Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Recipe: 11 secret herbs and spices

So how did he know? Harlan, that is. The erstwhile Colonel. That 11 was the magic number. 'Cause it is, you know.

A couple of years ago, after the Food Network finally made it to our cable system and I learned who this Emeril person was, I started experimenting with dry spice rubs for beef, pork and chicken. And without pre-planning anything, I just started pulling stuff off the spice rack (well, shelf; well, ok, shelves, in the pantry - hey! Cathy has 37 pairs of shoes; I can have a few strange spices!) to try my hand. I ended up with 11 ingredients. A few months later, I tried another one. Yup. 11 ingredients. And the third time it came out that way, I noticed.

Self, I said (Thank you, Emeril, for that and your Essence recipe – even though it is only 8 ingredients! - and for a lot of fun also), there seems to be a theme here. And since then, whenever I put together some complex brew or mixture, I start counting. If I get to 8 or 9, I step back and ask, Hmmm, can I find a couple more? Usually I can . . .

Now that's not to say that 'Keep it simple, Souschef' isn't a good way to go. Probably 70 - 80% of the time, choosing a 'signature' flavor and using other ingredients to support, highlight or enhance that one main theme is the best approach. But now and then, go crazy; count to 11!

Today, we're going to throw a couple of bony chicken breasts on the grill for dinner (with some rice and a sautéed vegetable medley of some sort - whatever needs using up in the fridge). And since I have a terrible time leaving well enough alone, I decided to concoct a marinade for the chicken. Yup. 11 (if you count lemon and lime as separate ingredients). Don't know how it will turn out, but here's what ended up in it.

1/3 tsp. cumin, ground
1/3 tsp. galangal powder (ok, weird one; adds nice heat without a lot of its own flavor)
¼ tsp. cinnamon, ground (Try it! You'll like it! . . .)
12 -14 grinds black pepper, fresh coarse ground Tellicherry, of course! (Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll talk about pepper one day!)
½ tsp. garlic, granulated or powder if that's all you've got
1/3 tsp. cilantro, dried flakes
2 - 3 tbsp. fish sauce, Tiparos, of course (if you don’t have any, get some; but for now, just add some salt – ½ tsp. or so)
3 - 4 tbsp. white wine, dry, cheap, Chablis, Chardonnay, . . .
1 - 2 tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/3 of a lemon
2 - 3 tbsp. lime juice, about ½ of a lime
2 - 3 tbsp. sesame oil
(All measurements are fictional; I judge by eye, and pinch, and palm, pure guess; you’re on your own!)

Put all the dry stuff in a glass pie plate (or something similar) and flip, swirl, twirl together with a fork. Add the fish sauce, wine, and citrus (toss the rinds in, too if you have room - and if you remembered to wash the fruit before you squeezed), and, again, fork it into a frenzy. Squirt the sesame oil onto the chicken (both sides, now!), rub it in, and dredge, dip, slosh, and otherwise thoroughly coat the chicken with the marinade.

Put the pie plate in the fridge for a couple of hours and then grill the chicken. Or, at least, that's what I'm planning at the moment. Use the rest of the marinade to drizzle on the chicken from time to time, and hey, I'll let you know tomorrow how it all turns out!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:19 AM

    Thanks for sharing