Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chicken following "Pollan's second recipe."

  • a pound of chicken boneless chicken thigh, cut into cubes of about an inch
  • three cloves of garlic, minced
  • one onion, chopped up small
  • about a quarter pound of mushrooms
  • about half a pound of snow peas
  • grapeseed oil (though only because my olive oil bottle was empty)
  • a teaspoon of “Better than Boullon” stirred into half a cup of water
  • the juice of a lemon, squeezed into the water with the bouillon
  • a tablespoon of cornstarch, stirred into three tablespoons of water
  • some farro, cooked according to its directions, which are the familiar one cup with two cups water brought to boil and simmered twenty minutes--but rice, guinoa, or anything else that cooks like that will work as well.
  • Get the farro started
  • Heat the oil in a dutch oven (or big frying pan)
  • Brown the chicken pieces at a moderately high temperature in two batches and move to a plate
  • Lower the temperature a bit, add the garlic and stir until you can smell it, add the onion and stir until it gets kind of soft, add the mushrooms and a little more oil and stir until they darken a bit.
  • Add the liquid and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan (meaning scrape it gently to get most of the brown bits of flavor to come loose)
  • Add the chicken, cover, and simmer for about ten minutes.
  • Add the snow peas and simmer for another two or three minutes.
  • Add the cornstarch mixed with water and stir until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve over the farro or other grain
  • The Michael Pollan part is "Roots browned in fat, then simmered with protein, vegetables, and liquid."  In Cooked, he has great fun working through world cuisines as separated mainly by the choice of which roots: carrot-onion-celery is French, but onion-garlic is Italian and scallion-ginger means you're in Pacific Asia.  It's kind of a master rule that allows for infinite variations based on what looks good at the store or what has been in the fridge long enough that it probably should be cooked tonight.
  • I originally planned to use soy sauce rather than lemon juice, but found my jar had vanished. Then I looked for white wine, and had none of that in the pantry.  Lemon was my third choice--a sign of how flexible the recipe really is.   It could also be done with pork.  Or beef.  Probably shrimp.  Certainly broccoli if added a a few minutes sooner.  Or whole green beans.  Or whole chicken thighs and allowed to simmer another ten minutes before adding the vegetables.  If I didn't have soy sauce or wine or lemon juice, I'd probably add some parsley or thyme to the water and bouillon.

  • Pollan's first recipe is basically dead animal over slow fire watched by a group of people (often all male) consuming some fermented liquid.

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