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How could I have made it better?


DaveFaris
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The other day, I decided not to make my standard roasted chicken for dinner, but because I got a great deal on whole chicken legs (4 big legs for $2.12), I decided to try a recipe I saw on a cooking show, boned & stuffed chicken legs. The cooking show (Jacque Pepin Celebrates) recipe has you make a stuffing out of, among other things, mushrooms. Due to an unfortunate food allergy in my house, mushrooms are off limits. But the stuffing I came up with was pretty good, I thought -- bacon & drippings, shallots, diced ham, diced stale sourdough bread, a little broccoli, and a mix of Swiss and cheddar cheese. I would imagine almost any combination of good stuff would turn out great -- I was thinking of maybe a wild rice and chopped pecans next time. The stuffing was not where my problems were.

I pretty much followed the technique of deboning the chicken legs, and then flattening them a little, adding the stuffing, and then wrapping them into egg roll shapes in tin foil.

Where I screwed up was the cooking time and maybe temperature. I couldn't remember what they said, so I figured a 350 degree oven, and I cooked them in the foil for about 30 minutes, and then removed them from the foil, and cooked them another 15 to brown.

But they didn't brown. The chicken was moist, and cooked, but the skin was unappetizing, and the layer of fat underneath it made cutting them on the plate a little oogy. As it was, two of my guests left the skin on their plate.

I guess, ideally, what I'd want is something crisp, like the skin on a roasted duck. As it was, even Jacque didn't seem to achieve that level of crispness. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

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Sounds to me like the skin steamed inside the foil packets. If keeping the legs tightly together is the reason for the foil, and apparently it is, I agree that tying them would be a better solution. You might have been able to run them under the broiler to crisp them.

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I chime in: no foil. Bad idea. Did Jacques really do that? :sad:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I pretty much followed the technique of deboning the chicken legs, and then flattening them a little, adding the stuffing, and then wrapping them into egg roll shapes in tin foil.

This is why it didn't get crispy. What you made was an en papilliote. This is a moist-heat method of cooking (steaming) where the food is wrapped and the steamed liquid comes from the food itself. It's an extremely healthy cooking methodology and makes for great presentation at home; more so if you use parchment paper than foil.

By cooking en papillote you can increase the sweetness in the dish by using mire poix or other aromatics. If you want caramelization of a food product, stay away from moist heat cooking methods: simmering, poaching, boiling, steaming, and en papilliote.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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If the chicken packets can be secured some other way (besides, I mean, wrapping them in foil), then the best way to get crispy skin would be, I think, to brown them in a skillet as a first step. Once the chicken is cooked, you won't be able to do much about the skin, and even less about rendering out the fat underneath. Or, if you use the foil method, remove the skin before you start. It may not look as good as appealing without a nice crispy skin, but you could always sauce the chicken before serving.

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Did Jacques really do that?

Well, I certainly didn't make that part up. I tried looking up the recipe online, but it wasn't available. He calls it "Chicken Jean-Claude [...cooked two ways - the thighs roasted with almond stuffing, and the breasts sauteed with shallots]." (For what it's worth, at least locally, the episode where he makes it is set to re-air this weekend. Not sure about your local PBS station.)

I'll try tying it and sauteeing it first, though I'm afraid all the cheese might tend to all ooze out.

Edited by DaveFaris (log)
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I'll try tying it and sauteeing it first, though I'm afraid all the cheese might tend to all ooze out.

Purchase some caul fat and then you'll really be getting fancy.

Caul fat is the fatty membrane from pig and sheep intestines. It looks like a mesh and is used to keep things together; like a stuffing on a lamb chop (or in a boneless chicken leg:-), or when barding a roast.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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There are generally two very traditional French preparations for the jambonettes - little hams as that's what the stuffed legs look like - one is the roasted/crispy skinned and the other the poached. In the latter the skin is removed for service - sliced it is a very nice presentation. For the former, start by sauteeing the jambonettes to colour well and then finish the cooking in the oven. For the latter, do as you did by wrapping it in foil and just poach to cook, remove the skin, slice and serve. I have two classic recipes for stuffing - one very creamy and the other with quatre-epices which is served with sauteed apples. I will post either/both if anyone's interested. Two ways to secure them without foil - the caul fat or kitchen twine. Tie it as you would a roast - or any way that just holds it all together. The caul fat's easy - just wrap it around and it mostly melts in the cooking.

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loufood, yes please do post those.

Perhaps best as a seperate thread for reference, linked from here.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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caul fat? I wonder where I could get that? I don't think they sell it at Shopper's Food Warehouse. But it's a good idea, especially since it melts away.

I'm trying to think if Jacques removed the skin from the thigh. I'm pretty sure he didn't. And I'm pretty sure he didn't add any liquid, either. I will re-watch the episode this weekend, and take careful notes.

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Yes, brown the b******ds in a saute pan first (you might want to tie them with string if the foil was what was holding them together before) them try it. An alternative would be to roast/poach them wrapped and then grill at the end to crisp up the skin (think chicken breasts poche-grille ie poached and then zapped under a grill to get the skin crispy), although it may be difficult to get them evenly browned right round using this method.

Have you thought of doing as before but trying a hotter oven at the end (try 200c+ - but make sure well slathered with oil so they don't burn) - just a matter of getting it hot enough to burn off the excess moisture. A rub of honey would also speed the browning as it carmelised

I've done stuffed chicken legs many times according to a Novelli recipe where they are stuffed with a mix of meat & chicken moose, tied (important to hold them together), browned and then chucked in the oven for 15-20 mins (time not so important as chicken legs pretty intolerant to overcooking). The only tricky thing is tying them - if the filling it too gloopy it leaks a bit when you brown it

cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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caul fat? I wonder where I could get that?

Depending on where you live, you'll may have to go to a butcher shop for it.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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