Dinner

Eggplant Timbale

When you are little, Mother's Day is always spent making your mom something nice.  It always seemed to be a hand drawn card, or an attempt at breakfast in bed.  Then you get a bit older and have some money to spend and you try to find that perfect gift.  After a few years of that you start to realize your mother has most of the things she wants, so what do you do then?  Yup, things come full circle and you revert back to making things.  For our mother we decided to do what we do best and make a nice meal.  It is still hard however to choose the right menu.  You want to cook something that is a bit more intricate to make than normal, something that takes some time and effort to complete.  It also needs to taste good, so choosing a new recipe is always a risk because you are never quite sure how it will turn out.  Forgoing our better judgment we decided to go with a new recipe. 

The recipe we found was for a Eggplant Timbale.  This recipe comes from the cookbook Giada's Kitchen by Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis.  Giada is famous for making tons of classic Italian dishes as well as creating new inventive ones.  We have made some of her recipes in the past so we were confident that it would turn out well, but we kept asking outselves what a Timbale was.  It turns out Timbale refers to the type of pan used to cook the dish.  The eggplant is layered in the bottom of the pan, then filled with pasta and meat and covered with eggplant to create this stuffed eggplant pie of Italian goodness.  We figured this would be challenging and interesting to make, so we went for it.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. 
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  3. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
  5. Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. 
  6. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. 
  7. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. 
  8. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. 
  9. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. 
  11. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. 
  12. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. 
  13. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.
  14. To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

Results:

We were a bit intimidated at first when we saw this recipe in the book.  Turns out it is actually very simple, there are a bunch of components and steps but it all comes together to form an amazing meal.  The grilled eggplant helps to entomb all of the meat, pasta, cheese and sauce in this beautiful pie shape..  The eggplant was fresh and after being grilled it helped add a smoky flavor to the dish.  Once you cut into the timbale you are introduced to the gooey, pasta with meat sauce center.  The sauce of course can come from a jar, but any self respecting Italian knows it is just as easy to whip some up from scratch.  We always make our own, you can see our recipe here (Sauce Recipe).  The sauce is mixed together with the onion, beef and sausage mixture which has been cooked down in Marsala wine.  The meat and onions really soaked up the Marsala imparting this rich flavor.  When mixed together with the sauce, peas and cheese you end up with this extremely flavorful filling.  There are just layers upon layer of flavors hidden throughout this dish.  Everything works so well together and provides a unique eating experience.  

Should Or Should Not Eat:

This recipes is both a unique dish which will really surprise all of your guests.  It is not often you serve what appears to be eggplant pie.  It sounds much classier as an Eggplant Timbale and is a Should Eat.  This dish offers up huge flavors combined with classic Italian ingredients.  If you love  Eggplant and pasta, this dish is for you.

Porchetta

We were first introduced to porchetta last year by our friend Erich.  Every weekend in the summer there is an outdoor flea market/food vendor event known as Smorgasboard.  At this event you will find numerous restaurants schilling their signature dishes right on the shores of the East River.  One of the attending restaurants is in fact named Porchetta, and their signature dish is a Porchetta Sandwich.  Normally located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan they make the trek each weekend to Williamsburg to feed the masses these delicious sandwiches.  Porchetta is a traditional Italian dish which consists of layering a pork belly with herbs spices and pork loin which is then rolled up and roasted in the oven.  Everyone makes theirs a bit differently but in the end you always end up with succulent pork.  Porchetta takes their meat and places it on a small Italian roll with a piece of the crackling (crispy skin) on top.  It is very simple but that its all that is needed.  After our first bite we were in heaven.  After our second bite we knew we had to make this.  A few days went by and we never researched any recipes.  

