I love chicken, all kinds of chicken, cooked and “on the hoof” and as an art form. I have even knitted a chicken!
Thursday night I was jonesing for chicken again and offered to cook dinner for my dear friends Anna and Robert. Fortunately they took me up on the offer and suggested I cook at their place. I love cooking in Anna’s kitchen, it is such a warm and loving home, created out of thin air by Anna’s superior thrift and estate sale shopping know-how, and her kitchen is huge (by my standards) and she has a gas range. Heaven…
First we stopped at Andronico’s, the Tiffany’s of food. They remodeled and their prices reflect it, but the quality is superior and they have a parking lot. We were tired, hungry and in a hurry. $60 later we left with bags of goodies for dinner.
I brought a lovely bottle of wine, Clos Saron’s Pinot from their Home vineyard, ’07 and just released. I purchased it last year and dear Gideon delivered it to my home last week along with a bottle of their Tickled Pink Rosé (see it here in my Salmon BLT lovefest), funny thing was that I completely forgot that I had pre-ordered it and it was very nice of him to drop it off, even though he was treated to the delightful sight of Heather with The Most Hideous Cold On The Planet, poor guy. I know he was scared! At any rate, Robert decanted the lovely Home Pinot and it was tough to wait for it to breathe but we did and it was divine. Really truly amazing.
I, however, could not touch a drop until I started dinner because I decided to make Anna’s second favorite chicken (and mine), the Red Cat Pan Seared chicken. Our favorites are the beloved Anna’s Chicken cutlets or my Greek Lemon Chicken however that is for a post another day. The Red Cat chicken is a snap to make, after you bone out the bird, hence no wine for me until I was finished playing with über sharp knives.
Boning the chicken is actually pretty simple and takes 5 minutes if you have done it before or 10 if you have not. I use a very sharp blade and cut the skin at the back of the backbone of the whole bird and cutting against the frame removed the ribcage. You have to cut the joint at the thigh and at the wing, and be careful along the keel bone of the chest to avoid cutting through this thin area. Then, with a cleaver and great whacking chop (which scared the dog!) I removed the chicken’s ankle bone at the drumstick. The rest is a snap, boning out the thigh bone and the chicken knee joint, then pushing the bone out from the drumstick. A little trimming here and there and the chicken was ready for a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper and into a hot pan skin side down until richly browned and gorgeous.
Then, I turned the chicken over and sprinkle with handfuls of chopped herbs and a head of garlic separated into its cloves and the zest of a Meyer lemon. I popped the whole thing into the oven for 20 minutes. Isn’t that easy? I removed the cooked bird to a platter to rest and reduced the pan juices with a dash of vermouth and lemon juices, spooned off the extra fat, and poured the whole lot over the chicken. I have to say I am getting hungry again just thinking about how juicy and perfectly cooked this chicken was, with the crispy bits of whole sage leaves.
The roasted garlic cloves were shimmering away with the pan sauce waiting to be squeezed onto a slice of hearty artisan bread, and we used the bread crusts to sop up the chicken juices from our plates.
Anna made her amazing mashed potatoes which I adore, so naughty and so delicious.
I also made up a batch of slivered green beans in browned butter and slivered almonds. While I was playing with the chicken and the filet knife, Anna used “the guillotine” I gave her to sliver the green beans, it is the most fun gadget and ever so handy. The beans are a snap, they need a quick bath in salted water and a good draining in the sink while I melted a huge knob of butter in a large skillet, added the almonds and when the butter got all foamy and started to turn the perfect shade of brown, the almonds were perfectly toasted too and in went the beans for a quick toss to reheat in all that buttery toasted almondy goodness. Dinner is served!
We did inhale it, I have to say, and finished the Pinot and opened a fabulous bottle of Kline Zinfandel ’05, what a treat that was, and then finished off the night with a bottle of Bogle Zinfandel ’07 and a crystallized ginger pineapple macadamia truffle bar from Sterling Confections that I purchased after tasting his amazing truffles at the Chocolate Salon this winter. The truffle bar is a work of art in chocolate form, the crunch of macadamias, the zing of ginger in a dark chocolate ganache and the delicious fresh taste of pineapple in a white chocolate ganache, lordy. Perfect with the wine, perfect with the peachy sunset, perfect with the sounds of our childhood of Bud and Travis and the Kingston Trio with a little Diana Krall and Joni Mitchell thrown in for good measure (courtesy of YouTube). What a perfectly delightful evening with friends, and doggies.
Red Cat’s Pan Seared Chicken (modified)
1 whole chicken, boned through the back
1 T peanut oil
zest of a Meyer lemon
½ cup mixed chopped herbs (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano – whatever you have on hand and like)
a head of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
½ bunch of chopped Italian parsley
sea salt and pepper
slosh of white vermouth or dry white wine
Preheat oven to 450.
Season the boned chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken and heat until very hot and the oil is shimmering. Brown the chicken, skin side down, until golden and flip over. Add herbs, garlic, lemon zest and place in oven for 20 minutes. The chicken is done when it measures 165 degrees at the thigh and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter and let rest 10 minutes. Reduce the juices in the skillet over high heat, adding the vermouth and a little lemon juice until thickened. Remove extra fat and pour juices over rested chicken. Slice the chicken into serving pieces, I like to slice into 2” thick slices diagonally. Toss over parsley and serve.