Jacques Pepin: How to Debone a Chicken

The best video I have ever seen on how to do this process.

Buy some chickens, do it and practice!

Cooking time is about 2 hours at 350°F is a roasting pan.

Place a small bit of stock in the bottom of a pan with a couple of chopped carrots, onion and celery for flavor.

Use your favorite stuffing. When practicing, I make and donate the cooked chickens to Ronald McDonald House so we don’t get sick and tired of eating skills practice.

As Jacques says, you can do this with all birds.

What fun!

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Caesar Salad – A Fresh Look

Caesar Salads have long been popular both in the restaurant scene and at home. I love a good Caesar Salad especially if you add some Caesar Saladgrilled chicken to it and lots of Parmesan cheese.

The dressing here is a low-fat version of a traditional Caesar. This maintains the flavor of the dressing the same as a traditional Caesar dressing, yet with far less fat. So you will find a stray from the traditional Caesar Dressing ingredients, but try this, you’d never know the difference!

Plating the salad becomes a real presentation. Take your time and you will be rewarded with not only a nice visual but also something that will satisfy your taste buds on many levels.

For the Salad:

      • Romaine Hearts – each one makes 1-2 servings; 3 for an appetizer or side salad
          • Keep the lettuce in tact!
  • Good quality bread for the “croutons”
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved off a block with a vegetable peeler
  • Anchovy fillets – white anchovies are a gourmet treat, but everyday anchovies will do also
  • Dressing (recipe follows)
  • Add Grilled chicken or shrimp if desired.

To make the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup low or non-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup low or non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (use the best quality you can buy!)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 oil packed anchovy fillets (or more if you like)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 -2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

Put it all in the blender and process until smooth. Taste it, you may want more anchovy or garlic or cheese. If you do, add it and process again until smooth. If it gets too thick, thin with water.

Wash the lettuce, carefully remove any dirt or debris while keeping the head in tact. Turn the romaine heart upside down to drip dry or pat it dry with a paper towel.

Holding the romaine heart upright in a clean bowl, drizzle the leaves with the dressing, use about 1-2 ounces per heart.

Wrap tightly into a log shape

Wrap tightly into a log shape

Wrap the lettuce tightly in a log shape in plastic wrap. When you do this, arrange the leaves so they don’t break. You want to be able to wrap it together really tight.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Brush the bread with olive oil, grill each side for 1-2 minutes.

Roll the anchovy fillets into ‘mini-flowers’.

Make Crispy Parmesan Chips

Rolled anchovy fillets

Rolled anchovy fillets

Make some crispy Parmesan chips by placing freshly shredded (grated cheese does not work) onto a piece of oiled parchment in a circle.

Use a ring mold for even shapes

Use a ring mold for even shapes

Use a ring mold to make even sized circles. Bake them in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Remove when the cheese gets golden brown

Remove when the cheese gets golden brown

Remove from the oven and using a spatula, remove them from the parchment immediately as the cheese cools rapidly. At this point, they will retain any shape you give them. but you have to move fast, once they cool they become crisp.

For this presentation, instead of making croutons, I cut the bread into a long rectangle, oiled it and then put it on the grill for a few minutes.

Plate Presentation:

Lay two lengths of bread on the base of the plate.

With the plastic wrap still on the lettuce, slice the lettuce into rounds about 2″ wide.

Slice the lettuce with the plastic wrap still on. Of course, remove it as you bring the lettuce to the plate.

Slice the lettuce with the plastic wrap still on. Of course, remove it as you bring the lettuce to the plate.

Remove the plastic wrap and place them on the bread. Stand them up with the cut side down. Do this carefully and they will hold together.

Place a crispy cheese round on top of the cut lettuce, then add the rolled anchovies.

IMG_5419

Place either the grilled chicken or shrimp along side of the bread, sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle some dressing onto the plate and serve.

The presentation is nice because when you want to eat the lettuce, it falls apart easily with your fork and does not require further cutting unless you cut them too wide. 2 inches is the perfect size for this presentation.

Enjoy this Caesar!

