Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category
It’s arguably long overdo. About three years now I’ve been tinkering around in kitchens doing my best to follow a recipe or practice a technique, but like any independent study, without a syllabus to help guide my direction, it’s safe to say that I’ve been all over the place with my culinary exploits.
I’m on a bit of a streak right now. Four days I’ve been able to eat fried chicken wings, and the trend could continue depending on where I end up tonight. I’m proud of this fact. Sure, it’s not the most healthy diet, but given the excess of grillouts and bar hoping, and overall indulgent time of year, properly cooked wings are one of the best eats that this fine country has blessed the world with. Give them to me fried; give them to me grilled; dry, wet, hot, tangy, spicy. I don’t care, I will not tire, I will not submit. There’s just something so wonderfully primal about eating meat off the bone, licking your fingers, piling up the napkins and diving back for more.
However, I need two thing to maintain my wing obsession: crispy skin and ranch dressing. Without those variables I lose interest relatively quickly. Ranch is a personal preference of course, but why would anyone want wings without a crispy, flavorful skin to encase the juicy, internal wing? That said, I’ve been trying to tweek and figure out the best methods of making the wings I love at the house.
The basics of wing splitting and more after the jump..
Lately I’ve been riding a streak of failed plans and missed occasions. I really don’t try to follow any kind of schedule or make long term commitments usually; a random call or a coincidence meet usually dictates my adventures. But when I get a craving for some roasted baby chicken, or decide to put together a beer Olympiad cleverly disguised as “camping”, or any other number of anticipated events, it can be amazingly frustrating when debilitating viruses or crappy weather interferes on a semi-frequent basis. So Sunday was cornish hen day, come hell or high water.
What I thought I’d try given the size of these hens, was to grill them using two different methods for roasting a whole chicken. The first and more traditional is the whole roast method, thanksgiving style. Stuffing is certainly an option here and is much better suited for brining and long, slow cook times on low heat. Then there’s the butterflied and brick method. A little extra prep work cuts down the cooking time to half and ensures a more tasty, crispy skin. A lazy, hungover Sunday is a great excuse to try out both methods. I’ll try on touch on the differences in cooking method and gas vs. charcoal grills throughout the post.
Another glorious memorial day has come and gone, and summer has finally arrived. Ladies and Gents, grilling season is upon us!!
Lately I feel like chicken is starting to get a bad rap. Ok, fine, maybe not a bad rap (pork may win that contest right now), but it’s just not sexy anymore is it? Cheap, easy to find chicken just isn’t making the average food aficionado get excited. But why the hell not?! I’ve had some amazing roast chicken a few times in my life, the kind that’s finger smacking delicious you’d travel across town just to chow down on. Why the hell aren’t we trying to figure out how to make chicken like that before spending a fortune on fancy pants ingredients? It’s taken me a while to acknowledge this fact, but chicken really does deserve a spot on our food radar. How better to do that than by lighting up a hot grill and opening up a cold beer?
As per usual, I turn to my favorites: Childs, Pepin, Cook’s Illistrated to figure out how best to do a little BBQ. I was looking for insight into cooking cut up pieces as well as maximizing crispy skin texture. Cooks Ill. won out on this one because of the comprehensive breakdown of different chicken parts/grill methods. It also turned me onto a method I’ve been curious to try for a while now: brining. My friends, why do we not brine? Like the chicken this seems so unappreciated. What are we doing that makes us so busy that we cannot prep our meats an hour or two early by soaking them in a bath of salt water? Ok, fair enough, there are probably tons or reasons, but if someone came up to you and said that they had a magical way of seasoning, tenderizing and infusing moistness in your chicken, wouldn’t you want to take note? That’s right, a little salt water is magic.
So now that you’ve hacked up a chicken (assuming you tried out some of the techniques recommended yesterday) you may as well make use of the bird. What you’ve basically done at this point is butterfly a chicken Tuscan style, so why not grill the whole chicken on a grill with some citris. What the hell, get yourself a brick or heavy pan and you’ve got the makings for a pretty tasty meal.
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic gloves minced
1 whole chicken (butterflied)
1 Tbsp paprika
2 whole lemons
2 bricks wrapped in foil/big ass heavy skillet
The more I cook, the more it becomes very clear to me that being comfortable taking apart cuts of meat and getting chunks of flesh and blood under your fingernails is just another step in the process. I know there’s plenty of people out there that would just prefer have the butchering done by the super markets and specialty shops, but I really enjoy figuring out how to cut my own filet or debone a leg of lamb. I don’t have a ton of skill doing these things yet, but I like learning about the anatomy of all these different animal parts almost as much as I like cooking them.
So I decided it was about time to learn more about chicken. Or more to the point, with grill season just around the corner, I wanted to start getting used to taking apart a whole chicken for the many lazy afternoons spent roasting and grilling various chicken parts. Mmmm, chicken parts. Don’t get me wrong, a whole chicken cooked perfectly is a real treat, but I’m a man that likes his options.
I swear to god that was a gorgeous plate of food. Maybe if I had a decent camera you could tell that last night I cooked a delicious chicken and eggplant curry. But that is not currently the case. Actually, it kinda looks like I made vomit treebark stew (maybe next post). Not that I have any professional photography experience, but I can usually salvage the footage and make it look decent. Last night though the pics just weren’t coming out and there wasn’t really anything I could do to change that. Meh, the day I can finally invest in a quality camera will come and that day my friends will be a joyous one.
So last night’s Thai curry was inspired by the Blaze & Dale Top Chef team-up back in Season 4. At the time of the show’s airing I was really curious about learning how to make complex, creamy curry so I made the dish for some friends for our regular Top Chef gathering the following week. What I love about this dish is the process of making the curry. The melting of the sugar, the sweating of the veg, the simmering of the coconut milk, are all really satisfying for me to put together. And if you do the curry right, then you can really do anything else you want with the dish.
I hate tofu so I’ve always used chicken, and the veg is really up to you depending on how much time and energy you can devote to the dish. Last night I did just the eggplant and skipped the green beans. Honestly, next time I do the dish, I’ll probably skip the eggplant. Unless you’re really craving a tempura-ish fried veg it’s a lot more work than I think is worth. The curry is going to make everything taste amazing so use whatever veg you prefer. Top Chef curry from last night follows..