Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Food Night would like to take a moment to express thanks to everyone that has brought their time, resources and intellect to the table these past few years. And of course, thanks to every one of you that has read the musings on these pages. This is just the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. – If you are looking for how to prep your turkey in future years, look no further than this roast/braise combo from Michael Ruhlman. That's how Food Night rolled this year, to absolutely perfect results...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Proper Pan Roasted Chicken

Chicken. Some say it’s boring. Some even use it as a catch all “flavor” descriptor for bland and boring food stuffs. “Tastes like chicken” has basically become a punch line. So take your chicken to the next level by following these simple steps, and you’ll be amazed how delicious chicken can be.

Before we get to the technique involved here, let’s touch on three things you can do before the fowl hits the frying pan that will facilitate success:

1. The pan. Use properly seasoned cast iron. Or, use a nice stainless steel pan (such as All Clad). A 12’’ pan will allow you to cook 1 or 2 pieces of chicken. Never exceed 2 pieces in one pan.

2. The pan must be hot. Not warm, not nuclear… but hot.

3. The chicken. If at all possible, buy your chicken at Heartland. Why? Because the chicken there is fresh, properly butchered, and air dried in the cooler so the skin is DRY. Which is a very good thing, since it’s impossible to crisp up wet, soggy skin. If you can’t get to Heartland, buy an ethically raised, hormone free, skin on chicken breast, leave it UNCOVERED on a plate in your refrigerator for two or three days to dry out the skin. And yes, this step is worth it if you don't get your poultry at Heartland.

Pan Seared Airline Chicken Breast

1 (or 2) Kadejan Farms Airline* Chicken Breast(s)
Oil (not olive, ideally peanut or grapeseed, but canola would suffice)
Salt (kosher for seasoning, Maldon for garnish)

*An “Airline” chicken breast leaves the first joint of the wing (i.e. the “drummie”) attached to the breast. Also, the skin is left on, which is key, since it’s hard to get crispy skin without, you know… the skin. And you absolutely do want crisp skin on your chicken.

1. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking, pat any moisture off the chicken with paper towels, and place skin side down on a plate. Sprinkle kosher salt over the flesh side. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Put your dry pan on the stove over medium to med-high heat. When it’s hot (not warm, not nuclear), film your pan with oil, a generous teaspoon per piece of chicken. It should instantly ripple, perhaps smoke slightly. Add the chicken skin side down, and note the loud sizzle when it hits the pan.

3. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes on the stove, add butter (approximately 1 tablespoon per piece of chicken) to the pan, gently lift* one side of the chicken so that the melted butter has a chance to get between the skin and the pan.

*If your chicken is stuck to the pan… forget lifting it, and just put the pan with the butter in the oven. Maybe try to lift it again after it’s been in the oven 5 or 10 minutes.

4. Put the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on size of chicken.

5. Chicken is done at an internal temperature of 165F. If chicken isn’t done after 15-20 minutes, turn chicken skin side up and return to the oven until done. Note chicken will continue to cook approximately another 5 degrees after it’s removed from the oven. When done, allow chicken to rest on a plate for 4ish minutes before slicing.

6). Garnish with Maldon. Devour* while standing over the sliced meat in the kitchen, or in a civilized manner at the table with your favorite accompaniment(s) (Dijon mustard? Sriracha? Mixed green salad? Caramelized brussles sprouts and a sunny side up duck egg?........).

*Make sure you freeze the wing bone in a freezer safe bag, to reserve for making chicken stock. You’ll be making this chicken often enough that you’ll have a bag full of wings in no time.