Monday, December 31, 2007

Coq au vin

This is the first dish J ever had in France, in Amiens, the night before we set off on bicycles through Picardy and Normandy. And she's made Julia's version (MAFC I p. 263) many times over the years, for company. You should have too much sauce, and all the better, as it makes the most delicious base for quick pan sauces for sauteed thighs, and so on.

4 chicken legs, 4 chicken thighs (or four hindquarters, each halved--or eight legs!)
Olive oil or vegetable oil
8 ounces mushrooms
8 small onions peeled OR 8 ounce package frozen pearl onions OR 15 ounce jar pearl onions, drained
3 cups red wine (one bottle), preferably Pinot Noir or Burgundy
1 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence OR 4 branches fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup Wondra
(optional: 1 teaspoon Kitchen Magic)
Italian parsley or chives for garnish
  1. Heat a large skillet on high with four slices bacon or uncured bacon.
  2. Place the chicken, patted dry and dusted with herbs, in the skillet to color slightly (six minutes).
  3. Peel the onions, if necessary, and and place them in the skillet with the chicken.
  4. Mix the Wondra, the cognac, and the broth (and optional Kitchen Magic).
  5. Turn the slow cooker on low. Add the chicken, onions, bay leaf, tomato paste, garlic and mushrooms to the slow cooker.
  6. Deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and add it to the slow cooker.
  7. Stir in the Wondra and the broth.
  8. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley.
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot, stirring in the Wondra last.
  2. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Roast Chicken Breasts

Julia says that the test of a restaurant is its roast chicken. And she is eloquent in describing the popping sounds of roasting, subtle signals to the alert chef of doneness. She is really thorough in describing all the work it takes. This technique gets a similar effect in 5 minutes of prep. The juicy popping sounds, the house filled with roasting aromas.

I like the breast best, and it looks so mahogany with that skin on it. The timing works out well because it's done in 35-45 minutes, just about time to get an starter cooked and eaten and cleaned up.

Roast chicken is so juicy and buttery with the under-skin treatment. And if you throw in some root vegetables, they come out browned and wonderful too, with some drippings from the chicken above flavoring them.

Serves four

A whole, bone-in chicken breast (about 1.5 pounds), completely thawed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, chopped
  1. Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450.
  2. Place a cooling rack for cookies on a cookie sheet (a "half sheet pan") and spray with oil
    1. (optional) Add to the bottom of the pan one layer of potatoes or peeled carrots, parsnips, or butternut squash, cut about 1/2 inch thick and tossed in or sprayed with olive oil and salted (potatoes cut side down).
  3. Mix the butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt and chopped rosemary (microwave for about 10 seconds if the butter is too firm to mix).
  4. Wiggle a finger under the breast skin to form a pocket and, with a spoon, mush half the butter under each side. Smooth the butter around under the skin.
  5. Pull out the ribs to form a base, and put the chicken on top of the broiler rack.
  6. Roast for about 35 minutes until an instant reading thermometer put in the thickest part of the breast registers 155 to 165. (For a 2 pound breast roast 45-50 minutes.)
  7. Remove from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes. Then remove breasts by cutting along the breast bone and scraping the meat off. Slice it on the bias or simply serve in sections.

    It's possible to make a quick sauce by deglazing the broiler pan with 1/4 cup white wine, scraping down the brown bits as it boils. Add 1/2 cup pot roast gravy, coq au vin sauce, or canned chicken stock, stirred with 1 teaspoon Wondra. Stir until smooth.