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apr pub entry #2: chicken out loud

i feel that chicken is one of those meats that is easy to cook yet difficult to master.

chicken dishes have three key elements to them - the base treatment of flavor, the texture (which usually translates to how much moisture is retained so to prevent dry/toughness), and the "accents" which is the category that i put the sauces or dressings or cheese or "burrito" or whatever.

the fact is that chicken Just By Itself is pretty bland. this makes it easy to create dishes because a) it's pretty difficult to completely muck up because chicken hardly comes into conflict with other flavors, and b) if you're decent at making any sort of "accent" or if you buy a good accent in a bottle such as your basic "ragu four cheese sauce", you can pretty much ignore key elements one and two and still call it a success. it's like the chicken is secondary to the sauce, especially when it comes to itlaian dishes that involve pasta.

but by the same token, the blandness of chicken makes it challenging to master because if you really want to pay attention to key elements one and two, small differences in approach can produce a very different result.

i think that this is the reason that lately i've been more into beef than chicken because i discovered that i've become much more picky about how the chicken itself is prepared and it's annoying when the elements that make up the meal are so fantastic but the chicken is too dry or isn't spiced well to help accent the sauce or whatever. beef doesn't have that problem. neither does fish, really.

i feel the desire to learn a new skill when it comes to chicken since the only thing i'm adept at in creating great texture and flavor when it comes to chicken is pan-searing, and that's easy. I want to be find a way to nurture a chicken more, find different ways to use heat and water to make it just as orgasmic but in a different sort of way.

Comments

( read spoken (18) — speak )
studio_42
Apr. 18th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
so i guess fried chicken is out of the question. ;) heheh

back when i still ate chicken, my long-ago roommate made the best chicken i ever had.. baked.. i forget what she seasoned it with but it was amazing.

anyway go on with your awesome self and the path to culinary mastery. :)
lifeofmendel
Apr. 18th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
fried chicken is a different beast altogether. a good piece of fried chicken is fanastic, but that also depends a lot on how it's made.

i have no skill in fried chicken whatsoever. i've tried the shake n bake thing and that works okay, but it's not ideal.
(Deleted comment)
zqfmbg
Apr. 18th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
these days my roast chicken seems to meet with tremendous success. yet all I do is butterfly, salt, broil, and then deglaze (though it's not strictly necessary -- I'm the only one who uses the sauce, though I like it a lot).
(Anonymous)
Apr. 18th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC)
The best meal I have ever had was this amazing chicken dish at a little restaurant called "Ava" in Center City, Philadelphia. If you're ever in the area, I cannot recommend it more.

Send me a message or something too, if you're ever out that way and all. (I'm planning on living there in a few months...)
licyeus
Apr. 18th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
Damnit. That was me.
lifeofmendel
Apr. 18th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
you're moving to philly?
licyeus
Apr. 18th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, using it as a temporary place to stay while I look for a job in NYC, then I'm planning on moving to NJ/NYC once that happens. However, I get free rent in Philly, so I'm not going to be too rushed. I should be moving out to Philly between September and December (a big window, yes, I know).

But seriously, Ava has fantastic chicken and great desert. The chicken, however, was so amazing that I preferred it over desert.
lifeofmendel
Apr. 19th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
where in philly? like, directly in the city?

you know i grew up around there, right? i never ventured into the city itself too much, but i grew up right outside of it. you could say hi to my old high school buddies and say hi to my old house. and my parents. :)

you need to go to Pat's.

and for the record, i posted the prime number post a day late. how the fuck did you find out?
licyeus
Apr. 19th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
I can't say. I'd be shot.

I'll be living just off UPenn's campus in a small studio with the girlfriend for, at most, two months. Depending on what work I find and what I want to do, I'll either stay in Philly or move to NJ or NYC. Right now I am just saving money so I have enough money to last for a year in NYC, if I run into an incredibly difficult job market or the economy crashes or anything like that.

It came down to Seattle and NYC, but I figured I should live in NYC when I'm still young and have the energy. Seattle's still in the long-term plans, so perhaps we shall meet again.

On that note, the tournament looks like a no-go, sorry.
lifeofmendel
Apr. 19th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
it just freaked me out because out of the few people that know about it, i didn't think that anyone you knew would have known it. as far as i know, no one in the pnw bemani community know about it.

i'm not worried about meeting you again or anything. the east coast is my roots, and i'm sure i'll make a visit out there at some point - i've been itching for one. I have this idea of going back there to vacation for a week and throw a huge party on one day for all of my friends who want to see me and then devote days for the other people that deserve their own time. if that happens, it probably wouldn't be until maybe october or november.

say hi to philly for me when you get there. *waves fondly*
caffymajin
Apr. 18th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
I have yet another question for you. IF everything tastes like chicken, what does chicken itself taste like?
taren_
Apr. 18th, 2006 06:21 am (UTC)
I think chicken is just chicken, but General Tso's (or anything Chinese for that matter) is the best. Just douse that shit in sauce and it's an instant win.
lifeofmendel
Apr. 18th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)
*laughs* i reemmber the post you made a while back about how much you treat food as more functionary than pleasurable. i live very differently than that, so it doesn't surprise me that you see chicken in that way. *friendly shrug* food is one of my guilty pleasures.
miss_skillet
Apr. 18th, 2006 07:30 am (UTC)
My friend, you must take your chicken to the grill. You can use the same sauce/seasonings/marinade and get an end product that is very different in texture, moisture, and flavor than you would in pan-searing.

I'd comment on roasting but I just got my first super-expensive roasting-ceramic-thingie about the size of a pot roast or chicken for easter so I'm yet to master that art.
lynxkatt101
Aug. 29th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)
please forgive my intrusion, but in reading this i felt a need to contribute, as cooking is a passion of mine. and this is a very late yet simple discovery in my 30 years of cooking, low cooking temperatures are golden. i never boil chicken (or most of anything else). if i use high heat with chicken at all, i reserve that for the grill, and carefully even then.

i've had chicken soup all my years, usually prepared from the whole bird or breast. but from scratch i use only the legs and cook very slowly. the only elements are water, the chicken legs, pat of butter and a pinch of sea salt. and if i want to add garlic, i try to keep it to one clove.

this is one method among many that i use. but i find as a general cooking philosophy that slower, lower cooking temperatures makes for wonderful foods. whether that is for meats or vegetables. much more of that tenderness, moisture and flavor is left intact in the finished product. (although fried chicken has to be cooked higher of course lol), so there are exceptions in my cooking now and again.
lifeofmendel
Aug. 29th, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
so what's the secret to cooking chicken slowly on low heat but keeping a moist flavor?

gf and i once tried flavoring up some chicken breast and sticking it in a crock pot, and while it wasn't bad, it was pretty dry, and that's the impression i get when i think about cooking chicken at low temperatures, that all you're doing is letting the moisture out unless you sear it first.
lynxkatt101
Aug. 29th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
oh dear, i've had the same thing happen before with chicken and crock pots. i've never had chicken turn out moist and tender in a crock pot, i think maybe because it cooks overlong for chicken?

i find that when i cook chicken breast, it is usualy cooked through quicker than all the other pieces, the albumin cooking out well before the dark meat or bonier pices do. and i've learned the hard way not to cook it a long time, on low temp or any other.

some folks skin their chicken before cooking, i don't usualy, and find the moisture is retained better than when i do skin them. then i remove the skin before serving many times. the flavor and moisture are there, without the extra fat.
( read spoken (18) — speak )

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