IMG_5422

What do you Keep in your Pantry?

Let’s talk about kitchen staples. I think it would be fascinating to see what other cultures and kitchens around the world always keep in their pantries.

Depending upon your cultural background, your staples will be different. Being located in the American South there is some influence of region like grits and corn meal and green tomatoes.

I am studying Nutrition Concepts and Medical Nutrition Therapy to gain a Certified Dietary Manager Certification. One of the concepts we study is the difference in food choices based upon religious or cultural influences.

Having lived in many places in the world, there are things I reach for and things that are added due to a cultural influence, like couscous and preserved lemons for instance.

However, there are things that are always there, ready to make something to eat.

  • Fresh garlic – if I get too much, I confit the garlic and reach for that too.
  • Onions – from red to sweet to shallots and scallions
  • Parmesan cheese – a block so it can be shredded, peeled or grated
    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true "par...

    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the true “parmesan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Eggs – large organic ones. I love Araucana eggs which are also known as “Easter Egg chickens” since their eggs are colored pink, blue and green naturally
  • Canned organic tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Potatoes – both russet and new potatoes; sometimes sweet potatoes, but not always
  • Basmati rice and brown rice blends
  • Fat free milk – I like to drink it (yes, still!)
  • Half and half – for coffee and tea
  • Fresh European Butter – Plugra is my brand of choiceHomemade Lime Tart Butter & Eggs
  • AP and Bread Flour – for making breads, tarts and dredging
  • Canned beans – black, dark red kidney, garbanzo, white kidney beans
  • A variety of vinegar – apple cider, rice wine, red wine, white wine, balsamic (expensive and less so) and basic white vinegar
  • Oils – olive, vegetable and toasted sesame (because I like Asian food so much!)
  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken and Turkey meat
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Anchovies and sardines
  • Dijon mustard
    English: Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g

    Dijon mustard Maille Originale, 213 g (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

  • Yeast
  • A variety of pasta shapes – spaghetti
  • A jar of Dukes Mayonnaise – yes, I should make my own but this is so I don’t have to
    Only Duke's for Tomato Pie.
  • Some kind of pickle or pickles – either I make them of buy some. Gotta have a pickle with a sandwich
  • and new to my pantry is Coconut oil for saute
  • Last but not least, a variety of salt and pepper

.

What do you keep in your pantry? Please share!

4 Safe Methods for Thawing Food

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food safety is a serious subject. I am passionate about preventing food borne illness. I have been teaching the subject to restaurants, hospitals, schools, dietary managers, nursing homes and at the college level since 1991. I am a Food Safety expert.

This is the launch of a series of food safety articles.

The first subject is on 4 Safe Methods of Thawing Foods.

There are 4 safe methods for thawing food. Following one of these methods can help prevent making your family and friends sick with a food borne illness.

1. Thaw under refrigeration.

This takes some planning. Sort out  your refrigerator so you have a designated drawer on the bottom of your fridge to hold raw meats.

If you want to defrost a whole 3 pound chicken, it will take about 4 days to thaw. You need to plan a place where it can do so safely. All thawing meats should be positioned so they are not dripping onto any foods below them. Place them in containers to catch thawing juices.

In My Fridge

In A Fridge (Photo credit: Nikita Kashner)

Store food according to:”Swim, Walk, Fly”

  • Ready to eat foods on top
  • Things that swim (Including oysters, clams etc. If it comes from the water, it is considered a “swimming thing.”
  • Things that walk around (On hooves and feet and have fur or hair like pork, lamb, beef, or Ostrich.)
  • Things that walk around but are ground up, like ground pork or ground veal or hamburger. These get cooked to a higher temperature than steaks, chops or roasts.
  • Things that fly ( Chickens, ducks, squab, quail, and even though turkeys don’t fly, they also fall into this category)
  • This is based upon internal cooking temperatures which will be explained in another post. For now remember and practice
  • “Swim, Walk, (Ground-up Walk),Fly”

So what happens when you don’t have the time?

