As part of our partnership with the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), we provide wine for their Celebrity Chef cooking class series. And sometimes, we ourselves attend classes to pour wine and learn from the best chefs in Boston! That's exactly what happened this past Monday night at the Behind the Line cooking class with Chef Dave Becker, of Needham's Sweet Basil and most recently Wellesley's Juniper. At a Behind the Line class, students work with the guest chef to quickly cook a meal as they would in the role of a restaurant line cook. They then serve that meal to guests who arrive about halfway through the three-hour class.
First up the class served red pepper muhammara with grilled pita wedges. One of the students actually happened to have his mother's family recipe for muhammara memorized, so Becker stepped aside and allowed him to prepare that dish himself, using that recipe instead of the one from his restaurants. It was a hit with both diners and cooks!
To make muhammara, roasted red peppers and roasted walnuts are combined in a food processor until a paste is formed. Then the following are added and pureed until smoothed: toasted breadcrumbs, molasses, garlic, red pepper, lemon juice, cumin, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Sometimes more oil is added as needed until the muhammara reaches a desired thickness, and salt and pepper can also be added to taste. Then it is placed in the fridge to chill, until time to serve!
Next up a group of students prepared an apple-jicama slaw and set it in the fridge to chill. Then Chef Becker demonstrated how to sear fresh sea scallops, to be placed atop the slaw.
Both sides of the scallops were seasoned with salt an pepper, and added to smoking oil on a hot pan.
The scallops were garnished with frisee, and voila! A stunning appetizer.
The main course was to be braised chicken tagine and couscous with dried fruit (apricots, cherries, and cranberries). The couscous would be easy to recreate at home and perfect to serve at a backyard BBQ this summer! Simply cook and chill Israeli style couscous, and then toss with 2 T olive oil, 1 t each of chili powder and tumeric, and 2 T of apple cider vinegar. In a small saucepan, bring to a boil the dried fruit and about a cup more of apple cider vinegar. Remove from heat, use a slotted spoon to remove the fruit from the apple cider vinegar, and toss that into the cooked couscous.
The chicken is a bit more complex, but well worth the effort. Here's the full recipe, courtesy of Chef Becker!
Briased Chicken Tagine
4 T olive oil
4 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
flour for dusting
1 c white wine
1 c sweet onion (diced)
1/2 c each of carrots and celery (both diced)
2 T garlic, minced
1 c chickpeas, cooked
1/2 c Ras El Hanout
2 T each of honey and apple cider vinegar
2 c chicken stock
salt & pepper (to taste)
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it is almost smoking. Dust the chicken thighs with flour and place in the pan.
2. Sear on both sides until lightly browned, and remove from the pan.
3. Deglaze the pan with white wine. When wine is reduced by half, add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute for another minute.
4. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Check in case additional seasoning is needed.
5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chicken is starting to fall apart.
Serve with the couscous, or a side of your choice! The wine and seasonings provide amazing flavor to everything on your plate. Especially when combined with a glass of Lot 100 Monster Red Blend on the side!
The diners could not believe the generous portions they were being served, especially considering the fact that wine was included and a seat as a Behind the Line diner is just $35! Be sure to visit the BCAE Celeb Chef page to find classes and sign up, and remember that our customers get 25% off* – just use code 90PLUS! And visit our BCAE page to see more photos from this class, as well as photos and recipes from prior classes!
*Restrictions: Discount will be applied to tuition only. Materials fees are not discounted. Discount excludes special events, WSET, ESL classes, private classes and off-site classes. Cannot be combined with other promotions or used on prior registrations. Other restrictions may apply. Expires 9/2/15.