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Roast Chicken Soup


(serves 6)
This is a wholesome soup that I invented after much experimenting to capture the meaty goodness of roast chicken. It’s got chunks of roasted chicken and pancetta, croutons of baked carrots and mushrooms. Trust me, you won’t be able to think of anything else but roast chicken while the soup is swirling around in your mouth. Kobi’s hearty roast chicken soup is a meal in itself, perfect for those winter months.   

Ingredients (Roast Chicken)

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (4)
  2. Diced Pancetta (80g)
  3. Rosemary 
  4. Thyme

Ingredients (Soup)

  1. Onion (2)
  2. Carrot (1)
  3. Brown Mushrooms (100g)
  4. Butter (50g)
  5. Milk (1 cup)
  6. Flour
  7. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  8. Brandy

Preparation 

  1. You have to first roast four chicken legs according to this recipe.
  2. While the chicken is in the oven, dice your onions into 1/2 inch pieces and then stir fry them in 50g of butter under very low heat until they caramelize. It should take about 25 minutes. Turn the heat off when the onions are, a deep shade of brown and leave the pan on the stove.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, place 3 legs into a pot with 4 cups of boiling water. Set to simmer and add a dissolved chicken stock cube. Set aside the fourth leg, you’ll be using it later. Pour the drippings (including the pancetta) into the frying pan with the onions.
  4. Degalze the baking tray with some of the boiling chicken stock, and after some light scraping, pour the mixture back into the chiken stock.  
  5. Dice your carrot into small cubes and then cut the mushrooms into pieces which are about 3x larger than the carrots (because they will shrink). Put the carrots and mushrooms into the baking tray and stir well with 2T olive oil. Bake this for 25 minutes in the oven at 175oC (350oF) .
  6. After the chiken has simmered for at least an hour, take the chicken legs out. Mash the meat of one leg with your hands till you get loose fibres of meat and put this back in the stock. Discard the other 2 boiled legs.
  7. Set the heat to medium for the frying pan with the onions. When the pan is hot, sprinkle in 2T of plain flour and reduce the heat to low. Stir fry for two minutes or so to cook the flour and then pour in 1 cup of milk 1/5 cup at a time, stirring all the time to prevent lumping. You should end up with a thick brown soup base.
  8. Stir in 2 ladles of the chick stock to the pan slowly to thin down the soup base even more. Pour the resulting mixture back into the soup pot. Boil for another 5 minutes.
  9. When its time to serve the soup, add 2T of brandy and a sprinkle of black pepper, and reboil. Shred the meat of the last chicken leg (the one that wasn’t boiled). Add the chicken meat only after you turn the heat off. Taste to see if you wish to add salt. Ladle the soup into serving dishes and sprinkle on the roasted carrots and mushrooms.  

Notes

  • For those of you interested in french cuisine terminology, flour fried in butter is called roux. If you add milk to roux, it becomes béchamel sauce. If you had added the chicken stock without the milk, it would have become a velouté sauce instead. Since we added both milk and chicken stock, I have no idea what that is called…cream soup I guess.
  • You can use leftover chicken, so make a double batch of roast chicken, that way you can eat your chicken and drink it too (at a later meal).
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in A Kobi Original, English, Poultry, Recipe, Soups

 

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Herb Roasted Chicken Legs


(serves 2 for meal, 4 for snack)
This is a simple way of roasting really delicious chicken legs. If there is one meat you need to roast well, its chicken. Roast chicken is the intermediate ingredient for many other wonders of the kitchen, like chicken sandwiches and chicken salads. Some herbs in the marinate and pancetta, a type of Italian bacon, is all you really need to bring out the best flavours in your roast chicken. Best of all, this recipe is easy, good for those times you can’t afford to expend too much effort preparing food.   

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (4)
  2. Diced Pancetta (80g)
  3. Rosemary 
  4. Thyme

Preparation 

  1. Trim off the loose flaps of skin on the chicken if any and pad with paper towels to dry them. If you have time, leave the chicken in the fridge uncovered for a few hours to dry it out, but this is an optional step you can skip if you don’t have time.
  2. Dissolve 1t of salt in 3T of olive oil and then add 1.5t rosemary, 1.5t thyme and 0.5t pepper. Mix well.
  3. Marinate the chicken and then leave the legs in a baking pan for an hour for the flavor to set in. The herbs like to stick to the parts of the chicken with no skin, so make sure the herbs cover the chicken evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the diced pancetta on and around the chicken (see the photo below).
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the oven preheated to 175oC (350oF) depending on the size of the legs. Increase the temperature to 200oC for the last 10 minutes if you like your chicken browned to a bronze shade.
  6. That’s basically it, but there are a few options you can pick from for the chicken drippings (including the pancetta bits).
    1. Meal – Boil two potatoes ahead of time and roughly mash the potatoes in the drippings and 1/4 cup milk.
    2. Snack – Mix 1 t dijon mustard into the drippings to make a nice mustard gravy.
    3. Sandwich – If you are going to make roast chicken sandwiches, just shred the chicken meat and then drench the meat with the drippings (plus 2T mayonnaise if you want it creamy).

