Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Poulet au Grand Marnier (or whatever)

12 May 14

[Herself sez: I’m posting this for the Ol’ Curmudgeon]

Yes, this is French in derivation. Yes, there is a reduction sauce involved. Simple and quick – rice takes 30 minutes – 20 cooking and 10 resting. If you start cooking the yard-bird at the same time everything will work out nicely. This is for 2 people – just do the math for more. Don’t faint – there is no butter here (well, not much) – just whipping cream and booze.

2 Tbs orange juice or half an orange – juiced and zested
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut in pieces
salt and pepper to taste
cooking oil and/or unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, mashed and chopped
1/2 tsp ginger or 1-1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbs Triple sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs whipping cream

If you’ve got a fresh orange, then juice and zest and set aside. Otherwise use orange juice (necessary) and dried orange peel (optional).

Cut up the chicken breast into 1” or thereabouts cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. In an iron or other good heavy skillet get the oil and/or butter hot and brown the chicken turning so as to get evenly done and browned. Set the chicken pieces aside.

In the same skillet on low heat cook the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir while cooking over low heat until translucent and soft. About 5 minutes or less. Add the orange flavored booze of choice – and pocketbook – and availability. Triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau all will work well. Triple sec is probably the most affordable. Anyway cook on a gentle boil while stirring and reduce volume by half.

When the volume is reduced add the cream and orange zest, or sprinkle some dried orange peel into the pan and boil for a minute, stirring the pan pretty often. Add the chicken and stir everything together – then simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is warmed through.

Serve over the bed of choice. Rice is especially good. Pasta is probably O.K. if that is what grabs your taste buds. Anything else that comes to mind is probably O.K., too.


Five-Spice Chicken

13 April 13

OK. I confess. I haven’t been much of a cackle fan over the years. I finally figured it out. 90% of the Americans who cook chickens just don’t take the time to do it right, and the majority of American chicken does not taste like chicken (funny, everything else is supposed to). Mostly American chickens don’t taste at all. Anyway, get free range birds that are not force grown when you can. The taste difference is rather dramatic. Even better – if you are somewhere that you can – raise your own and slaughter them when they are the proper age. We shall serve no bird before its time. (Does anyone else remember Orson Welles doing the wine commercials?) Anyway, Herself is a cackle connoisseur – or a yard-bird yokel, if you prefer, and has convinced me that all cackles are not bad. So now we cackle every now and then.

This is one of those things that can be done several different ways. The marinade can be muchly varied, but this is a very good basic. I’ll do some more elaborate marinades over the next couple of months.

1 Roasting hen – 5 or 6 pounds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots
1-1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
 Nước Mắm – Vietnamese fish sauce (1)
1-1/2 Tbs soy sauce (low sodium is good here)
1-1/2 Tbs dry sherry
Nước Chấm (1)
Horizontal Rotisserie Chicken

Horizontal Rotisserie Chicken

Mince the garlic, shallots, and sugar together. The best way to do this is a mortar and pestle, but you could use a food processor. Get the mix rather fine and add in the salt, pepper, and 5 spice powder and mix together well. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sherry. A comment about soy sauce: if you use full sodium soy sauce cut the added salt by half or leave it out altogether – that stuff is salty. Gently slide your fingers between the skin and the meat as best you can without tearing the skin. Slip a good bit of the mix in and then rub the rest over the surface of the bird, working it in well. Let things soak at least 4 hours (or overnight) in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can use most any wine you like but the dry sherry is rather traditional Vietnamese.

You can do this three ways that are rather good:

  1. Rotisserie – on the spit for about 1-1/2 hours (my favorite)
  2. Vertical roaster in the oven at 450°F for about 15 minutes and then 350°F for about 1-1/4 hours
  3. Split the bird in half and cook on a grill over medium hot coals skin side down for about 15 minutes, flip and roast another 15 minutes.

No matter which method you use you are trying for done chicken – about 160°F with crisp skin. You will have blackish looking skin, BUT – it should be blackened from the Maillard reaction, not from burning. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes. If you are using an indoor rotisserie then you can keep the spit turning with no heat. That keeps the juices in while they are being re-absorbed.

This goes nicely with a Nước Chấm (1) (2) dipping sauce. Rice is also handy, as is a side salad. The only disadvantage to this method is that the carcass shouldn’t be used for making soup or stock.

