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Apricot and Edamame Stir-Fry

Who doesn’t like a good stir fry? They’re flexible, relatively quick and absolutely packed with different flavors and textures. This stir fry is loaded with shelled edamame, bamboo shoots, and fresh ginger.

Serves 2

Assemble the Following:

  • 2 TBSP. Soybean Oil
  • 1/3 C. Onion, Minced
  • 2 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger Root, Minced
  • 1 1/2 C. Bok Choy or Cabbage, Chopped
  • 1/2 C. Red Bell Pepper, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/4 C. Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/4 C. Bamboo Shoots
  • 1 C. Edamame, Cooked and Shelled
  • 1 C. Broccoli, Blanched
  • 1 Scant TBSP. Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBSP. Apricot Preserves
  • Pinch Cumin
  • 1 TSP. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 TBSP. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 to 1 C. Cooked White Rice

Do This With It:

  • Heat wok or large heavy skillet with oil, very high heat.
  • Add Onions and Cabbage, fry until tender.
  • Add Red Pepper, garlic, and most of the ginger, fry until tender.
  • Add Cilantro, and Bamboo Shoots, reduce to medium heat.
  • Slowly stir in Soy Sauce, reduce to low heat.
  • Add Edamame and Broccoli.
  • Add Apricot Preserves, stir or toss until thickened and reduced.
  • Add dried spices and remaining ginger, remove from heat.
  • With wet fingertips mold heaping tablespoons of rice into little balls for plating.

Notes:

  • I leave the peel on my ginger; you get a much bolder flavor this way.
  • I remember now when Alton Brown did a show on Stir-Fry, he emphasized the importance of having every ingredient ready to go before you even heat the oil. Well, he wasn’t kidding. The good news is I think I may have broken a world speed record for shelling Edamame.
  • You can just pile the stir-fry on a bed of rice and forgo the rice-balls, but they add a flair to the presentation don’t you think?

Orzo Salad with Pole Beans and Sautéed Veggies

Summer is the perfect time for a cold pasta salad. Served with burgers off the grill, or by itself this take on pasta salad is just as refreshing as it is filling. It keeps well, so make a little extra and enjoy over the next few days. Planning a barbecue or a picnic? Make this a day ahead and refrigerate overnight to really let the flavors marry up and combine.

Serves Four as a side-dish, or Two as a main.

Assemble The Following:

  • 1/4 C Orzo, uncooked
  • 1/4 C. Finely Minced Onion
  • 1/2 C. Scallions or Spring Onion, Coarse Chop
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Roma Tomatoes, Cubed
  • 1/4 C. Black Olives, Rough Chop
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 C. Italian Pole Beans, Blanched and Shelled
  • 3/4 C. Vegetable Stock
  • Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan and Asiago  Cheese Blend

Do This With It:

  • Bring Vegetable Stock to boil.
  • Sautee onion and 1/4 C. Scallion in olive oil until tender.
  • Add Garlic, and Italian seasoning.
  • Before garlic browns, add 1 C. Hot vegetable stock, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
  • Reduce heat to simmer, and slowly cook until all the stock has been absorbed by the mushrooms, remove from heat.
  • Cook Orzo in remaining vegetable stock until al-dente.
  • Drain Pasta and rinse, toss with a little olive oil and allow to cool.
  • Combine cooled vegetables, pole beans, olives, remaining 1/4 C. scallion, and cilantro. Toss gently.
  • Refrigerate 1-2 hours to allow all the flavors to really get to know each other.
  • Serve with sprinkling of cheese and topped with more scallion greens.

Notes and Abstract:

  • I misjudged the pole beans big time. 1 Cup is what I was shooting for before I shelled them. Needless to say, four large handfuls of the beans before cooking and shelling yielded only about 1/4  Cup.

Summer Vegetable Stock

Making stock used to be a regular part of my routine. However, I’ll admit that I’ve been using the store bought stuff for the last six months or so. Hello sodium city!!!! With all this time on my hands lately and a renewed interest in my own kitchen, I recalled how easy it is to just make your own. This recipe yields as much as your stock pot will hold. In this case it’s roughly a gallon and a quarter (I tend to spill some of it while packaging it for the freezer). I have a six quart stock pot, and use a pasta strainer so that I can easily remove the vegetabilia. Adjust amount of veggies for a different sized pot. Made with veggies that are available at the local market, this stuff is useful in the preparation of risotto, soup, pasta, fish, or anything that calls for a cooking liquid. Hell, I’ll occasionally heat some up and drink it from a coffee mug all by itself. Freezing in individual portions allows for quick and effortless use.