Then one day we stumbled onto what we consider one of the best food blogs around, www.iamafoodblog.com.  On this site you can see awesome recipes with amazing photos laid out in a unique style.  We have to admit we have a bit of food blog envy, but after we composed ourselves we noticed a Porchetta recipe.  Not only that but it was also linked to a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode where Guy visited a place called Bread & Meat.  In this restaurant they only have 4 items on the menu  with one of them being a Porchetta Sandwich.  From this video ad one other recipe iamafoodblog, was able to recreate this amazing dish.   Thank to them we now had an amazing porchetta recipe and their pictures ensured that we had to give it a try.

Ingredients:

Salt Rub

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole rosemary toasted
  • 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seed crushed
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon

Herb Rub

  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Salsa Verde  

  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds ground
  • 2 teaspoons toasted coriander ground
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • lemon juice from 2 lemons

Porchetta

pork tenderloin, around 3 inches in diameter, 1-2 pounds
12 inch slab of pork belly, skin lightly scored
oil
string

Porchetta Sandwhiches

2 ciabatta rolls
2 cups porchetta, still warm, thinly sliced and chopped
bit of crackling, roughly chopped
dijon mustard

Directions:

Porchetta

Combine the ingredients for the salt rub in a small bowl. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the pork belly with the salt rub (you won’t need to use all of it). Sprinkle the herb rub and place the tenderloin in the centre of the belly. Tightly roll up the belly around the tenderloin and tie together with kitchen twine. Rub the skin generously with oil and a bit more of the salt rub. Place your porchetta in a dish, cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

Heat the oven to 275F. Place the porchetta on a rack in a deep roasting pan. Lots of fat will be rendered out of the porchetta, so make sure your roasting pan is deep enough.  Roast on the centre rack of the oven for 4 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 160F. Blast the heat up to 450 and continue to roast for 35 minutes, keeping an eye on the skin. You want the crackling golden brown and crispy, not burnt.

Remove from the oven, let rest for 15-20 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Salsa Verde

Puree the salsa verde ingredients until smooth. Assemble the sandwiches by slicing the rolls lengthwise and topping with porchetta. Add a bit of crackling and a drizzle of salsa verde. Serve with dijon mustard and enjoy.

Results:

When you try a new recipe there is always the concern that it could turn out bad.  Other times you worry if the recipe will taste as good as you are hyping it up to be in your own mind.  Then to make things worse if you have already eaten an amazing version of the dish previously will inevitably compare your meal to the original.  We had all of these thoughts racing through our mind when we were making this recipe.  Fortunately all of are worries were for naught, as the Porcetta was amazing.  This roast was so juicy and flavorful thanks to all of the fat from the pork belly.  The pork belly in essence basted the pork loin as it cooked.  The fresh herbs added a great aroma to kitchen as they cooked and imparted the perfect flavor profile into the meat.  The herbs and spices that were used were perfectly paired with natural flavor of the pork. 

The outside of the porchetta was roasted pork skin which turned into a crisp crackling.  Basically a fresh pork rind that just melts in your mouth.  It added an needed amount of crunch to this dish.  As we mentioned the pork belly added a ton of fat and natural juices to this dish.  For those of you not aware pork belly is what bacon is made out of.  Once a pork belly has been cured it is then considered bacon.  Basically this porchetta was a pork loin wrapped up in bacon.  Obviously there was a ton of flavor from that alone, but the spice rub and herbs all add to the insanely good flavor of the entire dish.  Then the fresh salsa verde was the perfect compliment to finish off the dish. 

The pork was a tad bit salty by itself, but the salsa is helped to cut the flavor of the salt. The salsa was e super fresh combination of parsley and lemon juice along with the same spice in the the rub.  By using the same spices from the rub in the salsa it helps keep the same flavor profile throughout the entire dish.  All of the ingredients piled high on the fresh roll was just picture perfect.  Our first bite was filled with intense flavors and pure joy.  We had managed to make the perfect dish, it tasted better than we imagined.  We knew instantly that this dish will be a hit any where we make it or wherever we bring it.  Summer BBQs, Jets Tailgates and impromptu gatherings beware the Porchetta is now lurking.

