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Malawry

EVENT DC: Pullets at 20 paces

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Where are you going to get your birds? I assume you'll go free-range organic.


peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Here's where the embarrassing confessions come in: I usually don't truss the bird, nor do I spatchcock it. I've done both, but I am normally too impatient to go through with it--I just prep it and then rest it on a V-shaped rack. How horrible. I'll have to clean up my act in time for this event. :unsure:

Heh. Julia described an untrussed roast chicken as looking "wanton". :laugh:

I never spatchcock or truss either, and I don't even use a rack, just a shallow roasting pan. I save bondage for rolled pork roasts and the like.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I airdry the bird in the fridge overnight, then massage it with butter a la Julia. 

I airdry too. But no butter. I'm a Zuni Cafe-style chicken man myself.


Bill Russell

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I'm thinking that a Zuni-style pullet will provide the closest comparison with a briner, as they both get that salt thing going. Then, maybe some herb butter under the skin. (Free range, of course, Signori Dente). Mal?

On the trussing thing, we can handle the trussing or Mal can use the rack (what a choice -- trussing or the rack! "What happens at Busboy's stays at Busboy's, especially if jimmies are involved"). Trussing both means that they'll cook in the same time, though, which would be better.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I feel like either we both truss, or else neither of us trusses. I want the birds to be as equal as possible in quality and character, except of course mine will be better.

I was considering the Bell & Evans chicken from Whole Paycheck as a strong contender for the bird to be roasted. Normally, though, I roast whole Costco Tyson chickens at home. They're cheap and they're smallish--I think a small chicken tastes better roasted than a big bird.

I don't know about the Zuni technique, not owning any Zuni Cafe books. Can somebody summarize?

There's still room for more, so get those RSVPs in. There haven't been many eGullet events this inexpensive in a long time, and it's a good chance to show off your summer cooking chops with a side dish. There will be photos and stories afterwards in this thread, naturally.

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I don't know about the Zuni technique, not owning any Zuni Cafe books. Can somebody summarize?

A fairly small bird is salted and airdried overnight in the refrigerator and cooked at a high temperature in a pre-heated vessel of some sort.

Oh, and serve it with kick-ass bread salad.

Judy Rogers goes into four pages of painstaking detail in the book.

Edited out link to stupid wrong recipe.


Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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But...in that recipe you linked to, the chicken is wrapped in plastic overnight. And it simply roasts at 425 degrees, without saying anything about a preheated vessel. Is the book recipe dramatically different? (Four pages?? Wow.)

Maybe I should see if I can get this book out of the library in advance.

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No offense to Judy's cooking skills, but she does tend to run on when she writes. The four pages contains about half a page of "how to cook a chicken," the rest is bread salad and consensus-building. Basically, salt the chicken, put herbs under the skin, let it sit overnight and cook in high heat. It's not our "house" technique but I like it quite a bit and, as I said before, I think would be a good match against a brined bird since they both get the salt-infusion flavor.

Bill, you going to bring the bread salad?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Would it help if I brought the biggest yellowest Perdue chicken on steroids I could find and roasted it until it's dry and chewy?

I'm looking into whether or not we can make it. Hope so!


peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I don't know about the Zuni technique, not owning any Zuni Cafe books. Can somebody summarize?

I can't summarize the technique, but I can discuss the end result since I had dinner at Zuni Cafe last week: a $38 roast bird for two, a very GOOD roast bird, sitting atop a 'stuffing' of what seemed like sliced day-old baguette marinated in balsamic vinaigrette.

Rewind...

"day-old baguette marinated in balsamic vinaigrette."

And yes, it WAS as bad as it sounds.

Not the chicken - which was very good (though not, repeat, not as good as Palena's); the stuffing, which flat-out sucked, and remained on the plate, uneaten.

But the oysters from the raw bar were as good as any I've ever had,

Rocks.


Edited by DonRocks (log)

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I've gotta say, with all respect for Chef Ruta and Palena's back room, which turns out extraordinary stuff, that I'd eat Stephanie's (if not Judy's) chicken over Frank's in a New York minute.

Brining is for sissies.

PS: If I'm paying $38 for a roast chicken I better be getting a shoulder massage as I dine and the sauce needs to be made with Mersault. "Cafe" my ass; at that price, using "cafe" in the name is just another marketing ploy.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Brining is for sissies.

Them's fightin' words. I demand satisfaction.

Oh, wait...

Good Lord, I can't wait for this! Would either, or both, of you please let me know what wine you would like to see walking in the door?

Barbara

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Brining is for sissies.

Them's fightin' words. I demand satisfaction.

Oh, wait...

Good Lord, I can't wait for this! Would either, or both, of you please let me know what wine you would like to see walking in the door?