Notes

  • Pancetta can be bought pre-diced at the right supermarket/deli. There are usually two flavours, savoury and sweet. Make sure you don’t buy the sweet type (labled dolce) by accident.
  • In case you were wondering. Pancetta is salt cured, seasoned with spices like nutmeg and fennel, and matured over a period of at least 3 months. It may look similar to but its not the same as bacon.
  • Can you use chicken breasts instead? Yes. But you should brine them first, and the recipe won’t be simple anymore. Also, its crucial to get the cooking time exact for breasts. When you breasts begin to shrink a bit, that’s when they are ready.
 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in English, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Brined Chicken Breast


(?servings, intermediate ingredient)
This is a time tested way of turning an otherwise hard and dry chicken breast into succulent tasty chicken. All you need is salt, sugar, water and time. While brining is normally used to prepare chicken or turkey for roasting, I will use dry poaching as the method of cooking in this recipe. I usually use this poached chicken in chicken potato salad, as a meat supplement to caesar’s salad, or as a sliced chicken appetizer with the appropriate sauce.

Ingredients

  1. Large skinless chicken breast (1-1.5)
  2. Salt
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Rosemary
  5. Sesame oil
  6. Quart sized ziploc bag (2)

Brining 

  1. Fill a large glass (salad bowl) or ceramic container (soup tureen) with 4 cups of room temperature water. Add 4T of salt and 4t of soft brown sugar. Stir to ensure everything melts.
  2. Your chicken breast should come skinless, in halves. For the avoidance of doubt, the picture shows one chicken breast, with one half sliced. If you are using the smaller variety, you should use 3 halves.
  3. Place the chicken in the brine, making sure the pieces are completely submerged. If you are using a container with a flat bottom, you will probably need additional brine, adjust accordingly. Cover with a plate or clear wrap. If it is a hot summer day you should consider keeping the chicken in the fridge during the brining, or adding a few cubes of ice every 2 hours.
  4. After 8 hours discard the brine and rinse the chicken thoroughly in water. If you are not cooking the chicken immediately, place it in the fridge.

Poaching (optional)

  1. A few hours ahead of time, mix 1T of rosemarry, 1t of coriander seed powder with 5T of sesame oil. Leave this to sit.
  2. Marinate the brined chicken breasts in the rosemary-sesame oil while you boil a Large pot of water. Rosmary is a woody herb and you may want to strain out the rosemary depending on how you plan to use the chicken later.
  3. When the water is boiling, put each half breast of chicken into an individual quart sized zip loc bag. Spoon any left over oil into the bags as well. Squeeze out all the air and seal.
  4. Put the bags in the boiling water. Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Leave in the pot, without opening the lid, for a further 20 minutes (less time if your chicken breasts are small, more time if your pot is not large enough).
  5. When you finally remove the chicken from the bags, you should notice that the meat has a slight pinkish hue. This is normal, the chicken is not undercooked.
  6. There will be a small quantity of concentrated chicken stock left in each bag from the brine that was in the chicken. Reserve this and drench the chicken in it after you have sliced/diced it. You can also use this stock for making a sauce.

Notes

    • Brining depends on the scientific phenomenon known as osmosis where dissolved substances in two liquids separated by a membrane will want to equalize concentrations. Salt ions are very small and they will travel into the chicken through the cell membranes. However, the molecules of other substances dissolved in the chicken are too big to escape into the brine and water is drawn into the chicken to equalize concentrations instead. The result is that both salt and water are drawn into the chicken, plumping it up and making it juicy.
    • Sometimes people prefer to brine their Chicken for longer. You can double the brining time to 16 hours;  The 16 hour brined chicken is noticeably more tender than the 8 hour version but the resulting chicken will taste salty and any further marinade or seasoning should not contain anything salty. At 24 hours you will get chicken that is as salty as bacon.
    • Feel free to experiment with all kinds of additional things in your brine, like liquid smoke, apple slices, honey etc. Do not use any powdery substance that is insoluble like coriander seed or cinnamon, these will clump onto certain areas of the chicken.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Poultry, Recipe

 

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The Herb Page


This is by no mean a comprehensive list. I’ve only put in herbs that I use fairly regularly. I feel there is no meaning in putting down a large list of meats and dishes for each herb so my comments are somewhat concise, zeroing in on things to remember each herb by. In the ideal world everything should be fesh. But this is the real world. If you want to have a full range of herbs at your disposal, its more practical to use freeze dried herbs. In general, just use more of the dried variety and you will get close to the effect of the fresh herb. Unless otherwise stated, all my recipes assume dried herbs.

One distinction to keep in mind is the difference between grassy and woody herbs. Grassy herbs can be sprinkled on directly and will just ‘disappear’. Woody herbs (like rosemary and thyme) have to be cooked for a very long time or at very high temperatures to become edible, otherwise you have to use a muslin bag or boil the herbs seperately to get an infusion. 

