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A New Chicken Dish [May. 28th, 2014|11:31 pm]
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As you know, I watch cooking shows on PBS sometimes.   The other day, I watched a "Cook's Country" episode that involved chicken dishes.  Two things in particular interested me, technique-wise.  So on Tuesday I bought some chicken thighs (bone in, with skin) at the story--they come in either tiny packages or huge ones so I bought a huge one, to experiment with.   Tuesday night, browned the chicken thighs not in a frying pay but in the oval enameled cast iron cooker...and lo, it worked.   This afternoon I has something else in mind, a combination of chicken, tomatoes, chili, onions, celery, carrots, and sweet peppers, with a sauce thickened with toasted flour (second technique demonstrated.)

There were seven chicken thighs, and a seasoned them (salt, pepper, Italian herb mix) then browned them top and bottom in the cast iron cooker.  Took them out, drained off most of the fat, put in a thinly sliced onion, several ribs of diced celery and celery leaves, a diced carrot (not a fine dice, BTW--I like a larger one.)   And stirred over lower heat until the onions were soft.  Then added a 28 oz can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes & green chilis, about half a quart of homemade chicken stock, several gluggles of white wine (who measures???)  Put the chicken thighs back in, added enough water to almost cover, added diced red, yellow, and green sweet peppers, and simmered until the chicken was done.  Toasted some flour (probably 1 1/2 cups) under the broiler, watching closely and turning it, then mixed some of the broth into the toasted flour, stirring vigorously with a whisk to make a thick slurry, and added that to the pot with chicken.  It worked, and thickened it just enough.

We ate 3 thighs and quite a bit of the vegetables & sauce.  It made a very tasty one-pot dinner, with ample leftovers for tomorrow's lunch and supper.   I had never thought of toasting the flour used to thicken a sauce or roux, but it worked perfectly.
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[User Picture]From: galeni
2014-05-29 06:07 am (UTC)

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Similar to making chicken catccatorie (sp?). I did that a couple of times. Good.

Why does one toast the flour, and why doesn't it explode when you do?</p>

[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-29 05:32 pm (UTC)

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According to Cook's Country, toasting the flour removes the "raw" flour taste. If you're making a traditional roue, a brown roue esp., it gets toasted in the hot fat in the bottom of the pan. But this was to thicken something already going, so it couldn't toast in the pan. It didn't explode because it was lying flat in a baking pan (just as the flour I put on the greased baking when making round loaves of bread doesn't, but it does turn brown. I took it out of the oven to stir it around to even the toasting so it couldn't get ideas. If I'd had a spare burner and a dry iron skillet, I could've toasted it on top of the stove, too.
[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-05-29 04:20 pm (UTC)

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I haven't watched that one yet, it's sitting on my DVR waiting for tomorrow: I'm having cataract surgery this afternoon and I'll be TV-bound for a while. I really liked their Guinness stew recipe, I'm going to be trying it soon since it doesn't require much in the measuring dept.

If you like garlic and ginger, I got a recipe from Embassy Chefs (very different TV show) that's great and as simple as you could wish. Take thawed chicken breasts, cover in oyster sauce, then cover with minced garlic and minced ginger. I use a high-wall Pyrex pan. Cover with foil, bake until the chicken his 165f or so. The steaming mellows and blends the garlic and ginger nicely, and it's very moist.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-29 05:33 pm (UTC)

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That sounds good! I've never used oyster sauce, but have used minced garlic and sliced (not minced) ginger. Have to try that.
[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-05-29 07:35 pm (UTC)

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It's the only thing that we used oyster sauce for (thus far), and it is a little high in sodium so you might need to be mindful of that. I'd suggest going to an Asian market for jars of minced ginger and garlic unless you REALLY like knife-work.

Hope you like it!
From: sheff_dogs
2014-05-30 06:08 pm (UTC)

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Simple recipe using oyster sauce. Separate the leaves from a head or two of romaine or other crisp lettuce, blanch until just wilted - 10 to 30 seconds, drain thouroughly, arrange on a platter then drizzle with oyster sauce diluted 1:3 with water. My version of a Ken Hom recipe, he dilutes the oyster sauce with oil. I know cooked lettuce sounds odd, but this really is very good, and it works well with the tough outer leaves you might otherwise throw in the compost, I often use the outer leaves from two heads for the two of us saving the inner leaves for more conventional salad use.
[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-05-31 08:22 am (UTC)

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That's interesting, you could do sort of an alternative Caesar that way....
[User Picture]From: kk1raven
2014-05-29 06:40 pm (UTC)