(1) Discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.

(2) Another discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.

A Quick Can o’ Peas

15 October 11
The reflection pond at Clemson University

Image via Wikipedia

“A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker and chopped liver. He says ‘Canapés,’ I say, ‘Can o’ peas my ass! That’s a Ritz cracker and chopped liver.'”

The Godfather IIFrank Pentangeli to Fredo Corleone

Sometime a happy taste sensation can occur simply because of a need to fill in a corner of the stomach. And, of course, what you have on hand. Anyway – this turned out to make a jim-dandy little snacker – and really simple.

1 part chicken, white meat, chopped fine
1 part quality blue cheese, chopped fine
1 part mushroom duxelles
1 part good mayonnaise
French bread, sliced thin

Chop up the chicken and blue cheese pretty fine, but not a mush. Mix the meat, cheese, mushroom and mayo together until nicely blended. You want to use a really good quality blue cheese. We used the stuff from Clemson University. They’ve had blue cheese growing in local cow juice for many years and it is a really nice strain. Put about a half tablespoon of goop on each slice of French bread and run into a 350°F oven for a few minutes. You don’t want to cook this stuff, just warm it up nicely.

Herself Sez: We learned about Clemson Blue Cheese when I was working at Clemson University back in the ’80’s. They used to have a dairy store with incredible locally made ice cream. Although the shipping eats us alive, we occasionally order a couple of 10oz Krumbles and use them in everything that calls for blue cheese. Oh Yummm!

Mushroom Duxelles has already been written up, and is something you want to keep handy in your refrigerator.

Homemade is the best way to go on the French bread and the mayonnaise.

Chả Giò (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) and Nước chấm (Southeast Asian Fish Sauce)

25 February 11
Chả giò

Image via Wikipedia

Chả Giò (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

This is one of the most magical tastes in the world. Chả giò translates as minced pork roll. What we have here a basic kitchen sink recipe. You can put in whatever you have on hand that appeals to your taste buds. This is just the basic, jazz up or down as you like. You can make ‘em strictly vegan if you like. We like protein. Well, I suppose you could use some hard tofu for protein, but it is not quite the same.

2 oz cellophane noodles OR rice vermicelli
vegetable oil (peanut works well)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (your taste rules)
4 oz shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 oz pork, minced OR fine chopped chicken
1 carrot, grated
3 green onions, sliced
1 oz mung bean sprouts OR 3-4 Napa cabbage leaves
2 tsp nước chấm (fish sauce)

2 Tbs Vietnamese chile sauce
2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
2 tsp water, cold (optional)
~32 spring roll wrappers

Boil the cellophane noodles for about 5 minutes. You can also use rice vermicelli if you can’t find the noodles. Drain and cool a bit and then cut into 1 inch pieces. You don’t need to get fancy, just dump them out of the strainer onto your cutting board and chop them up in 1 inch strips, then cut another path of 1 inch strips at right angles. Set aside on a plate.

You should use a wok if you’ve got one, if not, a large skillet will do. Put a little oil in the wok and when it is hot add the chopped garlic. You do know how to tell if the oil is hot enough, don’t you? OK, simple: shove the end of a chopstick into the oil, vertically, to rest on the bottom of the wok. If you see bubbles coming up the oil is hot enough, if no bubbles, it is not hot yet. When the garlic aroma starts to diffuse (about 45 seconds) add in the meat. Pork is traditional, but chicken is also good. When it is just about halfway done add in the shrimp. When they are done take them out and chop fine. Add everything to the pan – meat, veggies, fish sauce, chile sauce, and noodles. If you don’t have bean sprouts you can use 3 to 4 leaves of fine shredded Napa cabbage. Cook until the veggies, particularly the carrots, are softened. Immediately transfer to a plate and let it cool down.

Wrappers: What you want is the Chinese wrappers which are wheat based and need refrigeration; they are not rice paper. Rice paper is mostly for the uncooked party rolls and can be a whole lot of fun to handle. If you have trouble getting the flap to stick down mix up the cornstarch and water so you can glue it down. Keep a damp (almost wet) towel over your skin stack as you work, otherwise they will get dry and unworkable. (You could do something radical like follow the directions on the skin package.) If you can’t find them at the local grocery try to find an Asian store. They will have them. Our local Publix does not carry them, but they do stock egg roll skins. Not quite the same, but they could be used in a pinch.

