Sunday, May 8, 2011

Techniques: How to Supreme a Citrus - Cutting Pith-Free Citrus Segments

Here, courtesy of CHOW (where there are many short, to-the-point, techniques videos), Michael Symon shows you how. I do this over a bowl so I don't lose any juice. Additionally, if there are any significant fleshy bits on the peel I have removed, I squeeze those for the juice as well as the remainder of the left-over pith after I've removed all of the segments.

An alternate method that looks very pretty in some presentations is to complete cutting off the peel and pith, slice the citrus lengthwise, remove (by hand) any pith in the middle and slice the citrus thinly cross-wise in half wagon wheels.

Oh yeah - zest your citrus before you do any cutting. Even if the zest isn't called for, you can freeze it in a freezer bag (removing as much air as possible). Over time, it loses a little 'oomph' but not too much. This delicious Moro Blood Orange came from Will's Avocados (at the S.F. Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Breakfast

Cheesy scrambled eggs on a warm Acme croissant, merguez, Toulouse, chicken-prosciutto sausages from Golden Gate Meats and Dirty Girl strawberries

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sauteed Kale with Walnuts, Kumquats and Feta / Pan-Seared Chicken Breast

So, I have been 'revisiting the breast' having long eschewed boneless, skinless chicken breasts for dark meat or whole chickens, usually appending "and tasteless" to "boneless, skinless". In too many instances, eliminating the skin and bones and pan searing or baking them them can be the gateway to dry, tasteless chicken.

There are good things to be said for them when you brine them beforehand or pound them out and roll them up with a stuffing or make breaded cutlets and dress them with a lemon caper sauce (and other preparations) but for this quest, I had one goal: that preparation would be simple, fairly fast and involve a whole boneless, skinless chicken breast.

I don't always cook a different meal every night. I generally prepare ingredients (proteins, grains, greens, beans) once a week and assemble my meals adding a vegetable or two. In the winter, I'll make a soup or stew once every week or so. It means I don't have to start from scratch or eat a cloned leftover for multiple nights. It also allows me to improvise with the preparation without spending hours. I have homemade pestos and things like oven roasted tomatoes and roasted lemons in the freezer as well as chunks of pancetta I can take out to season things .

So when I made this meal, I made four chicken breasts and two servings of the kale.  The recipe for the chicken breasts was adapted from America's Test Kitchen "Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts" and the only things I will change the next time I make this is to not crowd my baking pan so much - it took longer to cook the chicken than necessary I think, and I will remove the tenderloin from the breast (see: step 2 of this Food Network instruction for a picture). Some pre-packaged chicken breasts already have this removed. If you turn the breasts skin-side down, the tenderloin is the little flappy part. I also used olive oil in the flour-cornstarch slurry instead of melted butter.

Most importantly, was it good?

Green garlic, sliced kumquats, toasted walnuts,
barrel-aged feta cheese and lacinato kale.
Chicken-y taste - 75% Moist and not dry - 90% Nice crust - 95%.  I would make the dish again, but probably cook it with the skin and on the bone in the first step(increasing the cooking time) removing both before the 2nd step of searing it off in the pan. However, if you have boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your fridge and need to cook them pretty quickly without a lot of fuss, keeping them moist, with a nice browned crust, this would work very well.

Although not mentioned in the recipe, it's also important to cook the chicken breasts skin-side down in the baking step - that evens out and flattens the presentation side so that when you sear them off, you get even browning across the whole piece of chicken.

Sauteed Kale with Walnuts, Kumquats and Feta, Dressed with a Sherry Vinaigrette: Many who know me know that I am a sucker for lacinato (dino) kale.  Any type of hardy greens that can be sauteed may be substituted. If kumquats aren't in season, you can absolutely use orange segments or slices, or apples, or sliced strawberries. You can certainly sub shaved parmigiana for the feta, almonds for the walnuts and white wine vinegar for the sherry vinegar- you see where I'm going with this, yes?

Recipes: Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts + Sauteed Kale with Walnuts, Kumquats and Feta