The Best Food Blog Ever Video Episode #2

How to Roast a Chicken from DDL on Vimeo.


May 25, 2009   Comments

How to Grill Chicken

There’s something quite primal about cooking over fire – tossing something raw over smoldering coals, hearing the fat sizzle as it melts and drips into the flames, the smell of wood and meat and smoke comingling briefly before being carried off by the breeze of a slightly chilly spring evening.  Three years ago, one of the deciding factors in our electing to purchase our first home was our leasing company’s ludicrous prohibition on outdoor grilling – those were dark years, and I swore to never go that long without grilling ever again.

I now have my own deck, and on it sits a steel monstrosity forged in the very bowels of Amish country, three hundred pounds of black metal that serves as my mechanism for transforming meats into meals.  My name has become a grilling word.

I used to think that everyone knew how to grill, but now I’ve come to reconsider my presumption after having witnessed the embarrassingly cringe-worthy performance of someone who was unfamiliar with charcoal and afraid of fire.  I’ve never seen a situation where more food ended up under the grate, withering away on the coals, than on the grate where it belonged.

So, with that, I’m presenting a short primer on how to grill chicken -  specifically, chicken thighs.  For newcomers to the thrills of outdoor cooking, chicken thighs are fairly forgiving, because their uniform size and shape, combined with the amount of fat that is laden throughout the meat, means that there is a very low likelihood of ruining dinner.  And with the long Memorial Day weekend coming up, there’s a good chance that more than a few of you will be grilling for a crowd.

When you’re shopping for chicken thighs, try to select pieces of poultry that are roughly the same size, to ensure that they will all cook at the same rate.  When you get them home, rinse each piece under cool running water, then pat dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a plate for transport to the grill.  Pick up a nice bottle of barbecue sauce, one that’s hopefully not too sweet and not packed with corn syrup, or make your own.

About an hour and a half before you plan on eating, start your coals, preferably in a chimney starter (which allows for the preparation of coals without the chemicals of a liquid starter – hover over the link for a picture).  I presume you are cooking with charcoal – if you aren’t, I can offer no guidance, since I’ve never used propane.  Once the coals have turned ashen, about 20 minutes, spread them in your grill, mounding slightly on one side, and set your grate into place.

Now comes the part of grilling that’s filled with fun and danger.  Using tongs, place your chicken thighs, skin down, on the grate over the higher portion of the charcoal mound.  Squeal with delight as the fat from the chicken skin drips into the fire, causing massive flareups!  Don’t panic – just take your tongs and move the chicken pieces that are over the flareups to the side of the grill that contains fewer pieces of charcoal, and wait for the flames to die down.  Every so often, move the chicken pieces around and flip them over – your goal is to achieve a nice char on both sides of each thigh.  Treat it like a big game – the fire wants to eat your chicken, and you have to play keep-away.

Once all of your chicken is browned, with a nice, crisp skin, move the thighs to the cooler part of the grill (skin up) and close the grill by setting the cover on it.  Open the vents slightly to let air through.  During this time, the grill will act as an oven, roasting each chicken thigh to doneness.  Since the thighs are dark meat, they will remain moist even if left in the grill for a few minutes longer than needed.

You’ll notice that I haven’t yet called for barbecue sauce.  A lot of novice grillers make the mistake of putting their barbecue sauce on their chicken/ribs/whatever too early, which only serves to insulate the chicken from browning properly.  It also guarantees that the high heat of grilling burns the sugars in the sauce, resulting in a carbonized, blackened mess.

After about 35 minutes, pour some barbecue sauce into a small bowl and equip yourself with either a large spoon or, preferably, a basting brush.  Take the lid off of the grill, flip each chicken thigh over, and splash a dollop of sauce on each piece, using either the spoon or brush to coat each chicken thigh evenly with sauce.  Flip each thigh over, so that the skin faces up, and repeat.  Replace the cover, cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, then serve.

May 20, 2009   Comments

Chinese Chicken Nuggets!

It begins, as many of our dinners do, with chicken.  We eat a lot of chicken because it’s versatile, affordable, and freezes well – unlike beef, which never emerges from the freezer in quite the same condition as it had when it first went in, and pork, which is affordable but requires some mental effort to determine a worthy preparation.  Chicken, by comparison, comes in neat little single serving thighs or breasts, can be sauteed quickly in a bit of olive oil, and ka-chow, there’s a meal on the table.

