Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Crispy Chicken, Creamy Kale, Melty Mushrooms
Mixing and matching textures in a dish can bring the quality and experience of eating up to a new level. Chicken is a really great meat to play around with textures. The skin lends itself to crisping so well, and when done right, the skin can be a crispy compliment to the textures around it, both the sides of a dish and the meat itself.
For this meal, I wanted to make some really crisp chicken legs that would work well with the textures around it. I decided to use 3 of my favorite ingredients, tomatoes, kale, and mushrooms to surround the crispy chicken legs with rich flavors and creamy textures. I bought some gorgeous multi-colored grape tomatoes, coated them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and broiled them for about 7 minutes until they were ready to pop and slightly browned.
For the kale, I wanted to make a creamy kale puree. I cut the leaves from the stems, steamed them and some garlic cloves in chicken broth, and once they were fully wilted, I added some whole milk, salt, and pepper. I let that cook down a bit and then used my hand blender to puree the kale. Once it was finely pureed, I added some shredded Parmesan cheese and let it simmer. The creamy kale was delicious, but the liquid in it ended up being a little too thin. The next time I make this, I'll use some heavy cream... so much for trying to be a bit healthier.
For the mushroom sauce, I diced an onion, 3 garlic cloves, and bought a sliced, mixed mushroom pack with white, crimini, and shitake mushrooms. I sauteed the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in some olive oil until they were starting to brown and then added some dry white wine, salt, pepper, and a spoonful of flour to thicken the sauce (it the sauce gets too thick, just add more wine or some water to thin it). Once the sauce had thickened a bit, I added some chopped parsley.
For the chicken, I coated the skin with salt and pepper, and heated my cast iron pot to medium high, and then added some canola oil. I then put the chicken in the pan skin side down. Once the chicken was in the pan, I pressed down the chicken with another pan and put my heavy crock pot lid on that. This weighed down the chicken and made sure the skin cooked evenly and the meat cooked quickly. I flipped the chicken after about 10 minutes, and cooked the other side for another 10. The result was a golden brown leg of chicken with really crispy skin.
I plated the dish by putting the creamy kale on the plate, the chicken on that, and the a couple spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce on that. I scattered the tomatoes around the plate for color and flavor. The result was magnificent. The chicken was cooked perfectly, and the sauce worked really well as a compliment to the chicken. I kept trying to have every bite contain a little bit of each component on the plate, so I could get all of the flavors at once. The meal was excellent, and the perfect way to enjoy a Saturday evening with my girlfriend (who took amazing photos of the process as usual.)