Thursday, April 28, 2005

Recipe Blogging: Pepper Vodka Chicken

This method is one I use often here for an easy dinner: sear cut up chicken in a skillet with veggies & herbs, toss in a hot oven to roast. Change the seasonings, change (or eliminate) the liquor, change the veggies. It's a simple palate to make one's dinner art on.

Pepper Vodka Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (Legs off, separate thighs & drumsticks, wings off, breast split and halved) salt & fresh ground pepper olive oil 1/3 c. pepper vodka 1 small onion, diced (young bulb onions, if you can find them, are terrific) 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4" coins 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Preheat oven to 450F. Season all sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat an oven proof skillet or sautee pan over medium-high heat. (AllClad rules!) Put a pan lid and some baking soda next to the stove. (Fire is involved in this recipe.)
  • In a bit of olive oil, lay in all the chicken pieces except the wings, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sear for several minutes, turning with tongs, until nicely browned and caramelized. (See note below.)
  • Make sure you have the pan lid and baking soda. Pour the vodka over the chicken pieces, wait a moment or two, then carefully ignite the vodka. Whee!
  • Let the flames die down, then toss in the onion, carrot and thyme. Stir around a bit to mix, then place the pan in the oven. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. A quick-read thermometer poked into a thigh (away from the bone) should show 185F.
Notes: When searing meat, don't play with it. Leave it alone in the hot pan for several minutes to complete its caramelization. Moving it around doesn't help, it just prevents the caramelization process. If the meat is sticking to the pan, give it a minute or two more before trying to turn it or pick it up. The meat should free itself from the pan after a few minutes, assuming the pan isn't in horrible shape and grabs on to everything cooked in it! Bourbon makes a good change from the vodka, as does grappa or marc. Flambeeing food in a pan is a lot of fun, but you need to remember that you're playing with fire. Don't get carried away with the amount of vodka (or other liquor) you pour in the pan. Use the pan lid to cover the flames if they get too high and worry you. Use the baking soda if something dire happens and you need to extinguish a potential conflagration.

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