If you’ve got square skins set with a corner pointing directly at yourself. If they are round, it doesn’t matter. Put a tablespoon full of cooled filling in the skin off center near yourself. Fold the bottom up and around the filling, fold in the sides, and roll from the bottom into a tight cylinder. For Vietnamese style they should be rather long and thin. The Chinese style rolls are shorter and fatter. Brush the edge with the cornstarch water mixture if you need it to seal. Chinese skins don’t always need the extra since they are wheat based. Square skins tend to seal a little better also. If you have trouble there are beau-coup videos on the web showing how to roll them.

You can fry them up with the same wok you used earlier. You will need enough oil to float the rolls about 4 at a time. I use a deep fryer, specifically a Cool Daddy, or an electric skillet because it is much easier. Anyway, get the oil between 325°F and 350°F. Cook them between 1 minute and 5 minutes, depending on the inside goodies and your individual taste. Let them drain and cool for a little while and then serve with nước chấm (dipping sauce).

Just for info: most of the stuff is actually made in Thailand or Taiwan and is quite satisfactory. Vietnam is still not exactly a favored trading partner.

Nước chấm (Southeast Asian Dipping Sauce)

This is the basic Vietnamese fish sauce the secondhand smell of which every GI shipped to Southeast Asia in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s learned to identify. The Vietnamese would curl up and die without their fish sauce. The smell gave away many an ambush in the jungle. You can get the basic ingredients on the internet or at a local Asian grocery. If your grocery has much of an international selection you may find it there. If there is a Whole Foods near you, you probably can find much (or all) of what you need there. Good luck.

You can’t say that there is any one way to make the dipping sauce that goes so beautifully with spring rolls and egg rolls and the like. I’ll give you the basic basic, but the variations are endless and are totally up to you. And when you get it to your liking it is now the dipping sauce known as nước chấm.

The basic ingredients:

2 parts water
1 part sugar
1 part lime/lemon juice. Fresh is best, but bottled juice will work in a pinch.
1 part fish sauce (nước mắm)
Optional additions:
garlic, minced
minced Serrano peppers or
minced small chili peppers or
chili paste
rice vinegar

It best to heat the water and stir in the sugar while the water is hot, then set aside to cool. You get much better combination this way. After things cool down add the citrus juice and the fish sauce and stir together. That’s it. You now have the basic dunking sauce. However, I do not regard the garlic or the rice vinegar as optional. I think the sauce is incomplete without it. My normal would be 1/4 cup water, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/8 cup fish sauce, 1 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 cloves garlic, minced. I’m not a big fan of peppers so mostly I don’t.

Also however – big time. There is no cast in stone way to make this stuff, the proportions and ingredients vary all over the map. If you want more or less of any given ingredient – fine. If you want to add something else or subtract something – also fine. The only constant is that there is fish sauce in there somewhere. And even so there are a million and one different kinds of fish sauce. Mostly the stuff I’m used to is fermented anchovy based, but there are many other variations. Experiment. Enjoy.

Raspberry Chicken Livers

11 December 10

This is a tasty change of pace. Not your mother’s chicken livers.

1 lb chicken livers
salt, pepper, flour, as needed

1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter

2 Tbs shallots, minced
1 cup raspberry vinegar
4 Tbs raspberry jam
watercress or parsley or whatever, as needed to garnish

This part is like your mother’s chicken livers: Trim, rinse, and pat dry your chicken livers. Take a brown paper sack and put enough flour to coat all the livers, add salt and pepper to taste. Shake everything up, add the livers, shake some more. Take them out, shake off the excess and put on a plate ready to fry (actually sauté).

Get the oil and butter hot – as in the foam of the butter just goes down, but before any browning takes place. Add the livers and sauté until done with the innards still just barely pink. Remove to a plate and keep in a warm place. This should take less than 5 minutes.

There should be just a small amount of fat left in the skillet. Sauté the shallots until they are nice and tender. Leaving the shallots in the pan deglaze with the raspberry vinegar. Be sure to scrape up all the nice brown bits and stir them in completely. Add the jam and stir while simmering for a minute or two until it gets nice and thick. Add the livers back in and stir things around to get goody sauce over all the livers.

