The Secret Ingredient (Mango Chutney) Part II: Sweet-Hot Chutney-Grilled Chicken

RECIPE: Sweet-Hot Chutney-Grilled Chicken
Chutney Chicken

Chutney Chicken

Get the whole story on Serious Eats.

One cooking technique I’ve really fallen hard for these days is using jams (including spreads and chutneys) and cooking them, so that they caramelize and bubble up.  I did it with last month’s Ginger Jam, and I’m doing it here, again, with Mango Chutney.  What I love about these ingredients is they add the requisite sweetness and stickiness, but they also come, as free-standing jarred products, pretty well balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity.  So they add this phenomenal tang, and deep flavor, while providing the perfect already-sweet vehicle for caramelization.

Because the summer is all about grilling, I decided to grill my chutney.  I made a spice rub of chili powder, smoky cumin, cinnamon, and salt, and let a few whole chicken legs sit and absorb all of those flavors.  Slightly hot, slightly smoky, slightly exotic and almost sweet from the cinnamon.  I grilled the chicken until the spicy skin was charred, and then I painted the skin with mango chutney.  Another couple of minutes on the hottest part of the grill, and the chutney had melded together inseparably from the skin, bubbled up and caramelized almost like a barbecue sauce, and added all that sweetness and tartness to contrast with and balance the hot, salty skin.  It’s so unusual, it just works.

Sweet-Hot Chutney-Grilled Chicken
serves 4

Chutney ChickenINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 4 chicken legs (organic/free range if you can swing it)
  • 1/2 cup good mango chutney
  • Torn cilantro for garnish

PROCEDURE

In a large plastic food storage bag, mix together the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.  Place the chicken legs in the bag, seal, and toss until the chicken is coated in the spice rub.  Put the chicken in the fridge to absorb all those flavors for about 2 hours.

Take the chicken out of the fridge to take the chill off.  Light your grill—wood burning, charcoal, or gas.  Place the chicken on the grill, slightly away from the hottest part.  Cook the chicken about 8 to 10 minutes on each side until cooked through.  Then, brush both sides of the chicken with mango chutney, and sear an additional 1 minute per side on the hottest part of the grill.  Arrange the chicken legs on a platter, and top with torn cilantro.  Serve.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

On the Riviera: Here We Go in Monaco

Monaco Palmier

My giant palmier...

I landed in Nice last Thursday to spend some time with my mom and stepdad, who are staying in France for the next couple of months.  Thank goodness for spare bedrooms and EasyJet flights!  Thursday was spent in a short, hot trip down the mountain to Monte Carlo, where I haven’t been since I was fifteen.  A giant palmier later, I finally was admitted to the Monte Carlo casino (fifteen year olds are barred at the gates).  Only to find you have to pay to get in and gamble, so my plan to make like Lucy Ricardo and “accidentally” win several hundred thousand francs at roulette was foiled.

Monaco Casino

The Casino at Monte Carlo

But I did pass by the Café de Paris, where my mom and I had lunch after I was barred from the casino thirteen years ago.  It wasn’t a total loss, because I had the best ratatouille of my life, cut into a miniscule and perfectly cubed dice (a brunoise if you’ve been to cooking school).  I never forgot it in thirteen years.  But that’s when we were on the franc!  Now, it’s 14 Euros!  Maybe you get what you pay for.

Cafe de Paris Monaco Ratatouille

14 Euros for Ratatouille!

Later on, a train of open army jeeps drove by our apartment, filled to the brim with men dressed as révolutionnaires and women dressed as Madame Lafarge.  Edith Piaf blared from the cars, and they shouted the time and place of the fireworks for Bastille Day.  So dutifully, at 10:30, we sat by the sea in Menton, eating ice cream, while the sparks flew.

Tomorrow, Nice!

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Categories: Côte d'Azur, Voyages
 

French in a Flash: Beets Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint

RECIPE: Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

My grandmother never made a dinner party without a cooked beet salad. She still doesn’t. It is a prerequisite. Do we have wine? Napkins? And the cooked beet salad? It’s always small, sitting in a white bowl with sliced boiled beets tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and raw garlic. It’s the raw garlic that really undoes the whole thing.

I thought I hated beets based on that salad. Turns out I just hate large chunks of raw garlic.

Some supermarkets sell vacuum-packed cooked beets in the produce section, which is such a convenient way to make a salad a bit more gourmet and interesting. I toss grated beets with olive oil, sweet balsamic vinegar, and a touch of lemon juice (like my grandmother used to), then topped it off with crumbled goat cheese and chopped mint.

I love a lettuce-less salad as a change of pace, and this one can be served as a salad or as a side. In the summer, when it’s hot, I think building up an arsenal of light, no-cook foods is very important. This salad is sweet, juicy, and crunchy, and the tang of the goat cheese and zeal of the mint livens it up, making it fresh and summery.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Mint
serves 4

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and MintINGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces beets, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 6 leaves mint
  • Salt
  • Pepper

PROCEDURE

Grate the beets in a food processor or on a box grater. Drain away most of the excess water that comes off the beets.

In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss the beets in the dressing, and move to a serving bowl. Top with the crumbled goat cheese, and sliced mint. Serve on the side of grilled fish or vegetables.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

Franglais: Boursin Smashed Potatoes

RECIPE: Boursin Smashed Potatoes
Boursin Smashed Potatoes

Boursin Smashed Potatoes

This is one of those recipes I love–effortless, but addictive.

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

This is a back pocket recipe.  Think of all the things that live in your back pocket.  You wallet.  Your iPhone.  Maybe a comb, if you’re the Fonz.  Back pocket items are the bare bones of necessity.  When you need to pay, when you need to communicate, when you need to comb your incredibly slick hair, you reach for the back pocket.  This recipe is like that.  When you need to eat, it’s there, ready, willing and able.

