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Saturday, March 14, 2009

CHI CHI CHI CHICKEN RECIPES, RANTS, AND OTHER RAW REALITIES


HAM AND EGGS - A day's work for a chicken; A lifetime commitment for a pig. (anonymous quote)

Ah, she must be hard up for something to write.....
ME? NEVER!

I just have to decide whether I will write something a bit personal,(as in what is going on in my life), or whether to focus on a couple of great recipes that have to do with, you guessed it, CHI CHI CHI CHICKEN!
For now the Chicken Rules...

I NEVER have a problem sharing my feelings about virtually anything in my blog..
This blog entry will be a combination of RANTS, RECIPES, and Highly Unusual Thoughts or "REALIZATIONS"...(something seems familiar about this..)

What to say about chicken?
True to form, I have a lot to say about that subject..and more...

The first thing that comes to mind about chicken,(and I won't go into details, as all of you have the ability to GOOGLE), is that my son and I (as well as those that have listened to me), have NOT EATEN KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN FOR YEARS.
It's not because of the taste, because as we all can guess, it is probably STILL "FINGER LICKEN GOOD!"

It has EVERYTHING to do with how they raise and treat the chickens before they become the finger licken good chicken pieces heaped on top of each other in the infamous bucket...

I know, I know, "Hey if you're so concerned, you should be a Vegetarian," and Yes, I probably should be, but in the meantime...Just a casual opinion, as always...

DOING THINGS IN A HUMANE FASHION IF POSSIBLE, IS ALWAYS WORTH DOING.
CRUELTY IS NEVER AN OPTION, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT CAN BE AVOIDED.
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN PRACTICES ARE INDEED AS CRUEL AS THE METHOD BY WHICH FOIE GRAS IS OBTAINED...

Google the Kentucky Fried Chicken practices, and I'll give you a link to the cruel procedures by which foie gras is obtained...
www.goveg.com/feat/foie

As most of you foodbuzzers already know, I do not eat FOIE GRAS (OR "THE DELICACY OF DESPAIR")anymore...

Completely giving up foie gras has not been easy, as the first time I tasted foie gras, I literally had the most amazing taste sensation of my lifetime...The sinful, smooth, silken, seductive sensation that accompanies foie gras, or used to, is like no other...
Of course,therein lies the problem..
It IS one of the most delicious taste sensations that one could ever have, which is why it has been difficult to BAN, due to the privileged public's adoration for it..(it is quite expensive)

Chicago is one of the cities that has tried to BAN foie gras from being served in their restaurants, but unfortunately without success..
There will be others to come, as people become aware of these horrendous practices, and hopefully many will decide to put their feelings about Animal Rights first...

If nothing else, one can only hope that with the economy sliding downhill as it has been, and is projected to continue to do now and in the forseeable future, that one of the more positive outcomes could possibly be that fewer people will eat at the expensive kind of restaurant that serves it, thus lessening the demand for the "delicacy".

NOW...on to less controversial subjects...

If I were forced to choose one of the BEST dishes to experience in a lifetime, I would have to include a BRILLIANT version of the Simple Roasted Chicken...

Roasting your own chicken is a most delightful experience..(as long as you possess a self cleaning oven, that is..)

While it roasts, your home transcends into the most aromatic place in which to dwell, with the scent of herbs, garlic, onions, and lemon perfuming the air...

So superior to a Glade Room Deodorizer..If only they came in scents like "Roast Chicken" or "Homemade Baked Bread"...hey..how about "Baked Brownies"?..Now there's a winner...If only I were a Chemist..I frequently come up with ideas, just have a problem with the "follow through" part..(Uh, the part that makes it a reality..)

WORTHLESS WENCH!!! NO WONDER YOU ARE BASICALLY UNEMPLOYED! WHY YOU MUST MAKE A POINT OF REMEMBERING THAT LITTLE "FOLLOW THROUGH PROBLEM" SO THAT YOU CAN BRING IT UP DURING YOUR NEXT INTERVIEW...SPLENDID IDEA!!!WHERE WOULD BE A GOOD PLACE TO INCORPORATE THAT? HMMMM LET'S SEE...HOW ABOUT WHEN THE INEVITABLE AND TOTALLY WORN OUT QUESTION OF "WHAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST STRENGTHS" COMES UP? SOMETIMES I TOTALLY CRACK MYSELF UP, WHEN I THINK OF SOMEHOW BEING ABLE TO GO INTO ONE OF THESE INTERVIEWS AND ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS IN A MOST HUMOROUS MANNER...I LIKE TO IMAGINE THE LOOK ON THE INTERVIEWER'S FACE...PRICELESS...HILARIOUS..

