Posts tagged chicken
Posts tagged chicken
Tastes Like Chicken, or, The Banality of Chicken
To prove to you that I do not write this tumblr solely to pick on Bon Appetit (but seriously, if someone from BA is reading this, do get your accessibility game in order), I am incredibly grateful for their grilled citrus chicken recipe because it is fantastic.
I have eaten so much tasteless chicken that I have developed my own theory of the banality of chicken. Too many boneless skinless chicken breasts and bad chicken Caesar salads lead us astray. We eat it, it tastes like nothing, we stop thinking about it as an ingredient that came from an animal that can taste wonderful.
But good chicken is fantastic. I am reminded of this every single Thanksgiving when we are wringing our hands to get a turkey to taste half as good as a good chicken.
And while I love the simplicity and elegance of a roast chicken, I do not always want to turn on my oven for an hour in the middle of summer.
Enter grilled chicken!
It’s simple, although not foolproof exactly. There are two difficult parts:
1. Cutting up the raw chicken. Not precisely difficult, but involves some wrestling with slimy raw meat and identifying joints underneath the slimy raw meat. But this can be conquered! Here’s a Martha Stewart slideshow explaining the process and here’s Melissa Clark going through the process in a NY Times Food Section video. Do note the amount of manhandling in the video.
I like to have both a knife and good kitchen shears for this process. We bought our kitchen shears maybe 5 years ago at Sur La Table. They weren’t very expensive but they’re sturdy and can cut through bone fairly easily.
Promise me you will save the backbone for stock, okay?
2. Managing the cooking temperature on the grill and taking the chicken off when it’s done but not overdone. Because we have a small charcoal grill, creating clear “zones” is more like a idea I keep in my head than an actual real thing I do. Sort of like in yoga when I am supposed to let the idea of grabbing my foot in a given pose enter my head when in actuality I would have to remove my foot from my leg in order to touch it from that position.
In practice, I try to pile the coals sort of one one side and then I put my hand over the grill to figure out how hot certain areas are and I just try to monitor things.
There’s a great pull to stick the meat on the hottest part of the grill and watch everything sizzle and get those blackened grill lines immediately. If you do that with chicken, the outside will burn/dry out while the inside is still raw. Be patient!
If you have a good speedy meat thermometer, bless your heart. I do not. So instead of buying more shitty meat thermometers, I’ve learned to get to know what cooked chicken feels like when you squish it. It has more resistance. Raw chicken will feel a little jelly-ish inside. Give the flesh between your thumb and fingers a little pinch while your hand is relaxed. Raw chicken feels like that. Do your best, cut up a piece to check, don’t worry too much.
Anyway, besides all that, I am a firm believer in squeezing orange slices over the chicken as it’s cooking. It adds a really lovely sweet/citrus flavor to the chicken and I think it helps keeps things moist.
Carving a Chicken
I mentioned this video in my post the other week about roast chicken. Carving a chicken is a really useful skill when serving a roast chicken, or navigating a turkey at Thanksgiving, or if you encounter a recipe that requires cooking a whole chicken cut up into 4 or 8 pieces. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard at all.
Please take a minute to look at that damn fine roast chicken up there.
I recently made my Best Ever Roast Chicken and I feel a duty to tell you about it. We had it on Tuesday, and I was just blown away. The skin was super crispy; the meat was tender and moist* and flavorful. You roast potatoes along with the chicken, and they were magic. They had a good crispy edge and a lot of richness from the chicken fat and I tossed them with a bunch of fresh parsley which gave them a herbal kick. I stood at the stove after dinner eating leftover potatoes straight from the pan. The recipe calls it “chicken with mustard butter,” but it’s just as much about the herbs as the mustard.
It’s a combination of two recipes from Mindy Fox’s A Bird in the Oven and Then Some. I wrote about a different, also delicious, chicken recipe from this book back in 2011.
The snag? You have to take the raw chicken and wedge your hand up between the skin and the chicken flesh (judiciously cutting away the connective tissue if need be). Once you’ve maneuvered some space in there with your hand mushed underneath the chicken skin, you squeeze in a butter mixture with your fingers and then rub your hands over the surface of the chicken to spread it all out. So that’s gross. It becomes less gross the more you do it, much in the way of picking up dog poop with the plastic bag covering your hand, but it’s gross. I have come to believe there are no good alternatives.
On that note, let’s go! Best roast chicken ever!
Roasted Chicken with Mustard Butter and Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 450˚ F with the rack in the middle. Put a roasting pan or 9 x 13” baking dish in the oven to heat up while you prep everything (10 minutes or so).