Assemble the following:

  • 1/2 C. Red onion
  • 4 Ribs Celery
  • 4 Large Carrots
  • 4 Medium Portobello Caps, sliced
  • 1 CL Garlic
  • 1/2 TSP. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 TSP. Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 TSP. Dried Sage
  • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Do this with it:

  • Very coarsely chop vegetables into large, inch sized chunks.
  • Heat Olive Oil in heavy skillet, sauté garlic and onion until caramelized.
  • Fill large stock pot with water and add all vegetables, seasonings and a pinch of salt.
  • Bring to rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour, covered.
  • Strain vegetables from liquid, and allow to cool.
  • Discard the veggies, unless you like celery.
  • Fill quart-sized freezer bags with the stock, refrigerate overnight, and freeze.

Kitchen Essentials: Super Rooster Salsa

Salsa is good for so many things. It’s so versatile, that it’s become an essential in my kitchen. It finds its way into so many of my creations. The idea behind the Kitchen Essentials series is that you regularly have these things on hand. Unfortunately this salsa is so good, it barely lasts two days in my home, and I live alone. It packs some serious heat so it’s not for the faint of heart, or the weak of stomach. Of course you can always modify or eliminate some of the ingredients to take out some of the fire, but what would be the fun in that?

Assemble the following:

  • 3 C. Fresh tomatoes of your favorite variety, diced into small cubes
  • 1 C. Red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 C. White onion finely minced
  • 1 Large clove of garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 medium sized Jalapeno pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 2 Medium Anaheim pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 1 Small Serrano Pepper, cleaned of seeds, very finely minced
  • 1/2 Small Habanero Pepper, very finely minced
  • 2 Medium yellow bell pepper, cleaned of seeds diced into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 C. Cilantro, stems removed coarsely chopped
  • 2 TSP. granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP. lime juice
  • 2 TBSP. Mango or Pineapple Juice
  • Lime zest
  • 1/2 TSP. Ground Coriander
  • 1 TSP. Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Do this with it:

Use non-reactive (glass or plastic) mixing bowls and utensils only.

  • Spread diced tomatoes in single layer and sprinkle lightly and evenly with sugar.
  • Combine red and white onion, cilantro, garlic and lime juice in small mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate twenty minutes.
  • Combine peppers with Mango or Pineapple juice in another small mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate twenty minutes.
  • In large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, black pepper and coriander. Blend thoroughly before incorporating onion and pepper mixtures.
  • Blend everything thoroughly and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving as a dip for chips.

Notes and Abstract:

  • Be careful with the capsicum peppers, they’re awfully dangerous!
  • Only use non-reactive glass or plastic mixing bowls and utensils for this. Nearly every ingredient in this recipe reacts with metal, and no one likes partially oxidized salsa.
  • The heat of the salsa can be moderated by adding the pepper mixture in small increments until desired level of heat is reached. If you have left over peppers sauté them in some olive oil until reduced, and make your own super-spicy Recaito! Recaito can be added in small amounts to countless dishes to give it a real kick.
  • This salsa is great as a dip for chips, a topping for burgers or a salad, blended with rice, or as a spicy addition to a pasta sauce. Like any of the other Kitchen Essentials, it has countless uses.

Star Tuna Salad

I’ve been at war with tuna salad lately. After being thoroughly disgusted with a local sandwich shops refusal to toast the bread for my tuna salad sandwich, I told Jersey Mike exactly where to stick what, and came home and set to work on perfecting the simple art of Tuna Salad. It seems silly to put so much energy into something that is so simple, but I wanted the ultimate tuna salad. I wanted a tuna salad that would reduce your grandmother to tears of gastronomic joy. After the third preparation of merely palatable salad, I realized I forgot to ask the most important question. What is tuna Salad? Mayo, Celery, and Tuna right? Suddenly my mind went blank. There’s nothing to deconstruct here, nothing to pick apart and build differently. So I threw it all out, the tuna salads that I had made, my pre-conceived notions of what it should be, and the memories of what I had eaten in the past. Strictly speaking, tuna salad has only been a flavorless, drab means of conveyance for protein intake. Well, not anymore.

