Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Poached chicken and vegetables

Whole chicken poached with aromatics, boiled potatoes and carrots

I've been subscribing to Saveur for years now, which means countless recipes. And yet some recipes I never even got around to trying continue to linger in my mind. I tried one of these today, a poached chicken with gelee by Terence Conran in the July/August 2000 issue.

I poached a whole chicken (Fingerlakes Farms pasture raised) in water and white wine with onions (skins left on for color), leeks, carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, and peppercorns. I was also supposed to add a calf's hoof, but after I'd bought all the other ingredients I realized the one store in my neighborhood that would carry it is closed on Monday. Grocery shopping with Jasper is too exhausting to repeat in one day, so I decided to forge ahead anyway.

The calf's hoof is for the gelee, or aspic, you make from the chicken broth after reducing it to about four cups. Since I didn't have the hoof I decided to try some Knox gelatin I had around. Only because I didn't want it to come out as stiff as Knox blocks I used half the amount of gelatin. And as it turns out it wasn't nearly enough. After several hours I was left with broth with a thin layer of gelee at the bottom.

I also think this recipe should have involved some salt. I believe Saveur always include salt if it's called for, because some recipes include ingredients that are salty themselves -- in other words, salt is not a given. Maybe there's an assumption that when the broth is reduced for the gelee it becomes salty enough, but not for me.

But the chicken itself turned out well, moist and flavorful. Saveur suggests serving with potatoes boiled with mint, which I'd never heard of before. I tried that (and added some carrots). You could barely detect the mint, so subtle I'm not sure I'll try that again. At any rate, I'm now determined to do the chicken recipe again with hoof and salt.

Over the weekend I was stricken with an end-of-summer malaise. This hits me every year. I grow weary of the heat, the cotton clothes, the grilling, all the lovely things that make summer so wonderful suddenly become odious and I can't wait to snuggle into a woolen sweater and make stews. I don't know what the hurry is. I'll end up longing for summer again through the months of February and March. But that's the end of August for me.

I tried a few things to cure myself. I shuffled desultorily through the summer clearance sales in my neighborhood boutiques, but this was a drag. I went to the new chocolate bar in my neighborhood and had a frozen "hot" chocolate, but it was just ok and what I was really craving was more chocolate sorbet from Maison du Chocolat. Today I bought some Ciao Bello chocolate gelato, and I think that'll hold me over until Labor Day Weekend. I'll perk up then.

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