Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Breakaway Chicken

Every few months I break down and buy a new cookbook. It's a bad habit (as evidenced by my groaning bookshelves) but I can't help myself. I have this idea that just around the corner is some new recipe that will change the way I cook. It's what makes cooking fun.

"The Breakaway Cook" is my new obsession. It's written by Eric Gowers who spent several years in Japan and plucked up all these flavors like yuzu, umeboshi and maccha.....then added them to western recipes. The results are incredibly simple, most are 4-5 ingredients, and yet profoundly original.

* Persimmon salad with ginger, maple syrup and mint
* Galangal-brown sugar ice cream
* Mashed potatoes with miso gravy
* Spicy shrimp with pomegrante molasses

Last night I decided to make star anise chicken.

First had to stop at Uwajimaya to buy some of this crazy stuff that he talks about in the book. I found some yuzu peel, but couldn't bring myself to buy the paste as it was a funky green color. Wandered around aimlessly looking for pomegrante molasses. Not in the gigantic aisle of sauces (after I tried to read every japanese label). Not near the plain old "brer rabbit" molasses. I asked one of the employees and he looked sheepish and then I realized he didn't speak english. I held up a pomegrante hopefully. We finally found it catty corner from the molasses.

This stuff ROCKS. Sweet and sour all in one bite, like tamarind but better.

Then home with the star anise and chicken thighs. Ground up the star anise and coated the thighs with olive oil, salt, pepper and the anise. Heavy on the anise (per his instructions). Threw the whole thing in a 400 degree oven with some quartered meyer lemon. Also added a few fingerling potatoes. Cooked it for 40 minutes, turning once.

Not bad. I was worried the star anise would be too much, but Chris didn't blink an eye. "This is your best dinner yet!" He said, licking his fingers. Of course he always says that.

Made some delicata squash using what we had left over from this summer's CSA and it turned out beautifully. A little butter and just the faintest sprinkle of brown sugar. No other way to describe the flavor except "delicate."

And then a salad, my own invention. Fennel, persimmon and pomegrante with an orange/lemon vinegarette. Kind of amazing. The Fuyu persimmons have this subtle flavor, like an apricot but with a touch of spiciness. And the pomegrante pops in your mouth.

Spicy Star Anise Chicken (From "Breakaway Cook," by Eric Gowers)

15 boneless chicken thighs (with skin)
1 T olive oil
pepper & salt
6T ground star anise
1 lemon, preferably meyer

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Coat both sides of chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and anise. Quarter the lemon and spread on the pan with the chicken. Cook 30 minutes, flip and cook 30 minutes more or until done (180 degrees).

Roasted Delicata Squash

2-3 delicata squash (can use other varietals, but these are pretty cool)
brown sugar

Halve squash and remove seeds. Place in a roasting pan with ~1/2 inch of water. Sprinkle with salt and place small amounts butter in each squash half, then lightly sprinkle with brown sugar.
Cook at 350 degrees x 1 hour or until done (the temperature's pretty flexible, just check on them if you use a higher or lower temperature).

Fennel, persimmon and pomegrante salad

1 bulb fennel, sliced thinly (mandoline works great)
1 fuyu persimmon, firm, cut into thin strips
1 pomegrante, broken into seeds
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 T olive oil
Squeeze of lemon

Mix orange juice, olive oil and lemon with salt and pepper. Taste and see if you want more oil or more lemon, it's to your taste (I confess that I don't really measure these things as I think it's better to just mix and add until it tastes right). Add fennel and mix. Then add persimmon and pomegrante. Chill before serving.

1 comment:

Eric Gower said...

Thanks for the sweet comments, Sara!