Monday, March 06, 2006

Wolfgang Puck's for Dinner

I knew that was Wolfy calling me after I finished the kid's room. I have been loving his pizzas lately. The kid decided that's where he wanted to go tonight, so we just drove on over after dusting myself off.

I used to always get the Chinois Salad at Puck's. It is absolutely delicious. He lists the recipe on his website so I'll post it for you. It's worth a try. But like I said, the last several times we've been in, I've ordered his pizza--and you know that is always good. The kid is so predictable. He always orders the crispy chicken (chicken tenders). We were both stuffed by the time we finished. If you go to one of his Expresses, get the iced tea. It is soooo good! I should ask what they use because it has a wonderful fresh flavor. And the dispenser is so cool. It makes a neat sound when you pull down on the spicket. Go figure, kinda fancy. Would you expect any less from Mr. Chef-to-the-Stars--aka Mr. Academy Awards' Cook? I think not.

Wolfgang Puck's Chinois Chicken Salad
Chinese Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
11/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons dry Chinese mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 egg yolk
Freshly ground black pepper

Chinois Chicken Salad:
2 chicken breasts, bone-in with skin
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more for deep-frying
6 large, square wonton wrappers
1 head Napa cabbage
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head radicchio
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. First, make the Chinese Mustard Vinaigrette: Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste the dressing and, if necessary, season with more salt and pepper. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. To prepare the salad: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Over high heat, heat an ovenproof saute pan large enough to hold the chicken breasts. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and heat to almost smoking. Add the chicken breasts, skin side down, and cook, undisturbed, until the skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through and the juices run clear when a breast is pierced at its thickest part with a thin skewer or the tip of a small, sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the wonton cups and strips: Fill an automatic deefreerer with peanut oil, or fill a deep, heavy pot half full with oil; heat the oil to 375°F. Carefully lay one of the wonton wrappers on the surface of the hot oil. After it has begun to soften, after about 5 seconds, use the bowl of a metal ladle to push the center of the wrapper down into the oil, submerging it while forming a bowl shape. As soon as the oil stops sizzling and the wrapper is golden brown, 15 to 30 seconds, remove it with tongs and drain it upside down on paper towels. Repeat with 3 more wrappers to make a total of 4 bowls. Stack and roll up the remaining 2 wrappers and, with a sharp knife, cut across the roll to make strips about 1/4 inch wide. Scatter the strips into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds, removing them with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon and transferring to paper towels to drain.

4. Prepare the salad leaves: Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. With a sharp knife, quarter the Napa cabbage lengthwise and cut out the solid stem core at the base of each quarter. Thinly slice the cabbage crosswise and put the shreds in the ice water. Repeat this same process with the radicchio. Halve the Romaine lettuce lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise and add to the water. With your hands, mix all of the greens thoroughly in the ice water and leave them to chill and crisp for about 5 minutes. Drain, then transfer the leaves to a clean kitchen towel and roll them up to dry them well, taking care not to bruise them. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. When the chicken breasts are done, remove the pan from the oven. As soon as the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, remove the skin if you like and cut the chicken from the bone in lengthwise slices. Coarsely chop the chicken and transfer the still-warm meat to a large mixing bowl. Add some of the vinaigrette and toss well to coat the chicken. Add the salad leaves and a little more vinaigrette and toss until everything is well coated.

6. Place a small mound of the salad, leaves only, on each of 4 serving plates, and nestle a crisp wonton wrapper cup on each mound, gently pressing it down to stabilize it. Fill the cups with the salad, arranging some of the chicken strips on top. Garnish with the fried strips of wonton wrapper, chopped peanuts, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Again, this is straight from his website and I have not tried to make it at home myself. If it turns out anything like the restaurant's, you're in for a treat.

P.S. No blueberry nothin' tonight. It's nappy time down South!

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