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Chicken poached in milk May 26, 2013

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken.
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While this dish may be too simple for Nero Wolfe, I can see him using this recipe when he is forced to travel, and wants to eat something that is simple but tasty. And chicken poached in milk is certainly tasty! This combination is perhaps not the most delectable-sounding, particularly when you learn that the recipe also calls for lemon – essentially creating a curdled milk sauce.

I have previously cooked fish in cream so was thinking that this recipe would be similar. I didn’t really follow a specific recipe as it seemed it was a simple preparation – brown the chicken, add the lemon, milk and spices (cinnamon, sage, bayleaves, salt and pepper), then cook in the oven for an hour and a half, or until the chicken was done.

Preparing the chicken for poaching

You can see that as soon as the lemon was added, the milk started to curdle. It doesn’t look the most appetising, I agree. Nevertheless I pressed on and put the chicken in the oven.

After an hour or so, the house smelled fantastic and the chicken was falling apart. The milk had reduced into a lovely sauce, and it was definitely time to eat.

The chicken out of the oven

I carved it as best I could (more like pulling it apart semi-neatly!) and served it with a vinegary salad to offset the richness of the milk sauce.

The final chicken with salad

What I really like about poaching things in milk or cream is that they become so soft but still rich. In this case, the sauce had fully permeated the chicken, and the flavours I’d added to the milk, particularly the bayleaves and the sage, had penetrated particularly well.

I can see Nero Wolfe preparing a dish like this when he is (regrettably) on the road, with no Fritz to assist. However, he would still want to impress any guests in attendance, and this recipe is both simple and impressive, which I think is why this dish works so well.


Chicken and kale quiche February 12, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken, Vegetables.

I have recently become obsessed with kale. This is not to say I haven’t eaten it in the past – but lately I’ve been really enjoying it. I’ve made salads with it, sauteed it to serve with fish, and dried out the leaves so they become like chips. Part of the reason I like it so much is because it doesn’t lose its shape or texture once it’s cooked.

This time, I felt like a quiche to decided to make a quiche with kale and chicken. I also took the opportunity to make pastry with suet for the first time, after seeing a block of it for sale at the butcher’s. I grated the frozen suet then mixed it into the flour and added water until it formed a dough. It was surprisingly easy to work with. I started on the vegetables by cooking the kale with some minced garlic, onions and a little white wine. I only cooked it for a couple of minutes, just enough for it to soften slightly.

Next, I rolled out the suet pastry, brushed some mustard on it and added some pieces of chicken thigh. The suet pastry seemed more pliable than butter-based pastry recipes I’ve used previously, and was very easy to work with. I didn’t bother blind baking the crust, as apparently that isn’t as necessary with suet pastry.

I sliced up more chicken, and made a mixture of eggs, cream, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. By this time the kale had cooled, so I added it to the pastry shell, poured in the egg mixture and arranged the chicken on top. Here’s a photo of it in the oven – I had enough leftover mixture and pastry to make some miniature quiches too, and that’s what you can see cooking on the shelf below.

After about 35 minutes, the egg mix had set and I declared it done. It did get rather brown on the top, but had not burned.

After begrudgingly waiting for the quiche to cool, I was able to cut some slices.

This quiche confirmed my current love of kale – it provided both great flavour and texture in the quiche. I feel that quiches can sometimes be a bit homogenous in texture so it was nice to have this variety. I was also very pleased with the suet pastry – it was light and flaky and I think I do prefer it to butter-based pastry. Luckily, I have more suet so will certainly try this pastry again.

I will continue to eat kale in as many dishes as I can – I much prefer it to spinach. My only complaint is that it doesn’t seem very common in Australia and is not generally available. Now I have found a supplier I will continue to get it as frequently as I can.


Chicken galantine October 9, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken.
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I was so excited when this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was announced: I had to take the skin off a chicken or duck in one piece, mince up the meat, and stuff it back into the skin before cooking it. It sounded fantastic! Plus, the Norman Bates / Silence of the Lambs jokes just write themselves.

I wanted to make the duck roulade for my Charcutepalooza entry, but wanted to start off with practicing the general routine of skinning a chicken before I tried the duck. Now, I read all the instructions quite a few times. I carefully skinned the chicken, pulling the skin away from the flesh and making sure not to cut any holes in it. I was really happy with my progress! And it wasn’t until I got the whole skin off that I realised I’d made a little mistake…

For some reason, when I read the instructions, I’d interpreted the direction to ‘cut around the base of the leg’ to mean, cut around the bit where the leg joins the body. So. Needless to say I had some unsightly holes in my chicken skin (I never thought that would be a sentence I would write!), but I did not think it was unsalvageable. I laid the skin out on some plastic wrap and put it in the freezer, and got on with preparing the rest of the meal.

I removed all the meat from the chicken, and diced up most of the breast meat. I cooked it in butter until it was nicely browned, and then put the pieces in the freezer to cool down.

I minced up the rest of the chicken meat with some pork fat, and mixed in some spices including salt and pepper, nutmeg, white pepper, ginger and cinnamon.

I transferred the mixture to a food processor and added egg whites and a cooked mixture of garlic and shallots. When everything was blended, I folded in some cream.