Make the mustard butter: Put the butter, shallot, mustard, and sage in a bowl. Zest the lemon into the bowl, close in so you capture the lemon oils that spray off as you zest. I often use a knife to cut the ingredients together until they’re fairly well mixed and finish mixing them together with a fork. Whatever works.
You can prepare the potatoes before your hands get raw chickeny if you want. Cut them up, toss them with olive oil, around 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper.
Now the chicken: with kitchen shears or your hands, pull or cut off the excess fat around the cavities of the chicken and discard. If the chicken has giblets, you should fish out the neck and freeze it to make stock (along with the carcass from the chicken you’re roasting). Again, gross, but you’re eating a dead bird. The instructions say to rinse the bird and pat dry, but that is ridiculous and we’re skipping it. Pat it dry if you want.
Next, verbatim from the recipe: “From the edge of the cavity, slip a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, then gently but thoroughly loosen the skin from the meat of the breasts and thighs.
"Using your hands and working with about 1 tablespoon of the butter at a time, gently push the mixture into the spaces you created between the chicken skin and meat, being careful not to tear the skin. As you work the mixture in, gently rub your hand over the outside of the skin to smooth out the mixture and push it further down between the skin and meat where you may not be able to reach with your hand."
So that was intimate. I sometimes use a knife or kitchen shears to cut the connective tissue between the skin and the meat.
Cut the lemon into quarters and pop one quarter into the chicken cavity. Save the others for later. Tie the chicken legs together with twine, although that step might be skippable. Season with salt and pepper.
Take the roasting pan out of the oven and toss in the potatoes, keeping them in one layer if you can and leaving room in the middle of the pan for the chicken. Add the chicken, breast side up.
Roast for 20 minutes, then turn chicken breast-side down and roast for another 20 minutes.
Take the chicken out and turn breast side up again. Squeeze the extra lemon slices over the chicken and then toss them in the pan. Continue cooking for another 20 - 30 minutes until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork.
In other words:
Toss the chopped parsley over the potatoes and mix a bit.
If you’ve never carved a whole chicken, here’s a nice video demonstrating the process. It’s the same as cutting up a raw chicken, and a pretty useful skill. Don’t forget to save the carcass for stock— just wrap it in tinfoil or a ziploc bag and freeze it.
* Moist felt less awkward than juicy in that situation. It was a judgement call.
** I tried to find a video or tutorial of cutting butter and flour together using two knives but didn’t find much. What I mean is you take your knives, one in each hand, pointed toward each other and slightly crossed in an x. You slice them away from each other so the bits of butter get cut up in between the knives. I should make a video of my mum doing this at some point.
My life changed last year when I discovered vegetable kebabs. How did I never know that you could cut vegetables into chunks, toss them with oil, salt, and pepper, thread them onto a skewer, and shove them on the grill to create a delicious side dish? It’s as easy as the very easiest salad, and so much more satisfying.
All kebabs all the time! I made kebabs every time we broke out the grill! I made them with zucchinis and summer squashes and onions and peppers. I made them with green peppers which I don’t really even like and yet sticking them on a skewer on the grill made them delicious.
And then I realized that if you put enough stuff on the skewer, you don’t need the burger at all.
So this recipe for pineapple and chicken kebabs from the Boston Globe magazine really came at just the right time for me.*
The first time I made them (pictured above) I think I departed enough from the recipe that I can’t really claim to have made the recipe. They were still crazy good. CRAZY GOOD.
The only downside is that they involve cutting raw chicken into chunks, which is just about my least favorite thing ever. The texture is not good. But if you can get past that, you have a delicious weeknight dinner.
Also worth noting: I always make too many kebabs. This says it makes 12. If you cut the recipe in half, you get 5 or 6, which is a lot of food for two people. On the other hand, it makes good leftovers, particularly when reheated with rice.
Chicken and Pineapple Kebabs
(You can also cook this on a baking sheet under the broiler. It’ll be a lot juicier, so you probably don’t want to add the bacon, but it’s really good.)
Spice Rub for Chicken
1. In a small bowl, whisk the molasses, lime juice, and hot sauce and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the spice rub ingredients: the chili powder, brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, and 2 teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. (You can do steps 1 and 2 ahead of time and keep everything in the fridge)
3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
4. In a large bowl, toss the bell peppers, onion, and bacon with the oil and salt and black pepper to taste. Thread the chicken, onion, bacon, pineapple, and bell peppers onto the skewers.
5. Grill the kebabs, turning every 3 minutes, until the bell peppers, onion, and pineapple are grill-marked and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes total. Brush kebabs all over with the glaze and grill for about 45 seconds longer on each side (in other words, turn quickly so you don’t burn the glaze). Remove the kebabs from the grill, allow to rest briefly, and serve.
