Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting Creative With Chicken

Good evening everyone! This week had to be the most difficult week to pick a recipe that I've experienced.  Typically, Maggie and I comb through our cookbooks, find recipes that look good/fun/unique and then head off to the grocery store to pick up the requisite supplies. As we've established, this week Maggie and I are using up some ingredients we have left over - in order to avoid a) leftovers and b) leaving things to spoil while we're away.

That made picking a recipe difficult. Not only did I have to find a recipe that used exactly what we had (in my case, bone in, skin on chicken thighs and drumsticks) but I also needed to find a recipe that wouldn't create a surplus (stews and soups were out of the equation this week). After about an hour with no luck - I decided to go about making my own recipe. I had a cooking technique that I wanted to use again, and I found a recipe for an orange glaze that looked like it could be adapted to my chicken. With these ideas in mind, I set off to the kitchen to create tonight's recipe.

The Recipe: Orange Glaze Chicken
Original Recipe By: Tyler (That's me!)

What You'll Need:

1 - 2 Pounds Bone In, Skin On Chicken Pieces (Thighs & Drumsticks)
2 Teaspoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Water
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup*
1/2 Cup Orange Marmalade
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

*Taste your marmalade before you begin. If the marmalade is overly sweet, reduce the maple syrup to 1/4 cup.

I decided to use a skillet frying technique that I've tried before on the blog in my stovetop roast chicken recipe. I liked the way the chicken absorbed all of the flavors that surrounded it in this recipe and I decided that this cooking technique, blended with a little shot in the oven with the glaze (to really bake in the flavor) would be the ideal way to go.

Begin by patting your chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Season the pieces with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pour 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat (on high) until the oil just begins to smoke.

Once the oil is hot enough, place (2 pieces at a time) the chicken in the skillet, skin side down and allow to cook undisturbed for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the skin is a nice golden brown. Place the finished pieces aside on a clean plate and proceed to repeat this process until all of your pieces have a nice golden exterior. Feel free (in fact, I encourage it) to use a splatter screen when frying up the chicken. As the oil and chicken grease mix, it really starts to pop and sizzle, sending little droplets of molten hot oil everywhere. If your splatter screen is still letting some droplets through, place a second screen on top of the original screen (as I did - pictured below) or, use a colander turned upside down and set over the skillet.

Twice as safe

The crunchy outer shell does two things, first it creates a barrier to trap the natural moisture of the chicken in while cooking. Flabby skin is still porous and will allow the moisture to seep out while cooking. Secondly, it provides a tasty crunch to the chicken for those who partake in the eating the skin.

Nice and golden

In the original recipe, I returned the chicken to the skillet for a second frying. This caused the skin to get nice and crispy. However, since I was planning on putting a glaze over my chicken, and didn't need the skin to do anything other than hold in the moisture, I decided that one frying stage would be sufficient.

Wipe the grease and oil from the skillet with a wet paper towel and pour in your chicken broth. Bring the broth to a low simmer and then nestle you chicken pieces in amongst the broth. All the chicken to cook i the broth for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches 150 to 160 degrees.

While the chicken is cooking away in the skillet, you can begin to make the glaze.

Chicken glaze, some assembly required

Mix the cornstarch and water in a small container and set aside.

Combine all of the other ingredients in a medium sauce pan on medium heat and bring them to a simmer.  All to simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 8 to 10 minutes. You are trying to reduce the glaze to about 3/4 of a cup. The easiest way to tell that you have reduced the glaze is to stick a whisk or spoon in the glaze and see if the glaze covers the utensil. If it is staring to stick, you've successfully reduced the moisture from the glaze.

Not quite glaze yet...

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Doing so here should (depending on your oven) allow it to be full temperature by the time the glaze is finished.

Mix in the cornstarch and water and stir well. If you remember your 6th grade science class, you know that cornstarch and heat causes liquids to thicken. That's why cornstarch is a cornerstone in most gravy recipes. Bring the glaze back to a simmer and allow to cook for another 1 to 3 minutes, or until the glaze reaches desired thickness.

By now, your chicken should be close to the perfect temperature. Transfer the pieces from the skillet into a small roasting pan or oven safe dish. Spoon the glaze over the chicken pieces (making sure to surround all sides with glaze) and place into the 500 degree oven. Allow the chicken to roast for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pieces reach 170 degrees. During this time, your glaze should slightly caramelize and turn sticky and golden on top of the chicken. If you managed to reach 170 degrees, but do not have caramelization yet - feel free to pop the pieces back into the oven for another few minutes to allow the glaze to finish.

All that's left is to serve up the chicken and enjoy. (We opted to serve ours with some frozen sweet corn saved from this summer. You can use whatever side you like.)

The Results:

It's always a little nerve wracking making your own recipe. You're flying without a net. As far as I knew, this particular combination hasn't been attempted before - or at the very least has not been documented before.

After cutting into the chicken and taking that first bite - I was relieved. The recipe turned out quite well. The glaze ended up having an almost honey like flavor. It wasn't too sweet and not at all citrusy (as I thought it might be due to the marmalade) but was a nice, sweet touch to a very juicy and tender piece of chicken.

We've always said that we eventually want to turn this blog into a place where Maggie and I can share our original recipes. Tonight, we successfully debuted our first original recipe. (Hooray!) It wasn't at all complicated, but you need to start small (or else find out just how well your smoke detector works...) By simply pulling from past experience and knowledge, I was able to create a simple little main dish that had anything but simple flavor. Sometimes, it's the small victories that give you the most joy. Tonight's easy to make recipe was a simple (and tasty) victory.

That's all we have for you tonight. Maggie is in the kitchen tomorrow night, so be sure to stop by and see what she's got cooking. After that, we're off for a full week -  we plan to begin blogging again around September 12th or 13th. We'll keep you posted via our official Out Of The Culinary Facebook page (be sure to join today!) when we return.

Until tomorrow,


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