Saturday, October 11, 2008

A (good) Chicken in Every Pot

The Minimalist entry from the NYTimes got me thinking about this dish, and since my wife and I have been in Europe all week, I knew we could both use a bit of home-made Asian for dinner.

The dish starts out with one of the most under-appreciated chicken preparations of all time - poached (which I originally learned about from my mother in law Lucia). It is too easy not to do more often. Throw a chicken (organic free-range, please) in a pot, cover with water, a bit of soy, some ginger, garlic and spices (whatever you want, really from cloves to peppercorns, some chinese cooking wine, whatever) and bring to a boil, the simmer for 45 minutes (turn a few times to make sure the whole chicken is cooked). Then pull the chicken and let it cool.

The side benefit is the chicken broth that results. Some save it for next time the make poached chicken, using it to make an increasingly concentrated poaching liquid. I like to use mine for soup - it makes an amazing Ramen broth.

The chicken was used tonight to make Hainan chicken, which is really just shredded chicken over rice with a dipping sauce. The poached chicken is allowed to cool and then shredded by hand to be served over a bed of rice.

I liked the idea of making the rice with the poaching-produced chicken broth. Kind of like a Chinese chicken Risotto. But it was much easier. Just sautee some garlic and ginger (I used some chicken fat skimmed from the broth) and then add 1 1/2 cups of rice and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil and them simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

The key to this dish is the flavored oil dipping sauce. I used 3/4 cup of veggie oil and about 1 tbsp of sesame oil which I heated until smoking. When done, I poured over chopped garlic, ginger, one chopped serrano pepper and scallions.

It must be hot enough to really sizzle. When done, I added some salt (1 teaspoon) and poured over the shredded chicken which was layered over the rice. I topped with the seasoned oil and diced cucumber.

I have to admit, in all humility - - this was goooooooood home cooking.

Oh yeah, and form a 10 dollar chicken, I have leftover chicken for chicken salad, some robust chicken broth and a second days worth of some kick ass hainan chicken. Not too shabby in these trying economic times.