That being said, we were still getting a little fatigued from chicken, chicken, chicken – but that’s all we had on hand at home.  That, and a bunch of cilantro left over from our weekend party.  So I cast my net into the waters of the world wide web, did a search for ‘chicken and cilantro’, and I found this recipe.

Coming out of Epicurious.com, they call it ‘Chicken and Cilantro Bites’, but as I formed them and fried them up, the term ‘chicken nuggets’ kept coming to mind, so that’s what I’ve come to rename them.  Chinese Chicken Nuggets!

There’s a lot to like about this recipe.  For one thing, it gave me a chance to break out my Kitchenaid grinder attachment, which I bought last year, used once to grind meat for burgers, which then turned into miserable failures – I had not trimmed the beef, and gristle had clogged the holes of the grinder, resulting in burgers that were dense and flavorless.  Intimidated by that incident, I put the grinder attachment away and have not touched it since.  But this recipe, which calls for a pound of ground chicken, was perfectly served by the Kitchenaid, which produced a nice mound of ground poultry in a matter of minutes.  I used chicken thighs which I had deboned and stripped of skin, but this preparation could just as easily be made with boneless, skinless thighs, or just a purchased package of ground chicken, if it’s available at your market.  The most surprising aspect of this dish is how light and airy the nuggets turn out, despite being made with the heavier, fattier dark meat.

This recipe also demonstrates how effective cornstarch can be as a coating for pan-fried foods.  I had always used flour, or dried bread crumbs, or panko as my coating of choice – but the cornstarch lends an airiness to the finished product that just cannot be achieved by any other means.  It’s important to roll the chicken lightly in the cornstarch, passing the poultry from hand to hand, as if you were juggling.  Any firmer handling would cause the cornstarch to be incorporated into the chicken, instead of coating it.

I made a few departures from the original dish, most notably in the preparation steps.  Epicurious specifies that the chicken should not be white meat – since I used thighs, I can’t speak to using white meat, but I don’t see the recipe failing outright if you want to try it.  Also, because I used dark meat, and because chicken needs to be completely cooked, I followed up the pan frying with a stint in a low oven for 20 minutes, just to be safe.

Chinese Chicken Nuggets

1 lb ground chicken
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
cornstarch

Combine the egg, cilantro, scallions, sesame oil, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the chicken and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula or fork.

The mixture, I will warn you, will be very loose.  Get a plate, wet your hands, and form the mixture into nuggets, about an inch or so in diameter (they will actually end up being more oval-ish than round).  When you’ve run out of room on the plate, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and dry them (you’ll probably get through all of the chicken in two batches).

Set a large frying pan over medium high heat and coat it with about 1/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Set aside a large cookie sheet with a rack on it.

Spread a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil on your workspace.  Pour a small mound of cornstarch onto a plate or wide bowl.  Using your fingers, scrape up a nugget of chicken and drop it into the cornstarch, then sprinkle, toss, and flip the nugget gently until it’s coated, then place it onto the parchment/foil.  Repeat for the other nuggets, working quickly before the prepared ones get too soggy.

Using a pair of tongs and a gentle touch, pick up each coated nugget and place it into the hot oil, filling the pan with as many nuggets as you can comfortably fit without crowding them.  After five minutes, use the tongs to turn each nugget over, frying for another five minutes and then rotating each one so that you achieve fairly even browning on all sides.  As each batch is done, transfer the nuggets to the cookie sheet.

When all of the nuggets have been fried, place them into the oven for 20 minutes.  Serve with soy sauce, chinese black vinegar, or peanut sauce.

April 9, 2009   Comments

A Roast Chicken Recipe for a Cold Autumn Day

The brilliant colors of the turning leaves have given way to bare branches in just a matter of days, and everything around us is turning into ugly shades of gray and brown. Sunday morning greeted us with blustery winds and plummeting temperatures, the kind of cold that makes you glad it’s not cloudy, because anything that comes down out of the sky would likely take the form of snow.

On a day that so definitively announces the onset of fall weather, I needed a strong counter, something that warms the kitchen and the soul, something that provides a reassuring counterpoint to the bleakness of the coming cold season.

