Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken and smoke

February 12, 2012
Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs
Roasted Garlic Salsa Verde
Mashed Potatoes
French-Style Green Geans
Three Wishes California Chardonnay

Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs looked like a nice, simple recipe. It didn't require much prep so it would work very well with my current crowded schedule. I bought eight organic chicken thighs at Whole Foods, inspired in part by a discussion with people from work who had found the higher price for organic chicken to be worthwhile. These thighs weighed a little more than called for in the recipe but I wasn't worried about that as much as the variation in the sizes. We decided to go with the full recipe of eight thighs as it would make four dinners for the two of us.

The chicken was easily prepared. Holes were poked in the skin to let the fat render and drain away during cooking. The chicken was seasoned and then roasted, skin-side down. To crisp and brown the skin, the chicken pieces were flipped skin-side up and placed under the broiler for a few minutes. The recipe included temperatures for cooking the chicken, both after the roasting and the final temperature, but with eight pieces of chicken it wasn't really practical to check more than one or two pieces. I have a good, fast instant read thermometer, but not fast enough to check eight pieces of chicken which varied somewhat in size. 

A bigger problem, one which could keep me from using this recipe again, was the smoke. A fair amount of fat collected in the pans while the chicken cooked, producing a little smoke. (I assume the chicken fat produced the smoke. The oven had recently been cleaned and the chicken was not burnt.) When the chicken was put under the broiler, a lot of smoke was produced. All three smoke alarms in our house started wailing, including one that we had thought was dead and hadn't heard from in years. It's good to test the smoke alarms from time to time, but this would not be my method of choice.

That having been said, the chicken came out really nicely. We chose the two smallest pieces to eat for Sunday dinner and they were done almost perfectly, a little underdone if anything. They were flavorful and juicy. A problem when re-heating chicken and other meats as leftovers is that you often end up over-cooking them upon.  We hope that if they are already a little under done they won't be dried out and over cooked.

We tried  the recommended sauce, Roasted Garlic Salsa Verde, but found it was not to our liking. Garlic was roasted in the oven along with the chicken. It was then chopped in a food processor along with the other ingredients including parsley, capers, and anchovies. The sauce was salty and its flavor was so strong that it overwhelmed the chicken.

The wine, Three Wishes California Chardonnay, is the Whole Foods store brand. It was quite good, especially considering it costs less than $2 a bottle. Apparently not everything at Whole Foods is expensive.

Oven-roasted chicken thighs from Cook's Illustrated
Roasted Garlic Salsa Verde from Cook's Illustrated

Note: You may need to be a member to see the recipe on an America Test Kitchen web site. 

I learned that my Make-Ahead Chocolate Soufflés were not so far off as I had originally thought. I found a free video clip from the America's Test Kitchen TV show demonstrating this recipe. I had thought, based on the recipe photo, that my soufflés had not risen enough. However, I see that mine rose just as much as those made in the Test Kitchen. I learned from the video that the soufflés should be a little moist in the middle, and I confirmed my suspicion that I had over-beaten the egg whites. 

We had the last two of the soufflés on Valentine's Day. I baked them for twenty minutes, two minutes longer than the 16-18 minutes in the recipe. I checked them at 18 and they were still too liquid in the center, but at 20 minutes they were in the Goldilocks Zone: just right. We'll definitely be making these again.

I thawed out the Chocolate Chubbies from a few weeks ago. They came out great, freezing had no significant effect on their deliciousness.

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