Boeuf Bourguignon for Julia’s Birthday

American Masters: Julia Child

Today would be Julia Child’s 105th birthday.

IMG_3999This was the very first “dish that Julia made on “The French Chef” and that was deliberate. Her goal in choosing this dish (as mine is in The Home Chef) was to demystify what was, and still is, considered one of the most delicious meals you can make, and thereby demystify cooking in general.

In fact, the original title of The French Chef, was “French Cooking for the Servant-less American Housewife.”

Her point: It’s beef stew with red wine…anyone can make it. It also shows so many great techniques of French cooking, and the basic building blocks of preparing better food, for anyone who has an interest.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

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Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child

For the Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil                                                 
  • 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced                                         
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt                                                           
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons flour                                                    
  • 3 C red wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti)
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock                                                   
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed                                              
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

For the braised onions

  • 1 lg. Sweet onion, diced                                            
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil                                          
  • 1⁄2 cup beef stock
  • salt & fresh ground pepper                                        
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley                                                          

For the Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 1 lb mushroom, quartered                                          
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Root Veggies

  • 1lb small Yukon Gold potatoes                                
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp of salt                                                                 
  • ½ lb peeled baby carrots
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.

Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large stainless steel pan and warm over medium-high heat.

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Dry off the cubes of beef and fry them, a few at a time in the hot oil until nicely browned on all sides. Do not crowd the pan.

Once browned, remove to the casserole.

In the same oil/fat, sauté the onions until softened, and set them aside till needed. Deglaze the pan with a little red wine, scraping up the browned bits of meat that are stuck to the bottom.

Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs

Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is at a low simmer for three hours.

The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

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While the meat is cooking, prepare the veggies:

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Halve the potatoes, add to a large bowl with carrots and chopped celery, and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, and toss again.

Place the veggies in a single layer, cut side up, on a foil-covered roasting pan, or sheet.

Roast until just medium brown, and not quite cooked through. (10-12 minutes)

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For the mushrooms:

Heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.

As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms, tossing and shaking frequently, for about five minutes.

As soon as they’ve browned lightly, remove from heat.

To Finish the Stew:

When the beef is done, remove the casserole from the oven and empty into a sieve over a saucepan.

Return the solids to the pot, and add all of the veggies to the meat.

Skim the fat off the sauce and bring it to a simmer, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. You should have around 2 1/2 cups of sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If it’s too thick, add a little stock. Too thin, simmer to reduce to the right consistency.

Taste for seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

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If you’re serving immediately, warm over medium-low heat and simmer a couple of minutes.

Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter, garnished with fresh parsley.

If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.

20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and veggies.

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Easiest way to Grill a Mess of Shrimp

Easy Grilled Shrimp

So, I needed to grill up a whole mess of shrimp appetizers (recipe below) for a cook-out yesterday. While shopping, I found these kabob baskets on a clearance shelf for $3 each (normally about $10 for a set of two on Amazon), and had an epiphany.

What I don’t like about grilling shrimp kabobs:

  • It takes up a lot of grill space.
  • You’re constantly turning and keeping an eye on a lot of individual pieces of shrimp.
  • I always forget to soak my skewers long enough.
  • Served on the skewer (the way I like) can leave for sooty fingers, which my clients aren’t wild about.

What I like about shrimp kabobs:

  • They’re awesome.
  • They’re easy to eat.
  • They help with portion control (ie: everyone gets some, without breaking the bank on shrimp gluttons!)

So, I had a thought…what if I grilled up a bunch of these beauties at a time, and THEN added them to the skewers for serving. Problem: now instead of a dozen or two skewers to keep track ff, I have a couple of hundred individual shrimp to keep turning and moving…and quickly!

Shrimp will overcook or burn quicker than it takes to say, “Oh, S***!” Especially when marinated with an oil or alcohol base.

The solution? The kabob basket!

Kabob basket for grilling shrimpI loaded 40 large shrimp per basket, set them on the grill, and cooked about 3 minutes per side, flipping baskets (40 servings at a time) just three time each.

The best way to grill a lot of shrimp
Photo by Kristen Renner

Open the baskets, a quick flip of the wrist, and all the shrimp were in the bowl ready to skewer!

Grilling shrimp with a kabob basket
Photo by Kristen Renner

The result? Enough appetizers to keep the whole crowd happy, in less than 20 minutes, AND I was able to work on other dishes at the same time!

Then, just pop a couple of the en of each clean skewer, spritz with some lemon juice, and sprinkle the whole platter with chopped parsley.

I will NEVER grill shrimp any other way again!

Chef Perry

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

Shrimp Salmoriglio
Serves 40 (2 skewers each)

  • 1/2 cup salted capers
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 6 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • 150 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice for spritzing
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced

On a cutting board, finely chop the drained capers with the basil leaves and garlic.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season the sauce with pepper.

Place shrimp in a large zip bag, pour in the marinade, seals and toss to coat. Let rest in the fridge 2-8 hours.

1 hour before grilling, remove from fridge and let sit on counter.

Light a grill, coals, etc

Drain the shrimp, and load as many as will fit into each kabob box, without packing them too tightly. Close the box.

Grill over high heat, turning once per side, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the shrimp from the box and transfer them to a platter (or a bowl, if you’re going to skewer them, 2-3 per skewer). Sprinkle more pepper on on top (optional), a healthy handful of minced parsley, and serve.

Home Chef Note: You could easily change this up to a great “South of the Border” version, by swapping the capers an basil for chili powder and minced jalapenos, limes for the lemons, and cilantro instead of parsley!

Mexican grilled shrimp

 

Hello my friend…

A letter to the bullied

Hello my friend…

I’m writing this letter to the young man who stutters, or has an acne problem, or is just smaller than everyone else. To the young lady who never seems to know what to say, or may be carrying a few extra pounds, or who’s skin is a different color than everyone else in class.

You may not believe it, but once upon a time, I was the littlest kid in class. An only child with a sick mom, a sever speech impediment, coke-bottle glasses, and a thrift-store wardrobe…in other words, I was an easy target.

You know what I’m talking about.

Bullies made my life a nightmare from the 3rd grade, through most of high-school. With no real friends or defenders, it was a frightening, lonely way to grow up, and I still carry some of those scars, on my skin and on my heart, forty years later, and I always will.

So will you.

Bullies suck, and so does being bullied.

You don’t deserve it, you didn’t ask for it, and it’s not happening because there’s anything wrong with YOU. You are amazing. You are beautiful, and there is not another living soul on earth who is like you. That makes you a treasure beyond price.

Maybe your parents don’t understand, maybe your teachers and coaches were never bullied, and can’t relate, but you’re not alone.

You are SO not alone.

Your bullies are weak, and scared, and small. So small on the inside that the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves is to make someone else feel bad.

How sad is that?

But, you know what? There’s a gift in being bullied.

That can be hard to accept, believe me, I know.

But it’s true.

It can make you strong. It can make you brave. But most importantly, it can make you…kind.

And it’s not easy (but you’re used to things not being easy, aren’t you?)

You see, when you know what it feels like, the fear, the confusion, the betrayal, the pain…you can choose to let it make you bitter, to make you as small inside as the ones who hurt you, OR you can use it to guide how you treat others, how you speak to others in pain, how you protect and defend those weaker than you. How to choose compassion and mercy, over hate.

How you be exactly the kind of hero that you lay awake longing for.

Hate is easy, any small-minded weakling can hate. But love…love and kindness are the strongest powers in the universe, and when you have that strength, you cannot be beaten.

Because you…YOU…know.

And because you know, you have greatness in you.

You are developing a strength that many will never attain, no matter how fast, or smart, or rich, or pretty. A strength of heart, and of mind.

You will be able to see things others don’t, do things other’s can’t.

And the world needs you…desperately. They need you more and more every day, because it’s people like you…like US…that have the power to make the world a better place…because we know.

chef-perry-perkinsChoose Kindness, little hero, and hang in there.

It will get better…I promise.

Your friend,

Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

If you’ve know what I’m talking about, please share this.

If not, share it anyway, you never know who’s reading.

Easiest Chicken Stock Recipe Ever

Simple Chx Stock

Growing up in my father’s kitchens, I have made, and helped make, oceans of chicken stock. The first job every morning, after turning on the lights and ovens, was to pull the leftover-roasted chicken, bones, and veggies from the walk-in, and get the stock started.

