Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Calamari Marinara – Would You Like That In 45 Seconds or 45 Minutes?

Calamari is affordable, delicious, and sustainable, yet many cooks shy away from it, since it has a reputation for being tricky to work with. I should’ve said “unfair reputation,” because while it’s true calamari can end up with a rubbery texture if overcooked, there’s a very simple way to avoid this… by really overcooking it.

When it comes to calamari, it needs to be cooked in either 45 seconds, or 45 minutes, and nothing in between. If you sear it in a pan, or poach it in a sauce for a very brief time, you should get something nice and tender. However, after just a few extra minutes, the squid gets chewy.

Unfortunately, this is how most calamari is served, since it is easy to overcook, even for a professional. But, if we gently simmer for about 45-minutes total, something amazing happens. The calamari loses that rubbery texture, and becomes tender once again.

I also think it takes on more a meaty flavor, which I love, especially when using this to sauce pasta. So, if you’ve wanted to try cooking calamari, but were afraid of over-cooking it, I really hope you give this easy sauce a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  yellow onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Serrano chili pepper sliced thin
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/2 cup drinkable white wine
1 cup clam juice
6 cups crushed or puréed Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds frozen calamari tubes and tentacles, thawed, sliced into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
1 pound dry pasta

Friday, April 21, 2017

Grilled Fava Beans – Flavor Flav, Indeed

I bet fava beans would be a lot more popular if people knew how to cook them, or even what they were. For many people, these are just those mysterious, semi-scary, oversized green beans that they’re not sure what to do with.

Which is a shame, since they’re not only delicious, and easy to prepare, but also very versatile. Fava beans shine in salads, and pastas, as well as on pizzas.  The also, as I demonstrated the end of the video, make for a wonderful spread.

By the way, the ingredient amounts below are pure guesses, since this is not the kind of recipe we're going to measure stuff for. Let your conscience be your guide, but remember what we're eating is inside that charred pod, so season generously.

Fava beans should be readily available this time of year, especially at farmers markets, where they tend to be much cheaper that your high-end grocery stores. Regardless of where you find them, I really do hope you give this great bean, and even better technique a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
2 pounds whole fava beans
olive oil, as needed
2 lemons
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
3 whole, peeled, bruised garlic cloves
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons freshly sliced mint leaves

- Grill over high heat for about five minutes per side, or until the pods are soft and charred, and the beans inside are just tender.

WARNING: Some people have an allergy to fava beans. Make sure you don't.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hilah’s Happy Hour featuring Chef John’s First Podcast

That’s right, I did a podcast! Which, come to find out, is a great way to learn what those are. It’s basically like listening to the radio, only more complicated. Anyway, I appeared on Hilah’s Happy Hour, with the lovely and talented Hilah Johnson.

As you’ll hear, she does most of the heavy lifting in this free-flowing interview, but you'll also get a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from me, as well. I had a lot of fun doing it, and invite you to follow this link to check it out on her blog, as well as check out her highly entertaining recipe videos. Enjoy!

.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken – My Pad Krapow Gai

I don’t cook Thai food at home often, mostly because there are at least a dozen such restaurants within walking distance, but when I do, there’s nothing I enjoy more than this spicy Thai basil chicken. Thai basil sold separately. 

No, I didn’t use the real “Holy” basil, but even with regular basil, this simple recipe is spectacular. Aromatic basil is the perfect herb for pairing with the slightly sweet, sort of salty, and possibly spicy, chopped meat.

And yes, you really do want to chop, or grind your own chicken. Even if the worst-case scenario I shared in the video isn’t something you’re grocery store would do, it’s still very nice to know exactly what you’re eating, as well as being able to chop it as coarsely as you want.

If you decide to top with an egg, I should mention that they’re usually fried much more aggressively, with the edges getting brown and crispy. I tend to prefer something a little more gently cooked, but either way, or with none at all, I really do hope you give this delicious basil chicken recipe a try soon.  Enjoy!


Ingredients for two large or four smaller portions:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound freshly chopped chicken thighs
1/4 cup sliced shallots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 bunch basil leaves, sliced very thin with a sharp knife (about a cup once sliced)