SECRETS OF THE CHEF
Splendid Sunday Supper
BY KAREN SCHULZ
While I typically offer quick and easy recipes in the hope of encouraging families and friends to gather around the table on a more regular basis, this time I invite you to slow down and enjoy a good, old Sunday supper.
When I asked Chef Alfredo Maldonado, of Watson’s Catering & Events in Greenwich, for a favorite Sunday night staple, he was quick to share his Roasted Chicken with Shallot Reduction and Parsnip Pureé. I love it because it reminds me of how slow the pace of Sundays was growing up. Stores were closed and there were no sporting events to rush to, so cooking low and slow was no problem.
Growing up in Ecuador, Maldonado was raised on a diet of vegetables, potatoes, rice, eggs, and beans. Chicken, he recalled, was a big treat.
Maldonado has been cooking since he was a child. He started his culinary career at The Inn at Pound Ridge, worked at several Greenwich restaurants, and has been with Watson’s for the past twenty-five years.
Cooking brings him great joy, whether it is an intimate family dinner or a large, formal gathering. I have seen him prepare exquisite meals for sit–down dinners for hundreds, and he is just as calm as when he is cooking for twenty.
When I asked Maldonado for tips or tricks for the home cook, he replied, “Just keep reading recipes, trying new things, and combine various aspects of different recipes to see what you get.” Rack of lamb is one of his favorite things to cook because it is a little risky and he enjoys the challenge of trying new ways to cook it.
In the chicken recipe he shared, you start the chicken in the pan and finish it in the oven. This is a convenient technique that helps to control the temperature and expedites the cooking time. The various components of the dish make it the perfect opportunity for my college-age son and I to cook together. Before my kids could drive, the car was where we did all our chatting, it was perfect, I had them hostage. Now, my kitchen is that new place and I love every minute of the chatting that goes on while we peel, chop, and stir.
As you stir the shallot sauce reduction on a chilly Sunday afternoon, I hope you will enjoy the aroma and look forward to the delicate sweet difference in flavor the parsnips offer from potatoes. You may decide to bring back the Sunday dinners of yesteryear. And feel free to ad lib as you go, like Alfredo Maldonado.
Roasted Chicken with Shallot Reduction and Parsnip Pureé
For the chicken:
4 small chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
½ t. paprika
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 t. garlic, minced
½ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. butter
For the parsnip pureé:
2 lbs. parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk
1 stick of butter
1 t. white pepper
1 t. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a small bowl, mix the paprika, 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken. Heat oil in oven-proof skillet on medium-high. Add chicken, skin side down, and sear for eight minutes until golden brown. Flip and put in oven for ten minutes (or until done). Remove from oven and put chicken on a platter.
Put parsnips and potato in a large pot, cover with cold, salted water, and bring to a boil until soft, approximately 20 minutes. Strain in a colander. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat milk, butter, white pepper, and salt. Transfer parsnips to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the milk in batches until desired consistency. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Return pan and all the juices to stovetop on medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until soft, stirring, approximately 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, approximately 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, cook down to 1 cup, approximately 10 minutes. Add butter, stir until melted and incorporated. Strain into a small bowl.
When ready to serve, spread sauce on plate, follow with the parsnip puree, and then the chicken.