Monday, April 15, 2013

Secco's Brand New Menu: Here's What You're In For

Squid ink bucatini with baby shrimp, red chili pepper,  pistachio and shrimp head sauce
Full Disclaimer: My husband Tim and I are regulars at Secco Wine Bar, and I've been pals with owner Julia Battaglini since we were English majors way back when at VCU, so when she asked me to help spread the word on Secco's new menu as well as their chalkboard-only wine and beer menu (a.k.a Hayyy Chardonnay!) I didn't hesitate because a.) that's what friends are for, and b.) I love my hometown of RVA. So here goes a little unfettered promotion all in the name of showcasing the awesomeness that is Richmond, Virginia's ever-changing restaurant scene.

To start.

That wildly colorful dish posted above is a house-made squid ink pasta with baby shrimp, red chili's and pistachio, and it is just one of the many new dishes featured on Secco Wine Bar's brand spanking new menu. It's no shocker that Executive Chef Tim Bereika has mastered the art of making fresh pasta, but Secco's new menu also boasts many familiar items like those addictive fried chickpeas with aleppo pepper, fried Castelvetrano olives and a house-made charcuterie board along with some reasonably priced larger plates like whole fried branzino with roasted potatoes and salsa verde as well as an herb crusted sirloin steak with arugula salad, pecorino toscano and lemon oil (all of the meats come from Virginia native Dave Matthews' grass-fed beef farm, Best of What's Around FYI). Secco continues to offer their 5-course chefs tasting menu (available Sunday-Wednesday) which is a steal for $28 bucks. Throw in a stellar rotating wine and beer (and sherry) list and there's no reason you shouldn't eat here at least once.

To help usher you folks in the door with even more gusto, I've created a little photo essay of some of the dishes I've sampled at Secco over the years. Note: many of these dishes remain on the new menu in some seasonal incarnation since Chef Bereika often culls locally from regional farms and producers. All of these pics were taken with my iPhone 4 which can rock some food photos.

Fresh burrata cheese with heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Foie pot de creme with kirschwasser jelly.
Ricotta and Tuscan kale filled pasta with toasted almonds, citrus butter and fennel pollen.
Panna cotta with orange zest, smoked walnuts and bourbon soaked raisins.
House made pumpkin ravioli with amaretti cookies and sage.
Had enough yet? Just go there people. For real.

All photos and text ©2013 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

Naturally sweet acorn squash meets salty breakfast sausage, walnuts, molasses and apple cider for a super-easy, satisfying crockpot meal. All you need to round out this hearty one-pot dish is a green salad and some dinner rolls.

Check out my full video demonstration for this recipe as part of The Virginia Farm Bureau's bi-monthly cooking show "Heart of the Home". I've also pasted the recipe below. Enjoy!

Crockpot Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

Serves 4-6

2 medium acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound sage breakfast sausage
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 large egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup molasses
½ cup apple cider or apple juice

Slice stems off the squash, and scoop out the seeds. Slice off a small piece from the bottom of each squash so it will sit level in your slow cooker. Brush the edges and insides of each squash with olive oil.

In a sauté pan crumble and brown the sausage. Drain the sausage, and place it in a large bowl. Remove half of the drippings from the pan, and then cook the onion and garlic in the remaining fat until softened. Add the onion and garlic to the sausage. Mix in breadcrumbs, walnuts, egg, salt and pepper. Fill the squash with the sausage mixture.

Use cooking spray to coat a piece of heavy-duty foil that’s large enough to cover the whole inside of your slow cooker. Place the squash cut side up on the foil and brush the exposed flesh with the molasses. Pour the cider down the sides of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove squash to a cutting board by lifting it up by the foil, and cut in halves or quarters. Serve as a side dish, or as a main dish with a green salad and rolls.

All photos and text ©2013 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Pin It Now!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy Recipe

Fried chicken is one of those recipes that people feel really strongly about. Some say deep fry it while others insist that shallow frying in cast iron is the only way. Some folks swear that the only oil to fry chicken in is Crisco while others fry it in everything from peanut oil to butter to that ever-present Southern staple: lard. Then of course, there's the brine, which can mean soaking your cut-up bird in buttermilk, plain old salted water or more involved salt water mixtures using rosemary, lemons and garlic.
Whatever your poison, one thing's for certain-- fried chicken done up right is the greasy nectar of the gods. Crunchy, crispy and a bit salty on the outside while crazy juicy and tender on the inside, fresh-from-the-pan fried chicken simply can't be beat.
Years ago, my mom taught me her recipe for frying chicken, and it's definitely one of the good ones. Like many recipes, the brine we use to marinate our chicken is pure buttermilk and nothing else, and the bird is ideally soaked in it overnight. This is a crucial step for moist and tender chicken, so don't skip it. When it comes to breading, we insist on flour and basic seasonings all the way, and when it's frying time mom always uses her favorite grease combo consisting of equal parts shortening and butter which makes for extra crispy fried chicken. I like to add a tablespoon of bacon grease to the frying oil as well for even more punch.
So, here it is, our family recipe for fried chicken. Mom always served her chicken with milk gravy, but I've included my recipe for a basic pan gravy made with a chicken stock. You could definitely substitute milk for the chicken stock here. Serve your fried chicken with mashed potatoes or cornbread dressing (pictured above and recipe coming later FYI) and of course, a big pitcher of sweet tea. Enjoy!

Mom's Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy Recipe

While a cast iron skillet is preferred for this recipe, an electric fry pan or large non-stick pan works just as well.

Serves 4-6

1 whole fryer chicken, cut into even pieces (about 3-4 pounds)
2 cups buttermilk
All-purpose flour for coating (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon bacon grease, optional
Additional salt and pepper, to taste

For the gravy:

4 tablespoons leftover pan drippings
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or whole milk (if you want cream gravy)
Salt to taste
Lots and lots of black pepper (this is a Southern thing!)

Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl or plastic bag and add the chicken pieces, making sure they are coated well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. Take a large paper bag and add in the flour, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and place it in the paper bag. Shake the bag well to coat all the pieces of chicken evenly.

Melt the butter and the shortening in a large cast iron skillet. Heat your pan to medium-high, being careful not to burn the butter. When your pan is hot, add the chicken and brown it well on all sides, about 10-12 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place a cover over the chicken and continue to cook another 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear. Uncover and continue to cook another 5-10 minutes on medium or until the chicken becomes nice and crispy. Remove chicken to a rack and drain. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the leftover drippings (discard the rest or save in your lard tin). Be sure to keep all the crispy goody bits on the bottom of the pan. They add a ton of flavor. Add the flour to the pan and whisk it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then, gradually whisk in the chicken broth (or milk) and continue to cook stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until your gravy has thickened. If your gravy is too thick, feel free to thin it out with some more chicken stock, milk or a little water. Reduce the heat to low and season the gravy with salt and black pepper, the more pepper the better.

Serve fried chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes or cornbread dressing.

All photos and text ©2013 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Pin It Now!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...