Sunday, 22 August 2010

It has potential but the chicken recipe needs tweaking

Last night I decided to cook and write about the sort of thing that I had originally decided to record in this blog. That is to try some new recipes, to cook something different and to evaluate the result. However, even in the short time I have been writing, this has already changed to a ‘this is what I have been cooking today blog’. But this post is a cook something new and evaluate the results. I found a recipe for White Wine and Herb Roast Chicken in one of my many cookery magazines. As it is a recipe that has come from a magazine, and I assume it is subject to copywrite I will not reproduce it here. Rather give you a flavour of what it was.

Although the picture was tempting, colourful and the recipe seemed to work on paper I had my doubts from the start about the flavour of lemon and potatoes together. I think I might have overdosed on Master Chef in the past few weeks. I have suddenly become a flavour expert – er no you haven’t! I am also not very keen on alcohol in food, except perhaps a sherry trifle at Christmas. Although beef and ale stews and pies always seem tempting I find that they fail to deliver on expectations. The beer somehow taints the sauce. Beer with your steak pie in a nice pub somewhere, now that’s a different thing entirely.

Anyway, having decided to expand my repertoire, I set about putting the dish together. I took some new potatoes and halved them. I think I would have been better using a more waxy variety. They turned a bit slushy. I drizzled olive oil over them and coated them in it. I chopped some parsley and thyme and mixed those in as well. I broke several cloves from a head of garlic and threw those in, complete with skin. As I was cooking for two, I added two chicken breasts that I had already browned in a pan. I think browning chicken that you are going to poach adds more flavour and is more aesthetically pleasing. Although the recipe calls itself roast chicken, it is poached chicken really. I added some home made chicken stock from the freezer, laid some slices of lemon over the chicken and added some salt and pepper. The recipe, as you can see from its title uses white wine. I have already said that I don’t really like alcohol in food. So I omitted the wine. I cooked the dish for about 30 minutes at 180.

I was not very impressed with the result. I ate it, so it wasn’t that bad. The reason that I didn’t like it was that my first thoughts on reading the recipe were proved right. The flavour of the lemon didn’t work very well with the potatoes. Lemon is too sharp and acidic. Potatoes need mild, almost sweet flavours like onions or chives. They can also cope with bitter flavours like cabbage or brussels .I think that their flavour is too bland to counteract the strong, acidic flavour of the lemon.

I think that if I did something like this again I would use the recipe for the chicken, including the lemons, herbs and garlic, still omitting the wine. Then I would roast the potatoes and herbs separately.

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