Sunday, November 17, 2013

Playing Chicken During the Tornados - Kitchen Adventures

Before the storms hit, I had to make a dash to the local grocery for two things I'd forgotten.  I spent the weekend in Indy due to a work commitment but Partner in Grime drove on over, arrived safely and tinkering away on something when I got back at the crash pad. . He looked at my purchases, lemon juice and foil, raised an eyebrow and said "so, making batteries for supper?"

Most of you have seen at least the lower front of his shirt over a dinner table. For those of you that haven't met him, Partner in Grime is my partner in grime, but also that fellow I share a last name with (trying to look all serious for me,and yes, he has blue eyes)
No batteries for dinner!  I was going to try and make supper out of just what was on hand (emergency rations not counting).   I had a few chicken breasts.  There was also some odds and end bits of frozen veggies, some leftover chicken stock,and the usual herbs, oils and vinegars.

Plus, with the tornado sirens going off about every 40 minutes, I needed something that could get interrupted with no ill effect. 

Champagne Balsamic Chicken - It's not the most photogenic dish in the world, but it was really good.  I made it with a champagne balsamic vinegar I picked up at Artisano's  last week and hadn't tried yet. For those that don't live in Indiana, they ship, and if you order something get a 1 or 2 ounce sample of the applewood smoked salt, ghost pepper salt (hot!) and espresso sugar.

It was pretty simple, cooked on the stovetop in my favorite red French Oven (you can use any big, sturdy pot.

In the pot mix: 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup champagne balsamic viniger (or any good quality balsamic)
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons chicken stock (or canned broth)
3 generous teaspoons of jarred minced garlic
2 dashes of sea salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 heaping teaspoon mixed dried herbs (I used a mixture of chives, basil, tarragon, chervil and a tiny bit of dill, but just tarragon or basil would work).
a couple grinds from the pepper mill

Add 3-4 skinless chicken breasts and bring to and maintain, a low boil.  Cook for 15 minutes, flip chicken pieces over then reduce heat slightly and cook at a gentle simmer until internal temp is 165 F. on a meat thermometer, (around 30-40 minutes for the pieces I had), keeping lid OFF so that the liquid is reduced to better caramlize the chicken pieces, still leaving enough for you to drizzle on other things. 

When the chicken is about 160 degrees F., remove the bay leaf, lower the heat slighty and put some bread in the oven.  What's good?   Popovers, always good on a cold, blustery day.
The popovers were 1/4 of the cost of packaged frozen rolls and much tastier. Between  gust fronts they went in, as those are a little more temperamental cooking wise, but they were worth it, tall, buttery custard like texture inside, flaky layers on the outside.
Dinner was easy and good, the chicken staying really moist and the garlicy champagne balsamic sauce, absolutely wonderful drizzled over the sweet potatoes (there was also broccoli). Even better, we didn't have to hunker down in the closet when the sirens went off, watching the radar and seeing the cells with rotation potential going north and south of here (the Range has a basement, but unfortunately, the crashpad is typical of most quick development construction, made out of packing peanuts, alpaca fur and chewing gum, covered in drywall, with the granite countertop in the bathroom there as a distraction)

I hope all of you out there are safe, warm and happy and if you're going to play chicken, do it in the kitchen, not with the weather.