Dinner last week was amazing. There were only three of us there, but we had some quality girly bonding time around plates of delicious caramelized dishes. We also heard the greatest love story ever, putting every Disney movie and romantic comedy to shame. I was smiling so much in response to the story my cheeks actually started hurting. Smile-induced cheek pain? I’ll take it.
The food this week was so, so good. As always. I think this way of having chicken might be my new favourite way to eat chicken. You all have to make it, you won’t be disappointed. And the caramelized butternut squash and fontina sandwich? Wow. It definitely shot up to the top of my grilled cheese list. So many flavours combining perfectly with each other. In one of my classes last week we talked about caramelized white chocolate, which was so perfect for our dinner theme. I looked up a couple recipes and saw a suggestion to use it for the filling of macarons. Best. Suggestion. Ever. I know these can look complicated to make, but I promise you they are so easy. I have some leftover caramelized white chocolate, so I might have to make some more.
Here are the recipes for you!
Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken (Ga Kho):
- 2.5 lbs. chicken thigh/leg (bone-in or deboned)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp. chopped ginger
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce (for marinade)
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar (for marinade)
- 2 jalapeños or 1 thai chili, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 green onions, sliced about 1/2 inch
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Roasted sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- Marinade the chicken with 2 tbs of fish sauce and 1 tbs brown sugar for about 1/2 hr. In the meantime in a small bowl make the sauce by combining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, rice vinegar, and fish sauce and mix until dissolve. Add the ginger, shallots, and garlic and set aside.
- Heat a large pan on high with cooking oil and add the chicken with the flat surface of thigh facing down. Allow to sear without touching them for a minute or so and then pour in about 1/4 of the sauce. Try not to move around the chicken as you want the chicken to sear and caramelize. The sauce will start to thicken and the chicken will brown after a few minutes. Check to see if it’s nicely caramelized, then turn the pieces of chicken over and pour in the rest of the sauce. Continue to cook until sauce is reduced to nice thick consistency and just as you turn off the heat, toss in the chiles and green onions. Transfer to serving platter and generously top with roasted sesame and fresh cracked pepper.
Caramelized Butternut Squash and Fontina Open Sandwich:
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into slices
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 4 slices bread
- softened butter, for spreading
- 6oz. Fontina cheese, sliced or grated
- 2 tbsp. coconut butter
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the squash slices with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the coconut oil to the skillet and once it’s hot, add the squash. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and cook for an additional 5 minutes, flipping once or twice until the squash becomes caramely and golden in color.
- To assemble the sandwiches, spread the outsides of each slices with softened butter. Add on a handful of grated (or sliced) cheese, then the squash slices and a drizzle of the coconut butter (or crumbles, if it’s still at room temp).
- Cook in the same skillet over medium-lot heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Chocolate Macarons with Caramelized White Chocolate Filling:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces sliced almonds, pulverized)
- 3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 large egg whites (at room temperature)
- 5 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 12 oz. good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter solids)
- Pinch of flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip ready.
- Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
- Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
- Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
- Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten themacarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- If the white chocolate is in a block, chop it into coarse pieces.
- Distribute the white chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for ten minutes.
- Remove it from the oven and spread it with a clean, dry spatula.
- Continue to cook for and additional 30-60 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals. At some points it may look lumpy and chalky (and even unpleasant), but keep stirring and it will smooth out and caramelize.
- Cook until the white chocolate is deep-golden brown, and caramelized. Stir in a good pinch of sea salt. (If it’s lumpy, scrape it into a bowl and smooth it out with an immersion blender, or in a food processor).
- Sandwich filling between two macarons.