Wednesday, February 15, 2012

52 Cookbooks - Week 18, The Best Recipes in the World

Next up in my random draw of cookbooks was The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman. It's an ambitious survey of world cuisine for the home cook. Bittman goes relatively light on French and Italian recipes, figuring most skilled American cooks already know those cuisines, in order to focus on everywhere else. I could've gone Caribbean, Greek, or Eastern European, to name only a few, but I chose Asian recipes for my weeknight dinner. (And, as always on weeknights, I forgot to take pictures.)

Two-Way Chicken
(I chose the Thai variation--adding sugar and nam pla would've made it more Vietnamese.)

2 1/2 - 3 lbs chicken parts
3 T soy sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 T peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 t hot pepper flakes
1 T neutral oil
Lime wedges for serving, optional
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1) Place the chicken in a large bowl with the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and hot pepper flakes. Toss well to coat and proceed or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.

2) Place the oil in a large, deep skillet over med-high heat. After a minute or so, when the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and add it, skin side down, to the skillet. Brown it well on both sides, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and continue to cook, turning as necessary, until the chicken is cooked thorugh, about 15 minutes longer, removing the pieces as they finish cooking. (It took them more like 25 min. to finish, and I was only using drumsticks and thighs.)

3) Serve the chicken with lime wedges, hot, warm, or at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.

This was a pretty good recipe, not something grand and fancy I'd want to serve to company while showing off, but a pleasant weeknight dinner for a day I have time to do more than boil spaghetti or scramble eggs. For a vegetable side I chose:

Quick-Braised Root Vegetables with Hoisin

2 T neutral oil
1 T chopped garlic
1 T peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 med carrots, roughly chopped
4 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 T hoisin sauce
1 T soy sauce
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

1) Heat a wok or large skillet with a lid over med-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until it is quite hot. Add the oil, garlic, and ginger and stir for 10 seconds. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, until they begin to brown, 2-3 min.

2) Lower the heat to med and add 1/2 c. water or stock (I used chicken stock to add a little more flavor), along with the hoisin sauce and soy sauce; stir. Cover and cook over med-low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 min. Uncover, raise the heat to high, and add the scallions. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has all but evaporated, just a couple of minutes. Serve immediately.

Now, this was an excellent recipe, and the quickest, most flavorful preparation of fresh root vegetables I've run across.

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