Monday, April 21, 2008

Use the whole bird

Since their are just two of us in the house, I can usually stretch at least two meals out of one chicken. The nice thing about getting the bird whole is that you can save stuff like the wing tips and backbone in your freezer and use it to make a good chicken broth. From the rest of the chicken, you get two main cuts, the breast and the leg. With practice, breaking down the chicken is really simple. I'll post something about that later.
For the first dish, I used a Frenched chicken breast. This just means that I left the first joint from the wing in. This dish is pan roasted chicken breast with garlic confit and ras-al-hanout on a bed of garlic roasted chickpeas and braised escarole. I start by mashing the garlic confit into a paste, adding some salt and pepper, and spreading this around under the skin. Then I added some ras-al-hanout, a Moroccan spice mix that is generally used in tagines, to season the chicken, seared the chicken breast side down, with olive oil over high heat. Keep an eye on the chicken, and after about two minutes, start trying to move the chicken. After a while, the skin will stop sticking (use a non-stick pan if you want to good color). When it gets to this point, flip the chicken over and stick the pan in the oven. Cook at 350F until done (about 20 minutes). For the escarole, simply cook a head of escarole with some chicken stock until wilted. If you want to add some garlic flavor, you can start by frying a clove of minced garlic in a saute pan with some olive oil, then start adding the escarole bunch by bunch. Once everything is cooked down a little, add a bit of chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. For the chickpeas, drain well, spread out on a foil lined baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook with the chicken.
I also made a batch of minted carrot soup. This recipe comes from the Herb Farm cookbook...I don't remember the exact recipe off hand, but what I really liked about it was the mint flavor was added. Instead of chopping up some mint and adding it to the soup, this recipe calls for making mint tea out of a bunch of mint and then using that as the base liquid for the soup. Pretty clever. Sometimes I do a similar thing when I make what I call my "Asian Risotto." I'll write an entry about this later, but basically, I replace the stock from normal risotto with green tea and trade out arborio rice for sushi rice. It makes a good base for a simmered fish dish.

After making this meal, I had the legs left over, which I used to make Basque Chicken served over a bed of saffron rice. I already have an entry with the recipe here.

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