Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Culinary Adventures

One of my goals for the new year is to be a bit more adventurous in my cooking. To try out new recipes at least once a week, and at least every other week (approximately) to branch out and create my own recipes. The latter part is really the adventurous part for me. I already do a pretty good job of cooking new recipes fairly frequently. Sometimes they're fantastic. Sometimes they totally flop. My hubby is always appreciative of the effort, and though he's honest with his opinions, he doesn't complain about whatever is placed in front of him. This is great because it allows me to have fun and try new things in the kitchen without worry.

So, tonight I had a few items in my fridge that I needed to use up, and I decided to just "wing it" for dinner. The ingredients were chicken thighs, with bone and skin, fresh green beans, and daikon radishes. I have never cooked with daikon radishes, or even tasted one before. And I've never been very successful with making fresh green beans tender and flavorful. So I thought those would be a bit challenging. I figured the chicken was a given. How hard is it to make chicken thighs taste good, right?

So, I put my fabulous new copper saute pan (Christmas gift from my hubby) on the stove and put some olive oil in. I seasoned the chicken with S&P, and once the oil started to smoke a bit, I put the chicken in, skin side down, to brown it up. So far so good, right? Right. I let it cook for five minutes or so and flipped it over to brown the other side. Again, letting it cook for several minutes. I thought the chicken was done, so I had the oven preheated to 200 and put the chicken on a platter in the over covered with tin foil, just to stay warm. Slam dunk.

I decided to deglaze the pan with some white wine and a bit of chicken broth, thinking I would make a nice sauce of some sort. But I forgot to drain much of the oil from cooking the chicken, so the oil/wine combo started popping and spitting EVERYWHERE!! Oh my, it made such a mess. Oops. Meanwhile I had trimmed the beans and chunked the radishes and blanched them. I decided instead of trying to make a sauce out of the crazy mess in my saute pan, I would put the blanched veggies in there to let them absorb some of the chicken flavor while sauteing them. Plus I figured having something in the pan to coat with the oil/wine/broth combo might calm that whole thing down. I added S&P and a bit more broth to the saute pan, covered it, and let the veggies cook. About 12 minutes later, the liquid had cooked down and the veggies were nice and browned and looked a bit caramelized. They were soft enough but not too soft, so I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

Then I took the chicken out of the oven to get ready to serve everything. It didn't look quite done, so I cut into one of the pieces to check. Not done!!! How could I have undercooked the chicken? The easiest part!! So, I threw the chicken back in the saute pan and covered it for a few more minutes, threw it all on a plate to serve, and took it to the table. I was bummed because the chicken looked like it had dried out quite a bit the second time around in the pan. Unfortunately, when I cut into it to eat it, it still wasn't done!!! Aaack. So, my hubby threw the thighs all in the microwave and really petrified them. They were awful. Even dark-meat chicken thighs can get dry if tortured like these were.

I was so disappointed in myself for messing up what I thought was a no-brainer. But, on a good note, the veggies were delicious!! They had great flavor and the perfect texture and my hubby gobbled them up and asked for more (right after saying that green beans are never really very enjoyable). I certainly learned a lot from this little culinary experiment, and it was fun too. My hubby even cleaned up the mess while I put Miss down for bed. Can't beat that!

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