I was a bit concerned that my mixture was too runny but again decided to press on. I refrigerated the mixture while I got to work scraping the fat off the (now frozen) skin. It was actually more a case of removing the small blobs of fat on the surface rather than needing to scrape the whole skin. I also trimmed it so I had a more even shape to work with.

I added some of the mixture to the middle of the skin, and put the diced pieces of chicken breast on top.

As my skin was on the smaller side, I knew not all the mixture would fit. I piled as much of the mixture as I could into the skin, then rolled it up in plastic wrap and sealed it with aluminium foil. I discovered when making mortadella that plastic wrap on its own has a tendency to melt in hot water. I ended up with one with skin, and two more packages of filling wrapped in plastic.

While it was poaching, I made the onion-raisin chutney recipe from Charcuterie; this was fairly straightforward as I just needed to simmer all the ingredients together until the sauce was thick. It included onions, raisins, brown sugar, cider vinegar, turmeric and other spices.

It only took about 20 minutes until it was done, and then it was a matter of leaving it and the chicken to cool overnight.

I was very happy that the chicken stayed together so well while I was slicing it! To be honest though, while I was pleased at the process I’d learned while making this, I found the chicken a little underwhelming. It was quite nice, but not much different from a standard chicken pate I have made before. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was hoping to be more impressed with the final product.

The relish was definitely the standout for the dish, and was flavoursome, sweet and a bit spicy, which was very nice. And I definitely learned not to leave holes in my chicken skin next time!

Duckling (poussin) in Flemish olive sauce July 27, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken, Duck, Wolfe recipe.
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Once again, the Nero Wolfe recipes have surprised me. In this case, the balance of the dish was not what I was expecting. It was lighter and fresher than the impression I got from reading the recipe – which included large quantities of butter! While this recipe called for ducklings, I decided to use poussin (small chickens) instead, as I was only cooking for two.

I prepared the birds by brushing them both with lemon juice, and seasoning them with salt and pepper. I roasted them skin-side down, turning them over for the last 15 minutes to crisp up the skin. Meanwhile, I started on the sauce.

I melted butter in a saucepan until it was foaming, and added chopped parsley and shallots. I cooked them for a few minutes, until they were soft.

Once they were cooked, I added flour and stirred it until it thickened. Then I added 1 1/2 cups (!) of champagne – although I used a sparkling Australian rather than the proper French stuff. It frothed up in a most dramatic manner.

I continued to stir it and after about 5 minutes, it started to thicken. I took it off the heat, strained out the onions and shallots, and added some chopped olives. I was also meant to add some diced truffle – having none on hand, I minced a little raw garlic and threw a few tiny pieces in as a substitute.

I also cooked up some leeks and mushrooms in a bit of red wine vinegar (figuring we had enough butter in the sauce), and served the poussin on top of the leek/mushroom mix, and drizzled the sauce over everything.

This dish was a lot lighter than I was expecting! The sauce wasn’t at all heavy, even with the amount of butter, and the champagne taste came through strongly. I was concerned that the champagne would be lost in the mix, so I was glad that my 1 1/2 cups hadn’t gone to waste. The poussin itself was juicy and tasty, with the lemon juice permeating the meat.

When I read recipes, I get an idea in my head of how they will behave and taste. Based on reading this recipe, I was expecting something quite heavy and rich. While it was still very flavoursome, it was not overly rich or heavy and I found this very interesting. I do know by now to trust Nero Wolfe’s recipes, I was still pleasantly surprised by how this turned out.

Fritz’s pate June 30, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken, Innards, Wolfe recipe.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade – or so the saying goes (although I prefer the addition of gin, myself). In this case, I will say: when life gives you liver, make pate!

Freezer roulette is something that happens on a fairly regular basis in my household. Most of the time I pull out what I want, and can identify what the different things are. In this case, I pulled out what I thought was a piece of goat to defrost, only to discover a bit further down the track that it was actually a bunch of chicken livers!

Not being deterred, I decided to follow Fritz’s advice and make some chicken liver pate. To start, I boiled onions, celery, parsley and a bay leaf in salted water. After a few minutes, I added the chicken livers, and simmered them for about 10 minutes.

The recipe then called for the livers to be coarsely chopped before blending; however, I decided my blender could handle whole chicken livers and chucked them in whole. I also added most of the onions and celery from the mixture. To the blender, I also added cognac, butter, nutmeg and mustard. The recipe also called for marsala but we didn’t have any on hand – so I added some grand marnier instead. I was also meant to add a whole chopped truffle – but funnily enough, I didn’t have one of those on hand either!

As an aside, I’ve decided it’s impossible (for me) to take nice, or at least OK, photos of pate. It’s browny-grey and not great to look at. So I apologise for the photographs!

Not having a specific terrine mould, I buttered a loaf pan and added the pate mixture into it. I left it to chill overnight in the fridge.

The recipe instructed me to remove the pate from the mould and then slice it to serve. However, even after chilling, I found the pate too soft to just slice up. I used a cookie cutter to help shape some pate, in an attempt to get a nice looking piece on the plate.

I served the pate with some rye sourdough bread, homemade olives, and a salad.

Having never made pate before, I was surprised how easy it was. It was minimal effort for a great result! The taste was fantastic – the livers came through but were quite mild in their taste, and the flavours of the cognac and grand marnier came through. While it was quite different from the goat I’d been planning, I was still very happy with the result.