Saturday, March 10, 2012

SXSW Eats: Lucy's Fried Chicken

For your first course, get the deep fried deviled eggs.

For your second course, get the fried chicken. It comes with sliced jalapeños and pickle spears on top - an idea that is so genius it makes me want to curl into the fetal position and weep because I just can't deal with it.

For your third course, get the pie. Any pie, but S'mores pie is a personal favorite. They also have a sweet tea pie which at first bite is a little weird but by the third bite will have you hiding under the table with it, stabbing anyone that comes near you with a fork.

That's Lucy's Fried Chicken.

You don't go for the vegetables.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drunken Irish Filets over Creamy Gorgonzola Grits

I have been dying to make 'drunk and dirty tenderloin' ever since I saw the recipe in an old book last year. The only problem is you need an entire filet of beef to marinate. And since my husband and I have been in perpetual house hunting mode it's hard to motivate oneself to go out and splurge on a $100 slab of beef. Then the damnest thing happened. The lovely people of Omaha Steaks contacted me asking if I'd care to review their products. Well, hell yes!

As a blogger you get the weirdest offers for free stuff to 'review.' I'm ashamed to say I've turned most of them down because I can't find it in my heart to say 'hey y'all - so and so's BBQ sauce is top notch!' if I've never actually used it before or don't believe in it.

Well the good news is Omaha Steaks and I have a little history. In high school I won a writing contest with a story about a horse we had rescued and the prize, among other things, was a delivery of tender-as-butter filet mignons from Omaha Steaks. I was hooked. And it so happens I send Omaha Steaks to friends and family every year at Christmas so I can stand proud in recommending them to my lovely readers out there. They are great gift for people who love good food but don't love to cook as they have entire meal packages including chocolate cake, twice baked potatoes, appetizers, etc. You just throw everything in the oven or on the grill and you have a party. In fact they're tagline says it perfectly - "Mix with Company." Love it.

Okay so back to that recipe I was telling you about. Well it was every bit as delicious as I hoped although the soy did make the beef appear a little parched in the photo (the end product was more delicious than the picture implies.) If you ever make this with individual steaks like I did and not an entire filet cut your marinating time to 4 hours max as the exposed surface of 'cut' meat will drink in the soy very quickly. The only changes I made were to use fresh ginger, since I was only marinating a short time, and to sub Jameson Irish Whiskey for the bourbon in the recipe. It's smooth as butter and is my marinade liquor of choice. And it's almost St. Patty's day so this is what you should be drinking and cooking with and filling your bathtub with anyway.

So thank you again Omaha Steaks! I was going to just blog about the filets but after making their pork chops last night I think you'll hear a little more about them in the coming weeks...

Drunken Irish Filets
Serves 2, easily doubled

1/2 cup soy sauce (suggest lite soy if marinating longer than 3 hours)
1/4 cup Whiskey (Jameson)
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves , minced
2 beef filets

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl until the brown sugar has dissolved and everything has made friends. Transfer to a large ziploc, add the steaks in and seal. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Remove from the marinade and pat off excess moisture.

Grill to your liking and serve with Gorgonzola grits. See below.

Creamy Gorgonzola Grits:
Serves 4.

1 tablespoon olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a small/medium pot
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3/4 cup instant 'quick cook' grits
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
3/4-1 cup gorgonzola
1 tablespoon butter, optional
1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided

Heat the olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in the grits along with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat slightly to an active simmer and stir constantly until grits are to the consistency you like (about 4-5 minutes.) Reduce heat to low and stir in the thyme, garlic powder, nutmeg, gorgonzola, butter and 1/4 cup of green onions. Taste for seasoning - I find I usually need to add quite a bit more salt but it depends on the stock you used, etc.

Serve the grits as a 'bed' for the steaks and garnish with additional green onion and more gorgonzola if desired.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spicy Ginger Chicken with Cool Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Spicy Ginger Chicken Marinade:
* The leftover chicken makes a killer sandwich the next day with mayo and more cilantro.

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, for marinating

1 small tub (usually 5.3 oz) Greek yogurt (preferably whole or 2% Fage brand)
1 chunk gresh ginger, at least 1 tablespoon when grated or chopped, or more for more kick
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
small handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
2-3 small shallots, chopped
big handful fresh cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish
2 smashed garlic cloves
zest of one lime

Mix the yogurt with the ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, herbs, shallots, garlic and lime zest. Place chicken breasts in a large ziploc or medium tupperware and cover with marinade, being sure to turn to coat and really piling on the mixture to give them a good soaking. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat your broiler oven. Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape off excess (don't be tempted to leave large hunks clinging onto the chicken - it will only burn.) Season the tops lightly with salt and pepper. Grease a pan with a rack in it, place breasts on the rack and put in the oven. Check starting at 8 minutes - breasts are done when the edges are JUST beginning to char and the thin veil of marinade on the meat has completely lost its glossy wetness and become a chalky, dull white. They're not pretty to look at but they're delicious to eat. Conversely you can just bake them on a cookie sheet (sprayed with nonstick spray) at 400 for 15 minutes until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with cucumber yogurt sauce, following, and garnish with additional cilantro.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:
* You can make this hours ahead or even the day before with good results. The mixture will look a bit watery and sad - just stir it together and remind yourself looks aren't everything.

1 small tub whole or 2% Greek yogurt, NOT fat free
1 handful of fresh mint, rough chopped
1 large handful cilantro, rough chopped
1 medium cucumber, seeds scraped and discarded then finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
juice of 1/2 lime
lime zest, optional for more zing

Mix alltogether and let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. Spoon over hot chicken when dishing, or serve alongside for people to serve themselves.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

SXSW Eats: Mag Mud at Magnolia

My beloved city is about to be poked and prodded like a prized heifer at the state fair. SXSW is almost here and everyone and their granny is packing their bags, checking their RSVP lists, and stretching out their gut muscles in preparation for queso and BBQ and Amy's Ice cream.

In lieu of this I thought I'd share one of our favorite quesos. It can be found at Magnolia Cafe (2 locations, one on Lake Austin Blvd and the other on South Congress.) Named after the establishment itself, 'Magnolia Mud' ('Mag Mud') is a don't-knock-it-til-you-try-it concoction of queso, black beans, and guacamole. There might even be some salsa tucked in there along with a few tears from the baby Jesus...

It is that life altering, particularly when eaten between the hours of 1 and 6 am, which you can do any night of the week because Magnolia is like the US postal service and is there for you rain or shine 24 hours a day 7 days a week save Christmas.

Magnolia Cafe
1920 South Congress Ave
Austin, TX
512 445-0000

Magnolia Cafe
2304 Lake Austin Boulevard
(512) 478-8645