Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garlic Day Chicken

Last time we "met", I told you about the Garlic Day Event Heather was having over at her place. Well, as luck would have it, my plans to join the festivities were rudely interrupted. So, if you don't mind, I'd like to share my attempt at Garlic Day Chicken today instead. Okay? Okay...

I can't actually give you a "recipe" because I kinda sorta improvised as I went along. Marion doesn't eat garlic so I prepared the chicken breasts in two different ways but baked them in the same pan. I also brined Marion's in a regular solution of salt water, sweetness and spice and the other, which for argument sake we'll call mine, in the reduced leftover water from the 12 cloves of garlic I boiled for the puree. I've never boiled garlic before and was quite surprised by the transformation to an almost sweet, pungent creamy goodness. (I'll definitely be doing that again:) With the garlic water as the base of my brine, I added a bit of leftover coffee, yes coffee, and a few squeezes of orange blossom honey. (I had intentions of making this dish lemony too but I didn't want to take a chance on the coffee leaving a bitter after taste, I was right!)After soaking the breasts for about 5 hours, I removed them from the bine, rinsed them off and began to play! I should tell you, there was a noticeable difference in the color of the coffee brined breast and the others. It had a deep golden hue and surprisingly, the tang of the coffee and the briny aroma of the garlic bath reacted quite well together. Gee, I thought maybe this will work. Except, I really hadn't decided yet what "this" was going to be.I knew that I wanted the garlic puree to be the dressing for the chicken and I also knew the dish had to be flexible enough to satisfy both Marion and I. What to do? I attacked the fridge with my Italian roots in tow. Parsley, fresh tomatoes, olive oil a few capers, and Locatelli cheese.When we were kids, Sunday dinner always included mom's home made Italian Spaghetti Sauce. If we were really lucky, my mother would "throw" in a few braciole in the sauce for us kids. My thought for today's chicken is sorta kinda adapted from those good ol' days:)
What is a braciole, you may ask. Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. There are many, many variations. In their most basic form, they are meat rolls. Williams-Sonoma has a wonderful recipe for Pork Braciole with Tagliatelle and Tomato Sauce. They also offer this explanation:
A Southern Italian specialty, braciole can refer to any cut of meat pounded thin and stuffed with savory ingredients, then rolled and braised to tender perfection. Nearly every local cook has a signature family recipe, with many versions featuring boneless pork loin or shoulder (braciole di maiale). Immigrants brought the dish to the United States, where it plays a starring role in holiday celebrations, Sunday dinners and other festive occasions.
My mother used pork rind for her braciole and they were always stuffed with the same ingredients. Chunks of Locatelli, minced Italian flat parsley, Prosciutto, a little freshly grated bread crumbs, salt, pepper and, lots and lots of garlic all rolled and tied and "thrown" in the sauce. Oh my, just thinking about it is making me feel all warm and fuzzy. The only difference in the ingredients I used for today's chicken, is I didn't roll, instead I draped rashers of bacon over the top of the chicken. But wait, "my chicken" was a bit different. What I did for it, was layer a thick coating of garlic puree which was blended with a little melted butter over the top. Then I added the chopped parsley, chunks of Locatelli and I stuffed a few chopped basil dressed tomatoes in the thickest part of the breast. I figured it would help with cooking the chicken more evenly if the thick side was just barely sliced. (It did!) Then, I put the bacon on top with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, just because:) That's it in the front.
I tossed the leftover ingredients in a ramekin on top of a thickly sliced piece of fresh Amish bread and sprinkled it with a bit of Olive Oil a spritz of Balsamic Vinegar, and a quick grating of Locatelli.
So, how did it turn out? Well, Marion's chicken was just right. I thught the bacon needed to be crispier but she was taking the bacon off any way and since the chicken was done she couldn't wait for crispy bacon she wanted delectable chicken, minus the garlic of course.
As for mine, it just didn't hit the right note for me. I'm not sure why though. I'd like to try this again minus the coffee brine but truth be told, I probably won't. I think the bitterness in the coffee was too overpowering for the chicken with the thick blanket of garlic. On the other hand, the garlic puree saturated the chicken and I must admit, the delicate flavor reminded me of that most popular dish of the late James Beard, Chicken with Forty Cloves:) The parsley took on a nice crisp bacon like flavor which was really yummy!

The hight note for me was the Bruschetta!
I'm giving myself a pat on the back for sharing this concoction with you today. I almost didn't especially when I saw Heather's inspiring post for Apple Spice Cake with Roasted Garlic and Honey Poached Garlic Sauce. Seriously, Whodda thought!!!

Happy Jelly Bean Day! "See" ya Wednesday:) And don't forget, tomorrow is National Cherry Cheesecake Day!