First of all, I would like to meet the person who decided that tuna salad and mayonnaise are permanently conjoined so I can punch them in the stomach. Every deli in town (including the one I work for) uses mayo in their tuna salad. Why? Mayo is nasty, it’s heavy and slimy and in just one cup you have seventy one percent of your RDI of Sodium and a whopping 118 percent of your RDI of fat. Now obviously you don’t eat a whole cup of mayo each time you chow down on a tuna salad, but why bother with the mayo at all? Hold the 796 Calories (692 of which are from fat) and opt for a more flavorful and healthier alternative. Much better flavor can be had by leaving out the mayo and substituting it with a simple balsamic reduction, a favorite salad dressing, or just straight up olive oil. Second, Celery is for making stock and soup, not for eating. Sure, it’s low calorie, and has Vitamins A, C, and B6, and its good fiber, but it’s also disgusting. That’s a total trump right there. Eating healthy must taste good, and there is nothing about celery that stimulates my palate.

Armed with this analysis, and a healthy dose of courage (booze) me and my best friend and culinary confidant Chasity set out to create the perfect Tuna Salad last week. I don’t keep mayonnaise in the house so you won’t find any of it in this recipe, instead there’s a tangy balsamic reduction, and star shaped pastina. We eschewed celery for fresh spinach and threw in some creamy Havarti cheese. Gone is the sensation of eating a mayonnaise sandwich. Hello tuna salad bliss.

Assemble the following:

  • 6 Oz. Tuna
  • 3 Tbsp Star Shaped Pastina, cooked and drained
  • 1 Cup Fresh Spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic Finely Minced
  • 1/4 Cup Havarti Cheese
  • Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • English Muffins
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Do this with it:

Make a simple Balsamic Reduction.

  • Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Saute garlic until golden brown.
  • De-glaze pan with Balsamic vinegar and reduce.

Now, put it all together.

  • Combine Tuna, cooled Pastina, Spinach, and Havarti in mixing bowl with Balsamic Reduction.
  • Grill English muffins and melt Pepper Jack Cheese on them.
  • Top with Tuna Salad, and a few fresh spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Notes and Abstract:

  • Pastina is one of those pastas that cook in the blink of an eye, by virtue of its size (it’s tiny). It’s also difficult to drain, so set a coffee filter in your colander so you don’t end up throwing half of it down the drain.
  • I used canned tuna for this, obviously fresh would be better. If you can tell me where to get fresh tuna at 1 AM on a week day in the Sand Hills of NC, please feel free to do so.
  • Don’t like tuna? Substitute chicken for the tuna. I won’t eat it but who cares?! There are lots of things I won’t eat.
  • Yes, I did write 700 words about tuna salad. I’m an over thinker. That’s why it tastes so good.

Gluten Free Forty Days: Day Two

Going through my cooking notebooks can sometimes be torture.  More often than not, I’ll forget to write in a crucial ingredient or technique. Re-creating a dish can become an arduous cycle of test-fail-trash-start over. It’s a pain; throwing away food is expensive and wasteful. On the other hand, every so often I come across a couple of pages of notes that are thorough enough that I can make a cohesive recipe out of it, so it can be easily re-created. It also happens that this recipe is completely gluten free, making it perfect for GF40.

Day two of GF40 is all about this hearty gluten free lasagna, made without uncommon pastas or ingredients that are expensive or hard to find. I made this delicious rendition of lasagna several months ago, after being inspired by a similar recipe I found online. I used Shitake mushrooms in substitution of ground meat, which provide a rich woody flavor. The zucchini gives the dish a smoky overtone that is well complemented by the creaminess of the eggplant and the feta. I hope you enjoy this lasagna explosion as much as I did!

