BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘tarragon

A Poached (Then Roasted) Chicken in Every Pot

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First poach the whole bird for 10 minutes.

Then roast at 450 degrees, melting the skin and rendering it oh so crispy.

Hearing Michael Ruhlman speak in defense of roasting one’s own whole chicken (a process that surprisingly stillĀ  intimidates a number of time-crunched Americans) at a foodie conference in Portland late last month made me curious to try his (ala Thomas Keller) supposedly fail-safe method for a crispy yet tender bird.

But then Dan came across this hybrid process for “the perfect roast chicken” as a recommended link on the Marginal Revolution blog, beloved by epicurean economists everywhere. So per Felicity Cloake’s advice, I found myself poaching the whole bird for 10 minutes and then firing it at Ruhlman and Keller’s recommended 450 degrees. The poaching method appealed, since I was seeking extra moist breast meat for chicken salad. My mother’s beloved tarragon chicken salad recipe, of course, says to just poach the breasts and cut up that meat. But whole free-range chickens from Draper Valley were on sale, and I’d rather have a carcass to boil down into stock anyway.

A "keeper" chicken salad: poached meat tossed with greek yogurt and mayonnaise, a little champagne vinegar, salt and pepper, rehydrated dried cherries and golden raisins, a minced shallot, two tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, chopped toasted walnuts this time instead of slivered almonds. Yum!

The secret to these roast chicken recipes? Pat the bird dry before roasting, so the skin crisps and doesn’t steam. Ruhlman and Keller forgo basting and/or covering the bird with pats of butter for that reason. I did splash some olive oil on the skin with salt but now I fear that wasn’t necessary. I also could have done a better job trussing, per Keller’s suggestions.

Roasting at 450 was 25 degrees higher than I usually go, and boy did the oven smoke as the dripping grease splattered. Do I need to self-clean my oven after this process? It’s hard to believe Judy Rodgers’ famous recipe from the Zuni Cafe calls for roasting at 480 degrees. My meat was tender, considering I bought a whopping 5.5 pound chicken, nearly double the size the pros recommend for the tenderest meat. But hey, it’s sustainable to bring them up in weight for not much more feed.

And boy was that chicken crisp, yet not 100 percent in a spots, perhaps because of the pre-poaching. But writing this makes me realize the Zuni Cafe recipe may be the way to go, with its dry salt rub in advance, now my favorite way to brine a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s about time I stopped ignoring everyone’s advice. Hey, Michael Ruhlman roasts a chicken every week. It takes practice to refine your technique.

Speaking of technique, for some reason I left covered the carcass I was boiling into stock. Duh. I guess I’ll have to now cook it down so it’s more flavorful for soup. At least I didn’t leave the cooling stock out on the stove overnight, a mistake I’ve made more than once. Stay tuned to see what kind of soup I’ll cook up this week.

Written by baltimoregon

May 3, 2010 at 1:18 am

Horseradish and Tarragon

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Yin-Yang Horseradish: My blended beet version with the plain prepared one from the store.

Overwintered tarragon coming up in the herb garden.

I’m so grateful for the burst of feathery, licoricey, green tarragon that’s sprung up in the garden. But at the same time I regret pulling up the horseradish root I planted. I feared the thriving thing would take over the garden. But had I let it overwinter, I would have had fresh horseradish this week. It was in short supply at the farmer’s market and food co-op. Luckily, I obtained enough to blend up some with cooked beets, vinegar, salt and sugar to make some festive horseradish to go with my salmon gefilte fish. It was especially a hit at the eclectic seder Slow Food Corvallis leader Ann Shriver and ag economist Larry Lev hosted Friday night. Now I have to see about digging up some horseradish from someone. I think the solution is to grow it in a barrel container, as I plan to do with potatoes, so the invasive root doesn’t overtake your bed. Here’s a helpful article on growing and cooking with horseradish, by garden writer Anne Raver, who I believe is based in Maryland’s Carroll County, where I worked for The Sun. She recommends grinding the root outside to cut down on its pungent mustard oil fumes. It made Dan and I choke and tear up when I went at ours indoors.

My horseradish with gefilte.

But back to the tarragon. It reminded me of to make my mom’s recipe for tarragon chicken salad, which I brought to an Easter potluck we were invited to today. The recipe couldn’t be simpler: poach chicken breasts, chop up and combine with chopped tarragon, rehydrated golden raisins, sliced toasted almonds and moisten with mayonnaise. Season to taste. To lighten it up, I used Greek yogurt instead of all mayonnaise and added some of my home-infused tarragon vinegar for a kick. I’ve still got a lot of leftover infused herbal vinegar I made last spring. Perfect for salad season!

Herbal vinegars.

Written by baltimoregon

April 5, 2010 at 1:15 am

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Herb Flower Vinegar

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We'll see how this infusion tastes in a month.

We'll see how this infusion tastes in a month.

Hat tip to Culinaria Eugenius for reminding me to make my own herb flower vinegar before it’s too late. I immersed trimmings from flowering rosemary, thyme, chives and sage plants, plus some dill and lemon peel, in a white wine vinegar bath. Make sure to use a jar with a non-reactive, non-metal cap. The vinegar sits at least a month in a cool, dark place and then it’s ready to use.

I’ll be learning more techniques on flavoring vinegars and oils in my Master Food Preservation class later this month.

I’d really like to make a pure French-style tarragon vinegar, but the tarragon start I planted is rather puny. Mom used use it in a (Silver Palate, I think) tarragon chicken salad she often made. Any suggestions on how to promote more vibrant growth? What keeps tarragon happy?

My slow-to-grow tarragon plant.

My slow-to-grow tarragon plant.

Written by baltimoregon

May 19, 2009 at 9:43 am

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