* Technically I think it came in May last year, but I rediscovered it buried in a pile of clipped recipes a few months ago.
** If you’re halving the recipe, you’ll have a leftover 1/2 pineapple. Here is what you do: cut the pineapple into rings and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Place the pineapple slices onto the grill once the kebabs are done and let them cook in the residual heat as you eat dinner. Then serve with vanilla ice cream. If you have leftover grilled pineapple slices, serve them over yogurt in the morning.
My Mum’s Chicken Salad
This is probably the least cool post I have ever had on my tumblr, which is saying a lot, because approximately half the posts on my tumblr are objectively uncool. First, it’s about chicken salad. Second, it’s my mum’s chicken salad recipe, not even some newfangled hipster chicken salad with sriracha. Third, it’s illustrated with what turns out to be a blurry phone photo so it’s hard to get much detail beyond it looking like a lumpy beige mass. Fourth, the key cooking technique here is poaching, which you would be surprised still exists as a legitimate way of rendering meats edible given the amount of media coverage it gets.
While the rest of you are grilling shit I’m just going to be over here gently simmering my skinless boneless chicken breasts in water, thanks.
It’s really good chicken salad, though. Fantastic in a sandwich, but also great on its own.
And here’s the deal on poaching: it’s super uncool, but it’s a great for things like chicken salad, because the meat comes out evenly cooked and really moist.
My mum wrote out this recipe for me at some point when I was in college and she was worried about my being able to feed myself (not an unfair concern: there was a year or so when I subsisted on frozen peas, carrots and dip, takeout from a nearby Japanese restaurant, toast with taramasalata and tomatoes, and ice cream. And vodka cranberries. I weighed less in college.)
Poach the Chicken
Combine the chicken and any of the aromatics in a pan. Cover with water. Cook slowly at a simmer until the chicken is somewhat resistant when pressed— it will continue to cook a bit once you take it off the heat— take off heat and let cool in broth.
(This, by the way, is where my mum’s recipe ends, because while I think she didn’t want me to starve, it was also beyond her ability to imagine that I couldn’t figure out the next steps on my own. This is the same reason my grandmother’s pie crust recipe includes only a very rough list of ingredients.)
Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Cut up or shred the chicken. Add the chicken and salad ingredients to the dressing and toss to coat.
Illustration from Joy of Cooking. It depicts “preparing an undrawn bird for roasting” which is not the same as loosening the skin from the meat, but I couldn’t resist including it anyway.
In any relationship, there is one person who is less revolted by the idea of shoving their hand up underneath the skin of a raw chicken. I did not think I was that person, but apparently I find it less objectionable than Dave does. Are you that person in your relationship? Congratulations, you are now the person who stuffs seasonings into pockets in the chicken skin. This is part of your life now. You may add it to your resume.
I bring this up because stuffing seasonings under the skin of chicken allows the skin to crisp better and infuses the meat with more flavor than just coating the skin. It’s incredibly effective.
And I would highly recommend trying it with this recipe from A Bird in the Oven and Then Some by Mindy Fox, which I totally bastardized when I was trying to put together dinner without resorting to lemon mustard chicken AGAIN but was still revelatory.
Roast Chicken with Saffron, Ginger, and Golden Raisins
Preheat oven to 425.
Prepare the seasoning: Cut the butter up into pieces and put in a bowl. Zest the orange into the bowl. Add the raisins, ginger, garlic, saffron, and coriander. Mix together. My butter was pretty cold, so I used one of those pastry cutter dealies to mix things together.
Pull of excess fat around the cavities of the chicken and discard. From the edge of the cavity, wriggle your fingers up under the skin of the chicken and loosen the skin from the meat. You may have to get in here with some kitchen shears or a knife if you have a hard time getting around the membranes that attach the skin to the meat. This is basically terrible, but you get more used to it the more you do it.
Using your hands, work the butter into the spaces between the chicken skin and meat. You can rub your hand over the outside of the skin to smooth the mixture out and push it farther down between the skin and meat.
Season with salt and pepper.
What I did: I put the chicken thighs on a roasting pan with some cut up root vegetables and cooked the whole thing until done.
The recipe directions: Roast for 15 minutes, then pour the wine over the chicken, reduce the heat to 350, and continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then carve.
This is so wonderfully good, even my bastardized version.
Last week I was so disappointed by roast chicken, but lo! how things have changed!
Every year at Christmas, I accidentally end up with extra gifts. Mostly I get carried away with how wonderful this thing or another would be for someone but then when push comes to shove not be totally clear who “someone” is (it is me). This year, I ended up with the cookbook A Bird in the Oven and Then Some by Mindy Fox. In theory I bought it as a gift, but it turns out I bought it for me. The premise is ridiculous: a whole book about roast chicken. However, there’s a wide range of recipes and they looked wonderful and the paper is nice and thick and the fonts are all really nice.
