Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chicken Mar i Muntanya with shrimp, mussels, green beans, piquillo peppers, and chorizo

I know this isn't a food-porn-quality picture but it does prove that I actually do cook these recipes. I had a dinner party (which turned into a bit or a rager) a couple weeks ago. I was pretty fried from a busy work week so I wanted to do something easy and something family-style. Well, needless to say, I turned to the Ad Hoc cookbook (again).

What I liked about this recipe is that it has a lot of different flavors that go well together, it all comes together pretty quickly in the end and it is pretty to look at. It's not a paella but it's a close cousin.

Chicken Mar i Muntanya
with shrimp, mussels, green beans, piquillo peppers, and chorizo
Serves 6
From Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller. Artisan, 2009

One 4-pound chicken
1/2 recipe Chicken brine (see note), cold
12 extra-large shrimp (12-15 count), shells on
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Piment d'Espelette
Canola oil
Saffron rice (see note), warm
3 piquillo peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup thin green beans (haricots verts), blanched
1/2 cup chicken stock, warm
1 Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
18 small mussels, preferably Bouchot or PEI
Flat-leaf parsley leaves
Fleur de Sel

Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (I bought seperate pieces). Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken, add the chicken, and refrigerate for about 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty). Preheat the oven to 400F.

Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or
spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air dry. Set aside.
Without removing the shells, using a small pair of scissors or a paring knife, make a
shallow cut down the back of each shrimp from head to tail. Gently open up the shrimp
and, with your fingers or the paring knife, remove the vein. Rinse the shrimp under cold

Combine 4 cups water and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salt in a medium bowl and stir to
dissolve the salt. Add the shrimp to the brine and let stand at room temperature for 10
minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse, and drain on paper towels.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Espelette. Heat some canola oil
in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dark meat skin-side-down, lower
the head to medium-low, and cook until the skin is a rich golden brown and crisp, about
8 minutes. (If you turn the chicken too early, more moisture will be released from the
meat and you will not get the crisp caramelized surface you are looking for.) Turn the
pieces and brown for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the second side.
Remove from the heat, transfer the dark meat to a plate, and set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil as needed. Add the breasts skinside-
down and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the
chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove from the

Spread the rice in the bottom of a large heatproof serving dish or baking dish. Arrange
half the piquillos and half the green beans over the rice. Tuck the dark meat and the
breasts into the rice, pour the stock over the ingredients, and put the dish in the oven.
Heat some oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the mussels in one
layer. Add the chorizo and cook until browned and crisp on the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the chorizo to a plate and pour off the excess fat, leaving just a coating in the
pan. Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté until just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes
per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the wine to the pan, bring to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the mussels, cover
the pan, and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the

Arrange the chorizo, shrimp, and mussels in the baking dish; set aside in a warm spot.
Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining peppers and green beans, and heat
through. Arrange them over the chicken and shellfish, garnish with parsley leaves, and
sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Chicken Brine
5 lemons, halved
24 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
½ cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
¼ cup black peppercorns
2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
2 gallons water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute,
stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before
using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Saffron Rice
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup finely chopped onion (cut just smaller than a grain of cooked rice)
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups (about 14 ounces) short-grain rice, preferably Calasparra
2 ¾ to 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and season
with a sprinkling of salt. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the saffron.
Reduce the heat to very low, and cook for another 2 minutes; do not brown the onions
and saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, to toast the rice for
1 to 2 minutes.

Add 2 ½ cups of the stock, stir once, scraping the sides of the pan if necessary, and
cover with a parchment lid (see page 120). Bring the stock to a simmer and simmer,
adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 8 minutes, until most of the stock has been
absorbed. The rice will still be firm. Gently stir the rice, scraping it up from the bottom,
and reduce the heat to very low. Add an additional ¼ cup of stock, cover with the lid,
increase the heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the stock is
absorbed. Taste the rice and, if necessary, continue cooking, adding up to ¾ cup more
stock ¼ cup at a time, as necessary, until the rice is almost tender and the final addition
of liquid is almost absorbed. Turn the heat to low to allow the rice to absorb the
remaining liquid, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and serve hot.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Time to pound Mexican food and drink lots of cold beer with lime wedges. The weather in the bay area has been out of control so tonight we're having a neighborhood taco party on the roof. On the menu? A tribute to one of my favorite tacos in San Francisco, the Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Taco from Tacolicious.

Tacolicious is located in our old hood in the city, the Marina. Everything is good there but this taco really stands out. On top of the fact that this is ridiculously good, they have amazing fresh salsa and original hot sauces that they should bottle and sell - I'd buy them!


Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Braised Short Ribs

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
6 dried guajillo chilies
2 dried chipotle chilies
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 pounds beef short ribs
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt, to taste

½ teaspoon whole cumin seed
6 small tomatillos
2 avocados, sliced in half, seed removed, flesh scooped out
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste

To serve
Corn tortillas


For the short ribs

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a pan over a medium flame, lightly toast cumin seeds until fragrant. Grind cumin seeds using spice grinder or the bottom of a heavy pan and set aside.
  2. Slice open chilies and remove the seeds. Toast chilies in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and soak in 2 cups of water and set aside.
  3. In a heavy-bottom pot, heat oil and sear ribs until golden brown on all sides. Remove ribs from pot and set aside. In the same pot, add the onion and cook until it begins to caramelize, then add the garlic and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chilies and their soaking liquid to the onions and garlic. Stir to combine, then puree in a blender with the oregano and a pinch of salt and place back into the same heavy bottom pot. Add the ribs back to the pot, cover and cook in the oven for 3 – 3 ½ hours. You may do this a day or two in advance; reheat when you are ready to serve.

For the salsa

  1. In a pan over a medium flame, lightly toast cumin seeds until fragrant. Grind cumin seeds using a spice grinder or the bottom of a heavy pan.
  2. In a food processor blend tomatillos, avocados, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice and cumin until smooth. Season with salt to taste and reserve.

To serve

Heat tortillas on a flat-top griddle or in a large frying pan. Keep warm as you cook them by wrapping them in a clean dish towel. For each taco, put two tortillas on a plate, add a scoop of the braised beef, top with salsa, and enjoy!