Recipe Excerpted from Elements of Taste
by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky
Used with permission from TWBookmark.com.
© 2001 by Peter Kaminsky and Gray Kunz
THIS IS A FAST, easy way to make very crisp chicken and everybody in the history of humanity loves crispy chicken. Instead of serving it with biscuits and honey, which is traditional in the South, we made it with a maple vinegar sauce, which adds sweetness through maple syrup. We topped it with cranberry, almonds, and shallots, which have the bitterness to cut sweet richness and the nuttiness to work with the maple syrup.
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until they are soft and translucent. Add the pepper and nutmeg. Add the vinegar, bring to a boil, then add the maple syrup. Return the sauce to a boil and reduce by half. Set aside.
1 3/4 pound chicken (have butcher splay the chicken open it so it lies flat)
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Make an incision in each of the chicken's thighs, then tuck in the legs. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the hot pan then immediately transfer it to the oven. After 10 minutes, flip the chicken. Continue roasting, basting every so often, until the thigh juices run clear, 25-30 minutes total roasting. Remove the chicken from the skillet and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Pour the fat from the roasting pan and deglaze over medium low with the Maple Vinegar
Sauce. Cook just until the sauce pulls together, less than a minute, then set aside in a warm place.
3/4 Cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup leeks, finely sliced then measured
1 tablespoon dried homemade bread crumbs
Freshly ground white pepper
Combine the almonds and butter in a small skillet. Heat over medium-high heat and cook, turning the almonds frequently, until they are golden brown. Add the cranberries and leeks. Continue pan-roasting for 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the chicken in serving size parts. Arrange the chicken on warm plates. Spoon first sauce, then topping, over the chicken and serve.
OUR TASTE NOTES
First a tangy vinegar aroma and, right along with it, nuttiness from the almonds and butter The crunchiness from the chicken skin and intense saltiness follow. There's a smooth overall sweetness from the maple syrup, cut by the bitter cranberry and the nuts. The cranberry also has tang, which works with the vinegar to pull out more meaty taste. The flesh of the chicken gives texture and punctuation, plus a full meaty aroma. The end notes are sweet, meaty, and salty.