I decided to roast a chicken, hardcore. And by hardcore, I mean going beyond just a sprinkle of salt and pepper and treating the bird as if it were a Thanksgiving turkey. Doing it this way adds a nice dose of complexity to an otherwise humble chicken recipe.  It also makes it taste awesome.

Rather inadvertently, my vegetable garden has transformed itself into a nice perennial herb garden. While the basil may have died off a long while ago, I still have thriving patches of thyme, sage, and rosemary that have taken very well to the cooler weather. I slipped into the backyard and snipped a few sprigs of thyme and a few leaves of sage, and some rosemary to go with the roasted potatoes that would be served as an accompaniment. It was good to run back into the house and take off my jacket, returning to the kitchen with a fistful of herb clippings.

When it comes to roasting chickens and turkeys, I’m a big proponent of under-skin seasoning. If you think about it, most of the seasonings that you apply to the outside of a chicken or turkey will be melted off into the roasting pan as the fat in the skin renders. If you’re a baster, you’re accelerating this process each time you ladle more liquid over the skin, although admittedly you are basting the roast with the seasoned pan drippings.

Applying seasonings under the skin avoids this problem, and makes for much more flavorful meat. To do this, I mash softened butter with a mishmash of chopped herbs, sea salt, and black pepper. Using a gentle touch, you can loosen the skin from the chicken and use a spoon or fork to push clumps of the flavored butter underneath – use your fingers to massage the skin to ensure even distribution.

As for the outside of the chicken, I apply a thin coating of olive oil to the entire bird, front-back-top-bottom, and then a liberal application of salt and pepper. The oil helps to crisp the skin while the seasoned butter flavors the meat beneath it. As you may have suspected, I don’t baste – on one account, because I’m lazy, and on another, because I think it washes away the surface seasonings.

One thing to keep in mind about roasting anything is that there’s no reliable way of estimating weight/time/temperature – this is what screws most people up at Thanksgiving, because they consult some guide that tells them they should roast the bird for 15 minutes per pound or some other rule of thumb. Everyone’s oven is different, and the true temperature of an oven can vary widely from what the setting on the dial reads. Also, the weight of a roast is less important than its temperature as it goes into the oven – it may not be fully thawed, or have a chunk of ice in its cavity.

For all of these reasons, the only way I will ever roast chicken is by using a probe thermometer. The probe goes into the chicken, provides a constant read on the internal temperature, and allows me to pull the chicken out of the oven as soon as it reaches doneness, and not a minute longer. Chicken is free of any salmonella at 160 degrees, and as the roast rests, the internal temperature will climb a few degrees higher. By taking the chicken out of the oven when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, it guards against drying the meat out. By relying on the internal temperature of the chicken, you can have a little bit of leeway in terms of your oven temperature – if you have time, you can roast at 350 degrees, if you are in more of a rush, you can push that to 425 degrees or more.

A Roast Chicken Recipe for a Cold Autumn Day

1 chicken, rinsed well, patted dry, and allowed to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes

1/2 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs assorted herbs, chopped (thereabouts)
1 Tsp salt (coarse, if you grind it yourself)
1 Tsp fresh ground pepper

1 onion, peeled and halved
4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Olive oil

Wine (red or white)
1 Tbs or so of additional chopped herbs
Chicken stock (canned is fine)
Flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mash together the butter, herbs, salt, and pepper until uniformly mixed.

Set the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, and use your fingers to loosen the skin from the breast (be careful not to tear or otherwise poke a hole in the skin). Pull out and discard the pop-up timer because it is literally worthless to the cooking effort.

Using a spoon, scoop the herb butter and slide the spoon under the skin of the chicken, using your fingers to push the butter off of the spoon onto the meat. Massage the butter so that you achieve an even coating of butter underneath the loosened skin.

Using the same spoon, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and use the spoon to smear it around to coat. You may elect to do this to the back of the bird as well, or you can skip it.

Apply a liberal coating of salt and pepper to the outside of the chicken. Insert the onion halves and garlic cloves into the cavity.

Insert the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, parallel to the bone. Other recipes may have you take the temperature of the thigh, but by the time the thigh meat is done, it is likely that your white meat is dry. When in doubt, I’d rather put the dark meat back into the oven later. Place the roasting pan, with the chicken and probe in place, into the oven.

