Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Readers of my blog know I like to use stocks as a base to secure the solidity of flavors. My lentil soups are an example of this, the idea being that lentils are cooked, reduced in a chicken stock, perhaps with a vegetable like red pepper, and then pureed and creamed. And of course, my basic chicken soup, which i make almost once a week, with stock, fresh or dried noodles and scallions, is another. Some months ago though, i thought i should 'kick this up a notch,' as that TV guy Emiril used to say. But my way.
What about marinating chicken, and then cooking it in the stock, i thought. This works really well, even with boneless chicken breast, a healthy but often flavorless cut. Marinating the sliced breast over night, in a over salted chicken stock, (which is called brine-ing -) does the trick. Even if you wash off the breasts once, lightly, before cooking, it will be super moist and flavorful as you cook it in the rest of the stock, with your favorite greens, because of the osmosis of the salted stock into the chicken.
Now that was good, but then i got ambitious. Yes, i tried to kick it up another little notch. Why not make the brine more complex, i thought, and add a complimentary flavor to the stock. Variations, no doubt abound, but i settled on a orange stock reduction brine (that just sugarless orange juice -- fresh is best, but expensive -- boiled down to a half with chicken stock, with a teaspoon of salt for a cup). I used boned, sliced chicken thighs this time, and let it marinade over night. When it was ready, i got the rest of the stock to a simmer, and added peanut butter, stirring until it was melted, and chillie pieces. Then I browned the marinated chicken, very quicky in a seperate pan, and added it to the stock, letting it simmer for 20 mins. Yes, brineing allows for shortened cooking times, which doesn't dry out the chicken as happens in 'traditional' Sri Lankan chicken dishes. Right at the end, add a sprinkling of fresh, crushed orange. A little cream, or coconut milk power is also a nice addition
I loved the flavor gradients of this dish, from the complimentary orange, to the stay invoking, smooth, nutty, hot on the mouth sauce, and the succulent chicken morsels. The critter who lives near the bar top, who claims to know about food and things said, "its bold!." Ah..well.