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That sounds good. Toasting flour isn't something I've ever considered.
[User Picture]From: persevero
2014-05-29 08:20 pm (UTC)

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Oh dear. It sounds splendid and now I'm hungry. I need to make an expedition to raid the complimentary cardamom bread provided by the Swedish hotel where I'm staying.
[User Picture]From: iphinome
2014-05-30 09:34 am (UTC)

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I don't know if your Ladyship has ever watched _Good Eats_, it is a cooking show I highly recommend, at least some of theepisodes are available on hulu for free (with commercials.)
[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-05-31 08:27 am (UTC)

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Good Eats is still shown occasionally on Food Network and sometimes on the Cooking Channel, but I don't get the latter on our satellite subscription. Myself, I like GE for the 'science' behind why we do what we do with cooking, but I find the ATK/CC recipes more reliable and easier than Alton's. Yes, sacrilegious, but my $0.002 worth.

BTW, ATK/Chris Kimball has a weekly podcast available through iTunes and I'm sure elsewhere, I just learned of it last month.
[User Picture]From: thistlethorn
2014-06-01 09:39 pm (UTC)

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Sounds marvelous. Now I'm hungry!

I was watching another cooking show one sat eve on PBS (I don't recall the name), hosted by a female chef with small local restaurants. She lived in the South somewhere and in one ep she was making a rice menu for her restaurant guests. During the episode she went to her mom's house and told her mom that she could never get her chicken rice to taste the way her mom's always had. Her mom teased her about being a big important chef and not having the knack of cooking chicken rice.

Well, the chef had been including the traditional chicken broth items like celery and carrots and a bit of onion and simmering just long enough to cook the chicken to temperature...mais non!! Apparently (and empirically, because I've tried it), you need exactly three ingredients and about 2.5 hours.

Ingredients: chicken, water, and salt. A heavy pot is recommended. (I use a heavy 3 qt saucepan b/c that's all I have that will work on my induction single-pot cooker.) In the show, they used a whole chicken and a large-ish enamel-covered cast iron pot with a lid. Bring enough water (salted first to taste) to cover the amount of chicken you have to boil (I use about two thighs and one breast, bone + skin in/on), skimming off any foam/scum that forms on the surface. Then turn down to a very low simmer (just a few bubbles popping up to the surface here and there) and cover. I set my induction cooker to 190 degrees; the TV program mentioned 200 degrees.

Simmer the chicken on this low heat for 2 hours. (I know, I know--it sounds excessive, but trust me, it's not.) After 2 hours, remove the chicken and add less rice than you would normally (so that it's about 2.5-3 parts liquid/1 part rice ratio--you kind of have to experiment by making it a few times), and maybe a bit of extra salt to the broth if you prefer. You want the final product to be almost but not quite soupy. Meanwhile, I let the chicken cool a bit on a plate under aluminum foil. After pulling the chicken and skin from the bone, I drape the skin back over the chicken and put the foil back on top to keep it moist and tender until I can add it to the rice. (The chicken will be a bit "stringy" but tastes really good with the rice in big bite-sized pieces.)

After the rice has simmered for 20 minutes (the normal cooking time for rice), remove from the heat, keeping the lid on, and let the rice "bloom" (soak up extra liquid) for 10-15 minutes. After that, add the chicken (discard the skin/bones) and stir to combine. It tastes AWESOME. Really amazing comfort food. With just three simple ingredients. (Also: I frequently use chicken directly from the freezer--it works perfectly every time.) ETA: if the rice ends up a little too soupy or not loose enough, don't stress! It will still taste wonderful, and you can always add more broth or less rice next time.)

Edited at 2014-06-01 09:44 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-06-02 01:48 pm (UTC)

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I saw that same show. Only, not being a pro chef, I learned to make chicken broth (with rice, with dumplings, etc.) from my mother in the first place. It really helps if you can get a home-raised or free-range chicken (more flavor to go in the water). The best chicken broth I ever made came from the meanest rooster we ever had...meat was inedible (like chunks of tire) but the broth...wow. It's the long cooking, though, that extracts all the flavor. There's no problem with putting in onions & garlic & celery & carrot if you want to (my mother did) but there IS a problem in cooking only until the chicken is "done." The broth is the more important part.

These days I make the stock/broth, package the cooked chicken (chopped--I like that better than shredded) in two-cup batched, and the stock/broth in 1 quart, freeze both...and when I want chicken & rice, I can pull those out of the freezer and have it in the time it takes for the rice. Mine is always soupy.