Back to Roast chicken, which brings me to a recent story that I would like to share with you....

Not long ago, when I was roasting a chicken, my son arrived home, and was walking through the corridor to our front door. As he approached, he noticed a man and his dog, standing very close to our front door, with his face (the man's, not the dog's) practically plastered on it.
Apparently mesmerized by the smell of our "soon to be" dinner, upon seeing my son, he quickly explained,"Sorry man, didn't mean any harm..it just....just smells so good", and with that, he and the dog moved swiftly along...

Upon hearing this story, I was kind of freaked out not to have known that someone was like this "creepy magnet" hanging on my front door, while I was busy blissfully and cluelessly cooking away...

After my initial reaction, I thought, Wow..that's really kind of a compliment though isn't it?..Poor guy...He probably hasn't had a really good home cooked meal for a long time...."So Son, what did this guy look like? Did he look single? I know that you can't tell, but would you say that he was kind of cute?"

My son looked at me with that "Mother could you be any weirder?" look,( a frequent and recognized expression.) He didn't answer..
No doubt my question failed to merit an answer...

Suddenly it hit me...
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? DID SOMEONE FORGET TO TAKE THEIR MEDICATION TODAY? ARE YOU AN IDIOT? THIS GUY COULD BE CHARLES MANSON'S NUMBER ONE PEN PAL..FOR GOD'S SAKE WOMAN, GET A GRIP!"

Now, back to our Roast Chicken...

The BEST ROAST CHICKEN that I have ever been served in a restaurant,and I have eaten A LOT of Incredible Roast Chicken, is THE specialty at a restaurant in Boston by the name of "HAMERSLEY'S BISTRO."

What can I say? During my vacation in Boston, for 8 days last October, I dined there TWICE for dinner, all because of their Roast Chicken...

It was a very memorable dining experience. The open kitchen revealed Mr Hamersley cooking and teaching young chefs..I loved it so much that I bought the restaurant's cookbook so that I could prepare the recipe at home, (though I have yet to attempt it, but I will..)

You know how recipe ratings sometimes include the "easy to difficult" sign next to the recipe? Well, this one is not the most difficult, but it is not the easiest either..

More than anything it could be time consuming, so DO notice the note about doing the chickens ahead of time, as that is exactly why the recipe was developed by Mr. Hamersley.

Aware of the public's love of a great Roast Chicken, he had to come up with a way to serve it at the restaurant and maintain its delicious crispiness, given the time constraints that every restaurant contends with. He developed this "do ahead" recipe, which surpasses ANY Roast Chicken that I have EVER tasted..

When I get around to doing this recipe, I will definitely follow the "do ahead" suggestion, to prevent the inevitable "overwhelmed" sensation that accompanies the preparation of cooking a main dish, two sides, and dessert all at the same time...
I can tend to be a perfectionist (an understatement)...No reason to invite anxiety when caught up in the creative process, if there is a way to prevent it...

In a minute, I will post the Hamersley Roast Chicken recipe for you, but first I must not fail to mention AND post the BEST ROAST CHICKEN THAT I HAVE EVER COOKED AT HOME, up to this point anyway...

It is the "Down-Home Roast Chicken" recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme's "Pure Magic" cookbook...When I looked at the recipe a minute ago, on the actual page of the recipe, there are notes written by me concerning the results (I do this all of the time...do you?)..

I was BORN a Critic..recipes, films, books, music, fashion, you name it, I'm critiquing it..

I have written on the recipe page, "Superb", "Can use Celery instead of Green Peppers", and "At 250 degrees, it's 37 minutes per pound"

These critiques are accompanied by what appears to be possibly grease spots or maybe spices, that have mistakenly transplanted themselves on the page while I was cooking the chicken...

I actually DO recall it as being a messy recipe, but a more than delicious one...
(I suppose there are those that use those Lucite recipe book holders while cooking...Great Idea ..I have even bought them as gifts, but have never used one myself...)