Serving options: You can serve them over rice, or some noodles. I suggest crusty French bread – very tasty.

Garnish options: watercress is good, as is parsley. Anything else that you have on hand that sounds good would probably work.

Oh yeah, if you don’t have any raspberry vinegar it is rather easy to make. Take one cup of regular white vinegar, partially crush 1/2 cup of raspberries in a narrow but tallish container. Pour the vinegar over and stir. Let it sit in a coolish, darkish place for a few days to a week. Strain it into a container, use as you please. You can do this kind of vinegar infusion with anything that you like. The French do tarragon fairly often.

This dish isn’t as sweet as you might think – the vinegar cuts the sweetness of the jam reasonably well.

Weird Chicken –

30 October 08

Weird Chicken –

1 boneless chicken breast or equivalent
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 cup wine of choice
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
1 cup green veggies of choice (broccoli is good)

Combine rice, water, broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Blanch the veggies if fresh. If the veggies are frozen cook for the package time. Drain and set aside.

{Herself Sez: If it’s green beans, you may want to cook a little longer than package time – in my opinion.}

Chunk chicken into bite-sized pieces, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté chicken in olive oil and butter. Remove chicken from pan, deglaze with wine. Add tarragon and veggies. Sauté until warm, add rice and chicken and heat thoroughly. If the sauce is too thick thin with a small amount of broth.

{Herself Sez: I LOVE chicken. This love affair with clucks began when I was very small and my little Gam (grandmother) would make fried chicken, rice and gravy, salad, and a veggie (frequently southern-style green beans) nearly every Sunday for dinner. Yummm! I’ve been trying to duplicate her recipes for over 40 years. One of these days, I might make it. But I’ll eat chicken from nearly any recipe -except chitlins. (NO, we do NOT pronounce it “chitterlings.”) Tried ’em, didn’t like ’em. Don’t like calamari for the same reason – rubbery, little flavor. So when the Ol’ Curmudgeon comes up with a new chicken recipe, I’m all nose and mouth – the smell, the taste! This one is a great recipe, and is excellent for those times you are short on time. It takes less time to do this than it does to read the recipe and cognitively process it. Really!}

Chicken with Dipping Sauce –

4 September 08

This is one of those things that tastes a whole lot more complex than it really is. Actually, this is very simple, easy, and takes very little energy to assemble.

Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast per person. Sauté in olive oil and butter about 5 minutes per side on medium heat in a good, heavy (preferably cast iron). If the surface has not browned to your satisfaction crank the heat up and give it about 1 more minute per side.

Plate the chicken and tent with aluminum foil. Drain off the liquid from the skillet until you have about a tablespoon or two left. Return the skillet to the heat. Add enough apple vinegar to deglaze, whisk thoroughly. Add a little more apple vinegar if needed, add about 25% to 50% honey to the vinegar. Whisk over low heat. Add a teaspoon of stone ground mustard and about a teaspoon of grey poupon. Whisk together well. Whisk in enough heavy cream over low to medium heat to thicken just a bit.

Goes well with a nice French bread baguette and a simple garden salad.

Herself Sez: This was wonderful! I ate every bit. And the sauce was excellent. I LUV chicken. I’ll go along with a variation on what Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump said: “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, chicken-kabobs, chicken creole, chicken gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple chicken, lemon chicken, coconut chicken, pepper chicken, chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken salad, chicken and potatoes, chicken burger, chicken sandwich.” Yeah! Yard bird is one of my absolute favorites. Bubba forgot about chicken Alfredo and chicken burger in a manwich sauce. Unfortunately, the Ol’ Curmudgeon doesn’t think much of it. So he seldom fixes it for me unless I ask – usually several times. I’d eat it 3 days a week. That leaves 2 days a week for vegan eating, and 2 day to have beef or pork. But chicken – that is the “food of the gods” – ambrosia – to this Southern gal!! Yeah – chicken salad – chunks of chicken with green grapes cut in half, slivered almonds (or pecan pieces), celery, a tiny bit of onion, mayo and a smidge of spicy brown mustard. Wonderful party food in a bed of varietal cabbage – very colorful! very tasty! Fried chicken with rice and gravy and a side salad – yummo!. Sometimes I just have to slip up to KFC or to Chic-fil-a to get my chicken “fix.” I’m drooling on my keyboard!

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