Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pork Chop and veggies cooked in foil on the BBQ

Another example of the 'en papillote' technique.

Prepare a large piece (40cm) of aluminium foil by brushing on some olive oil (shine side in!).
Clean and prepare your veggies: corn, carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. Look for similar cooking times. Cook some of the veggies for a few minutes in advance to reduce cooking time if needed.

Brush the pork chops lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the meat on the BBQ over high heat. You can do the same with the vegetables to give them some nice grill marks. Transfer everything to the aluminium foil. Add some salt, pepper, spices and herbs of your choice. Fold the foil up and close the sides to form a pouch. Before you close the top of the pouch, add a small knob of butter and a little splash of wine, stock, beer or water. Not too much, 2 tbsp max, the liquid you add is only to get the process going. We want the food to steam in it's own juices. Cook for 15-18 minutes on the BBQ or until your veggies are cooked.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Steamed Herbed Salmon 'en papillote' on the BBQ served on Fennel and Lime Risotto

En papillote (French for "in parchment"), or "al cartoccio" in Italian is a cooking method in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. It is a good way to get flavor into whatever you are cooking, while preserving moisture as the food is steamed in the pouch. By using aluminium foil in stead of paper, you can also use this method on the BBQ. It's mostly used for fish or vegetables, but you can also prepare poultry or even lamb this way. 

This is a very basic, quick and easy way to cook salmon fillets. We'll be serving the salmon over a classic Italian fennel and lime risotto. Making a good risotto is never quick and easy, but it's certainly worth the effort and the patience. The result is a creamy, fragrant, mouth watering risotto that combines very well with the bold flavors of the herbed salmon.
Of course you can also serve the salmon with some fresh salad or any other side dish of your choice.

Ingredients (3 persons)

For the salmon:
3 Salmon fillets, portion size
3 table spoons Herbed butter
1 lime, thinly sliced

We are using a home-made herbed butter with parsley, sage, thyme, chives, garlic and lemon zest.
I will post the recipe later.
Your favorite store bought butter will do just fine.

For the Risotto:
300 gr Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 liter good quality vegetable stock
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
50 gr shallots, finely chopped
25 gr regiano parmigiano cheese, grated
50 gr butter
grated zest of 2 limes
1 bundle flat leaf parsley
1 clove of garlic
olive oil, salt, pepper

To start with the salmon. Take a piece of approx 30cm of aluminium foil. Rub with 1 teaspoon of herbed butter so the salmon won't stick. Put the salmon on the buttered piece and add another heaped teaspoon of butter on top. Add some coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper. Top with a thin slice of lime.

Fold the foil up and close the side by making several folds like this.

Do the same on the other side and create a leak-tight pouch. In this case, we do not seal the top, as we want to cook this on the BBQ.

For real 'en papilotte' you need to fold the top also creating an air-tight pouch in which the salmon will steam. We are keeping this very simple today, but you can get creative and add herbs and vegetables at this point (dille, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, etc.). Make sure you dice the vegetables very fine so they match the cooking time of the salmon. Also add a splash of white wine, stock or water to make sure enough steam is created.

You can prepare the salmon up to this point ahead of time and store in your fridge. Once the risotto reaches the end of its cooking time, you can put the salmon on the BBQ.

Put the 'boats' on the BBQ, aside the hot coals. Add the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. You can also put them over the heat if your BBQ has no lid.

The salmon is ready once all the butter has melted and is bubbling vigorously. If you like your salmon cooked a bit more, leave for another minute, but make sure not to overcook any fish.

Now for the risotto. Start by preparing all ingredients. Heat your stock, vegetable or chicken. Clean the fennel and cut into fine slices. Slowly cook the fennel in your stock until very tender. Remove and chop into small pieces.

Grate the zest of the limes and chop very fine if needed. Clean and chop your garlic, parsley and shallots. Grate the Parmesan cheese (never use the packaged stuff, or we can't be friends anymore) and dice the butter into fine cubes.

Use a good pan with a thick bottom to cook the risotto. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat.

Saute the shallots until translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Now toast the rice in the oil and shallots until the outside of the grains become slightly translucent but not brown.
You know you are done when the rice gives a distinct nutty flavor.

This step is very important because it will ensure that the rice will soak up liquid while keeping firm.
Add 1 glass of white wine and cook until it has completely evaporated.
Now add a ladle of hot stock, cooking until most of the liquid is gone and add another ladle. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked.

It is hard to say how long the rice should cook. This is where your skill as a cook comes into play. As a guideline you can take 18 minutes from the moment you add the first ladle of stock. Begin tasting the rice when you are 14-16 minutes into the cooking process. The rice should be soft, but still have some bite in the core.
If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, just use some hot water to finish the cooking.

When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add all other ingredients: fennel, lime, parsley, cheese and butter. Stir carefully until mixed.
The consistency at this point should be quite soupy but not too thin.

Put the lid on the pan and wait for 4-5 minutes.

The total amount of cooking time may vary within 2 to 3 minutes. Perfectly cooked risotto should not be hard and stick to the serving spoon, nor should it be so liquid that it runs off your plate. The texture should be supple and fluid, with a creamy, slightly soupy consistency, but with body. 

Serve on a warm plate and add the salmon on top. Dress the plate with the melted butter from the salmon. You will find this a wonderful combination. The firm taste of the salmon and herbed butter balances beautifully with the fragrant, slightly tangy but creamy mouth-watering risotto. 

Wine suggestion: Terlaner Classico D.O.C. 2012

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