Chicken a la Wilkinson

Chicken a la Wilkinson recipe


21751631_1337601499702816_2967138024778684282_nThe Wilkinsons are not only old and dear friends, but they’re also staunch supporters of our MY KITCHEN Program, and my best personal chef clients.

For marketing purposes I won’t say that they’re also my favorite clients (but…they’re also my favorite clients.)

Don’t tell anyone.

I have had the honor of cooking in their beautiful kitchen many times, and when Ron called and asked if I could prepare a nice, upper-end, chicken-breast dinner for them and a few of their friends, I immediately thought of an old favorite: Chicken Georgia.

A simple recipe, Chicken Georgia is easy to prepare, lends itself to a fancy presentation, and with its thick, creamy mushroom sauce, falls solidly in the umami comfort food category.

As his lovely wife, Karen, requires a gluten-free menu, I’d incorporate the old-English method of using egg yolks, instead of flour, to thicken my sauce.

However, this was Ron, and Ron appreciates a little “over the top” when enjoying a fine meal. So, I took my old recipe to the drawing board…

Bacon, of course, would be absolutely essential and, along with a flavorful compound butter stuffed inside, would virtually guarantee that the chicken breasts remained juicy inside and out. Replace the onions with diced shallots – check. A little of my favorite pecorino romano to add a bit more depth to the sauce, and I give you…

Chicken a la Wilkinson!

The test dish received rave reviews from the home team, and was a smashing success at the party, served along with some Southern-style green beans, cilantro-lime rice, a nice green salad, and warm Dutch rolls. It was…lovely.

The Brine:

  • 1 cup fine sea salt
  • 1 cup fine sugar
  • 3 quarts very hot water
  • 4 cups of ice

The Chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, thawed
  • 4 tsp. Mushroom Garlic Compound Butter (recipe below)
  • 1 raw egg, beaten
  • 4-8 strips apple-wood smoked bacon, thin
  • 4-8 toothpicks
  • 2 oz. grated mozzarella cheese

The Sauce:

  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs. mushroom powder*
  • 2 pinch ea. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. minced shallots
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temp
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 oz. grated pecorino-romano cheese

brining chicken breastsBrine the Chicken:

Combine the salt, sugar, and hot water and stir until completely dissolved. Add ice to chill.

Once chilled, add the chicken breasts and brine for 4-6 hours.

Remove breasts from brine, rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and set aside.

Prep the Chicken:

Egg Eash: Whip your raw egg yolks in a flat-bottom bowl, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

how to stuff a chicken breast with compound butterUsing a small knife, slice a deep pocket in the side of each breast (be careful not to pierce the other side!) and insert a teaspoon of chilled compound butter, pushing it as far back into the pocket as possible.

Dip the outside of the breast, along the pocket seam, in egg wash to seal.

Refridgerate breast for 20-30 minutes to set the seal.

IMG_5751Wrap each breast with 1-2 strips of back (depending on size) slightly overlapping, and secure the end with a toothpick.

(If you have trouble with the breast being slippery, use 2 toothpicks and secure the beginning end, first.)

Melt butter over medium heat and add the olive oil, mixing to combine.

Pan searing bacon wrapped chickenWhen hot, add the bacon wrapped chicken and sear 1-2 minutes on each side, just long enough to start the bacon browning.

Remove chicken to a baking dish, top with mozzarella, and place in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes*** while making your sauce.

Bacon wrapped chicken with mozzerella

Mushroom Cream Sauce recipeMushroom Cream Sauce:

Put the pan back on the burner and lower the heat to medium. Deglaze your pan with 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

Add mushrooms and shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 15-20 minutes covered, stirring often, until your mushrooms have reduced by at least half (the more they reduce, the more flavor they’ll have).

Add chicken stock and mushroom powder, and bring to a low simmer. Add your raw egg to the heavy cream, whisk to combine completely. While whisking the sauce vigorously, slowing pour in the cream/egg mixture until incorporated.

Whisk in the grated pecorino-romano cheese, reduce heat to med-low, and let the sauce reduce slightly, stirring often to keep it from separating.** (A sauce “separates” when the milk content curdles, creating an unappetizing texture.)

bacon wrapped chicken with mushroom sauceWhen the chicken reaches an internal temp of 160F, remove the roasting pan from the oven, pull out all of the toothpicks, top the chicken evenly with mushroom sauce, and pop it all back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

Serving:

Allow the dish to rest (the sauce will thicken slightly) about 5 minutes, then serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

Mushroom Garlic Compound Butter
Mushroom Garlic Compound Butter

  • 1 stick of sweet cream butter, very soft
  • 1 Tbs. coarse black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. mushroom powder
  • 1 tsp. roasted garlic, or more to taste (you can sub this with garlic powder, but it won’t be as good.) 😉
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Using the back of a metal spoon, combine all until mixed evenly (If using the compound in another recipe, which do not include brining, add 1 tsp. of fine sea salt before mixing.) Spoon the mixture onto a sheet of plastic-wrap and roll into a cylinder and twisting the ends to seal. Chill until hard.

Compound butter is great in soups and sauces, to top burger or steaks, and it’s a lovely way to fry or scramble eggs!

HOME CHEF NOTES:

*If you can’t find mushroom powder, you can make your own with dried mushrooms and a spice blender.

**If you get distracted and your sauce DOES separate (it’ll look like you’ve mixed cottage cheese into it) don’t panic, it happens! 😉 Using a slotted spoons, remove the mushrooms from the sauce. Using a stick-blender, or traditional blender, blend the sauce briefly until it’s smooth again. Wipe the pan clean. Rinse the mushrooms very briefly in hot water to remove the milk curds, and return to the pan with the mushrooms.

***If you’re using those huge “factory chicken” breasts, you may want to pound them slightly flatter (before brining), and add 10-15 minutes to the roasting time. Be safe – use a thermometer and cook to temp.


Home Chef Cookbooks

 

The Best Pulled Pork Sliders

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Okay, I like to cook with wood and charcoal, but I get a lot of emails asking how to modify my recipes to a gas grill (yes, I own gas grills) and even for the oven.

Some recipes just can’t be adapted, others can with decent results, and some…well, as much as this is going to tick-off the die-hards…some you can hardly tell the difference! Here’s one of my favorites.

Oh, and if you want to recreate a true “Southern pulled pork sandwich”, and really take ’em to the next level… be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of our Simple Tangy Slaw on top of the meat and sauce. Yeah, baby!

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Pulled Pork BBQ

(In the  gas grill, oven, or smoker) 1 Pork shoulder (6-8lb) Burnin’ Love Rub (see below) Basic BBQ Sauce (see below)

Rub the shoulder with spices. Set it aside for a few minutes and rub again over any wet spots. Keep doing this until there are no wet spots, the heavier the rub, the better. This makes the “bark” of the shoulder. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and fridge 12-24 hours.

Take shoulder out of fridge and let sit 60 minutes to bring the temp up.

 

For the gas grill:

You want indirect heat for cooking, you can easily do this on a conventional gas grill. Just keep the meat as far from the heat source as possible, or it will burn during the long cooking time. You want to cook this at 250 degrees Fahrenheit; you can go as high as 275, but no higher. You don’t want to go lower than 250, as you will start to dry out the meat before it is cooked.

Put the shoulder on the “cool side” of the grill, and  place a disposable pan with a couple of cups of apple juice underneath it to add moisture and catch the drippings. A spray bottle with 50/50 apple juice and cider vinegar is nice for basting, as well.

A lot of folks like to use apple chips, soaked, for smoking. You can add 1/2 cup to a disposable tin pan over the “hot” side of your gill, every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours.

Personally, I prefer to use a small, nearly indestructible smoke box, called the “A-Maze-N Smoker”. It’s a metal-mesh maze that holds your favorite flavor of smoking pellets, and burns slowly enough to allow a three-hour smoke without constantly having to lift the cover and let all of that precious heat out. It’s cheap, and I’ve used my dozens of times with no visible wear or tear.

Here’s a quick video I did on using this unit with my La Caja China, but the principle would be the same in anything from a gas grill to a Weber Kettle.

A-Maze-N Smoker Review

If you don’t trust your on-board thermometer, get a cheap instant read (or better, a digital probe) and stick the probe all the way through a halved potato. Set the potato cut-side down on the grill. This keeps your thermometer off the grates.

After three to four hours, remove the shoulder from your grill, and roast (uncovered) in a pre-heated oven at 225d for 10-12 hours. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer (you should really get one) the meat is done when it pulls apart easily with a fork.

Pork Shoulders

In The Oven

Follow the same prep directions as above. Pre-heat the oven to 225F, and roast the shoulder, fat-cap up, uncovered, for 14 hours (yes, I said fourteen. I usually roast mine overnight.)

