Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting your Food a little Sloshed... Bourbon Peach Galette with Mascarpone, and Beer Can Chicken...

I don't like beer.  Not even a little bit.  Which is unfortunate, since it's usually easier on the wallet.  But if I try to drink beer, I sip it so slowly that by the time I'm halfway through, it's all lukewarm and even more disgusting.  So Mike's hard lemonade is my "beer".  And of course I love sharing a good bottle of wine with Jamie on Friday nights with dinner, and a girly cocktail now and then.  My students in China used to tell me that beer is cheaper than water - which it actually was.  It's interesting that there's no drinking age over there, and yet you don't often see rowdy, drunk young people causing trouble like you do in the States.





For Jamie's birthday in May, I baked for him a Chocolate Caramel Bread Pudding with Bourbon that he requested.  I was skeptical at first, because I don't like Bourbon either.  That's just waaay too strong for me.  But I was a blown away by that dessert.  It was absolutely amazing - you could taste the bourbon, and yet, it tasted wonderful with the chocolate and caramel.  Every bite of croissant was soaked in its deliciousness.  I was wanted to try something else.




So I made a "drunken" peach galette with bourbon, and topped each slice with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a little honey.  The galette was very good, just like a peach pie, but the taste of the bourbon really didn't come through.  I used far less of it - 2 tablespoons as opposed to the 6 tablespoons in the bread pudding so that's why the flavor wasn't as strong - but I was forced to use less since the galette was so juicy that any more liquid just wouldn't have worked.  If peaches were still in season, then I would have used fresh, but as it's October, I used canned peaches.





Not stopping there, Jamie decided we should make beer-can chicken.  I know people have been doing this for a long time, but I've never eaten it, so again, I was a little skeptical.  I just didn't want my chicken to taste like beer.  We bought a roasting pan that has a detachable cup in the middle to hold liquid (I didn't realize you can buy a contraption at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $5.99 for the very purpose of holding a can of beer).





If you've made a whole chicken this way, then you know what I'm talking about when I tell you how juicy and tasty the chicken was.  Crispy, browned skin, moist meat inside, and deliciously flavored throughout from the beer, but without tasting like beer.  We also brined ours overnight, before grilling it, which made it even better.  I was happy.  Of course, it doesn't have to be beer - you can use chicken broth or apple cider or juice...  really any sort of liquid will do to achieve this effect.  I also made some homemade sweet potato tots, but they were only okay, so I won't share that recipe.  The star of this meal was the chicken.

And another benefit to cooking a whole chicken...  making rich chicken stock from the bones for soups throughout the winter.





Drunken Peach Galette with Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 recipe for a standard-sized single-crust all-butter pie crust (recipe below - use 1/2 of below recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) sliced peaches (in water or light syrup), drained well, or 3-4 ripe fresh peaches, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon coarse turbinado sugar
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Roll out the prepared pie dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Place on a Silpat baking mat on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the dough with the 2 tablespoons flour and set aside.

Place the drained peach slices in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, bourbon and cornstarch.  Pour over the peaches and toss to coat.  Arrange the peach slices on the pie dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around.

Fold the edges of the dough up, overlapping every two inches, and pressing the edges gently together.  Don't worry about sealing the folded edges too carefully yet.  Using a pastry brush, brush the egg white all around the edges of the galette, making sure to get it under the folds, too.  This will help to seal the folded edges.  Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.  Pour the remaining liquid from the bowl the peaches were in over the peaches.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool for one hour before slicing, to allow the juices to thicken.

Serve each slice with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a drizzle of honey on top.

Yields 6-8 slices.   
Tip:  Because this galette is so juicy from the peaches, it's best served the day it's made, as the crust will absorb too much of the juice and become soggy if left to sit until the next day.

All-Butter Pie Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt, and place in your food processor.  Scatter the cold butter over the flour, and pulse the food processor a few times until mixture is crumbly, with some pieces of butter the size of peas.  Don't over process the mixture.  When the dough bakes, the water will evaporate from the butter, creating little steam pockets in the crust, which is what gives it a nice flaky texture.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and pulse a few times.  Add more water, a little at a time, until the dough starts to pull together.  Stop, turn the mixture out onto a work surface, and gather it all together.  It should be pretty thick and a little sticky.

Divide into 2 equal balls (for 2 standard pie crusts) or 4 equal balls (for 4 mini pie crusts).  Flatten the balls into a round disk with your hands, then wrap each tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  If you don't use the dough within a few days, store in the freezer.


Beer Can Chicken
  • 1 whole roasting chicken, thawed, innards removed
  • 1 can/bottle of good-quality beer (we used Sam Adams - "Bonfire Rauchbier")
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon

For best results, brine the chicken overnight.  You can buy brining mixes (we used some that we had leftover from Thanksgiving last year), which are just a mixture of coarse salt, pepper and spices, or make your own.  Pour 1 cup of the brining mix into a large stock pot, fill with 1 gallon of water and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat, and bring to room temperature, then cool the water in the refrigerator for several hours.  When the water is cold, place the chicken in the brining liquid, cover, and chill overnight in the fridge.

After the chicken has been brined, remove it from the brining liquid and discard the liquid.  Season the chicken well with salt, pepper, garlic and tarragon.

Preheat your grill to medium-high - about 400 degrees.  You will need a roasting pan that has a cup in the center for holding liquid, or if you're like MacGyver and can figure out how to balance a chicken on a can of beer so that it doesn't fall over, then more power to you!  Fill the cup in the roasting pan with beer.  Place the chicken on the cup.

Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165 and the skin on the chicken is nicely browned and crispy.  Refill the beer as it evaporates during the cooking process.  Ours cooked through in about 1 1/2 hours.