June Hersh’s mantra is: “Eat well – do good.” She is the author of Recipes Remembered, a Celebration of Survival, written to benefit the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
Her second cookbook, The Kosher Carnivore (St. Martin’s Press), contains 120 all-new, innovative recipes for cooks of all levels and is a primer for anyone wanting to learn more about the extensive choices of meat and poultry available at their supermarket or butcher. Hersh explains how to prepare every kosher cut of meat and includes helpful tips throughout the book, including advice on which cuts are interchangeable in recipes.
You’ll find creative recipes for meat and poultry dishes that can be served as appetizers, salads and main dishes. She also includes a selection of dairy-free soups, side dishes, marinades and sauces to pair with the main course.
Hersh writes about various cooking methods, including braising, pot roasting, stewing, broiling and grilling. She provides an overview on marinades, rubs, glazes, spices and herbs. Here are some of her helpful tips for the kosher carnivore:
• When marinating poultry, if the skin is not an important element in the dish, remove it, as it presents a barrier to the marinade.
• Avoid metal containers. They will react with the acid and could impart a tinny taste to your finished dish. Resealable plastic bags are a better option as you can massage the liquid into the meat and easily turn the meat while taking up little space in your fridge. And cleanup is a snap.
• Once a marinade has been exposed to raw meat, it needs to be treated very carefully. If you thoroughly boil it, you can use it to baste the meat. However, instead of tempting fate, reserve a little marinade at the start and use that as a basting sauce at the end.
The Kosher Carnivore is an excellent culinary resource for anyone wanting to know more about meat and poultry and would make a wonderful gift for a new bride. The wontons and stir-fry are ideal for weekend dinner guests and the pasta is perfect for a weekday meal. Enjoy!
CHICKEN AND SCALLION WONTONS WITH SOY DIPPING SAUCE
Sometimes it’s fun to take the easy, breezy way. These delicious little bites can be made with store-bought wonton wrappers. A short fry in the skillet and a dip in a soy-based pool and you’ve got a quick and easy small bite. Start to finish: under 30 minutes
1 lb. ground white meat chicken
2 scallions, white and green parts, minced
4 garlic cloves, grated (about 2 tbsp.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. honey
1 package wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Use your hands to gently but thoroughly combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together all the dipping sauce ingredients and reserve. Have the wonton wrappers standing by.
Drop a teaspoon of the chicken mixture into the centre of a wrapper. Dip a finger in the egg wash and run it along the border of the wrapper. Press the wrapper closed like a triangle, firmly sealing the edges. If using round wrappers, fold in half to form a half moon.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a skillet, and fry a batch of the wontons until lightly browned, over medium heat – it should take just a minute or two. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the skillet, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; this will cook the filling through. Remove the cover and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes so the wontons become crisp.
The filled wontons can be steamed instead of fried. If you have a bamboo steamer, follow the directions it came with.
If you do not have a bamboo steamer, lightly oil a metal steamer basket that sits in a slightly larger saucepan. Fill the saucepan with a little water, being sure it does not touch the steamer basket. Heat the water until it reaches a strong simmer. Place about 5 wontons in the basket, cover and steam for about 10 minutes, or until the wrappers are soft and translucent and the chicken has completely cooked through.
Follow the procedure you choose for all the wontons. Serve with dipping sauce. Makes 20 to 24 pieces,
Feedback: For an Asian flavour variation, add 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger, 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley and 1 tbsp. grated lemongrass or lemon peel. If you add 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs to the ground chicken, you have the basis for a terrific mini-meatball to float in soup broth. The wontons are essentially kreplach – Jewish dumplings – that can be filled and added to soup in place of noodles. If you do this, don’t fry the wontons. They’ll cook in the soup and be ready after about 8 minutes, at which time they’ll float to the top.
Behind the counter: Have your butcher medium grind white meat chicken. Alternate cuts: here’s the chance to try a variety of ground meats, from turkey to lamb or veal.
