January 13, 2013
White Cut Chicken
Have you ever had someone spoil a favourite dish?
One you really, really love, but for whatever reason has had the joy taken out of it through a bad experience, nasty comment, or just plain guilt tripped for you?
This is what happened to me with my White Cut Chicken
I used to make this all the time, it's easy, delicious, and very versatile, and appeared at my table again and again....until that fateful day.....
A few years ago, my Grandmother passed away. She just stopped- suddenly, but at 92 she had had a good run, and had enjoyed relatively good health (until that point, obviously). Her death certificate actually stated cause of death as Old Age, apparently quite a rarity!
Anyway, we held a lovely service commemorating her life, and of course a wake afterwards that my family and I catered for with lots and lots of food- including my White Cut Chicken.
We had just sat down to eat when a well-meaning but nervous friend of the family joined us. She perhaps felt we were struggling for conversation at the table, and after a couple of false starts or two started to talk about the colour of corpses, and asked what shade exactly, was my grandmother when she died, and was buried.
I glanced across at my sister, then my dad, and we all paused with our mouths full and our forks halfway to our mouths loaded up with clammy, gray-ish, fleshy, jellied skin chicken. After an almighty gulp, I was able to swallow down my current mouthful and suggest that this was certainly not a sensitive subject for lunch... but I could no longer eat my chicken.
I knew it was tasty, I knew it was juicy, I knew it was cooked silky soft, but I could no longer see past the clammy skin and not-so-appetising-anymore colour. It was spoilt for me now.
This had been an extremely hot Summer.
Temperatures staying in the very high 30's for a couple of weeks has not been encouraging to slaving over a hot stove to cook dinner, so I searched for some of my best keep-the-kitchen-cool meals and thought about my White Cut Chicken.
Could I do it? I knew it was a ridiculous prejudice, but it had really stuck in my head. What the hey, I decided to face my fears anyway and cook it just to prove I could, and there where were plenty of other things in the fridge if I balked at the last minute :)
So I did it! I cooked it, cooled it, rubbed it and (I admit squeamishly) ate it. And....... it was as moist and tender and flavoursome as I remembered and so much more.
The curse is finally lifted. I can enjoy my yummy chicken as often as I want and haven't let that silly conversation scar me for life anymore.
I'm so glad, and I bet my Grandmother would have been proud!
This is a very lovely, simple meal, of cold poached chicken with fresh Asian flavours, rubbed with soy and sesame. With a side of rice cooked in the chicken stock, this is a great meal to beat the heat.
It's another recipe that doesn't really need exact measurements or even ingredients. Just go with what's on hand and what flavour profile you like best.
White Cut Chicken
One Raw Chicken
Soy Sauce (gluten free)
Prepare your stock ingredients by getting about a thumb sized piece of ginger, a few garlic cloves and spring onions, a chilli and the coriander roots and then giving them all a good bash with the back of your knife or a rolling pin, to bruise them all well and release their flavours
Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any excess fat from the skin near the cavity entrance.
Stuff a bit of all the ingredients and the coriander tops into the cavity of the chicken.
Don't put too much in, or pack it tightly though. The hot stock needs to be able to move about freely to cook the bird thoroughly and evenly
Pop the rest of the stock flavourings and some cold water, into a pot large enough to fully submerge your chicken.
Bring to the boil
Carefully place the chicken into the pot. Make sure it's submerged and the cavity is totally full of hot water. Bring back to the boil, then immediately clap the lid on and turn the heat right off completely
Leave the chicken alone.
Go do what you need to do for about 45 minutes, then come back and bring the pot to the boil again.
This time I make sure that the stock in the cavity of the chicken is nice and hot by swishing it around and refilling it with fresh heat.
Pop the lid back on and enjoy yourself for another 45 minutes or so.
After this amount of time the chicken should be subtlety flavoured and fully cooked through.
Plunge it straight into very cold or iced water and leave it to cool. This will create a nice firm flesh with a lovely layer of jelly under the skin.
Dry it off, then I like to rub the skin with soy sauce and sesame oil to give a nice sheen and a bit of colour to the otherwise pale skin tone that I suppose is a bit Zombie like to some of us with over active imaginations :)
Save the cooking stock for making rice later, and refrigerate it immediately.
While the chicken is cooking or cooling, render the oil out of the chicken fat by putting it into a warm pan and leaving it to slowly release. The volume of oil that you get is quite remarkable adds a delicious flavour to the rice dish
In a pan- I use my rice cooker, place your raw rice and the chicken grease. You can use vegetable oil if you prefer, but the depth of flavour will be sadly lacking. Coat the rice thoroughly over heat until they are nice and glossy and starting to turn translucent.
Pop in the required amount of liquid to rice, using the leftover chicken liquid for loads of flavour.
Cook as per usual.
I like to serve my White Cut Chicken cold, but with nice hot rice. I love the different temperatures and it seems to make the meal more satisfying and less 'salad-like' to BigJ who prefers a Real Meal at dinner time
Drizzle the chicken with a bit more soy sauce and sesame oil for seasoning, and have some lovely hot chilli sauce for dipping and some lovely crunchy cucumber for cooling.
A perfect mix of fire and ice, warm and cold, salad and meal!
So Dear Readers, have you ever had a meal spoilt for you, and how do you handle insensitive-but-well-meaning people?