Like football fans the world over, we provisioned generously for Super Bowl Sunday. As a result, we have a surplus of things that we normally do not overstock, including a glut of beer, several slabs of cheddar cheese and a large jar of mustard.
In an effort to use some of these ingredients, I devised the following recipes, all of which offer a warm, comfort-food vibe. Make the chicken and rutabagas for dinner tonight. If you have leftover chicken, enjoy it cold on a sandwich or salad for lunch tomorrow. If you have extra rutabagas, toss them in a salad tomorrow night with the Welsh Rarebit for a cozy winter supper.
Beer-Brined Braised Chicken
Braising and/or brining in beer is an excellent way to tenderize and flavor meat. If you don’t have time for both steps, worry not — the braising process will keep the bird from drying out. With a braise, overcooking is not a major concern; the point is to get the meat to a point of doneness where it almost falls apart. That’s a minimum of 90 minutes.
If you have a lot left over, the chicken, vegetables and braising liquid make a wonderful base for soup.
2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or legs)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
Plenty of fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 bottle beer (I used German ale, but any type is fine)
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
½ onion, chopped
In a baking dish with a cover, place the chicken pieces. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper and thyme and smear them with garlic. Pour the beer over the chicken, cover and allow it to brine for about an hour. If you are pressed for time, skip the hour and proceed to the next step.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the vegetables on top of the chicken, cover the dish and place it in the oven. Braise for 90 minutes. After 60 minutes, uncover the pot, and return it to the oven for another 30 minutes (or more).
The longer you cook the chicken, the more concentrated and flavorful the braising liquid becomes — to a point. You don’t want it to evaporate to such an extent that the chicken dries out; that defeats the whole purpose. Two hours is fine, but 3 hours is overkill.
Remove the pot from the oven and serve the chicken with the sauce and vegetables spooned over.
Honey Mustard Rutabagas
This dish is simple to prepare but adds an interesting flavor to the basic roasted root vegetable. Kids tend to like honey mustard, so it may help you market an otherwise “yucky” vegetable to the picky younger set.
If you don’t have rutabagas, you can use any vegetable for this dish — carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc., are all well suited to honey mustard roasting.
4 rutabagas, each about the size of a fist
Scant ¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of pepper
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel the rutabagas and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a baking dish and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast the rutabagas in your oven for about 20 minutes. While the vegetables roast, mix the honey and mustard together in a small dish or measuring cup.
After 20 minutes, remove the rutabagas from the oven, pour the honey mustard sauce over them and toss well. Return the rutabagas to the oven for another 20 minutes until cooked through.
This dish, essentially a seasoned cheese sauce drizzled over crusty bread, is delicious simplicity in itself. Its name is a bit confounding; there is no etymological basis for the word “rarebit” and it does not exist beyond the name of this dish. It is thought to have been created to indicate clearly that Welsh Rabbit, as it was originally known, did not contain any rabbit meat.
The recipe’s origins are also somewhat murky; it seems to derive from Wales, where both bread and cheese are plentiful and of high quality, and may reflect the fact that a large segment of the population was prohibited from hunting game on the nobles’ land. It also may derive from the 17th- and 18th-century use of the word “Welsh,” a derisive term employed by the English to characterize something of inferior quality.
But a rose (or a rarebit) by any other name would still taste as delicious, and this was a perfect repast on a rainy Sunday evening.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (smooth, not grainy preferred for silken texture)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of fresh ground pepper
¾ cup beer (I used a lager, but any beer works fine)
¾ cup milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper or paprika to taste, optional
4-6 generous slices hearty, crusty bread such as baguette or ciabatta, lightly toasted
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to form a smooth roux. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Whisking constantly, add the beer, then the milk, and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add the cheese and stir until it’s totally melted. Add the cayenne or paprika, if using. Drizzle the cheese sauce over toasted bread and serve immediately.
Serves 2 to 4 depending on portion and what else you are serving JN