Friday, November 15, 2013

My Thai Roast Chicken and Some Restaurant Recommendations

First things first: a shout out to a few new-to-me restaurants. The first is in spit-wad distance of the Pinch kitchen: Rickshaw Republic. It's a BYOB joint serving up Indonesian street food. I loved the Jakarta plate - an abundant compilation of roast chicken and sides, including something called Spicy Egg - basically a hard boiled egg that was then (fried? dredged?) in a sweet chili sauce. I'm looking forward to trying the Ikan Balado, a tilapia dish that sounds divine. Rickshaw's coconut rice is an important upgrade to your dinner.

The second is Slurping Turtle in River North. Chef Takashi won the James Beard award for Best Chef/Midwest in 2003 and opened his eponymous restaurant late in 2007. The restaurant Takashi, located in Bucktown, is a fine dining dinner spot, where as Slurping Turtle is a great lunch spot. The latter features bento boxes (a multi course meal served all at one in a compartmentalized lacquer box). I'm itching to go back for the housemade ramen. Takashi's food is wonderful.

The third is Big Jones in Andersonville. Wow. I was there this week, had the Gumbo (full name: Gumbo Ya-Ya - how can you not have fun eating that?!?) and tried the corn muffin, and am totally going back for the Boarding House lunch sometime soon. Either that or the Shrimp Po'boy. And the Pickle Tasting. Seriously. I can't wait to go back. The cocktail menu looked pretty much awesome, too.

Tonight we're having something I first tried a couple of months ago when my friend Caroline tipped me off to a recipe from Food & Wine - Uncle Boon's Thai Roast Chicken and sung it's praises. I don't do much in the way of whole chickens, so I tinkered with the recipe just slightly and used split chicken breasts. You can source whole coriander seeds at The Spice House or in most good grocery stores.

Here's that recipe:

Thai Roast Chicken Breasts
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
4 split chicken breasts, with ribs
1 T coriander seeds
1 T black peppercorns
8 cups water
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 limes, peeled (use a vegetable peeler to carefully remove just the green peel)

METHOD
Measure coriander and peppercorns into a 3 quart saucepan. Toast for 1 minute over medium flame. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add 4 cups of the water, sugar, salt, garlic, fish sauce and zest/peel from one lime and bring to a simmer. Cook until sugar and salt are dissolved. Allow to cool.  Transfer to a large baking dish and add another 4 cups of water. Let cool to room temperature.

Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and set them into the brine, tuning to coat and poking them all over with a skewer or fork to allow the brine to penetrate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 400.

Remove chicken from brine and set on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Pat dry.

In a blender, combine the coconut milk and remaining lime peel. Pour over chicken breasts, turning to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165.

Serve with Coconut Rice (recipe follows)

Pinched Indonesian Coconut-Scented Rice
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1/3 cup light coconut milk
1 cup water
1 t salt
5 whole black peppercorns
3 cardamom pods
3 slices ginger
Pinch salt

METHOD
Place everything in a small covered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove from heat until ready to serve, keeping covered. Taste for seasoning.

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