Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jamie Oliver - Great Food, Great Controversy And Get Your Recipes HERE…

Jamie at Home with Jamie Oliver

Peppers & Chilies
Hot Smoked Salmon with an Amazing Chile Salsa
Spicy Pork and Chili-Pepper Goulash

Here's Tyler, serving up a man-sized bowl of the best looking chili I've ever seen. "Meaty and thick. Just the way Texas loves it." In fact, he tells us that if we enter a chili contest with this recipe we'll bring home the blue ribbon… I'd settle for the chef.

On to Jamie standing in a greenhouse, surrounded by his precious peppers. Apparently, he has quite a relationship with them. In fact, he tells us he was addicted to them. He’s not the only one I’ve of heard with that problem.

Jamie’s picking chilies off the plants and he says he’s getting really excited and that his endorphins are going wild. Okay, that IS addicted.

Back to the “kitchen”, shed, barn (as far from Ina’s barn as you can imagine), hut, whatever…Jamie cuts red and yellow peppers in half. Now this is interesting. He cuts them down the center in half, instead of cutting the top off and filling THAT. He’s smart because a smaller flatter piece of pepper will cook more evenly than a big dome-shaped pepper that’s always kind of underdone.

Jamie cuts out all the white membranes to make “a dish within a dish” and puts them in a rustic looking earthenware baking dish. Then he tells us that “Mr. Pepper loves Mr. Tomato, who in turn loves to have a party with Mr. Garlic.” I don’t think that’s strange, I think it’s endearing how he talks about and TO his food.

He mixes cherry tomatoes (halving when large) with Mr. Garlic (sliced). Then he slices various hot peppers - beautiful apricot colored ones, a long green one and a little bell shaped red one. They go in along with capers, basil, salt, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

He squeezes and scrunches up 5 or 6 olives in to get every last bit of flavor from them.
He mixes the mixture well and packs it into the pepper halves, making sure to pour over all the juices. He says you can cook it as is or lay over slices of pancetta, which Jamie does. He covers the dish with foil and cooks it for 15 minutes to get the peppers soft. Then he uncovers them, so they get browned and kind of crispy. I’m guessing the uncovered time is 15 minutes. (No recipe.) He pinches the peppers to see if they’re done.

Jamie toasts country bread and tops with the peppers. With a sharp knife, he pierces through the peppers into the bread to release some of the juices. He places a little mozzarella and rocket on the plate and throws over some finely sliced raw chilies. Lastly, he drizzles over a bit of extra virgin olive oil. It looks awesome.

I’ve said before stuffed peppers don’t really do it for me. The fillings are always yummy, but I could do without the pepper part. I like this idea of cooking them first covered and then uncovered to get them browned. That’s pretty smart. He always seems to do the best by his impeccably fresh ingredients.

A shot of his bucolic farmhouse followed by a pork recipe. (Are we going to meet the piggy too? I kinda hope not.)

There is a bit of a controversy (actually kind of a huge one) that I really have to address. Actually you can’t really talk about Jamie without talking about his tremendous efforts to bring attention to the horrors of big business poultry raising.

He’s involved in a battle against giant producers of poultry and eggs in a campaign to get better treatment for animals. He caused a sensation on British television when he (actually I can hardly bear to even talk about it) killed a chicken on television in order to highlight the issue.

Apparently the next day, free-range chickens sold out all over Britain and he made great strides towards convincing folks to consider more humane treatment of the animals. His point is that it would benefit not only the animals, but the farmers and consumers as well. We could discuss this forever, but suffice it to say, whether he’s cooking a pepper or a pig, Jamie has enormous respect for its life and treats it as well as it can be.

Whew! Can we even go back to the show after all that? I’ll try.

He places a 2 kilo shoulder of pork on the work surface. He scores the skin and seasons it with salt and pepper. He puts it in a hot pan skin side down to render the fat. He adds a bit of olive oil to the pan.

Jamie cuts off the ends of yellow and red peppers. He even uses the bit of pepper around the stem. He takes out the seeds and veins and then he slices them thin, thin, thinly. But look here. I’m not sure why, but he cuts them sideways, not up and down. Gosh, what knife skills he has!

He turns the pork over and removes it from the pan. (The recipe says to take it out after cooking just one side.) He adds his magnificently sliced peppers and 2 heaped dessertspoons of paprika. (That’s SUCH an English measurement. I remember the first time I saw that. It’s because they eat these nursery type “puddings” with custard on them and they want a big spoon to stuff in their grill).

Jamie likes the interesting mix of paprika - which is, after all, dried pepper - with fresh ones. He adds salt and pepper, caraway seeds, chopped up jarred red peppers and 2 finely sliced red onions. (Jamie chops and slices like a machine.)

He pulls the leaves off the stalks of fresh marjoram and adds those with “tinned” tomatoes. He puts the pork in and pushes it down to the bottom of the pan and surrounds it with the peppers and other stuff. He adds 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and brings the pan up to the boil. He puts it in a 350°F. oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the meat pulls apart easily with 2 forks.

Look what I just saw at the FN website:
"Our agreement with the producers of "Jamie at Home" only permit us to make 2 recipes per episode available online. Food Network regrets the inconvenience to our viewers and foodnetwork.com users".

Harrummmmph! I’m sure if Jamie understood how pathetic we Americans are as cooks, he would understand that we need our recipes, even if just as a hand-holding tool. Kidding. We’re amazing cooks, but it’s nice to have a bleepin’ recipe.

Next Jamie boils basmati rice for 10 minutes in plenty of boiling, salted water. He drains it, reserving some of the cooking water. He places the rice in a colander over the reserved cooking water and continues steaming it, covered, for another 10 minutes.

