Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dutch Oven Shrimp Bisque

Once we went to a really fancy italian restaurant, and my sons both tried the lobster bisque. They had heard some comedian talking about it, so they had to try it. Well, of course, they loved it.

I tasted it, too, and I was really impressed. Naturally, when I’m impressed, I want to try to make it. So, I did some research and found some good recipes. Unfortunately, lobster if quite expensive. I decided to do it with shrimp, which, of course, isn’t cheap, either, but at least it’s not as pricey as lobster.

It has a lot of steps, but it’s very flavorful, because of the shrimp stock you make!

2x 12” Dutch oven

each with 20+ coals below

2-3 lbs shrimp
6-8 cups water
1 14 oz can tomato paste

1 1/2 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery, including leaves
3-4 carrots

fresh parsley
salt
pepper
chili powder
lemon juice

6 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch


There are a few ways you could approach this bisque. One way is to use uncooked, unshelled shrimp. Another is to use shrimp that are uncooked, deveined (but still in the shell). A third is to use whole shrimp, complete with the heads. The more stuff that comes with the shrimp, the more flavor you’ll have in your stock. It’s more work, but I’d recommend the whole shrimp. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference how big the shrimp is, either. For this instance, I used uncooked, unshelled shrimp (no heads) that are about the size you normally see in shrimp platters.

I started out with one of my 12" shallow Dutch ovens, covered, with the water.  Once the water was boiling, I tossed in the shrimp and watched them turn that sweet pink\orange shade and curl. If you cook the shrimp too long, they get all rubbery. Once they were done, I pulled them out of the water, but left the Dutch oven on the coals.

Then, I doused them in cold water while I peeled the shells, tails, and deveined them. I threw away the veins, of course, but the shells and tails (and heads if you’ve got them) all went back into the stock to boil some more.  I set aside the shrimp meat, reserving it for later. Once all the shrimp shells and parts were happily boiling away, I added the tomato paste.

I put the lid on and let that boil for a long time. How long? Well, that kinda depends on how much time you have. The longer it boils, the more flavorful the stock. I let it go for about an hour.

As that time was nearing an end, I got a second dutch oven on some coals, with just a bit of oil in the bottom, and I started dicing up the veggies in the second set of ingredients. I tossed those in the second Dutch oven and cooked them until they were quite soft. Then, I took them off the coals and mashed them with the back of a slotted spoon. It will be a coarse mash, and that’s OK.

Then, I strained out all of the garbage out of the stock, and added the smooshed veggies. Then I added in all of the seasonings in the third set of ingredients. Finally, I added in the cream and let it heat and simmer for about another half hour. As it was simmering, I made a slurry of the cornstarch and water, enough to make it very loose and runny (no clumps). I added that in, about a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the bisque. A hint: give some time in between each dose of starch for it to effect the soup, otherwise, you’ll add too much.

Finally, just before serving, I stirred the shrimp meat back into the soup so that it could come back up to serving temperature, and started ladeling out the bowls! It was delicious! I think it would also be great to serve in a bread bowl...



Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dutch Oven Curry Mint Chicken

I’m honestly not really sure where the inspiration for this dish came from. My son, in his culinary classes in high school, had to learn how to and practice carving up a chicken (called “fabricating”). He had shown me one way to do this about a year ago, but this time, he’d learned a way with some slight variations. He showed me this new way, and I took pictures along the way, so I’ll probably include all that here in the blog eventually. It’s a very useful skill to have.

So, of course, as he was practicing these skills, we had a bunch of chicken on hand that needed to be used for something, right? Not gonna throw it away, right?

12” shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
16-18 coals above

Whole chicken, cut up or about 3-5 lbs of chicken parts
Salt
Pepper

1 1/2 - 2 cups plain yogurt
1 Tbsp Curry powder
~ 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
~ 1 tsp Salt
a few shakes Chili powder
~1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Onions
Potatoes

The first step is to prepare the meat.  If you’re cutting up a whole chicken, that would probably take about a half hour. Since the breasts were the largest pieces of the chicken, I cut each one in half, so that it was about the same size as a thigh. Once it was all cut up into pieces, I made sure they were dry, and seasoned each piece with salt and pepper. I set these aside.

If you don’t carve up a whole chicken, you can just use packaged breasts, thighs, or other pieces. You can use frozen chicken pieces, too, but make sure that they’re well-thawed and patted dry. Then season them and set them aside.

