Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thunder Thighs

Chicken thighs kind of make me sad. Whole legs, I love; they're big, and classically proportioned, and can be arranged all artfully akimbo on a plate, but thighs by themselves just sort of shrink into unappealing little lumps that are very hard to make beautiful without shredding all of the meat off to make something entirely other. And that has often been a problem, since the closest store only carries (organic, semi-local) thighs. Until now. Today I figured out that if I just treat them like wings, they work just fine; subsumed in sauce they become part of a whole, rather than the featured protein. So this evening, presented with two frozen four-packs of said thighs, I attempted to combine my parallel desires for hot wings and escabeche into one low monthly payment.

To begin, I rolled the thighs in seasoned flour. Not doing this means that the skin pretty much entirely gets stuck to the pan (we are a Teflon™-free household) and further ruins what little aesthetic charm the meat possesses to begin with. I added salt, pepper, herbs, cumin, and smoked paprika to the flour. After they were a goodly brown all over, I added a head's worth of cauliflower florets to brown as well, and a bit more flour to roux-ify the oil in the skillet. Then I poured in a mixture of tomato paste, sherry, pork stock, balsamic, sherry, and cider vinegars along with a handful of minced garlic and herbs, covered the pan, and let it all simmer low for a while.

While it bubbled, I steamed some butternut squash, reheated some fried rice from the other day, and made mash with a sampling of the wonderful greens that are rebounding after a long dormancy in the garden: pan di zucchero, radicchio (palla rossa and treviso), mizuna, parsley, chervil, some dandelions, and best of all our ramps. They've just come up, so I'm trying to go easy on them by just cutting the greens; I forgot to order more bulbs this year so I want to dig up as few as possible. Both patches I established are doing well, though, so in a few years I hope to have a huge supply.

Here's the link to a previous post on mash that I wrote back when I had about two readers; now that I'm well into the double digits, I figure I should include it. I puréed all of the above leaves with good olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I kept it simple to honor the quality of the brand-new greens, which taste so very magical after a long winter. Right next to the ramps, the nettles are really coming up fast so I'll be hitting them pretty hard in the near future.

I blended the squash with some of the steaming water, a bit of passion fruit juice, and salt, and I sautéed some organic, free-range maitake mushrooms with a clove of garlic and deglazed them with sherry. All together, it made for a heart yet optimistic plate of food, looking eagerly forward to the rain's departure and the arrival of at least four warm, sunny days.


Jo said...

Ok that "organic, free-range maitake mushrooms" made me giggle.

I want to see a randging maitake....please.

peter said...

I would too, but they're supposedly very shy.