Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Dill-Garlic Butter

Pin It  We stand in awe of dill.

 What other herb inspires home cooks to stand in excruciatingly hot kitchens on 100 degree days just so they can look forward to biting into crisp, delicious pickles eight weeks later?

On the other hand, we lament that this delicious fernlike herb is highly under-utilized in most kitchens.
Sure, dill is great for making pickles. But, it’s also indispensable for pairing with cheeses, adding to breads, enhancing the flavor of vegetables, and complementing the briney notes in feta cheese or seafood.

 In this case, it really shines when matched with butter, garlic, and lemon to create an amazing roasted chicken.

It takes just a few basic techniques to produce a beautiful dill-scented bird with crisp, salty skin, moist breast meat, and dense, meaty dark meat. First, rubbing the exterior of the bird with seasoned butter assists in ensuring a beautiful brown crisp skin.
Slipping some of the butter under the skin of the breast helps to keep it moist and adds flavor to the otherwise mild meat. And finally, adding lemon quarters and extra dill to the cavity seasons the pan juices as they flow from the bird into the roasting pan.

This chicken is scrumptious served alongside fresh green beans and mashed potatoes for a weeknight dinner. But, leftovers make phenomenal chicken salad, so consider roasting two birds while you're at it... just to be on the safe side :)

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grilled Eggplant with Buttery Herbed Breadcrumbs

Pin It  Ah! Summer bounty. There’s no thrill quite like visiting the farmer’s market at the peak of the season and filling up our bags and baskets with the best that summer has to offer.

Lately, we've been enjoying the bounty of summer greens, corn, green beans, tomatoes, and eggplant. Our refrigerator is always stocked with something fresh and delicious. And that's a pretty awesome feeling.

But sometimes -- even with all that great produce staring us in the face -- we find ourselves at a loss for what to do with them. Fortunately, there are a few techniques that bring new life to even the most ordinary produce. And they won’t require you to spend any extra time in the kitchen.

In a very similar fashion to roasting, grilling summer vegetables caramelizes their sugars and, if you use a charcoal grill, gives them a hint of fantastically smoky flavor. The best part is, it won’t heat up your kitchen on even the hottest of summer days.

Using melted butter instead of oil when grilling helps the vegetables to caramelize deeply, and imparts a wealth of deep rich flavor. Adding a topping of delicious herbed bread crumbs with a touch of lemon perks everything up at the very end and is sure to win over even your most avid vegetable haters. Best of all, even tentative anchovy eaters (like Peef), appreciate the umami that a bit of mashed anchovy adds to the mix.

These grilled eggplant slices are delicious served as part of an antipasti platter or as a delicious summer salad with a bit of sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Of course, eggplant is only the tip of the iceberg. Try sprinkling these buttery herb-infused crumbs over a variety of summer vegetables like summer squash, green beans, and even kale or other late summer greens.

Grilled Eggplant with Buttery Herbed Breadcrumbs

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend: Preserving the Harvest

Pin It  
It's been quite the weekend. We've spent the past three days working on cooking projects. Smoking corn on the cob. Roasting red peppers. And canning everything in our wake.

1950's corn relish
Fire-roasted pepper-tomato sauce
Roasted red pepper spread

Lemon pickles
Chipotle salsa

Tomato juice
Tomatillo salsa

We're utterly exhausted. And yet the work was entirely worth it.  We have a pantry filled with gorgeous canned goods that will last us well into the spring.

Best of all, we did it on a relative shoe-string. $22 for 25 lbs of tomatoes at the market. Just $20 for 5 dozen ears of corn. Merely $25.00 for a year's worth of tomatillos. A straight-up $15 for a few pounds of dried chiles at the local ethnic market. And $60 for 30# of organic red peppers.  Every bit of it local. Every dollar of it well spent.

Canning is tiring work. The kitchen is hot. Our feet are sore.  But, somehow, it's worth all the effort.

After all, we've spent mere hours storing up foodstuffs that will feed us for days and weeks.  It's nourishing food that will sustain us through the autumn, winter, and most of the spring.  And best of all, we know exactly where it came from and what's in it.

We're genuinely looking forward to the night when we can enhance that otherwise straight-forward chicken panini with roasted red pepper spread.  We can't wait to create a quick weeknight pasta with fire-roasted pasta sauce.  And we can't even begin to explain how the priceless it is to have access to fresh-frozen sweet corn that tastes like it came right off the grill in the middle of February.

And don't even talk to me about the amazing bloody marys we'll be making with that tomato juice. Best. Ever. No lies.

Happy end-of-summer everyone!
Happy Eat Local Challenge Milwaukee!
Hope your weekend was lovely and your harvest season is bountiful!

©BURP! Where Food Happens