Herbs 500

  1. Basil. When I smell Basil, I think Italian cuisine. There are many varieties of basil, including Genovese (think pesto) Basil, Thai Basil, but Sweet Basil is the variety normally found in the kitchen. Basil is one of the few herbs that retains its flavour with cooking so it is sometimes used in stews or slow cooked sauces. When basil is mentioned to me, raw tomatoes will always come to my mind as its perfect partner, in Insalata Caprese (a salad of tomatoes and mozzarella), in Tomato Bruschetta or in some other similar dish.
  2. Bay Leaves are one of those strange herbs that have better flavour when they are dried. Consequently that is the way the are mostly sold. Long cooking releases the full bittersweet flavour of bay leaves and most braised and stewed dishes could do with a few bay leaves. When I think of bay leaves, I think of bolognese sauce and other ragu sauces using cooked tomatoes. Remember to remove the leaves prior to serving.
  3. Bouquet Garni is a bundle of woody herbs usually tied together with butcher twine that is thrown into long cooking dishes such as stews. After the flavour of the herbs is infused into the food, it is discarded. The bouquet is a legacy practice from the days before bottled freeze-dried herbs became widely available and is not all that common nowadays.
  4. Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant and tends to be associated most with Asian and Latin American cuisine. It is also used in Portuguese dishes, probably because of influences from Macau. Its very strong and permeating aroma does not get assimilated and it is very useful for masking the intensity of an overwhelming primary smell. Cilantro is often used in steamed or poached fish, and in seafood stock, to “freshen up” the seafood. If your Gorgonzola sauce is too cheezy or your goose too gamey, cilantro is one of your options.
  5. Dill Weed refers to the thread-like leaves, as opposed to the seeds, of dill. i.e. dill weed is the herb and dill seed is the spice. Freeze-dried (i.e. still green) dill weed retains its flavor relatively well, and should be stocked as a standard herb in every kitchen. When I think of Dill weed, seafood immediately comes to mind. It is used in the marination of raw salmon into gravlax or in dill butter served with crustaceans. It also goes well in cream and cream cheeses, leading to its wide use in dips.
  6. Fines Herbes is a combination of herbs popular in the Northern Mediterranian countries, comprising usually parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil although other herbs may be used as well. In general, fines herbes are intended to be added only towards the end of the cooking process, and this dictates which herbs can or cannot be included. If you don’t have an exact herb in mind when cooking something, such as an omelet you just made from leftovers, fines herbes will work well as an all-purpose herb.
  7. Herbes de Provence is another combination of herbs. The main components are thyme, basil, fennel and lavender although a few additional herbs are always added depending on the blend. This herb set is the mainstay of Provencal Cuisine, which is the cooking style of that part of Southern France around Marseilles and Toulon. One of the popular ways to use Herbes de Provence is with garlic and butter, such as in the case of baked escargots.  
  8. Lemon Grass is a herb used in marinating chicken, pork and seafood to give it an exotic oriental taste. It gets its name from the beautiful citrus rind flavour and aroma that it imparts, without the bitterness. Curries and salads from Indochina and Southeast Asia very often contain lemon grass.
  9. Oregano is often paired with basil or tomato sauce and is naturally used in pizzas. I would also consider Oregano when making egg and cheese dishes. Since world war two, when GIs discovered pizza and oregano while liberating Italy, the two have become immutably linked. Because oregano retains its flavour and aroma when dried, it was readily adopted by the US pizza chains. Ironically, I don’t use oregano much, because it reminds me and my guests of pizza.
  10. Parsley is defended by many ‘experts’ as a useful tasty herb but I stand firmly in the underwhelming camp. Sometimes I sprinkle some chopped parsely on red or yellow cream soups, on new potatoes, for aesthetic purposes. I also mix chopped parsley with garlic and butter for garlic bread to give the spread more body and a better appearance. Sometimes parsley is used in larger quantities in stuffings, again to give body. To sum up, parsley is good as a garnish and little else.
  11. Rosemary to me is an English herb that I always associate with roast chicken, and well basically anything that is roasted. It is woody but has a taste that reminds me of flowers. Rosemary is surprisingly versatile in spite of its distinctive character. It can be used, in lesser amounts, in a large variety of soups, stuffing and meat marinades.
  12. Sage is a bitter peppery herb used mostly with meat, popular in the Medditerranean and sometimes English cooking. It is most commonly found in stuffing. Sage has a strong aroma and taste and will dominate other smells if too much is used. I don’t usually use sage unless it is specified by a recipe.
  13. Tarragon is cultivated mainly in France and naturally appears often in French recipes. It is probably most known for the flavour it imparts to tartare sauce and bearnaise sauce. When I think of tarragon, I think of desiccated coconut, some people say licorice but maybe it is because they don’t have much contact with coconut. This herb has a strong sweet aroma and is one of my favourites. I often use it in baked casserole dishes.
  14. Thyme is a herb in the ‘warm’ category that is usually added early in the cooking process as it releases its flavour slowly. Like bay leaves, thyme retains its flavour on drying better than most other herbs and doesn’t disintegrate easily. Unlike bay leaves however, it  comes in very small pieces and cannot be fished out after cooking. I usually only use thyme if I am going to strain after cooking as in the case of bullion, or if I am using a muslin bag.
 
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Posted by on October 2, 2009 in Ingredients

 

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