Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Week Away with Friends...a Winter Squash Tart...and Pan-Roasted Chicken with Porchetta Sauce

Once again this fall I had the joy of spending a week away with a group of dear friends.  I have written of these getaways a lake house on the shores of Lake Michigan...and at the home of a friend in the suburbs of Minneapolis.  This year, we were once again in The Twin Cities.  It was so nice to have a break from work and responsibilities...and even nicer to have it with my friends.  Since I love what I do for a living, this time away is never about leaving cooking behind.  It always includes copious amounts of time spent cooking (and eating) together.  We have a blast.

One of the problems with the wide variety of ways that I spend my working life is that I often don't have the time to read my new cookbooks and the cooking magazines that come regularly to my home.  So I always take one or two new cookbooks and a stack of food magazines with me on this trip.  They provide fun reading and good conversation for us all...and more often than not some great ideas for our meals.  This year two of our dinners were inspired by things we found in them:  a delicious winter squash tart, and a pan roasted chicken dish dressed with a sauce seasoned with the distinctive flavors of Porchetta. 

The tart we made is a simple free-from galette.  I have made tarts like it...and posted them...many times before.  I will include the recipe we made here—improvised from one in the October issue of Food & Wine—but you should feel free to improvise too.  The original included roasted squash and onions seasoned with curry.  We didn't feel like curry...we felt like pairing the squash with apples and bacon.  It was a big hit. 

As I looked through my magazines, it began to appear that Porchetta has become a bit of a trend.  If you have not run across it before, Porchetta is a traditional pork roast from Italy.  The meat (usually a fatty cut) is stuffed with the distinctive flavorings of fennel spice, lemon or orange, garlic and rosemary and then rolled up and tied.  In its traditional forms the skin/rind is left on the meat to produce an exterior of crisp crackling.  The resulting roast is salty and fatty...and delicious. 

The chicken dish we made borrows the spices of that traditional dish and adds bacon for a porky-salty-fatty touch.  The recipe was charmingly called "Chick-etta".  In the magazine (the October issue of Bon Appétit) the sauce is an herb and oil, salsa verde-style affair...and we planned on making it pretty much as written.  But when we pulled the pan of roast chicken out of the oven and saw all the fantastic bits of caramelized chicken juices on the bottom of the pan

we decided to deglaze the pan and make a simple butter-enhanced reduction sauce rather than waste all of that great flavor.  It was delicious. 

But we didn't just cook...and I would give the wrong impression if I didn't tell you that we spent part of our days doing other things.... 

We took long walks on lovely wooded trails...

And on a warm day we walked around Lake of the Isles and strolled through the rose garden at Lyndale park...still in bloom in November due to the unseasonable weather...

We also visited an amazing pastry shop (Patisserie 46...we highly recommend it...) we could sit and enjoy the warm sun....and talk some more....and of course sample a wide array of pastries...

It was a wonderful and restorative time.  After these trips, I always return home every sense of the word...and looking forward to the next time that I will be able to gather around the table again with this group of very special women that I am so blessed to call my friends. 

Winter Squash, Apple & Bacon Galette

1 recipe Pâte Brisée (see below)
1/2 c. (120 g.) sour cream
Olive oil
1 t. flour
Salt & pepper
2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded & sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 medium onion (red or yellow), halved, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 to 1 T. unsalted butter
1 Pink Lady (or other sweet-tart, crisp apple), peeled, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8- to 1/4-inch crosswise
1/2 to 1 t. sugar
4 to 5 oz. Gruyère, coarsely grated
5 slices (about 6 to 7 oz.) thickly sliced bacon, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch strips, cooked until crisp
2 t. chiffonade sage
1 t. minced rosemary

To roll out the dough, let it warm up for a moment or two at room temperature. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 1/8-inch thick and is about 15 inches across. Brush off the excess flour. Trim any ragged or uneven edges if you like. Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the sour cream, 1/2 T. olive oil, flour and salt & pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Place the squash and onions in a large bowl and toss with just enough olive oil to coat, seasoning well with salt & pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 450° oven until tender and beginning to brown—about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

In a medium steel, cast iron or other style of non-stick skillet, warm some (about a half tablespoon) olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add a half tablespoon or so of butter to the pan.  When the butter melts and the foam subsides, add the apples and sauté until limp—but still with a bit of texture—and caramelized in spots—about 2 to 3 minutes.  If the pan seems dry, add a bit more butter.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the apples and continue to cook and toss/stir until the sugar has melted and the apples are uniformly golden—another minute.  Scrape the apples onto a plate and let cool.

