Monday, July 22, 2013

Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Legs on Risotto

First I started watching videos on how to bone out whole chicken legs. I know the Pepin method, which would leave the legs boned out and hollow, but I wanted to add another technique to my repertoire. I wanted to see how best to cut through the flesh and remove the bone. There are a few good videos but of those I watched liked this one the best. He explains well, has nice technique and the work is clean. When I did it, it looked more like this. Essentially the same thing, but, well, watch and you'll see.

The bones went into the freezer for stock.

And then I watched this video a couple times, the reason why I decided to make this dish in the first place. It only takes Gordon 3 minutes to make! *wink*

Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Legs on Risotto
adapted from Channel 4
click to print

6 boned-out chicken legs
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp Marsala
dark chicken stock

3/4 lb mild Italian sausage
1/3 c pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
3/4 c chopped Italian parsley

400 g Arborio rice
4 c dark chicken stock
3/4 c shelled broad beans
3/4 c frozen baby peas, thawed
50 g freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra shavings to serve
2 tbsp butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To make the stuffing, mix the sausage with the pistachio nuts, thyme, and parsley.

Open out the chicken legs or thighs and divide the stuffing between them. Roll up to enclose.

This took about a minute per leg.

Cut a very large piece of foil. Oil, salt and pepper the foil. Lay about four bacon slices on the seasoned foil, overlapping them slightly.

Put one stuffed chicken portion on top and wrap the bacon around to cover completely by wrapping each chicken parcel tightly in foil, twisting the ends to seal. Roll back and forth to even the shape. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
This took about 2 minutes per leg. The first one I had to start over because the foil ripped. I started getting frustrated since the bacon was flopping around but once I got the hang of it found it wasn't a completely horrible task. If you have thick foil, use it.

Poach the chicken parcels, two or three at a time, in a large pan of boiling water for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

Allow to cool in the foil, then refrigerate for 30 minutes (this helps the bacon to 'set' around the chicken).

Within a couple minutes of cooling, I noticed water pooling on the plate. I let them cool 30 minutes before putting them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and pat dry to remove any excess moisture.

It started getting dark and the kitchen light had to come on. :(

To make the risotto, wash the rice in cold water and strain off. Put into a pan with 500ml of chicken stock, 500ml water and a generous pinch of salt.

Bring the liquid to a simmer and blanch the rice for 7 minutes.

I practically sabotaged this by letting it boil, rather than simmer, for a few minutes too long (i.e., double the time) as I tried to figure out what the hell to do about the fava beans.

Drain well and spread out on a lightly oiled tray to cool down.

I don't know with certainty that I oiled the baking sheet first.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.

Carefully sauté the chicken parcels until the bacon is brown and crisp on all sides. Transfer to a warm platter and rest in a warm place.

I had run out of bacon and didn't wrap every single boneless leg. Quite honestly, I was glad to have run out.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar.

Add the Marsala and stock. Let bubble to reduce by half, then skim off excess fat and check the seasoning.

What, exactly, is the technique to skim off the fat from such a small volume? I skipped that part. 

To finish the risotto, place the blanched rice in a shallow pan and pour in just enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to the boil quickly and cook until nearly all of the stock has evaporated. Taste the risotto to see if is al dente, adding a little more stock if it needs a bit more cooking.

Since my stock was still partially frozen, I considered this enough to cover the rice. Looking at it now, I have my doubts. However, since I cooked the bejesus out of the rice earlier, it was very nearly done already so I didn't sweat it. The texture was just fine when tasting it.

Add the broad beans, peas, Parmesan and a few knobs of butter. Cook for a further few minutes until the beans are tender.

Season to taste. Finally add the fresh chives if desired.

Cut the chicken into thick slices and arrange over the risotto. Pour over the Marsala mix and serve immediately.

As if a metaphor for my life, the final picture is out of focus. Doh!

My kitchen is a freaking wreck with dishes stacked in high piles, tasting spoons all over the place; the soles of my shoes are slick with chicken and bacon grease which the carpeting gradually soaked up as I traversed to the bathroom (for obvious reasons) or my computer for impromptu Googling. Of the Ramsay recipes I've tried so far, this one really shines - this is what I've been expecting from him. I was starting to wonder about these recipes after last nights spaghetti.

The chicken is delightfully juicy, perfectly tender, yet not at all soggy like one (I) might expect after boiling in water 25 minutes; the stuffing tantalizing, and the crispy bacon delectable. I'm just astounded and cannot put into words just how marvelous this truly is. As Ramsay might say, it's "A-bsolutely spect-A-cular". Now my interest in doing a stuffed whole boneless bird has been revived and the dude has a recipe for that. The only one critique I have is about the bacon. Some of the strips were so long it wrapped around the chicken and overlapped itself. The overlapped part didn't crisp and I ended up picking the rubbery bits off. I should have used regular thickness bacon rather than the fancy-pants $11.99/lb thick-cut bacon.

Considering I nearly killed the rice, it turned out quite well. I was looking at email when blanching the rice and didn't realize I was boiling the fuck out of it until I realized the sounds I was hearing was the rice gurgling like mad. Luckily, I rescued it before it was overcooked but it was definitely more than blanched. I sort of wondered about just adding the beans and peas in right then, but Google taught me I needed to prepare the fava beans, that it wasn't just a matter of taking them out of their pods. When finishing the rice, I basically added a little stock, heated the whole thing up and added the finishing ingredients, stirring everything to melt the butter and cheese as well as warm the beans.

Overall, the chicken and rice were worth the effort. I have four more foil-wrapped chicken legs in the fridge, ready to poach. I'm not sure if I want to freeze a couple or just charge ahead with poaching them tomorrow night. I'll be eating rice for a few days anyway, so...

I labeled this post with 3 hours which includes my Googling and fava bean prep. You can expect it to take less time but there will not be much in the way of idle time if you follow each step continuously. You'll be hustlin'.

Total: $32.53 or about $5.42 for each of six generous and hearty servings. Quite honestly, it's about $2.71 for each of 12 normal-sized, yet still filling, servings.

Ok, so I kept a couple of chicken parcels in the fridge. The last two did go into the freezer and I'll update this post when I dig them out and learn how they fared.

I boiled about 5 quarts of water in an 8-quart Dutch oven. That volume probably was not necessary. A chicken parcel was added and allowed to cook 25 minutes.

The chicken parcel was removed from the hot water and then refrigerated for an hour. NOTE: I made it a point to leave the foil opening side down to allow any excess water to drain. It didn't seem to make a difference.

The chilled chicken parcel was removed from the foil wrap and dried by rolling on paper towel. The bacon stuck to the chicken like glue as it did day 1, so no worries about unraveling.

Oil was heated until hot in a cast iron skillet. The bacon-wrapped chicken parcel was placed in the skillet and rotated until the bacon was crisped, about 7 minutes.

This time I wised up and dug out the splatter screen.

The chicken parcel was allowed to stand about 10 minutes before it was transferred to a cutting board for carving.

Cut the chicken into thick slices and arrange over the risotto.

The lack of Marsala sauce should tell you how much it meant to me. The chicken is so good, you really don't need it. A nice touch, it is not a necessity. Don't get hung up on the wine if it's a deal-breaker!