Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thigh Master

Our current theory is that some college-aged stock clerk at the local market is marking some packages of food with super low prices and hiding it a bit under other packages so his buddies can come in and buy the stuff on the cheap.

Initially, while pawing through some pre-packaged chicken, we found a few packages for less than 1/3 of the regular price. No sale was advertised. So we figured these were the ones that had fallen on the floor during wrapping, or maybe had been left out for a while. But close inspection turned up no evidence to support such theories.

Seems like the chicken price was simply marked incorrectly on some packages. Maybe the store just wants to spark interest in some products with a sort of price lottery concept? I assuage my ethical pangs with that idea.

So, of course, we now check all the packages when we shop. To the endless embarrassment of TeenGirl. But I don’t see how anyone could really notice what’s going on. Other than our prolonged stay in front of the chicken counter.

Then I stock up on whatever is mispriced / on sale / cheap.

I don’t mind the focus on one type of food for a few days. Though I seem to be the only one. But I can put up with a few groans when I consider the vast quantities of the earth’s valuable resources, not to mention my monetary ones, that disappear into two teenage mouths on a daily basis.

Any anyways, it provides me with a bit of a challenge. Basically the identical starting point two days in a row. How to make things interesting? Forces you to stretch a bit.

So I had about 10 pounds of skin-on chicken thighs on hand. Seems like a lot, but after you take away the bones, melt off all the fat and extract all the water they have somehow forced into the meat, there is only maybe four pounds of actual meat left. Still plenty for two dinners and a few lunches.

The first day, I kept it simple. Again in this damn time stress. But this time more of my own making (hey! There was significant belly button fuzz to be investigated. Along with some toe nail issues that required attention. That football games just happened to be on TV is not my fault!).

I went with a South-Western marinade for the chicken – lime juice, chili peppers, garlic, cilantro, olive oil. And roasted the chicken in the oven until the skin was crisp as an onion skin. 450ºF for 30+ minutes does it. Wonderful flavor. Super crispy skin. Served with a raw chayote salad, which also had cilantro as well as lemon dressing, and some brown rice. Delicious.

The next day was really the challenge. I had already taken the easy way out on day one. Today, I would have to be a bit more creative.

I spotted my jar of wasabi powder. Something I promised myself I would use on occasion. Experiment with. Hmmmm.

My initial thought was to marinate the chicken in a wasabi soy mixture. But wasabi looses its power quickly with heat, so that would be sort of a waste. None the less, marinating the chicken in a soy based sauce, maybe with sesame oil, would give it a nice dark color when roasted, plus a nice flavor, plus the brine would keep the meat tender during cooking.

The wasabi could come afterwards, in a sort of sauce to put on top of the roasted chicken.

Tender sesame roasted chicken with a nasal clearing wasabi finish. That sounded like a winner!

For the chicken, I mixed some soy sauce, a dash of rice vinegar, dark sesame oil, and added ginger and sesame seeds. Once marinated, I roasted it again at 450ºF for 30 minutes.

The skin didn’t get quite as crispy as the day before, maybe because of the brining. I finished it under the broiler for a few minutes, and that crisped things up a bit.

For the wasabi, I just mixed it with some water to make a paste, then with a little soy and some fresh orange juice (more oranges!). Toasted sesame seeds went in as well. Very nice. The orange and wasabi worked better than expected. With that in mind, I could have just used ponzu sauce instead of soy sauce. The wasabi added its unique kick to the dish, with the advantage that people could put on as much or little as they individually wanted.

We served this with some pan roasted baby bok choy (I blogged about this a few weeks ago), roasted in peanut oil, ginger and garlic. Along with some red rice (jasmine rice still in the husk).

And even though you knew it was basically the same meal twice in a row, the flavors came from so different of directions, and were so substantial, they made both dinners seem fresh and unique. The fiery heat of the first day replaced by the nasal clearing power of the second.

Some liked the super crispy skinned chicken the first day a little better, some enjoyed the sesame and wasabi flavors better the second day, but everyone agreed both days were delicious!

Sesame Roasted Chicken with Wasabi Orange Sauce
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

4 pounds chicken thighs
½ cup light soy sauce
3-4 tbsp dark sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus more to sprinkle on top of the chicken
2 tbsp peanut oil
1-2 tsp rice vinegar
2-3 tbsp ginger, chopped
Wasabi Orange Sauce (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, peanut oil, rice vinegar and ginger. Add the chicken thighs and toss well to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Pre-heat oven to 450ºF.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle with additional sesame seeds. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. Carefully pour off any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Finish the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes, until the skin is deep brown and crisp.

Serve with the wasabi orange sauce ion the side. Enjoy!

Wasabi Orange Sauce
Recipe by surfindaave

1 tbsp wasabi powder
cold water
1/3 cup light soy sauce
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

In a small bowl, mix the wasabi powder with just enough water to make a stiff paste. Let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk in most of the soy sauce and orange juice. Taste and adjust soy and orange juice as necessary. Add sesame seeds.

South-Western Roasted Chicken
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

4 pounds chicken thighs
juice of two limes
3-4 clove garlic, minced
2 chili peppers, such as jalapeno, minced
1 cup chopped cilantro
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except chicken. Taste, and adjust as necessary. Add chicken and toss well to coat. Let marinate for 1-2 hours, turning occasionally.

Pre-heat oven to 450ºF.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the chicken on the parchment paper, and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken. Roast in oven to 30 to 35 minutes, until the skin is very brown and very crisp. Serve. Enjoy!

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