Lasagna On Portobello:

Assemble the following:

  • Shitake Mushrooms, fine chop
  • Roasted Zucchini
  • Roasted Eggplant
  • Fresh Scallion, finely chopped
  • Fresh Parsley, julienned
  • Garlic, finely minced
  • Feta Cheese Crumbles
  • Fire Roasted Roma Tomato Marinara (Kitchen Essentials)
  • Large, Fresh Portobello Mushroom Caps , cleaned, stems removed
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Do this with it:

  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Heat a few TBSP olive oil and sauté garlic. When golden, reduce heat to very low and add scallion and parsley, cook until parsley has wilted.
  • Add Marinara. Heat slowly.
  • Add Shitake mushrooms, cook briefly until mushrooms are reduced.
  • Remove from heat and to separate container, allow to cool
  • In baking dish greased with Olive Oil place Portobello Caps hollow sides up.
  • Create layers of Feta, marinara, vegetables and parmesan.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake in preheated oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

For tips on roasting Zucchini

For tips on roasting Eggplant

Fire Roasted Roma Tomato Marinara Recipe

Notes and Abstract:

  • Roast the eggplant until it is still slightly firm. Roasting too much will yield a mushy eggplant, which does have it’s uses just not in this preparation. If you’re using a large eggplant, pull one half from the oven while it’s still semi-firm. Let the other half roast fully, then toss it in a blender or food processor with some fresh minced garlic for a great puree that can be used to cream up mashed potatoes, embolden a soup, or any number of things. The puree will store well for a few days, but I wouldn’t recommend freezing it.
  • Be sure the Portobello caps are very clean and dry. Briefly bathe them in slightly salty water and pat dry with a towel. For more room for more layers use a paring knife to carefully score the underside of the cap in a diagonal pattern, and remove the ribs gently with a spoon. Be careful not to scoop too much out, just remove the ribs.
  • If you aren’t a vegetarian, forget the shitake mushrooms. Use some high quality ground beef or poultry. Better yet, get a decent cut of steak and slice it into thin strips and cook in the marinara until rare. It will cook through to done in the oven, or if you like your steak less done, add it as a layer all by itself.
  • The Marinara can be made into different things by virtue of the fact that it takes on the flavor of the spices used in it. For this recipe use your favorite fresh Italian or Mediterranean herbs in the marinara.

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean Soup

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean SoupA very spicy Black Bean and Potato Soup. It’s easy to prepare, and stores well frozen or refrigerated.  Served in small portions, this soup makes a great compliment to any Mexican/Southwestern meal. It’s hearty, but so spicy it’ll make your ears tingle.  Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to reduce the intensity of the spice.

Assemble the following:

  • 1/8 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 CL Garlic (Fine Mince)
  • 1/4 C. White Onion (Fine Mince)
  • 2 TBSP. White Onion (Coarse Chop)
  • 1/4 C. Celery Leaves (Coarse Chop)
  • 2 TBSP Celery (Coarse Chop)
  • 3 TBSP. Recaito
  • 5 TSP. Crushed Dried Red Pepper
  • 1 TBSP. Paprika
  • 1 TBSP. Dried Marjoram
  • 1/4 LB. Russet Potatoes (Peeled, Cubed to 1/4 inch, Par-Boiled and rinsed cold.)
  • 2 C. Stewed Tomatoes (Drained)
  • 2 Cans Reduced Sodium Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Do this with it:

  • Bring 1 1/4 QT water to boil, add 3 TSP red pepper, salt and pepper, marjoram and boil until reduce to 1 QT.
  • Heat the Olive Oil and Recaito and add minced garlic, onion, 2 TSP red pepper, and chopped celery leaves.  Sauté until tender and aromatic.
  • Drain tomatoes, coat in paprika, chop.
  • Add sautéed aromatics to water, and reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, coarse chopped onion and celery.
  • Simmer until potatoes are tender, about thirty minutes.

Vegetarian Burgoo

Traditional Burgoo is thought to have originated in Kentucky, and traditionally contains a combination of meats (usually small game such as rabbit or squirrel) with savory vegetables and potatoes. A very thick and hearty stew, Burgoo is a great way to end a frigid day out in the ice and can be created out of practically anything and therefore out of practically nothing. For example, if you live in Central North Carolina like me and like me failed to properly stock your pantry for the ice storm for which you were given ample warning, you can make Burgoo!

There isn’t really a standard recipe for Burgoo; it calls for only three things: meat, savory veggies, and a thickening agent. (I think Alton Brown, Food Network taught me that?) This sort of freedom beckons to my inner chef, I can basically create whatever I want and not have to worry about coming up with a name for it.

