Archive for the 'Chicken' Category



Poulet Mistral Le Preiuré (Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic)

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Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic seems like a good idea until you need to peel the garlic. And, of course, I won’t cheat by using pre-peeled garlic. It doesn’t help that I’m somewhat allergic to garlic (it makes my fingers dry-out and crack; I have to wear gloves when I work with it).

But, really, garlic is good enough to be worth it. I could launch into a diatribe worthy of Cook’s Illustrated about how every other recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic was bad until I perfected it (or, in my case, found this recipe). It’d be somewhat be true. I have tried several other recipes in the past (with the requisite garlic peeling) and have found them wanting. The chicken never appropriated the garlic flavor. They were simply not worth the effort.

This recipe sort of snuck in under the radar. For one, it’s not called Chicken with Cloves of Garlic. It does, however, sneak those 40 cloves of garlic into the ingredients list. I got suckered in by the idea of chicken with garlic (how could that not sound good?) without realizing exactly what it was. By the time I realized exactly what it was, I had already committed.

I hate having to peel that much garlic

And that was a good thing because this is good. The chicken picks up a mild garlic flavor while still being juicy. The sauce is also quite tasty. It’s almost as good to dip bread in it as the sauce from Poulet Sauté aux Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs) (but not quite).

This is particularly good served with Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin).

Yet another random picture of chicken cooking

Poulet Mistral Le Preiuré (Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic)
Adapted from Bistro Cooking

1 chicken, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
about 40 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 cup white vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter, softened

  1. Season the chicken with salt up to a day in advance.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the pepper. Brown both sides of the chicken, working in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside when done.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic cloves. Place the chicken on top of the garlic. Sauté, shaking the pan occasionally, 10 minutes to lightly brown the garlic.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and the chicken stock. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Bring the sauce to the boil to reduce until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened butter.
  6. Serve the chicken covered with the sauce and garlic.

Serves 4.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen

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Frequently found in grocery store freezer cases, Cornish game hens seem to be more exotic than they are. In reality, they’re just miniature chickens (sure to impress all the women out there who think everything smaller than normal is cute; I’m looking at you Angela).

This was the first time that I had ever had one. I had seen them numerous times in the freezer ghetto of the grocery store but had passed them by as being unfamiliar and possibly too much trouble for the benefit. I only deigned to buy one (well, two really as they come frozen in two packs) when they were on sale. And they promptly went into the freezer for longer than I want to admit.

Why did I choose to rescue them from their frozen entombment? Mainly I wanted to reclaim some freezer space.

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My first step after defrosting them is to figure out what to do with them. Unfortunately, despite my collection of cookbooks (which is either minimally sized or overly-large depending on which family member you ask), I was unable to find a recipe that really attracted me (or that I had all the ingredients for). So I decided to improvise. With a little bit of Gourmet and a little bit of Alton Brown as well as just general ideas, i think it turned out pretty well.

For a family of two, there are a number of advantage to the Cornish game hen: namely, one is enough food for two people (with a little left over to spoil our cats with). But, what really surprised me, was that it was good. The breast meat was moist and the thighs were tender. And, I should add, that this was without brining or pre-salting or any other extraordinary effort (or preparation as it’s normally called); from a frozen mass-produced bird.

I think, that in our household at least, Cornish game hens will become frequent visitors. I bet our cats will like that.

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Roasted Cornish Game Hen

1 Rock Cornish game hen
3 tbsp, softened
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp minced shallots
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter, softened (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place two cast-iron frying pans into the oven.
  2. Spatchcock the game hen (cut out the backbone so the the game hen lays flat).
  3. Mix together the butter, thyme, and garlic to create an herb butter. Season it with salt and pepper.
  4. Rub the herb butter under the game hen skin on the breast and thighs. Rub the remaining herb butter onto the outside of the game hen. Season the game hen with additional salt and pepper.
  5. When the frying pans are hot, remove the frying pans from the oven. Place the game hen skin side up in one of the frying pans. Place the other frying pan on top of the game hen helping to flatten it. Return the frying pans with the game hen into the oven.
  6. Cook the game hen until its internal temperature reaches 160ºF about 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the frying pans from the oven. Remove the game hen from the frying pans and set aside, covered with aluminum foil.
  8. In the bottom frying pan, add the shallots and cook over medium heat about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, scrapping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil and reduce until the sauce is thickened.
  9. Remove the aluminum foil and cut the game hen in half laterally.
  10. Serve each half with the sauce poured over it.