CRISPY ORANGE BEEF AND BROCCOLI
This is not your average stir-fry; this one is ready for a Saturday night debut. It has the right balance between spicy and sweet, with both notes partnering perfectly with the beef and broccoli. Successful stir-frying is all about preparation: if you have all your ingredients ready to roll, you will have no problem with this fast cooking method. Serves 4 (2 if you are super-hungry). Start to finish: under 45 minutes.
1 lb. beef, cut against the grain into strips 1 in. wide and 2 to 3 inches long
1 large dried poblano chili
2 tbsp. Madeira or dry sherry
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
zest and juice from 1 small orange (about 1 tbsp. grated zest, 1/4 cup juice)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 small head broccoli, florets only, blanched
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced (about 1-1/2 tsp.)
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced, for garnish
cooked rice for serving
Spread the beef out on a plate lined with a paper towel and refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Drying the meat will give it a crisper finish when it’s fried.
To reconstitute the poblano, cover it in a small bowl with very hot water. When soft, remove the stem and seeds and slice the pepper into thin strips; set aside.
To prepare the sauce: whisk together the Madeira, hoisin, honey, chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce, orange juice, orange zest and brown sugar. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
To stir-fry: Heat half the oil in a large skillet or wok. Remove the meat from the fridge and toss with the cornstarch in a resealable plastic bag. Shake off excess cornstarch and carefully drop the meat into the oil. Cook over medium-high heat until crispy and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to do this in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer the finished meat to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, add the remaining oil, only if the pan is dry, and stir-fry the broccoli, garlic and ginger over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the reserved sauce, poblano chili and beef. Cook for several minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meat is glossy and coated with sauce.
Garnish with the sliced scallions and serve spooned over rice.
Behind the counter: Hanger steak, cut into strips (have your butcher remove the sinewy vein) is very flavourful and tender in this dish. You don’t want to use tougher cuts that require braising, as this is a quick stir-fry. Make sure your butcher cuts the beef from a portion meant for stir-fry, not pepper steak. Don’t even think about using rib meat for this preparation – it would be like wearing a ball gown to a ball game. Alternate cuts: thin cut minute steak or thin cuts from the top blade, the silver tip or the neck portion at the top of the chuck
GRILLED CHICKEN AND PASTA PRIMAVERA
This primavera features grilled chicken mingled with roasted asparagus, zucchini, Portobello mushrooms and whole garlic cloves. Everything is then tossed with ziti pasta for a nutritious and delicious dish. Serves 4 to 6. Start to finish: under 45 minutes.
2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 lb.), sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 lb. portobello mushroom caps, stems removed, sliced 1/2-in. thick
1/2 lb. green asparagus, ends trimmed
4 large whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
olive oil to coat the veggies and chicken plus 1/4 cup
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ziti pasta, or any other pasta
1 lb. chicken cutlets pounded 1/2 to 1/4 in. thick
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. chopped capers
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly torn basil leaves (about 6) for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450. Toss the vegetables in enough olive oil to lightly coat them and then place the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms and asparagus are lightly charred. Transfer them to a plate and set aside. Continue roasting the zucchini and garlic until the zucchini is lightly charred, about 10 minutes longer. Place on the same plate as the mushrooms and asparagus. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size pieces. Peel the cloves and smash the browned garlic. Set all the vegetables aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve some pasta water for the sauce and drain the pasta. Do not rinse the pasta! While the vegetables roast and the pasta cooks, prepare the chicken. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, then coat with olive oil. Using a stovetop grill pan or a regular skillet, cook the chicken 3 to 5 minutes per side, until lightly charred and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Cut the chicken into strips with a knife right before the next step.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a deep skillet large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cook and stir the smashed garlic, red pepper flakes and capers over medium heat for a few minutes until very fragrant. Add the vegetables, chicken and drained, cooked pasta to the skillet. Cook over low heat until everything is heated through, about 3 minutes, adding about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to help smooth out the sauce.
Spoon the pasta into a large serving bowl, toss with the cherry tomatoes and garnish with the torn basil leaves. Serve hot or cold.
Behind the counter: Have your butcher prepare cutlets about 1/2-in. thick. Alternate cuts: turkey.