There's something charming about the "used and abused" appearance of a recipe page/card. I bet that if you look at your family's most beloved and best recipes, they will look similar to this.
.
I think that if it looks too clean, it's probably unused, and you would do well not to trust it...

If truth be told,(and it ALWAYS is), morose as it may seem to others, I have always left comments and critiques on the recipes that my sons have loved and requested, and any that are incredibly great ones...I think it's a good idea...

To go a step further, I find it to be quite thoughtful, loving, and practical...
Why should my sons lose the ability to eat their favorite dishes, just because I am not around anymore? (besides which, what else will they remember me for? JUST A QUESTION!)

Believe me there are WORSE things than not being around anymore.
I COULD STILL BE AROUND, and not remember what a chicken IS, much less how to roast one..
Hence the need for notes on their favorites...

Now don't ask me who is going to make these recipes, as neither of them can cook...(which in everyone's opinion is my fault, as they would tell you that I did not allow them to be in the kitchen enough to learn..)
That's true..It's never been my style to like a lot of people in the kitchen while I am cooking..
Not big on teaching kids to cook, as they tend to cut themselves, drop the meat on the floor, and require emergency room visits for burned hands..

Yeah, I was BAD...

1)Was never up for "Mother of the Year"..

2)Hated PTA and teacher conferences...

3)Only went to Soccer and Baseball practices because I HAD TO

4)Refused to personally teach Driving Skills, so instead paid a fortune for Driving School...

5)Ditto for helping with the "not doing the homework problem"
I had to give that up after awhile
My youngest son resisted my help
REFUSED to let me oversee or tutor him..
Thought that I was going to lose my mind..
Inevitably spent TONS OF MONEY at SYLVAN..
Didn't work because it turns out that I forgot to enroll him in the much needed course, "Cure For The Lazy Student"...

Not sure if Sylvan even offers that, but if they did it'd cost ya double the regular tuition, which would be enough to land you in the "poor house"...

Do you realize that growing up I really thought that there WAS a "Poor House?"

My parents spoke of it so often when refering to money or the cost of things,that
I was convinced that if we ever moved, the "poor house" would be where we were going to live...

I remember thinking, "Gee, I hope that they have televisions in the Poor House, along with good cooking and kids that I would like to make friends with.."

Continuing my list of Bad Mothering...


6)DID serve frozen "Kid Cuisine" dinners on occasion when fatigued

7)Did not explain anything about the "Birds and the Bees" because my sons would not allow me to, and stopped up their ears and shouted loudly "La, La, La La" when I attempted to talk about it.Instead they both individually chose their Dads to explain it, so they did...hopefully...
Not sure their Dads versions were the best ones to pass on, but hey, I couldn't be choosy...

Given the time and interest, I could go on and on with this list, but in fact, I won't...

Just please be aware of the following statement on the subject...

NOT EVERYTHING IS THE MOTHER'S FAULT....

IF MOTHERS HAD THAT KIND OF POWER WE WOULD HAVE STARTED RULING THE WORLD A LONG TIME AGO AND OF COURSE THERE WOULD BE NO WAR (AS SUSAN SARANDON HAS SAID)

MOTHERS DESERVE A BREAK AND CONSTANTLY GET A BAD RAP...

MOTHERS ARE OFTEN TIRED AND WORN...

MOTHERS ARE TRULY FABULOUS PEOPLE AND THIS WOULD BE MORE OBVIOUS WITH MORE REST...

MOTHERS WERE ONCE ATTRACTIVE, SEXY, AND "GIRLISH" SINGLE WOMEN WITH FACIAL EXPRESSIONS REMINISCENT OF VULNERABILITY, FRESHNESS, AND INNOCENSE..

MOTHERS ARE NOT JUST YOUR MOTHER, THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL FEELINGS

NUFF SAID

Thanks for your attention to this matter...

I digress...

Now for the two Roast Chicken Recipes..Throw all of the other Roast Chicken recipes away; keep these two, and YOU TOO can SHINE as the "BEST CHICKEN ROASTER IN THE WORLD"..

