“Spatchcocking”

Thu, Oct 30 • 0

What I called butterflying in this recipe I posted in July is apparently really called spatchcocking. It’s basically cutting a whole bird down its back, removing the backbone (which I reserve for stock) and flattening it to a relatively even thickness for even, fast cooking. Whether you use a grill, or your oven, you can cook a 3-pound chicken in 45 minutes or less. I confirmed my misnomer when I was thumbing through Martha Stewart’s new cookbook, although she takes it a step further and grills the bird with a foil covered brick on it.

I can’t abide by that method. I think a quarter-inch more or less contact to the grill surface isn’t going to make such a huge difference, and I’d be worried that pressing the bird down, like pressing down on a hamburger patty, would cause essential juices to dribble out onto the fire.

Jacques Pepin demonstrated the method on his new series, More Fast Food My Way, on PBS. He adds a few refinements that will cut off even more cooking time.

(Before you proceed, either get your grill going, or preheat your oven to 425°.)

Same as before, using shears, cut down either side of the backbone of the bird, then open it up like a book, helping it flatten by snapping the cartilage near where the wishbone is, up by the neck with a knife. Now, using your knife, knick the bird in all the places where you’ve ended up with raw chicken when you’ve roasted before — right at the knee of the drumstick and the thigh, up in the “arm pit” between the wing and the breast, as well as the crotch, where the thigh meets the torso. Cut a small gash, less then an inch long, but all the way to the bone. This will supposedly allow heat to get into the spots that take the longest to cook. (He also chops off the tips of the drumsticks, which causes the meat to contract up, exposing the thin, white leg bone when it cooks.)

He used a very assertive, mustard-based recipe for coating the bird.

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
5 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
salt & pepper

Mix all of these together in a bowl, and slather this sauce all over the bird, on both sides.

He prepared his in the oven, and so his method has you first put the chicken, skin-side down, in a very hot oven-proof skillet, and cook it for 5 minutes, then turning it, and putting it in the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes.


Chicken with Vinegar and Shallots

Thu, Oct 16 • 0

This is apparently a classic french dish, because I found many, many versions of it on the net. (Fricassée de Poulet au Vinaigre et à l’Echalote.) It’s a basic, tasty, braised chicken recipe, which yields a really good gravy, and can be made in about an hour and a half. As an option, you can remove the skin after browning, since it ends up turning kind of distastefully flabby in the braise. You should still add it to the pan since it provides flavor, but discard it before serving.

1 3-lb chicken, cut up into 8 pieces.
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 cups red wine
6 large shallots, diced
1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Heat up the oil in a large pot and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken and take off the skin.

Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cover. Cook on medium heat for 10minutes while gradually adding half of the vinegar, so that it evaporates quickly and steams the meat.

Add the shallots and cover the chicken with the red wine and remaining vinegar. Cover and simmer for about an hour. When chicken is done, remove from pot and place on a warm platter.

Optionally, strain the shallots and garlic out of the sauce, and then whisk butter in and pour over the chicken.


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