For this reckless take on Burgoo, I deconstructed the idea of what the traditional dish is. Potatoes are in most preparations, and I didn’t want to leave them out but I didn’t want boiled soggy potatoes in the stew proper, I wanted roasted and crisp potatoes as a base for a very thick preparation of pasta and beans, without meat. All told, like most of my creations this doesn’t look or taste a thing like what it’s called. However, it does have this in common with what a true Kentuckian would expect: it’s delicious, and the spoon does stand up in it!


Assemble the Following:

  • 1 CL Garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Leek Heart (Just the tender light green and white parts) about 1 C, julienned. Reserve the rest of the leek as well, minced.
  • 1 Celery Stick, julienned
  • 2 Marinated Artichoke Hearts (Liquid Reserved), minced
  • 1 Qt Mushroom Fumet (Stock)
  • 16 Oz Each of Garbanzo and Kidney beans
  • 1 1/4 C Orzo
  • 3 Large Red Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Recaito
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp each of Dried Cilantro, Thyme and Sage
  • Crushed Red Pepper to Taste

Do This With it:
 
Red potatoes take forever to do anything especially roast, so get those out of the way and in the oven they will be in there for at least an hour, plenty of time to put together the rest of the stew.

  • Uniformly dice the potatoes into one inch cubes, soak in cool water seasoned with salt and pepper for at least fifteen minutes. Reserve this water.
  • Sautee julienned savory leek hearts and celery until tender in 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and Recaito until tender. Deglaze with Artichoke Marinade Liquid.
  • Drain oil from savory veggies and reserve. Discard Veggies.
  • Toss Potatoes in reserved oil until evenly coated and arrange in single layer on VERY well greased baking pan.
  • Bake in oven preheated to 400° oven until crisp on the outside.
  • Divide mushroom stock into thirds, and soak cooked beans in 1/3.
  • In a stock pot sauté the artichoke hearts, garlic and minced leeks.
  • Add a cup or two of the potato water, and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and add dried Cilantro, Thyme, Sage.
  • Combine beans and stock into the stock pot.
  • Add Orzo and simmer until cooked and tender.
  • Will render a very thick stew. Use remaining stock to thin the stew if you like.

Plating

  • In a shallow bowl, create a nest of potatoes.
  • Top with stew and drizzle with a little broth.
  • Sprinkle with Feta or some other soft cheese.
  • Garnish with leek greens and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Notes 
  • You end up with a lot of this stuff (like in the neighborhood of 32 cups after a couple servings)

  • I also had 2/3 of a qt of Stock thawed… I divided the Burgoo and combined it with the rest of the stock.
    • TADA! A quart of soup!

Saltimbocca-Nueva


It seems I have a fetish for savory ingredients rolled into a strip of meat. The complexity of flavor in each bite of a rouladen or saltimbocca style preparation of meat is beyond comparison, and I’m a huge fan of complex flavors. Tonight I enjoyed a reckless take on saltimbocca (Italian: jumps in the mouth) that literally did jump into the mouth. Instead of the traditional ingredients of sage and proscuittio, this dish took advantage of the smoky notes of roasted Roma tomatoes and the tangy zip of balsamic marinated portabella mushrooms with a clean parsley finish. Garlic mashed potatoes were also involved, but they were totally overshadowed by the Saltimbocca-Nueva, I will still include instructions for their preparation.

This is a little complicated, but with practice you can pull this off in forty five minutes to an hour. (excluding the time it takes to bone and skin the chicken)

Assemble the following:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast (Do like I did, and bone and skin it your self. It’ll make it that much more satisfying in the end.)
  • Large portabella mushrooms
  • Fresh scallions
  • Garlic
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Red (or whatever) potatoes
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Marjoram (fresh is preferred, but is hard to come by)
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Parsley
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Never forget the olive oil, and black pepper

And do this with it:

