Thursday, July 03, 2008
Tastes Like Chicken
...because it is chicken.
I don't know if you've noticed, but it's pretty damn hot out.
A lot of people try to solve the dilemma of feeding themselves in the summertime, while at the same time not heating up the kitchen, by grilling outdoors. Unfortunately, as nifty as the condo is, we don't have room for a grill on the little balcony off the kitchen. Sure, we could put one in the garage and wheel it out into the communal driveway whenever we wanted to cook; but I know that if I have to move my car every time I want to cook I will never use the grill. It just won't happen.
So this recipe borrows from a lot of other folks. I was intrigued by the idea of Chicken Rice, a traditional chicken recipe that I watched Tony Bourdain try on No Reservations. It seemed simple enough: poach a chicken, use the resulting broth to cook the rice, serve the chicken over the rice with some veggies. Done.
I think it was poaching the chicken that appealed to me. I'd watched Kylie Kwong do it on her show. You make a really flavorful poaching liquid and add the chicken. Then you turn off the heat and walk away for 3 hours. No muss, no fuss and, most importantly, your kitchen stays cool.
The following recipe is not Singaporean Chicken Rice, but it is tasty. I particularly like the addition of crisp pieces of chicken skin that I topped the dish with. This happened primarily because Mr. Scoop was freaked out by the appearance of the skin when I took the chicken out of the poaching liquid. It was kind of brownish gray and I had planned on discarding it. But then I remember that crispy skin is the best part of any chicken meal, so I reserved it to crisp up for garnish at the end.
Not Chicken Rice
For the chicken:
5 quarts of cold water
1 head of garlic, peeled and bruised
1 large onion, quartered (leave the skin on)
1 cup of sliced ginger (leave the skin on)
10 sprigs of Italian parsley
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves (or 1 small Californian one)
1 1/2 T. coarse sea salt
1 T. black peppercorns
1 3.5-4 lb. chicken, giblets and visible fat removed
For green papaya slaw:
1/2 green papaya, seeded and coarsely shredded
juice from 1 lime
3 T. fish sauce
1 T. sugar
2 t. chile paste
1 minced raw garlic clove
2 scallions, sliced finely
2-3 T. cilantro, chopped
For the rice:
1 cups of jasmine rice, rinsed thoroughly and drained for 15 minutes
2 cups of the broth leftover after cooking the chicken
For sauce over the chicken:
5 T. broth from cooking the chicken
juice of a 1/2 lime (about 2 T.)
3 minced garlic cloves (saved from cooking the chicken)
2 t. chile paste (I like sambal oelek)
1/2-1 T. fish sauce (depending on your taste)
1/4 t. toasted sesame oil
To assemble the dish:
1. Place the first nine ingredients of the chicken poaching list into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and let them steep together for about 15 minutes. Then bring everything back to a boil. Add the chicken. If the chicken does not want to stay submerged, weight it with a heatproof plate. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat off and leave it to sit for 3 hours.
2. Meanwhile, make the green papaya slaw: combine all 8 ingredients in a nonreactive bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
3. After 3 hours, remove the chicken from the cooking liquid with tongs. Let it drain and cool. Then remove the skin from the chicken, reserving it for late use. Shred the meat from the chicken and set it aside, discarding bones and any fat still clinging to the meat.
4. Strain and defat the cooking liquid. Measure out 2 cups for the rice and 5 tablespoons for the sauce. Reserve the remaining liquid for other purposes, like soup (I froze my leftover broth).
5. Make the rice: bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil and add 1 cup jasmine rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes (or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender).
6. Make the sauce: whisk together all 6 sauce ingredients.
7. Crisp the chicken skin: Cut the reserved chicken skin into 2 inch pieces. Season the pieces with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces 4 or 5 at a time (don't crowd the pan). Cook until brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Repeat until all the skin is cooked.
8. To serve, mound some of the cooked rice into a bowl. Top with cooked chicken, a spoonful or two of the sauce and a couple pieces of chicken skin, spooning some of the green papaya slaw alongside of the rice.