Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken and Rice Tutorial of DOOM!

You know, I never know why I label everything "... of Doom!" lately. I think I play too much Munchkin.

Anywhoo, onto the food!

Today, we're gonna delve into the realm of good and gluten free food you cook once and eat all week (or freeze and thaw in the microwave, so you can eat them anytime!).  I like cooking like this once in a while, because when I can spend the time doing something like this once, it saves me loads of time later on.   Since this is not a 'modded' recipe, it has full flavor and a proper taste. (Some gluten free food can be a little... meh. in the flavor department, especially if you're a newbie to the genre... like me.)

This comes out to three VERY large meal sized portions, each suitable for 2 very hungry people, or 3 reasonably hungry people, or 4 lunches.  (yeah. Vague, I know, but you'll see as we get there.)
You will need:
  • 12 Average Sized Chicken Thighs
    • You don't want them too huge, feel free to half the recipe if needed based on the size of your largest Dutch Oven.  I use the Le Creuset 9.5 quart dutch oven... It looks like this (Except mine is orange..)!
  • Salt, Pepper
    • Every recipe needs this.  It's the most important stuff next to the chicken!
    • For this recipe, Kosher Salt and Fresh ground pepper are where it's at.
  • One Medium Onion, Small Dice
    • Small dice is somewhere around 1/2 inch squares (a little over a cm.)
  • One clove Garlic, minced
    • One 12 oz package frozen peas, Thawed
      • I usually just defrost them in the microwave, and strain out the water.
    • One pint mushrooms, 
      • Washed and cut in half.
    • Chicken Stock, Bullion, Broth
      • I used Goya Chicken Broth (Cubetas en polvo) packets. Convienant, yes. Salty... Yeah. Very. If you go this route, make sure to taste-taste-taste to make sure you don't oversalt.
    • Goya Sazon. Con Achiote
      • Another salty flavor packet. This one stains everything orange.  I love this stuff for its flavor and coloring properties. 
    • Goya Ham Flavor
      • I swear by this stuff when I can't get my hands on real country ham. It's a life saver and rounds out the flavor of a lot of dishes with its smokey savory hammy aroma... I drool just thinking about it. Only one packet is needed, it's potent stuff.
    • Canola oil 
      • You only need a VERY little bit. A couple TBSP at most.
    • 1 quart Rice
      • You do NOT want instant rice. it will not work. My personal favorite is Goya Golden Canilla, but any regular or parboiled rice will work.
    • Water
      • The amount will be varied depending if you use the powdered broth packet OR liquid broth.
    • Chickeny Spices, Including but not limited to:
      • Bay Leaves
      • Goya Adobo
      • Sazon
      • Cayenne
      • Cumin
      • Oregano
      • Chili Powder
    What you're gonna do:


    For best flavor, you're gonna want to brine your chicken.  It's really optional, but I find it just lends that certain something... and it protects you a little with overcooking (moister meat stays moister longer when you cook it.)

    To brine:
    • Place chicken in large zippy top bag. Place bag in LARGE bowl.
      • This is for when you spill a little... it won't make a huge mess.
    • Add a large handful of Kosher Salt. 
      • Really, a large handful, We're gonna dilute it.. It's not gonna work without being pretty darn salty.
    • Add a large handful of Sugar.
      • "Wha? Sugar? This ain't dessert!" Yeah, Yeah, I know.. just trust me. 
    • Add assorted yummy spices
      • This usually includes stuff I think chicken should taste like.. including:
        • Cumin
        • Adobo
        • Sazon
        • Cayenne (not too much. a sprinkle will do ya here)
        • Oregano (dried)
    • Cover with water
    • Press out all the air. Zip the top... Place the whole bowl with the zipped up bag in the fridge, and go to bed. Just ignore it... it's okay, I promise!
    Ok, day of. You'll need about 2 hours to do this.

    Cut your Mushrooms in half, Chop your onion. Get them ready to go in two separate bowls.

    Take your chicken out of the brine solution and pat dry.  It should look like this:

    Look at your picture, and decide you need better lighting for your next shoot.

