October 2014

tonkatsu

You and tonkatsu have probably met each other’s acquaintance at your local sushi restaurant. It’s usually an option in a bento box of some kind, alongside other Americanized favorites—salmon teriyaki, vegetable tempura, California rolls. Like Argentine milanesa or Italian chicken parmesan, tonkatsu is basically a pounded piece of meat that is breaded, fried and served with sauce. It’s hard to go wrong.

We don’t do anything fancy with our tonkatsu. It is easy to prep and takes just 10 minutes to fry (and you can shallow fry it – no need to bust out the dutch oven and a liter of oil).  We usually serve it in a large bowl with shredded cabbage, vinegar rice and a few garnishes picked up during the occasional visit to Japantown. It’s not traditional to serve tonkatsu with vinegar rice, but I love vinegar rice and it’s my kitchen. Plus it helps jazz up cabbage.

Tonkatsu | The Answer is Always Pork

Tonkatsu 
2 thin cut, boneless pork chops, pounded a bit (you could also use chicken)
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
high temp oil for frying (safflower, sunflower, or canola oil)

For Serving
Vegetable and Fruit Sauce (Japanese BBQ sauce)
Vinegar sushi rice (1 cup rice, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt)
Shredded cabbage, about 1/2 cabbage cut into thin slices (toss with some rice vinegar if you’re not making vinegar rice)
Pickled ginger (optional)
Togarashi (Japanese dried chili pepper, optional)

Tonkatsu | The Answer is Always Pork

Cook your rice according to your rice cooker or the package directions. While your rice is cooking, make the sushi su by combining 1/4 cup rice vinegar,  2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan and heating until the sugar and salt dissolve. Slice your cabbage into very thin slices and set aside. Then prep the pork.

Using a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet, pound the pork cutlets until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper. Then dredge the pork in the flour, then the egg, then the panko. Set aside or refrigerate if your rice still has a while left to cook.

When your rice is done cooking, heat 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy sauté pan or cast iron skillet. When the oil is hot (test by dropping a bit of panko into the batter. If it immediately starts to bubble, the oil is ready), add the pork to the pan. Cook 5 minutes per side, until the pork is golden brown. Remove from the pan and let drain on a plate with paper towels or a cooling rack. Cut into thin strips.

Add the sushi su to the rice and stir gently to distribute.  Split the cabbage between two medium bowls. Top with some rice. Then top with the tonkatsu. Serve with Vegetable and Fruit sauce, togarashi, and pickled ginger.

-Emily

Tonkatsu | The Answer is Always Pork

 

off to a wedding!

Posted on October 9, 2014

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This Saturday, my cousin Katie is getting married, starting a new chapter with the man who is her perfect compliment. And as a fringe benefit of celebrating their love, I get to spend three whole days off in a row with mine! I’m feeling so much excitement going into this weekend, most especially to celebrate Katie and Scott, but also to see our family and get our groove on on that dance floor. Jordan on the dance floor is one of my favorite things. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend.

Mostly this is to say, since I’m not making the cake for this wedding, the recipe blogging will be sparse for a week or two while we celebrate (and recover from said celebration). I hope you have a beautiful few weeks. Tell someone special you love ’em, and tell them why. You can never do that enough.

Xo, Emily

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coq au vin

Posted on October 2, 2014

The second way we wanted to test cooking our beautiful chicken from Eatwell Farm was to braise it. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of braised chicken is coq au vin, and the second is Julia Child. (I won’t be offended if you click that link right now and improve your day significantly by watching a few minutes of The French Chef).

My love for Julia is great. She’s taught me many things over the years, things that are just as useful in the kitchen as outside of it. The most important is probably confidence (Never apologize!!!), and the second, humor (“They’ll never know!”, she winks and scrapes an omelet that jumped ship right back into the pan). Julia’s warmth and enthusiasm for life are something I aspire to, and when I cook her recipes, I feel that much closer to it.

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Coq au vin tastes like comfort. You can’t go wrong with the slow simmered combination of chicken, wine and vegetables, it turns out delicious every time. And it’s impossible to not feel taken care of after you eat it. Isn’t that feeling, that love and community, exactly what inspires us every time we prepare a meal to share.

Coq au Vin, adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1-3 to 4 pound chicken, broken down (legs, thighs, wings, breasts, you know the drill)
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock (homemade if you got it, but if not, Better Than Bouillon concentrate isn’t half bad)
a few sprigs of thyme
a bay leaf
salt, pepper
2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters

Preheat your oven to 300° F. Sprinkle the chicken pieces on both sides with salt. In a dutch oven over medium heat, heat the bacon fat or oil. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides. I’d do it in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Remove the browned chicken from the pot and set aside.

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Add a bit more bacon fat or oil and sauté the vegetables until the onions are translucent, 7 – 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of cognac and then pour in the wine and chicken stock. Add the chicken back in along with a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Bring everything to a boil.

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Once it boils, cover the pot and put it in the oven. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms. Warm 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan. Add the mushrooms and brown them, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and put them on a plate.

After about 40 minutes, though you could go longer if you have a tough bird, remove the braise from the oven, and put it back on the stovetop. Fish out the chicken pieces and put them aside on a plate.

In the pan you browned the mushrooms in, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook the roux for a few minutes, until it is a light golden brown. Add the roux to the braising juices and whisk to combine. Bring the braising liquid back to a boil and the sauce will thicken nicely. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and then add the chicken and mushrooms back in.

You can serve the coq au vin immediately, or turn off the heat, cover and rewarm when you’re ready to eat. We served ours with mashed potatoes, but rice or pasta would also do just fine. It’s good to have something to soak up the sauce.

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Isn’t that roasted chicken head a sight to behold?! The coq au vin is on the left, and Jordan knocked that sauce out of the park.

-Emily

Ps. If you really want to nerd out and love Julia Child even more, read My Life in France, and then read this phenomenal biography by Bob Spitz. And if you’re in a bad mood, watch a few episodes of The French Chef. You cannot help but smile.