Real chicken stock is the backbone of countless dishes in a restaurant, from soups and gravies, to rice and potatoes, to pan sauces and poaching liquid.

It’s really indispensable.

I’m going to say, right up front, that there’s no replacement for a deep, rich stock that’s simmered for hours, pulling every bit from flavor out of the meat and veggies, and into the liquid.

However, there are easier ways to do it, and this is my favorite…using the crock pot!

You’ll need:

  • 3-4 roasted bone-in chicken thighs (get them from the hot deli counter at your favorite grocery. A whole “Costco” bird, breasts removed, is awesome for this, too!)
  • Half a dozen whole garlic cloves, peeled (chopped is fine)
  • 2 Tbs fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbs. butter + 1 Tbs olive oil

In the morning before work (or before you go to bed at night…)

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and mix.

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When hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Saute until carrots are just starting to brown, and then add garlic cloves, and salt. Continue to saute, tossing often, until all veggies are golden. You can toss the roasted chicken thighs in as well, if you like, to add a little extra flavor to the rest.

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron on my Patreon page!

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Transfer meat and veggies to a large crock-pot, add bay leaf, cover, and cook on high 8 hours.

Go to work, go to bed, go to the mall…whatever.

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Find this, and many more “use at home” professional cooking techniques and recipes in my new book, “The Home Chef!”    Available on Amazon.com

After 8 hours (carefully) pour the stock through a sieve to remove the solids. Spooning out the biggest pieces first, with a slotted spoon, can make this less messy. If you want an even clearer stock, you can do a second straining through cheesecloth.

Taste it now…”Meh”…right?

Here’s the secret…

Get out your largest skillet and heat it to high.

Carefully pour in a couple of inches of stock, and let it sizzle and boil, until reduced by at least half. Remove from heat, taste for salt (I usually add a little more salt, and some black pepper at this point.)

You stock is now ready to use! You can:

Cook with it immediately.

Pour it into a tall container and stick it in the fridge – in the morning you’ll have a thick layer of chicken fat or “schmaltz” on top. Skim this off and use it like you would butter.

It’s uh-mazing for cooking scrambled eggs!

If serving over chicken, try this… (before adding any additional salt!)

Roasted-Chicken-Piccata-add-parsley

Simple Lemon-Caper Pan Sauce

Leave one cup of stock in the skillet (still on high), add a healthy knob of butter, a few capers, a couple of slices of peeled lemon, and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, until reduced to a thickened sauce. Taste for seasoning, and drizzle over chicken. It’s so freakin’ good!

This stock is not only about a thousand times tastier than that tinny, nasty bullion-water that comes in the cans, it’s also MUCH healthier, as it’s not loaded with sodium and other preservative.

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I use this exact recipe for both my “Magical 12 Minute Chicken Piccata” and to cook the Garlic-Cilantro Rice that I serve with it.

(You can see me make this crazy-easy, and much healthier, Italian classic, in this clip from my recent appearance on AM Northwest.)

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

 

 

Best Warthog Bunghole, Ever!

Best Ever

Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t like recipes that have “The Best Ever” “The Greatest”, “The Most Delicious” etc., in the title.

hyperbole3Yes, it’s a marketing thing, and yes, I’m guilty of doing it myself (slave to hyperbole that I am!) But, it just feels…presumptuous.

Like they’re trying to hard, and that makes me wonder why.

Unless I know you, and know you pretty darn well, how can I possibly, as a chef, make a assumption like that?

If it has onions in it, how can it be “the best” to my daughter…who despises onions (that personal hell is another story…)

If my friend Byron thinks cilantro tastes like soap (which is a physiological condition, not just a personal preference) how can my Shrimp and Bacon Tacos be the “Most Delicious” tacos he’s ever eaten? (see what I did there?)

It’s like the snake oil salesman who promises that his potion will cure everything from emphysema to a leaky radiator, it’s…well…sketchy.

What I CAN say is that it’s the best taco, or meatloaf, or wart-hog’s bunghole (hyperbole, I swear), that I’VE ever tasted…but I can’t, no matter how good I cook, honestly make that statement for you.

Thoughts?

