Provencal Picnic Fare

2013-07-29T10:15:00Z Provencal Picnic FareJane Dunne nwitimes.com
July 29, 2013 10:15 am  • 

This past July 14, the Gourmet Group I currently chair for the International Women Associates had a picnic for 50 to celebrate Bastille Day.

In Provence, there is a famous pique-nique called "Le Grand Aioli." Traditionally, it features reconstituted dried cod, its snowy flesh then enrobed in a golden garlic/saffron mayonnaise known as "aioli." The table is bountiful with platters of both raw and steamed vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and bread, all of which are lovely dipped in the aioli.

Not wanting to go on that difficult path soaking cod for our guests, we decided to grill chicken instead. Privately, our committee referred to the meal as the "Not-So-Grand Aioli."

Everything was delicious. Here are a few of the dishes we made.

PROVENÇAL MARINATED CHICKEN LEGS (6 servings)

We found this on the Weber Grill website.l

1 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dried herbes de Provence

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

6 whole chicken legs (thighs included) skin on, each 10 to 12 ounces

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients through the red pepper flakes.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a few deep slashes into the meaty parts of each chicken leg. Place them in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 degrees.)

Remove the chicken legs from the bag, letting the herbs cling to the chicken. Discard the marinade. Grill the chicken over indirect medium heat with the lid closed as much as possible, until the juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone), about 1 hour, turning once. During the last 5 minutes of grilling time, to crisp the skin, grill the chicken over direct medium heat with the lid off, turning once. Remove from the grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Cut legs into thighs and drumsticks, if desired.

ASPARAGUS NIÇOISE (8 TO 10 servings)

A dish that originated from IWA member, Myra Balesi, it always produces raves and requests for the recipe.

2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or more to taste)

2/3 cup olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and minced

2 plum or campari tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/3 cup Nicoise olives, drained

1 tablespoon drained capers

Steam the asparagus or cook in a large skillet of boiling, salted water no longer than 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool and set the color. Drain onto kitchen towels and pat gently to dry. Leave at room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar and mustard together. Whisk in oil gradually until thick. Stir in shallots and capers and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange asparagus spears on a platter and scatter tomatoes and olives on top. Drizzle dressing on last. (you should have a little extra dressing left over - lucky you!) serve asparagus at room temperature.

ORANGE AND SAFFRON AIOLI (1 cup)

You can be more classic and serve as is, straight from the blender. I find folding in the mayo/yogurt mixture at the end gives the aioli extra enrichment and smoothness.

1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1 tablespoon hot water

1 medium garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise with Olive Oil mixed with 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

Stir together saffron and water in a small bowl until saffron begins to dissolve (threads will still be intact. Transfer saffron mixture to a food processor along with all ingredients through the egg yolk. Pulse until combined. With the motor running, add oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube until aioli is thickened and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the mayonnaise/yogurt mixture until all is combined. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

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