Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some New Entree Ideas

A short while ago we were asked to cater a dinner for Ziggy Marley and his crew for the evening that they were playing at the Capitol theater here in Nelson. We jumped at the chance to try something new and experiment on Mr Marley and his compatriots since we were given artistic license with the menu.

The first dish was based on the discovery of some really bright, fresh snapper filets. We generally don't offer any white fish like snapper, cod, halibut or sea bass on our menus due to the lack of availability of these products. This of course comes with the territory of living in a small inland town.

We gave the snapper a short (maybe 20 minutes) bath of lemon, olive oil, garlic and coarse salt before grilling it on a high heat BBQ to maybe 70% doneness. The chutney was made with roasted tomatoes, ginger, tamarind, lemon and black sesame seeds. A balance of sweet, salty and tart can be achieved by adjusting the flavor with cider vinegar and brown sugar and sea salt.

The next dish reminds me a bit of a paella without the seafood. It's a slow roast chicken dish that's prepared ahead and almost brined in sweet and acidic ingredients before being roasted in the oven  as a one pot wonder. 

We opted to use skin-on bone-in chicken thighs for their durability and depth of flavor with their dark tender meat. The make ahead part of the recipe includes preserved lemons, caper berries, whole garlic cloves, figs and dates, olive oil, brown sugar and white wine. Combine all of the ingredients in a stainless bowl with the chicken and cover in the fridge overnight. When you're ready to cook the chicken you can display the thighs skin side up in a casserole dish and arrange all of the other ingredients around the little poultry islands. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken so that liquid comes to about the halfway mark on the thighs. I like to roast this dish on a convection setting @ 325*F. for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. The chicken skin should be well blistered and beginning to blacken and the sauce should be well reduced for serving along side. You may want to ladle some of the chicken fat out at this stage but it's not mandatory.

Both of these dishes would benefit from being served with plain aromatic steamed rice, grilled asparagus and a crisp green salad with radish, shredded cabbage and sprouts that you grew in your kitchen window.

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