Condiments/Sauces


Chicken Osso Buco

Chicken Osso Buco

Recently, we found some organic chicken thighs on sale (which never happens), and in searching for a fun way to serve them, I came across CL’s Osso Buco-Style Chicken Thighs.  Only one word can describe the outcome: YUM.  We modified it a little, and the complex flavors of the fresh gremolata (an absolute must in this dish) with the super creamy polenta and the spicy stew-like veggies worked so very well with basic chicken.  Everything came together much faster than expected, though there is some wait time with the tomato mixture–simply to let the flavors meld together.  We had a bit of leftover sauce, so I pureed it.  It reminds me of a cross between a bolognese base minus the meat and a vodka sauce minus the booze.  Since we froze it, I’m not sure if we’ll serve the sauce as is or transform it into something different.  Regardless, we loved the osso buco and the leftover pasta sauce.

While composing this dish, we started talking about our favorite composers and the piano and how it’s a perfect instrument, thus leading to watching piano concerts on YouTube.  Little did we know that we were about to come across one of the most talented pianists we’ve ever seen.  Valentina Lisitsa, who crazily plans to record all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas (something that typically takes a lifetime and, according to Valentina, something that more individuals have gone into space than actually done, of course), is stunning, was born with speedier fingers than anyone on Earth, and has so much strength in her hands she could quickly crush yours when shaking it.  Should you ever encounter this blonde, be careful.  Additionally, Valentina, a Ukrainian-born genius, in her spare time, maintains an organic garden in her North Carolina countryside home and loves cooking Italian food–something I learned after making osso buco, fittingly.  I know who I’ll be listening to when I next cook.

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skinned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions, chopped
  • 3-4 medium carrots, chopped (cubed, for a more accurate version of osso buco)
  • 2-3 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2-28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Polenta:

  • 2 cups non-fat milk
  • 1-1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta
  • 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Gremolata:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

Preparation

  1. To prepare chicken, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Add chicken to pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to the pan, over medium-high heat.
  5. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  Sauté about 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned tasty bits.
  7. Add the tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and even a dash of salt; bring to a boil.
  8. Begin to break down the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
  9. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes.
  10. Return chicken to pan. Cover and simmer 35 minutes or until chicken is done.
  11. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until tomato mixture thickens.
  12. To prepare polenta, combine milk and broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
  13. Lower the heat; gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  14. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until thick and well combined, about 15 minutes (use the package’s advice).
  15. Remove from heat; stir in cheeses and salt.
  16. To prepare gremolata, combine parsley, rind, and garlic.
  17. Serve chicken mixture over polenta; sprinkle with gremolata.

Yields about 4-6 servings

Cranberry-Port Sauce

Cornish Hens

Over the holidays we made festive Cornish hens with a cranberry-port sauce.  I’m glad I combined about six different recipes to wind up with this particular version.  Many used dried fruit (oftentimes cherries), and some used ginger, thyme, or balsamic, but not all three.  We actually liked the fresh berries, and we even tried it before adding the thyme, ginger, and balsamic.  It improved with each addition.  The jelly-like sauce will/should (according to most of those sites) last a week or two, and it can be served over pork, turkey, or even brie.  We loved it with the roasted hens (stuffed with clementines and covered in a tad of olive oil, salt, and pepper), and I’m sure we’ll make it again.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup port (the incredibly helpful gentleman at The Anderson’s highly recommended Warre’s Warrior, rightfully so)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the port, zest, and juice to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Add the cranberries, sugar, thyme, ginger, and balsamic, and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Stir occasionally and cook until the sauce has a jelly-like consistency and the berried begin the break down.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, over anything.

Yields about 2 cups

Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Smoky Barbecue Sauce

I love homemade barbecue sauce.  It’s simple to make, and we often have all of the ingredients on hand.  Since it’s summer, I wanted to make a large vat we could keep in the fridge and use all month.  We simmered this for four hours.  It works just fine after about 20 minutes or so, but the flavor intensifies with each passing hour.

Ingredients

  • 1 (40-ounce) bottle of ketchup (Heinz, of course)
  • 1/3 cup worchestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon smoky hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 10 whole cloves (or ground for convenience)
  • 5 whole allspice (see cloves)

Preparation

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring well, until slightly bubbly.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove the cloves and allspice.
  5. Cool.  Pour into glass jars and seal tightly.  Store in the refrigerator for about a month.

Yields a vat of barbecue sauce (or about 3 quarts)