Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.
During my visits, I prefer eating food that is unique to the islands. Typically, I concentrate on seafood and tropical fruit. Four years ago, I saw Huli-Huli chicken on Maku’u Farmers Market and decided I have to try it next time. Since it is a signature dish for Hawaii, I assumed it should be served on every corner on the Big Island. I was wrong. During my recent hunt for Huli-Huli chicken, I found only two highly recommended businesses and both of them were open for a few hours one or two days a week. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance being at the right place at the right time to taste their food. Oh well, I had to make my Huli-style chicken at home in Texas then!
In Hangzhou, I visited Qinghefang Ancient Street food market a few times. I saw Beggar’s chicken during the first visit and decided it’s a must to try! The next day, four of us brave enough to eat street food came there for lunch. We enjoyed every bite! The funniest part of that experience was that the same day, after a few hours of walking around the West Lake when it was time to join the rest of the group for dinner, all four of us unanimously decided to come back and eat Beggar’s chicken instead!
I suppose only people who tasted Beggar’s chicken at least once and crave for it since then, would cook it at home. This recipe is for those who would like to recreate their experience without traveling to China.
Creamy chicken stock for ramen is now my number two favorite after tonkotsu. Torikotsu uses the same technique but requires less time and efforts to make it than tonkotsu — it is much easier to gelatinise chicken cartilage and connective tissues and extract flavors from less dense chicken bones. Most of the myoglobin is neutralized during the fist step of soaking chicken in cold water. To make it efficient, chop chicken wings and legs to smaller, 1-2″ pieces to expose bones marrow. As a result, there is significantly less scum to skim during the second step. Just like for tonkotsu, it is essential to remove the foam that appears, but keep the chicken fat and emulsify it into the creamy stock later, during the rapid boiling. Pressure cookers are very helpful and streamline the last stage of making chicken paitan even more if you are working on just a few portions. For the recipe below, use a 10-quart stock pot.
This recipe is classic French/European recipe for chicken liver pate, except for the first step with soaking livers in starchy ice bath. Most recipes include soaking livers in milk. “It is often said that milk improves the taste, purges blood, lightens the color, or affects some other property of the meat.” (“Modernist Cuisine” (Nathan Myhrvold, p. 147) Soaking lean proteins in cold water (or flavored liquids) mixed with starch is “velveting”, a technique used to prevent delicate foods from overcooking. I’ve heard about it first from my Japanese friend and then found more in Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin.
Oh, this dish sounds so romantic in French — Gésiers de Canard Confit — duck gizzards, slowly cooked in duck fat. When cooked confit, strong muscle of gizzard becomes a soft and plump morsel, full of flavor, with a hint of gaminess. Gésiers de canard confit is a specialty in South West France that pleasantly surprises many tourists who try it for the first time. Gésiers are respected ingredient in a variety of warm salads, including famous Landaise salad. They are gently fried in a little duck fat before serving. They are also very good with buckwheat, roasted potatoes, or sautéed winter squashes.
While the rest of the world used this word to describe a matchstick knife cut, for Russian-speaking culinary community julienne has always been a chicken and mushroom casserole en cocotte. This legendary dish was extremely popular during the Soviet era in high-end restaurants as well as at home. Naturally, the assumption was that the recipe is a result of French influence on pre-revolution Russian cuisine. All stories I know about this dish are mostly anecdotes. Many different recipes claim to be original. Some insist on using mushrooms, preferably porchini. Other include cooked chicken and other vegetables. Restaurant versions often add bechamel or mornay sauces, while home cooks prefer sour cream. Everybody makes this dish adjusted to their personal taste, keeping the same only basic ingredients and the way it is served. Russian julienne has to be cooked individually portioned in mini casseroles and covered with a generous amount of cheese to melt on top. It is simple and delicious!