Archived entries for poultry

Thai Coconut Noodle Soup with Panko-Crusted Chicken

It is a lucky man indeed who can count cooks of both Shiv’s and Swiss’s caliber among their friends. Not only does keeping them around mean one gets to eat the food they make (which, let me just tell you, is spectacular indeed), if one is very lucky, one gets the chance to cook alongside them. Shiv and I have quite a bit of experience working in the same kitchen — it turns out that adding Swiss to the party was like adding a few new steps to a very familiar dance. The three of us spun around each other all afternoon in a manner that would be best described as balletic. I had tremendous fun, and would like to offer an official Thank You to both of them for inviting me to help out with their scheme. Their tasty, tasty scheme.

For my part in the Coconut Dinner Party, I was tasked with whipping up the main course, a solid and surprisingly hearty Thai dish, which would be bracketed on either side by the others’ more ethereal creations. In the best Thai style, this soup fuses Salty, Spicy, and Sour for some serious multi-layered flavor. It starts with a backbone of gorgeous aromatics, gets some heat from both chili and red curry, a salty fish sauce tang, and the zip of freshly-squeezed lime. Coconut milk serves to round off the harsh edges, and you’re left with a savory, creamy broth that would be delicious on its own — but we gilded the lily with the textural additions of some silky noodles and the crunch of panko-crusted chicken.

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You can probably use any kind of chicken in this — or for that matter, seared tuna, thinly-sliced beef, tofu if you’re so inclined — but we opted for the dark meat of chicken thigh. The flavor tends to be much richer than a standard chicken breast, I think that it’s a little more tender, and the oily unctuousness both blended well with the coconut milk and provided a good counterpoint to the crackle of the panko. Bonus: you might also get a chance to debone the thighs yourself, which I personally found very satisfying.

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The soup ended up being a two-stage affair, with the broth leisurely constructed early on in the afternoon, and a brief dash at the end to cook the chicken, plate, and garnish all at once. Also, can we please have a cheer for non-superfluous garnishes? The cilantro and scallion tossed on top as the bowls are headed tableside add a perfect breath of green, and wilt deliciously into the rest of the soup as you eat.

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The following recipe is modified from a Jean-Georges base, courtesy of starchefs.com, with our own little fillips here and there.

Thai Coconut Noodle Soup with Panko-Crusted Chicken

First part:
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chili, chopped (use whatever heat level you like)
1 knob of ginger, chopped
1 tsp galangal
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into smaller sticks and smashed (I used the back of my knife for the smashing bit, and would highly recommend tying these up in cheesecloth for removal later.)
1 tsp red Thai curry paste
4 cups chicken broth

Second part:
1/2 package rice vermicelli noodles
2 cups coconut milk
12 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
Fish sauce (nam pla) to taste
2 Tbsp (or thereabouts) lime juice
4 chicken thighs
1 egg
Panko bread crumbs
Cilantro, chopped
Scallions, sliced

  1. Sweat the onion, garlic, chili, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and curry paste in oil (I used a nice green olive oil plus a pat of butter, although strictly speaking I should have opted for peanut) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until everything gets soft and melty.
  2. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour.
  3. You can hold the soup at this point until you’re getting ready to serve — I had it on the back burner for an hour or two — or just go ahead with the next step right away if you like.
  4. Beat the egg, and dip the chicken thighs into it, followed by a coating of the panko crumbs.
  5. Another dollop of oil in a sturdy skillet on high heat. Lay down the chicken, and cook through — about five minutes per side. I always give myself a little extra time in case they need a few more minutes.
  6. Bring the soup back to a simmer if you’ve dropped it to a back burner. Drop in the noodles — they don’t need more than a minute or two. Be sure to add these before the coconut milk — the noodles suck up a lot of liquid, and you’ll want to replenish with the coconut after the noodles have done their thing.
  7. Add the shiitakes and the coconut milk. Sprinkle in the fish sauce — a few drops will do, but add to taste. Same with the lime juice: start with a tablespoon or two, add a little more if you don’t taste that bright thread of citrus backing up the cream of the coconut.
  8. Simmer for another minute, and dish up into four bowls.
  9. Slice the chicken into strips and lay on top of the lovely pillow your noodles have created. Toss a light handful of scallions and cilantro on top, and serve.

In the deep midwinter: Chicken Pot Pie (with a biscuit topping!)

