Boneless, skinless chicken breasts?

April 30, 2013

I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly, but in general, I disagree with boneless, skinless anything. If you cook meat, then you should cook pastured, organic meat with bones and fat. I think the minerals from the bones are important for balancing acidity and nutrition, and the fat helps protect the lining of your small intestine, and helps you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. But keep in mind these are mere opinions and I am not presenting them as fact..

However, every so often, boneless, skinless chicken breast is on sale, so I buy it and make something with it. In the past, my usual dish was chicken fingers, but now that I no longer eat grains and have adopted a paleo / specific carbohydrate diet, I needed a new way to make chicken fingers, but I was bored out of my mind with boneless, skinless chicken breast in general.

Enter Chicken Ennui.

I created this recipe out of sheer boredom (thus the name) and it’s easy and quick, and can probably be made with stuff you already have in your kitchen. As usual, I didn’t measure anything, so here are some pictures.

Preheat oven to 350 and put your baking pan in there to get hot. Gather dried herbs that go together, such as these:

Dried herbs and peppercorns

Rosemary, basil, fennel seed, thyme and black peppercorn.

Other herbs that would work well with all or some of these are: oregano, sage, parsley, and corriander. You can use any kind of peppercorn, but you can’t skip it. Add some salt, and grind all of these in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to a fairly fine powder. Don’t use pre-ground pepper, because it’s gross. Always grind your peppercorn fresh. Trust me. I’d use about a tsp of each for each pound of chicken breasts, because I like a ton of herbs, and chicken breast needs flavor. Oh god, it’s just so dull.

Slice up chicken breasts so they’re evenly sized for even cooking. I usually make them between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Slather mayonnaise on every slice (you’ll only need about a tablespoon per pound), then press them into the herb/salt/pepper mixture.

Place the coated chicken strips on the hot baking pan (I used a slotted pan) and bake for about 10 -15 minutes.

Coated chicken strips ready for oven

I put the chicken strips on a pre-heated slotted roasting pan. You can bake them on any kind of baking pan. Pre-heating it will help them to not stick.

I like it to be a little browned, so I leave it in for a while.

Chicken Ennui is done!

See, I didn’t cut all of the chicken breast the same size. Uneven cooking! Learn from my mistakes, people!

I served my Chicken Ennui with spaghetti squash with a dollop of Artisana coconut butter, and arugula with Kerry Wood Lemon Tarragon dressing. If you’d like to see pretty much everything I eat, you can follow my meals on Tumblr.

Dinner

Dinner! Yum!

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How do you make bone broth?

February 20, 2013

I make it slowly.  I don’t use just bones and joints (which are necessary to get the minerals and collagen you need to have a true bone broth).  I add a lot of meat and aromatics for extra flavor because I drink it like coffee and use it in a lot of dishes I make.  Also, I try to use up leftovers (like mushroom and parsley stems) and ingredients that I won’t be using before they go bad.  I never use cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts or potatoes in a stock because they ruin it.

In my latest chicken bone broth I used:

Top row, left to right:
Fresh chicken parts that I didn’t use in a recent recipe, frozen chicken parts and leftover bones, leftover bones from the recent recipe (after I ate it).

Bottom row, left to right:
Pure Indian Foods brand ghee, 2 diced onions, chopped leftover shiitake mushroom stems (with 2 diced carrots under them), chopped fresh ginger, chopped fresh garlic, 3 fresh bay leaves, fresh oregano, 2 stalks chopped celery, leftover parsley – mostly stems.

I also add white wine (I’ve had good luck with Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay – it’s cheap and works well in my stock)  and plenty of filtered water.

My Bone Broth Ingredients

My Bone Broth Ingredients

I melted a few tablespoons of ghee in a 12 quart stock pot over medium-high heat and start my sautéing.

Sauté

Sautee the onions in ghee until they are translucent, then add mushroom stems until fragrant, then carrots.

Now it’s time to start heating up the water to add to the stock later.

Sauté 2

Add the oregano, bay, ginger and garlic. Sauté only long enough for the garlic to become pleasantly fragrant, and no longer. Browned or burned garlic will ruin the stock.

You may need to add more ghee if you weren’t liberal enough with it in the beginning.

Sauté 3

I add the celery last and mix throughly.

Add in the fresh chicken.

Browning the chicken

Add the fresh chicken, pressing it skin down into the pan to encourage browning and some fat release.

If I had thawed the frozen stuff, I would add it in after the first round of meat browned. The more brown (not burned) bits you have on the bottom, the more flavorful the broth.  When the chicken starts browning, stir everything around a bit and adjust heat (if you need to) to make sure nothing is burning.

Browning the chicken 2

Look for a good amount of browned (not burned) parts on the bottom. Time for deglazing!

Add wine to a nice hot pan and stir, scraping up the browned bits to mix into the liquid.

Deglazing

Add wine. Be liberal. Good life advice, I think.

This is where I would add any of the frozen parts and leftover bones from cooked food.  The cooking off of the wine will help to heat those up.  Mix them in once they’ve been warmed up.

A little extra chicken browning

The remaining bones get to heat up and the rest of the chicken gets a chance to brown.

I add the hot water, a kettle-full at a time until the the pot is about 2/3 full.  Then I stir lightly to make sure nothing is left on the bottom of the pan.

Water is added

Water is added. Bring to a light boil and immediately shift the heat to simmer. Let the waiting begin!

Many people add a tablespoon or so of vinegar into the pot at this point to help extract the minerals and collagen from the bones.  If I have it, I will add apple cider vinegar, though it doesn’t really have an effect on the taste.  If you add too much water and/or you boil too furiously, your broth will not gel up after cooling , as a good bone broth should.  I like to partially cover the pot for the long, slow simmer to keep the heat in and to make sure I don’t over evaporate.  I want a high yield!

I don’t usually touch the stock during this time (8-12 hours).  At the end of the simmering time, most of the joints and collagen should be rendered into the stock and the bones should be brittle or at least break easily.

Strain the stock and put into glass jars.  Leave ample space between the broth and the jar lid if you are freezing it, as the broth will expand.  Let the jars sit for an hour (uncovered) before putting them into the refrigerator or freezer.  (Cooks Illustrated tells us that an hour is optimal in The Science of Good Cooking, p. 101.)

High yield, great taste!

I will drink most of this broth within the week, but risotto and some delicious sauces will be made, and a jar or two may actually make it into the freezer.

Remember to heat the broth to boiling when you use it, and if you used organic, pastured chickens, eat the fat!  It’s wonderful for you!

NOTE: If you want to speed up the extraction of minerals from the bones, besides adding a tablespoon of vinegar during the simmering phase, you can also hack up the bones and joints prior to cooking.  Also, if I had them, I would add more backs, necks, giblets and feet to this stock as well, as they are great sources of flavor, collagen and minerals.


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