Date Cooked: September 22nd, 2008 Page: 327 Rating: A-
Be prepared for a long post…
A week or so ago I decided to try my hand at cutting up a whole chicken. After seeing it in many places (including the ‘Best’ book), I did the math and yes, buying a whole chicken and cutting it up is cheaper. Of course there is the whole cutting it up thing that I had to get through. I have no qualms about taking a knife to poultry, but I had never done it before and I figured that the whole point of this blog was for me to improve as a cook. Plus it was fun. Also I needed chicken parts so I could tackle the chicken stock recipe.
I had two whole chickens so I set to work. A sharp knife is pretty essential but then again I can’t think of too many tasks where a dull knife is preferred. The book gives reasonably detailed instructions on the process. First step was to remove the thighs and wings. I was actually amazed at how easy it was to slice through the joints and to separate them from the carcass. The fun truly began though when it was time to separate the breasts. This is where the instructions and the actual process are not entirely synched up. Using poultry shears to remove the backbone was… disturbing. My mind kept telling me that you don’t use scissors to cut flesh and bone, you use them for paper. So every cut of the shears sent little giddy chills down my spine. I don’t want to sound too disturbed but there is a very primal feeling associated with butchering that I doubt a lot of people feel these days due to the over abundance of pre-packaged everything. It was an odd experience and is difficult to describe but it makes you understand the food you prepare a little better. Ok now I am starting to ramble and spew rhetoric about a bond I felt with a mass of chicken flesh. Let’s move on before another spiritual moment takes over.
Once the backbone was removed the chicken was flipped over so I could cut through the breast bone. It separated easy enough but I ended up with uneven breasts (it’s ok to chuckle, I’m not above schoolyard humor). This is where I couldn’t find any good instruction on the best way to separate the breast from the rest of the carcass and how much bone should be left and how much rib should be attached, etc. This is where my sometimes obsessive behavior kicked in. The book says nothing about making them boneless but I just kept cutting and trimming and somehow I ended up with two boneless skinless chicken breasts. I figure in the future I will need to work on this part of the process.
The whole process took an amateur like me about 20 minutes from first cut to freezer bag for two chickens. Now I just needed a use for them. Oh yeah… the recipe I am blogging about. Broiled Chicken Thighs.
I decided to broil just the thigh pieces since the skin had been removed from the breast meat. The first step was to brine the chicken for an hour. I have never brined before because that involves a certain level of planning for a meal which didn’t always fit into the ‘I need a meal now’ situations I commonly found myself in. But since we had a few errands to run before dinner I figured now was a good time to start. Into a bowl with salt, sugar and water the chicken went and into the fridge covered to chill. When we returned home (more than an hour later), I set to work on the rest of dinner.
I removed the chicken from the brine, rinsed and dried it. I couldn’t help feeling I had just bathed the children. Don’t forget to dry between your legs, ha! Get it! Chicken thighs! Damn that was horrible. I’m tempted to delete that so no one will ever have to read that really bad attempt at humor. But apparently instead of deleting I have decided to continue typing and spew more useless thoughts into this post. Lets move on shall we?
The chicken was placed onto the broiler pan where it sat while I contemplated the design and engineering of my oven. I hate how my oven does not inform me when it is at temperature for broiling. If I preheat the oven it shows me the temperature as it climbs. With broiling it just shows me the max temperature. I have to guess at when the oven is ready. Maybe I don’t understand broiling or maybe I have a hard time justifying spending good money on an appliance and then still having to drop another couple dollars on a thermometer to tell me what my oven should be capable of. Sorry, back to the tale at hand.
When the chicken was cooked and the internal temperature reached its goal of 165, it spent 1 minute close to the broiler element for the skin to really crisp and then it was done. How did it taste? Absolutely amazing! The chicken was still moist and had a great simple flavor. Probably the best chicken I have cooked in a long time and has proven to me that brining is an essential step in chicken preparation. Typing this out makes me crave more chicken for tonight.
Rating: An overall simple preparation of chicken but its flavor was great. It gets an A- not because it is a fancy dish but because it highlighted to me that even I can make tasty chicken.
I am a husband to a loving wife that shares my same interest for food and cooking. I am a father to two sons (and a newborn son) that have an aversion to food. I'm also a pretty bad cook... which could be their problem... but I'm working on it.
I'm attempting to cook-through 'The New Best Recipe' for two reasons. I want to educate myself on the culinary arts a little and I want to provide better and hopefully more interesting meal options for my family... oh yeah plus I find food photography real exciting so it gives me a chance to justify why I take pictures of food!