First night back flambé, or, Chicken Supreme

I’m back from vacation.

Since connectivity to the various different media options I’m used to was somewhat spotty in Mexico, I spent a bunch of time on Masterclass. As such, I was anxious to try out some of the recipes and techniques I’d watched while I was away.

The first recipe I decided I wanted to cook for my wife and I was Gordon Ramsay’s Chicken Supreme over root vegetables. It’s a skin-on chicken breast seared, and finished in the oven. The sliced breast is placed over oven roasted root vegetables and finished with a pan sauce. It looked really yummy in the video, and I was anxious to try it.

Several notes on the techniques used — first and foremost, Ramsay stresses the importance of letting the chicken breast warm before you start cooking it. This is important because if it’s not warmed, the breast will dry out before the center is cooked. It’s a good protip.

I got my chicken breasts from the bookstore only to realize that instead of three skin-on chicken breasts, I got the skin-on breasts of three chickens (six breasts total). After splitting the breasts and freezing the ones I didn’t need for tonight, I realized that the breasts were enormous — about 2.5 inches at the thickest point. After coating the breasts in salt and pepper, including the side of the breast under the tender, I let them stand for about 10 minutes.

For the root vegetables, I chose some stalk-on rainbow carrots. The preparation for these is extremely simple: wash without peeling, trim the tops, season, and place in an oven safe pan. With the carrots cleaned, I added some fresh thyme, and (unfortunately) dried rosemary. The recipe called for Italian parsley, but I didn’t remember this (or the rosemary for that matter) when I was shopping. Whoops.

I placed the cleaned carrots in a Pyrex, salted them, added the thyme and rosemary, and drizzled in olive oil. I covered the Pyrex in aluminum foil, and turned on the burner under the pan till I heard it crackle. This is another technique I plan on leveraging with other dishes. From there, I moved the warm pan into the pre-headed oven for about 30 minutes.

The 30 minutes meant I had just that long to finish the chicken and sauce, as well as letting it rest.

Chicken, thyme, garlic, oil

Ramsay talks about using grape seed oil to cook with, Keller makes the same point, only recommends canola oil (400+ degree smoke point). I had canola oil, so that’s what I used. I put the pan on high heat and added the oil, waiting for it to heat up.

Incidentally, one of the reasons why it’s important to have good light on your cooking surface is so you can see the texture of the surface of the oil as the pan heats. The key to cooking on steel and not having food stick (even eggs) is to get the pan *and* oil hot. The reason why you use canola or grape seed oil is to have a larger envelope between when the oil is hot enough to cook on and when it starts to burn. Extra virgin olive oil is delicious, but burns below 300 degrees — that makes it *really* hard to sear meat and not burn the oil — better to season the finished food with extra virgin olive oil instead. All that said, a well-lit area will allow you to see the convection ripples on the pan (think a uniform dimple pattern in the oil, rather than a smooth surface). When you see this, it’s time to cook!

I placed the chicken skin-side down in the hot pan and turned down the heat. I added garlic and thyme to the oil and let the skin start to crisp. The next time I make the dish, I’ll let the pan cool some with the chicken before adding the garlic in particular. Because I had the pan so hot, the garlic started to burn as part of this process.

After scooping out the burnt garlic, added some additional as well as more thyme, and added six (gulp) tablespoons of butter. Even with the skin on, chicken breast is a very lean meat — the point of adding the butter is not just to begin a base for the sauce, it’s to add fat to the chicken breast so it’s perceived as moist. With the butter in the pan I used a spoon baste the chicken with the fragrant butter. The francophones among you will know this as arroser.

After about 4 or so minutes, I flipped the chicken over and continued the basting on the underside of the chicken. I did this for about a minute and then put the pan into the oven with the vegetables. I don’t know why I’m calling them “vegetables” rather than “carrots” but there you are.

The recipe called for the pan to be in the oven for 10 minutes — in my case, because of the thickness of the breasts, I let it bake for an additional minute or so. My inner adolescent boy is screaming for me to make a variety of different jokes that I will not write. My restraint is an inspiration for the children.

I managed to time the different pieces parts of the dish pretty well. The carrots (nee “vegetables”) and the chicken both came out of the oven within about a minute of each other. Ideally, the chicken comes out a little before so you have time to make the sauce while the vegetables finish, but well, now I have something to strive for next time.

The finished carrots and resting breasts

With the breasts out, I started to make the sauce. Ramsay’s recipe called for draining the excess fat — in my case, I didn’t have a lot of liquid to begin with, so I left everything in the pan, added 2 more tablespoons of butter, and a finely diced shallot. Also, I managed to mostly remember that the pan had been in the oven, so touching the handle of the pan was a less than awesome idea.

In order to build the sauce, I added Brandy (VSOP), and then added a mixture of better than bullion beef stock with no-salt added chick bone broth. All of this is a lot less interesting than:

FIRE!

Once the alcohol burned off and the broth mixture reduced, I ran the mixture through a chinois and into a bowl so I can dribble it over the sliced chicken and root vegeta… err… carrots. I cut the carrots on point, and placed them on the plate. With that done, I placed the chicken, and then dribbled the sauce over the chicken and carrots.

From a keto perspective, one of the most interesting aspects of this recipe is using the shallot as a thickening agent. I’ll have to use that technique with other dishes, versus flour. I’ll also need to understand how that approach changes the five mother sauces chemically, but it’s interesting. Is a shallot roux still a roux?

From a flavor perspective, I liked it — I didn’t love it — it was a bit monotone in flavor. The sauce was the clear winner — I think I might try it with something other than carrots (the sweetness didn’t seem to quite match well with the rest of the dish). A mushroom mixture may work better, and will certainly pair nicely with the sauce. I’ll have to try that next — till my next cooking adventure.