Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leaky Basket full of Chicken Allemande and Chestnuts aux Tomate Sauté

Just another tasty fun food presentation!

     Artistic food presentations are en vogue these days.  Some modern food presentations are very high tech and they require a high degree of skill to accomplish.  Successful chefs have one great characteristic in common.  An open mind!  Being open to new ideas does promote one'e own creative ability.  Once the creative thought process begins, there is no limit to what a chef can accomplish.  
     The food in this website focuses on accurate flavors and cooking techniques.  The food presentations in this website tend to be conservative with no major distractions.  When a recipe focuses on cooking techniques and flavor, interested readers want to focus upon the featured item.  If a recipe features a steak with an accompanying sauce, then the focus of attention should be on the steak and the sauce, with no distractions from excess garnishes that really are not an integral part of the entree.  
     Conservative presentations of food in published recipes allow viewers to imagine their own way of presenting the featured food item.  There are basic food presentation styles that are standards in the restaurant industry.  It is good to know the basics, so food can be plated quickly with ease.  Many basic presentation styles serve as a foundation for complex food presentations.
     As a food writer or viewer, it is important to realize that not every person who looks at recipes in this website site has advanced cooking skills.  If every food item in this website was presented like it was being served at a 3 Star Michelin rated restaurant, then the recipes would look intimidating, rather than inviting.  Many fine dining restaurant recipes actually are very easy to cook, but if a the food is presented in a complex intimidating way, then a chefs communication skills actually come into question.  Food presentations actually are a form of communication.  A good presentation of recipe food in a picture should communicate with the audience and it should not leave some members of the audience drawing a blank. 
      The miniature rustic basket in the picture above is actually much easier to make than a classic allemande sauce.  Allemande sauce requires many steps and it must be finished with the egg yolk liaison cooking technique.  The pastry dough for the basket is really just a simple French pie dough.  The dough is cut into long thin strips.  The dough strips are then draped over an upside down steel muffin pan and arranged so they resemble a basket.  After baking, the basket is popped off of the inverted muffin cup and voila!  A leaky old basket is created!  
     One of the first lessons that children learn is that a basket will not hold water.  It is funny how adults sometimes forget simple little lessons like this.  I have seen professional cooks do some moronic things in restaurant kitchens that can cause a chef to look at the ceiling and say "Why me? ... Why me?  Oy vey!"  
     One of the dumbest things that I have seen a professional cook do when they are in a hurry, is pouring a finished sauce into a strainer, with no container underneath to catch the sauce.  The sauce ends up everywhere but where it should be.  Things like this usually only happen when a chef really needs the sauce in a hurry.  One might just say that today's "leaky basket" food presentation has a chef's eye rolling "Why me?" reaction theme.  

     Chicken Stock:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 gallon of chicken stock.
     Place 2 pounds of chicken bones, scraps, backs and trimmings in a large sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped carrot.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped leek.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped parsnip.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 2" of extra liquid.  (About 1 gallon.)
     Add a sachet bouquet garni of:
     - 1 sprig of thyme
     - 6 parsley stalks
     - 8 black peppercorns
     - 1 bay leaf
     - 2 cloves (the spice, not garlic)
     Add sea salt.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
     Skim any grease or impurities off the top.  Add water as necessary.
     Pour the chicken stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Return the broth to a gentle simmer.
     Simmer and reduce till 1/2 gallon of stock remains.  Skim off any grease or impurities.
     Cool the stock to room temperate.
     Chill the stock in a refrigerator.
     The chicken stock can be refrigerated for 7 days and it can be frozen for later use.

     Mushroom Liquor:
     This recipe yields enough mushroom liquor to flavor several portions of sauce.  Only a small amount is needed for today's allemande recipe.
     Place 1 cup of mushroom trimmings and scraps in a sauce pot.
     Add 4 cups of water.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the liquid is thoroughly infused with a mushroom flavor and till 1 cup of liquid remains.
     Pour the mushroom liquor through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Chill the mushroom liquor till it is needed. 

