Sunday, August 21, 2011

You've Been Chopped

After a couple of simply lovely days here on the east coast, we were treated to a spectacular thunderstorm Friday around sundown. I turned off all the lights, opened all the blinds and watched the pyrotechnics - red wine at the ready - well away from any electrical appliances. But with the light show and canon reports came hot & steamy weather that has pressed down us ever since.
As most of you know, I'm a California boy. I consider 45% relative humidity as redlining it. I start losing alarming amounts of water weight at anything over fifty percent. Rapidly. And embarrassingly. On the un-air-conditioned NYC subway platforms I look like the proverbial cat that fell into a well and is none too happy about it. Therefore, my Saturday shopping was simply out of the question; I would have to make do with whatever was in the cupboards. So I decided to make a game out of it, my own version of the Food Network's "Chopped". I did have some frozen chicken legs and thighs to act as a starting point. The test would be to come up with something besides the predictable and predictably boring grilled meat.
So get a load of this.
Balsamic & Dried Fruit Glaze - by Blog O. Food
  • ¾ cup dried mixed fruit, roughly chopped*
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Mix thoroughly, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered - stirring occasionally - for 30 minutes, or until the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick syrup.
Meanwhile, rinse and thoroughly dry the chicken, season liberally with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides (3-4 minutes per side) in a little olive oil in a large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, over medium-high heat. Once the poultry has some good color, turn heat up to high and add some Marsala wine, between half and a full cup. Just enough to come up about a quarter of the way on the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with the lid, and place in a 375°F pre-heated oven. Roast for about 20 minutes. Just long enough to cook the chicken through.
As an accompaniment, I toyed with rice, beans, noodles, even some grits in the larder before spying orzo behind some dried chilies. Perfect for standing up to, and soaking up juices and sauce. Just follow the cooking directions on the package. Arrange cooked chicken atop a big mound of stuff, and spoon the glaze and syrup artfully over everything. The money shot will take care of itself.
Seeing as their was only one contestant in my Chopped challenge, I had a 50/50 chance of walking away with the crown, but the whole exercise coulda blown up in my face as well. I'm happy to report it did not. You try this dish, and I guarantee you'll win top honors with your own judging panel at home.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
*Dried apricots, cranberries, golden raisins, cherries, and blueberries.

1 comment:

BigAssBelle said...

I'm starving after reading that.