Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Food Revolution Ambassador Challenge - Slow Cooking

It's November the time of year when the days get shorter and it's colder and gloomier outside.  It's the time of year when I step back into the kitchen and occupy my time in experimenting and feeding myself at the same time.  My winter hibernation begins in my kitchen.  Thus it's time to create my November Food Revolution Ambassador Challenge of Slow Cooking.

At first I was going to do a dish in a crockpot and wanted to do some sort of chicken dish.   I wanted to use leeks too.   I decided against the crockpot because I wanted to brown off the chicken and didn't want to have to wash a bunch of pots and pans so I just decided to break out my mom's old..I mean who knows how long she had it but it was years and years and now it's mine but still valuable and useful Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  It doesn't look like much but it takes a beating and keeps on cooking.  

The first thing I did was season the chicken and brown it off in the Dutch Oven.  A little golden color and then I removed it to a plate to rest while I put the rest of the vegetables in.

I cut up in chunks and small pieces the following vegetables:

1 leek
2 yellow onions
3 yellow potatoes
2 celery stalks
1 carrot

I then sweated them off in the dutch oven.

I added the following seasonings/spices:

3 Garlic cloves
1 Branches of fresh Tarragon
3 Branches of fresh Thyme
1/4 tsp of chili flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp dried parsley

I mixed until the flavours and smells released.

I then put the chicken back in the pot on top of the vegetables.

I added about 1/4 cup of Pernod to the pot.  You can use Ouzo or any licorice scented alcohol or you can use white wine.   I didn't want to open a bottle of white wine and I wanted the anise flavour in my dish.  I would have added fennel if I had some.

In a bowl I added about 2 cups of water and added a pinch of saffron threads to flavour and color the water.   They steeped for a minute and then I added the water to the pot.

The water should come to just under the level of the meat so that it will braise.

Check the seasoning of the vegetables and see if you need to add any salt or pepper etc.  Don't add too much as it will reduce in the oven.

Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and put it in the oven to cook at 350 Farenheit for I would say about 20 minutes.   I used Chicken Breasts on the Bone and cooked mine a bit too long so it was dry.    You might want to check after 15 minutes and maybe baste the chicken with some of the juices even if you like.  I was lazy and didn't but I probably should have.

It's pretty much a full meal when done because you have the chicken, potatoes and the vegetables in it.  So grab a big spoon and spoon it out into a bowl and enjoy.  You can add a salad or something but it doesn't really need anything.  It's a One Pot wonder Slow Cooking machine.   Now if you had used a cheaper cut of Beef or Pork you would have had to simmer it in the oven for a lot longer to break down the fibers but you don't need to with chicken.

Now I made this dish with 3 pieces of chicken and there was no one around but me to eat it so the leftovers went into the fridge.

The next day I pulled out the leftovers and wondered how to refresh it.  I was thinking Chicken Pot Pie.  I shredded the chicken off the bone but then I decided against making pastry dough because I would have made a mess and then have to wait for the dough to rest or would have had to wait for 4 hours for puff pastry to defrost... so I thought what about dumplings on top to protect the chicken and vegetables while it reheated.   Good idea bad execution.   I mixed up a concoction I had of flour, baking powder and salt with milk until it formed a gloopy mess.   I plopped the goopy mess in spoonfuls onto the top of the casserole dish on top of the chicken and veggie mixture.   Here's where I skip my recipe because they were tough.   Find a good recipe for light dumplings..  some Southern recipe that is tried and true.. I bet Paula Dean has one.  I probably should have looked to her for one.

Anyway it protected the vegetables while I added it back to the oven and soaked up some of the juices. So it turned into a thicker stew quality.  Still tasty and I didn't waste it.  I ate the dumplings even though they were lumpy and hard.

Anyway the point is this whole thing was made without a recipe and just an idea.  I wanted to see what I could come up with from what I had and felt like having which is what cooking at home is all about.  It's ok if it doesn't turn out exactly as you planned.   You learn what to adjust for the next time you make it and if you nail it then you have a new recipe you can go back to.   It's safe to take risks in the kitchen... just stay away from the deep fried turkey's... they are never a good idea..

And on Day 3 I heated it up once again for a crispy brown crunchier version.

Go Forth and Cook some Slow Food...  Enjoy.

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