a home cook with notions & an appetite
Ah, this sounds easy, right? Or so husband thought when he picked out this recipe to try after just glancing at what looked like a pretty straightforward recipe. See, here’s the thing with ad hoc – they love to layer recipes. So one recipe leads to others.
And in the case of our chicken and sausage recipe, not only did ad hoc love to layer, it was also a test of our ability to find ingredients. Let’s just say this was our community’s way of saying, we love ethnic, but what’s this Basque you speak of?
Before cooking the chicken, there were the peppers – more specifically a dish called ad hoc peperonata rustica that would be cooked. But before we could cook that, the self-imposed rules said two other recipes had to be cooked as well – ad hoc soffritto and ad hoc chicken stock. Layers. 4 recipes for 1!
Let’s start out simple – soffrito. This ended up being one of my favorite things. The ingredients are about as simple as you can get:
What you really need is time and lots of it. 5 hours of it. Oh, and if you don’t have a diffuser, a little ingenuity.
At the beginning, it’s all about cooking onions and a bit of salt in the olive oil – yes, it’s a lot of olive oil. Oh – that piece of aluminum foil? That’s my “diffuser” so I could keep the olive oil on a low bubbling simmer the entire time.
In the meantime, I did find time to grate my tomatoes – that’s right – grate. I don’t remember having to hunt down band-aids after this particular project, so I shall count this as one of the times box grater did not win.
Two and a half hours later, my onions are caramelized in olive oil and ready to have tomato puree added to the mix. I do this and let it cook for another l 2 1/2 hours. A quick toss in of some garlic, the draining of the olive oil and you have the most amazing smell in a bowl EVER.
So I still have to make some chicken stock for this stuff – sure, I could use some stuff out of a box, but it is on the list and I want to make it. Of the two ingredients – the 5lbs of chicken backs/necks and the pound of chicken feet, I would have had the harder time finding chicken feet, right? Okay, maybe it’s easy for me because we shop at the New Asian Super Market enough to know they had chicken feet…but did you know none of the megamarts had their pieces/parts of chickens for stock anymore? Luckily – North Market (specifically, the awesome folks at Bluescreek Farm Meats) to the rescue! I will say that I’m now compulsive about saving and freezing chicken backs when I cut up whole chickens now.
After my random complaints about where to find items on the shopping list, I should mention what was needed:
After cleaning all the chicken pieces/parts, the first part of cooking was all chicken and a lot of compulsive picking out of impurities (foamies and ick) with a spoon. Just before adding the vegetables, one adds a load of ice to get the last of the ickies you can since scraping up stuff becomes a tough battle with veg.
Oh – my pot? Yeah, I know it’s half off the burner. That’s supposed to create a natural convection of some sort that makes scraping out the stuff easier. It’s still tedious.
After all is said and done, it’s onto the ice bath and straining. I’d love to say that I immediately got to put these in the containers, but I refrigerated the stock overnight to pull even more stuff off the top – and got a lot of stock for my work. Yes, I’m one of those dorks with fresh stock in my freezer.
In the meantime, we broke down 2 chickens (8 pieces each) and brined them overnight. (Both backs were saved for future stock making.)
So, now we can FINALLY get to that peperonata rustica! Only we had to really struggle to find two of the ingredients – so much so that we resorted to mail order on two.
Grilled Piquillo Peppers – Something ad hoc loves. I was able to find a good deal on these through Amazon’s grocery. Yay. (UPDATE: These have apparently started to gain some popularity and are now appearing on megamart shelves!)
Piment d’Espelett – which we found through Touch of Europe. (I noticed that Mr. Keller’s recommendation, Market Hall Foods, has a “back in stock!” notation, so that explains why I was searching another vendor.) This was a spice that eludes many people on the internets looking for it in home towns but seems to show up in a lot of great recipes folks want to try…megamarts should take note.
First things first – the roasting of peppers in the oven and peeling them into strips. You can see the grilled piquillo peppers being added in as well.
All of the roasted peppers, the soffrito, the chicken stock and the Piment D’Esprett are mixed together and cooked stovetop for half an hour (with some salt).
In the end, you end up with a really lovely pepper mix that has these amazing depths of flavors – so much more than quickly throwing some peppers in oil in a pan.
At last onto the main show – which is as simple as the recipe first seemed. Browning a few pieces of chicken and sausage and then adding the peppers and cooking covered in the oven until the chicken is cooked through.
The ingredient list is simple once all the components are finished:
The dish is plenty flavorful and very filling, but I have to admit the leftovers are even better than freshly cooked as the flavors have time to marry a bit more.