Serves 2.

Chicken Bouillabaisse

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When I’m looking at recipes, certain ones always stand out. Sometimes the whole premise of the recipe seems interesting. Some use an exotic ingredient. I always like those that involve using a part that’s discarded (frequently shells) to make a stock. Certain ingredients just look like they belong together even though I’ve never had them that way.

But some recipes appeal not for their sophistication but for their simplicity. A few accenting flavors allow enhance the main ingredient instead of fighting for attention with it. The sum of the ingredients is much more than their value separately.

These are the recipes and, in most cases, the flavors that appeal to me: simple pasta sauce, uncomplicated roast chicken, a simple steak cooked well. I don’t want my lamb to taste like beef or my pork to taste like chicken. I want lamb that tastes more like lamb and pork that tastes more like pork.

When I first saw this recipe, I made a mental bookmark about it. I hadn’t thought about it in awhile, in part because I had run out of chicken stock and hadn’t, until recently, had any time to make more. Now that I had the ingredients I needed as well as a cool day to fit the recipe.

The recipe is simple. There’s no need to even brown the chicken. It just simmers for an hour. Nothing more to it. While I have no evidence that it wouldn’t work well with non-fresh ingredients, I wouldn’t risk it. With such simple flavors, they need to be at their best.

The chicken was moist and flavorful. But what was best was the sauce. Dipping bread into it was close to divine.

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Chicken Bouillabaisse
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant

1 chicken, quartered
2 cups sliced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
salt
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 dried chili
1/4 cup vermouth
1/3 cup peeled and chopped fresh tomato
pinch of saffron threads
2 garlic cloves, coarsely diced
2 cups of chicken stock

  1. Trim any excess fat from the chicken, dry on paper towels, and season with salt.
  2. Place the onions and the olive oil in a large dutch oven along with several pinches of salt. Place over medium heat and cook until the onions are transparent and soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and chili, breaking up the chili. Add the vermouth and bring to the boil for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, saffron, garlic, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the chicken legs and thighs and return to a simmer. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, turning the meat once.
  6. Turn the chicken legs and thighs and add the chicken breasts. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, turning the meat once.
  7. Check the sauce for seasoning. Remove the chicken and boil down the sauce if needed.
  8. Serve the chicken with the sauce and fresh bread.

Serves 4.

Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid (Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon)

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I think it’s finally time to come to the conclusion that not all food looks good. I suppose it’s a bit hard to make a yellow tinged chicken covered with a yellow sauce look appetizing, particularly in a picture. When I showed the picture to Angela, she agreed that it didn’t look good but did, without prompting, declare that it was good. So it at least has that going for it.

I had originally decided to preserve some lemons when citrus season first stated here in California. I didn’t really have a clue what I’d do with them but it seemed the right thing to do. Given the length of time they needed to mature, I had somewhat forgotten about them. They had been sitting in a mini-fridge that I use from time to time (it’s a good place to cool stock or for drying pancetta, for example).

For dinner the other night, I really wanted something different. I wanted something exotic but familiar, all at the same time. This recipe seemed a good fit, not least because I had all the ingredients that I needed.

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This recipe is apparently the classic Moroccan dish. Given my knowledge of Moroccan cooking (witness the Moroccan-style pork fiasco), I’ll have to trust the cookbook on that one. Despite my previous desicration of the cuisine of Morocco, I decided to modify the recipe. The original recipe had olives. I removed them partially because I don’t like them (as Will can attest, I’ve tried them multiple times and have yet to find any I like) and partially because I don’t have any. I also removed diced cilantro and parsley because I didn’t have any (our fresh produce stock was limited as we had been on vacation for a week and a half and the farmer’s market isn’t until Sunday).

I still think it turned out fairly well while still managing to be somewhat Moroccan (at least it wasn’t pork). It was pleasantly lemony without being overly tart. I’ll make it again when I want something exotic but familiar.

