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23 September 2010 @ 09:58 pm
Spatchcocked and grilled a chicken tonight, it was the most delicious chicken I have ever cooked. Thus I record it for posterity, mayhap immortality!

1 whole chicken (chicken-chicken pounds)
salt and pepper
salt and pepper
salt and pepper
worcestershire sauce (you have to say it like sean connery or it doesn't count and won't taste as good)
salt and pepper
assorted herbage from the herb basket in the yard that is being overtaken by the surrounding vining flowers (sage, thyme, maybe basil? *shrug* rosemary!)
salt and pepper

aromatic (I used an apple, onion would work, so would something citrusy)

a couple of long metal skewers

Take the butter out and leave it on the counter for 30-60 minutes to soften (about 3-4 tablespoons)
Mince the garlic
Chop the herbage
Combine softened butter with a couple of shakes of worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and assorted chopped herbs. If possible, perform this step a day ahead (this doesn't matter, I did it 15 minutes ahead and it came out great (see above wherein I establish that this was the most delicious chicken I have ever cooked)(nested parentheses, ho!)). Also, salt and pepper. Mostly pepper. Remove newly compounded butter (continuously compounded?) to sheet of plastic wrap, then form into log and place in fridge (overnight) or freezer (fifteen minutes).

If grilling, start the charcoal so that it has time to burn down to white. We're going to need 350 degrees for an hour, so keep that in mind. Also, the chicken will not be directly above the coals, so make sure that there is a spot for it.

Chop aromatics into slices or pieces - it will be going under the skin, because spatchcocking plays no favourites and leaves no cavities.

Remove chicken from package and remove package from chicken (neck and assorted organs). Rinse chicken and pat dry. Wash hands. Sing the happy birthday song whilst washing hands. Realize that every time Emeril "washed his hands" after touching raw poultry on his show he just ran them under the water with some soap for all of five seconds and then moved on with his salmonella self.

Using kitchen shears cut on either side of the backbone, remove the backbone, and save it with the neck bone for stock or soup. Spread chicken out. There should be some crackling. It is now spatchcocked. Boo yeah. Wash! Your! Hands!

Remove butter from appliance and cut into pieces. Insert pieces under chicken skin. You can cut a little pocket in the breast on either side and stuff a piece in there if you want. Insert slices of aromatic into skin as well. Insert skewers from side to side, this will make it much easier to flip (probably using tongs anyway).

Washing, washing, washing of the hands, hands, hands.

Salt and pepper both sides, then place on grill.

Grill it with the lid on for an hour at 350, flipping every 15 minutes. B/w 350 and 400 is okay, shoot for the lower end. You should be able to use the air vents to regulate the temp, but keep an eye on the coals in case it looks like they're dying down and need more Osubscript2. Hit it with some more salt and pepper on each flip.

At the end of the hour, check it with a thermometer. Breast should be 165, thigh should be 175, make sure the thermometer probe isn't touching bone, that'll throw the reading off. Different specific heat.

Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to rest for 15 minutes. This is not a cooling step, if you try to carve it after 15 minutes and reach out with your uncovered left hand to steady it, you will burn yourself... and if you're me, you'll burn yourself a couple more times. Get a fork. You need your hands to make a living. Yeah.

I didn't make gravy tonight, but the juice from the resting plate was delicious on my mashed potatoes. Sadly the grilling results in all of the drippings ending up as contributions to the gods of fire and deliciousness.

The skin was crispy and delicious (I'm going to be using that word a lot), the meat was moist and tender and well seasoned, and carried a nice flavour, and delicious!!! I'm always sad when I go through a lot of work with the brining and the herbs and such and it still just kind of tastes like chicken at the end. Not so with this technique! Delicious! Exuberance!

Spatchcocking works fine in the oven as well, I've done it over a bed of potatoes, carrots, and onions to soak up the juices. That time was not as delicious as this, I think it has to do with the butter and the salt and pepper.

Spatchcocked! Worcestershire!
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05 May 2010 @ 10:52 am
Made White Veggie Lasagna last night. Had some leftover ricotta from making ravioli last weekend, and decided that lasagna was the way to use it up. Didn't think to check if we have lasagna noodles, so at 5 last night decided to make my own.

Succeeded in making noodle dough on the counter this time without making a huge eggy mess. However, ended up with a large crater of leftover flour.

Alton Brown's Fresh Pasta:
approx 3 cups of flour - will not all be used, feel free to start with 2 ish, maybe a little more
2 eggs
3 T water
1 t olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

The original instructions are to mound the flour on a work surface, make a hole in the middle and pour the egg, water, oil, & salt mixture into it, then stir with fingers until as much flour as the dough will take has been assimilated. However, it didn't work all that well for me last night, the dough didn't pick up enough flour and was sticky when I was trying to put it through the pasta machine. I will consider using the food processor mixing method next time - flour and salt in the work bowl, pulse a couple of times to mix. Whisk together the eggs, water, and oil. Pulse the machine while pouring the mixture in a continuous stream. Run the machine until the dough begins to pull away from the sides.

Refrigerate for at least an hour to rest. Knead by hand 8-10 minutes if forming pasta by hand. Otherwise, put it through the pasta machine at the widest setting, then fold in thirds like a business letter, rotate 90 degrees and put it back through. Repeat twice, then begin decreasing the setting. I went to setting number 5 on our machine, which was plenty thin enough.

I boiled the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water one or two at a time. The instructions I read said to place the noodles into a bowl of cold water, then lay on parchment paper. I ended up putting them on a cooling rack to let the water drain a little.

James's White Veggie Lasagna
ricotta (most of a 16 oz container)
1 egg
olive oil
~3/4 C freshly shredded parmesan
shredded mozzarella - to your heart's content
frozen spinach - 9 oz box
3-4 cloves garlic (I used 1 clove of elephant garlic)
4-5 large carrots
4 oz mushrooms
2 C milk
3 T butter
3 Tflour
salt & pepper

I mixed the ricotta with an egg, a little olive oil, some dried oregano, salt, pepper, and parmesan, then let that sit while I worked on the rest of the filling.

Cleaned and sliced the carrots and mushrooms. I chopped some garlic, and put the carrots an garlic in a baking dish, tossed with some olive oil and a little kosher salt. I roasted that at 350, mixing every 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, I added the mushrooms. Mixed again after 10 minutes, then turned the oven off and left the veggies inside while I was finishing the noodles.

Cooked the frozen spinach, then let it drain through a wire mesh strainer, pressing with a spoon occasionally.

Warmed the milk with a bay leaf in a small sauce pan, then took the puppy outside and jadziadaxwb turned off the burner when the milk bubbled over.

Sliced and melted the butter over medium heat, then added the flour and whisked it around for a minute or so. Turned off the burner for a minute to let it cool. Fished out the bay leaf, then whisked the milk into the butter/flour pan. Turned the burner back on medium and whisked the milk around until it came to boil. Reduced the heat and added about 1/2 C of the shredded parmesan. Tasted it, added a little more parmesan and some salt and pepper. I wanted to add enough salt to bring out the parmesan taste, but not bring too much saltiness.

Combined the spinach with the ricotta mixture.

Smeared the bottom of the pan with a little of the parmesan sauce, which ends up extra thick because of the milk/butter/flour proportions. Added a layer of noodles. I layered half of the ricotta mixture, then half of the carrot & mushrooms, then parmesan sauce and shredded mozzarella. I used regular mozzarella, not fresh, since it shreds easier and the difference in taste is not really apparent, if anything I wanted the slightly saltier taste of regular. Another layer of noodles, used up the rest of the ricotta and veggies, then parmesan sauce, reserving some for the top, and shredded mozzarella. Top layer of noodles, then the last of the parmesan sauce and a liberal layer of shredded mozzarella. Meant to shred some parmesan on top, but forgot. Came out great irregardlessly.

I bake it at 375 for 40 minutes. I loosely covered it with tin foil for the first twenty minutes, but I don't think that was necessary. Maybe the first ten minutes, or maybe not at all. Also, 400 degrees may decrease the oven time.

Future variations: Other veggies can be incorporated into the filling, onions, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes. Broccoli or cauliflower, maybe?
Perhaps roast the veggies at a higher temp - the carrots needed to be precooked to keep from being too crunchy, but I was hoping they would acquire some carmelization in the process. Considering the tasks I was juggling, it was a good idea to stay lower rather than crank up the heat or the broiler.
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09 March 2008 @ 11:45 am
So, I have been working on getting a really good turkey recipe for the past couple of holidays. Past strategies have involved brining and rubbing the turkey with butter and stuff. The one from Thanksgiving was good, but mostly still just tasted like chicken. However, the one I made for Christmas was a resounding success! I got this recipe from Cook's Illustrated when I signed up for the free month. Since I'm not in the mood to pay for it on a monthly basis, I canceled it before they starting charging me. So, I am typing up the recipe here, in case I lose the paper I printed it on.  Also, the plan is to make you all v. jealous of our yummy dinner. : )