Friday, October 9, 2009

A complete transformation

I have found out that my favorite way of cooking vegetables is to roast them. Cooking them this way completely transforms them into rich, sweet and robust little entities. I was blown away with the cauliflower, broccoli even tastes great roasted, you can't beat a roasted beet and roasting tomatoes and garlic is like heaven on Earth. Peppers and onions also create some amazing flavors. So why not roast some of my favorite things and instead of just eating them as is; which would still be wonderful, but puree them into a nice sauce. Perhaps tossed with some pasta.
Some roasted whole cherry tomatoes, 1 onion, several garlic cloves and some red bell pepper. Chopped them all up, tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil to lightly coat and thrown into a 375 degree oven.
I still wanted some chunky texture to my pasta dish so I browned some cubbed potatoes. I put them aside and in the same pot added sliced mushrooms and 2 zucchini largely chopped. Cooked them until some where browned and mushrooms reduced then added back the potatoes with the addition of some pitted kalamata olives.
Puree from the roasted vegetables.
For some added crunch I toasted up some pine nuts and cooked a couple chopped slices of bacon.
Cooked the pasta until al dente (saved at least a cup of pasta water). In the pan with the potato mixture I added the puree and the pasta and tossed under med-low heat adding the pasta water as needed to cream up the consistency. Kind of like when you add it to pesto to easily spread the ingredients throughout the pasta. I sprinkled the pines nuts and crispy bacon bites on the top.

I think this same roasted vegetable puree would be wonderful if just used as a sauce over chicken or even a grilled steak. It could be used for so many dishes. Add some crushed red pepper, eggplant, cilantro... It has me so very excited with all of the endless possibilities. I know this isn't new to the culinary world, but it's a great eye opening experience to a want-to-be foodie like me. Every new discovery in the kitchen brings me crazy childlike happiness. I truly know what I love to do. I wish I could do it more often.

Here is a recipe for a rich roasted sauce that can be accompany most meat and vegetable dishes and can also be frozen for later use.

Rich roasted chicken jus
  • 6 chicken wings
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 head garlic, cut in 1/2
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a roasting pan add chicken wings, vegetables, thyme and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes until the wings are nice and brown.

Remove from the oven and set over medium-high heat on the stove top. Add white wine to deglaze and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid until about 1 cup remains. Remove from heat and strain through a china cap, pushing some of the vegetable pulp through the strainer with the back of a ladle - this will help thicken the jus slightly. Add the cold butter cubes to the jus and swirl until it melts. Season again with salt and pepper. (recipe - Tyler Florence)
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I plan on making Tyler's ultimate version of Chicken Cordon Bleu filled with prosciutto di Parma and Gruyere cheese which includes a side of brussel sprout and potato hash, some of the above sauce and a dollop of homemade cranberry chutney this weekend. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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