Should or Should Not Eat:

If you gotten this far then you have seen all of the pictures and read everything we had to say about the dish.  You must then have already figured out that it is a Should Eat.  If there was anything more like a Must Should Eat than this recipe would be it.  We promise this recipe will be the hit everywhere, people will beg you for the recipe.  Tell them We Ate That.com sent you. 

Porchetta

Chicken Marsala

We were craving a nice home cooked Italian meal.  We have eaten all kinds of pasta and chicken parm lately, but we were in the mood for something a little bit different.  Then we remembered we had an old recipe hidden some where in our files.  The recipe is actually just notes that were taken while watching our grandmother cook.  Unfortunately the notes were taken by another member of the family and were written in what could only be considered free form, so they took a bit of decoding and guessing to understand.  After a bit of studying we were able to figure out the recipe and our meal set.  We decide to plate the chicken marsala over pasta. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts about an inch thick (will be cut in half to create 8 pieces) add more if needed
  • 1/4 cup of flour for gravy (extra for dredging)
  • 1/4 cup Marsala Wine
  • 3 cubes of chicken bullion
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Parsley 
  • Water
  • Oil

Directions:

Chicken

  1. Cut chicken breasts in half creating pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick
  2. Pound chicken breasts lightly to make them uniform in size
  3. Pre-heat a pan with olive oil over medium heat, oil should be 1/8 inch deep 
  4. Create a dredge for the chicken by adding flour to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Evenly coat chicken in flour and shake off the excess
  6. Add chicken to the pan and turn the heat up so that the chicken is frying
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes till golden brown, flip over and brown the other side
  8. Place cooked chicken on a plate with a paper towel to drain and cool
  9. Reserve cooking oil for gravy

Gravy

  1. Take 1/4 cup of flour and add into a 1/2 cup of water
  2. Mix thoroughly until it resembles milk
  3. Add in 1/4 cup of Marsala wine
  4. Pour mixture into the leftover cooking oil used to cook the chicken
  5. Turn the heat on the pan to medium
  6. Mix together and add 1/2 cup of water, mix until there are no lumps
  7. Add 3 cubes of chicken bullion, mix until dissolved
  8. If mixture is too thick add water until you reach desired consistency
  9. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, whisking once or twice
  10. On the side heat up 3 tablespoons of butter
  11. Add 1/2 tsp of onion powder to the hot butter then add butter into the gravy
  12. In a new pan, heat  a bit of butter on medium heat
  13. Fill pan with chicken and add enough gravy to cover chicken
  14. Add a splash of Marsala wine & parsley
  15. Cook until chicken is warm and then serve either as is or over a side of pasta

Results:

No need to order out anymore for good chicken marsala with this recipe in hand.  If you are looking for home cooked chicken marsala like your grandmother used to make, look no further.  The chicken was lightly breaded and had a perfect crispy outside.  Pounding out the chicken allowed us to get cutlets that cooked quickly and evenly. The chicken was moist and retained all of its juices.  The sauce was exactly what you would get at a good Italian restaurant.  We were split on if the sauce was too think our not, but it is all personal preference and can be adjusted according.  If you prefer a thicker sauce this recipe should work just fine for you.  If you want a thinner sauce just add small amounts of water to the sauce until you get the consistency you desire.  That is the beauty of this recipe, there is so much flavor in the sauce that even when you add water it does not dilute any of the flavor.  

This was the perfect dish served over a bed of pasta.  We used some penne and topped it off with a bit of pecorino romano cheese.  This was the read deal dish and was very good.  In the future we may consider adding in mushroom to the sauce to give it some additional flavor.  This chicken could also be served sandwich style.  Get a nice fresh roll top it with the chicken cutlets and marsala sauce and finish it off with a slice of fresh mozzarella.  

