineapple, pineapple syrup, and lime juice

There’s a solid spectrum of rum ideas here, so if you find yourself holding a bottle of rum and asking yourself, “What can I do with this?” I certainly hope that in your other hand you hold a copy of GQ Drinks.

GQ Drinks was edited by Paul Henerson using all the inputs from his mixologists and spirit history contributors. Equally powerful, each and every beverage his been smashingly photographed by Romas Foord. You can see one of his perfect shots at the bottom of this post; that's the Virgin Southside made with apple juice, mint leaves, elderflower cordial and ginger ale. GQ Drinks is a beautiful book, one meant to send you in search of citrus, ice cubes and a bottle or two.

Some of the recipes do call for a special spirit or ingredient, like that elderflower cordial. There are ideas here for substitutions and you can surely treat each recipe here as template for your own cocktail invention. You don’t need a Ph.D. to become a mixologist. Just a vivid imagination and an appreciation for the power of spirits. GQ Drinks celebrates that power with a spirit of its own.

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Sformato Di Cavolofiore or Cauliflower Pie from Anne Bianchi

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People have odd reactions to cauliflower. It’s considered strange or ugly, so I think a majority of people have never cooked it at home. If you have young children, saying “Eat your cauliflower” is likely to cause domestic rebellion. It is an acquired taste.

The first records of cauliflower date to the 6th century B.C. The Romans wrote about cauliflower as did the early Arabs. Originally, the plant was though to come from Cyprus but now Syria is thought to be the possible home. There are hundreds of cauliflower varieties, the product especially of breeding programs over the past two hundred years.

These green ones are relatively new and first appeared about 20 years ago. Even if you’ve never cooked one at home, surely you have been in a Chinese restaurant. With enough sauce … Well, you know.

I’m a mathematician by training and I’ve been interested in chaos theory and fractals, topics you may have seen. The Mandelbrot Set or the Julia Set adorn many a tee-shirt. As you can see from the picture, the cauliflower head seems to be composed of ever smaller repetitions of the same 3D structure. Actually, the fractal dimension of cauliflower is 2.8, but that’s a topic to be explored in a class on fractals and not in the kitchen.

Anne notes that in Tuscany, where fractals are not the rage, there is a very popular style of dish: a sformato, which translates into “hardened into the shape of a mold.” In these dishes, pureed vegetables are mixed with a béchamel-like sauce, make from butter, flour and milk. Poured into a pie dish, the mixture is adorned with a layer of Parmigiano Reggiano before baking — it’s Italian!

This dish can serve as a side or, with all the cheese you add, as the main course. It comes from the oven bubbling hot with melted cheese slathering about the top. Americans are not the only people who have discovered comfort food.

Go on. Try it. Cauliflower won’t kill you. With enough sauce.

Okay, if you won’t try cauliflower, then Anne suggests fennel, string beans, spinach, onions or potatoes. You simply have to like one of those!


Sformato Di Cavolofiore or Cauliflower Pie

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head firm, white or green cauliflower, cleaned and separated into individual florets
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 [or more!] tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Preparation:

Place the cauliflower florets into boiling salted water over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until the florets can be easily pierced with a fork; drain.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat; sauté the onion until lightly browned. Add the cauliflower and continue to sauté until the florets begin to stick slightly to the pan; remove the cauliflower to a large bowl. Mash the florets with a fork until they become a thick, chunky paste. (Do not use a food processor as this would create too much liquid.)

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet; using a spatula, scrape into the butter any remnants of the cauliflower. Add flour and stir until you have a pastelike consistency. Add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture is thick and soupy; add nutmeg and stir until all ingredients are blended.

Return the cauliflower to the skillet; add salt and pepper and blend thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; grease an 8- or 9-inch pie pan with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Pour entire contents of skillet into the pan; coat the top with the cheese, and bake for 45 minutes or until the middle is firm to the touch.

Slice and serve hot.

Source: From the Tables of Tuscany by Anne Bianchi [Ecco Press, 1995]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO‑2000