Roasted Chicken & Charred Corn Salad

May 11, 2017 – I love shopping for groceries.  My wife hates it.  There are 180 degrees of separation between our grocery shopping philosophies.

I like to peruse cooking magazines and cook books looking for ideas.  I seldom if ever follow a recipe exactly as it is written.  I use them for inspiration.  When I decide what I want to cook I go visit the grocer for the ingredients.

My wife, on the other hand, looks for whatever is on sale.  That’s what she buys.

I suspect the grocer loves to see me coming.  He knows I don’t pay much attention to price.  That is good for his emolument.  My wife’s visits not so much.

Last week she challenged me.  “We have a refrigerator and pantry full of food.  Find ways to use what we have.”

Hmmmm.  Nobody ever put it to me that way.  Well, ok then.  Let’s see what we can do.

I did an inventory.  Wow!  She was right.  We have a ton of food.  This should be easy.  It should be fun.

Chicken thighs.  Love’em.

Several ears of corn.  Love those, too.

Roasted chicken and charred corn.  I could envision a hearty salad.  Sounded good to me.

The chicken doesn’t have to be roasted.  It does have to be cooked.  I decided to roast it.  You can cook it anyway you want.  You can even use leftover chicken.  That would work.

Charring the corn is important.  The char gives it a deeper flavor.  How you char it doesn’t matter.  On the grill.  In a cast iron skillet.  In the oven.

The roasted red peppers are important as another layer of flavor.  You can roast them yourself by putting them in the oven until they are charred all over.  Let them rest in a closed paper bag for ten or 15 minutes.  The blackened skin will slide right off.  Or you can do as I did.  Open a jar of store-bought roasted red peppers.  As I get older shortcuts become more appealing.

There’s nothing sacred about the other vegetables.  Use whatever you have on hand.  That’s exactly what I did.  And it turned out great.

Roasted Chicken & Charred Corn Salad

(Serves two)

4 cups cooked chicken, chopped

2 ears charred corn, kernels cut from the cob

1/2 cup mayonnaise (or more to taste)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

2 boiled eggs

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Adjust the mayonnaise if necessary.  It should be enough to bind the salad’s ingredients without becoming soupy.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Slice the eggs into quarters and use them for garnish.

Bon temps!

 

 

 

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp

April 29, 2017 – I love seafood.  Shrimp.  Crab.  Oysters.  Clams.  Mussels.  All of it.

I was looking for something a little different on this weekend.  I wanted to create a circus of flavor.  An explosion.  A burst of sensation.  The oven as cathedral in which hymns of praise to the glory of seafood rang high into the rafters.

All with the simple shrimp.  That mildest of all seafood.

As I thumbed through cookbooks, magazines, and the Internet looking for inspiration, I found myself drawn to retro.  To the techniques popular in the middle of the last century.  It was time, I thought, to become lost in the ’50s.

I came up with that prize of the ’50s, the casserole.

I decided to use blue cheese.  Or bleu cheese.  “Well, which is it?  Blue or bleu?” you might ask.  The answer is, “Yes.”

Blue cheese and honey (bitter and sweet) would carry the opposite ends of the flavor scale, smoothed by the inclusion of cheddar cheese (umami, or savory).  Mayonnaise, with its oil, would keep the shrimp moist and, along with slow-cooking at a temperature so low as to do little more than melt the cheese, prevent the delicate little morsels from becoming dry and rubbery.

Blue (or bleu, if you prefer) cheese has a strong flavor.  I used half a cup.  You can adjust that downward to cut the strength if you wish.  I also used a smoked blue cheese which added a very nice depth.

For me, the cayenne is an essential element.  Without it this would be Sweet Shrimp.  Not nearly as appealing.  But you can adjust the cayenne to fit your own taste.

Topping casseroles with crumbled potato chips was all the rage in the ’50s and ’60s.  You can just as easily use bread crumbs.  The potato chips provide salty.  If you use bread crumbs, you might want to add a little salt to taste.

Here’s my Sweet & Spicy Shrimp.

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp

(serves two)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Half an onion, chopped (about a cup)

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)

1/2 cup smoked blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons honey

Crushed potato chips

Preheat the oven to 250.

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Saute’ the onion until it begins to soften, three or four minutes.

Add the shrimp.  Season with cayenne.  Saute’ quickly, turning often, until the shrimp begins to turn pink.  No more than about three minutes.

Transfer the shrimp and onion to a bowl.  Add both cheeses, the mayonnaise, and the honey.  Mix well.

Turn into an oven proof dish.  Top with crushed potato chips.

Bake at 250 for about an hour.

When plated, drizzle with honey and sprinkles of crushed red pepper for garnish.

Bon temps!