Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Heston Blumenthal Memorial "In Search of Perfection" Post: Chicken Vesuvio

For those of you who don't know, Heston Blumenthal is one of the top chefs in the world.  He owns the Fat Duck in England, and he hosts a television show called "In Search of Perfection" where he refines and perfects a whole bunch of common foods (mashed potatoes, hamburgers, pizza, etc.).  Anyway, Michelle made some amazing Chicken Vesuvio the other night.  Although her rendition was quite amazing, there may be a series of posts in which she/we try to refine the recipe further in order to perfect it.

Chicken Vesuvio (serves 2)
4 or 5 chicken thighs with skin and bones
3 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
3/4 pound red potatoes, quartered (you can peel or not peel.  I prefer not peeled)
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and diced
1 cup sauvignon blanc
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn thyme
juice from 1/2 lemon
kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 450
2.  Film the bottom of a large saute pan with the olive oil and heat over high heat until hot.  Lightly salt and pepper the chicken.
3.  Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook until browned (about 3-4 minutes).  Flip the chicken over and cook until the other side is browned (another 3-4 minutes).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
4.  Quickly, add in the potatoes to the hot pan and cook until they are golden brown on all sides (about 10 minutes total).
5.  Add garlic to the pan with the potatoes and cook for about a minute.
6.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape the bottom to get all the tasty chicken and potato bits up.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the broth, oregano, thyme, and stir to combine.  Return chicken to the pan and bring to a boil (this should happen pretty quickly).
7.  Remove pan from heat and cover.  Put in the oven to finish (about 20 minutes).
8.  Allow the chicken to rest in the pan, covered for about 5 minutes.  Remove cover and squeeze lemon juice over the top.  Serve.

I will keep you all apprised on the evolution of this dish.  This recipe is very solid, but I feel like with just a few minor adjustments it can become sublime.  In the next rendition (which may happen tonight), we will cut down the thyme by a little bit, add the lemon earlier in the cooking process (so it marries with the other flavors a bit better), and add peas for the last 5 or so minutes of cooking.  We may also cook it a bit longer (like 3-4 minutes) because the chicken was slightly underdone right at the bone.  I feel like we could cook it in the steamy environment for longer and not lose much in the way of juciness.  

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