And, while it may seem like a good idea, don’t take a bite of preserved lemon right out of the container. I didn’t know anything could be quite that bitter and salty at the same time.

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Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid (Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon)
Adapted from Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, cut into 6 pieces
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 preserved lemon, diced

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, then add the garlic, saffron, and ginger.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan. Pour in 1 1/4 cups water.
  3. Simmer, covered, turning occasionally for 15 minutes. Remove the breasts and cover with aluminum foil. Simmer for 25 more minutes. Return the breasts to the pan.
  4. Stir into the sauce the lemon juice and the preserved lemon peel. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and simmer the sauce for additional time if the sauce is still too thin.
  5. Serve the chicken with the sauce on top.

Serves 4.


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Lemons Preserved in Salt and Lemon Juice
Adapted from Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

4 lemons
4 tbsp kosher salt
juice of 4 additional lemons

  1. Clean the lemons thoroughly. Cut the lemons into quarters while still leaving the quarters attached at the stem end. Place 1 tbsp of salt in the center of each lemon. Put in a non-reactive container and store in a cool place for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Press the lemons down in the container as much as possible and then add the lemon juice to cover them. Store in a cool place for 1 month.

Makes 4 preserved lemons.

Cooking Lesson 2: Chicken and Potatoes

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I love chicken. If I want to order a meal with meat, I almost always choose chicken. My favorite is chicken breast. Too bad most restaurants (and home cooks) overcook them. while looking through one of our cookbooks I found a recipe for Parmesan-Dijon Chicken. Chicken breasts are coated in dijon mustard then a Parmesan and breadcrumb mixture then baked. The recipe suggested Twice-Baked Potatoes as an accompaniment. Perfect. I love twice-baked potatoes and they seemed easy enough. Bake potatoes, remove inside, mix with cheese, put back into potato, and heat through.

The chicken turned out moist (benefit of cooking to temperature instead of time) though all of the breading sort of fell off. Next time I’ll use a more typical flour then egg then breadcrumbs approach. I’ll also add a bit more dijon as the taste didn’t really permeate the chicken. As for the potatoes, they were just about perfect. Using a food mill to mash the potato and heavy cream (in place of the suggested milk) created a fluffy filling. If you make these, be sure to be certain not to ruin the structural integrity of the potatoes as much as I did.

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Parmesan-Dijon Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
1 split chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup bread crumbs (make your own if you can)

Steps:

  1. Mix mustard and melted butter into shallow container. Place Parmesan and bread crumbs in another, similar container.
  2. Coat chicken in butter/mustard then Parmesan/bread crumbs.
  3. Place chicken in shallow baking dish and cook for 20-30 minutes at 375 F. If you’ve got an instant-read thermometer, use it to cook chicken to 160 F.

Twice-Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup grater cheddar (approx 2 oz by weight)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps: 

  1. Poke holes in potatoes and cook for 1 hour at 375 F.
  2. Scoop meat from potato (leave enough so it doesn’t fall apart).
  3. Mash potato and mix with butter, cream, and cheese.
  4. Put mixture back into potatoes. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons (Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream)

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Ever have a dinner that is surprisingly good? This was one of them. I never have high hopes for anything based around a chicken breast. They’re frequently dry and tasteless. And, while I haven’t tried it, I’m sure that brining helps (yet another thing on my cooking to do list). But, when you get down to it, chicken breasts aren’t particularly exciting. In many ways, they’re the tofu of the meat eating world except they don’t readily take on other flavors as well.

Except, when I made Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons (I’ve been avoiding using the proper name as it’s a bit incongruous in a sentence), it was surprisingly good. It wasn’t a burst of flavor in your mouth but it was simple and it was good. The chicken wasn’t dry and had some good flavor but the sauce was very creamy and chickeny. It may not be something to serve to guests but it’s good for a weeknight meal.

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I was particularly fond of the mushrooms (Angela doesn’t like them; and she also complains that I only say she doesn’t like things; she did like the chicken, so there). If you look at the pictures, you’ll think I had only a few but I didn’t ladle the rest of them out of the skillet until after taking the pictures. By the time I was finished, there were more mushrooms than chicken.

