Monday, October 15, 2007

Chicken 101

My love for the Chopping Block's classes continues to be validated. At the recommendation of one of my table mates in the Sauces class, I decided to work my way through the 101 series of classes. Chicken seemed like a good place to start since I make a lot of it, but I tend to do the same thing (grilling skinless, boneless breasts) all the time.

I kind of lucked out in that there were only 5 people in the class, split into teams of 3 and 2. Not only did I get to be in the group of two, thus ensuring more hand's on time, but we also had a very active and knowledgable assistant, who gave us a lot of personal attention.

We made:

I got to bring a LOT of the food home since a) I only had one partner and b) she had to leave before everything was done to catch her Metra train. Everything was really good, but the clear home run was the Arroz con Pollo. I believe Channing's words were, "I'm almost embarassaed by how much I love this."

Things I learned that I didn't know before:

  • When testing the temperature of a chicken or turkey, insert the thermometer under the thigh, essentially under the equivilent of the butt cheek. Be careful not to touch the bone, as that will read hotter then the meat.
  • Grape seed oil is generally better for sauteeing than olive oil. It can go higher in temperature before it starts smoking and it's cheaper than olive oil. You really can't taste the olive oin in a sear or a sautee, so it's not worth the extra money.
  • When pounding chicken breasts, you should strike the meat and draw the mallet to the side, rather than just hitting it like a nail.
  • When reducing a sauce, look at the size of the bubbles as a measure of progress. The bigger the bubbles, the better. Also, in addition to a reduction in volume, look for "nappe," the ability of the liquid to coat the back of a spoon.

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