Sunday, 18 November 2012

2-Timing Chicken!

Cosce di Pollo "Szechuan" con Tagliatelle di Riso
Szechuan Chicken Drumsticks & Rice Noodles

Spurred on by the success of my juicy (in the bag) chicken recipe of a couple of weeks back, I decided to use a similar method of cooking this time, but to use it to even greater effect! What I did last time,was that I pre-cooked the chicken before roasting it, by steaming if for
5 minutes, which did indeed result in the chicken cooking quicker and in the meat being much juicier at the same time. But this time around, I thought I would boil the chicken in advance, and then use the flavorful broth to boil the rice-noodles- simple idea but to great effect!

There are lots of ways to give food flavor, such as marinating, which would be the traditional way in China of course, usually in a soy sauce, sesame oil and seasoned dressing. Which is fine... unless you have a sudden craving and don't really have that extra time to sit and wait till the flavors seep in. I based this method on the way my mother prepares chicken back home- it always seems so full of flavor in Sicily, that I reckoned that it should work just as well with Asian flavors... and of course I was right!

So I boiled my little drumsticks for 10-15 minutes in water, which I "laced" with a clove of garlic, a few slices of ginger, a good splash of soy sauce, a couple of Kaffir lime leaves and of course salt and pepper. Whilst the chicken gently simmered away, I soaked a handful of rice noodle sticks in some warm water- I suppose this is so that they soften and give off a fair amount of starch before cooking, as they cook very quickly and might otherwise become sticky and clump together.

After 15 minutes, I took the chicken out, set it to one side and dropped in a handful of runner beans that I had cut on the diagonal. I blanched them for 2-3 minutes in the boiling broth and then set then to one side too. It was time to start getting organized- there were still the noodles to prepare and the chicken needed to really get some serious flavor going on! So poured the hot chicken broth through a sieve to remove the flavorings and then in went the noodles! Which meant I could get back to my chicken and give it a nice blast of Szechuan pepper to bring it to life!

In a little sesame oil, I began frying some finely chopped ginger, a finely sliced clove of garlic and the 2 drumsticks. I sprinkled them lightly with 5-spice powder and seasoned with just a little splash of soy. I then added the beans, some Spring onion and a few slices of a hot red chili pepper- I left the seeds out, but you can leave some in if you are up for it! But remember- there is quite a bit of Szechuan pepper yet to come- so that is what I did next- I ground up about a teaspoonful of peppercorns, together with a little orange zest and then added these into the pan. A little more soy sauce, a squeeze of honey, a splash of broth from the noodles and everything was coming along fine! After just 5-6 minutes, the chicken is golden and ready and the noodles were good to go too! It was that easy!

I seasoned with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and some fresh coriander (cilantro), a last drop or two of chili sesame oil and dinner was served! The noodles were lovely and rich from the broth and its seasoning, the chicken was juicy and the vegetables pretty perfect! Who would have thought that 2 little chicken drumsticks had so much in them?! Enjoy!

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