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!

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