If you’ve never had Boursin, know two things about it: you can find it any supermarket, and it tastes amazing.  It’s a soft, crumbly Gournay cheese, spiked most commonly with garlic and fines herbes, which are the soft herbs like chives, parsley, chervil, and tarragon.  Its savoriness is its greatest quality—it is so overwhelmingly and delightfully flavorful, tempered by a slight tang, almost of a chèvre.  Normally, I stuff it messily into a crusty baguette (which I highly recommend you do as well), but this week it plays an Oscar-winning role in creating the world’s best smashed potatoes. Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Mango Chutney): Cheddar and Chutney Toasties

RECIPE: Cheddar and Chutney Toasties
Cheddar and Chutney Toasties

Cheddar and Chutney Toasties

I proudly declare this month’s Secret Ingredient over in my column on Serious Eats to be Mango Chutney.  It used to be something I despised, but after all my time in the UK with Mr. English, I have found, and I think you’ll agree, that the sweet jammy vinegariness of this gorgeous, chunky condiment makes it like nothing else.

Get the whole story on Serious Eats.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I don’t feel so bad about being a copy-cat. Around the corner from where my English boyfriend grew up is a recently reinvigorated gastropub. The beers and ciders are to be expected; but the foie gras toastie, less so.

If you’re wondering what a “toastie” could be, it’s just a cutesy English name for a grilled cheese sandwich. At this gastropub, the toasties are all stuffed with melting, oozing English cheddar, and a variety of accents: foie gras, for example; spring onions; or, my favorite, mango chutney.

Mango chutney, a chunky condiment from India and Pakistan that is found everywhere in the UK, is made from raw, green mangoes, which explains some of that tart, almost citrusy flavor. Mango chutney is sweet, but also quite savory, with whole spices, and tart, with vinegar. The combination is perfect with melting cheese. The sweetness of the fruit works in that same way of cheese plates with grapes, and the tartness cuts through the fattiness of the cheese. The chutney and the cheddar, squeezed together between two crusty toasted slices of bread, is the perfect snack. And I don’t have to walk around the corner to the pub.

Cheddar and Chutney Toasties
makes 1 sandwich (multiply at will)

Cheddar and Chutney ToastiesINGREDIENTS

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread
  • 2 teaspoons mango chutney*
  • 1/4 cup shredded mature white cheddar cheese

PROCEDURE

Lightly butter one side of the bread. Smear the unbuttered side of each slice of bread with 1 teaspoon mango chutney. Pile the cheese in the center of one slice of bread, with the butter on the outside of the sandwich, and top with the other slice of bread, also butter side out.

Heat a wide saute pan over medium-low heat. Toast the sandwich for 4 minutes on the first side, or until the bread is golden and crisp and the cheese begins to melt. Use a spatula to flip the sandwich over, and toast another 4 minutes. The cheese should be totally melted. Cut the sandwich in half on the diagonal, and serve immediately.

NOTES

Buy good chutney.  Cheap chutney can be very vinegary, and not nice.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Tricolore Berry Meringue Creams

RECIPE: Tricolore Berry Meringue Creams
Tricolor Meringue Creams

Tricolor Meringue Creams

Get the whole story on Serious Eats.

Today is Bastille Day!  A veritable fête.  In the States, I always toast La France with an early evening pétanque game on the beach, and a twilit grill or picnic.  If I’m lucky enough to be in France—something worth celebrating on its own—it’s down to the fireworks show.

By way of a bit of history, on this day in 1789, brave French people stormed the Bastille prison, an uprising that contributed to the fall of the French monarchy and the establishment of the republic that France is today.  I often joke that culinarily speaking, France was never in a bad place.  Whether you were eating the bread and water of the Bastille (what is better than French bread and French water?) or Marie Antoinette’s cakes (to quote Ina, how bad can that be?), you were eating well.  Of course, that’s not really true, and in all seriousness, it is a very proud day, hoisted up by the triumvirate of ideologies that is still so powerful in France today: liberty, equality, and brotherhood, symbolized by the blue, white, and red of the French flag.

This sweet, simple dessert is only appropriate in the heyday of summer and its sweet, plump berries, coinciding just perfectly with Le Quatorze.  The white of the meringue (store bought, of course—it is to hot and humid to deal with homemade meringue) and French vanilla whipped cream stand for egalité.  The blueberries for liberté.  And the raspberries and currants for fraternité.  A fun, jaunty little tribute to Le Tricolore on this great summer fête.

Two Berry Meringue NestsMeringue Nests, French Vanilla Cream

Tricolore Berry Meringue Creams
serves 4

Tricolor Meringue CreamsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  • The seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 bought meringue nests, about 3.5 inches in diameter
  • 20 raspberries
  • 25 to 30 blueberries
  • 4 stems red currants

PROCEDURE

In a large bowl, add the cream and the vanilla seeds.  Whisk until stiff.  Stir in the sugar.

Arrange the meringue nests on a platter.  Fill each with a quarter of the vanilla cream.

Arrange the berries on top.  To make them look their best, arrange the raspberries first: a cluster of 3 opposite a cluster of 2.  Fill in the gaps with the blueberries, and top with a strand of red currants.  Serve right away, although these will keep okay covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for about an hour.

 

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Desserts, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Fruit, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
 

Bastille Day Postcard

View of the Sea

Near Nice

Happy Quatorze!  I have just landed in the South of France, and this is the view from my window.  I am so excited for what this weekend has in store!  I will, of course, dutifully share photos and menus.  Bises

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Categories: Côte d'Azur, Voyages