When the internal temperature of the breast meat has reached 165 degrees, take the roast chicken out of the oven and set it on the stovetop to rest, for at least fifteen minutes. At this time, you may pull the probe out of the chicken and spot-check temperatures in the thigh and throughout – all temperature readings should be at least 160 degrees. If you are preparing a pan sauce, move the chicken to a platter and remove the rack from the pan.

Drain all of the liquid from the pan into a measuring cup. If the liquid is mostly fat, you can discard it – if there are some non-fat pan drippings, you can add this back to the sauce later.

Set the pan over one or two stovetop burners set to high, until the contents begin to sizzle. Pour about a cup, cup and a half, of wine into the pan and scrape up all of the sticky bits with a wooden spoon – let that simmer for a minute or so. Add about a cup of chicken stock and stir to combine, then throw in the remaining chopped herbs. Turn the heat down and let that simmer for about five minutes.

Sprinkle about two tablespoons of flour over the sauce, and whisk, making sure to break up any lumps, until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Taste for salt (it probably won’t need any).

Carve both breast halves off of the chicken by slicing lengthwise down the bird, parallel to the breastbone – angle the knife slightly so that you can carve each half off in one piece – and set aside onto a serving platter. Check the thigh meat – if the juices are not running clear, put the legs and thighs back into the oven for another fifteen minutes while covering the white meat with foil. Otherwise, carve the dark meat and set onto the serving platter.

Serve the roasted chicken with the sauce in separate ramekins for dipping.

November 17, 2008   Comments

Stir Fried Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

I have had this one bag of fermented Chinese black beans for, literally, years.  And when I say years, I really do mean years – I probably picked this up a few years after we got married, where it stayed in the cupboard above the stove in our little apartment, and when it came time to move to this house, it came with us in the box marked “Kitchen”.

Hey, they’re fermented.  Fermented means forever.

Chinese black beans are near and dear to my heart.  I grew up smelling my Dad’s stir fried black bean dishes, and to this day I still can’t find a restaurant that makes it like he did.  Those recipes died with him, not that there was ever much to go on since he never wrote anything down.  Stir fried black bean dishes are also what I consider to be the most authentic of Chinese cuisine, because the smell of fermented black beans is welcoming to those who grew up with them and an acquired taste for those who did not.  True ethnic food should make people nervous.

You may have noticed that, even after all these years, I still have about half of the bag of black beans left.  This is due to the fact that each stir fry only needs a couple of tablespoons of black beans, so it’s going to take me a very long time to exhaust my $1.19 worth of Chinese goodness.

The most common dish that I make with these black beans is a classic Stir Fried Chicken in Black Bean Sauce.

1 lb chicken breast, cut into stir fry size pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper

Big Ol’ Mound of Garlic, chopped (like, at least three cloves, if not more)

About 2 Tbs of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 Tbs of fermented Chinese black beans, rinsed, chopped fine

Vegetable Oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbs cornstarch

To be served over rice

First off, make a pot of rice.  So far, so good.

Heat a wok, or a frying pan if you don’t have a wok, over high heat until a drop of water from your finger immediately sizzles and boils away.  Add about 2 tablespoons of oil to the inner wall of the wok, in a circular fashion, letting the oil drip down to the center.

Mix the chopped garlic, ginger, and black beans together and drop all of it into the pan.  Stir fry briefly, about 30 seconds, and keep the garlic moving so that it doesn’t burn.

Add the chicken, spreading it out, and let the chicken cook for about a minute, so that it browns on one side.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir fry the chicken until it is nearly done, about three or four minutes depending on the size of the cuts.

Mix the cornstarch into the chicken stock until blended, then pour the mixture into the wok over the chicken and stir to combine.  Bring the mix to a simmer and let that cook for a few minutes.  The cornstarch will thicken the sauce as it simmers.

Tip the contents of the wok into a serving dish and serve over rice.  If you’ve got some sort of green, like spinach or, even better, bok choy, it would be a nice addition to the wok after you’ve put the chicken in.

September 25, 2008   Comments

Soul Food at Jestine’s Kitchen – Charleston, SC

Like barbecue, meatballs, and a number of other family recipes, fried chicken is a sacred thing.  Everyone has their favorite, whether it be from a local eatery or from their own recipe box.  I try not to limit myself to a single “best ever”, but my short list definitely counts Jestine’s Kitchen, in Charleston, among the top three.

