Friday, December 25, 2009

Freezing Green Beans and Snow Peas

  1. Bring a very big pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil (the kind that will quickly come back after you add your room temperature beans.)
  2. Add rinsed beans, in one pound batches, though that depends on just how big your pot is. Do not crowd the beans!!
  3. Boil , or as it is more technically called, blanch the beans for 2-3 minutes depending on just how big your beans are and whether or not you left them whole, or chose to cut them into 1 inch or 2 inch segments.
  4. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. The key is that your beans are partially blanched, not completely blanched, before freezing.
  5. Shake the beans so that most of the water drips off and then lay them out of a baking sheet. If they seem really wet, pat them dry, to minimize ice crust formation on their surface.
  6. Then place your sheet, of well spread out beans in the freezer and come back to it in a half hour or so. What you are doing is beginning the freezing process in such a way that each bean freezes on its own, and not in a crammed, packed mass stuffed inside a ziploc bag. You want inidividual frozen beans, not a frozen ice block of beans.
  7. After a half hour or so of freezer time on the tray, go ahead and place them into ziploc bags with as much air as possible squeezed out of them.
  8. Come December, enjoy your summer green beans and snow peas by pulling out a bag full and blanching them straight from the freezer for 2-4 minutes in a big, well salted, rigorously boiling pot of water!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken is My Favorite Too

Rich golden brown, crispy skin, juicy flesh. It looks that good because it is that good.

Salt, salt, salt, pepper. Hot oven.

a chicken


kitchen string (optional)

thyme (optional)

This recipe is from Thomas Keller in his own voice!
It's DELICIOUS! And SOOOOO easy, I can't tell you enough times. It's EASY! Sometimes I truss the bird, sometimes I don't. I only bothered with the thyme once. It is so simply good even without it. Why? Because the Synergy chickens are amazing and, I speak from first hand knowledge, taken care of so very well.

"Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Synergy Chicken Stock, nonchalantly

Concentrated chicken stock. Simmered once more after pouring through a sieve. I save the beautiful fat on top.

one chicken carcass (or two if you have a big enough pot and have been saving them in your freezer)

This is more of a testimony than a recipe, on purpose.

There are endless ways to make stock. Some include onions, celery, herbs. Others instruct you to skim constantly. A recipe might tell you to simmer for no less than three hours, others say to simmer twice. I find that making chicken stock is a forgiving task. Sometimes I skim every fifteen minutes. Other times, I have forgotten to skim until the very end. It is something I put on the stove and walk away from. While it simmers, I putter around elsewhere, carefree.

Most of the time with chickens as flavorful as Synergy's I don't add anything to the pot besides the carcass, water to cover by a couple inches, and some shakes of salt and pepper. If I have half an onion or some "seconds" carrots, I'll throw those in. But I never add herbs or garlic or celery, since I don't know what I'll use the stock for ultimately and maybe I won't want those flavors.

High heat is initially necessary to bring your big pot of water and carcass to a boil, but then turn it down and find a gently simmering heat. Leave it uncovered, and skim occasionally. If the water level gets low, add some water, but try and avoid that problem by finding the gentle simmer point. Then three hours later or so, pour the stock through a large sieve and discard the solids. Chill stock, uncovered, until cool, then cover. Refrigerate or freeze. Discard the solidified fat before using stock, or better yet, save it for some future use.

To save space in your freezer, concentrate your stock by simmering it down after pouring it through a sieve.