Friday, September 10, 2010

Lunch feature 8.09.10

Grilled Chicken Stew

It's cold outside and we, unfortunately, do not have the month of May. Well, not for a while anyway. So in the meantime, lets start with the fall dishes. I didn't want to be doing this before the ides of September but it would appear that I have been left with no choice.

Chicken Stew. That's what you get. Are you happy everyone who's contributed and continues to contribute to global warming? Are you all smiling, rubbing your bellies for stew? Thanks for aiding in irregular seasonal temperature swings. I digress.

Chicken Stew. Everyone loves a good stew, no matter what time of the year, this is a fact, I dare you to prove me wrong...I dare you. The key to any great stew is a great stock. If you are making a beef stew then a beef stock is needed, pork stew = pork stock, chicken stew = chicken stock and so on and so on. Luckily, I happened to have a great chicken stock on hand.

To make the stew I sweated of some onion, celery, carrot, corn cobs and mushrooms in oil and butter. Once all that was nicely cooked I added flour to make a roux, just a french word for using flour added to fat to make a thickening agent. I cooked the flour out until it was a nice dark brown. This adds a nutty flavor and gives the stew a bit more color as well. One thing to keep in mind, the longer you cook the flour, the less thickening property it retains. At this stage I added the cold chicken stock. Why cold chicken stock you ask? If you are using a hot roux and you add hot stock you get a lumpy sauce, that's why. Whisk vigorously to evenly disperse the flour throughout the stock, then use a wooden spoon to make sure all the flour is lifted off the bottom of the pot. Because of the flour, this sauce will want to burn on you, so be diligent with the wooden spoon and keep the temperature at a simmer. Cook this sauce for about 1 hour or until the desired consistency has been reached. Once your there, strain the whole thing through a fine sieve and discard all the vegetables. What!? Throw away the vegetables you say, that's madness. Well, they are mush now and all the nutritional value is gone, so, why not start over.If you are gonna sell stew in a restaurant it had better be better than grandma's, if you know what I mean.

So, for the garnish, I did a nice dice of potato, shallot, carrot, celery, bacon and cut some corn kernels. Because I was putting corn in the stew I made sure that all the other vegetable were cut the same size as the corn. Everyone knows that vegetable taste better when they're all the same size...right? It could just be me trying to put the goblins to sleep. Who knows. If the goblins weren't tired yet I put them to sleep by cooking each vegetable separately to ensure the proper bite in the final product.

To order the chicken veloute was heated up and then the vegetables and bacon added to make sure that they were warmed through but not overcooked and mushy. On top of that a sliced grilled free run chicken breast, some croutons and a drizzle of bacon fat. Oh no he didn't. Ya damn rights I did, bacon fat for everyone. Well, not for me, I have a hereditary heart condition. Bacon fat for everyone but me, yay. Well, maybe not for the people I love and want to see around for a while. Bacon fat for everyone that I don't love, yay.

Sean Peltier

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