December 4, 2013

‘Cooking Slow’ makes a convincing case for doing just that

The book earns a place on your list of ‘possibles,’ holiday-giftwise.

By Bonnie S. Benwick
The Washington Post

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In his new book “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” with photographs by Alan Benson, Andrew Schloss persuades us of the virtues of taking time to cook. Some dishes take 10 minutes to prepare before a lazy application of low and slow heat transforms them; others may take hours, if not days, to prepare.

The Washington Post

Check to see whether the beans are soft, tender and creamy throughout; if necessary, uncover and cook them a bit longer (5 to 8 minutes).

To serve, drain the beans and transfer them to a serving bowl, reserving the cooking liquid for another use (such as soup). Sprinkle the rosemary, parsley, lemon zest and minced garlic over the beans. Drizzle with oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cold Chinese Chicken

4 to 6 servings

This is an easy dish, put together in minutes and abandoned for an hour over a low flame.

Buy the best chicken you can, preferably free range. Look for large thighs that have a bit of the backbone included; we tested this recipe with Kosher Valley chicken, available at Whole Foods Markets.

Sprinkle the ice-cold jellied chicken with sesame oil and scallions, then give a squeeze of lime. If you want something extra, add cucumber, avocado and crisp lettuce leaves. Or shred the chicken and serve it with cold noodles.

Make ahead: The thighs and their cooking liquid need to be refrigerated for at least several hours and preferably overnight.

Adapted from “One Good Dish: The Pleasures of a Simple Meal,” by David Tanis (Artisan, 2013).

6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds; see headnote)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

One 2-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut into thick slices

4 cloves garlic, sliced

3 whole star anise

4 scallions, trimmed, 2 left whole and 2 slivered

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)

1 jalapeno pepper, cut crosswise into thin slices and seeded (optional)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Lime wedges, for serving

Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. Put them in a large pot and barely cover with cold water. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise and the 2 whole scallions; bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off and discarding any foam from the surface. Reduce the heat to low; cover and cook for 1 hour.

Use tongs to transfer the thighs to a large bowl to cool.

Skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Increase the heat to high; boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile, discard the skin from each thigh. Discard the bones, if desired.

Strain the reduced cooking liquid over the thighs, discarding any solids. Cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight. The cooking liquid will become jellified.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter, with some of the jellied broth clinging to it. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Top with the slivered scallions and with the cilantro and jalapeno, if using. Drizzle with the sesame oil; serve with lime wedges.

Cornmeal Popovers

Makes 10 to 12 popovers

Everybody loves warm corn bread, and these popovers have a similar appeal but are lighter. Be sure to use finely ground cornmeal; if a medium grind is the closest you can find, grind it further in a food processor. If the cornmeal is heavy, it will sink to the bottom of the batter.

The batter can be poured into a popover pan, a standard muffin tin for individual popovers, twelve 4-ounce ramekins or, for a big, impressive single popover, a 4-cup baking dish.

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