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Evey now and then you stumble upon something that completely knocks you back on your heels but it doesn’t happen often. Sam once said to me while we were standing on the driving range about to work through two large buckets of golf balls, “you ever tried something new and immediately knew you were going to suck at it?” This past Sunday I was thinking about that, but for the exact opposite reason. Have I ever tried something and immediately knew it was one of if not the best I could or would ever do in my life? That happened this past Sunday. Kristyn and I were in the mood to cook, and I mean really pend all day spending time cooking slow and low thus creating the best dish I have made to date. Chicken and smoked sausage etouffee. I’ve made this in the past but this time it was different…WAY different. I was looking through my past posts and i realized that everything I’ve made has been something that has taken several hours and has to be served in a bowl over some rice or pasta. Why is that? Sure I could sear some tuna and be done in 15 min wit a really great meal..so what is it about being in a hot kitchen with something simmering away, building flavor, taking hours and hours to get to the point where it’s ready? I told Kristyn a story about an ex-girlfriend and her mom making a roast with brown gravy served over rice. The roast was dry and until that day I had never had gravy and rice and it has stuck with me since then. So I thought about it last Sunday and it came down to a San Francisco Cioppino or an etouffee. Etouffee won. The trick about any good etouffee is the roux..and I nailed his one. A perfect Peanut butter colored roux that was so packed with flavor that as soon as I took the first bite several hours later I mumbled oh my God this is the best thing I have ever eaten..and it was. I remember watching an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain where he went to this tiny little dumpling house in Shanghai China. He took one bite and said that it was the best ting he had ever eaten..that really stuck with me. A classically trained chef, that had eaten the best foods from all around the world and this little dumpling was the greatest thing he had ever eaten. A year later I was in China, in Shanghai, a the same dumpling house, and I had those dumplings…and they blew my mind. But my etouffee, that i made, in my kitchen blew those dmplings away. The sad thing is that I guarantee I could make that same dish a hundred times and it would be different every time and probably never as good as this past Sunday…but it’s worth the time in the hot kitchen to give it my best shot.
Set a Dutch oven over medium heat and add a 2-count of olive oil. Add the sausage links and brown slightly as you render some of the fat. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. Season chicken with plenty of salt and pepper and add skin side down to the pan. Cook over medium heat to render fat for 7 to 10 minutes, then turn to brown both sides of the chicken. Remove and set aside on a paper towels.
With the pot still over medium heat add 2 tablespoons butter to melt with the fat then add flour and whisk to incorporate, and then swap to a wooden spoon. Cook until it is nice and brown (you want a nice deep rich colored roux), about 10 to 12 minutes.
In a food processor add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and pulse to roughly chop. Add the vegetable pulp to the pot with the roux and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes to sweat out some of the moisture, then deglaze the pot with the beer. Add the stock, bay leaves, paprika and cayenne. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces from pot to a cutting board and shred the meat. Discard the bones and return the meat to the pot. Cut the andouille sausage into chunks and nestle back into the pot amongst chicken to heat through.
Put a large Dutch oven over medium heat and drizzle in a 1/2-count of oil. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove it to a paper towel; crumble when cool and set aside to use for the garnish. Season the beef with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pot to a plate.
Add the tomato paste and flour to the pot and stir to combine. Turn off the heat, pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back on and light the Cognac, with a long kitchen match. Be careful and stand back as the alcohol flame dies down. Whisk in the red wine and beef broth; add the beef back into the pot along with the bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.
In a small skillet, over medium-low, heat a little olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to brown, about, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pearl onions and cook until onions are heated through.
Uncover the pot and add the mushroom mixture along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni. Transfer to a serving bowl and shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving.
So this week I bumped the “Sunday Dinner” to Saturday night. Vanessa came over and Kristyn made an artichoke pesto that she served on toasted bread..so amazing. I made a Beef Bourguignon served over buttered noodles. It took about 4.5 hours but it was amazing. Sam came over after work and the four of us watched SNL and pigged out and laughed like crazy. It was a perfect night.
Paella with chicken sausage scallops and shrimp was amazing I didn’t use the Lobster or the clams and I pan seared the scallops first. So after an extended happy hour and several ritas we got to cooking. Devon, Sam, Colin, and Jamin came over and several cold beers were consumed. Martie attached Sam’s pant leg again, I got in trouble from Kristyn, but the food was amazing.
Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.
In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmerfor 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect.
Cook’s note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat.
Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered
Today I’m thinking about making a Paella..chicken and sausage or maybe shrimp. The weather outside is pretty gross and I was up pretty late talking with Sam(best conversations ever are between me and that guy late at night via text). So it feels like a stay in and cook whip ass food kinda day. Maybe a shrimp etouffee…definitely a rice based dish with some seafood and a sauce. I’m also going to get more detailed in documenting the “process”. Kristyn is going to make a frozen banana ice cream (frozen bananas in a food processor…that’s it…pretty cool) which I’m really excited about. I’ll post pictures later.