Barbara

I can't speak for Mal, but on a hot August night I have a hankering for burly Southern French pink, maybe from Costieres de Nimes or a Cotes du Ventou, or a US Rhone-style rose, like Bonnie Doon Vin Gris du Cigar. But, I'm very flexible in these matters.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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But...in that recipe you linked to, the chicken is wrapped in plastic overnight. And it simply roasts at 425 degrees, without saying anything about a preheated vessel. Is the book recipe dramatically different? (Four pages?? Wow.)

Maybe I should see if I can get this book out of the library in advance.

Yikes - that is not the recipe the way it is in the book. I'll delete that link from my post.


Bill Russell

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I don't know about the Zuni technique, not owning any Zuni Cafe books. Can somebody summarize?

I can't summarize the technique, but I can discuss the end result since I had dinner at Zuni Cafe last week: a $38 roast bird for two, a very GOOD roast bird, sitting atop a 'stuffing' of what seemed like sliced day-old baguette marinated in balsamic vinaigrette.

Rewind...

"day-old baguette marinated in balsamic vinaigrette."

And yes, it WAS as bad as it sounds.

Not the chicken - which was very good (though not, repeat, not as good as Palena's); the stuffing, which flat-out sucked, and remained on the plate, uneaten.

But the oysters from the raw bar were as good as any I've ever had,

Rocks.

I've never had this at the restaurant, only coming out of my oven. And don't tell anyone, but I actually don't like raosted chicken all that much.

But it sounds like they went a bit overboard on the dressing or didn't mix it well. If done right you'll occasionally end up with a soaked soggy bite, but you might also end up with a barely slicked, toasted bite with currants and pine nuts and greens. That's part of what I like about it - the differences in texture.


Bill Russell

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I've gotta say, with all respect for Chef Ruta and Palena's back room, which turns out extraordinary stuff, that I'd eat Stephanie's (if not Judy's) chicken over Frank's in a New York minute.

Brining is for sissies.

PS: If I'm paying $38 for a roast chicken I better be getting a shoulder massage as I dine and the sauce needs to be made with Mersault. "Cafe" my ass; at that price, using "cafe" in the name is just another marketing ploy.

i can't say whtr bird is better since i've never had judy's or stephanie's; but to discount onebecause "brining is for sissies" is close-minded and ridiculous. maybe i'm being oversensitive; but cooks use a variety of techniques and tools in their repetoire, borrowing from the past and other cultures...being close-minded makes for a bad cook.


Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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I've gotta say, with all respect for Chef Ruta and Palena's back room, which turns out extraordinary stuff, that I'd eat Stephanie's (if not Judy's) chicken over Frank's in a New York minute.

Brining is for sissies.

PS: If I'm paying $38 for a roast chicken I better be getting a shoulder massage as I dine and the sauce needs to be made with Mersault. "Cafe" my ass; at that price, using "cafe" in the name is just another marketing ploy.

i can't say whtr bird is better since i've never had judy's or stephanie's; but to discount onebecause "brining is for sissies" is close-minded and ridiculous. maybe i'm being oversensitive; but cooks use a variety of techniques and tools in their repetoire, borrowing from the past and other cultures...being close-minded makes for a bad cook.

My dislike for brining comes not from closed-mindedness but from open-mouthed-ness and having too many bits of pinkish white meat and rubbery breasts (sounds vaguely rude, no?) put into said open mouth. I pick on Palena only because, in this instance, it has become the apotheosis of a trend I loathe. I'm sure chef Ruta is undisturbed by my opion and, based in my last outing there, that man can foam on my bacon any time (another vaguely rude comment, it seems).

Speaking of mouths, I've put my money where mine is, so to speak, with the cook-off and all are welcome to come 'round witness my (meaning Mrs. B's, of course) triumph -- or to cheer as I go down in flames at the hands of highly-trained professional chef and brine afficianado Malawry. Worst case scenario, at least half the chicken served is likely to be pretty damn good.

And, don't forget the ice cream. Y'all come.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I wish someone could explain the science of brining to me. I mean salting meat draws the juices out of them, which is what you want if preservation is the goal (see corned beef and Virginia ham for starters). I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that brining a chicken makes it "moister."

Barbara

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I wish someone could explain the science of brining to me.  I mean salting meat draws the juices out of them, which is what you want if preservation is the goal (see corned beef and Virginia ham for starters).  I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that brining a chicken makes it "moister."

Barbara

Funny you should ask. This site has a bit on the science of brining, complete with diagram. It's just below the piece on the Maillard Reaction, which is what happens when meat is browned.