I made the parsnip soup from the book a little while back, which was delicious, and then last night I made the recipe for Roast Chicken with Green Olives, Fennel Seeds, and Thyme. I feel vindicated in my purchase.
For the roast chicken, basically you chop up 1 cup chopped green olives, 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, 1 garlic clove (read: two), the zest of two lemons, and 1 3/4 teaspoons fennel seeds and stuff it all under the skin of a chicken. Then you roast the chicken.
I used the roast chicken recipe I normally use for the actual cooking.
Here’s a tip regarding stuffing things under chicken skin: cookbooks like to tell you that you can just loosen the skin with your fingers. That is total bullshit. Skin is attached to the meat. That’s how skin works. I find it easier if I can get it there with a knife or kitchen shears and just snip the membranes (are they membranes? I don’t know) that attach the skin to the meat. Then you can loosen with your fingers.
It would also be good to note whether you have any small cuts on your hands before doing this, because stuffing olive, garlic, and lemon mixtures into tight spaces with your hands is not super comfortable if you have small cuts on there.
Those whole thing is more of a hassle than just roasting a chicken, but it’s delicious and I am sick of plain roasted chicken by now. It would be perfect for a casual dinner party.
So…I made this the other night. I used regular spaghetti because that’s what I had and regular chicken breasts that I deboned and skinned myself because I think purchasing chicken cutlets is RIDICULOUS.
Beyond that, it was amazing.
I mean, god, dinner can be hard. It happens every day! After work! You have to work and then you have to cook dinner. And you’re supposed to eat healthy things, too. I have a few easy dinner fall-backs, but they tend to involve a lot of cream (for instance, and also).
This, though, man, this is so good and it doesn’t even involve cream. It has so much flavor. It is not hard to make.
Bravo, Martha Stewart.*
* Or, rather, chefs and food people who work for Martha Stewart.
In between dealing with my sort of pathetic dog (he has a t-shirt now in addition to the cone because he figured out how to scratch with his back legs*) and reblogging amusing things from the internet, I’ve also been cooking new things!**
Later I will tell you about the lamb with pomegranate molasses and also the greek chicken baked in yogurt, but first: the roasted fennel, chickpeas, peppers, and more peppers, plus leftover chicken thighs. It’s inspired by this recipe (that’s a nicer way of saying, I meant to make that recipe, but then didn’t have all the ingredients, and had other ingredients, and then started improvising). It’s crazy simple.
Roasted Fennel, Chickpeas, Peppers, and More Peppers, Plus Leftover Chicken Wings and Thighs
1. Preheat oven to 400F or 425F.
2. Slice up the peppers, fennel, peppadew peppers. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. When I cooked this tonight, I tossed in the garlic and chickpeas, but because they cook faster than everything else, and I like my vegetables well done, the chickpeas got a little dried out. In the future, I’ll add the chickpeas and garlic a little later. Salt and pepper the chicken.
3. Divide the vegetables and chicken over two cookie sheets and set the timer for 30 minutes or so.
4. After 10 minutes, you could add the chickpeas and garlic.
5. After 20 minutes (with 10 minutes left), mix the maybe a tablespoon or two of the vinegar, a little bit of mustard (a teaspoon?) and a little bit of honey (less than a teaspoon?). Brush that on the chicken.
6. Pop everything back in for the remaining 10 minutes.
7. Enjoy the deliciousness.
* And we may have to get him baby socks for his back legs and apply cortisone cream to the parts of his belly that he’s scratching THROUGH THE T-SHIRT. On the other hand, he likes to snuggle up in your lap even with his cone on, so he just kind of plows the cone straight into your chest and assumes that you’ll help him figure it out. Which is both kind of uncomfortable and heart-meltingly sweet.
** And, you know, doing my job.
(Photo from Whole Living magazine)
You know how much I dislike the New York Times magazine’s Recipe Redux series? As much as I dislike Recipe Redux, I adore the series that it alternates with, Cooking with Dexter by Pete Wells.
It’s funny, well-written, the recipes are good, and it feels very practical for home cooks. In addition, Wells gets, and can express through his writing, the crazy idiosyncrasies, deeply-held convictions, and tyrannical leanings of small children. He won me over about a year ago with an article about tangerine sherbet. It’s incredibly funny and includes an unspeakably delicious recipe for tangerine sherbet.
The fried chicken recipe that he includes with this week’s article sounds delicious, but for some reason (the burning hot oil? the potential for spattering?) I am petrified of deep frying things at home. So…we’ll see.