Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bouchon # 3, 4, 5 A Dinner a la Bouchon

I debated whether or not to divide this into 3 posts, opting for the Nah~!
The Menu:
Roast Chicken (a la Bouchon - more about that later)
Beet Salad
Asparagus with Vinaigrette and Eggs Mimosa

The Chicken
In my first Bouchon post I did a Rosted Chicken recipe that is in the front of the book, before the appetizers even. It is basically a rinsed, dried, salted, trussed chicken placed into a hot oven. Period. It turns out this is the chicken that Thomas Keller makes at home, one of his favorite meals. Now my take on it, complete speculation on my part, is that when he gets home, he is tired, he has been cooking and developing menus all week, mired in details and hundreds of ingredients. When he gets home he wants a nice piece of meat to cook without a lot of fuss and one that will be ready fairly quickly.  "I'm tired! I 'm hungry! I want something good and simple!"  or at least that's what I would say... Wait, no I'd probably say "Can we get a pizza?"

It turns out the Roast Chicken at Bouchon is one that is brined for 6 hours and the brine is prepared (ideally) overnight. So the chicken I am preparing today is a modified version of that because I didn't think of it last night and so some time corners have been cut, but not by much. Also, I will serve it without the proper accompanying Chicken Jus that Bouchon uses because, not only did I not think of this last night, I didn't think of it last week either. Chicken Jus takes a stockpile of saved chicken bones and pieces. I did manage to use the pan juices and some chicken broth to create a Sally version of Chicken Jus.

The Brine:  (enough for two 2.5 lb chickens)
1 gal water
1 c kosher salt  ( I used less than this because of we are old and trying to reduce sodium intake)
lemon zest and lemon juice
thyme, rosemary, italian parsley, bay leaves
smashed garlic cloves

You boil all this together for 1 minute then chill ( ideally) overnight. Then you brine the chicken for 6 hours in the fridge. Since I didn't have the overnight option I used half the water and all the brine ingredients, boiled for 1 minute then added the other half the water with some ice in it. Placed in a covered stainless steel bowl it went out on the deck in the 37 degree weather. It chilled pretty quickly and I was left with 4 hrs brine time.

The Beets:
a little water
extra virgin olive oil
salt pepper

Scrub the beets well and place them in a piece of aluminum foil big enough to become a pouch. Add water oil, salt and pepper and wrap the packet up and place it in a baking pan. Bake at 375 for 1.5 hours or until a knife easily pierces through to the center.  Let the beets cool just enough to handle them,  then rub them with paper towels to remove the skins. It's really easy. IF however, you just spent a lot of money on a nice manicure, you might consider rubber gloves. And IF you have a countertop that stains, you might be more careful than I was... Just sayin.

Cut the tops and root ends off, then quarter the beets and cut the quarters in to 1/4 in slices crosswise. Place in a bowl with marinade.  Toss with marinade and season to taste with salt and pepper.
The Marinade:
a little salt and pepper
red wine vinegar
extra virgin oilive oil
fresh squeezed orange juice

The Finish:
chopped tarragon (I didn't use... I hate tarragon and anything licorice-y)
chopped chives
thinly sliced red onion, separated

Let the beets marinate at least 30 minutes to overnight in the fridge, bring to room temp 30 min before serving. Then toss the onion slices tarragon and chives in with the beets and let the onions marinate 30 mins or so. Season to taste with salt, pepper and/or vinegar. I served this at room temperature.
 If you're thinking ewww beets!~ Try them, They are really fantastic: a bit of sweetness, a little tang from the vinegar, a nice tender bite to them. I loved them. Jim added a little feta on his and that was great as well. Besides they are full of iron and other good nutrients. :)  EET ZEE BEETS!  This is a definite do again!

Chilled Asparagus with Vinaigrette and Eggs Mimosa
Fresh Asparagus
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Hard Boiled Eggs (do ahead - remove to ice bath then hold in refrigerator)
Radishes 1 or 2
House Vinaigrette (see below)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Chopped Chives

Hold the spears in the center and snap off the rough end and discard. Line up the spears with tips together and trim until the spears are all of equal length. Reserve the trimmings. Peel the spears from about 1 in below tip and set aside. In a large pot bring some well salted water to a boil. Take some twine and tie up your spears so they dont get too jostled by the boiling. Prepare an ice bath.

Boil the bundle 4-6 min until just tender, then remove to the ice bath keep the water boiling. While chilling, gather up trimmings from extra asparagus spears, you will need 2 cups in order for your blender to puree properly.  Place the trimmings in the boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes until tender. While they are cooking remove your spears and untie them and let them rest on a paper towel to drain.

