Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Shake it Up Chicken

Routine is a good thing. It's comfortable to know what's coming and it can make your life more efficient. No time wasted on decision making or trying to figure out how to do something new. But sometimes routine can become.... boring. If you know it's Tuesday because you're making meatloaf, maybe it's time to shake things up a bit.

I have my group of recipes that I make over and over. They're easy, reliable, and my family will eat them. But I don't want to make them so often that my family cries when they see them. So I force myself to try new things at least once a month. Here are a couple of new recipes that I combined with wonderful results. The pulled chicken is smothered in a sweet sauce with an unexpected spiciness, the pickles provide a tangy contrast and crunch, and the buns are soft yet sturdy enough to hold together when full of juices. An altogether sublime combination of flavors and textures. A side of coleslaw or carrot salad would be great with this, something cool and creamy to balance the spiciness of the chicken.

I'm new to chipotle chiles (possibly the last person on the planet to be uninitiated) and I was intoxicated by the flavor - so smoky it was as if a ham was being barbecued in my kitchen. The price of the chipotle chile powder rocked me back on my heels, but it only takes a bit to pack a flavor punch, so I know my bottle will last a long time.

Because I'm too lazy to go to the grocery store, I made my own hamburger buns. I know that will make absolutely no sense to most people; it's just that I'd prefer to be in my kitchen than in the store. Plus it's fun. It's very satisfying to knead dough and then pat the silky smooth ball and say, "Smooth as a baby's bottom" just like my 9th grade home-ec teacher did.

Hamburger Buns

1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 tsp. salt
5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2-1/4 tsp. yeast

1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp water

In a small saucepan, add milk, 1 cup water, sugar, butter and salt. Heat over low just until the butter melts - cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, mix 2 cups flour with the yeast. Add the cooled milk mixture. Blend at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes), adding enough of the remaining flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Move dough into a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.

Uncover and punch down the dough. Evenly divide into 12 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place about 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Slightly flatten each ball. Cover and let rise until doubled - another 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together egg yolk and water. Gently brush egg wash over each bun.

Bake about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (from Cooking Light)

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp molasses

Remaining Ingredients:
8 rolls, toasted
16 hamburger dill chips

1- Spray grill with cooking spray. I don't have a grill, so I used my grill pan and covered it with a piece of aluminum foil for cooking.

2- To prepare chicken, combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180 deg., turning occasionally. Let stand for 5 minutes. Shred with 2 forks.

3 - To prepare sauce, heat canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 Tbsp sugar and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); cook 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and molasses; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

4 - Place about 1/3 cup chicken mixture on bottom halves of sandwich rolls; top each serving with 2 pickle chips and top roll half. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich).

( I had a 5 lb package of chicken thighs and after skinning and boning the thighs, it was 3 lbs, so I increased all the quantities by 1/2.)


Sarah said...

So amazing mom! I was quiet a fan of them. I think we need to keep this one and make it again... mmmm! Sorry it's only me for the comment, didn't mean to get your hopes up to much.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow!!! I've never thought homemade hamburger buns could look so delicious!