Should Or Should Not Eat:

If you are craving homemade chicken marsala then you should try this recipe because it is a Should Eat.  This recipe comes from our grandmothers secret stash and you know those recipes are always good.  It even seems to retain some of the love she puts into it as well.  This has become one of our new favorite recipes and it may just become one of yours.

Venison Swedish Meatballs

Today we are highlighting our first semi-guest post.  This recipe comes from our occasional photographer extraordinaire/food taster Kevin (check out his web site here). You may remember seeing his contributions to the blog in our review of Battery Place Market where he took all of our photos.  He has submitted to us a delicious looking Swedish meatball which uses the Venison (deer meat) left over from hunting season.  We really enjoy the idea of using non traditional meats in our recipes and we plan to do more of this going forward.  If your a hunter also, here is a new recipe to try.   


 Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2-3 pounds venison (or beeflambelkmoose, etc)
  • 1 pound pork fat or ground pork 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 grated yellow onion
  • Flour
  • 1 quart beef stock or venison stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup highbush cranberry or lingonberry jelly
  • Salt
  • Butter or oil for frying

Directions:

Meatballs

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and set it on low heat.
  2. Cut the crusts off the stale bread and break it into pieces. Add it to the pot. It will begin to absorb the milk. When it does, turn off the heat and mash everything into a paste. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Mix the meat into a bowl, add the salt and spices. Crack the eggs into the bowl, then pour the bread-milk mixture in.
  4. Gently mix everything together gently.
  5. When it is mostly combined take the mixture and roll in balls using your palms
  6. Gently roll the meatballs in the flour; you’ll probably need about a cup. 
  7. When the meatballs are all made, get a large pan ready. Fill it with a little less than 1/4 inch of oil. I use canola oil with a little butter tossed in for flavor. Bring it up to temperature over medium-high heat. When a drop of water splashed in the oil immediately sizzles away, drop the heat to medium and add the meatballs. Do not crowd them.
  8. You want the oil to come up halfway on the meatballs. Add a little oil if need be; don’t worry, you can reuse the oil. Fry on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You are looking for golden brown.
  9. Turn only once. The other side will need 2-4 minutes.
  10. When cooked, set the meatballs on a paper towel or wire rack to drain. They can be used right away or cooled and then refrigerated for a week, or frozen for several months.

The Sauce

  1. Once the meatballs are cooked, drain all but about 3-4 tablespoons of butter/oil from the pan. Over medium heat, add an equal amount of the flour left over from dusting the meatballs.
  2. Stir to make a roux and cook slowly until it turns a nice golden brown. Think coffee with cream.
  3. Add the stock gradually and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir well to combine and add more stock or some water if need be — you want this thicker than water, thinner than Thanksgiving gravy.
  4. Taste for salt and add if needed.
  5. Put the meatballs in the pan, cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  6. Add the lingonberry or highbush cranberry jelly to the pan. Let it melt and then mix it in gently. Coat all the meatballs with the sauce.
  7. Cover and cook another 10 minutes over very low heat. Add the cream and just warm through, maybe 3-4 minutes.
  8. Serve over mashed potatoes or with German egg noodles.

Results:

After this past fall, we ended up with many different forms of Venison. Steaks, Sausages, Roasts, and of course ground venison. The problem with Venison is that it's such a lean meat, so it has very little fat to help bind the meat together. To help keep it all together and add a bit of flavor you have to add a fattier meat into the mix.  That is where the pork comes in. Since I didn't have a meat grinder or food processor at the time, I was forced to chop up the two meats and hand mix everything together.

