Monday, March 3, 2008

My favorite dish so far

Mario Batalli's house keeper, Leo, is a genius. But I should have known that it was going to be good if Mario Batalli's children eat it weekly.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, we start with the chicken. One of my favorite soups is this Chicken and Rice soup from Epicurious. When I started making it senior year of college, I decided to try with a whole chicken, cause hey, its supposed to be better and fresher. I would put it in the pot whole, and then try to take it apart after cooking. That was never really efficient (the cavity would get full of rice, then make a mess when I tried to get it out). So, another time, I tried to take it apart before cooking. Lets just say I ruined most of the chicken because of my lack of knowledge on how to properly do this. Needless to say, I was ASTOUNDED when I saw Alton Brown take a chicken apart perfectly in under three minutes. (I highly recommend watching this show, its one of my favorites. The deconstruction of the chicken happens between minutes 5 and 8.)

I'm particularly amused by the intro.

Anyways, so when I was shopping yesterday, I decided to try my luck again with a whole chicken and see if his strategy of deconstructing a chicken works. You be the judge:

Chicken, with one wing cut off (I forgot to take a true initial picture)

Chicken, deconstructed

And, much to my surprise, there was a chicken liver inside of the cavity. I almost dropped it before I noticed it. I've never had chicken liver before, so I'm going to experiment with it later this week (the recipe I want to try calls for chicken stock, which I don't currently have). I'm very excited, stay tuned for that.

After the chicken was taken apart, I moved onto the sauce. From here, I pretty much followed Leo's instructions exactly (except I cut the recipe in half)

Recipe #7 - Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce
a la Leo, via Mario Batalli

1.5 pounds of tomatillos, husks removed
1 bunch of cilantro
2 limes, juice and zest
5 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeƱo (I couldn't find serranos)
minced onion

Drop the tomatillos, garlic, and chili into a pot of boiling salted water. Leave it in there for 2-3 minutes, drain. Place in food processor. Add cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, add onion, thighs and drumsticks. (Actually, I meant to blend the onion with the rest of the sauce ingredients, but I forgot, and it worked this way too.) The sauce should entirely cover the chicken, but if it doesn't, flip the chicken a few times during the cooking process so both sides cook. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

At like 15 minutes, I couldn't wait any more, so I heated a tortilla, spread some beans on it, and covered the sauce. It was delicious, I knew I was in for a good dinner.

I had one piece of thigh, some beans, and 3 more tortillas for dinner. I'm really resisting eating the rest of it. I've gotten up 4 times while writing this post to have a spoonful of the sauce. Its tangy and just slightly spicy. I'll be making this again, and I'm the kind of person that is bored by chicken.

PS Unless you don't want me to like you, the correct answer is that yes, I was successful in deconstructing my chicken.

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