Monday, February 1, 2010

some like it hot

My dad & brother came down to help me with my bathroom remodel (more on that, later,) which means FOOD!  And, apparently, veggies and tofu would be extremely unacceptable.  I don't really know what their deal is, but I think deep-seated psychological issues against tofu is an indication of bigger problems...

So, instead, I made Baked Chipotle Chicken with a Spicy Mushroom Cream Sauce and Garlicy Broccoli.  And, for my purposes, "garlicy" is totally a word.  Totally. 

... Anyways, as you see above, I showed a bunch of broccoli who's boss, florets AND stalks, (because I'm crazy like that.)  Just peel/trim the stalks and chop- no need to let the florets have all the fame.  Anyways, roasted broccoli!  I just discovered this, and it is awesome.

Like so.

Now, for the star of the show: The Chicken!  I have adopted brine-ing (wtf, "brining" isn't a recognized word???  I call B.S. on that) as my first step in chicken prep.*  Putting your poultry in a brine makes it juicier and more tender.  It's a win-win!  Anyways, to brine, just throw your chicken into a bowl of water (to cover) and dump a good amount of salt in (I'm talkin' around 2Tbsp-1/4c for the amount of chicken I had) and let sit for at least an hour. 

*That rhymes! 


Remove the chicken, rinse, and pat dry.  If you don't do this, your chicken will be very salty!  So rinse & pat!  For this meal, I had a pair of thighs, drumsticks and wings; all bone-in.  In the interests of saving a buck, my new plan is to buy full chickens and freeze in individual meal-sized section.  The supermarket sells full chickens, cut-up, for a much cheaper price than the breasts, or even the thighs & legs.  I am not at the point where I want to cut up my own full bird (or, rather, I don't have the tools to do so,) so this is a good alternative.  Also?  All the bones and gizzards, (they ain't lieing about that "full" chicken- extra breastbone, neck, etc all accounted for!) means you can make your own stock* or beef.. er... chicken-up store-bought stock/broth.  However, all of this means you have to remove the skin and work around the bones, if your recipe or personal taste calls for it.

I left the skin on the bird because, hey! why not be indulgent for my guests?  Then, coated with the spices; I went a little crazy with the chipotle... we like the spicy.

*I DO plan to make my own stock... some day.....

Then the chicken met his match.  In this case, his "match" is a sizzling hot cast iron pan.  At least 5 minutes on each side to crisp and brown.  (I lay the birds skin-side down, first.  This is because, after flipping, you throw them in the oven and want to keep that skin up & exposed.  If you have removed the skin, then put the meaty side down, first.)  Then, I transferred the chicken into a second cast iron and tossed into the oven to finish cooking.

Now, I transferred the chicken so that I could use the pan and all the left-behind flavor in the sauce.  It is certainly not essential that you use another cast iron for this step, I just have two and it was easy... but transfer to an oven-safe pan and cook the rest of the way through.

Back to those juicy chicken bits!  A container & a half (12oz) of baby bellas went into the juices and started to cook.  Baby bellas are meatier than white button mushrooms, so will take longer to cook and will have more bite to themselves when done.  White Buttons would work just as well, I just happened to have the bellas on hand.*  Then, we add liquid and reduce, ad nauseum: Add chicken broth and reduce, (add more if the mushrooms still aren't cooked completely;) throw in a splash of white wine, just for the hell of it, and reduce down to a glaze; add chipotle pepper and then, cream!  And reduce!  Well, "thicken," actually.  For cream/dairy, we say "thicken." 

*"Baby Bellas" is another term for cremini/crimini mushrooms.  Interchangeable.  Just to confuse you.

Allow to simmer and thicken.  As you can see, lines left after dragging a spoon through remained for a while.  This is a good thing!  Make sure to salt & pepper to taste, but this was pretty much good to go.  Also, try not to eat the sauce by the spoonful straight from the pan.  The chicken would be lonely.

I can't even begin to say how delicious this was.  The sauce and chicken had some great smoky heat that hit you at the end of a bite, but the cream softened the hit.  Also? cream makes everything more decadent.  I do plan to try this with some substitutions (like, 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk or milk and sour cream/yogurt,) but would leave as-is when trying to impress.  And the chicken?  Juicy as all get out.  The boys left nothing.  Not even one mushroom remained.  SUCCESS!

... that'll teach them to make fun of my food!

Baked Chipotle Chicken with a Spicy Mushroom Cream Sauce and Garlicy Broccoli
Chicken (brined, rinsed & pat-dry)
Sweet Paprika
Chipotle Powder
Salt & Pepper

~12oz Mushrooms (Baby Bellas or White Button)
1c Chicken Broth
2/3c Heavy Cream
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle chicken thoroughly with Salt, Pepper, Paprika, and Chipotle Powder.  This is where you can adjust for your level of heat: more/less chipotle powder to your taste.  The sauce is mainly seasoned with the leftover juices & seasonings of the chicken, so changing the amount of spice here not only affects the chickens' heat, but also the sauce's.  I would not omit the chipotle pepper in the sauce, as otherwise it would be too much cream & not enough flavor. 

In skillet, heat olive oil and sear chicken (skin side down) for about 5 minutes.  Flip & sear again for 5 more.  Transfer meat to an oven-safe dish and toss into oven to finish cooking- about 15 to 20 minutes.  Check with meat thermometer or with knife in thickest part of the meat.  Remove from oven and, carefully! pour (or spoon) as much of the remaining juices & brown bits from the pan into the simmering sauce.

Meanwhile, in the skillet you used to sear the chicken, add mushrooms & a pinch of salt and start cooking over medium heat.  I originally added 1/2c chicken broth, and reduced.  But the broth reduced away, and I wanted the mushrooms to cook longer!  So, I added another 1/2c broth (you can add the full cup at once) and a splash of white wine and reduced to a glaze.  Dice the chipotle pepper & add to the mushrooms.  Add the cream and simmer until thickened.

The sauce made enough for the 6 pieces of chicken I had, (2 each of thighs, wings, drumsticks,) but trust me, it would NOT be the end of the world if you had leftover sauce or leftover chicken!

I have no idea how much broccoli I got... but it was coated with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then 3-4 cloves of diced garlic were mixed in.  Baked on tin-foil lined baking sheets at 375 for, oh, 30 min?  Until crispy, brown & tender.  You can up the temperature at the end, or broil if you want more color.

*After opening a can of chipotles in adobo, I transfer the remainder to a tupperware and store.  VERY handy to add a few, or just the liquid, as needed. 

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