 Refresh the ice in the ice bath. Once all your trimmings and pieces are tender scoop them up in a strainer and lay it in the ice bath to cool. Reserve the cooking water. Toss your tender trimmings into the blender along with a couple Tbls. of the cooking liquid. Puree and stop to wipe the sides down. The book says "Be Patient" which should have been a red flag to me. Here is the price of my impatience:

Don't worry none of it got in the asparagus, it was severed and I had to amputate : (   Anyway, keep scraping the sides and pureeing until you have a very very smooth mixture, at the end slowly blend in 1 Tbls  extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season to taste with salt.  If there are fibers in your Coulis (that's what this is called), strain it. Refrigerate for at least 15 min. 

The Vinaigrette: (very straighforward)
1/4 Dijon Mustard
1/2 c Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 c Canola Oil

Blend the mustard and vinegar in the blender on medium speed about 15 seconds. Slowly add 1/2 c oil and try not to splatter eveything including your glasses like I did. Pour that mixture into a bowl, and using a whisk very slowly drizzle the remaining cup of oil while whisking away until the mixture is emulsified. What are those muscles in your forearms? Whatever they are if  you are like me, you may need to take a break. Don't worry, it will all end up ok.  This makes a bunch and can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, you may need to re-emusily by whisking or blending. Here's what the vinaigrette ends up looking like to bad you cant see the consistency:


The garnish: remove the egg yolks from the eggs and grate them finely ( I used a microplane). Cut the top and bottom off a washed radish or two then slice into 1/8th in slices. Stack the slices and cut into 1/8th in julienne. Take the radish pieces and toss them in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and add chopped chives.

Plating: Spread a couple of Tbls coulis (the pureed mixture) onto a plate. Carefully place the spears onto the coulis. Add a couple of Tbls. vinaigrette on top of the spears, then carefully sprinkle your egg yolk on top. Finally, add your radish-oil-chive mixture. Here's what it looks like

My better half doesn't like chilled food much except for fruit or dessert, so for him I plated the coulis and asparagus, warmed them in the oven, and made a sort of sauce  by adding butter and vinaigrette to the egg yolks and warming it on the stove. No radishes for him!  I tasted both and it's no surprise the chilled version was far superior. It had everything.. crunchy radishes smooth coulis, rich yolks and asparagus!! (my favorite vegetable.) It was really really flavorful, I would definitely make this again.

Now for the star of the show:

Roast Chicken
1 2.5- 3 lb chicken, brined, dried and trussed allow the bird to come to room temp after brining
a little salt and pepper
a little canola oil
chopped thyme leaves ( I forgot these)
fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 475
I'm still working on trussing so I am not qualified to insruct you here. I'm sure there are many websites that even have pictures step by step. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the bird and toss some salt into the cavity. Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat, when hot add 1 Tbls canola oil. Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up and place in the preheated oven with the legs facing the back of the oven. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted between the leg and the thigh reads 155. (NOTE: that is according to the book, I am a freakazoid about underdone chicken so I take mine to 165-170. When you remove the chicken from the oven the carry over heat will raise the internal temperature another 10 degrees or so).
Remove from the pan and add the thyme leaves to the pan juices, Baste with the juices and leave in a warm spot for 10 minutes or so.

My chicken's breast is a bit underbrowned because I prematurely placed foil over it in concern for over browning the legs. I should have taken it out and used mitts and placed the foil securely over the area of concern.

The book calls for chicken jus, which I did not have, so to improvise I spooned off most of the fat from the roasting pan, turned up the heat and added chicken broth. I scraped up the brown bits and broke them up as best I could. I think I captured the essence of Chicken Jus, if not the beauty.

To plate:
Remove the trussing and cut the chicken into pieces. In the book, there are specific instructions on which pieces to serve together and to remove the chicken wing tip, but I was too lazy. The bottom line is you want to serve it in proper pieces, not as sliced meat. Spoon Jus over your pieces, sprinkle fleur de sel if desired and serve.

This was the best roast chicken I have ever had. Crispy skin, tender, moist flavorful meat, it was perfection! I used a free range chicken (Ashley Farms)  which I think made a difference, but still, I've had free range birds in restaurants before and none has tasted this good.

All in all these are the best recipes I've tried in this project. It was the best meal I've had in a a while. This would be very easy to do for a small dinner party, so much of it can be done ahead. Even 1-2 days ahead. Just add some bread and adjust the quantities and you have an easy, delightful dinner.

I know the post went on a straight line from dish to dish but that isn't how it came together. Here are the steps as they occurred:

Make and chill brine
Boil eggs, refrigerate
Blanch Asparagus and make coulis, refrigerate
Put beets in oven
Make vinaigrette, refrigerate
** It took this long for my brine to chill down enough so I put the chicken in to brine at this point, If you are smart and think ahead you would put the chicken in brine first. Put the chicken in the oven when brine time is up 4-6 hours.
When beets are done remove from oven this should happen before your chicken is ready to go in
Chop chives
Remove skins from beets and cut them up, add mariande ingredients to beets and set aside
Put the chicken in the oven
slice red onions and add to beets
grate egg yolks and julienne radishes, mix radishes with oil and chives
Now all thats left is for the chicken to be done and final plating.

Hope you make one or all of these!
See you soon!

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