    Now, take your largest heaviest pot and place it over medium high heat.  Get it hot. How hot? Damn hot. You're looking for the mid to upper 400F range. Once you get there, take your chicken, and place it skin side down. Don't over crowd the pan, you'll be doing this in batches. In my pan, *Which is HUGE!!!!!* I can fit 5-6 pieces at a time without crowding the party.  It should look like this:

    Doesn't that look nice? All that room to swim in there-- and it looks all nice and cozy.

    Don't go playing around with it either, just let it sit there, and do it's thing.  You're not really looking to cook the chicken through, you're just wanting to put some nice lovely color onto the poultry.  This searing process is really just to make some yummy flavors that will perfume your whole dish with AWESOME. Awesome takes time... At LEAST 5 minutes per side, probably closer to 7.  At the five minute mark, try flipping a piece. If it doesn't release from the pan extremely easily, wait another minute and try again. If you're having a wrestling match with the chicken, you'll rip the skin off, and that kinda sucks.

    Ok, magic happens, and the chicken flips easy, and looks wonderful, like this:

    Yeah, that little guy on the bottom left, he coulda stood a little more color, but its okay.  5 more minutes, then pop it outta the pan, and into a holding vessel. Do your second batch of chicken (and third,  if needed.) Your pan will get yucky on the bottom, little black and brown burnt chicken flecks and what looks like gallons of rendered schmaltz will litter the bottom of your pan. Don't worry-- this is that magnificent fond that those in the know know is almost Manna from heaven. (get it-- Schmaltz... Manna? )

    Carefully, with both hands and two pot holders you want to pour off some of the grease, you want to leave about a TBSP or 2 in the bottom of the pan... put it into a heat resistant container, label it and toss it in the freezer. Use it to cook some potatoes or something.. It's too good to waste. It looks like this:

    Ok, now put your pan back on the heat, drop your heat to medium.  IMMEDIATELY (and not a moment later!) toss in your onions along with a heavy pinch of kosher salt, and get to stirring it around.  Usually I use a wooden spoon, I find that as the onions release their juice, it helps to lift that fond off the bottom of the pan. You don't have to whale on it... but just stir it around, and get those onions just to translucent.  Garlic goes in now, and stir around until fragrant. The Mushrooms go in now-- and same process, stir them around, and keep them moving. They'll give up their juices, and again help to pull all the yum off the bottom of the pan. It'll look like this:

    Man, look at all this goodness.  When the 'Shrooms are soft, the onions and garlic will probably be slightly browned, toss in your peas. Stir them around too (don't worry about the peas being dry either, any water left from the defrosting process is okay here.) Again, stir them around a bit-- you don't want to color the peas, you just want to bring them up to temperature. It'll look like this:
    Those Peas just look so green here.

    Now, with your wooden spoon, brandish it like a weapon at the people who will be storming your kitchen because it smells so good.  Send them off with a command of "45 minutes to an hour to go!" and "Thou Shalt not Pass!... The kitchen door!" (Gandalf impressions complete with wooden spoons are IMO the best impressions ever.)

    Now the Water/broth comes into play. Two quarts of your liquid goes in now. If it's chicken broth, great, if it's water, it's still okay, you'll just have to call in for reinforcements:

    For water, you'll want to add 2 packets (or to taste, one might do you) of Chicken Powder to the pot, and Stir until fully dissolved. One packet of Sazon goes in next. Yes, it is alarmingly orange.  It's okay- it's not going to make your food neon... unless you put in WAY too much.  Ham flavor (with the cute little piggy) goes in, 1/2 packet to start (it's strong stuff!).  Stir till dissolved, and then taste. At this point, I add a few grinds of black pepper, and my chickeny spices.  I go on a case by case basis for amounts-- add, stir, let sit, then TASTE.  Start small, its easier to add than remove. Eventually, it'll look brown and murky, but taste like pure heaven. 
    This should be at a low simmer at this point.  Return your chicken to the pan--distributing it so that it's all in an EVEN layer. You want it to be mostly submerged now- like this:
    You can see, they're all under the surface. Now, clamp on your lid!

    and.... Set your timer... 20 minutes!

