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Archive for February, 2009

chicken and andouille gumbo

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, we made a gumbo. A simple gumbo. No shrimp, no okra — just roux, the “holy trinity” (onion, bell pepper, and celery), broth, andouille, and chicken. I tried following a recipe by Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com, but instead made a bastardized version of it to save some time. For example, I chose not to boil a chicken for its meat and broth, since we already had some left-over roast chicken meat in the fridge. The seasonings used to flavor the chicken and stock I added to the gumbo itself, and I tinkered around with the proportions a little, since they seemed a tad excessive as they were in the aforementioned recipe.

Making the roux requires the most care in gumbo-making. The rest is easy. J took on the roux challenge, standing over the stove and constantly stirring the roux to make sure it did not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. With an ease of a true roux-master, he did this for about 30 minutes, until the roux turned into chocolate. The color, I mean, the color.

Below: Roux – 10 minutes in; 25 minutes in

roux, 10 minutes inroux, 25 minutes in

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Gumbo Ya Ya)

1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups onions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 links andouille sausage (1 chopped into small pieces, 2 sliced on the bias)
1 quart chicken broth
3 cups chicken meat, roughly torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves

In a large, heavy pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the oil and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is a dark, chocolate brown color, about 20 to 25 minutes (J did this for 30 minutes). Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, celery and chopped sausage (watch out – this part sizzles like firecrackers). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved chicken broth and stir until the roux mixture and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours (I threw in the seasonings here and shortened the gumbo-simmering time to one hour, tossing in the chicken meat during the last 15 minutes).

gumbo sizzle

We served the gumbo over white rice, the perfect companion for a rich, smoky stew with a little bit of fire.

gumbo over rice

And if you’re lucky enough to end up with a surplus of gumbo, it tastes even better the next day.

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I remember a friend once touting the goodness of whole grilled chicken — cooked with a beer can shoved up its insides, nonetheless. I had never heard of this method of cooking chicken before, so I was more than a little intrigued. However, my hopes and dreams for making beer can chicken were dashed when I came to my senses and realized that it would be sometime (okay, a long time) before I had the money and space for a grill.

That is, until I happened upon a recipe in the February issue of Cook’s Illustrated during a trip to the library. Beer can chicken! In the oven! Although beer can chicken sounded like a novel concept to me, the technique has been around for quite awhile. The beer can serves as an inexpensive convection device, as the steam from the boiling beer allows for the chicken to be cooked from the inside-out. Additionally, with the chicken sitting on top of a beer can and suspended vertically, the juices from the chicken run downward, basting the chicken while it cooks. This makes one very moist chicken. Or two, if you’re so inclined.

beer can chicken

Cook’s Illustrated focuses on how to get a nice, crispy skin. First, roast the chicken nice and slow at a low temperature of 325 degrees, and then give it a hot blast at 500 degrees for the last quarter of the cooking time. The initial salt and pepper rub contains baking powder, which itself contains baking soda and corn starch. The baking soda draws out moisture from the skin, leaving the skin drier, and my guess is the cornstarch helps to crisp things up. A glaze is also brushed on at the very end (I changed the recipe because the combination of orange marmalade, maple syrup, and cornstarch just didn’t appeal to me).

Although a time-consuming recipe (which we made up for by yelling “rrroast cheecken,” a la Fabio of Top Chef, to each other the whole time it took to roast the chicken), what we ended up with was a super moist roasted chicken with a crackling skin. We put the ultimate test to the recipe, and sliced up the breast meat for dinner. It was surprisingly more succulent than any chicken breast meat I have ever had.

beer can chicken

We also had roasted broccoli and scalloped potatoes. And some cold Belgian beer.

IMG_9287

Beer Can Chicken

1 whole chicken (6-7 lbs, but I used one just a little over 5 lbs)
5 tsp kosher salt (I used regular)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 (16 oz) can beer (All I could find at QFC was Guinness and other stouts. They didn’t carry 16 oz PBR or Budweiser, so I went with the Guinness.)

