Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pulled barbecue, farkashert, simplified and just as good

A while ago I blogged about a version of pulled barbecue made with turkey thighs.   The recipe calls for marinating the thighs in a chili and vinegar paste with whole garlic under the skin, roasting the thighs, removing the skin and mashing the garlic to a paste with the drippings to make a sauce, adding some vegetables, and sauteing it all together.  Delicious, but quite a patschke (Yiddish for a big deal).

I had my family over for dinner this evening, and wanted to try this, but didn't want something quite as involved.  I love chicken thighs, which are tastier and stay moister than the breast, even when boneless and skinless.  I had been meaning to try the method published in the Kitchn for baking boneless thighs so I tried it with the pulled barbecue.  It was so easy that it could be made for a weeknight dinner, and I actually think it is just as good, or better, than the more laborious method.  This is probably going to be my last recipe for 2012 -- try it!

Pulled chicken  barbecue,  the easy way


  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chitpotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon  mustard
  • 1/4  cup cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of smoky barbecue sauce, or a bit more to taste (if the sauce tastes good, it is good, just don't overdo it)
  • Whirl the garlic, chili powders and paprika, mustard, cider vinegar, oil and salt in a mini-chopper  or blender to puree garlic and combine ingredients and make a marinade paste.
  • Marinate the thighs in the paste for 1 hour to overnight (in the fridge), but if possible bring to room temperature before cooking.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Remove the thighs from the marinade and place them, with the marinade that still clings, in a baking dish large enough to contain them in one layer, with the smooth side where the skin was down.  Bake 10 minutes.  Turn them and bake another 10 minutes.
  • Mix the drippings with the barbecue sauce and spread it over the thighs.  Broil on High for 5 minutes.  Cut into  the thickest piece to see if they are done.  You can also check with a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature is 165 degrees.  If not, return to the oven and cook on 350 for another five minutes and check again.
  • Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the thighs from the dish to a cutting board and shred with the grain.  You could pull it apart with two large forks for superior texture, but this is much easier and still real good.
  • Pour the juices in the pan over the chicken and mix well.  If not serving immediately, this can keep for a while in a very low oven, well covered.
  • This is great served on rolls or french bread with a vinegary cole slaw.  Beer goes without saying.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

When bad things happen to good cider

Drink it anyway.  Be brave.  Just because the sides of your apple cider container are bulging doesn't mean that it isn't good to drink.  In fact, it is better.  Some of the alcohol has been converted to sugar through fermentation, so it isn't as sweet, and it probably contains some beneficial microorganisms.  You can pay significantly more for hard cider in the store, but this fresh, fermented, unfiltered hard cider is too good to throw away.  

It also goes very nicely in this cocktail, which is based on something said to be well known that I read about somewhere about a month ago.  The herbal notes in the tequila and cider reinforce each other nicely.  If you don't have Gelinotte, use a half tablespoon maple syrup and increase the tequila to an ounce and a half.   If you only have unfermented cider, use that, but increase the amounts of spirits slightly. If you prefer, you can add some seltzer and/or serve it on the rocks.  I generally prefer a stiffer drink, so this is diluted enough for me, but suit yourself. You can increase proportionately up to the capacity of your shaker.

This recipe is really a set of loose guidelines for making cocktails with hard cider.  Basically, you want it to be about for parts juicy stuff, two to three parts hard stuff, one part or less sweet stuff, and some bitters to bring it all together.  (The proportions in my recipe are slightly different since  I use Gelinotte, which is sweet and alcoholic, rather than a syrup.)

The cocktail that remains to be named:


  • 2 ounces cider, gone hard
  • 1 ounce tequila reposado
  • 1 ounce Gelinotte (a fermented maple syrup liquor from Quebec)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • large pinch mace