I have a deep distrust of scientific explanations for why food tastes good -- as with art, if it has to be explained before you enjoy, it's probably failing on a fundamental level. Nonetheless, I've got enough of the wonk in me to enjoy scooting through sites like this, and it seems to be well worth clicking through.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I wish someone could explain the science of brining to me.  I mean salting meat draws the juices out of them, which is what you want if preservation is the goal (see corned beef and Virginia ham for starters).  I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that brining a chicken makes it "moister."

Barbara

Funny you should ask. This site has a bit on the science of brining, complete with diagram. It's just below the piece on the Maillard Reaction, which is what happens when meat is browned.

I have a deep distrust of scientific explanations for why food tastes good -- as with art, if it has to be explained before you enjoy, it's probably failing on a fundamental level. Nonetheless, I've got enough of the wonk in me to enjoy scooting through sites like this, and it seems to be well worth clicking through.

Well, thanks for the link. The problem is . . . I simply don't believe this (about the brining, that is). I looked for some citations and didn't find any. I'm just going on my own observations. As an example, in Ruth Reichl's book, "Tender at the Bone," she prints a recipe for fried chicken that says to "cover the chicken pieces with salt for two hours." I did as she said, but found the texture of the chicken to be rather odd. It certainly didn't have as much "moisture" as chicken not salted. Frankly, the explanation on the site you linked doesn't make any sense. To ME, that is. Bear in mind that to make your own corned beef (or pork or whatever), or to cook a Virginia ham, you need to soak the previously salted meat in several changes of fresh water for a couple of days before simmering the thing in water all day.

The upshot is that I will be an extremely interested guinea pig in this cook-off and, needless to say, will show up with an open mind (along with the required wine and unrequired side dish). Want some cookies to go with the ice cream?

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OK, so here's who's in so far and what they're bringing:

Simdelish - some kind of chocolate kit kat bar type thing, and perhaps mojitos (start sucking up now, people)

Chef Shogun - undecided

Rosebud +1 - a special zucchini dish

Hjshorter - a salad and some wine

Squids (possibly)

PM me if you're interested in coming. There's still room for more!

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I think that Science of Meat page above glosses ove a stage. Brining forces more water into the chicken by virtue of osmosis, but at the same time, the salt works magic on the protein, stretching them a little bit so that they can both absorb more liquid, as the page explains, and _retain it_ through the cooking process, which it doesn't really cover.

If memory serves, and it rarely does, Cooks Illustrated once did a side by side weight comparison of chicken soaked in water, a chicken soaked in salt water, and chicken with no treatment. Both the chicken soaked in water and the chicken soaked in salt water gained weight after treatment and lost weight after cooking, but the chicken soaked in salt water retained a significantly higher percentage of its gained weight through the cooking process, while I _think_ the chicken soaked in water lost as much absolute weight as the chicken without treatment. E.g.--it's not the water alone, but the added ability to retain water that makes the difference.

So my best guess on the difference between brining and the dry-salt of Zuni is that the Zuni approach, by letting salt work its way through the chicken for 24 hours stretches out the proteins so that the meat retains more of its natural liquids during cooking without forcing in that icky water stuff.

and after all--who needs water when there's wine on hand?

In addition, the airdrying seems to help on the crispy skin front--I think the salt draws moisture out from the skin, drying it, while working its way into the chicken, making it jucier.

(Oh--and Rocks--you were screwed. I've made that bread salad six or seven times and it's one of the single best dishes to come out of my oven.)


Edited by babka (log)

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the dry-salt of Zuni is that the Zuni approach, by letting salt work its way through the chicken for 24 hours stretches out the proteins so that the meat retains more of its natural liquids during cooking without forcing in that icky water stuff. 

(Oh--and Rocks--you were screwed.  I've made that bread salad six or seven times and it's one of the single best dishes to come out of my oven.)

I believe you (and bilrus) that the stuffing can be good - although not having seen the cookbook, I'm still waiting to "understand" how stale bread, marinated in something approaching a red-wine vinaigrette, can EVER be anything more than tolerable. I'm sorry, but that's just gross. Yeah, I'm sure I'm missing some sort of enlightenment in terms of execution, but what am I supposed to think at this point? It is very rare when I don't finish something served to me, no matter how bad it is, but this went largely uneaten.

Also, not having seen the cookbook, but having read your posting, I can verify that the bird was wonderfully drippy and moist, juicy not watery, and quite good. Like Johnny says: there's more than one way to skin a cat, or in this instance, to cook a bird, and it was quite successful.

But the crisp-ish (not crispy, but crisp-ish) skin took a secondary importance compared to the juicy chicken meat, and at Palena, the crispy skin is of primary importance. And I love Palena's crispy skin just like I love the crispy salmon skin at Le Paradou, but that's for another posting, perhaps another place in time. :smile:

Cheers,

Rocks.

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