    And... Walk away. Don't leave the house, but find the nearest cushy chair and chillax. Do not lift the lid, (I mean, if it's boiling over, go lower the heat, but avoid picking up the lid. you need that chicken to do its thing.)

    When the timer starts beeping, head back in and pull off the lid.  It'll look about the same as it did before.  That's good, Only difference is in the flavor-- Taste it here, and adjust the seasoning-- it's the last time you can do it. It should be well salted, and nicely seasoned. I tasted here, and added a few shakes of hot sauce in mine-- I prefer a little heat in my chicken.

    Now, your rice goes in. One quart if you please.

    Just dump it in, and give a quick stir:
    Drop your heat to low- you want a very slow simmer here- just bubbles slowly burping to the surface. Rolling boil=burnt rice, and that sucks.

    Clamp on your lid
     But remember to take off your side towel.. it'll get hot there.  Leave your pot alone for another 20 minutes.  Don't go poking around and stirring.. it'll do its best work alone. Trust me :)

    At the 20 minute mark, pop off your lid, and check the rice for doneness- just taste a few grains, they should be at the top. If you still see liquid, pop the lid back on for another 5 minutes and come back.  If the rice is done, Turn OFF the heat, and pop the lid on for 10 minutes.  It'll look like this:
    If you just tear into it here, you'll end up with gummy rice and yucky chicken. It has to rest for those 10 minutes to really come into it's own. So, for those 10 minutes, take your plates and toss them into an oven set to keep warm. Hot plates are a restaurant trick to getting food to the table hot,and keeping it hot for a while.

    Serve a pile of rice topped with some chicken, Top with some hot sauce if you are so inclined. Hubbs was starving when I cooked, so he requested an extra large portion (which he polished off with gusto.)

    After dinner, once everything cooled off, I portioned the rest of the chicken into individual containers, and placed some in the fridge, and some in the freezer.  I just nuke it till hot, and serve, as a VERY easy take-along lunch. Yum yum, and Happy Noms!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011


    Okay peeperinos.... It's been entirely TOO long.

    Coming soon: Chicken With Rice tutorial.... AND...

    Braised Pork Shoulder, and its gazillion uses!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    The eternal struggle for patience

    I guess you can say that I'm really not a patient person. I know what I like, and I know that I like things right now.

    People often tell me that I seem to have the patience of a saint...well, nine times out of ten, its only because I've learned that sometimes it's actually faster to get what you want when you slow down a hair and gently shove the object of your attention in the direction you intend it to go.

    Aside from this non sensical rambling... I'm sitting in the lobby at my job, waiting to be picked up to go home. I'm trying to have an air of patience, but what it really is is quiet exacerbation. Watching the day shift mill around... With a mild paranoia that people are looking at me, feeling sorry.

    But, no. I'll sit here, trying to maintain my calm exterior...after all, what else is there to do?
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    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    On nanowrimo failure, and why it's not such a bad thing

    Wow, that is really a long blog title, but it is really to the point. I guess this blog is horribly overdue.

    I guess in a nutshell, there is always something to be learned from stories that just don't hit the age of maturity known as completion. And, usually, if you set aside the story for a while (a long while), and then reread it, the lesson usually jumps out at you like an alien chest burster.

    So, obviously this last nanowrimo attempt was an abject failure, and as these things tend to be, was indeed chock full of lessons. Yeah. Giant chest burster lessons. Mmmhmm.

    Lesson one: actually figure out what you want your story to say. Not that it needs to have a moral, but it really needs to have a path, and goals. How do we do this? I hear you ask. I think the answer is outline outline outline. Unfortunately I hate outlining, but it's something I need to get into to improve my writings. I think I'm always afraid that setting a stiffer set of story goals will limit my creativity, but I'm starting to come to the conclusion that it'll help focus my energy instead of having it fly over all willy nilly.

