Thursday, July 25, 2013

From Sea to Table....Citrus Beurre Blanc and Dungeness Crab

This summer got off to a great start back in May, and the good weather shows no sign of relenting. One of the many benefits of living here in the Pacific NW, is the abundance of fresh food, either straight from the farm, or from the sea.
It is crabbing season here on Vashon, so I bundled my crab pots into the back of the Subaru, together with some stinky crab bait and one small complaining child, and set off across the Island to Dockton Marina.  With the boat loaded, we set off into Quartermaster inlet to set the pots. The fog was just starting to clear and the boats' masts glistened in the sharp early morning sun as we tipped the baited pots overboard. We would return later that afternoon to check our catch.

You can only keep males and only above 6 inches in diameter, so we selected the keepers and tossed the rest back. Cleaning them on the boat is easy and means you don't have as much stuff to lug back to the car. I couldn't get a shot of how this is done, as holding a large crab who is trying to snip your fingers off, and taking a photo at the same time is not a sensible thing to do.

With our catch of 5 per person secured and cleaned, we set off home to prepare for dinner.

This evening, we will be serving fresh Dungeness Crab with a Citrus Beurre Blanc, washed down by our Viognier. The North facing deck is the perfect spot, with a wonderful view up the North Sound. It doesn't get used much, on account of the winds that whip up in the late afternoon, but tonight will be just perfect.

Beurre Blanc is easy to make, can be prepared well in advance (just warm it up to serve), and tastes delicious.
Here is my twist on it.

2/3 small white shallots
8 oz of white wine
2 oz lemon and lime juice (keep some of the zest for garnish)
1 Tbs heavy cream
12 Tbs (stick and a half) of cold unsalted butter cubed
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf


Finely dice the shallots and add all ingredients (except for the butter) to a sauce pan and bring to the boil.
Reduce by half.

Reduce the heat to low/med and start to incorporate the butter, cube by cube, whisking continuously to prevent it from curdling.

Once you have incorporated all of the butter, strain through a fine sieve and set aside somewhere warm until you serve it. Season to taste.

You can serve in individual portions like this (just make sure you serve on a warm plate as the butter will set if it is cold;

 or family style like this.

Here, I also added some Mayonnaise Aioli as an alternative accompaniment.

You can experiment with the amount and type of citrus. It really is a personal taste. Just remember not to heat the sauce too much when adding the butter or it will split.
This is also wonderful with Scallops, Halibut, and many other wee fishies.

Have a go.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A two for one, Butcher and Indian BBQ

With the temp in the 80's here on Vashon, my mind turns to butchering chicken   Bar bee ques and deck parties. Actually, if it gets above 60 here, I put on my shorts and a T shirt and pretend it's summer.
Here's a little tip on cutting up a whole chicken, and a wonderful Indian marinade to go with it.

Step 1. 

If I have to spend time in the kitchen on a hot and gloriously sunny day, I try and prepare other things as I go along. In this instance, the trimmings off the carcass and some root vegetable go straight into a pot of water to make stock while the rest of the prep is under way.

Put the chicken onto a cutting board and pull the legs and wings away from the body in preperation for the dissection.

Cut the wings off at the elbow joint and toss them into the stock pot.

Next, pull the leg away from the body, and using a sharp knife, cut the skin enough so you can fold the leg backwards away from the body and dislocate it at the hip joint. This will allow you to cut the leg off without cutting through the bone.

Find the knee joint and cut the leg between the joint, using a little pressure. Once again, we are trying to cut it in half without cutting the bone. Put the 2 halves to one side and repeat with the other leg (the chicken's, not yours). You may have to turn the chicken round to do this. This should leave you with 2 whole breasts still on the bone.

Find a point on the breast half way between the breast bone and the outside edge of the breast. Cut down through the breast at that point. You can make a couple of incisions at the halfway point if it helps to visualize where the cuts will be made.
Slice down the middle of the breast and through the joint. It is easy to find if you have cut at the halfway point.

Once you have both breasts cut, you need to turn your attention to cutting the carcass off from the remaining breast meat. Hold the point of the breast and pull back as you slice the carcass off the meat. You may need to chop the bone with the heel of the knife to separate it.

Add the rest of the carcass to the stock pot.

You can now cut the remaining breast into halves. This will give you 4 white and 4 dark portions.

Put the meat into a dish large enough to hold it and cover and place in the fridge until you have the marinade made. Score the meat a couple of times on each piece to allow the marinade to penetrate the flesh well.

Step 2

You will need ;

  • 1 1/2 cups of plain Yoghurt
  • 1 Tbs Chilli powder
  • 1 Tbs Coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbs veg oil
  • 1 Tsp coarse salt
  • 1 Tbs Ginger puree
  • 1 Tbs Garlic puree
  • 1Tbs Fenugreek (Methi) leaves
  • 1 large Lemon
Grind the salt and seeds, and add to all of the other ingredients  in a bowl.

Stir well and cover the chicken pieces, making sure it goes into all of the cuts. Use your hands to do this as it is the easiest and quickest way. Cover and leave for a few hours, or overnight if you want to prep well ahead.

When ready to cook, I thread 2/3 pieces onto a kebab skewer and lay them across a roasting tray so they are suspended off the bottom. Why???...... Because I say so. Actually, it stops them sticking to the bottom when you pop them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.
Why????  Because   I find that pre cooking chicken a wee bit helps prevent burning while the inner parts near the bone get done.

Take the chicken out of the oven after about 20 minutes and place on the Barbie. Unless you have a Tandoori oven in your back yard, this is the closest you will get. We have gas, but anything that can get up to a good hot temperature would work.
Here's the chicken ready to serve. Sprinkle with some chopped mint and serve with wedges of lemon and a Yoghurt and Mint dressing.

You can also serve individually. Here I made a Turnip and Rutabaga curry, together with their leaves and served it as a side dish.