Showing posts with label barefoot contessa family style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barefoot contessa family style. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beer Braised Chicken Stew with Biscuits

You would think I would have learned from the last two food blogger potlucks I attended, but no. Another potluck was held on Sunday, and I really thought that this time I’d just nibble on a few things and not leave completely stuffed. The theme for this potluck was beer, and the event was held at 512 Brewery. So, not only did I lose track of how many incredible dishes I sampled, I also sampled several delicious beers. More info about the potluck can be found at Foodie is the New Forty and at Relish Austin. I had a couple of ideas for dishes made with beer, and one was savory and the other was sweet. I’ll post about the sweet one soon. First, I wanted to try braising chicken in beer, and I imagined the flavorful, slow-cooked meat and vegetables would work well in a pot-pie kind of dish. I mostly followed the recipe for Ina’s Chicken Stew with Biscuits from Barefoot Contessa Family Style after the chicken was cooked. This was an experiment because I had never before braised chicken in beer and wasn’t sure if that would incorporate too much beeriness or not enough or if the chicken meat would be an odd brownish color. I decided to give it a whirl and find out the answers.

I wanted to be sure that I was in fact braising and not stewing or roasting, so I first referenced Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking. After a quick look at his definition, I knew that I needed to lightly coat the chicken pieces with flour, briefly sear the pieces, and then add enough liquid so that it would not evaporate as the chicken cooked but not so much that the chicken would be submerged. I used four bone-in breasts and two thighs, and in the roasting pan I used, two and a half 12 ounce bottles of Boulevard Oktoberfest beer was the right amount. After searing the chicken, I added small potatoes, whole shallots, and big chunks of carrots and celery before pouring in the beer and covering the pan. Also, from Elements, I learned that braising should happen at a temperature no higher than 300 degrees F, and that’s the temperature at which I set my oven. After an hour and a half, the chicken was cooked through and had reached 165 degrees F. The next step for a successful braise is to let the meat cool in the braising liquid. This is why I started this process early. I left everything in the dish with the braising liquid and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I removed the meat from the bones and chopped the vegetables into small pieces for the stew. Good news: the chicken meat had not turned an ugly brown at all, and it was as tender as can be.

For the stew, the sauce was made with five cups of stock. Again, I wasn’t sure if the braising liquid, which was all beer, would be too beery for the sauce. It had been flavored with the chicken and vegetables while in the oven, but I decided to use only four cups of it and one cup of plain chicken stock so as to hedge my bet. Some finely chopped shallots were browned in 12 tablespoons of butter with some finely chopped sage and rosemary, and then three-fourths of a cup of flour was added to form a roux. The stock and braising liquid were stirred into the roux to form the sauce, and after thickening, one quarter cup of cream was added as well. The chicken, potatoes, carrots, and celery were added with a package of frozen peas and some chopped parsley. Once well mixed, that all went into a baking dish which was placed in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Then, the stew was removed from the oven and topped with biscuits that were made with parsley in the dough. After brushing an egg wash on the biscuits, the stew went back into the oven for another 30 minutes.

After all my worrying about the dish tasting too beery, in the end, the flavor from the beer was actually very subtle. I could smell the beer in the dish, and the flavor was there but it was nicely mixed with the chicken and vegetables and biscuits and herbs. This whole process may seem labor-intensive, but each step was very easy. The original recipe in Barefoot Contessa Family Style suggests quickly roasting chicken breasts and using them as soon as they are cool enough to handle. However, if you’d like to try a beer-themed meal, I highly recommend a slow braise with a medium-bodied brew and letting the meat cool in the pan. It smells amazing as it cooks, and the texture of the meat is as good as it gets.

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