NEVER hide your aspirations..Some of you WOULD KILL FOR THIS TITLE..
It's OKAY to want something that most people could care less about...
Forget the Olympics...Hollywood...Both of which are seriously overrated..
Lots of people have won an OLYMPIC Medal or an Academy Award..
Happens all the time..
(LONG WINDED AND LOUD YAWN)

"BEST CHICKEN ROASTER IN THE WORLD", now that's something that you rarely hear about..
Why it's so infrequent, I can't even recall the last time it occurred...
(ENTHUSIATIC, DORKY, AND DOPEY GRIN)

On to the business at hand...LET'S COOK...

PAUL PRUDHOMME'S "DOWN HOME CHICKEN"
(the secret to this tender and tasty chicken is to do it LOW and SLOW...)
I like to think of this type of cooking as the "TINA TURNER METHOD"
(Get it? Start out low and slow? Rollin on a river? Anybody out there?)

If you are like me,(and if you are, God help you), you may tend to shy away from already "mixed" seasoning mixes, knowing FULL WELL that as an excellent cook, you can create a superior blend of spices comparatively..Please..take a moment and listen up. Just indulge me for a moment and follow these instructions...

KNOCK YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE WALL TWICE AND REPEAT WITH ME..

THIS IS THE ONE TIME THAT I WILL FOLLOW THE RECIPE THAT STATES THAT I MUST BUY AND USE THE PAUL PRUDHOMME SEASONINGS..

PAUL HAS EVEN MORE EXPERIENCE THAN I DO, AND I WILL TRUST THAT HE KNOWS BEST...

JUST BECAUSE PAUL'S COMPANY MAKES MORE MONEY BY CREATING RECIPES THAT REQUIRE THE USE OF HIS SPICE BLENDS, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WAY THE RECIPE IS WRITTEN...

I HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT IT'S ACTUALLY A TIME SAVER FOR US, AS WELL AS A GOOD SAMARITAN GESTURE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ATTAIN EXCELLENT RESULTS WHEN COOKING THIS VERSION OF ROASTED CHICKEN!

I WILL ABSTAIN FROM MY TENDENCY TO STRAY FROM THE MAINSTREAM, AND FOLLOW HIS RECIPE JUST AS SUGGESTED.

I WILL NOT BALK OR RANT ON ABOUT THE TRIP THAT I MUST MAKE TO THE GROCERY STORE TO PURCHASE TWO SPICE BLENDS, OR THE EXTRA CASH REQUIRED TO DO SO..

Now, how badly did that hurt, really? OH... well...Hey, just take a couple of Tylenol, cause you've got a trip to the grocery store comin up!

INGREDIENTS:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
4 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic, in all
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) roasting chicken
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic
2 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)

Preheat and 8-inch skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, onions, bell peppers, and 3 tablespoons of the Poultry Magic. Cook, scraping the bottom of the skillet occasionally, until the vegetables are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Remove the giblets from the chicken and clean out the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the cooled vegetables, fold the skin flaps over to keep the vegetables in, and secure with poultry pins or toothpicks.
Sprinkle the remaining Poultry Magic evenly over the chicken and rub it in well.
Place the chicken, breast side up, in a large roasting pan, without a rack, and secure the drumsticks and wings close to the body with poultry pins or twine.
Roast, uncovered, until tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Be careful at this stage--the chicken may be very hot inside, even if cool to the touch on the surface. With a long-handled spoon, remove the vegetables and place them in the pan, along with any juices from the pan and set it aside.
Place the pan over high heat. Add the flour and Meat Magic to the vegetables, blending until they are completely absorbed. Whisk in the stock and bring to a boil, whisking until thoroughly blended, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Makes 3 cups of gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.
Makes 4 servings
NOTE: AS NOTED EARLIER IT'S 37 MINUTES PER POUND AT 250 DEGREES...
NOTE NUMBER TWO...YOU REALLY ARE GOING TO BE AMAZED BY THIS CHICKEN...AWESOME PLUS

Now for Gordon Hamersley's famous Roast Chicken...
It is more economically sound to make this at home, but if you ever have the chance to visit Boston..in a word...DO!
I love Boston. Such a great city!..If you do visit, I highly recommend "Hamersley's Bistro", for an absolutely wonderful dining experience!
(Not to mention my favorite restaurant EVER, located in Cambridge by the name of "Oleana", but that is another post...just say'n)
HAMERSLEY'S ROAST CHICKEN WITH GARLIC, LEMON, AND PARSLEY
(The chicken can be roasted earlier in the day, allowed to cool, and cut into pieces. Just before serving, the chicken pieces go under the broiler to reheat them and crisp their skin)

THE INGREDIENTS...