  • First, peel (or don’t peel them) and cube the potatoes and start them boiling.
  • Finely chop some garlic and scallions (making sure to discard the roots, but not the bulb) and saute briefly with some olive oil. This should not get too hot, as you’re going to be adding it to the chicken, and you don’t want it to be so hot that it starts to cook the meat.
  • As this “marinade” is cooking, cut the chicken breast laterally into two thin pieces and pound with your favorite meat mallet, until it’s tender and as thin as it can be without falling apart.
  • Put the chicken in a container and pour in the scallions garlic and olive oil, then cover with fresh water. Set aside.
  • Rinse your mushrooms and remove the stems (unless you like the stems) and slice paper thin.
  • Saute the portabella slices with olive oil and lots of balsamic vinegar, until the vinegar has reduced by half and the shrooms are tender. Set aside, liquid intact so they can continue to marinate and absorb all that balsamic goodness.
  • Preheat the broiler and slice the Roma tomatoes as thin as you can without destroying the tomato, and roast under the broiler with olive oil until the edges are crispy brown.
  • By now the potatoes should be done, remove them from the heat and drain. (reserve some of the liquid if you don’t want to use milk to cream them up when you mash them)
  • In the mean time coarsely chop more garlic and saute with butter. This will be added to the potatoes along with more finely chopped scallion greens (greens only, no bulbs)
  • Mash the potatoes and blend in the garlic and butter, along with the scallion greens. Set aside.
  • Drain the chicken, reserving the garlic and scallions to spread over the chicken breast.
  • Layer the tomatoes, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and parsley on the flattened breast.
  • Roll the mixture up into a cylinder shape, and place in a glass baking dish greased with olive oil or butter.
  • Secure the rolls with tooth picks and drizzle with more olive oil
  • Sprinkle with marjoram and black pepper, and reheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the oven is reheating, you have the perfect opportunity to clean up the huge mess you’ve probably made, just be sure you protect the chicken rolls from things like cats and splattering dish water.

  • Bake the rolls for fifteen to twenty minutes. You really have to know your oven well for this, because you can’t use a thermometer to test the temperature of the chicken (it has all those other ingredients in it that will skew the reading) and you don’t want to cut into the roll, as it will ruin the final presentation, and release all those nice flavors into the oven instead of your mouth.
  • As the rolls are finishing up put the heat back under the potatoes and add some milk and stir. Use medium heat so as not to scald the milk, that will ruin the potatoes.
  • After the rolls have cooled for a minute, remove the toothpicks you used to secure them, unless you like surprising your guests with a stab to the roof of the mouth. The rolls should stay together in one piece with the toothpicks removed if they’re done all the way through.
  • Remove the heat from the potatoes and plate. Garnish with parsley or carrots cut up into funky shapes, or whatever you can find in your fridge.
  • It’s nice to cut one of the rolls in half and turn it upwards, so that a cross section is visible right away, making it that much more enticing, interesting and appetizing.
  • Garnish the whole plate with finely chopped scallion greens, serve and enjoy!

Afterthoughts:

  • I use red potatoes almost always, and leave the skin on them when mashing. It adds color, and just makes the potatoes look more interesting, but if you’re using another kind of potato, judge for yourself whether or not to leave the skin on.
  • Cilantro would have been really cool in lieu of parsley.
  • I’ve found that when you can hear the chicken rolls sizzle from inside the closed oven, they’re nearing done. Like I said, know your oven well, getting these cooked completely can be tricky. If you are not in your own kitchen, or are unfamiliar with the oven, and don’t want to take chances on having uncooked poultry being served, you can cook the rolls in a covered pan on low heat, turning them regularly. This usually yields chicken that is tougher and more dry, but dry chicken is better than uncooked chicken. No one likes salmonella.
  • It occurred to me as I was eating, that substituting veal or some other beef for the chicken would have been absolutely amazing. I think I’ll do that next time. In addition to the general amazing-ness beef would have added, using beef would mean less worry about wheter or not the meat was cooked all the way through, unless you have guests that don’t know how to eat red meat and insist on well-done. In the case of the “I want it well done” guest you can just cook the hell out of it, and let them deal with it after all, you tried, right?
  • Yes, threre’s a huge empty spot on the plate that is just begging for some fresh green beans or roasted asparagus… but I was tired and hungry, and just didn’t feel like it.
  • If you have large enough pieces of meat, you can use cooking twine instead of toothpicks to secure the rolls. It’s a pain in the ass, but if you soak the twine in basalmic vinegar or wine (for hours and hours and hours and hours), you’ll get these really neat bands of flavor and color across the length of the roll that add a really nice touch to both presentation and taste.