Monday, April 30, 2012


After purchasing two "separate" chickens at my local butcher on Saturday, it was time to do something new. I asked my butcher to keep one of the chickens whole and to cut up the other one into eighths, which I had planned to make chicken stock with. Then I realized that I could use the whole chicken, after roasting it, for stock and use the cut-up chicken to make something new.  Any restaurant CFO would love me--multiple dishes while keeping food costs down and eliminate waste. Actually, they do love the fact that I know all about controlling food costs.  Heck, I have an MBA in finance.  I perused my kitchen library and pulled out one of my Tom Keller cookbooks, ad hoc at home.

After all, my goal was to try some "new" recipes here.  So special K's recipes (No--not the cereal) came into play.  Industry folks call Thomas (Tom) Keller Special K, so I'm told. And, so I'm told. Here goes.

I decided to make one of Special K's roasted chicken recipes and I also wanted to try something new for the cut-up chicken pieces. But first I wanted to brine the chicken(s).  I've brined turkeys and ducks and quail in the past but never a chicken, so it was time.  Let's brine the chickens.

Chicken Brine
3 lemons, halved
12 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) fresh thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head of garlic, halved through the equator
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cup kosher salt

1 gallon water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot; cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken/chicken pieces; add the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels and let chicken rest at room temperature. Roast or fry the chicken. I did both.

First, I roasted a whole chicken (again) on a bed of vegetables.  Yeah. Boring. Sort of.  Well, yes, boring.  However, I did this one a little differently than my typical "go-to" roasted chicken.
Roasted Chicken
One 4 to 4 1/2 lb chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
6 thyme sprigs
4 parsley sprigs
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 lime, cut into quarters
2 stalks of celery cut lengthwise
1 large leek, cut lengthwise
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut lengthwise
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4" rings
12 large button mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
4 large potatoes cut in half
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Remove the chicken from the brine in the refrigerator.  Wash and dry with paper towels.  Let chicken stand until it comes to room temperature, about 40-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, the parsley, the lemon and lime wedges. Massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken.
Trussed Chicken
Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard the darkened outer layers. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under cold water.
Bed of Vegetables
Combine all the vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a roasting pan.
Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper. Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in the bed of vegetables.  Cut the butter into several pieces and place over the chicken breast.
Chicken Ready for the Oven
Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, turn chicken in pan around 1/4 every 15 minutes, until done and the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird–the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast–and the juices run clear.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.

Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glazing them with the pan juices. Cut the chicken into serving pieces, arrange over the vegetables and serve.

Chicken Mar i Muntanya (Chicken Paella)
And for the cut-up chicken, I made something new, which was another Special K dish called Chicken Mar i Muntanya, which is a chicken fried (yeah, fried--me frying?) with shrimps, mussels, green beans and piquillo peppers (I didn't use the chorizo).

Since Cinco de Mayo is this upcoming weekend, I realized that this was a perfect way to start a busy week.  Not only is it Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, but the Lucky Rice Festival is underway later this week, the Kentucky Derby is also on Saturday  and the James Beard Awards are also taking place.  Whew.  So, here is my adaptation of Chicken Mar i Muntanya, sans chorizo.

One 5-pound chicken, cut into eights, brined for 12 hours
12 extra-large shrimp (U-12-15 count), shelled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette
1/2 cup Canola oil
Saffron rice (see below), warm
4 pimento peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup green beans, blanched and shocked in cold water
1/2 cup dry white wine
18 small PEI mussels
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air dry. Set aside.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Espelette. Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dark meat skin-side-down, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until the skin is a rich golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the second side. Remove from the heat, transfer the dark meat to a plate, and set aside.
"Fried" Chicken
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil as needed. Add the breasts skin-side-down and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove from the heat.
Add the shrimps to the pan that was used to cook the chicken and sauté the shrimps until just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimps to a plate.

Spread the prepared saffron rice in the bottom of a large heat-proof baking dish. Arrange the pimentos and green beans over the rice. Tuck the dark meat and the breasts into the rice, pour half of the wine over the ingredients, and put the dish in the oven.

Add the remaining wine to the pan that the chicken was cooked in.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the mussels, cover the pan, and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add mussels and the shrimps to the baking dish with the chicken, pimentos and green beans and heat through.  Garnish with parsley leaves, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve.

Saffron Rice
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups (about 14 ounces) short-grain rice, rinsed thoroughly until water runs clear
2 ¾ to 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and season with a sprinkling of salt. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the saffron. Reduce the heat to very low, and cook for another 2 minutes; do not brown the onions and saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, to toast the rice for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 2 ½ cups of the stock, stir once.  Cover. Bring the stock to a simmer and simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 8 minutes, until most of the stock has been absorbed. The rice will still be firm. Gently stir the rice, scraping it up from the bottom, and reduce the heat to very low. Add an additional ¼ cup of stock, cover with the lid, increase the heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the stock is absorbed. Taste the rice and, if necessary, continue cooking, adding up to ¾ cup more stock ¼ cup at a time, as necessary, until the rice is almost tender and the final addition of liquid is almost absorbed. Turn the heat to low to allow the rice to absorb the remaining liquid, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and serve hot.

No comments: