Month: January 2015

Confetti Potatoes

For those of us who are experiencing winter, today the sun is shining brightly, with not a cloud in the sky, so I guess that makes all the cold and the snow tolerable!

That said, today I am sharing a potato dish that I have been making for a long time. It’s a perfect accompaniment to many of the braised and heartier meals being prepared and served at this time of year. It’s also pretty good to eat straight out of the pan!

I named it Confetti Potatoes because when I first prepared it, the uniform size of the ingredients and the festive colors reminded me of confetti. Consider it upscale “home fries”—in that the size of the ingredients are confetti-like, and it is flecked with color where home fries are mainly all the same neutral color. For those who enjoy a good potato dish, this is a keeper.

It makes a fine side dish, or a colorful underlay for presenting a slice of roasted pork loin, duck breast, roasted chicken, or pan-seared piece of fish. This dish is a herbaceous potato mix. I mention herbaceous because a key ingredient—one of my pantry staples—is a fine grind of dried bay leaf-fennel seed-rosemary needles, which I make using a spice grinder. If you don’t have this readily available, you could make up a small batch using a mortar and pestle.

Serves two generously, four perfectly, and can be scaled up

Ingredients
4 potatoes, skin on (Yukon Gold, all-purpose white, or red)
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
3 fennel stalks (fronds are okay to include)
5 parsley stems and leaves
Bay leaf-fennel seed-rosemary needle powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons rendered duck fat (optional)

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Method
Cut all the vegetables into a 1/8-inch brunoise, set aside.

Mince the parsley leaves and stems, set aside.

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In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add some olive oil and the duck fat, heating evenly but not to smoking.

Begin by sweating the onions, so they soften and just begin to take on some color.

Add the cut vegetable mix, except the potatoes and the parsley, stirring to combine and sauté until the carrots just begin to soften and take on a little color. Season this mixture with the herb powder and the salt and pepper, folding to distribute evenly.

Add the cut potatoes, again folding to combine. Correct the seasoning and add a little more oil if needed.

Lower the heat slightly and fold the mixture often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If the pan has a heavy bottom, distributes the heat evenly, and or is well seasoned, the potato mixture shouldn’t stick. After about 15 minutes of sautéing and folding, taste a teaspoonful. If the mix is tender and the potatoes are not raw, it’s done.

Take the pan off the heat, sprinkle the minced parsley over the top, and mix in to combine.

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That’s all it takes to celebrate your meal with confetti tonight. Let me know how yours turned out.

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We’re Not Talking About Buffalo Wings Here

It wouldn’t be too much of an assumption to say that most of you have had the infamous Buffalo chicken wings at one time in your life. I actually like them, and was on the ground floor when they were introduced back in the day, having attended college in upstate New York, but I digress as I am dating myself and this post is not about Buffalo wings.

What I am writing about today is an adaptation of a Paula Wolfert recipe she included in her groundbreaking book The Cooking of Southwest France. Wolfert’s recipe featured duck wings, which at the time were not easily acquired. So in my first few attempts at the dish I substituted chicken wings, which are perfectly fine; however, if you get the chance to use the duck wings, do so, as the final dish will have a richer flavor.

I have prepared this dish countless times over the years. It is perfect for this time of year as it is hearty, fairly easy to assemble, delicious served over rice or polenta, and when all is said and done, the leftover broth, vegetables, and remaining chicken removed from the bones provide a wonderful sauce for your favorite pasta.

So here is my take on the Ragout of Chicken (or Duck) Wings.

Ingredients
1/2 cup thick-cut smoked bacon, diced
7 garlic cloves split in half
2 onions cut into thirds, leaving the root end attached
4 carrots (not peeled), cut on an angle into half-inch slices
20 to 24 wings, tip removed (use for stock), and halved at the joint
2 bunches of scallions (green onions), roots removed
28-oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 to 1-1/2 cups broth or water
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
2 to 3 thin, hot, whole dried red peppers
6 to 8 sprigs of parsley, leaves separated
Salt and pepper

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Method
In a large stockpot over medium heat, sauté the bacon to render the fat and begin to brown, breaking up the diced pieces to cover the bottom of the pot evenly.

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Once the bacon is rendered, add the wing pieces, turning frequently so they cook and brown evenly. Next, distribute the garlic, onions, tomatoes, cinnamon, hot pepper, and broth over the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Simmer on low to medium heat for one hour.

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After an hour, uncover and distribute the parsley, carrots, and scallions over the top, check and correct the seasoning, and simmer covered for an additional 45 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

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You can serve this right away, but a slow-cooked dish like this is better served the second day. If you take that approach, remove from the refrigerator and allow the pot to come to room temperature before gently reheating. Remove the cinnamon sticks before serving.

This dish was a keeper for me and has become a staple that we enjoy during the colder months. I hope you will find it to be the same. Why not give it a try?

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