I should say, however, if you prepare this recipe realize that I did use a smaller chicken that I got from the farmer’s market. The breasts themselves were pretty small, probably only several ounces each; so the times may be different if you use a larger chicken breast. I’d suggest cooking to temperature instead of time.

I’m a bit surprised by this recipe as it doesn’t involving browning the chicken. Normally, browning meat is important for the development of flavor but not in this recipe. And I can’t say I missed it. Given that the chicken breast is small, a greater proportion of the flavor comes from the sauce and from the chicken stock in the sauce.

Serve with Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin).

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Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons (Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced shallots
1/4 lbs. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 tbsp chicken stock
2 tbsp white vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Rub the chicken breasts with a small amount of the lemon juice and season with salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until it is foaming. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes more. Season with salt.
  4. Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and roll them in the butter. Cover the skillet and place it in the oven. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  5. Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the chicken breasts from the skillet. Add the stock and vermouth to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid is syrupy.
  6. Add the cream and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the cream is thickened. Remove from the heat.
  7. Season with salt and lemon juice as needed. Stir in the parsley.
  8. Serve the chicken covered with the sauce and mushrooms.

Serves 2.

Djaj Bil Assal (Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey)

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To a certain extent, this is penance. For some reason, it never clicked that Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin couldn’t be Moroccan because of the pork. I was just looking for a new way to cook pork tenderloin.

But it made me wonder what Moroccan food was. Middle Eastern cuisine isn’t something that I’m intimately familiar with. The closest I’ve come is one of several Lebanese restaurants in the area. What I’ve had I’ve liked but Lebanon isn’t that geographically close to Morocco.

So my only connection to Moroccan food is through cookbooks and thankfully I’ve moved on from the one that directed me to Moroccan-styled Pork Tenderloin. I chose Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey because we had chicken on-hand and it seemed suitably exotic as well as not terribly difficult.

All of which were true. Chicken with cinnamon is an unusual flavor combination to my western taste buds. It’s not bad by far. It’s just different. I actually liked it even if I wouldn’t want to eat it every day. They honey added a pleasant sweetness without being overpowering. It also managed to caramelize significantly.

I did make a slight mistake when I made it. I originally missed the addition of the onions right after the white chicken meat is removed. I realized it about 10 minutes later when I went to turn the chicken. The onions were fully cooked but they didn’t manage to caramelize quite as much as was indicated in the original recipe. I didn’t notice that much of a difference but it may be even better with properly caramelized onions (hence the title).

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Djaj Bil Assal (Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey)
Adapted from Arabesque

1 lbs. pearl onions
1 onion, diced
4 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 chicken, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
1 tbsp honey

  1. Blanch the pearl onions in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Once the onions are cool, peel them and cut off the root end.
  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sauté the diced onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Stir in the saffron, ginger, and cinnamon.
  5. Brown the chicken on both sides in the skillet, in batches if necessary. Return all the chicken to the skillet.
  6. Add 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, turning the chicken once. Remove the white meat pieces of chicken to a side dish and add the peeled pearl onions. Cover again and simmer for 25 minutes, turning the chicken onces.
  7. Remove the chicken to a side dish. Stir the honey into the pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until the water has evaporated and the pearl onions have caramelized.
  8. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer until the chicken is warmed through.
  9. Serve the chicken topped with the pearl onions and the sauce.

Serves 4.

Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay)

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I didn’t intend to buy Cradle of Flavor but our public library was having a small book sale and there it was. I had seen it referenced but didn’t really know anything about it. But, for a dollar, how could I go wrong?

Saying I didn’t know anything about it is a bit of understatement. I didn’t (and really don’t) know anything about the food of Malaysia, Singapore, or Indonesia. I knew that it would share some similarities with other Asian cuisines but that was about it. I’d never even eaten it in a restaurant. But, hey, it was a dollar.

Whenever I look at Asian cuisine, I immediately get intimidated because I’m not familiar with so many of the ingredients. I know what ginger is but what exactly is lemongrass? (It’s a grass with a vague lemon flavor) Not to mention galangal? (It’s similar to ginger). I should mention that I hadn’t thought of looking at Wikipedia until now to get an idea of what they look like.