Just as with Wild Wing, we made it a point to hit up Jestine’s Kitchen when we found ourselves back in Charleston.  It is, quite simply, the best place in town for straightforward soul food along the lines of collard greens, grits, fried okra, mac and cheese, red rice, and fried chicken.  There are other offerings, as well, blue plate specials bringing the best of daily available ingredients to the table.

By way of background, Jestine Matthews was born in 1885 and lived to be 112.  She worked as a laundress and housekeeper in Charleston, eventually finding herself in the employe of the Ellison family.  She became lifelong friends with the family, and the Ellison’s granddaughter, Dana Berlin, founded Jestine’s Kitchen with the family recipes that were handed down through the generations.

Meals at Jestine’s Kitchen start with a basket of freshly baked cornbread, accompanied by a bowl of butter that’s swimming in honey.  True Southern cornbread is only slightly sweet, with a rough quality that puts its overly sugared, cakelike Northern counterpart to shame.  Service, as you would expect from an operation as personal as Jestine’s, is quick and personable – everyone loves working here, and it shows.

We both ordered the fried chicken plate, and split an order of the fried green tomatoes as an appetizer.  As is the case with many Southern culinary practices, fried green tomatoes takes something that is ostensibly healthy and transforms it into a gut busting artery clogger, by dredging it in flour and frying it in a substantial amount of butter.  The result – tender green tomato slices, sweet on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside – are worth writing home about.

The fried chicken plate at Jestine’s Kitchen is no joke.  Accompanied by two sides of your choice, you are presented with nearly a half-chicken’s worth of parts – a breast piece, a leg, and a wing or two, that almost make you regret having ordered an appetizer.  The chicken is molten hot, having emerged from the oil only moments before hitting your table, making you wait a little longer than you are accustomed to before digging in.  But, after dutifully picking away at your sides (the wonderful fried okra, which is an acquired taste for some, and the sticky, gooey macaroni and cheese), you finally experience fried chicken nirvana with your first bite.

As all remarkable fried chicken should, the coating on these pieces shatters into little bits when you bite into it, yielding tender and moist meat.  You move from the dark meat, the leg, to what is usually the challenging part, the white meat, to find that this preparation is impeccable.  This is what fried chicken should be, always.  As intimidating as the initial presentation seemed to be, in short order you find yourself facing an empty plate.

Now, usually, after such a grand meal as this, one would seek to retreat to a state of moderation and ask for the check.  But, given that this was our first return to Charleston, and Jestine’s Kitchen, in over ten years, it was unthinkable to consider leaving without ordering the Coca Cola Cake.  To make a long story short, Coca Cola cake was born out of World War II, when shortages of sugar compelled home bakers to substitute Coca Cola in their recipes.

The cake, served with a chocolate frosting and some whipped cream, is an eye-opener for anyone who’s never had it before.  The Coca Cola lends a different kind of sweetness to the dessert, one that is more subtle than cakes that use white or brown sugar.  This is probably why the cake goes down so easily after such an epic meal.

Having gotten to Jestine’s Kitchen early, by the time we left there was a line of about a dozen people that had formed outside.  The restaurant has such a good reputation, and is so highly regarded both locally in and guidebooks, that arriving during the primetime lunch hour usually means waiting outside (the place is too small to have an indoor waiting area).  The line moves quickly, though, and there is a large fan installed to help folks withstand the Charleston heat and humidity.  Whatever you do, though, don’t leave the line and go elsewhere, because Jestine’s Kitchen is certainly worth every bit of the wait.

August 21, 2008   Comments

Random Quasi-Mexican Chicken Dish #1

This is not a pretty dish. The picture above is merely for the purposes of illustration.

This all started with oregano, which I have an abundance of in my garden. Oregano behaves much like mint does, in that it gets everywhere and doesn’t ever die off. Since I have more use for oregano than mint, though, I let it live, since it seems to happily coexist with my thyme and my insane sage plant.

So, I have this fresh oregano, and I snipped a bit of it out of the garden. The last time we went grocery shopping, I picked up a can of green chiles without a specific plan on what to do with them – at worst case, they’re really good stirred into a batch of scrambled eggs.