It’s late January, which means that if Winter were my boyfriend, his prized collection of vintage bowling shirts would be powering a bonfire on my lawn RIGHT NOW. No, seriously–I would be scrawling my name in fuchsia lipstick on the bathroom walls of the crazy ex-girlfriend hall of fame, so heated is my temper right now. Because I am DONE. I am over this stupid season. I am sick to the back teeth of darkness and cold. Touch-finish. However, as I have yet to figure out how to bend the weather to my will, I cannot actually make this lumpen season leave me be. And thus, I must make alternate arrangements to keep my spirits up. Sometimes this means whiskey; sometimes a nap. Sometimes, it means ridiculously decadent comfort food.

potpie

This week, I decided to go the latter route, which led me to chicken pot pie. It’s something I’d wanted to make for a long time, but never quite gotten around to. Rich and creamy, it’s about as comforting as comfort food gets; it’s also remarkably forgiving, and an excellent way to use up the leftover bits and pieces of vegetable matter you probably have lurking in your fridge. For the meat, I convinced Bench to roast up a few chickens while I was at work;  should your remarkably helpful flatmate not work at home, you can cook and prep the chicken a few days ahead of time.

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The real trick to this particular pot pie is, however, not the filling (delicious as it is, heady with thyme and white wine and butter), but the topping: rather than binding it in a pie crust, this pie is topped with fresh biscuits. Which, upon reflection, probably makes it a cobbler as opposed to a pie. Either way, it is delicious–and will be even more so when I stumble upon the Ultimate Biscuit Recipe (these are good, but not quite what I want them to be). Until that day, it is still a treat–the biscuits start to sop up the filling before you’ve gotten it to your plate, rendering the whole business a savory, gooey, bready mess; soft and delicious and comforting.

It really is the perfect Winter warmer. I mean, unless you have a lawn, a bunch of kerosene, and a whole lot of bowling shirts.

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A most unusual creature: Chicken in Milk

I’d ask you to stop me if you’ve heard this one before–except that if you were paying attention to the internet in the month of November, odds are you have already heard about this recipe. I am speaking, of course, of Jamie Oliver’s infamous Chicken In Milk. The Recipe That Shouldn’t Work and Yet Does! The Recipe That Was All Over The Intarwebs for a Few Minutes There! The Recipe That Transfixed Us All With Its Fundamental Oddness! Seriously, I couldn’t look away. It was like the food blogger’s answer to the cast of Jersey Shore–kind of inexplicable, but undeniably fascinating.

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Naturally, I HAD to try it.

When you talk about it in the abstract, it sounds as though it is, literally, a recipe for disaster. Milk and lemon zest? Really? I mean, Jamie. Really. You of all people should know what happens when those two collide. Infinite sadness is what happens. Infinite sadness and an ocean of curdled milk.

Except! The sadness never quite makes it to the table. Contrary to all good sense, this chicken-in-milk-business works. Yes, the milk curdles, but if you strain out the curds and other debris, you end up with a ridiculously delicious (spicy, herby, garlicky) sauce of the sort that will require you to shoo your guests out of the kitchen because they will try to nab it straight from the pan. No, seriously.

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You will also end up with a bird so luscious and tender, you won’t know what hit you. I’m not sure if this is the nature of the recipe itself, or if it’s a result of the cooking tip I snagged from TheKitchn (start it covered, and then remove the lid after about a half hour), but it really is kind of astonishing. I’m talking bones-actually-falling-out-of-the-meat tender.

I made it a few days before my father went in for his surgery; unsurprisingly, we wanted something warming and comforting, something that would easily stretch to feed the four of us and the two wonderful friends who came to dinner. Though it was not labor-intensive enough to quell my neuroses, it did manage to fill the kitchen with comfort, cheer, and a wickedly delicious smell.

Oh, and–Dad came through with flying colors. Thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers.

Chicken in Milk
(adapted from Jamie Oliver)

1×3-4lb chicken
1 pint milk
2-3 sticks cinnamon
2 small sprigs of sage
8-10 cloves garlic, smashed and unpeeled
zest of 2 lemons
salt
pepper
1/4c olive oil
2 tsp buter

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan or dutch oven (with a well-fitting lid)–one which would fit the chicken snugly–melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat; season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and then fry it in the butter/oil mix, turning regularly, until the skin is uniformly brown. Remove from heat and then drain off the butter and oil from the bottom of the pot.
  3. Once drained, add the milk, cinnamon, lemon zest, sage, and garlic to the pot with the chicken. Place in the oven and cook covered for 1/2 hour; remove the lid, and then cook for another hour.

A Winner: Asian Marmalade Chicken

I can’t remember ever winning a contest or giveaway, so I was shocked when the lovely Marisa of Food in Jars alerted me that I was the winner of a huge container of her gorgeous blood orange marmalade. I’ve been enjoying spoonfuls of smeared on Sunday-morning bagels and homemade scones, drizzled on frozen yogurt and cornbread, but I wanted to include it in a savory dish, too.