2. Thaw under clean drinkable water that is 70°F or less, and either running or changed frequently.

A bowl in the sink with cold water, but not hot, is fine for thawing a package of chicken for dinner. As long as you change the water about every half hour. If water logging is a concern, place the item in a zip lock bag and place that in the water.

The water should be changed every 30 minutes.

This is not a method to use while you are at work. Why? Because the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes or lightly running so the water is exchanged as thawing occurs.

Never thaw in the sink for longer than 4 hours! That is the amount of time it takes any bacterial colonies to grow to dangerous levels.

Never, ever thaw on the counter or just left in the sink. This is a very bad and risky practice.

Keep you eye on the product, it will thaw faster than you think it will.

3. In a microwave as long as the item will be cooked immediately after thawing.

My concern here would be the quality of the item. I can’t think of anything that benefits from a run in the microwave.

But, as long as you cook the item as soon as you finish nuking it to thaw, this is considered a safe method.

Be sure to clean and sanitize the inside of the microwave after you finish thawing.

4. You can thaw food as part of the cooking process.

day fifty three | a piece of meat

(Photo credit: I Are Rowell)

The best examples here are frozen vegetables into soup stock, frozen french fries into the oven or fryer oil and frozen burgers going directly onto the grill.

Again, your call on the quality issue of cooking meats from frozen. I find the texture isn’t as nice than if you thawed it under refrigeration which is my thawing method of choice.

So there you have it. 4 Safe methods to thaw foods.

This information is from ServSafe® an educational division of The National Restaurant Association (NRA). These are the best practices that are used to train food handlers in  all restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and dietitians.

I have a dual role with the NRA to both teach and administer the exam for ServSafe®. Food safety is a passion of mine. No one should ever suffer an illness from food you eat.

Learn how to prevent such things from happening.  Become advocates for your own food safety. If you see a bad practice, speak up!

Implement good food handling practices every time you touch food.

It really is that important.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

An Easy “Grill Pan” Dinner

Looking for a quick and easy meal the other night, I came up with this meal that was cooked all in my grill pan.

Chicken was marinated in Mojo Criollo, a Latin marinade of sour orange, herbs and spices.

There were a couple of leeks which I split in two and placed them cut side down to grill.

When the chicken was done, it was pushed to the side of the pan and I added fresh trimmed asparagus and grilled that until it was done too. Asparagus only takes a few minutes.

Sweet potatoes baked in the oven, a salad made by ‘shaving’ radishes, cucumbers, yellow pepper, and fennel, drizzled with rice vinegar and olive oil, salt and fresh pepper rounded out the meal.

Voila! Dinner is ready.

During this wonderful season of abundant fruits and vegetables, make sure you add more to your diet. The vitamins, minerals and fiber contribute to a healthy diet and contribute to manageable weight maintenance.

Indulge and explore white the season is right!

How to Roast a Chicken

Here is another basic skills post about how to roast a chicken. The same principle applies to most birds, large or small. Ducks are just a bit different due to the amount of fat on them.

To select a whole chicken, carefully look at the wing tips, they should not be brown in any way. Slightly red is OK but no brown. Look at the neck area, same thing. These areas show age on market chickens. If they are fresh, they will be ‘chicken color’ and possibly red tips on the wings. No brown, green or purple.

The chicken should also not have any odor. Give it a sniff. Pass it by if you smell anything.

Sometimes the inside of the bird contains a small bag of the heart, liver, neck and gizzard. Remove this from the inside of the bird. Throw it away unless you eat heart, liver, neck and gizzard. My father made wonderful sauce from these parts. Sometimes I saute the hearts and livers but there is only one inside each bird so they become the cooks treat. YAY!

Thoroughly rinse the bird inside and out. Pat the bird dry.

Carefully, using your fingers, loosen the skin but do not tear it.

Look carefully, see the butter under the skin?

Insert compound butter between the skin and the meat, smoosh it around so it almost covers the meat and then rearrange the skin back in place. This will baste the meat with herbs and butter while the bird roasts.