The only seasonings used were salt, pepper, Allspice (a Jamaican seasoning) and Caraway seeds. Once the meat was set, I needed to prepare the breading for the mixture. After heating up some milk, allow the chunks of stale bread to absorb it and create a soggy concoction. Once everything was set, the meat, spices, breading and two eggs are placed in a bowl and mixed well. Once finished, they are formed, rolled in flour, and placed into a pot to cook. After all the meat is cooked, you can then make the roux with some left over oil from the pot and left over flour from rolling. Beef Broth and whole cranberries were added to the sauce until it was a golden cream much like light and sweet coffee. The meatballs were then placed in the sauce and allowed to cook for a few more minutes until ready.  Served with homemade mashed potatoes, the meatballs came out very good. They were tender, flavorful, and no trace of the gamey taste you can get from a wild meat.

Should Or Should Not Eat:

 If you have any leftover venison taking up room in the freezer, this recipe is a great way to make use of it.  This may be a hard recipe to try since venison is not readily available at your local super market but this recipe is a Should Eat.

 

Pennette With Spicy Sicilian Pesto

We found this recipe browsing through some other food blogs. One of our favorite blogs is Serious Eats, where they have a section called Cook The Book.  This is where they help promote cook books by showing recipes from a newly released cook book.

This recipe comes from Mario Batali's latest cook book, Molto Batali.  Mario Batali is one of the most recognized and respected chefs working in America today. Mario has 11 restaurants located in New York City alone with others located in Las Vegas, California and even Singapore. One of his newest ventures is the gourmet market Eataly.  Eataly is the largest artisnal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City.

We really enjoy pesto sauce, it is easy to make and has refreshing flavor thanks to the herbs.  The only thing is often times pesto sauces all tend to be basically the same. When we saw that it was a Spicy Pesto Sauce we knew instantly we were going to make it. We love spice and heat, but one other thing that caught our eye is that Batali used Almonds in the recipe.  Traditionally pesto sauce is made with pine nuts, so we were very interested to see how the Almonds would work.


 

Ingredients:

Yield: 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main, active time 15 minutes, total time 15 minutes

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed, washed and spun dry
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup sliced blanched almonds
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus ¼ cup
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Siciliano plus ¼ cup (Pecorino Ramano)

Directions:

  1. Bring 8 quarts water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
  2. Place the basil, mint, garlic, Serrano chilis, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and almonds in a food processor and pulse 3 times to start the chopping process.
  3. Add the ½ cup oil and pulse 4 or 5 times to create a thick paste, (not a thin oily sauce). Add cheese and pulse once to mix in, season with salt if it needs it and remove to a container with a lid. 
  4. Carefully pour ¼ cup more olive oil over to create hermetic “lid”, cover with seal tight lid and refrigerate. This pesto will hold in the fridge like this for 2 weeks. Makes 1½ cups.
  5. Place 1 cup of the pesto in a large warm salad bowl.
  6. Drop the pennette into the boiling water and cook to one minute less than the package instructions. Just before it is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the bowl with the pesto. 
  7. Drain the pasta in a colander and dump into the bowl with the pesto and the water. Toss gently like a salad about 30 seconds until nicely coated and serve with a scant dusting of the cheese over each portion.

Results:

Our first impressions of this dish was "woah that's spicy".  It was not an over powering heat, but it was certainly there. If you do not enjoy heat in your dishes we would suggest steering clear of this recipe, or just omit the peppers.

Since we do like heat we were very happy with this dish. Adding the cooking water to the pesto before mixing it with the pasta really helped to enhance the dish. It added a small amount of liquid to the pesto which helped the sauce mix together with the pasta. The fresh herbs really come through in this dish, especially the mint. We have never used mint in a pesto sauce before but it worked nicely.  The almonds added texture and crunch and paired well with the freshly grated cheese.

Another key to this dish is making sure your pasta is cooked al dente. The term "al dente" comes from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. Pasta will continue to cook even after you remove it from the stove. Taking it off of the stove early ensures that your pasta will not end up over cooked.  It is also important to season your water with salt. It helps give the pasta added flavor.

We will be making this dish again for sure. It is a Should Eat and offers a perfect base meal for you to make your own additions such as grilled chicken or sweet Italian sausage.