     Pâte Brisée:
     This recipe yields enough dough for 1 meat pie or 1 petite pie.  
     This recipe makes use of pie dough scraps!  
     Normally, pie crust dough should be only be lightly worked till streaks of butter appear, so a flakey texture can be achieved.  Leftover scraps of pie crust dough that are worked a second time will have less of a flaky texture.  This texture is perfect for today's recipe application, because the thin strips of dough will not break as easily.  
      Use the recipe below for making a pie crust or for an English meat pie, then turn the scraps into a sheet of dough that long strips can be cut from.  Place 1 1/2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a 3/16" thick sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pâte brisée should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pâte brisée, till it becomes firm again.
     Leaky Basket:
     This recipe yields 1 petite pastry basket!
     After making a pie, refrigerate the extra pâte brisée scraps.
     Roll the scraps into a 3/16" thick rectangular sheet that is about 12" long and a few inches wide.
     Cut about 15 long thin strips that measure 3/16"x 3/16"x 12".
     Place the strips side by side on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and chill them in a refrigerator, till they become firm.
     Invert a 4" or 4 1/2" wide muffin cup pan, so the pan is upside down.
     Brush the outside of a muffin cup with melted unsalted butter.
     Lightly dust the cup with flour.
     Drape 1 strip of dough across the top of the cup, so the midpoint of the strip meets the center of the top of the cup.  
     Continue draping strips over the cup, till the cup looks like it is covered with evenly spaced vertical basket rails that all overlap at the center point of the cup.
     Press the overlapping dough strips together on the center point on the cup, to flatten the dough and to create a flat bottom basket.  Now the dough strips will not shift during the next step.
     Run your finger around the base of the muffin cup pan around the muffin cup in one direction, so the dough strips all start to form a basket rim.
     Gather a couple of the dough strip ends at a time and twist them, while gently tugging the strips against the base of the muffin cup.  This will create a woven basket rim effect!
     Continue shaping the basket rim and trim off any excess length from the dough strips.
     Now the muffin cup should look like it is covered with an uncooked pie dough basket.
     Lightly brush the dough with egg wash.
     Place the pan in a 350º oven.  
     Bake till the basket becomes a golden brown color.
     Allow the basket to cool.
     Use a pastry spatula to gently pry the rim of the basket loose from the base of the muffin pan.  This action will actually free the entire basket.
     Set the basket aside where it will not be damaged.

     Chicken Veloute:  
     This recipe makes about 1 cup of veloute.
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk.
     Constantly stir, till the roux becomes a golden tan color.
     Add 2 cups of chicken stock or white stock.
     Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Whisk the sauce occasionally as it comes to a gentle boil.
     When the sauce comes to a gentle boil, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a bouquet garni of:
     - Leek
     - Celery
     - 1/2 of a small bay leaf
     - 1 small prig of thyme
     - 1 parsley stalk
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce for 35 to 40 minutes, so the roux flavor is no longer pasty tasting.  Reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency.  There should only be about 1 cup of veloute sauce after the reduction is completed.
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter, while whisking.  (Monte au beurre.  This will keep a "skin" from forming on the veloute.)
     Set the veloute aside.

     Tomate Sauté:
     Only a small amount is needed.  The thick tomato saute will stabilize the basket on the plate.
     Peel and seed 1 small plum tomato.
     Dice the tomato filet.  (concasse)
     Heat a saute pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Saute till the shallot turns clear in color.
     Add the tomato concasse.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Saute till the tomato becomes tender.
     Add 1 ounce of dry white wine.
     Simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates. 
     Keep the thick tomato sauté warm on a stove top. 
     Allemande Sauce:
     Allemand can be made with any kind of veloute sauce.  This recipe make 1 pasta portion of chicken allemande.
     Allemande sauce should be made shortly before it is needed.  This sauce is difficult to reheat without breaking the sauce, because it is tightened with egg yolk.
     White wine actually is only an optional ingredient for allemande and it really is not necessary, because lemon is the key flavor.
     Place 1 cup of chicken veloute in sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock.
     Add 1 ounce of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Mix 1 egg yolk with 1 ounce of cream in a small mixing bowl.
     Add the egg yolk cream liaison, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Remove the sauce from the heat as soon as the egg yolk starts to tighten the sauce.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter pieces while stirring.
     Add 2 pinches of finely chopped Italian parsley.  (optional for this recipe)
     Pour the allemande sauce into a ceramic cup.
     Keep the cup warm on a stop top.
     Chicken Allemande and Chestnuts:
     This recipe yields 1 portion!
     Cryovac packages of shelled roasted chestnuts are available year round. 
     For today's presentation, the allemande should be thick enough to cling to the chicken and chest nuts.
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of chicken breast that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Saute till golden highlights appear.    
     Add 4 to 5 shelled roasted chestnuts that are cut into halves or quarters.
     Saute till the chestnuts become aromatic and golden highlights appear.
     Drain off any excess butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Briefly saute till the garlic becomes aromatic.   
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock, while stirring.  (Just to deglaze the pan.)
     Add just enough of the sauce allemande to generously coat the ingredients.
     Keep the Chicken Allemande and Chestnuts warm on a stove top.

     Leaky Basket full of Chicken Allemande and Chestnuts aux Tomate Sauté:
     Place about 2 tablespoons of the thick tomato sauté on the center of a plate.
     Carefully set the pastry basket on the tomato, so it is stable.
     Spoon any excess tomato into the basket. 
     Carefully use a slotted spoon to fill the leaky basket with the chicken and chestnuts from the allemande.
     Spoon a generous amounts of the allemande sauce from the pot over the chicken and chestnuts in the basket, till the sauce leak out of the basket onto the plate.
     Garnish the top with thin bias sliced green onion slivers.  

     Viola!  The best tasting leaky basket you never had!  Yum!  ...  Shawna   

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