I’m working hard on finishing the first volume of the Enlightened Cook: Entrees. Here is one recipe on which I’d love some feedback. What I generally ask of my recipe tests to provide feedback on the clarity of the directions, accuracy of the measurements (i.e. too much salt? enough oil?). In the case of this terrific recipe, what I need in addition is info on how accurate the timing of each step was:
How long did it take at the given temperature to initially cook the chicken breasts so that they were slightly pink inside?
Was 2 minutes enough to sufficiently break down the tomato at the end into a smooth sauce?
I am considering instead instructing readers to add the tomato and then add the cocoa powder a few minutes later. It’s really important the cocoa powder is not scalded or truly it ruins the sauce. (I’ve tasted that overcooked taste soooo many times in Mexican restaurants.)
So here is the recipe and a note on brining that will appear on that page of the book. Pulled chicken Molé is a recipe I truly love for it’s utterly unique yet unidentifiable flavor.
Pulled Chicken with Mole Sauce
Simmer chicken cutlets in the vegetable stock in a 2-quart pot until only the center remains slightly pink, approximately 5 minutes. Reserve the stock in a bowl and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board.
Mince the onions and the garlic and sauté them in the olive oil in the same pot on a medium heat. When the onions are translucent, but not brown, add all the spices and cook for 1 minute as you stir with a wooden spoon. Then add ½ cup of the reserved stock. Slowly sift in the flour to the rest of the stock, then stir the mixture into the pot a little at a time. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce cooks down, tear the cooled chicken into shredded pieces about 1 ½” inches long and ½” thick with your fingers.
When sauce has thickened to consistency of heavy cream, remove it from the heat and puree with a pistol-style hand blender until it smooth (or puree in a blender.) Stir in the cocoa powder. Add the tomato, which has been cut into ½” cubes. Add the chicken and stir well to coat the chicken evenly. Gently reheat on a medium-low heat for 2 minutes to finish cooking the center of the chicken pieces. Do not boil or the cocoa will make the sauce bitter. Serve with soup spoons in deep bowls to savor every drop!
A friend of a friend, Enrique, caught a Humbolt Squid in the cool California waters between San Pedro and Catalina Island a week ago. At sixty-five pounds and with dandling tentacles, is stood almost as tall as our handsome, statuesque fisherman. Brought on Friday night, I was too intimidated by the looming threat of it cooking up as tough as a fat tire, so instead we opted for the deli that night.
Next day, I took my surgically-sharp knife to the defrosted section that looked strangely like a KKK hood. Slithering and eerie with a faint briny odor and pushed into my bamboo cutting board with a firm palm, I slipped the blade under the membrane of this slippery white mass and pushed. With some guiding I pierced the place between the white flesh and the membrane, until it was my fist working to the other side of this slab of an animal. A weird sense of victory came in spurts each time a significant strip of membrane ripped off the main flesh. Great fun, and I must say, very primal!
Next I cut the calamari into 2-3” strips that were a mere ¼” wide. Then I took the whole slithering pile of them into a bowl, covered them with goat milk, a bit of kosher salt and plastic wrap and set them in the refrigerator to marinade. The enzymes in the goat milk break would down the proteins that make calamari tough, or so says the owner of Frankie’s on Melrose Blvd, whose restaurant makes the best calamari on either side of the Mississippi.
Thirty-six hours later, milky strips emerged visually unchanged. Now it was time to compose a batter that would be both light and crisp and yet adhere when fully cooked. Borrowing secrets from tempura, I opted to combine rice flour and an effervescent liquid––in this case beer. First I mixed rice flour, eggs, salt and pepper, and saved adding the beer until the final dredge through coarse corn meal was eminent. )Recipe will be postedin 3 days.)
My last consideration was on how to achieve the crispness of deep fried without the fat content or the danger of boiling a quart of oil! In my opinion it’s too dangerousto boil a quart or so of oil in the home kitchen. So I heated my Lodge iron griddle until it was searing hot. Rapid cooking is imperative for tender, crispy calamari. Then I mixed in ½ a bottle of beer to the rice and egg batter. Now with the speed of an assembly line, I dipped each drained strip of calamari into the batter, dredged them in the cornmeal, and plopped them on the hot griddle, which had just enough safflower oil on it create a crust.
Turning only once and cooked to golden brown in just two minutes, they were placed on a paper towel lined dish, where they were served with a hot, spicy tomato marinara sauce I made the day before.
Wow! Wow! Wow! What threatened to be chewy, had turned out––according to every one of my guests–became the most tender calamari any of us had ever had! Success!!!!
Unfortunately Enrique and his lovely wife, Lucia were down with the flu, so they did not taste their local catch, but waiting for them in the freezer is a fully dressed quart of calamari ready for the skillet as soon as they are well.
So does anyone else have something they’ve caught that I can tackle? Bring it on!!
Enrique’s video of of his live catch is on his facebook page here. Thanks, Enrique!!