Chicken Biscuits with Honey Butter & Hot Sauce

One of the best things in the world is a homemade biscuit. Fresh out of the oven they are hot and flakey. Once they are split open and covered in honey butter there is no better breakfast (well there is, just wait for it). A good biscuit recipe however is hard to come by and this recipe was said to be the best ever.  Since we like to put best ever recipes to the test, we decided to try this one.

We ended up changing our minds there is one dish better than a fresh biscuit covered in honey butter.  It is a fresh biscuit covered in honey butter topped with a crispy piece of fried chicken and hot sauce.  It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

The honey butter adds the sweetness, while the fried chicken and hot sauce provide the savory. They are especially perfect for a weekend brunch after a long night a drinking. We have had many versions of this dish out at numerous restaurants, but we have never made it at home. Now that we have the recipes in hand we will find out if we will still be going out for Chicken Biscuits or making them from the comfort of home.

This recipe is a bit long but it includes making 3 things, be sure to check out all of the photos.

Ingredients:

For the Honey Butter:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Biscuits:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring your work surface and rolling pin
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil as needed

Directions:

For the Honey Butter:

  1. Bring 2 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small pot. 
  2. Slowly whisk in the butter, piece by piece, letting each piece melt completely into the water before adding the next one. Add the honey and salt, and whisk everything together until you have a shiny, well-combined liquid.
  3. Let the honey butter sit in a warm area of the kitchen, or over the lowest possible flame on the stove, until you’re ready to use it. It’s important to keep it warm so it will spread easily—and the longer you let it sit, the better the honey butter will be. 

For the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. (If you don’t have a sifter, you can use a whisk.) 
  3. Add the vegetable shortening. Using a pastry cutter, or holding a butter knife in each hand, cut through the shortening and flour in an X-shaped motion until the shortening is mixed in. Be careful to break up any large pieces. You should end up with lots of little pebbles.
  4. Add the buttermilk and use your hands to mix everything together, turning the mixture until it forms a dough. Then keep turning and kneading until you’ve got a roughly shaped ball of dough. If things get sticky, add a little bit of flour. 
  5. Flour a board or countertop well, and turn the dough out on it. 
  6. Flour your rolling pin, and then roll the dough out until it forms a round about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough round into thirds, like you’re folding a business letter. Slap the dough down hard with the palms of your hands to really bring it together, and then roll it out and fold it in again. Do this 7 times in all, skipping the folding step the seventh time. Reflour the work surface, the dough, and the rolling pin as you go. 
  7. Flour a 31/2-inch round pastry cutter, and cut out as many rounds of dough as possible (you should have 8 to 10 or so). Reflour the cutter as you go.
  8. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay the biscuits on it, and put it on the middle oven rack. At about the 10-minute mark, turn the baking sheet so that all the biscuits bake evenly. 
  9. When the biscuits are baked through and the tops are golden-brown (about 20 minutes), pull them out of the oven. Using a big pastry brush, coat the tops of the biscuits with the honey butter. The biscuits will be very soft and flaky inside, with just a little bit of crispness on the outside. Serve them while they’re hot.

For the Chicken: 

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. In a pie pan or shallow bowl, combine the flour and chile powder. Place the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour. Dip each piece in the egg mixture, then coat in the flour once more. Place the chicken pieces on a plate and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
  4. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch skillet with sloped sides. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook the pieces on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

The Honey Butter:

How to roll out and fold the biscuits.  This is what helps to create the layers inside your biscuits. 

The Chicken:

The Results:

What can we say, we came away impressed with this entire dish.  Sometimes when making a recipe things don't come out as planned, see our Cocoa Rubbed Steak.  Other times however you hit the jackpot and the dish comes better than you imagined. 

