Sunday, August 31, 2014

chicken thigh roulade

Well as I usually do when I buy a chicken without the express purpose of roasting it, and sometimes even then, I break it down. If I'm roasting it I'll leave the breasts on the bone but disassemble the other parts, after all there are usually only 2 mouths to feed. Otherwise the breasts come off and separated for 2 meals, the wings off for stock or a quick snack, the thighs usually kept on with the drum and are a portion each, and then finally the carcass is set aside, usually in the freezer ready for stock. I usually view the whole procedure as practice, for what I'm not quite sure, but I have the process down, these days I can break-down, debone and skin a chicken quicker than you can say it.

As with most things repetition makes you look for a break in the usual, so with this latest chicken I broke it down pretty much as normal but took the skin off whole and deboned the thighs, I wanted to do a roulade, I knew I was going to stuff it with ricotta and hazelnuts, heck I knew that when I bought the ricotta well before I bought the chicken, I knew pretty much how I was going to cook it, sous vide for an hour at 65°C (fry it to crisp the skin after), but looking at what I had to work with I wasn't quite sure how it was going to happen. That was until I remembered a certain little package that was sitting hidden in the bottom of the freezer, probably past its usable date, a packet of transglutaminase, activa rm, or commonly named meat glue, I had been thinking of a reason to use it for quite some time but most everything seemed convoluted, not tonight though, I needed something to hold these disparate pieces together.

A trusty small sieve was loaded with the white powder, skin laid down on a sheet of cling film, a dusting of the powder, thigh meat arranged in an even layer—leaving an edge with some skin uncovered—another coating of the powder, the filling shaped down the middle, the edge bought up and rolled tightly with the cling film, using a skewer, holes poked to release air bubbles, another layer of cling film down and used to roll it tighter, holes poked again, another layer rolled tighter, the ends rolled in opposite directions (like a Candy wrapper) tied with string and left to set in the fridge overnight.

The inside of the roulade was seasoned with smoked salt and pepper and the stuffing was made by equal volumes (by eye) of hazelnuts blitzed in the blender and ricotta (with salt and parsley).

Well most of the hard work done, the next day a large pot of water is heated to slightly higher than 65°C and the wrapped chicken removed from the fridge. A few more holes are pierced through the cling film to get rid of any pesky air pockets and the chicken is wrapped tightly again and tied to form a watertight seal. The wrapped chicken is placed in the water bath for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 65°C, remove the chicken from the water and carefully unwrap, use a clean tea towel to carefully dry the outside of the roulade, I find rolling it up in the towel to rest while I prep the rest worked best.

Heat about a centimeter of olive oil in a heavy based pan and get it to frying temperature, carefully brown the roulade all over, it will spit like crazy so be careful not to burn yourself. When fully browned place on some paper towels and cover, leave to rest while you sauté some cavolo nero.

Slice the roulade and serve on a bed of the sautéed greens.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beetroot Relish

As I was rather enthusiastic about the beet greens at the market I ended up with an abundance of baby beets and there are only so many roasted beets one can endure. So with a glut (16 golf ball sized beets) left in the fridge and really not wanting anything to go to waste a canning plan was made. This is pretty much a what do I have in my vegetable draw that needs using and is going to work well together plan. I got a large jar into a 100°C oven to sterilize whilst I prepared the relish.

Get a pot on to a medium heat and add 1 cup of cider vinegar and 1 cup of soft brown sugar. To this add a couple of whole dried chillies, a few allspice berries and grate in a decent thumb of ginger. Bring this to a simmer so the sugar can dissolve. Next grate an apple, granny smith, a medium sized fennel bulb and all of the beets. Add the vegetables to the pot and season with a bit of salt, cover and simmer for about 20–30 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning. I don't like too much loose liquid, and the beets should be cooked and tender not mushy, so keep it simmering until there's only a small amount of thick syrup left loose, about another 20 minutes. Pour the hot mixture into the sterilised jar and do the lid up tightly, let it cool before storing in the fridge, it should keep for a couple of months, if it lasts that long.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Red rice salad

I must admit I don’t get to the Sunday markets as often as I’d like, maybe it’s living all the way in the back end of Karori, or just pure and simple laziness, but quite often best laid plans end up being a coffee and eggs on the couch, or if it’s a sunny day, the couch, who am I kidding! When I do manage to drag myself and better half out of the house at a halfway decent hour to hit the markets I always vow I must come every week and proclaim about how much we’re missing out on, which is completely and utterly true. Well we managed it last Sunday, and I managed to latch on to possibly one of my favourite greens, beet tops, unfortunately almost never seen on a supermarket vegetable shelf, well not in good nick anyway. Sautéed and mixed with ricotta and hazelnuts, they make a great ravioli filling, or as below a great addition to a salad.