1. Cook’s Illustrated suggested puncturing the chicken in a million different places to allow for juices to escape and run down the sides of the chicken, but I did not bother with this. I would only suggest using your fingers to loosen the skin from the flesh.
2. Combine salt, baking powder, and pepper in small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture. Rub in mixture with hands, coating entire surface evenly. Set chicken, breast-side up, on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, 30 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Open beer can and pour out (or drink) about half of liquid. Spray can lightly with nonstick cooking spray and place in middle of roasting pan. Slide chicken over can so drumsticks reach down to bottom of can, chicken stands upright, and breast is perpendicular to bottom of pan. Roast until skin starts to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 140 degrees, 75 to 90 minutes. Carefully remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. (I do not have a thermometer on hand, so given the size of the chicken, I gave it 75 minutes.)
4. Make the glaze while the chicken is in the oven.
5. When oven is heated to 500 degrees, place 1½ cups water in bottom of roasting pan and return to oven. Roast until entire chicken skin is browned and crisp and instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 24 to 30 minutes. Check chicken halfway through roasting; if top is becoming too dark, place 7-inch square piece of foil over neck and wingtips of chicken and continue to roast (if pan begins to smoke and sizzle, add additional ½ cup water to roasting pan). (Okay, I do not have a roasting pan, so it got a bit dangerous for me here. Not realizing that the beer can was half-full of chicken drippings, I came up with the ingenious idea of pouring water back into the beer can. It worked a little, I think. Since I was using a single-layer oven stone/ceramic pan, I should have spooned/mopped out the oil from the chicken and then replaced that with water. Instead, I chose to be very, very cautious with the sizzling/splattering grease. I came out of this experience free of burns, but I would not recommend it.)
6. Brush chicken with ¼ cup glaze and continue to roast until browned and sticky, about 5 minutes. (If glaze has become stiff, return to low heat to soften.) Carefully remove chicken from oven, transfer chicken, still on can, to carving board and brush with another ¼ cup glaze. Let rest 20 minutes. (If using my glaze recipe, the measurements may be off here. Then again, I don’t know if real people use exact measurements when they’re glazing a chicken.)
7. While chicken rests, strain juices from pan through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator; allow liquid to settle 5 minutes. Whisk ½ cup juices into remaining ¼ cup glaze in saucepan and set over low heat. Using kitchen towel, carefully lift chicken off can and onto platter or cutting board. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to sauce. Serve, passing sauce separately. (Aside from taking the can out of the chicken, I skipped this step. The chicken was juicy enough by itself, and I do not have a fat separator. I set the “juices” aside to toss out later.)

Glaze

Juice of 1/2 lemon, zest of 1/2 lemon (from a large lemon)
Rest of lemon was sliced and added into the glaze
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
few sprigs of thyme
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt (add more if you think the glaze is too sweet)

Combine all ingredients (except lemon slices) in pan over high heat. Mix well and reduce to simmer. Add in lemon slices and cook for about 15 minutes longer until you get a consistency thick enough for brushing onto the chicken.

glaze for beer can chicken

Roasted Broccoli

2-3 broccoli crowns, cut into florets
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Several garlic cloves
Sprinkle of sea salt
Olive oil

Toss ingredients together on a baking pan. Roast for 20 minutes at 410 degrees, tossing halfway.

roasted broccoli

Scalloped Potatoes

1-1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 medium-sized russet potatoes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Bring milk to a simmer in a large pot. Add butter, salt, and pepper. Layer potato slices in simmering milk. Cook for 10 minutes. (I didn’t bother having the top layer of potatoes submerged in milk, since I like my drier scalloped potatoes; I just flipped them over halfway through, since their undersides were touching the milk. Make sure to gently agitate potatoes, as the bottom layer may stick to the pot.) Transfer into an 8×8 baking dish, layering potatoes with milk mixture and parmesan, ending with a layer of cheese on top. Bake in oven at 410 degrees for 20 minutes (these potatoes shared the oven with the broccoli), and brown under the broiler for a few minutes.

scalloped potatoes

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