Friday, July 27, 2012

I Even Add it to The Food

I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.
W. C. Fields

I love this quote, don't you?

It reminds me of my weekend cooking. And truthfully, only my weekend cooking.

new sugar scrub-coffee, brown and white sugar, vanilla, oil
See, weekend cooking, in my opinion, should be fun. When I cook on Saturdays (in leu of going out to eat) I crank up Motown or the Beach Boys on Pandora, and I pour myself a glass of wine, and I have fun!

Day to day cooking is more utilitarian. We have to eat. We eat delicious, healthy food. But, the focus in my cooking is getting it on the table. Between the  busy days and busy nights.

Weekends are a different pace, and I cook for the fun of it. I cook because I enjoy it. I cook for love and ascetics.

Whether on weekdays or weekends, I cook with wine. (in the food) If my wine rack is holding several bottles of wine, it is because I am cooking with it-not guzzling it.
shallots-a pain to peel, but much milder flavor than white onion

Growing up, we never cooked with wine. If a recipe called for wine, we substituted water. (not the most tasteful plan. But I do honor the thought behind it.) I learned eventually that if you have an issue with cooking with wine, chicken or beef stock is a better replacement than water.

But, let me tell you, you can't beat wine (or beer) in a recipe for flavor. It is more tangy, and robust than stock. The function of wine in cooking is to intensify, enhance, and accent the flavor and aroma of food - not to mask the flavor of what you are cooking but rather to fortify it.  
Barefoot Hippie Girl garden fresh tarragon

A rule of thumb is to never use any wine that you would not drink. If you do not like the taste of a wine, you will not like the dish you choose to use it in. 

Most of the alcohol in the wine evaporates while the food is cooking, leaving only the flavor. Meaning that you don't need to worry about getting tipsy while eating food prepared with alcohol. Boiling down wine concentrates the flavor, including acidity and sweetness. 
the ingredients

Last night we went out to visit Mr. Hippie's bro and his wife and fam. They recently had a new baby and we wanted our offspring to meet their new cousin. So we descended upon them, bringing dinner. 

I brought a favorite of ours, Champagne Chicken. It is a very simple recipe. Not many ingredients or flavors thus combining for what I like to call a clean recipe.

final step simmer
This recipe is one my bff found, and cooked for one of our Tuesday dinners. We both LOVED it. She gave me the recipe, and I made it for my family. Who also loved it. It has been a family staple ever since.

I used tarragon (this is one of the 2 recipes I make that actually calls for tarragon) from my garden, and supplemented the meal with a lettuce salad, and fresh rolls.

Oh, and I break my own wine rule on this recipe-because I can't stand champagne. I buy the driest white I can find for this recipe, and I would never drink it. But it is perfect for this recipe.

Champagne Chicken
2 T olive oil
1-1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (or breasts cut into 2-3 smaller pieces)
1-1/2 cups champagne
3 shallots, sliced
1/2 c whipping cream
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c tarragon-chopped
16 ounces linguine

-Cook linguine according to package directions.
-Pat chicken dry, and sprinkle with additional salt
-Heat oil in pan. Add chicken. Cook until browned-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Place in a covered dish.
-Add 1/2 c champagne. Stir. Reduce by half-3 minutes.
-Add shallots. Cook until tender-3 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup champagne. Cook until reduced by half-5 minutes.
-Add cream, tarragon, chicken, salt and pepper. Cook 6 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

-It takes about 30 minutes hands on time. And it is very saucy. 

This weekend, why don't you have a glass, AND eat it too.