To build the tart, spread the prepared sour cream mixture in a circle in the center of the chilled pâte brisée, leaving a 1 1/2- to 2-inch border of dough. Scatter a third of the Gruyère over the sour cream.  

Next, layer on half of the roasted squash and onion mixture, 

followed by all of the apples and half of the bacon.  

Scatter the herbs over all.

Add a layer of the remaining squash/onion mixture and the rest of the bacon. Finish with a thick layer of the remaining Gruyère.  Pull up the edges of the crust and gently flip them over the filling to form a rustic edge. Pleat the dough as necessary, pressing lightly into place.

Bake the tart in a 400° to 425° oven on the lowest rack (or in the middle with the sheet pan sitting directly on a preheated baking stone). Bake until the filling is bubbling in spots, the cheese is melted and tinged with brown, and the crust is crisp and golden brown—about 40 to 45 minutes. Slide the tart onto a rack and let rest for 5 minutes (or cool until just tepid) before serving.

Tart serves 6 to 8.

(Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, October 2016)

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (200g)
1/2 t. salt
10 1/2 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (150g)
1/4 to 1/3 c. ice water

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Drizzle 3 T. ice water over the flour/butter mixture. Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound. Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps. Continue until all of the dough is flat. Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do. Form the finished dough into a thick disk. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Pan Roasted Chicken with "Porchetta" Sauce

2 t. fennel seed
6 oz. bacon, diced small
1 3 1/2 to 4 lb. Chicken, cut into quarters (or use whatever bone-in, skin-on parts you prefer)
Kosher salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
2 medium shallots, finely diced (about 1/4 c.)
1 t. minced fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 t. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1/2 t. crushed pepper flakes (more...or taste)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup unsalted chicken stock—preferably homemade, or water
3 T. unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 12 cubes
1/2 to 2/3 c. roughly chopped (not too fine...not too coarse) flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toast the fennel seed in a dry small skillet set over medium heat.  Stir or toss occasionally until fragrant—about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.  Divide into two equal portions.

In an oven safe sauté pan that is large enough to hold all of the chicken in a snug single layer, render the bacon over moderate heat, stirring regularly.  When the bacon is crisp, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon. 

While the bacon cooks, pat the chicken dry.  Rub the chicken with one of the portions of fennel seed (reserving the remainder for the sauce).  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Be careful with the salt...the bacon adds a lot of salt.

When the bacon has been removed from the pan, pour off all but 3 T. of fat.  Return the pan to the heat and increase the heat to medium high. When the pan is hot and almost smoking, add the chicken, skin-side down.  Carefully brown the chicken so that the skin is golden and crispy.  Turn the chicken over and transfer the pan to the preheated oven.  Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast registers 155° and the thigh registers 170°.  (Depending on the chicken, the breasts may be done before the thighs...if so, simply remove them and return the legs to the oven.)    Roasting time will be around 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set it on a plate.  Let it rest in a warm spot for 10 to 20 minutes.  While the bird rests, make the sauce.

Place the pan over medium heat (remembering to cover the hot handle with a pot-holder or dry towel so that you won't burn yourself as you make the sauce) and add the shallots and cook until tender and translucent.  Add the rosemary, garlic, zest and pepper flakes and cook briefly until fragrant.  Add the wine, increase the heat and bring to a simmer.  Stir and scrape to release the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.  Continue to simmer until the white wine has been reduced to a glaze.  Add the stock, bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat while you finish portioning the chicken. 

When the chicken has rested for at least 10 minutes, pour the resting juices off of the plate and into the pan of sauce.  Portion the chicken by cutting the leg-thigh joint into two pieces, slicing at the joint.  If you like, flip the thigh over and remove the bone.  Cut the wing away from the breast.  Pull the bones away from the breast, starting at the "wishbone" and pulling down and away from the breast meat.  The breasts may be served whole...or cut in half cross-wise to form two portions each.  Or, the breasts may be sliced so that everyone may have a slice or two of white meat and a piece of dark meat.  You may also simply serve the breast on the bone.

Return the pan of sauce to the heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the butter, bacon and parsley.  Swirl the pan (or agitate the sauce using a whisk) so that the butter emulsifies into the simmering sauce.  Continue to simmer and swirl until the sauce is slightly thickened (but not too much—the sauce should be a bit broth-y). 

Taste and correct the seasoning.  Place the meat on a warm platter, spoon the sauce over all and serve.  Serves 4 to 6.

(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2016)

No comments: