Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Culinary Class: Asian Style Chicken Stew and Rice Pilaf

Yesterday was our penultimate cooking lab. Only one more left, in two weeks. Next week is our knife skills test. I plan to spend next Tuesday destroying carrots.

Anyway, we are continuing our survey of wet cooking methods. This time we covered stewing. Stewing generally involves cooking smaller portions of meat completely immersed in liquid.

For this class we made an Asian style stewed chicken. It was flavored with garlic, onion, ginger, vinegar, cilantro, and hot peppers. Slow cooking helped the chicken become permiated with the flavors, and become fall-off-the bone tender. The sauce was thickened at the end with a slurry of corn starch.

I think this may be my favorite recipe of the class so far.

To accompany the stew, we made a basic rice pilaf. In a pilaf, the rice grains are coated in fat so that they remain separate, and the rice as a whole is fluffy. The rice is sautéed fat until well coated. Water is added, and the pot covered. It is important to leave the pot alone at this point. The rice needs to be left alone for about 25 minutes. It can be finished either on the stove top, or in the oven.

We kept it simple, as we wanted the rice to accompany the stew, and not clash. It is flavored with a little garlic and onion. We used butter as the fat to fry the rice and coat the kernels.

We used parboiled rice. This rice is partially cooked, making the cooking time shorter, and there is less starch on the outside to gelatinize and make it sticky.

The rice came out perfect. It was a little al dente, and had not a hint of stickiness. It did a great job of soaking up the sauce from the chicken.

All recipes courtesy of Chef Joe Orate.


Chef Joe's Ginger Chicken Stew

1 chicken cut into 10 pieces, skin removed
1 onion, rough chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup diced celery
1 Thai chili, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. corn starch
2 cups water

In a heavy stew pot over medium heat, sweat onions, celery, and garlic. Add chicken pieces, lightly brown. Add stock, soy sauce, vinegar, chili, pepper, and ginger. Bring to a simmer. Cover, let cook one hour and fifteen minutes.

Combine corn starch and water, making sure there are no lumps.

Add cilantro to stew. Slowly stir in corn starch slurry, until sauce is desired thickness. You may not need all of the slurry. Cook for an additional two minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand five minutes.

Chef Joe's Basic Rice Pilaf

2 cups rice
1/4 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 oz. by wt. butter
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Sweat onions and garlic. Add rice, stir thoroughly until rice is well coated. Add water, and season to taste.

Cover, let cook undisturbed for 25 minutes.

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