Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Recipe Notes: April 2017

9 April 2017
One-hour Broiled Chicken

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, March 2017

A few months ago I roasted a whole chicken in a cast iron skillet. This is a similar recipe. In both cases the chicken is butterflied and prepared simply and quickly. In one instance a cast iron skillet is used and the chicken is roasted. In this case the chicken is broiled rather than roasted.

As I did with the cast iron recipe, I went to Whole Foods for the chicken so I could get one near what the recipe calls for which is 4 pounds. I purchased a 4.4 pound organic "whole fryer" which was as small as they had. The chicken was butterflied, the skin perforated,  rubbed with oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was placed in a skillet with some hot oil and then placed under the broiler. The distance from the broiler to the oven rack was about 12 inches which helps ensure more even cooking than would happen if it were closer. After 45 minutes it was done. The recipe includes directions for a very simple pan sauce made from the drippings and some garlic and thyme. The total time to prepare the chicken was just under 90 minutes. Smoke was not a problem.

The chicken was good though the white meat was a little over done. The dark meat, which is more tolerant of overcooking, was fine. The pan sauce was not worthwhile. The pan drippings were almost entirely fat and so the sauce was just too greasy to be any good so we didn't really use it. The skin was nice and crispy. Between the two recipes, this method perhaps preferred because it is a little quicker.

24 April 2017
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, January 2017

I don't recall ever eating gumbo so I was interested when I read about this recipe. Gumbo usually involves creating a roux (a mixture of flour and fat) over a long period of time. It also often uses filĂ© powder or okra for thickening, both of which are problematic for some people. 

This gumbo solves the roux problem by incorporating a dry roux. This was intriguing to me, flour, with no additional ingredients, was baked for 40 minutes until browning to the color of cinnamon. This produced a little smoke but not enough to set off our smoke detectors. The flour was mixed with broth and used not only to add flavor to the gumbo but also to thicken the sauce by a careful balancing of the amount of flour and the amount of stock. I used a little more chicken and a little more andouille sausage than the recipe called for just because of package sizes. I left out the thyme but with all of the other flavors this was not a big loss. It took 1 hour and 45 minutes to prepare dinner.

The gumbo is served over steamed rice and goes well with Sangria. Initially, Diane and I had different impressions of the gumbo. She liked it. I liked it but I found it to be too spicy for my taste. Most of the heat comes from the sausage. The recipe made enough gumbo for us to have it five times. Fortunately, the level of heat seems to have subsided some and I enjoyed it more as a leftover than I did when it was fresh. If I make this again using kielbasa instead of andouille might improve it for me.

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