Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hühnerfrikassee - German Chicken Casserole - Sous Vide

Fresh in love, it is one of my adventures to expose my Kenyan girlfriend to German cuisine. Well- I rarely do this - I am just to comfortable with my very own style of cooking- but some dishes are just worth to do.

One of this dishes is Hühnerfrikassee. But I can't really do a traditional recipe traditionally. This wouldn't be me...

So let's start- what is chicken fricassee? It is a chicken stew in a white cream enriched sauce with some vegetable. And it is delicious! In short it is poached chicken, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, peas in a white roux based on chicken stock.

Usually, it is a simple affair- poach a chicken in vegetable enriched water until done and let it chill down. Roast some wheat flour in butter. Add stock (your chicken water) to the still blonde roasted flour. Stir and whisk until smooth. Add some diced vegetable and cook them through (put the vegetable at different times into it). Add chicken add some cream, some capers and lemon juice to taste (and don't forget to season at all times). And serve with rice.

Usually the chicken is a bit on the dry and stringy side, the vegetables are too soft (except of the peas - smart cooks put frozen peas just a couple of minutes before serving into the pot)... The sauce is usually to flour heavy, or too thin.

My attempt is slightly different!

I sous vide'd the chicken breast at 62.5°C for 1.5h. Put also the chicken legs into the bath- but the chicken breast came into the ice bath, I did increased the water to 75°C and cooked for another 2h.
The vegetables were cooked separate at 85°C for 30-45 min.
 I made a pressure cooker chicken stock (with the carcass of the used chicken, plus a package of chicken wings) and clarified it with ground chicken and egg white. Then I made a roux with less flour.
I added asparagus and peas into the roux, then added the chopped chicken meat and the other vegetable (I used carrots, turnips, leek, green asparagus, baby marrow, mushrooms and peas). I took half of the roux out of the pot and added drained silken tofu to it and blended it. This gave a lovely texture and thickness, without being overly floury.
The I just put everything together and voilà!

It was simply the best chicken fricassee I ever had. The chicken was super moist and tender and flavorful... The vegetable perfectly cooked, the sauce voluminous without being heavy!

But where is light, there is also shadow:
• I didn't seasoned the vegetable and the chicken, before putting them into the bags (except of the turnips and carrots which I put together with some salt and a pinch of sugar). I salted everything afterwards, but it would have been much better, if everything was seasoned in the bag.
• the leek had a kinda stringy texture... I'll try to cook it longer the next time!
• I forgot to buy capers (dammit)!
• I was too lazy to blend up some sauce separately to have a bit more airiness...

As you can see- nothing major.
The only thing inconvenient is, that I have only one sous vide rig- and that chicken breasts, chicken legs and vegetable have to cook at different temperatures...

At least try to use silken tofu in your cream sauces... Doesn't sound very good, but the texture is amazing, the sauce is lighter and healthier!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why To Spatchcock A Turkey

Serious Eats is one of the most amazing resources for cooking in the web - and now they are also releasing videos, which are great!