The biscuits were actually the best that we have ever made on our own. In the past our attempts to make biscuits never turned out a quality product. Now we have a go to recipe   The biscuits had the perfect texture, when you pulled them apart you could see the flakey layers.  The dough was seasoned so well that you could eat these biscuits without butter and they tasted great, but lucky for us the recipe included honey butter. The honey butter was quite simple to make aenhanced the dish by adding a touch of sweetness. You could stop right here and you would have an amazing breakfast, but we had even more to add.

The chicken came out great also, it was lightly battered and had the right amount of fried cripsyness.  The batter consisted of the buttermilk and seasoned flour which with the chili powder added a bit of heat.  The chicken was placed on the bottom of the biscuit and drizzled with honey butter.  We then added a fair amount of Franks Hot Sauce on top of the honey butter.  When we took the first bite we knew it was perfect.

This entire recipe is a Should Eat, and further more it should be eaten for breakfast, lunch and or dinner.

Halal Cart Style Chicken and Rice

There is nothing like living in New York City.  The variety of food options available at anytime of day are amazing. The only problem is when you are craving a certain type of food and live no where near the best place to get it. We have been craving chicken and rice from the Halal cart on 53rd and 6th.  This dish starts with chicken thighs that are marinated and seared on a hot grill. The chicken is then  served over a bed of cumin and turmeric flavored rice and topped a tangy white sauce that brings the whole dish together.  It is finished with freshly diced tomatoes, lettuce and warm pita bread.  The cart of 53rd and 6th is the best in the city, the only problem is that its popularity often causes the line to stretch down the block.

With the cart being far away we started scouring the internet to find a recipe. After looking for awhile we stumbled upon this recipe from Serious Eats which claimed to be a spot on rendition of what you can get at the cart.  We were a bit skeptical since comparing your recipe to the best cart in the city is a bold statement to make. Since we were craving Halal Chicken we decided to see if it compares.

We would like to dedicate this recipe to a friend of ours who is currently serving our country and is unable to get his beloved Halal Chicken.  Hopefully he see this recipe and will be able to make this if he has a chance giving him a little taste of home while he is away.

We will break down this recipe into three parts, the chicken, the rice and the sauce.

The Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Season the marinade to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add half of the marinade (reserve the remaining marinade in the refrigerator).
  4. Turn the chicken to coat, seal the bag, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade 
  5. Remove the chicken from the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. Season with kosher salt and pepper, going heavy on the pepper.
  6. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and cook without disturbing until they are lightly browned on the first side, about 4 minutes.
  8. Using tongs, flip the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the center of each thigh registers 165°F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Using a chef’s knife, roughly chop the chicken into 1/2- to 1/4-inch chunks.
  11. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the remaining marinade, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you cook the rice and prepare the sauce.

 

 

The Rice


Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain or Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to rest until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

 

The Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

 In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt.

 The Results:

We were proven wrong, you can get really good Halal Chicken and Rice at home.  This recipe really does come pretty close to replicating the Halal style Chicken and Rice at 53rd and 6th.  We all know that no matter how good it is, it woln't compare to getting it from the cart.  We totally agree with that statement, but we will say that if your craving this dish and can't get to the cart this is a great alternative.  

The marinade on the chicken is perfect and has the same spices used at the cart.  The key to the chicken is making sure to really brown each side helping to form a nice crust on the chicken.  Cooking the chicken a second time helps add extra flavor.

The rice was simple yet super flavorful.  Adding turmeric is how the rice gets that bright yellow color while the cumin adds the spice you can taste.  Using chicken stock also helps impart extra flavor into the rice.

In our opinion it is the sauce that brings this dish over the top.  To come close to tasting like the cart it was key to make sure the sauce was authentic.  It was perfect and fresh, it may have been even better than the one at the cart since we made it fresh that day.  The additions of Greek yogurt and fresh parsley really stand out in this sauce.  The lemon juice also adds a nice tang to finish it off.  

Everything mixed together with some fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pita bread makes this recipe a winner in our book and a should eat.  Thanks to Serious Eats for posting this recipe online!