I decided to start with a dish that I had at least heard a passing reference to: chicken satay. Again, this is a dish I’ve never eaten (nor are any of the dishes in this cookbook). It seemed pretty straightforward: make a marinade, put the chicken in the marinade, skewer the chicken, and broil the chicken. The only part that was complicated was tracking down the appropriate ingredients.

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Lucky for us, there are any of a number of Asian grocery stores (either Chinese, Vietnamese, or Cambodian) around us. I was able to find both lemongrass and galangal there in the produce department. I used the galangal because I could find it. I did have to travel to Wild Oats Whole Foods for the coriander seeds as I had forgotten to get them elsewhere and they have bulk spices (and it only cost me $0.08).

The rest of the recipe is beyond easy. Outside of finding the ingredients, the only slightly difficult part is deboning the chicken and, if you were smart (e.g. not me), you’d buy boneless chicken thighs and be done with it.

The flavor is quite a bit different than what I’m used to. In many ways, it’s the complete opposite of food being made up of simple quality ingredients. The flavor is very complex from a rather long list of seasonings. But, in many ways, it was the fact that it was so different from what I normally eat that it was good. I liked it but Angela did not. Take that as you will.

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Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay)
Adapted from Cradle of Flavor

For the Marinade:
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 stalk fresh lemongrass
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
1 piece of fresh galangal, 1/2 inch long, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
1 piece of fresh ginger, 1 inch long, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt

For the Satay:
1 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs
1 stalk fresh lemongrass
2 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. Put the coriander seeds and fennel seeds in a small food processor. Pulse until the seeds are ground into a powder, about 2 minutes.
  2. Cut the bottom and top off the lemongrass, leaving a piece about 5 inches long. Remove the tough outer layers of lemongrass. The lemongrass should be pale white-and-lilac in color. Cut the lemongrass thinly.
  3. Add the remaining marinade ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until the marinade forms a paste. Put the marinade in a bowl large enough to fit the chicken.
  4. Remove the skin from the chicken and debone. Cut the chicken into thin, bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the marinade and mix until the marinade coats the chicken. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the broiler for at least 10 minutes. Cut the top and bottom off the remaining lemongrass stalk. Bruise the thick end of the stalk with the back of a knife until the end becomes brush-like. Place the brush end of the lemongrass in a small bowl containing the oil.
  6. Place the chicken on the middle of the skewers, about 2 to 4 pieces per skewer. Place the skewers on a foil lined baking tray.
  7. Using the lemongrass brush, baste the chicken skewers with oil. Broil the chicken skewers for 5 to 7 minutes 3 inches from the broiling element. Turn over the skewers, baste with oil, and broil for another 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool for 1 minute and then serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Zuni Café Roast Chicken

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At the farmer’s market on Sunday, I noticed a new farm stand. It’s a little bit odd as this is the time of year that the farmer’s market shrinks a bit because a number of crops just aren’t growing anymore. What really intrigued me was that the farm, Ana’s Farm, was selling whole chickens.

For some farmer’s markets, this may be routine but our farmer’s market tends to be a bit smaller and concentrate on produce and, until recently, rather conventional produce. So, for me, this is cause for a bit of excitement. We like chicken and, so far, I’ve been pretty satisfied by the All-Natural Free-Range chickens that we’ve bought at Trader Joe’s. But I didn’t want to give up a chance to try a local chicken (despite the fact that it was pretty expensive).

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I didn’t ask what breed of chicken it was but I believe the vendor said that it wasn’t a Cornish chicken. It was pretty scrawny, about two and a half pounds, because, apparently, chickens stop eating for about a month when the weather changes.

I hadn’t come to farmer’s market with the intention of buying a chicken so I had to come up with something to cook with the chicken. And what better way to determine the quality of a chicken than by roasting it?

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But really, if you ask ten cooks how to roast a chicken, you’ll get at least eleven answers. Ever since we had eaten at the Zuni Café, I had wanted to try their recipe for roast chicken again (I had tried it previously off an internet recipe and wasn’t impressed but that was probably my fault). In the end, this ended up as a bit of a recreation of our meal at Zuni: I made french fries to go along with it.