    So. That's where I think I am at for now. I may elaborate on it later. Bedtime now :) back later

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

    Words with friends

    You know... I swear I really am a decent scrabble player... But man oh man...
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    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Chapter 13

    Chapter 13

        The next day started with a trio of phone calls at five o'clock in the morning. They each picked up their wake up calls and sleepily greeted the operator. After a few minutes, the showers of the suites two bathrooms could be heard, along with show tunes being sung loudly but beautifully from the smaller bathroom. The old man enjoyed the shower and the serenade, feeling fully refreshed and ready to start the day. He carefully dressed, aiming to go for sporty but comfortable, knowing they had a long day ahead of them.
      He emerged from his room of the suite, to see mike sitting at the table enjoying a cup of orange juice and reading the morning paper. The old man stretched and made his way to the table, pouring a glass of juice and sitting down.
         "What's for breakfast?" asked the old man.
         "Number fifty one." said Sukie coming out from the room behind them.
         "Fifty one?" asked mike.
         "You don't mean..." started the old man who trailed off as Sukie nodded.
         "Yep!" she answered excitedly.
         "Oh, awesome! We'll take a cab too?" asked the old man, the excitement palpable in his voice. Sukie nodded as the old man beamed. "that's two down early today. Excellent."
         Mike sat there for about half a minute in silence as he contemplated his juice, before the light bulb went on over his head. "Are we going to Tiffany and Company?" he asked.
        "Yes, you got it in one." answered Sukie. "figure, today, we'll be doing a lot of literary things in the morning."
        "Literary?" asked Mike. 
        "Yeah," said the old man, "If I'm not mistaken, we will be headed out to visit some of the places in some of my favorite books."
        "Which books?" asked mike, sounding very interested in what the answer would be. 
        "For starters, Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman capote." said the old man as Sukie and mike nodded. Mike glanced out the open window and saw the exterior of the museum of natural history framed by the trees of central park.
         "Let me guess," started Mike, as he glanced out the window again. "You still wonder about the ducks in the pond." said mike. The old man laughed and nodded. Sukie nodded her head as she said, "Yep, we're following the catcher in the rye today too."
      "I've always loved that book," missed the old man. "It's a sort of escapist fiction, I guess," he said as he shrugged. "It's always been my favorite genre. I guess, that's partly why I was inspired to make the list."
        A knock was heard at the door. The old man looked Down At his watch and said. "At least our man is pretty close to punctual. It's just about six now." Mike nodded in agreement ad he went to the door. He glanced out the peep hole, and took a step back and stood up straight as he opened the door.
       From the table, all Sukie and the old man could see was mike standing straight as a pillar peering through the open door. They heard a gruff voice say, "Permission to come aboard?"
         Mike smiled, and saluted as he stepped aside while saying "Permission granted, you old bugger! Get on in here!"
         The man who entered stood about six feet six inches, with an impressive beard and mustache on his smiling face. He was carrying a paper bag and a carrying tray with four coffees on it.
        "Mike, take this stuff, I gotta fix my gear." he said as he handed mike the tray of coffee. Mike walked inside and set the coffees Down onto the table, as the large man adjusted an impossibly large backpack. He carefully set it down, and made his way to the table.
        "Hey, I'm Don, I'll be your silent partner today" said the large man as he reached across the table and shook Sukie's hand first, and then the old mans next. "I got the call from Mr. Wong last night, and I happened to be in town, with plenty of free time, and so, here I am."
        The four chatted for a few moments, discussing the days plans. Don glanced at his watch, and said, "No time better than the present to get going, we can get a great view of manhattan henge, and the streets around Tiffany's won't be so clogged." They agreed, and put themselves together to go out.
        Ten minutes later, they were in front of the building, mike and don with cameras in tow, Sukie and the old man carrying breakfast, waiting for a cab. "You three in the first cab. I'll meet you there in a few minutes." said don, as he moved around filming.
        "you sure?" asked the old man.
        Don laughed. "Ronin picked me because I'm practically like a ghost if I need to be. You'll barely notice me, but I will be around." Mike nodded, "He's the best of the best. With him, there's nit a shot that will be missed."
         Don laughed, "Now, I'm going to end up with a swelled head. Okay. Enough chat. We'll meet up for lunch later. Have fun!"