  1. Mix the sugar and mace on put on a plate.
  2. Moisten the rim of a cocktail (or wine) glass with a cut lemon.  Dip in the sugar and mace mixture and set aside.
  3. Put ice in a cocktail shaker.  Add cider, tequila, Gelinotte and bitters and shake 30 seconds.
  4. Strain into glass and serve. 
Some variations:  Instead of the tequila, use bourbon, rye, applejack or Calvados.  Instead of the Gelinotte, a sweet liqueur such as cassis or creme de Yvette for fruitiness, or Benedictine for strong herbal notes, would be nice.  You can also use a simple or flavored syrup , about a teaspoon or two, and increase the amount of the base spirit a bit.  To make  a simple syrup, boil equal parts or water and sugar for about 5 minutes until combined and then cool before mixing into the drink.  For flavored syrup as some spice, such as two cinnamon sticks (I would use the soft true cinnamon rather than the hard cassia here, but that is my own preference) , a slice or two of fresh ginger,  two or three cloves, or about a quarter of a cracked nutmeg.  Strain these out.  You can save simple syrup in the fridge for a while, but label it so you know what you have.  You can also vary the bitters.  Angostura is the go to one here.  I would avoid Peychaud's which is too fennel-y, but feel free to experiment if you want to invest in bitters.  Finally, you can rim the glass with sugar and cinnamon (again, use the soft and citrusy "true" Ceylon cinnamon here rather than the cassia that we call cinnamon, which will take over the drink) or skip that step altogether.  No firm rules here, let your taste be your guide, and have fun.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Korean Carrot Salad, Bukharan style

A surprising feature of the menus at kosher Bukharan (Central Asian) restaurants is the presence of kimchi and "Korean Carrot Salad."  I thought that this might have been something that they picked up in Queens, but when I asked the owner of the late, lamented Cafe Baba of Rego Park why they served kimchi he explained that in Samarkand they liked to drink vodka, the Koreans in the markets sold kimchi, and they realized that the two went very well together.  No argument there.  He was less informative, however, on what Koreans were doing in Central Asia.

As it turns out, the former Soviet Union had nearly one million ethnic Koreans, known as the Koryo-saram.  Most were descended from impoverished farmers who settled in the Russian Far East beginning in the 19th Century, accelerating after the Russo-Japanese war. In 1937, fearing that they might be Japanese spies (talk about paranoia -- try telling a Korean that his sister is dating a Japanese, and then duck) Stalin deported them to Central Asia, where most lived at the end of the Soviet Union.  There they encountered the Bukharan Jews, leading to some fruitful cultural exchange that benefits many of us today.

While kimchi is broadly available in 21st Century America, I have never seen "Korean Carrot Salad" in any Korean restaurant or grocery store.  Occasionally, you will be served shredded carrots with the banchan that begin the meal, but they tend to be simply dressed in sesame oil and vinegar and don't resemble the Bukharan version, which is strongly flavored with garlic and coriander seed.  This dish is hard to find, and I have experimented with it over the years, and with aid of numerous web recipes, I have developed this version which suits my taste, and the dressing combines coriander-seed infused oil will raw garlic.  Since most supermarkets carry pre-shredded carrots now, it is a cinch to make.  I first made it last night for my parent's 60th anniversary dinner, but had to warn my mother not to eat it since she detests garlic.  Everyone else loved it, and she enjoyed everything else:

Korean Carrot Salad


  • 1 pound carrots, shredded 
  • 1/4 cup sunflower, safflower or other vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup whole coriander seed
  • 5 dried red hot pepper pods, broken up
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • small onion, chopped, about 1/4 cup
  • Rice wine vinegar, 2-4 tablespoons
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, I like Aleppo pepper here, which is flavorful and not too hot)
  • small handful fresh coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Put carrots in a bowl and salt very lightly.  This helps the carrots to soften, and you can always add more later.
  2. Heat oil and coriander seen on medium low in a small pot, like a butter warmer, or skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the seeds turn several shades darker.  Don't rush it and be careful not to burn them.  
  3. Put in the pepper pods, cook for about 30 seconds more, and strain into a small skillet. 
  4. Add the onion to the skillet and cook on medium heat until soft but not brown, for about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mash/crush/chop the garlic to a paste with some salt and mix with the carrots.  If you are lazy you can just chop the garlic but it won't be as good.
  6. When the onions are soft, pour it with the oil over the carrots.  Add the vinegar  starting with 2 tablespoons and adding more to taste.  
  7. Taste for balance of salt, heat and tartness.  Add more salt, vinegar and red pepper if needed.  Set aside overnight, stirring occasionally if you remember.
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.  It is particularly nice mounded in the center of a plate with the coriander leaves around the rim.  
  9. Serves 4-14 as an appetizer, depending on how many other dishes you are serving.