Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brussels Sprouts are the New Black (with Coq Au Vin)

In today's episode of bobo-corrupts-classic-recipes-and-makes-an-overly-elaborate-meal-for-a-weeknight, I attempt a coq au vin. I studied in Bourgogne (Burgandy, in English)for a semester in college, so it may come as a shock to know that I did not consume any coq au vin nor any boeuf bourgignon at all, during the entire stay. My first encounter with coq au vin was at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at The London Hotel in New York City, and it has now become my go-to dish to try at new French restaurants as a guage of authenticity and tastiness. I had a bag of brussels sprouts that needed to be cooked, as well as a bottle of Argentinian Malbec (bought it because the label was a pretty purple color) that was a little too tannin-y for my taste; both of those seemed perfect companions to chicken.

When I cook things that are not my own creation, I usually read a few different recipes and get the spirit of the dish, then improvise when I actually start cooking. Instead of rooster (coq), I used plain ol' drumsticks with skin. I omitted the mushrooms and pearl onions, because I always end up picking them out of the meal anyways. Here is a brief and rough synopsis of what I did:
-bread and seasoned drumsticks (9) in whole wheat flour (didn't have white flour)
-chopped bacon and 1/4 of the onion into little pieces and then fried them, put the bacon and onions in the large pot and browned drumsticks in remaining grease. saved the grease and browned stuff for the next day's sauce-making.
-chopped carrots into large bite-sized pieces (this prevents them from being too mushy when you cook them the next day.)
-thinly sliced the rest of the onion and placed in a large pot with the carrots, bay leaves, thyme, 1 can of chicken stock, the entire bottle of Malbec (or any other strong red wine). Left the whole pot in the refrigerator overnight.
-take pot out of refrigerator and cook some more. I separated the meat from the carrots from the onions and other little bits, and simmered the remaining liquid until it was thick, for the sauce.

When I plated the coq, I took one leg, some carrots, and then poured some of the thickened sauce over the leg. It IS a week night, we don't have time for cutting off the knuckle and pushing back the meat, as Gordon Ramsay demands.

I paired the dish with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts, mostly because I love brussels sprouts. They are totally making a come back. It might just be me subliminally ordering dishes with brussels sprouts, but I see them every time I eat in a restaurant now. The other day, I was watching one of those competitive cooking shows and one of the challenge ingredients was brussels sprouts. The problem is that Americans are not brought up to properly cook brussels sprouts, so all of the contestants failed (at least in my book). One contestant tried to cook brussels sprouts with bacon, which seems like a delicious idea, but they undercooked the sprouts and overcooked the bacon.

Brussels sprouts don't demand your bacon, they demand your love. Never steam brussel sprouts to death; they are not supposed to be yellow.

This is how my mom taught me to cook them:
-halve or quarter the brussels sprouts, depending on their size, so that each piece is a comfortable bite-size.
-heat up a little bit of cooking/vegetable oil in the pot and add a little bit of chopped garlic.
-put the brussels sprouts in and toss them so that they are coated in the oil. Add a little bit of water and cover with a lid. Let them steam for a while until you can see that their green color is even greener.
-Uncover, add some salt, and toss/cook for a little bit longer to evaporate some of the liquid.
If you are a fancypants like my mom, you can add Japanese fish-flavored powder and less salt - the fishy flavor really makes the brussels sprouts sweeter and less bitter. I don't know how. It's Japanese magic.

I attempted to make haricots verts aux amandes but it wasn't as good as I remember. Probably because I had to slice the almonds and roast them myself. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO SLICE ALMONDS BY HAND?!

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