         The hotel doorman waved down the next cab that passed, and opened the door for the three. Sukie climbed in first, followed by the old man and then Mike.
         "Where to?" asked the driver in a heavy Brooklyn accent.
        "Tiffany's, please." said the old man, beaming.
        "Okay." said the driver as he pulled off into traffic. The old man looked out the windows.
        "The city is so calm this time of day," remarked the old man as they easily navigated the streets. "Sukie, you gotta take a picture of is in the cab, you know, this is my first cab ride ever." The cab driver laughed as he heard the old man speak.  Sukie held the camera at arms length and snapped a photo of the trio in the cab. They looked out the windows, pointing out landmarks.
        They were driving through central park, and the old man leaned forward and asked the driver "Hey, sir, you ever wonder what happens to the ducks in the pond in the winter?"
         The cab driver laughed heartily then replied, "You know, I usually get that question driving through here. I ended up looking it up. Turns out the ducks never leave, they stay here year round, but if the weathers especially nasty out, they go and shelter themselves in the park."
         "Hey, thanks." said the old man. "I have always wondered about that as a kid."
        "You're nit the only one," said the driver. "They don't go into it in the book, so I looked it up in the computer. I think if google had existed when Salinger wrote that book, it would be an entirely different thing." the old man nodded in agreement. The cab pulled over in front of the granite facade of the famous jewelry store. They paid the cab driver before stepping out of the cab and stretching.
        Together, the trio walked to the first display window. Mike was careful to film the old man opening and taking the first sip of his coffee while he looked into the window in awe of the display. The diamonds glittered like prisms,and little rainbows showered the entire window.  Sukie and the old man pointed at particularly spectacular pieces in the window as they oohed and ahed.
        Eventually, they made their way around the entire building after carefully examining all the windows. An older man came out from the front door of the store, and approached the trio.
        "Hello, we were expecting you!" said the man. The three looked at him, surprised.
        "Expecting us?" asked the old man.
        "Yes, we have arranged a special private tour for you, Mr. Wong arranged it earlier, I take it that he left it as a surprise?"
        Sukie nodded her head. "Mr. Wong seems to be chock full of surprises on this trip."
        "Yes, I know him for many years," said the older man as he guided them inside the store. "He's pretty well known to us for spur of the minute things. We here at Tiffany's aim to please, as he always shows us in the best light. By the way, My name is Joseph, and I am one of the general managers here, and I will be leading your tour."
        They began the tour, looking through the multitude of cases on the first floor. As they finished, the old man thought that he has seen it all, until the older man guided them to the elevator in the back of the showroom. They visited all the floors, marveling at all of the amazing pieces. On the diamond floor, Joseph showed the trio a nearly flawless diamond the size of a marble. The sight of it nearly took their breath away, but the mention of the cost succeeded where the stone's beauty did not. As they finished up their tour, Joseph smiled and lead them back down to the main floor. 
        "As a token of our appreciation of you choosing to include us in your adventures, we'd like to give you a little token."  Joseph smiled and reached into the inside breast pocket of his suit jacket, and pulled out a small blue box.  He handed it to the old man. "Please open it, I insist!" he said, smiling. 
        The old man opened the box, and saw a little blue leatherette bag inside.  He finally understood why people loved getting gifts from Tiffany and Company- the presentation was impeccable.  Opening the little bag, he pulled out a small rectangular key chain, with the Tiffany and Company logo on one side, and the reverse was engraved, "Best of luck in all of your adventures, T & Co."  The old man's smile was huge as he marveled at the key chain.
        "Thank you so much! I've been collecting these, and it's a perfect reminder of this day!" The old man insisted to Sukie that she should take a picture of him and Joseph in front of the famous windows. She snapped the photo, and after they had said their farewells, they stood outside in the crisp air. They finished their breakfasts as they started walking up town towards Rockefeller center. 
         "What did Don mean when he mentioned Manhattan henge?" asked the old man. Mike smiled As he replied. "Manhattans buildings are on such a precise grid, aligned north, south, east and west, that if you stand in the right place on the right time of year, at the right time of day, the setting sun aligns with the buildings on the east west streets, and is really cool."
        "Is today the right time?" the old man asked.
        "Kinda. It might be a little early, but I could be wrong, we can check it out tonight to see." the old man was fully satisfied with Mikes answer, and they continued their way north.