Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pollo Alla Birra...Chicken in Beer

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There are recipes you marry and there are those you have a fling with.  My Roast Chicken recipe is one I have perfected throughout the years and one that usually makes its appearance when the weather turns cold.   Sometimes I change the herbs, other times I add a lot of lemon or lime; but basically, it is the same recipe with different twists.  I can rely on this recipe.  Like a good husband, it  never fails me.

On the other hand, there are days when one wakes up wanting to do something different and exciting...like getting a new hair style or painting your bedroom a Mandarin Red.  Notice I didn't say anything too outlandish or riske, for as one gets older (and wiser) these leaps of faith take on a more conservative objective.

Which bring me to cheating....

When it comes to cheating, particularly on an old recipe,  one must rely on someone trustworthy.  So pick someone  who has never failed you.  Like Julia Child and Marcella Hazan, Lidia Bastianich sits at the right hand of God as far as cooking is concerned.  I have never tried anything of hers that has been a disappointment.  On the contrary, her recipes never cease to amaze me in their complexity, technique and depth of flavors.  They immediately vault to the Hall Of Fame in their category.  She comes from the Northern part of Italy that borders the Adriatic and some of her recipes and techniques are quite different from what we think of as Italian cooking.  One of my favorites is the Beef Goulash she made for the Pope. I have learned much from this lady.





Thus I came to making her Pollo Alla Bierra, or Chicken in Beer, a classic dish from Trentino, a region of Northern Italy.  I usually try to vary my posts from week to week and mix them up as to course and cuisine.   I never post two recipes from the same cookbook or the same author in sequence,  but this one also caught my eye while reading Lidia's latest book Lidia's Favorite Italian Recipes.  If you don't have any of her books, this is the one to get.  It is small, handy and has a great selection of recipes from her other books.  It also comes in a Kindle edition.

When you read the ingredients, you will think I have lost my mind,  but you will have to take a leap of faith with me just like I did with her.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  As simple as this recipe is in its preparation, it is complex in the flavors you taste when you first take a bite.  The beer is instrumental and renders a chicken that is moist and tender with a glossy skin. You will not need a knife to cut the meat.  It is incredibly tender.




I will admit, though, there were times when I almost lost my nerve, as when the chicken was still white sixty minutes into its roasting.  It did not seem to be browning at all.  It looked the same as when it came out of the fridge, and I have a convection oven! So  I raised the temperature  to 450 degrees for twenty of the  final thirty minutes of cooking.  In the end. I should not have panicked, for look at the results.  The skin was a bit over browned.  So, don't do it.  Follow the recipe to a tee. The skin is supposed to be a dark brown but not charred.





Now don't go changing and eliminating ingredients or you will be disappointed.  Everything has a reason for its inclusion in this recipe.  If you are wondering how cinnamon and nutmeg make their appearance in an Italian recipe, remember that the Northern part of Italy was once part of the  Republic of Venice which,  in the mid-13th century, emerged as the primary trade port for spices from the East bound for western and northern Europe. Just a little tidbit....

You will be happy to know that this recipe has no additional fat.  No butter, no oil, nothing.  Zippo.  I had to read it three times to make sure I was not hallucinating.  Talk about a leap of faith...so splurge on mashed potatoes!

Oh, and if you are wondering how I got my Le Creuset pot sparkly clean and almost new, soak for awhile in soap and water, rinse and rub with a sponge and Barkeeper's Friend.  




This will never be a substitute for your own Roast Chicken recipe.  Think of it as a lover, someone to have a fling with when you need a spark in your cooking.  It will not disappoint and nobody needs to know.  It's just between us chickens!





Good cooks need to keep trying new techniques and different recipes.  Don't stay in a rut, go out and try something new.    Make it a point to try new cuisines and ingredients.  I had never cooked Indian or Moroccan food until recently.  Just a couple of months ago I learned how to shuck an oyster.  You can do or make anything you set your mind to.   Keep on trucking and try to cook something new every month.  Believe me, it's easier  than dying your hair or painting your bedroom a crazy color.  If nothing else, you will be very proud of yourself.


