Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 112 - How to Bone a Chicken Breast, Risotto, and Brown Stock

How to Bone a Chicken Breast (p. 112)

I've boned chicken breasts before, just instinctually, but this is my first time doing it a la Martha. She calls this "making a suprême," like the citrus, i.e. isolating the most supreme parts.

Overall, it was a moderate success. She directed me to fish out the wishbone with my fingers, but it didn't happen quite that way. I broke off two pieces and eventually made a small cut to get the rest out. Everything else was de rigeur, although I'm not used to separating the tender (i.e. the slender fillet attached to the breast). It always seemed to be part of the breast, but I guess it's not supreme enough. :-)

FYI, I marinated the chicken pieces in the leftover marinade from the lamb (i.e. the Fresh Herb and Garlic Marinade) and then grilled it on the stove in my new cast iron grill/griddle combo, and I have to say, it was the best chicken breast I've ever eaten in my life. Period.

Jeff: A-
(Wishbone malfunction)
Martha: A

Risotto (p. 416)

FNBF had some oral surgery today, and he was yearning for something noodle-y and buttery, and I remembered this recipe. I scrambled around in my cupboards and fridge looking for all the ingredients, and amazingly, I had them all! I mention this because risotto sounds like a burdensome, time-consuming dinner, and it's actually easy and quick! And if instead of making the stock from scratch, I'd used store-bought or pre-made, it would have been even easier.

Like the Farro Risotto, this is a scary dish to make only in that there's almost no flavor until the end when you salt it. If you taste it during the process, it's almost tasteless. But once it's all cooked and seasoned, hidden flavors magically emerge.

FNBF was into it, but I was lukewarm. I could have used more flavor. Martha had me make that very delicate stock for the rice, but the next time I do this, I'll use something stronger, maybe even the brown stock I'm about to describe.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Basic Brown Stock (p. 50)

Attention: there is nothing basic about this stock.

Let me rephrase that. There is nothing basic about making this stock. It is possibly the most time-consuming recipe I've done so far. In my life. Ever. Don't start this recipe after 1PM because it's 10 hours until it's done cooking, and then it has to cool before you can refrigerate it!! I started at 2:30PM. Nuff said.

For five measly little containers of stock, this sure was a lot of work (and a lot of meat bones)! On a whim at Fairway, I had picked up the ingredients for this monster and started throwing it together. If I had read through the recipe carefully, maybe I would have waited until another day.

First is the browning/roasting of the bones, then the continued browning of the bones, with added tomato paste and vegetables. That's about two hours. Then the bones go in a pot, the roasting pan gets deglazed, and then you add the deglazed stuff to the pot, along with a lot of water, and simmer for eight, yes eight hours, adding some herbs along the way.

I will say this. My apartment smelled great! That is, if you like the smell of browning meat.

Amazingly, after all that cooking, the stock doesn't taste like much. However, I'm sure this is yet another example where a little bit of salt will unleash the wealth of flavor inside. I thought the stock would evaporate more and I'd have to add water, but the bones were covered the whole time, so I didn't. I was disappointed to only get 2.5 quarts of stock out of this when Martha estimated 3.5 quarts. Mind you, I was so tired at the end that I was spilling it everywhere, so that might account for losing a cup or two, but four? Hmmmm...

As promised, after an overnight stay in the fridge, the fat hardened on top and could be skimmed off. Like the chicken stock, when this is cold, it's completely jellied.

So, three containers have gone into the freezer (for French Onion Soup someday!) and the other two are getting ready to become Glace de Viande, which is even more precious than Basic Brown Stock.

After making this, I checked out all the recipes in the book that call for brown stock, and it looks like I will only have to make this stock one more time to complete them all.

Phew. What an ordeal!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Until we eat again....

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