Friday, August 28, 2009

Best kitchen invention (+ recipe for chicken)

This may sound ridiculous, but I had to come to Kurdistan and befriend a couple of Turks before I was able to discover the best kitchen invention ever. The item I am holding in the picture above is a package of oven roasting bags imported from Turkey - essentially just big see through plastic bags for roasting food in. Many of you may already be familiar with them, and many more of you may think that it is an apalling atrocity to shove something you are going to serve loved ones into a eco-unfriendly unnatural synthetic item where it will stay potentially absorbing anti-nutrients for an hour, but I challenge you... It is a potentially life-changing discovery! The advantages of using the bag is that there is almost NO CLEAN UP and the chicken stays moist. So far, I just cut up potatoes into wedges and throw these along with some garlic cloves into the bag under the chicken. But recently I began experimenting and would like to share a recipe with you:

Zanmei's Pomegranate (or other fruit?) Roast Chicken
  1. Clean chicken, take a lemon or two, grate off zest, cut into halves and stuff into cavity of chicken.
  2. Combine a few diced shallots (or one small onion) and local savory shredded and chopped herbs (I use basil and thyme) and some pepper. Take half of this mixture (or as much as you need - 2 Tbs?), loosen the chicken skin with a paring knive and rub the mixture between the chicken and the skin on breasts and thighs. Rub a little olive oil on the outside of the chicken and slip it into the roasting bag.
  3. Put remainder of herb mixture in a bowl and add about 1-2 Tbs of honey, 1/2 cup of pomegranate (or cranberry or orange) juice and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Pour this into the bag with the chicken and tie off the bag.
  4. Place the bag into a glass or ceramic baking tray and put into oven (high heat - gas mark 6 on my oven) and roast for about 1 hour until skin is crispy-looking on top.
  5. Serve with rice. I do a mixture of wild rice and barley cooked in chicken stock. Start by lightly sauteeing onions in olive oil, add dry wild rice and barley until grains are coated with the oil, add chicken stock and cook until done. Then after cooking, toss tegether with pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest (that you grated off the lemons stuffed into chicken) and a couple of Tbs of chopped parsley. Veggies roasted on a piece of tinfoil are also a nice no-clean-up-required addition. Zuccini slices instersperced with onion slices sprinkled with olive oil, red pepper flakes and thyme roast up nicely as do halved cherry tomatoes. You can add a little balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes after roasting.
Please let me know if this works for you. I tried this in Canada and there was too much water from the chicken and I thinked the juices that ran off the chicken in a pan with a bit of flour. Alternatively you could just add a dusting of flour to the bottom of the bag before adding the juice mixture.

PS. Apparently you can cook loads of stuff in these nasty-looking, but oh so useful bags. I will try fish when I return to Canada next.

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