Pollo Alla Birra

4 pound roasting chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled, halved crosswise and quartered
2 medium parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1½ cups chicken stock
1½ cups flavorful beer or ale, (one12-ounce bottle)
1 cup apple cider, preferably unfiltered
Directions

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Trim excess fat from chicken, and season it inside and out with salt. Scatter the onions, carrot, parsnips, sage, cloves, and cinnamon in the pot, sprinkle over this salt, and set the chicken on top of the vegetables. Put the pot on the stove, pour in the stock, beer, and apple cider, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes on top of the stove. Put the pot in the oven, and roast the chicken for about 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices two or three times. Cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, and roast another 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting frequently, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken to a warm platter, and surround with the vegetables. Bring the pan juices to a boil on top of the stove, and cook until reduced by half.

Carve the chicken at the table, and spoon some of the pan juices on top.
- See more at: http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/379#sthash.pwhbGdwA.dpuf

Ingredients

  • A 31/2- to- 4- pound roasting chicken
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, halved crosswise, and
  • quartered lengthwise (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise, and
  • quartered lengthwise (about 6 ounces total)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 11/2 cups light stock (chicken, turkey, or vegetable
  • broth) or water
  • 11/2 cups (one 12- ounce bottle) flavorful beer or ale
  • 1 cup nonalcoholic apple cider, preferably unfiltered

 

Directions:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees F. Trim the excess fat from the chicken, and season it inside and out with half of the salt.

Scatter the onions, carrot, parsnips, sage, cloves, and cinnamon in the pot, sprinkle over this the rest of the salt, and set the chicken on top of the vegetables. Put the pot on the stove, pour in the stock, beer, and apple cider, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes on top of the stove.

Put the pot in the oven, and roast the chicken for about 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices two or three times. Cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent over browning, and roast another 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting frequently, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender.

Remove the chicken to a warm platter, and surround with the vegetables. Bring the pan juices to a boil on top of the stove, and cook until reduced by half. Carve the chicken at the table, and spoon some of the pan juices on top.
Serving Size
Makes 6 servings

Carve by removing the legs and wings and the breast whole.  Cut on the bias as shown so everyone gets a little skin.

Serve with mashed potatoes.
4 pound roasting chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled, halved crosswise and quartered
2 medium parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1½ cups chicken stock
1½ cups flavorful beer or ale, (one12-ounce bottle)
1 cup apple cider, preferably unfiltered
Directions
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Trim excess fat from chicken, and season it inside and out with salt. Scatter the onions, carrot, parsnips, sage, cloves, and cinnamon in the pot, sprinkle over this salt, and set the chicken on top of the vegetables. Put the pot on the stove, pour in the stock, beer, and apple cider, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes on top of the stove. Put the pot in the oven, and roast the chicken for about 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices two or three times. Cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, and roast another 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting frequently, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken to a warm platter, and surround with the vegetables. Bring the pan juices to a boil on top of the stove, and cook until reduced by half.

Carve the chicken at the table, and spoon some of the pan juices on top.
- See more at: http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/379#sthash.pwhbGdwA.dpuf
         

4 comments:

  1. For years and years I did roast chicken one way... I stuffed it with lemon, rubbed it with salt and pepper and rosemary, put some water in the bottom of the pan and baked away. A few years ago I tried the Thomas Keller method with lots of salt and high temp and have used it ever since... they skin is amazing.
    I can't wait to try your chicken... whenever a blogger recommends something this way I am never disappointed. Looks divine.

    PS. I use bleach on my old enamel casseroles. If it's a very baked mess in I boil it with some baking soda first. I have never tried barkeeper's friend, thanks for the tip ( I am seriously addicted to Borax and use it for all kinds of things... sometimes old is good!).

    ReplyDelete
  2. That chickie looks absolutely delish, and this is a recipe that Reggie will certainly try. I, too, use Barkeepers Friend to clean my Le Creuset. Works like a jiffy! It is also a dream for polishing copper cookware. It is gentle enough that it doesn't abrade the metal, but has a chemical in it that removes any tarnish immediately. Thanks, m'dear!

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  3. We've finally had a good snap in weather to make dishes like this so appealing. I will have a fling with this one although strangely parsnips are often hard to find in our market. As for cleaning up, I swear by BKF, but I love almost equally soaking with Finish dishwasher "power balls."

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