Friday, April 23, 2010

“Pollo al Mattone”-- Chicken under a Brick

When I was doing some research for this post, I discovered that this method of cooking chicken is pictured in Etruscan frescoes.  Given that the Etruscan era ended roughly around 500 B.C., this is unquestionably the oldest recipe I’ve ever shared with you.  And it’s age explains why the translation of the word “mattone” is “paver” in English.   The Etruscans used a stone to weigh down the bird to both flatten it and make its skin extra crispy.  As you’ll see below, with no bricks around, I finally found a use for my free weights…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pear and Duck Confit Salad

        The Food Police were out in force when we posted our Easy Duck Confit recipe last Friday.  There were rumblings about our waistlines and heart health.   So I thought share some nutrition numbers to counter the impression we are on a road to hell in a hand basket.  There's both good news and bad: The good news: Duck meat and duck fat are both lower in cholesterol and higher in monounsaturated fat than butter, dairy fat or beef fat. While that is hardly a ringing endorsement, consider that one portion of Confit comes in at 260 calories, gives you 25 grams of protein, 0 carbs and 0 sugars and gives you impressive amounts of Vitamin E, iron and selenium.  And it was also endorsed by my great pal, Michael Cox, author of "Gluten-Free: More than 100 Delicious Recipes your family will love", because it is...Gluten-Free! 

        Now I will grant you that at 18 grams of fat, this is not a dish Weightwatchers is going to endorse anytime soon.  But in moderation, which is the way we eat everyday, I think we can enjoy this tender, rich and succulent dish in small doses and this salad certainly qualifies there.  
 Hopefully, you took our advice and made extra Duck Confit over the weekend.  If not, consider doing so this weekend and come back when you're ready to make this terrific dinner salad -- full of the goodness of fresh pear, crunchy pecans and gorgeous greens and the (optional) blue cheese. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chicken Paella with Sugar Snap Peas in about an hour!

        When I came home on Sunday, Andrew had been dog-earing the latest Bon Appetit magazine which features ‘Fresh and Easy Dinners’. Tops on their list, and on their cover,  was a recipe for a ‘quick’ paella. If you’re ever had a paella in Spain, you know it is hardly ‘quick’ and involves a special paella pan. 

I distinctly remember being in Spain with my elderly parents when we ordered Paella for lunch in the Andulusian countryside.   The paella took an interminable amount of time to get to the table.  In the meantime, almonds and a enormous quantity of Sherry were served first and this proved to be a mistake.   A good hour passed of drinking the sherry and nibbling on the almonds.  Despite its gentile reputation, Sherry is high in alcohol at about 20%.  Compare that to a glass of Chardonnay at 13%.    By the time the paella appeared, both my parents had literally nodded off at the table.  I remember having to apologize profusely as I tucked into the paella solo.