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Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Random Day of Cooking

Sunday, June 13, 2010

After a long week I craved to eat something very delicious and simple. I knew I wanted chicken and drumsticks are by far the best tasting part of the bird when cooked properly (crispy, salty skin with a very tender and juicy flesh). I also knew I wanted caramelized onions, which are to me the best way to eat onions or any other vegetable, except maybe for really buttery mashed potatoes. Also, my family and I are garlic fanatics, so I decided to slice up 4 heads, about 40 cloves, of garlic to make crispy garlic chips with (I know that seems like an immense amount of garlic, but it is just so good).  Finally, I had to cook some chicken breasts, caramelize more onions and garlic, cook more asparagus, and make brown rice for my dad all without salt (Because of his health he cannot eat salt. It hurts me to cook with no salt, there is no flavor).
I started off by breaking apart 4 heads of garlic into about 40 cloves of garlic. Then I crushed them all and peeled the cloves. I cut of the tips of the garlic and cut out the germ (The green sprout that is in the middle of the garlic and sometimes "sprouts" through the clove. It is very bitter). I sliced all 40 cloves very thinly. I took a big cast iron pan and heated some olive oil over low heat and added about 80% of the  sliced garlic, a good amount of course sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I cooked it over low heat for about 15 minutes just to cook the inside of the  garlic. Then I cranked up the heat and crisped up the garlic (This is the same technique to make great French Fries). I removed the crisped garlic with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate line with a paper towel to catch the excess oil. Once removed I seasoned again with salt and pepper.
Next, I sliced four onions very thin. In the same oil that I cooked the garlic in I added the onions along with sea salt, pepper, and thyme. I caramelized the onions over a low-moderate flame for about an hour until they reached a deep, rich golden brown color. When caramelizing onion I always have to add more salt through out the cooking process because once the onions start to release their sugars it dilutes the flavor of the salt.
Then, I cut of 2 inches of the bottom end of the asparagus. I took the asparagus and peeled them and them seasoned them with salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and thyme. I sauteed the asparagus over high heat in the same oil I cooked the onions and garlic in until the asparagus were just cooked through on the inside and the outside was crisp.
Now I had to cook the drumsticks. I would usually grill them, but it was pouring outside so that was out of the question. I had some bacon infused chicken stock that I had made the day before, so I decided to partially poach the chicken in the stock. The stock was made by roasting the carcass of a chicken with mirepoix, tomato paste, fresh herbs, and bacon. After everything was roasted I poured about 3 quart of water into a pot and added the roasted items. I let it simmer very gently for about 6 hours skimming constantly. Then I strained the stock and quickly chilled it. In the morning when I went to look at the stock in the fridge I was happy because the stock gelatinized, which means that the stock had great body. After I partially poached the drumsticks I patted them dry and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and thyme. I brushed some chicken fat on the drumsticks and crisped the skin under the broiler. Then I let the chicken rest for about ten minutes before serving so that the juices got redistributed (Most people make huge mistakes when cooking proteins. All proteins must rest or all of the moisture will be lost when sliced. This makes perfect sense because when molecules are heated they move faster then when they are cooled. So when you cut a piece of meat that came right out the pan the molecules are moving like crazy so they just gush out of the meat all over the plate). In just two and a half hours me and my family sat down to a great meal. But then I had to clean my mess, which sucked.

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