The tangy marmalade perfumed a marinade that reminded me a bit of childhood (back when “Asian” recipes almost always included orange juice). I added a little fish sauce, thinking of the sweet chicken wings at Pok Pok restaurant, and spiked it with just enough Sriracha to warm it up. Orange, ginger, hoisin, and soy may be a retro/Americanized combination, but it proved so delicious that I’m glad I wrote down the measurements as I cooked.

I piled the chicken on top of some fresh steamed spinach and sauteed garlic scapes. Jasmine rice would also be nice on the side. If you can find scapes in your local farmer’s market, you should grab them—they’re also great grilled, a little like garlicky green beans. Plus, they’re kind of adorable.

And now, a peek into the dinner conversation of two nearly-weds enjoying a home-cooked meal and watching the sunset:

Maggie: This chicken is so good! Chicken on the bone is so much better than boneless.
Matt: Yeah, but it’s so much work.
Maggie: It wasn’t too bad…I just dumped it into a marinade and put it in the oven!
Matt: No, I mean it’s so much work to eat.

I thanked him for his tireless effort, and then I made him do the dishes.

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Fair and fowl: Cherryaki Roast Duck

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When I first took a stab at cooking poultry, I did so with a silent promise to myself: Thou shalt take these lessons you learn and ultimately use them to cook a duck. Why this particular piece of fowl was so important to me, I couldn’t begin to tell you; why I couldn’t bring myself to START with this is no easier to explain. Suffice it to say, it had something to do with compressed air blowers, chinese restaurants, and the general fatty nature of the duck.

Mostly the fatty part, I think. Despite the fact that it is, truly, what makes the duck delicious, I find the sheer volume of fat that comes attached to a duck a little daunting. But, after our little trip to the Essex market, I was determined to be daunted no longer. So, I turned (as I so often do when looking for info about basic technique) to Mark Bittmann, who not only had several excellent tips on roasting duck, but an excellent suggestion for how to solve the fat conundrum: harness the power of steam!

By steaming the duck before roasting, you melt some of the prodigious fat layer, allowing it to drip out of the duck before you commit it to the oven. You’re left with a delicious bird (with a significantly more manageable fat quotient) and a cup or two of nicely rendered duck fat, which you can whack in your freezer and use intermittently in place of butter or oil. Steaming the duck also gives you an early opportunity to add flavor to the bird; flavoring the steaming water imparts a subtle flavor to the meat. Since I decided I wanted an asian-style duck (I have a moderate obsession with peking duck), I used star anise, mustardseed and cinnamon; I used the same flavors during the roast itself, and in the sauce/glaze. Hitting the seasonings three times made the taste of the meat unbelievably delicate and luscious.

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Being the sensible, frugal girl that I am, I used some of the fat I’d rendered out to roast up the potatoes. Believe me when I tell you that you should try doing that, too. It’s not for the faint of heart, but good goddamn, it is delicious.

Roast Cherryaki Duck

1 duckling, 4-6 lb

To steam:

2-4 c water
2 sticks cinnamon
2 tsp mustard seed
3-4 star anise, whole

To roast:
2 tsp cinnamon
kosher salt
1 orange, zested and then sliced
1/2 large yellow onion (or one small red onion), sliced

For the sauce:
1/2c cherry preserves
1/2c soy sauce
1/2c chicken stock
1/4c white wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 pieces star anise
1/4c honey

  1. Start by steaming the duck on your stovetop–put a rack in a nice, large pan, and then fill it with about 1-2 inches of water. Add spices. Prick the skin of the duck all over with a sharp knife or fork (take care not to prick the meat–you have about 1/4 inch of fat before you hit it), and then place it breast side down on the rack. Set heat to high, cover tightly and steam for about 45 minutes, replenishing the boiling water when it starts to run a little dry. I used my wok for this, wrapped in about eight hundred wasteful (yet effective!) layers of foil. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before doing anything else with it.
  2. While it’s cooling crank up your oven to 375 and start the sauce–put the preserves, soy sauce, honey, cinnamon, star anise, stock, and vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, then drop the heat to keep it simmering.
  3. Once the duck’s cooled a bit, rub the skin (on both sides) with a little kosher salt, orange zest and cinnamon, and stuff the body cavity with sliced onions and oranges. Place breast-side down on a rack in a roasting dish, and baste. Cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the bird). Remove from oven, flip over, baste the other side. Crank your oven to 425, then roast for 15-20 more minutes, until the skin is nice and crispy.


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