He takes the pork out. It’s so tender, he can pull it apart with a SPOON. He tastes it and is really excited by how good it is. He puts a hunk of it in a soup plate, serves rice on the side and accompanies it with sour cream to which he’s added lemon zest and parsley. He puts a wadge of the sour cream on top of the meat with one more spoonful of the sauce. The sour cream melts in. The dish looks completely tantalizing.

Now Jamie is going to smoke salmon himself. Of course he is. He readies a “biscuit tin”. Do we even have biscuit tins here? Don’t our cookies come wrapped in cellophane in cardboard boxes? He puts wood chips on the bottom, and then fresh sage and rosemary. Then chicken wire goes on top.

He pats salt on both sides of the salmon fillet and rubs over roasted chili oil. (He made the oil by roasting dried chilies for 15 to 20 minutes at 150°F. and adding them to olive oil.) The website says to use olive oil. He places the salmon on the wire. He punches 5 or 6 holes in the tin lid and covers the tin. He cooks it on top of the stove for 4 to 5 minutes. (The recipe says 8 to 10 minutes.) Remember you’ll get a lot of smoke, so be prepared…

The key to a salsa (sow-sa) starts with a chili, says Jamie. He grabs a couple of tomatoes and squeezes the seeds out of them. He chops them (beautifully) and then chops (again beautifully) 3 chilies (red, yellow and green) laid out in a pretty little line. He tells us he loves the crunchiness of cucumber and dices them into perfect little squares and adds them.

Then he deals with “Mr. Spring Onion”. “Once you’ve chopped it up, run your knife through it” again. He rolls up fresh coriander and chops that including the stalks, warning us not to add too much. He adds salt and Mr. Avocado. He halves the avocado, twists it and removes the pit. He removes the flesh from the skin with a big spoon in one piece. He chops it and adds it to the salad. He drizzles in a bit of olive oil, remarking “Not so classic, but (it) brings it together. Not too much, you want it to be quite clean.” Jamie tastes and loves it.

He checks the salmon. “Please work, otherwise I’ll look like a plonker.” He puts some salsa on the plate, the salmon goes on top of that. He spoons a bit more salsa on top with a little olive oil. He squeezes half a lime as he presents the dish to us. He tastes it and dances with happiness. Me, too.

Am I bad to focus on just the food? I know he didn't mention the whole issue here, but it's hard not to think about it. I DO want to see how the animals are raised, but I have to admit that seeing how they make it onto the plate might be a bit much for me.

Oh, no, I gotta get the television off quickly. Wait, is that Aunt Sandy in a cheerleading outfit? OMG!

Her cherry cobbler looks like beans on Bisquick. The tomato she’s slicing is the most perfectly shaped one I’ve ever seen and also the palest, waxiest, most fake looking one as well.

Jamie's respect for his ingredients is evident and even awe-inspiring. He is the perfect combination of superlative chef (with his knife handling, particularly) and casual (or so he wants it to appear) home cook. HE is naturally superb.


Emiline said...

What was Aunt Sandy doing in a cheerleading costume? Did she make a drink to go along with the cobbler?

I'm liking Jamie, more and more. Why did the Food Network ever get rid of him?
He seems to be quite powerful. Remember when he tried to change the school lunch program?

The pork dish does sound amazing.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I found it interesting watching Jamie. Sometimes he seemed so quiet and subdued and sometimes he was full of his trademark exhuberance. I was almost uncomfortable when he would be preparing something and there would be silence. That is just so un-food-network. But it was obvious he was concentrating and giving the food his full attention.

I was VERY creeped out by Aunt Sandy in a cheerleader outfit. I wasn't sure if she was trying ot satisfy her own fantasy or someone else's (if you know what I mean). That opening monologue was met with a resounding *CLICK*

Nat said...

Jamie Oliver is great fun to watch. Sue, your summary is right on and very funny! I love reading your recaps of the shows.

Sue said...

I don't even want to think about what Aunt Sandy was doing.

I don't think the FN got rid of Jamie. I think his various series ran their course. This one was obviously made for English telly and I think that's part of what makes it so charming.

No, I don't remember any school lunch championing. Wasn't that Tyler? I liked Jamie's series when he helped all those young people with culinary training.

Hi Shortie,
I have to watch for that the next time he's on. I like that every aspect of the dish is so important to him. And who can resist when he does a little dance?

Yeah, Sandy is scary.

Thanks, Nat,
Yup, Jamie's show is pukka.

Lunch Buckets said...

I made the Spicy Pork and Chili-Pepper Goulash (spicy being very relative here) and I'm not ashamed to admit that it was probably the best thing I've made all year. (And it had nothing to do with just how freakin' cute he is when he's being all earnest.) Seriously good!

Chicagoman said...

Interesting that Jamie lost to Mario on Iron Chef..talk about two very very skilled chefs!!! I think that was Mario's last Iron Chef..almost like a passing of the guard. Jamie is just a pleasure to watch b/c he loves and respects his food so very much. Mario, Jamie, Micheal, Tyler, Bobby, Ina, ......Sandy?????? One of these ain't like the other ...

Well I have to go. I have to get frozen chicken patties, put store bought sauces on them, melt some cheese on it, call it Chicken Parmesan, then spend 30 minutes decorating my table and matching my clothes to my drapes to my "food".

Sue said...

Hi lunch buckets,
I'm glad it was so good. But I bet it had just a little bit to do with how cute he is...

Hi CM,
Sandy is, without a doubt, in her own little world, and I wish she'd stay there and not bother the rest of us.

You know, your little roll call there reminded me of how many excellent chefs and cooks there really are on the FN, even though you have to be up at 3 in the morning to watch them.