Friday, July 15, 2011

Week-Long Cookbook Review, Wednesday

I realize it's Friday and that I missed posting Wednesday's dinner review yesterday but, you see, when you take two small children to a swimming pool and chase them around for several hours, it wears you out. Even more so when you're sunburned and have stuff you have to do at home later that you can't put off any longer... Well, you get the picture.

Anyway, here's what we ate for dinner Wednesday - TWO recipes from this book:

Slow-Cooker Sticky Wings and Amish Potato Salad.

 (Sorry about the awful pictures. The lighting in my house is crap and my camera thinks I'm a dummy. It is not necessarily wrong.)

First, the wings. I (obviously) own a slow cooker but have never been a big fan. Any meat I have ever cooked in this contraption (adding liquid or no) has turned into a doorstop. Recently though, I do believe that Kelsey Nixon from Kelsey's Essentials on Cooking Channel set the foundation for some slow-cooker cookin' when I saw this show for a few weeks ago with her Roast Turkey Dip with Melted Gruyere sandwich recipe. I was still a bit skeptical though.

Well, worry no more. These wings were Awesome! (They deserve a capital A.) They are simple to make and the sauce/glaze is absolutely delicious. The Man decreed that when/if we have our annual Football Draft Day party next year, these will be the main course. (We usually eat ribs.) These wings are spicy and sweet with a bit of heat - much like the sauce in General Tso's Chicken. The directions call for the wings to be cooked for three to four hours on low. Mine cooked for 3.5 hours and were almost falling apart; I halved the amount of wings made here since there are only the two of us but kept the amounts for the sauce the same so I didn't make any mistakes.

Slow-Cooker Sticky Wings
from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 4 lbs. chicken wings (I bought wingettes), halved at joint and wing tips removed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

1. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1 tbsp of the soy sauce, the ginger, garlic, and 1/4 tsp of the cayenne in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Add the wings and toss until combined.

2. Cover and cook on low until the fat renders and the chicken is tender, 3 to 4 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove the wings from the slow cooker and transfer to a large bowl (discard the liquid in the slow cooker.) Let the wings cool for 20 minutes (or cool briefly and refrigerate for up to 24 hours).

3. Adjust an oven rack to be 10 to 12 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. (Note: my broiler is wimpy and I found that I kept having to move the wings closer and closer as I broiled them. You may want to start at the next to the top rack setting in your oven to get the proper results.) Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Whisk the water, tomato paste, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 3 tbsp soy sauce, and remaining 1/4 tsp cayenne in a bowl. Add half the sauce to the bowl with the cooked wings and toss gently to coat. Arrange the wings, skin side up, on the prepared rack. Broil until the wings are lightly charred and crisp around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip the wings, brush with the remaining sauce, and continue to broil until well caramelized, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Now, about the Amish Potato Salad. I have another version of potato salad in my repertoire that I am partial to. It's pretty standard with hard boiled eggs, celery, and some onion action mixed in amongst the taters. Mayo, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar make the dressing. I was curious to see if the Amish could impress me. 

I wasn't. But I don't think it's the salad's fault.

Having to cut out quite a bit of salt out of my diet has had more impacts than just decreasing the salty aspect of food. Salt is crucial for balance; sweet and sour need salt to balance them out and keep them under control. I did add some salt to this dish but it wasn't enough to keep the sweetness of the 1/4 cup of sugar and the sour of the 1/3 cup of vinegar from being overpowering to me. The Man added some salt to his plate and said that it helped tremendously. I guess this means that you'll have to take my opinion here with a grain of salt. (So bad, I know, but I couldn't resist.)

Amish Potato Salad
from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 to 8 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 4 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine (I added more because I like the crunch)
  • Pepper

1. Bring the potatoes, 1 tbsp salt, and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch to boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.

2. While the potatoes simmer, microwave the vinegar and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Process the vinegar mixture, mustard, 1 hard-cooked egg yolk (reserve the white), the celery seed, and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Drain the potatoes, then spread them in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tbsp of the dressing over the hot potatoes and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.

4. Whisk the sour cream into the remaining dressing. Add the remaining eggs and egg white and, using a potato masher, mash until only small pieces remain. Add the celery and cooled potatoes and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. (The salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

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