Follow the “Finishing” steps, below.

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On the Traeger

Once the shoulder(s) are prepped, start Traeger on “Smoke” with the lid open until it’s cruisin’ (4 to 5 minutes). Set temp at 225F and preheat, lid closed, for about 15 minutes.

Place shoulders on the grill, fat-cap up, and smoke for 3 hours, spraying with a mix of apple juice and cider vinegar (50/50) every hour after the three hours.

Put shoulders in a large disposable aluminum foil pan and up the temp to 250F.

Roast shoulder for 8 more hours, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part, but not touching a bone, registers 190 degrees F.

If the skin starts to get too dark, cover it loosely with foil.

Finishing

Remove the pan from the heat, tent shoulder(s) loosely in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the juices from the bottom of the pan into a fat separator. Mix broth (fat removed) with some salt and cider vinegar, to taste, and pour back over the meat after shredding. Allow to rest an additional 10 minutes to soak up the juices.

Serve either as sliders, or with a sauce on the side (see below) and some white bread slices to use as edible napkins!

Pork shoulder in smokePulled Pork Tips:

For “oven only”…before applying the dry rub, brush the entire shoulder generously with Stubbs (brand name) Mesquite Liquid Smoke, allow the surface to dry, and repeat. The apply the dry rub (while still damp.) Note: this is the ONLY liquid smoke that I’ll allow in my kitchen. For the smoker, I like a wood chip/chunk blend of 75% oak,

 

Perk’s “Burnin’ Love” Rub

(Shh…it’s a secret!)

¼ C fine sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
4 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
2 Tbs hickory salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (opt)

Northern Carolina Vinegar Sauce

Personally, I think this very old, very traditional recipe is the best and only sauce for pulled pork.

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 4 tsp, fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all, simmer and cool. The longer it sits, the better it is!

But if you MUST have your thick, sweet, ketchup-based sauce…here’s a great one…

Basic BBQ Sauce (my cheater version)

1 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar BBQ sauce
½ cup honey
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
Red pepper flakes to taste (opt)

Combine all, simmer and allow to cool.

NOTE: This makes a fantastic sauce for grilled chicken but replacing the honey with an equal amount of Thai sweet chili sauce!


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The Secret to Crispy Turkey Skin

Perfect Turkey Skin
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

I picked up this trick a few weeks ago from a fellow chef’s blog (I wish I could remember, but whoever you are, thank you!) and tried it for the first time with this year’s Thanksgiving turkey…it’s magic!

First of all, I ALWAYS brine my turkey, which, while making for moist, succulent meat, can cause problems with getting the skin, saturated by the brine, to crisp and brown evenly. And, let’s face it…crispy is skin is the whole reason for roasting a turkey in the first place!

Here’s the trick to perfect, crispy skin on a brined turkey…

Brine your bird for 24 hours (this is the brine I use).

Then, remove the bird from the brine, pat it dry (inside and out), and place it breast-side-up in a baking dish in the bottom of your fridge, UNCOVERED, for another 24 hours.

Remove from the fridge 2 hours before roasting, and let it rest on the counter.

Then, of course, roast it uncovered.

The skin on this turkey was amazing, by far the best results I’ve ever gotten.

If you’re a skin-junkie (that didn’t sound right…) like me, you gotta try this!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook:

“Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

Southern Chicken & Dumplin’s

Southern Chicken & Dumplings

Having just moved from the farm to the suburbs, we’re only allowed a half-dozen chickens, which means…we have a few in the freezer now.

Circle of life, baby.

This is my favorite recipe for using a yard-bird that is a bit past her prime, and one that was handed down from my grandmother, who kept her own small flock for the family’s eggs and an occasional pot of soup.

This is classic Southern comfort food at it’s best. If you’re not wild about dumplings, you can leave them out, and ladle this soup over fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits, as well.

Grandma’s Chicken & Dumplin’s

  • 1 large broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp powdered sage
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons chicken base
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • hot water
  • Southern style dumplings (recipe below)

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In a heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter with oil over medium heat, and brown the chicken pieces (including back) with salt & pepper. Remove chicken and set aside.

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Add celery, carrots, onion (Mire Poix), parsley, sage, and garlic to the pot, and saute until just softened, scraping up any browned bits left from the chicken.

Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Add chicken back into the pot, along with chicken broth and base; add enough hot water to cover chicken.

Home Chef Note: Unless specified, you always want to add heated liquid to a hot dish, otherwise the drop in temperature and adversely effect the cooking time and texture of the recipe.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken and let stand until cool enough to handle, then remove skin from chicken and tear meat away from bones. Return meat to soup; discard skin and bones.

Taste for seasonings, and add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

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Southern Style Dumplings Recipe

Drop dumplings into simmering soup. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

 

Serves 6

Southern Style Dumplings Recipe

Southern Style Dumplings

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk milk
  • 3/4 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Combine all; mix well to form a stiff batter.

Drop by tablespoonfuls into simmering soup.

Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Home Chef Note: Traditionally, the dumplings start out as round, ping-pong size balls. If you prefer something a little less dense, try making them about half that size, and flattening into 1/2 inch thick coins, before adding to the soup. This will result in more dumplings, that are less of a mouthful each.

 

Dad Perkins’ Southern Fried Chicken

Classic Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

This is a taste of my childhood, as it was a taste of my father’s childhood.

Nonna Perkins fried up chickens that wandered her own land, as I do now, and it really makes a difference. If you can’t get farm-fresh organic free-range chicken (what are Grandma’s just called “chicken”…), a good organic bird at the grocery store (preferably whole, and cut up just before brining) and it will still be pretty darn awesome.

It’s so good, and I love it so much, that I pulled my poor old dad out of a well-earned retirement to cook up a huge batch for our wedding rehearsal dinner.

It was, of course, a smashing success (she still said “yes” the next day…)

This one goes out to my Facebook pal, long-time dear friend, and fellow foodie Carol, who asked for it.

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Dad Perkins’ Southern Fried Chicken
Serves: 10

Brine:

1/2 gallon cold water
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup fine sea-salt
1/4 cup brown sugar, or dark molasses
2 bay leaves, crushed

Combine spices and sugar in a 4-cup microwave safe bowl. Add 2 cups of hot water. Microwave 2-3 minutes until VERY hot. Whisk to combine.

brining fried chicken

Pour 1/2 gallon of cold water into your brining container, add the spiced hot water, and stir well. Add cut up chicken (and more cold water to cover, if needed), cover, and refrigerate 24 hours.

4 hours before cooking, remove the chicken from the brine, pat each piece dry, and set on a plate (single level) and refrigerate 2 hours, uncovered. This allows the skin to dry back out a bit, so it gets good and crunchy.

2 hours before cooking, move the chicken to the counter to take the chill off.

Chicken:

Lard for Fried Chicken2 whole chickens, cut and brined
2 cups cake flour
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup seasoned salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
4 cups lard (you can use shortening, or veggie oil, but I promise…it won’t be as good!)

Melt the lard in large cast iron skillet over medium heat

Place flour and all spices in a paper grocery bag and shake well to mix.

Flouring chicken before frying

Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, to bag and shake well to coat evenly, let sit 5 minutes, then shake again. Set aside.

Cast Iron Fried Chicken

Fry chicken, turning to brown evenly 12-15 minutes. Be sure to leave some space between the pieces, or the resulting steam will keep the skin soggy.

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That’s a chicken liver, frying to perfection, in the middle of the skillet. If God made anything better than THAT, He kept it for himself.

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you LOVE what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

Chef Tip: You should be cooking this much chicken in batches, so start with the breasts, so they have the most time to finish in the oven.

Southern frid chicken on a rack

Place chicken on a wire rack in a baking dish, as they come out of the oil. Place in oven, pre-heated on lowest heat to stay warm. I crack the door just a bit so it won’t hold in the moisture and soften the skin.

Classic Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
My favorite junior sous chef, the fourth generation, learning to make Nonna’s favorite!

Serving Ideas: Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and my favorite corn dish: Southern Maque Choux.

Oh, and if you want to save this recipe, without all the pesky pictures, click here, for the print-friendly version!

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

PS – If you like chicken livers (and any southerner worth their grits LOVES chicken livers) this is probably the best version of them I’ve ever had. Personally, I feel that the Good Lord skimped a bit, only giving up one liver per bird, so I always buy extras so I have a little somethin’ somethin’ to snack on while finishing dinner.

I married a dern yankee, so I don’t even have to share!

PPS – Don’t throw away all of that lovely chicken-laden lard either! It’s perfect for frying up a batch of hush-puppies, or making some lovely chicken gravy for those mashed taters!

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