Cooking the chicken was actually pretty easy. We did set off the smoke detector because the chicken let off too much smoke. And I did have to cook the fries a bit earlier as my oil started smoking and I didn’t have a better way to cool it off. The only frantic period was immediately at the end when I needed three or four different things to be done all at the same time (which is pretty usual with cooking dinner, for me at least).

And the results? That may have been the best roast chicken I’ve ever had. I’m not sure how much of it was technique and how much was the chicken itself, but I know two things: how I’m going to roast chickens from now on and where I’m going to buy them. I usually like dark meat but, on this chicken, the white meat was a combination of being moist and flavorful. The dark meat was a little more disappointing: it was a bit tough, particularly in the drumstick, but still tasty. I’m getting hungry just looking at the pictures again.

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Zuni Café Roast Chicken
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

a 2 1/2 to 3 1/4 lbs. chicken
salt and pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup of water

  1. At least 24 hours in advance, prepare the chicken. Cut out any fat surrounding the entrance to the cavity. Dry the chicken skin with paper towels. Starting from the cavity entrance, create a pocket between the skin and the breast meat and place a sprig of thyme on each side. Do the same for the thighs. Generously sprinkle salt all over the chicken, with more salt on thicker areas. Grind pepper on to the chicken. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator an hour before cooking and dry its skin with paper towels again. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place the roasting tray in the oven to preheat for 15 minutes before cooking. Remove the roasting tray from the oven and place the chicken in it, breast side up.
  3. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. If the chicken does not being to sizzle and brown, increase the temperature. If the skin starts smoking, reduce the temperature.
  4. Turn the chicken to be breast side down and cook for 10 to 20 minutes depending on chicken size (ours only needed 10 minutes).
  5. Turn the chicken to be breast side up and cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and then from the roasting pan. Place the chicken on a warmed plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the water to the roasting pan to deglaze it. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.
  8. Cut the chicken into pieces and drizzle with juices in the roasting pan. Serve.

Serves 2.

Poulet Sauté aux Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs)

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Julia Child said that in France the chicken tasted more chickeny. I like to think that she was talking about this dish.

The problem with a lot of chicken dishes is that they really don’t taste like much. How many times have I had a grilled chicken breast or chicken caesar salad that didn’t really taste like much of anything? And yet chicken is the most popular form of protein in the United States.

When I first made this recipe, it was refreshing to find a chicken recipe that actually tasted like, you know, chicken. It quickly became one of my wife’s favorite meals.

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And, it’s not only good, it’s also pretty easy. It takes about 45 minutes including preparation time. It’s even faster if you quarter the chicken the night before (or as soon as you get it home from the store). It’s easiest enough for a weeknight but tastes good enough for a special occasion. I’ve even made it when visiting family on the other side of the country.

The dish is decent with a mass produced whole chicken but even better with an all-natural or organic bird. This is the dish that made me switch my change my chicken buying habits.

When I quarter my chicken, I don’t use the wings (we never eat them). I also bone and skin the chicken breasts (Angela prefers them that way). If the breast halves are large, I cut them in half again. I usually save the chicken carcass for making stock later on.

The pan sauce made is really for topping the chicken. In our household, we usually dip bread into it. Usually I serve this with a potato gratin and green beans or peas. A light white wine also goes well. Last night, we had a Lucas & Lewellen Chardonnay (it wasn’t overly oaked or buttery so it worked well with this dish).

CRW_0327
Poulet Sauté aux Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 3-4 lbs. chicken, quartered
salt
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried basil
pepper
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1 cup chicken stock

  1. Preferably the night before, salt the chicken on both sides and refrigerate until the next day (if not salting the night before, salt immediately before cooking).
  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels thoroughly. Heat 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the skillet on both sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the chicken to a plate and reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Sprinkle the herbs on each side of the chicken. Season the chicken with pepper.
  4. Add the dark meat (thigh and leg) pieces back into the skillet and cover. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.
  5. Turn the dark meat chicken and add the remaining chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, turning once.
  6. Remove the chicken from the skillet and cover with aluminum foil. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook until softened, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to high. Boil the sauce until its slightly reduced, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining butter.
  8. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.

Serves 4 to 5.


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