Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...Make These Recipes!

Tonight marks a first on Out Of The Culinary - tonight I departed the world of "safe" cook tested and approved recipes and into the world of "boy I sure hope this works..." In other words, tonight I tried something new, something untested, something BOLD! Well...sort of.

Tonight's recipes are a mixing of sorts. One is a 100% mirror of the original recipe - the other is a borrowed concept applied to my own ideas. Both recipes were taken from the April / May issue of Jamie Magazine (Jamie Oliver's official magazine) which is only published in the UK. I managed to find a copy in the back of our local Barnes & Nobles' cooking magazine section. Needless to say, I was a little excited - (To have Jamie magazine sent to the US it costs over $70 a year...ouch!) The one thing I didn't count on was the fact that a UK magazine would have UK measurements and temperatures. That left me wondering just how warm 200 degrees celsius was and how many potatoes 1 kilogram was. Luckily, this was remedied with the help of a conversion table on my iPhone. (Whew!)


The Recipe: Lemon Roast Potatoes
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie Magazine, April / May 2010 issue

What You'll Need:

2 Lbs Potatoes
2 X Lemons
1 Tbsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Oregano

The Recipe: Spicy Lemon Roast Chicken*
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie Magazine, April / May 2010 issue **

What You'll Need:

2 X Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lemon
1 Small Onion
1 Red Chile
1 Tbsp. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Basil

* That's the name I'm giving it - since it's my recipe. Don't search for it by that name, you may not find the same thing!

** I'm borrowing the "Lemony Surf N' Turf" marinade for my recipe. That's the recipe I'm referring to here.

Place a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil. (Also, preheat your oven to 400 degrees) Once boiling, add your potatoes (after peeling and halving them - although I chose to quarter mine) to the water and allow to cook for 10 minutes. While the potatoes boil, slice your lemons into smaller wedges. Once again, I quartered my lemons, but that is all up to your preference (and how large of a roasting pan you have - the bigger the pan, the bigger the wedges can be.)

THAT was a lot of peeling...my hand hurts

This process (of quick boiling potatoes) is known as parboiling. We touched on this process last week, during the roast vegetable dish - but I never really went into full detail. Parboiling is the process of partially boiling vegetables in order to speed up or ease the cooking process later on. Rice is parboiled to cut the cooking time in half while things such as potatoes and carrots are parboiled to soften them up before roasting. By parboiling your vegetables, you're helping them become very soft and tender after a good long roast.

After 10 minutes, drain the water from your potatoes and add them to a large roasting pan. Add the lemon wedges, coriander, oregano and a good "lug" of olive oil as well. Give the roasting pan a few good shakes, until everything is evenly coated. Top everything off with a pinch of salt and pepper, and another drizzle of olive oil. Place your roasting pan into the 400 degree oven and set the timer for 50 minutes.

Ready for roastin'

You can now turn your attention to the second dish. As I mentioned before, I wanted to get a little bold with this dish. While I was browsing Jamie Oliver's magazine (Maggie's Note: For what seemed like the 40th time!) I came across a recipe for "Lemony Surf N' Turf" The recipe was a combination of chorizo sausages, chicken wings and shrimp, all roasted with cherry tomatoes and a custom lemon marinade. While I wasn't really interested in the surf n' turf side of the recipe, the interesting combination of flavors in the marinade caught my eye. After some internal debating, I decided to use the marinade in a way that it wasn't intended - as a roasting sauce for chicken breast.

You can begin making this marinade by zesting one lemon (Aside: We now have a lemon zester! However, it was in a pack of other fruit prep essentials for $2.99 and...well, we got what we paid for. While the paring knife was a great value - the zester is pretty lame. It took way too much effort and time to zest one lemon. I guess this is a learning experience. Spend a little more up front, save a lot of hassle later.) Slice that same lemon open and pour the the juice from 1/2 of it into a food processor or blender. Chop up your onion and slice your red chile (be sure to remove the chile seeds if you don't like things too spicy!) and add those into the blender along with your lemon zest. I decided to use the remaining half of the lemon here as well. I used my paring knife and carefully cut away the meat of the lemon, making sure to avoid the pith (white part) away from skin. (I REALLY like lemons, so I didn't think twice about making a very lemony marinade. If you're not a big citrus fan, you can omit this part.) I added this to the blender as well. Finally, add 4 tbsp. of olive oil and mix the entire concoction until everything is well blended.

Tasty, tasty, tasty! 

Only the pith left - that's efficiency!

I know what you're thinking here - because I was thinking the same thing. "There is absolutely no way this is going to taste good in the end." Well, that's what I was thinking anyway. I just didn't see how a red chile, onions and lemons were going to coexist in one dish. Despite my reservations I poured the marinade over two chicken breasts in a small roasting pan. After adding a healthy dash of basil and oregano on top of both breasts (as well as a pinch of salt and pepper) I placed the pan in the oven.  If you're keeping things moving here, there should be about 35 minutes left on your oven timer. If not, set a new timer for 35 minutes.

Once the timer has gone off on both dishes, the only thing left to do is dish up and enjoy!

The Results:

Like I mentioned, I had my doubts about my lemon marinade. Who was I to challenge the cooking gods? I was taking a step out on a limb, assuming that this marinade would work with two plain old chicken breasts - and the further along I went preparing the meal, the more I began to doubt my decision.  This recipe was designed to be used on a grill - with chorizo sausages (spicy) and shrimp. There was probably some secret flavor combination that I voided by only placing it on chicken - and it was probably going to be made worse by using an oven rather than a grill. "Dumb decision Tyler" I told myself. "Dumb, dumb, dumb."

Or brilliant!

As it turns out, my 'bold' move paid off. The roasted chicken came out amazingly well. The flavors complimented each other nicely, with the end result tasting like a lemon basted barbecued chicken. The onions and chile gave the chicken a 'fresh off the grill flavor' while the lemon really added another dimension of zest and tangy flavor. In the end, I'm glad I decided to get creative. (I'm even happier that it worked, I think it would have set back my confidence a little had this ended up tasting like gym shoe.)

The lemon roasted potatoes turned out delicious as well. You could really taste the lemons in each bite. They added a citrus kick - almost making the potatoes taste sweet. The oregano added some subtle flavor hints as well. The only change I would have made would be to omit the coriander. Coriander is a spicier nut and its harsh flavor really contrasted the sweetness of the lemons. It's very likely that is the purpose of the coriander in this dish - to act as a foil to the lemons, but I ended up feeling like the coriander was impeding the flavor, rather than balancing it out. Overall, the potatoes turned out very well.

So, our first night of experimenting went pretty well. As I mentioned yesterday, it is our ultimate goal to turn this site into a place to share our original creations (we're just cutting our teeth in the culinary world right now and need to lean on cookbooks a little). Tonight's recipe was the first steps towards realizing that dream. We will certainly be looking for other recipes to branch off of / take inspiration from in the future.

That's all we have for you tonight. Maggie is in the kitchen tomorrow, and I'll follow her on Thursday. Thank you for stopping by and spending a little bit of your day with us. Here's hoping you take a crack at either one of the recipes we made tonight - both are worth a taste! Until tomorrow,


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