Monday, November 16, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Fall Apart Chicken Caccitore

Good and easy. And hearty. Slightly healthy too. This is a good Sunday dish as you can start it at 1, shove it in the oven, and it'll be done ~5ish. Frees up your afternoon to do shit you normally hate, such as raking leaves, honey-do projects, or watching Philly lose.

1 eight-part cut whole chicken*
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 garlic cloves, whole with paper on
8 fresh medium carrots, unpeeled, washed and halved
8 oz Kalamata olives (~1 heaping cup), quickly rinsed
8 oz jar of marinated artichokes, drained and quartered
1 box Pomi crushed tomatoes (26 ounces)
1 box Pomi strained tomatoes (26 ounces)
10 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
2 Parmesan rinds
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

*You can usually buy a whole chicken already cut up. A butcher worth their salt will do it for you too...and give you back your paid for backbone without asking. Or just buy the pieces you like: two breasts and four thighs would work great, even just four breasts.

Preheat your oven to 225. Yes, two hundred twenty five. You're braising here and 225 is perfectly OK for chicken. The goal here really is to heavily warm the chicken and not further kill it. Braising keeps the intramuscular fat intact so meats stay moist. When you cook too hot it melts the fat and you're left with tough tissue.

In a 5 qt Dutch oven preheat to medium 2 TBS of olive oil along with the whole garlic cloves.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken and generously salt and pepper. Brown the chicken, 2 -3 pieces at a time, in the pan for 3 minutes on each side and then set aside on a plate. Discard the garlic cloves.

Add the drained chicken fat from where the chicken is resting back into the pan and an extra TBS of olive oil. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots and saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for an additional thirty seconds, then add olives and marinated artichokes. Saute for about 3 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes, parsley and Parmesan rinds. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken, covering with the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for at least 3.5 hours, undisturbed.

The chicken is going to be fall off the bone tender - even the breast will be very delicate - so if you want to serve the pieces intact be careful stirring the pot around. You're wound up with big chunks of chicken in a hodgepodge of tomato sauce. It's quite delish.

Serve with pasta of your choice and lots of Parmesan cheese.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Faux Fond

Fond is necessary for any hearty sauce development. Fond is that stuff that sticks to the bottom of a pan after you've seared meats; the brown and black bits that you then add liquid to so it dissolves and then incorporates into the sauce that comes after it.

With non-stick pans, making fond is nearly impossible. And if you do/can with a non-stick pan, you're eating Teflon along with it since you heated the pan too high.

I was making a Carbonade the other day and the only large Dutch oven I have is non-stick. Stuck with not being able to make fond, I figured that since all fond is is burnt meat, why not just burn some meat bits.

What I did was mince some fat and meat - about 2 TBS. I kept these bits in the pan as I browned all the other meats, thus making very crispy, burnt meat bits.I threw in a couple of larger pieces (dime sized) for good measure.

Seems to have worked.