Chef Perry
chefperryperkinsbooks.com

Reverse-Searing and 12 Minute Chicken Class

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Had a wonderful time with last week’s private class.

5 wonderful ladies joined me in the kitchen of an old friend of mine to cover some basic techniques, a few time saving cooking tricks, and some of my favorite stove-top and grill-top recipes.

Started out with some knife skills instruction, followed by getting our mise-en-place ready for the various dishes we were about to prepare.

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Next we went, step-by-step through my “12 minute microwave chicken breast.” This is one of my favorite lessons as it invariably begins with skepticism and raised-eyebrows, and ends with “Ohhs” and “Ahhs”… I love that! (Recipe below…)

We cooked up a half-dozen chicken breasts for the two recipes we had planned.

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For the first dish, we discussed what a reverse-sear is, and then demonstrated on the grill along with a few dips in one of my very favorite condiments, Thai sweet chili sauce, just long enough to thicken the glaze and get a touch of char on our chicken.

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We served with up with a nice fresh tossed salad, and a little sticky rice. While the ladies enjoyed this dish, we went on to our second chicken dish, and our second and third lessons: how to make a simple homemade marinara, and the secrets of perfect pasta.

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Then, it was time to bring out the big guns…time to learn how simple it can be to grill up a perfect flank steak (my personal favorite cut), as wells as lots of tips and tricks for cooking over fire.

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15027589_10157809827610445_5507541159328415296_n-copyLastly we discussed how important it is to rest a piece of meat (and why), as well as exactly how the way you cut it can make or ruin the final dish.

A little wine, a lot of laughs, and some great food. It doesn’t get any better than that!

We’ve already planned another class in January where we’ll learn the secrets of a great steakhouse, a fancy, but super-simple chocolate-bomb of a French dessert, and finally, I’ll pick up the gauntlet to prove that I can make a Brussels’s sprouts dish that everyone in the room will love.

Thank you, Christina V., for making this happen!

If you enjoyed this article, and would like to learn any of these tips, techniques, and recipes, drop me a note and let’s plan a class!

Let’s Cook!

~Chef Perry

12 Minute Microwave Chicken
Excerpt from: The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen.”

BookCoverPreview.doI love doing this recipe in my cooking classes, just for the look on my students faces when I tell them we’re going to make “microwave chicken.” But really, we’re making poached chicken, we’re just using the microwave as the heat source. This is a great technique to shave some time off dinner prep, by multitasking while the chicken cooks.

These are also a great first step for reverse-seared chicken on the grill (more on the in the BBQ & Grilling chapter)

Place the chicken breasts in a microwave safe baking dish, and pour the broth over the top, bringing the liquid at least ½ way up the side of the meat.

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Do NOT cover the meat with liquid…we’re not boiling, we’re poaching. Seal the dish with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for four minutes.

Carefully lift plastic wrap (liquid will be hot, so open from the far side, so the steam escapes away from your face) and flip each chicken breast, reseal, and microwave another four minutes.

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Then, leave the whole thing in the microwave (off) for a final four minutes. This creates an amazingly juicy, tender, and flavor-packed piece of chicken that you can use in a wide variety of dishes, or just eat as is.

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NOTE, if you’re using some of those truly frightening “Dolly Parton” chicken breasts they’re growing downstream from the nuke plants nowadays, you might need to add a minute to each step.

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If you’re serving it straight up, browning the outside very quickly in hot butter is a visually appealing, but not absolutely necessary step, though it will add a nice caramelized flavor to the chicken. If you decide to add this step, remember…wet meat won’t brown…so pat it dry on both sides before placing it in the hot butter.

After browning, let it rest again, before slicing across the grain.

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*What spices you add to the stock determine the flavor profile of the finished dish. Going for Asian? Try a little soy sauce, rock sugar, and ginger.

Italian?  Some basil, oregano, garlic, and a little tomato paste thinned in water.

The options are endless. Take a look in the spices chapter for the best spice combinations from around the world. My favorite is just to poach them in some homemade chicken stock, brown in butter, and serve over a bacon-mushroom carbonara.

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Oh, and before you pour out that beautiful leftover stock, I have three words for you…

Best. Rice. Ever.

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You’re welcome.