Had a wonderful time with last week’s private class.
5 wonderful ladies joined me in the kitchen of an old friend of mine to cover some basic techniques, a few time saving cooking tricks, and some of my favorite stove-top and grill-top recipes.
Started out with some knife skills instruction, followed by getting our mise-en-place ready for the various dishes we were about to prepare.
Next we went, step-by-step through my “12 minute microwave chicken breast.” This is one of my favorite lessons as it invariably begins with skepticism and raised-eyebrows, and ends with “Ohhs” and “Ahhs”… I love that! (Recipe below…)
We cooked up a half-dozen chicken breasts for the two recipes we had planned.
For the first dish, we discussed what a reverse-sear is, and then demonstrated on the grill along with a few dips in one of my very favorite condiments, Thai sweet chili sauce, just long enough to thicken the glaze and get a touch of char on our chicken.
We served with up with a nice fresh tossed salad, and a little sticky rice. While the ladies enjoyed this dish, we went on to our second chicken dish, and our second and third lessons: how to make a simple homemade marinara, and the secrets of perfect pasta.
Then, it was time to bring out the big guns…time to learn how simple it can be to grill up a perfect flank steak (my personal favorite cut), as wells as lots of tips and tricks for cooking over fire.
Lastly we discussed how important it is to rest a piece of meat (and why), as well as exactly how the way you cut it can make or ruin the final dish.
A little wine, a lot of laughs, and some great food. It doesn’t get any better than that!
We’ve already planned another class in January where we’ll learn the secrets of a great steakhouse, a fancy, but super-simple chocolate-bomb of a French dessert, and finally, I’ll pick up the gauntlet to prove that I can make a Brussels’s sprouts dish that everyone in the room will love.
Thank you, Christina V., for making this happen!
If you enjoyed this article, and would like to learn any of these tips, techniques, and recipes, drop me a note and let’s plan a class!
12 Minute Microwave Chicken
Excerpt from: “The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen.”
I love doing this recipe in my cooking classes, just for the look on my students faces when I tell them we’re going to make “microwave chicken.” But really, we’re making poached chicken, we’re just using the microwave as the heat source. This is a great technique to shave some time off dinner prep, by multitasking while the chicken cooks.
These are also a great first step for reverse-seared chicken on the grill (more on the in the BBQ & Grilling chapter)
- 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups of my “Crazy Easy Chicken Stock“, flavored* as desired.
Place the chicken breasts in a microwave safe baking dish, and pour the broth over the top, bringing the liquid at least ½ way up the side of the meat.
Do NOT cover the meat with liquid…we’re not boiling, we’re poaching. Seal the dish with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for four minutes.
Carefully lift plastic wrap (liquid will be hot, so open from the far side, so the steam escapes away from your face) and flip each chicken breast, reseal, and microwave another four minutes.
Then, leave the whole thing in the microwave (off) for a final four minutes. This creates an amazingly juicy, tender, and flavor-packed piece of chicken that you can use in a wide variety of dishes, or just eat as is.
NOTE, if you’re using some of those truly frightening “Dolly Parton” chicken breasts they’re growing downstream from the nuke plants nowadays, you might need to add a minute to each step.
If you’re serving it straight up, browning the outside very quickly in hot butter is a visually appealing, but not absolutely necessary step, though it will add a nice caramelized flavor to the chicken. If you decide to add this step, remember…wet meat won’t brown…so pat it dry on both sides before placing it in the hot butter.
After browning, let it rest again, before slicing across the grain.
*What spices you add to the stock determine the flavor profile of the finished dish. Going for Asian? Try a little soy sauce, rock sugar, and ginger.
Italian? Some basil, oregano, garlic, and a little tomato paste thinned in water.
The options are endless. Take a look in the spices chapter for the best spice combinations from around the world. My favorite is just to poach them in some homemade chicken stock, brown in butter, and serve over a bacon-mushroom carbonara.
Oh, and before you pour out that beautiful leftover stock, I have three words for you…
Best. Rice. Ever.