Sunday, January 03, 2010

White House Recipes: Kitchen Garden Herb-Roasted Chicken, Cauliflower Gratin

Special recipes created for the White House episode of "Iron Chef America"...
As part of First Lady Michelle Obama and Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford's appearance on culinary competition TV show Iron Chef America, the White House has released two new, healthy recipes. In keeping with the show's challenge of creating five "ultimate American" dishes using produce grown in Mrs. Obama's South Lawn Kitchen Garden, both recipes created by Chef Comerford are vegetable intensive. Update: Comerford and her partner Chef Bobby Flay won the battle. (Above: Mrs. Obama with from l Flay, Comerford, Iron Chef host Alton Brown, and teammates Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali)

The first recipe is White House Kitchen Garden Herb Roasted Chicken with Braised Greens. Like many of the recipes the White House has released to date, this one is fairly easy, and very tasty. But the herb mixture requires at least an hour to marinate, and doing it overnight is preferable, so keep that in mind when scheduling your cooking. The second recipe, for White House Cauliflower Gratin, is a bit more challenging and requires constant attention while cooking.

All the vegetables used in these recipes grew in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden during the 2009 Summer and early Fall growing seasons. According to Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass, the garden had produced more than 1,007 pounds of fruit and vegetables by the time it was planted with a cover crop of rye in early December of 2009, and given hoop houses as protection for the Winter growing season. Currently, the garden is growing spinach, lettuce, carrots, mustard greens, chard and cabbage, and has done very well, despite a record-breaking snowstorm in Washington, right before Christmas. Check the blog sidebar for more White House recipes.

White House Kitchen Garden Herb-Roasted Chicken
with Braised Greens

*Note: requires at least one hour of refrigeration during preparation.

3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 3-to-4 pound chicken, quartered
Salt and pepper
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large red onion, diced
2 bunches kale, collard greens, or mustard greens, stemmed and torn (a mix also can be used)
3/4 cups chicken stock

1. Mix the herbs, mustard and olive oil in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and turn to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

3. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until the meat is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, saute the bacon in a deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the greens, in batches, and saute until wilted, about 4 minutes.

5. Add the chicken stock, cover and gently braise over low heat until tender, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.

Serves four.

The White House Cauliflower Gratin requires constant attention during the initial phase of cooking. It would make a swell side dish for the first recipe, or served with almost any kind of meat or fish. It also incorporates a little bit of Asian flare; Comerford grew up in the Philippines, and she's said that her heritage always comes out in her cooking, even when she's creating American dishes.

White House Cauliflower Gratin

1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tblsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cupc shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarsely ground fresh bread crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. Trim the cauliflower and cut into florets.

3. Steam the cauliflower in a large pot with a little water over medium-low heat until tender. Remove the cauliflower from the pot to a towel to remove excise moisture.

4. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan (2-quart) over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

5. Add the milk, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps.

6. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and add the nutmeg.

7. Put the cauliflower into the prepared pan. Top with half of the cheese. Pour the white sauce (Bechamel) over the cheese. Top with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs.

8. Bake, uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Servings vary, depending on portion size.

*Photo courtesy of Food Network