FOR THE MARINADE:
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, well washed and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Grated zest of 1 lemon

FOR ROASTING THE CHICKENS AND THE GARLIC:
2 whole chickens, about 3 pounds each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil

FOR MAKING THE SAUCE AND SERVING:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade if possible)
1 lemon, one half sliced into 1/4 inch pieces, the other half juiced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley

THE METHODS...

TO MAKE THE MARINADE:
In the bowl of the food processor, combine the parsley, garlic, shallots, herbes de Provence, rosemary, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pulse the ingredients together until finely chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a drizzle and process until smooth. Fold in the lemon zest.

TO ROAST THE CHICKENS AND THE GARLIC:
Remove the giblets from the chickens and rinse the birds inside and out with cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels and put them on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub the marinade all over the chickens, putting it on with your hands, and using all of it for a thick coating. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the chickens with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours, or let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the chickens until done, about 1 1/4 hours. The birds are done when the leg bone separates easily when twisted; a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh should register 165 to 170 degrees.
Meanwhile, separate the garlic cloves from the head, but do not peel them (but do pull off any loose, papery skins). Put the garlic into a small baking pan in a single layer. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cloves and toss to coat. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the same oven as the chickens until the cloves are very soft, about 1 hour.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
Transfer the chickens to a cutting board and let the birds rest for at least a half hour and up to an hour before cutting them into pieces. Pour off the juices from the roasting pan and degrease them.(note: one of those degreasing measuring cups works like a champ and there are other gadgets that work as well...)
Add the juices and the chicken broth back to the roasting pan, place the pan over medium-high heat, and deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits stuck to it and reserve.

TO SERVE:
Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the bone, keeping the wings attached and leaving on as much skin as possible. Use a knife and pull with your hands; the breasts should come off easily.
Carve around each leg bone to remove the leg and thigh in one piece. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a roasting pan or in another baking pan shallow enough to fit underneath the broiler. (You can prepare the chickens ahead up to this point. They can remain at room temperature for a half hour before broiling. If you want to make them ahead earlier than that, refrigerate the chickens and bring them back almost to room temperature before broiling them.)
Move the oven rack closer to the broiler and heat the broiler. Place the lemon slices on top of the chicken. Pour the reserved pan juices and chicken broth into the pan, but not over the chicken. Set the pan under the broiler and cook until the skin is crisp and the meat has thoroughly heated through, 8-10 minutes. Arrange the chicken on a platter or on individual plates, scatter the roasted garlic cloves over the chicken, and keep the chicken warm.
Carefully pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and cook over high heat until the sauce is reduced by almost half and becomes slightly thickened. Swirl in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce around the chicken, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Now you will never again have an excuse to stop in and grab a Rotisserie Chicken....
NOT!
The Miraculous Rotisserie Chicken..
One of the most amazing creations of our time...
So misunderstood...

NEXT POST...
The amazing surprise that awaited me the last time that I purchased a Rotisserie Chicken...
My son cannot believe that I have not already blogged this...
WOW..CAN IT GET ANY MORE EXCITING?
DO try to go on with your life in the meantime...
I hear that there are very useful sleeping aids to be had over the counter, in case you're unable to sleep while anticipating the next posting...



























4 comments:

Ricardo said...

I love chicken , and I love the descriptive text on how to do this one well done.. :D

Nicole said...

Rico..it's always so nice to get a comment from you..I seriously delight in feeback and wish that more of my followers or readers would use the comment section as well...It just makes you feel a bit less alone with your thoughts/ideas when you get feedback...
As always Rico, you're the BEST!
I really do enjoy you...Thanks Nicole

Sue said...

Love your blog. LOVE the roast chicken recipe. I combined it with another great recipe and it was GOOD! I hope you approve.

Nicole said...

Great! It always pleases me if I can help in any way to be a part of great and satifying creative endeavors! Glad you love the blog, as I love writing it! Thanks Sue