I had forgotten to take any meat out of the freezer, so I was stuck with frozen chicken thighs and breasts. I decided to go with the thighs, but since they were frozen I knew that I’d have to cook them for a while to ensure that they were completely done. That ruled out any sort of roasting or grilling, so my thoughts turned to stew.

In the pantry, I found an unopened bag of Great Northern beans. Despite the fact that I didn’t soak these overnight, it wasn’t a problem since I have a pressure cooker.

So, to sum it all up, I had oregano, green chiles, chicken thighs, and white beans.

This is what I made:

Canola oil
4 chicken thighs, preferably thawed
2 to 3 Tbs oregano, chopped
1 can green chiles
8oz Great Northern beans, or other white beans
White wine
Garlic, chopped
Chicken stock


Get your beans ready – if they are dried, cook them according to the package instructions, and if they canned, open the can, drain them, and rinse them off.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a wide pan until shimmery. Lay each chicken thigh, skin side down, into the pan, and saute without moving for about 7 minutes, then turn each thigh to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove to a clean plate, and pour off the excess oil/fat in the pan, leaving about 2 Tbs.

Throw your garlic into the pan and fry that up, until golden. Take some wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the chicken bits. Add about 2 cups of chicken stock, then the beans, chiles, and oregano.

Place the thighs back into the pan. Add more stock so that the liquid level comes up about 1/2 to 3/4 up the thighs.

Bring to a simmer, cover, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Before serving, take the thighs out and remove the meat from the bones. Add the meat back to the pan.

May 22, 2008   Comments

Butter Fried Sage Blossoms, Co-starring Pasta, Chicken, and Lemon

Two of the garden items that survived through this past winter were the thyme and the sage. As a result, both have gotten an early start on their growing, and it’s gotten to the point where the sage plant is absolutely thriving, reaching halfway to my hip and having developed light green and purple blossoms.

Now, I knew that you could cook zucchini blossoms, but I had no idea what to do with sage blossoms. I tried eating one off of the plant, but the flavor was a little too intense in its raw state – like a little grenade of sage flavor. So, I decided to try the best approach to cooking any untried food item – fry the suckers in butter.

I picked a handful of sage blossoms and some sage leaves and washed them, setting them aside to dry. I figured the best delivery device for fried sage in butter would be pasta, so I made some spaghetti and, seeing that I was already cooking anyway, threw some chicken breasts in for good measure.

I’ll start with the chicken, which is a variation of a recipe that I’ve seen before using veal. If you want everything to come together at the end, you should also start a pot of water boiling for your pasta before making the chicken, and squeeze and zest your lemons.

Chicken with Sage and Ham

2 chicken breasts, pounded slightly to uniform thickness (or as close as uniform as you can)
2 sage leaves
2 slices of ham
2 toothpicks
Flour, salt, pepper
Olive oil and butter

Get yer chicken ready! Take your flattish chicken breasts and add salt and pepper to both sides. Place a sage leaf on each, then cover with a slice of ham. Use the toothpicks to stitch the ham to the chicken breast, then dust both sides of each chicken breast with flour.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat until hot-hot-hot. Put about two tablespoons of olive oil in, swirl to coat, then add a small pat of butter, also swirling to coat. Wait a bit so that the butter begins to darken ever so slightly, then lay your chicken down in the pan. Saute without moving (the chicken, not you) for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness (again, the chicken, not you), then carefully turn and cook the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a clean plate and cover with foil.

Pasta with Sage Blossoms, Lemon, and Brown Butter

8 oz pasta
Sage leaves and blossoms
3 Tbs unsalted butter (more or less)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Black pepper

Drop your pasta into your boiling water and start your timer. You want to time this so that the pasta is done and in a colander by the time you begin the sauce.

As the pasta cooks, melt the butter in the same pan that you used for the chicken until it begins to brown slightly, then add the sage blossoms and leaves and step back about four feet, because the moisture in the sage will create some hot fat splatters. Fry the sage for about 30 seconds, then add the lemon juice and zest.

Leaving the heat on low, add your drained pasta to the sauce and toss it around. The pasta will absorb the butter sauce beautifully. Turn off the heat, add a few grindings of black pepper, and turn the whole thing out into a serving bowl.

Serve the chicken on a bed of the pasta, with lemon halves on the side.

May 13, 2008   Comments