What is compound butter? Soft butter with herbs and seasonings mixed in. Any combination, any flavors, your choice. Toss it in a mixer, mix it up, place in a container and use it anywhere you would use butter. The butter I used here contained thyme, garlic, lemon, shallot and pepper.

To give the bird some flavor while roasting, insert herbs, onion and garlic into the cavity. For this bird I used rosemary, thyme and onion and a bay leaf.

For food safety sake, if you want stuffing, bake it in a separate pan. See note below regarding food safety.

On the bottom of the roasting pan, place chopped carrots, celery and onion (25% carrots, 25% celery, 50% onion ratio) and 1/2 cup or so of water or stock.

Professionally, we call this vegetable ratio “mirepoix”.

Tie the legs together with butchers twine or cotton string. Run the string around the legs and thighs and tie it off under the wings. This holds the bird together in a nice compact bird-like shape, controls the legs and plumps the breasts.

This is how you get a good-looking finished bird that isn’t splaying its parts all over the place.

Season the birds skin. I used Montreal Steak Seasoning for this one. Season as you like.

Season, tie the legs and truss the chicken. Place on top of vegetables to roast.

Place the tied and stuffed bird in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.

Roast the bird in a 350°F oven for about 2 hours or so for a 3 pound bird. Please use a thermometer to test for 180°F internal temperature in the thigh, not near a bone.

The dark meat takes longer to cook so you test there. Please be sure to cook your chicken all the way.

There is nothing as unappealing as cutting into a whole roasted bird and have blood come out. Obviously, it goes back into the oven to finish cooking, if that happens.

When the bird is done, allow it to “rest” for about 15-20 minutes before carving. This is when I prepare the vegetables and put the final touches on the meal.

Food safety really comes into play with handling chicken.

  • Keep the bird cold.
  • Sanitize the work area with a mild bleach after preparing and handling the bird.
  • We are trying to avoid contaminating our families with Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni in particular.
  • If your bird is frozen do not allow it to thaw on the counter or in the sink. Put it under cold water that you change frequently or in the refrigerator which takes 2-3 days to thaw, so plan ahead.
  • Always sanitize everything that chicken and your hands come in contact with during preparation with a mild bleach solution when you finish. Knives, boards, spoons, counters, sinks, knobs, handles, towels, aprons, etc.

To make a sauce, use the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan. Deglaze with chicken stock or white wine. Strain the liquid from the roasting pan into a sauce pot. Bring to a simmer.

Mix equal parts of butter and flour together in a small bowl. Drop small pea sized pearls of the flour and butter mixture into the simmering stock, whisk to incorporate. Season as desired. Simmer for 10-15 minutes to cook out the starch taste. Finish with a pat of cold butter whisked in, adjust salt and pepper. Strain again if desired.

Roasted chicken with sauteed beet greens

We sautéed the beet greens we had on hand from the pickled beet post. Yummy stuff.

There will be another post soon on “How to Cut Up a Chicken”

Enjoy roasting your chickens! I adore the aroma, it smells like home and all things wonderful.

Chicken Piccata

This is a simple delicious recipe for Chicken Piccata. It is fresh and light and cooks quickly.

Boil the water and cook pasta while making the piccata.

You can choose to use tofu or fish or scaloppini of veal instead of chicken. We like them all!

Chicken Piccata

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Chicken Piccata

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into 2-3 thin slices each
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • zest and juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced fine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with:

  • Fresh flat leaf parsley and lemon slices
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Place the sliced chicken breasts into a plastic bag, a piece at a time, and lightly pound to make the breast pieces flat and even.

Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat, when hot add the oil.

Saute until golden brown

Dredge the pounded chicken breasts in flour.

Saute in a hot saute pan until golden brown on both sides.

Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Add the shallots and garlic, stir, being careful not to  burn the garlic or shallots.

De-glaze the pan with white wine. When the wine is nearly gone, add the lemon zest and juice, capers and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Finished Sauce

Whisk in the butter and serve.

Do not boil the sauce after adding the butter to avoid ‘breaking’ the sauce.

Serve with spaghetti, linguine or rice, if you prefer.

A fresh green salad and crusty bread are great sides.

Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata