Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Taste Of Iowa

Happy Tuesday everyone! Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary, we're so glad you could stop by! Tonight's recipe is exciting in more than a few ways. First, it marks the debut of (nearly) every Iowan's favorite veggie - sweet corn. Yes, the delicious yellow treat is 'officially' in season. (I've always been cautious about buying corn before the 4th of July - it seems too early - I know I'm probably missing out, but it's just something stuck in my head.) In addition to this, we're also trying a new cooking technique tonight. Finally, tonight marks the return of shallots to our menu.

If you'll recall - our one 'disaster' recipe so far was Maggie's dish that called for shallots. We couldn't peg the flavor that was causing the dish to have such an odd taste - so we blamed the new guy, in this case, shallots. Tonight we're giving shallots a second shot. Without further ado, let's dive into the recipe.

The Recipe: Stovetop Roast Chicken
Original Recipe Found In: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

What You'll Need:

2 - 3 Lbs. Bone In, Skin On, Chicken (Breasts, Thighs or Drumsticks)
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Medium Shallot (Minced)
1 Tsp. Unbleached Flour
1 1/2 Tbs. Fresh Parsley (1/2 tsp. dried)
1 1/2 Tbs. Fresh Chives (1/2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Unsalted Butter

Tonight's recipe is unique. It tries to replicate flavorful and crisp roast chicken, which is normally achieved only in an oven, by using a skillet. The problem with many skillet recipes, according to the fine folks at America's test kitchen, is that it leaves the chicken still 'flabby' and the meat is not as evenly cooked. I can attest to this claim. Back before Maggie and I were blogging about our cooking exploits, we were trying one to two new recipes a week. I decided to try a pan roasted chicken with a honey marinade. Sounds delicious right?

Well, back then I just 'jumped in' to cooking; grabbed a recipe, and went at it. Had I done a little research and expanded my knowledge on the ingredients I was using (as we try to do now) I would have seen the obvious error in the recipes' instructions. The recipe called for you to cook the chicken 5 minutes per side on high, then add this marinade (and breading) and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. The result was a chicken breast that unevenly cooked chicken breast (dry on one end, juicy on the other and some blend of the two in the middle) that had an outside that was 'flabby' and loose and would not hold the breading well. I didn't know what I had done wrong at the time - now I know. It wasn't me, it was the recipe.

The key to a good, crispy, chicken breast/thigh/drumstick cooked in a skillet is the skin. You HAVE to leave the skin on to keep a crisp exterior (which also traps in the juices). In addition, using a bone in cut of chicken provides for easier cooking (and better heat distribution). That's the concept behind tonight's recipe. Using skin on, bone in chicken, you begin by browning the skin, then you cook the chicken with the sauce / marinade then you finish browning the skin. 3 easy steps, one (hopefully) delicious dish. Here's how to go about making it yourself:

As usual, begin by pre-measuring all of your ingredients. This helps save a lot of time!

Begin by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium to high heat. Wait for the oil to begin 'smoking' and add your chicken pieces (we used thighs) skin side down. You will want to use a splatter screen if you have one, hot oil may start bubbling up and it doesn't feel too great on your arms!


And safe! 

Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed (no poking!) for 5 to 8 minutes. Next, flip you chicken skin side up and reduce the heat on the skillet to medium (the recipe calls for medium-low, but I found this was causing the chicken to cook much too slowly). Add in 3/4 cup of your chicken broth and cover the skillet. You want the chicken to cook until the breasts have reached 155 degrees or the thighs and drumsticks have reached 170 degrees. This should take about 10 to 16 minutes.

If you're serving up some sweet corn with this recipe (as we are) now is a great time to start boiling the water / heat up the grill. There is a great article in today's Des Moines Register regarding all the different ways to cook sweet corn. When you're finished here, give the link a click and check it out.

I ran into a small issue here. My chicken was still slightly frozen in the center. I had hoped this wouldn't cause too many issues, but it did cause a considerable delay in cooking time. It took roughly 20 to 25 minutes for me to reach the desired 170 degrees. While this doesn't seem to be an issue right away - it did end up causing a slight problem. Since I was cooking the chicken in the broth longer then intended, it was causing the skin to fall right off of the thigh. I had to carefully monitor the skin while checking the temperature - losing the skin in this step would have sabotaged the whole dish. Luckily, I was able to keep everything together.

After your chicken has reached the proper temperature, carefully transfer the pieces to a plate (skin side up) and set aside. Pour out the reserved liquid into a measuring cup or small bowl and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel (you want to get any charred bits off the bottom and clean up any residual fat). Next, add 1 tsp. of vegetable oil back to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Return your chicken pieces to the skillet, skin side down and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes (making sure your temperature has returned to 155 or 170 degrees).

Reserved liquid - look at all that flavor! 

The idea behind this last 'quick cook' step is simple. You may have noticed when you removed your chicken pieces from the pan, that the skin was very floppy and loose. By returning the skin side to the pan for 2 to 4 minutes - you are essentially crisping the chicken. It seems a little farfetched, I'll admit, but I was stunned after removing the chicken at the end of this step. The skin is absolutely crunchy and crisp!

You can't really see it - but trust me. It's crunchy! 

Remove your chicken pieces from the skillet and place them on a serving plate. Tent this plate with aluminum foil and set aside. Now, you can turn your attention to the sauce. This sauce (called 'Lemon-Herb') is extremely easy to make and will only take a few minutes. So, if you're still waiting for the water to boil on you corn, you may want to stall slightly.

Begin cooking your sauce by adding a minced shallot right into the same skillet you just took the chicken out of. On medium heat, constantly stir the shallot until it begins to take on a light golden brown color. Next, add your flour and stir for roughly 30 seconds, or until it is absorbed completely. Increase your heat to medium high and add in your reserved cooking liquid from earlier. Add in the remaining chicken broth as well. Bring everything to simmer and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to work up any brown cooked in bits on the bottom of the pan. That's extra flavor that you don't want to lose! Finally, remove the skillet from heat and stir in your lemon juice, parsley, chives and butter. Once everything is mixed well - pour the sauce into a serving dish or directly onto the chicken. All that's left is to enjoy!

Cooking up the sauce 

Adding said sauce to chicken

Don't forget to grab your corn! 

The Results:


That's the word for tonight's recipes. The chicken was exactly as promised. Tender, flavorful and juicy on the inside, wonderfully crunchy on the outside. The chicken was cooked evenly throughout (unlike my prior roasted recipe that I referenced earlier) and it looked fantastic!

The flavor was superb as well. The chicken held this great...well, chicken flavor (obviously!) and the sauce was an interesting blend of sweet (butter) and zest (lemon) with a great middle man (parsley, chive and chicken broth) holding it all together. All in all, a fantastic dish!

The sweet corn did Iowa proud as well. There simply is nothing like Iowa sweet corn at its peak. It cannot be topped. I tried the Register's trick of adding sugar to the water. I don't know if it made too much of a difference to be honest with you. I've had my fair share of sweet corn over the years, and this tasted exactly like any other piece of sweet corn I've ever had. No sweeter than a piece cooked in regular old water in my opinion.

Oh, and for those wondering - yes, the flavor that ruined Maggie's dish was the shallots. These little guys are like super onions. For my dish, the shallot did exactly what it was supposed to do; add a very nice onion like flavoring. For Maggie's it clashed with the lemon and cheese combination and caused an odd bite. Mystery solved!

That's all we have for you tonight. Thank you all for stopping by and reading what we are cooking on a daily basis - it means a lot to us. Here's hoping you give the stovetop roast chicken recipe a shot. All you need is some chicken and about a half and hour, there really is no excuse for not trying this great dish yourself!

Until next time,


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