Monday, February 1, 2010

Broiled Chicken with Provencal Herbs - 1/28/10

For the inaugural meeting of the Thursday night supper club, I decided to go with something that sounded simple.

  • Green salad (no iceberg allowed, y'all)
  • Broiled chicken with provencal herbs
  • Quinoa salad with slivered almonds and dried apricots
  • Creme Brulee
Well, sounding simple and being simple in practice are two completely separate issues. The process of cooking any portion of this meal wasn't complicated at all. However, adding them all together was a little... chaotic. Add in the fact that I had never made either the main dish or the main side dish--and that I was cooking (by myself) for anywhere from 9-12 people, and you won't be surpised to hear that I was on the verge of ordering pizza when help (i.e., the guests who are also great friends) arrived and rescued me from myself. (And the smoke alarm, which just wouldn't STOP.)

Ahem. So. Despite the chaos and all of my nerves, it went incredibly well. The food was delicious, the company was great, and...

I completely forgot to take pictures.

So here's my several-days-later shot of the chicken and quinoa salad. Try to ignore the grody-ness of the chicken skin. It was really plump, crispy, and delicious on Thursday. (And that salad is to die for. Everyone loves it. You will, too--unless you detest cayenne pepper.)

Here are the recipes:

Grilled or Broiled Chicken with Provençal Flavors*
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh lavender leaves (optional)**

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 8 bay leaves

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

  • lemon wedges

  1. Heat the broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat.

  2. Combine herbs in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Loosen the skin of the chicken and slide a bay leaf between the skin and the meat of each piece, then insert a portion of the herb paste. Re-form the skin over the flesh and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

  3. To broil, start with the skin side down, making sure the pieces do not burn, until the chicken is nearly done, about 15 minutes.*** Then turn and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

  4. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges. (The bay leaf is not edible.)
*Okay, so I took some liberty with the name. I like mine better.
** According to Mr. Bittman. Not optional according to me. The lavender gives an amazing flavor. (But I have to admit I used dried herbs and just cut the measurements to 1/3.)
*** Do NOT brush with additional olive oil before broiling. This will cause a falling-out with your smoke alarm.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricot
also from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~

  • 3-4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (start with 1/2 tsp. and add more if you want more heat) (or omit it altogether)

  • salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Put the quinoa, apricots, almonds, and scallion in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and sprinkle on the spices, salt, and pepper. Use two big forks to combine, fluffing the quinoa and tossing gently to separate the grains.

  2. Stir in the cilantro, taste, and adjust the seasoning or add a little more dressing. Serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated for up to one day).
Classic Vanille Crème Brulée
from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 8 to 12 tsp sugar
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300*F. Have a medium saucepan of boiling water ready. Line a shallow baking pan with a small kitchen towel.
  2. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the cream and the split vanilla bean, stir to mix, and set the pan over medium heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edge and steam begins to rise from the surface. (Watch for a skin to form, because it will trap the steam and you'll think it's not ready.) Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the 1/4 cup sugar untili the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, about 5 minutes*. Gradually add the cream mixture, whisking until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Divide the mixture among four 4-oz. ramekins** and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan. Add boiling waterto fill halfway up the side of the ramekinis. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are just set around the edges, 30-35 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days***.
  5. To serve, sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar by holding the ramekin in your hand and carefully waving the flame over the sugar until melted and golden. (It also helps to rotate the ramekin so the melted sugar doesn't cover up non-melted sugar and make a hidden, gritty layer under the caramelized sugar.)
  6. Serve immediately. (Don't caramelize sugar on custards that won't be eaten right away.)
*Or about 1.5 minutes with a blender. Hello.
**A funnel is extremely useful for this task. Buy one.
***Or like an hour.


Esther said...

Best idea ever! And looks so tasty too! Have fun Sarah. :) Eat some for me!

Joseph, Rossana and Samaya said...

Hi Sarah!..I'm sorry for picking into your blog, but I read that it's about cooking and said to myself I gotta check it out..don't mean to be an intruder...So far, love the recipes and happy that you decided to try quinoa; which I love because of all the nutrients you get from it;)...did you like it?? I grew up eating it...and I've taught my daughter to eat it as well..Joseph doesn't really say much about it but he eats it;)
Anyway, you and I both share the same passion for cooking, and just trying different dishes, , foods, etc...thanks for sharing these yummy recipes and for the beautiful picts..
Rossana Cardon

Sarah said...

Rossana!! You are welcome to visit my blog any time! You would never be considered an intruder. I hope you're doing well! I miss seeing you around the office. :)