The next step was to mix up the baste. I started with the yogurt. Someday, I’d like to try this with greek-style yogurt, because I really like the texture. But this particular week, I didn’t like the price, so I just went with generic plain yogurt. I mixed in the curry powder and stirred that in. Different manufacturers make different curry powders. Some are more yellow, others, more red. Some are hot, some are more mild and zingy. You can adapt to whatever you’ve got as long as you taste along the way. Then, I added the other spices and flavorings, stirring and tasting as I went.

Decide in advance how hot you want to result to be, and shoot for that level with the chili powder. Be cautious with it. Add a little, taste, then add a little more, etc... Be aware that the yogurt will cool the capsaicin a little, so the heat will come on kind of as an after taste.

Finally, be liberal with the mint. That adds a rich coolness to the tang of the yogurt and the spice of the curry and chilli powder.

Then, I went out and lit up the coals.  While they were getting glowy, I chopped up the onions and potatoes into 1” sized chunks and tossed them together into the Dutch oven. They’ll be delicious, and will lift the chicken up out of the juices that will gather at the bottom.

The last step is to layer the chicken pieces over the onions and potatoes, and the thickly slather the yogurt mix over the top of the chicken. Close up the lid, add the coals above and below and begin baking.

I cooked them until they were at an internal temperature of about 175℉. Chicken is actually safe to eat at around 160, but if you cook it longer, it falls off the bone more, and is more done. It won’t dry out in a Dutch oven, because the heavy lid traps the moisture. It took about 40-50 minutes for it to be done. About half-way, I put on more baste.

In the end, it was delicious! The leftovers the next day were even more flavorful, as the herbs absorbed deeper into the yogurt.



Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Simple Dutch Oven Roast Chicken

Roasting a chicken in a Dutch oven is a very easy thing to do. It looks complex but it’s not. The end result is delicious and an easily feed a family, probably even with a little left over.

I did this a couple of weeks ago, and reminded myself how wonderful and impressive this is.


12” Deep Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
14-16 coals above

1 whole chicken (thawed, if you bought it frozen)

salt
pepper
paprika
dried parsley
dried rosemary
dried sage
a touch of crushed red pepper
oil

2-3 large potatoes
2-3 medium to large onions.

1 14 oz can green beans (optional)
1 14 oz can whole corn (optional)


First, I got the coals lit, and let them start to get white and hot. Then, I got the chicken ready.  I opened the package and let the chicken drain. I rinsed it off, then padded it dry with paper towels. poked the skin over the breast and the legs with holes so that the juices and flavors could penetrate the meat.

I sprinkled on the seasonings of the second set of ingredients, then drizzled on a little oil. I rubbed that over the surface of the chicken. I don’t list amounts here because I didn’t really pay attention to that as I was sprinkling them over the bird. Just be liberal. Except with the red pepper. Be more cautious there, if you don’t like heat.

If you’re the more precise type of chef, you could mix the spices as a blend first, tasting along the way, to get the exact blend you want.

Then, I cubed up the potatoes and the onions into 1” or 3/4” blocks and tossed them into the bottom of the Dutch oven. This will help flavor the dish, and lift the chicken up above the heat and the juices as it cooks. Plus, the potatoes and onions make great sides to add to your plates.

I put the dutch oven onto the coals, and started cooking. This is a fun kind of cooking, because I sit there and watch the coals burn. All the while, I can tell people, “Don’t bother me, I’m cooking.” Great times. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to stay with it, because you’re going to need to replenish the coals from time to time.

I cooked it for about 2 hours, total. I cooked it to an internal temperature of 175-180. In a traditional indoor oven, cooking it that long will usually dry it out. But in a Dutch oven, the juices are all trapped under the heavy lid. I cook it that long because then not only is the meat done and tender, but it also falls off the bone and the connecting tissue is broken down.

If you want some veggies as a side dish, the easiest way to do that is to drain a can of green beans and a can of corn, mix them together and pour it around the sides of the chicken when there’s only about 15-20 minutes left in the cooking.

An even better option would be to use fresh beans and fresh corn. If you do that, snap the beans, and shuck the corn. You could either cut the corn off the cob, or break the cobs into short lengths. If you use fresh veggies, add them when there’s 30-45 minutes left in the cook time.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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