Red Rice Salad
1 cup red rice
½ cup hazelnuts
capers (in salt)
1 fennel bulb
1 red onion
1 large purple carrot
1 celery stalk
1 large bunch of beet greens
1 clove of garlic
Handful of parsley and celery greens

Place the rice in a pot and pour in 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, put on a lid, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Strain and toss in some good oil (olive or hazelnut), season with a salt, mustard and cider vinegar. I like to dress the rice now so I know the base is well seasoned and will only need tweaking at the end.

Get a pan on a medium high heat, slice up the beet greens, crush the garlic. Heat a dash of oil in the pan, sauté the garlic but don’t brown, toss in the beet greens and cover. Cook until tender. Toss the greens through the rice.

The rest is pretty straight forward. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and toast in a dry pan. Slice and dice the fennel, onion and celery. Soak the capers. Either grate or use a mandolin on the carrot. Finely chop the parsley and celery greens.

Toss all the ingredients together, taste and season with salt (smoked salt is really good with these earthy flavours), adjust the acid with some cider vinegar, and a little heat doesn’t go amiss add a dash of hot sauce if you like.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sprouts, mayonnaise & chicken

Get sprouting! Well I have been anyway, I’ve been getting into salads, especially heavy on the celery, greens and all, using ingredients I haven’t really thought of using before, like whero peas, wheatberries and quinoa, but most of all I’ve really been digging the humble sprout. The thing about the sprout is you have to have a little forethought or a production line set up as quite frankly they are ridiculously overpriced to buy pre-sprouted. On a positive note, sprouting is easy as pie.

Place quarter of a cup of mung, puy lentils or whero peas in a clean glass jar, rinse and drain a couple of times and then fill up with water, cover with a tea towel and leave overnight. The next morning, drain off the liquid, give the jar a jostle so the seeds aren’t languishing in a pool of water. Repeat the rinse and drain for 3-5 days until the sprouts have got enough sprout for you, 2 days is usually enough for a nice short sprout, but I wouldn’t leave it longer than 5. They’ll keep covered in the vegetable crisper for a couple of days.

I was going to assume that you know how to make mayonnaise before I got into the coleslaw, but I figure I should give it a quick once over. This method is for a stick blender. Use a jar that is just big enough to fit your blender, it’s preferable that the opening is smaller in width than the body of the jar. Add one egg yolk to the jar along with a dash of cider vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Start running the blender and slowly drip in some neutral oil, I use a mix of olive and canola(rapeseed), when the emulsion has formed you can start pouring in the oil more liberally, for a lighter mayonnaise you can alternate between oil and water, you should be able to get about 50% water content. Taste and season with salt and vinegar. If the mayonnaise doesn’t thicken try adding more oil or another yolk, if the emulsion breaks or doesn't form, pour the mix into a jug and in the jar add an extra egg yolk and slowly blitz in the broken mayonnaise. It should keep in the fridge for a couple of months.

Anyway back on track to the slaw, take a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix in a crushed clove of garlic, let it sit in the fridge a while so the garlic can mellow a bit. Thinly slice a fennel bulb and red onion, on a heavy bias slice some celery and its leaves, slice the larger green leaves thinly and just roughly tear the smaller yellow ones. Toss it all together in a bowl with some sprouts, crushed pumpkin seeds, smoked salt and the garlic laced mayonnaise.

An ideal match to the crisp cool slaw is a hot and spicy chicken wing, or in this case drumstick, I've covered hot wings so many times on here it's not funny but this time it's my oven "fried" chicken drumsticks. You end up with a crusty crisp coating and fall apart moist flesh below. In a large bowl add a good few tablespoons of tapioca starch, you can get this from a good Asian supermarket or here in New Zealand pick up arrowroot from the baking section of the supermarket, it's not arrowroot but just tapioca starch, mix in a sprinkling of salt, smoked paprika, hot chilli powder/flakes, spice it up as hot or mild as you like, and coriander powder. Toss the drumsticks in the mix to coat and place on a plate, cover and refrigerate overnight. When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 220°C, prepare another mix of tapioca starch and spices, toss the drumsticks in the powder to coat, arrange on a baking tray and cook for 30–45 minutes turning twice. If you really want to go for extra lush drumsticks melt some butter with hot sauce and crushed garlic and when the chicken is fresh out of the oven toss in the butter sauce, you won't regret it but your hips might.