Monday, February 28, 2011

Justify Your Subscription - The "Winter" Braise and More from Laos

When October comes and fall weather makes its visit, I notice many of my blog buddies anticipating the hearty comfort foods of fall and winter - particularly soups, stews, and braises.

I always agree wholeheartedly with them in spirit, but not always in practice. I cook according to my own whims. Sometimes it's because I see a recipe or ingredient I want to try or because I happen to have certain ingredients in the house, or sometimes it's because I just have a craving for something. That craving can be ice cream in January or fried chicken on a hot July day.

It's not spring yet, but you can see if from here. Right now foodies are thinking of this summer's garden and the first ramps and fiddleheads of the year. Everyone is tired of winter and winter food.

I notice all too well that it's not spring yet. We have another three weeks of official winter and because this is New York, the Vernal Equinox does not guarantee spring weather in any way. The snow may stop (if we're lucky), but plenty of rainy, chilly days will follow and comfort food may very well still be in demand.

Well, at least that's my excuse for making a braised dish recently. Once again, I marked a "must make" recipe in Food & Wine to make sure that I am speding the money on this subscription wisely.

The first recipe was Cider Vinegar Braised Chicken Thighs. I was a good girl and mostly followed this recipe to the letter except for using some breasts along with the chicken thighs. I suppose it would have been even more comforting to serve it with noodles, but I continued to be a good, almost virtuous, girl and used brown rice instead.

I was a little afraid of how this might taste as my husand is not a fan of vinegary foods. The cooking with the leeks and carrots mellowed it out so that I had a sauce that was tangy, but not throat-burning. It was a nice change from always staying safe and braising in wine.

Next up was more Laotian food. The Loatian recipes in the February issue continue to haunt me. This time I went for Lemongrass Cilantro Chicken with Honey Dipping Sauce.

I LOVED the flavors in the recipe, so I believed I had a winner on my hands as soon as I saw it.

I made some adjustments to it though. First the recipe called for boneless, skin-on chicken breasts. Those are not easy to find and I wasn't in the mood to start deboning breasts. I just bought them with the bones on and kept the meat on the bone.

You are supposed to grill them. Had I bought boneless, skinless breasts I might have done that - if it were July. I don't like using my grill pan in the winter because it smokes up my place too much and I can't exactly open a window when it's freezing cold outside. Instead I roasted it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then blasted it under the broiler for 4 minutes to crisp up the skin.

I added mint to the marinade and also sprinkled some mint on top of the chicken before roasting it rather than after. I love fresh mint.

I didn't serve it with rice. I dug into my archives and pulled out my old Tropical Cole Slaw recipe. I think it went well with the light flavors of a psuedo-grilled chicken.

THe chicken had great flavor and the dipping sauce was pleasantly sweet-tart. It was a real winner.

I just realized I did two chicken recipes in a row with vinegar sauces. So much for being original. But I have to look at it this way. It's pretty amazing how some of the same ingredients can produce two very different recipes.

I am beginning to think the subscription may be justified.


Lo said...

I think Food & Wine is actually one of my better subscriptions lately. Sure, I love sitting down to read Saveur... and I don't mind flipping through Bon Appetit. But, I get pretty inspired by F&W. And it's no wonder. This post gives some pretty good reasons why.

The Blonde Duck said...

I do the light version of Taste of Home. Ben's diet has me scrambling for low fat soups and such.

Emily said...

Mmm chicken! Boneless skin-on chicken breasts are impossible to find! Why do recipes even call for them?

The Blonde Duck said...

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

The recipes look wonderful with a lovely mix of flavours. Definitely no boring chicken dishes here! :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Lo - F&W sometimes makes me feel like a bumpkin with all of the fancy travel and dining stuff, but it does have great recipe.

Emily - I think the TV and magazine chefs who find those chicken breasts have some kind of fancypants butcher who doesn't mind doing those specialty cuts. I've tried to debone skin-on halves and my knife skills don't do them justice.

Lorraine - Thanks for stopping by. I do love browsing your blog.