Coconut Lemongrass Braised Chicken {FFwD}

I hadn’t originally planned to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, coconut lemongrass braised pork, for the simple reason that I don’t eat pork. The rest of my family eats it, so I thought about making it for them. But the thought of cooking two meals in the summer heat  made me change my mind about that. Nonetheless, I decided to take a quick look at the recipe to see if it seemed like something I might make for the girls another time. That’s when I read in the headnote that Dorie sometimes makes this recipe with chicken instead of pork.

So, I was back in business.

The only ingredients I didn’t already have in the pantry for this recipe were lemongrass and coconut milk, so after a quick trip to the store, I was set to begin.

I began by browning the chicken in a large skillet. I had a whole fryer in the fridge, so I cut it up and used it in this recipe. The next time I make it, I’d like to try it with cubed pieces of boneless breast or thighs, or a combination of the two.

As the pieces browned, I transferred them to an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Once all the chicken was in the Dutch oven, I added the spices — turmeric, curry powder, cardamom seeds, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, lemon zest, lemongrass, salt, and pepper — and cooked until the spices became very fragrant.

I added the coconut milk, water, and, in a departure from the recipe, potatoes, carrots, and onions.

After bringing the pot to a boil, I covered it, then slid it in the oven. I braised the chicken at 300°F for about 50 minutes, until the chicken was done and the vegetables were tender.

I started cooking late the evening I made this, and we ended up eating something else for dinner while the chicken was in the oven. My younger daughter and I decided to split a small serving of the chicken just to try it out.

Note to self: don't photograph yellow food on a green dish

 We both liked the dish a lot. The lemongrass and coconut flavors lent a mild sweetness to the dish, and the curry and other spices were fragrant but not overpowering.

I froze the rest of the chicken and vegetables and served them the following week over egg noodles. As the chicken reheated, it started falling off the bone, so I picked it all off and shredded the chicken, which is what made me think it would be good to make with boneless chicken the next time.

This is a dish I will make again, using my alterations — boneless chicken pieces instead of pork, adding the vegetables before putting the pot in the oven, and braising for a bit longer than the recipe for the pork. And knowing that it reheats well, I’ll probably make a larger recipe next time so we can get several meals from it.

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Family Food: Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash {Recipe}

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Today is a special day for my friend, Cheryl Tan. After what I’m sure seems like an eternity, her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, comes out today. Check it out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what Cheryl told me about this book and her inspiration for it:

  • A Tiger In The Kitchen,… is about a year that I spent traveling to Singapore to learn about my family by cooking with them. The book is filled with lessons (life, cooking and otherwise) learned in the kitchen, as well as a few recipes.”

To celebrate the release of Cheryl’s book, I would like to share a family recipe with you. This is far and away my favorite recipe from my maternal grandmother, Nanny Faye. Nan made a lot of great recipes. Her fried chicken was nothing short of sublime. But the dish we all looked forward to whenever she would visit was her Hungarian Goulash.

Nan said she was given this recipe by a Hungarian neighbor, and for years she would never share it with anyone. When I was 13 years old, Nan came to live with us for about a year while my mom was in nursing school. During that time, Nan and I started cooking together, and I would help her make goulash whenever it was on the menu for dinner. Eventually, I tried to write down the recipe as best I could from what I observed while we cooked. I showed my attempt to Nan, and without a word, she took it and began to make some corrections. Before long, I had the recipe that no one in my family thought possible to get in writing.

I grew up thinking this dish was fairly representative of Hungarian goulash. In later years, I found that what most people think of as “goulash” is quite different than Nan’s dish. Most other recipes are more like a soup than a stew and are served over spaetzle or some other kind of noodle. They also usually contain onions and green peppers. At some point, I began to question the authenticity of Nan’s goulash. But I eventually realized that goulash is to Hungary as red beans and rice are to New Orleans. That is to say, it’s a dish found in every kitchen, and every cook has her own way of preparing it. So even though this recipe may be different than what you think of when you hear the word “goulash”, if you try it, I am certain you will agree that it is delicious by any name.

The recipe presented below is largely the same as it was when I got it from Nanny Faye, with just a few changes. When Nan made goulash, she did the whole thing on the stovetop, cooking the beef in the sauce for about 45 minutes, then adding the carrots and cooking for another 45 minutes, and finally adding the potatoes and cooking until they were done, 45 minutes to an hour. I like to put the whole thing together and braise it in the oven. It’s easier, takes less attention, and comes out beautifully.

Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • Salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

 Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Salt lightly. Melt butter in large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown beef on all sides in small batches. As pieces are well-browned, remove them to a bowl.
  3. While meat is browning, mix flour and paprika in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups water, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
  4. After all the meat has browned, reduce heat to medium and return meat to the Dutch oven. Add flour mixture, tomato paste mixture, carrots, and potatoes, in order, stirring well after each addition. Cook until sauce begins to bubble.
  5. Cover Dutch oven and place on center rack of oven. Allow meat to braise for 1 hour. Remove pot from oven, uncover, and stir stew. Add water as necessary – mixture should be thick.
  6. Replace lid, return pot to oven, and cook 1 1/2 hours longer, until beef and vegetables are very tender.
  7. Serve immediately with crusty French bread, or chill overnight and reheat the next day. Like most stewed beef dishes, this goulash benefits from an overnight rest and will taste even better the next day.

Yield: 10-12 generous servings

Boeuf à la Mode {AMFT} {FFwD}

OK, let’s just get this out of the way right up front. In cooking terms, “à la mode” only means “with ice cream” in the US and Canada. More broadly, “à la mode” refers to beef and vegetables braised in wine. Think about that the next time you’re at Applebee’s and the waitress asks if you want your pie à la mode.

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table. It’s very similar to the Go-to Beef Daube recipe that I made for French Fridays with Dorie in December. The main difference is that the beef in this recipe is braised whole, instead of being cut up as it is in for daube.

I began by trimming the beef of most of its fat, then marinating it overnight in a mixture of red wine, olive oil, aromatic vegetables, and a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf, and celery leaves.

The next day, I removed the meat from the marinade and set it aside to dry a bit.

I strained the marinade, reserving the wine and vegetables.

I boiled the wine mixture until it was reduced by about half, then added beef broth and brought it back to the boil before setting it aside off the heat.

In the meantime, I browned the meat in a small amount of oil. Once it was well-browned on all sides, I salted and peppered it, then placed it in a Dutch oven.

Next, I sautéed the vegetables in oil for a few minutes. I seasoned the vegetables, then added a bit of cognac to deglaze the pan before adding it all to the Dutch oven with the meat.

Finally, I put a bit of the wine-broth mixture into the pan, then added four anchovies and some tomato paste. The anchovies broke down quickly into the mixture and gave the dish a more complex flavor that was not at all fishy. I added this, along with the rest of the wine-broth mixture, to the Dutch oven, covered the pot with foil and the lid, and slid it in the oven.

I braised the beef for an two-and-a-half hours, until the roast was fork tender.

The recipe says to remove and discard the vegetables, but like Dorie’s husband, I was too fond of the mushy carrots to do that. I sliced the beef and served it for dinner with a salad and some fresh bread. It was delicious and reminded us all of our favorite Sunday roast, with a little more flavor and complexity.

Like all good pot roasts, it was even better reheated the next day. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the beef daube (which I loved), and will definitely be making it again.

(By the way, don’t tell my family that it had anchovies in it. No one noticed, and they wouldn’t eat it if they knew. So let’s just keep it our little secret.)