Friday, June 26, 2015

Thai Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will be able to find a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and a bounty of produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm.

If you are planning on grilling for the 4th of July, you couldn't do better than to pick up a pasture raised chicken from Fair Valley Farm, break it down into parts, and grilling it with this Thai pepper paste from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

The recipe calls for cilantro roots, which sounded pretty exotic, but cilantro stems produced a wonderful paste, combined with garlic and pepper corns, that infused the chicken with flavor and produced a wonderfully crisp coating during grilling. 

An essential ingredient for the dish is the sweet and spicy dipping sauce, which you should drizzle on generously at the table. It keeps in the refrigerator and makes a great addition to grilled vegetables or rice noodle salads. So celebrate the birthday of our great, inclusive country with a dish from afar.

Thai Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce
from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot Sour Salty Sweet

For the peppercorn-cilantro root paste:
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro roots, chopped
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce

In a mortar and pestle, or a small blender or food processor, pound or blend the peppercorns and garlic into a paste. Add the cilantro roots and salt and pound everything into a paste again. Stir in the fish sauce.

For the grilled chicken with sweet and hot dipping sauce:
1/2 cup rice or cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 pounds chicken parts, cut into 10 to 12 pieces total

For the dipping sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves, then lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. In the meantime, pound or mash the garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar or on a cutting board with the side of your knife. Stir the red pepper flakes into the sauce. When the vinegar and sugar mixture is done simmering, stir in the garlic paste and fish sauce and let the sauce cool to room temperature. 

For the grilled chicken: After you've stirred the fish sauce into the peppercorn-cilantro root paste, toss the chicken parts in the mixture and marinate at room temperature for at least an hour or up to three hours in the fridge. 

Prepare your grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill until it is a beautifully golden brown and its juices run clear. Serve alongside the dipping sauce.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chard and Chipotle Tacos

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will be able to find a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and a bounty of spring produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm.

I recommend picking up a at least one bunch of greens, even if you have no immediate culinary plans, because you will thank yourself later when you find you have the fixings for a quick weeknight dinner. For this lovely bunch of Sweetwater Farm rainbow chard, I turned to Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen for inspiration. One recipe that sounded delicious was his Tacos de Acelgas Guisadas con Crema (Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard, Potatoes and Poblanos), which starts with a base of roasted poblano chiles mixed into browned onions, then combined with braised potatoes and chard and finished with creme fraiche. 

For a quicker version of this, I replaced the roasted poblano chiles with a chipotle chile in adobo sauce (which I always have in the freezer, because I never use up a whole can), and omitted the potatoes. This creamy, smokey, spicy chard cooked up in the same time it took to warm up tortillas and some Lonesome Whistle beans I had cooked over the weekend, turning mundane bean tacos into an inspired meal.

Chard and Chipotle Tacos
(serves four)
chard topping
1 bunch chard
1 large onion
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, diced (freeze the remaining chiles from the can on a saran wrap covered baking sheet and transfer to a ziplock bag for long term freezer storage)
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
salt to taste

for the tacos
corn tortillas
cooked pinto beans
rice (optional)
avocado slices

1. Set some rice to cook and start heating up the cooked beans. Peel and chop the onion. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and when it starts to shimmer, add the onions. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until they are soft and have started to brown.

2. While the onions are browning, rinse the chard leaves, trim off the tips of the stems, and then cut the remaining stems from the leaves. Slice the stems into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. Slice the leaves into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. When the onions have started to brown, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt and continue cooking. Meanwhile, slice the avocado and start warming the tortillas. After about 5 minutes, when the chard stems are soft, add the chard leaves and another pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, then add in the chipotle chile. Cook for another minute or so until the chard leaves are soft, then add in the creme fraiche. Cook for another minute to warm and incorporate the creme fraiche, then remove from the heat.

3. Serve the warmed tortillas topped with beans, (and rice if you like) and the chard mixture, with avocado slices on the side. Enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Roasted Garlic Whistles and Zucchini

The sixth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market kicked off last weekend with a bounty of spring produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm and a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm.

One spring treat to pick up this Sunday is a bunch of garlic whistles or scapes. Last year I discovered that these are delicious grilled in salsa, but last Sunday, since I had the oven on for baking bread, I decided to toss my newly acquired garlic whistles in olive oil and salt on a sheet pan like kale chips. I added some baby zucchini slices to the pan for the last few minutes. The final dish was a delicious contrast in textures, with the garlic whistles adding the perfect, subtle punch of flavor to the delicate zucchini.

We had our roasted vegetable with these favorite sausages made with Fair Valley lamb, crunchy, farm fresh carrots and cucumbers, and mujaddara and spiced yogurt. It was a feast fit for celebrating the beginning of summer and the local farmers who feed us.

Roasted Garlic Whistles and Zucchini
1 bunch garlic whistles (scapes)
4-6 small zucchini
drizzle of olive oil
generous sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place in a sheet pan. Rinse the garlic whistles, trim off their ends, and slice into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt. Rinse the zucchini, trim off their ends, cut in half lengthwise and cut widthwise into 1/2 inch half moons. When the oven is hot, spread the oiled garlic whistles on the hot sheet pan and return to the oven. Toss the zucchini slices in the oily bowl, adding a sprinkle of salt and a bit more oil if needed to coat them. Roast the garlic whistles for about 7 minutes until they have started to char. Toss them in the pan and add the zucchini slices. Roast for another 3 minutes. Toss to flip the zucchini and roast them another minute or more if needed, until they have acquired some nice brown spots. Remove from the pan and serve.