Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sticky Lemon Chicken with Champ

I found this Gordon Ramsay recipe on Youtube and decided to give it a try. I took some fresh thyme and two cloves of crushed garlic and put them in a pan with olive oil. After the garlic softened, I took four bone-in chicken thighs and browned the skin side first and seasoned the other side with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. After the skin got crispy and brown, I flipped them and seasoned the skin with salt and pepper. After that was done, I splashed some soy sauce and champagne vinegar [the original recipe calls for sherry vinegar] into the pan and let it reduce into a syrup. I then threw in some Meyer lemon slices on top of the chicken and squeezed some of the Meyer lemon juice over the thighs. I also cut a little more fresh thyme on top. I gave the pan a shake and then placed about half a cup of water in the pan to let the chickens braise a little. After the water evaporated, I put in some clover honey to thicken the sauce and add sweetness. I then chopped some fresh flat-leaf parsley and threw that on top, and then pulled the pan off the heat to let things rest.

I then made the "champ," which is basically mashed potatoes with scallions and apparently a traditional preparation in Ireland. Simple enough: boil peeled potatoes, heat some heavy cream, mash potatoes in heavy cream, throw in some chopped scallions and butter, mix, and serve.

This was a great dish. It actually seems like a spin on Filipino Chicken Adobo, where you get the savoriness and saltiness of the soy sauce with the brightness of the lemons and vinegar. Of course, the western bit is the addition of the honey, but it doesn't add too much sweetness while giving the sauce a nice viscous texture and conveys a floral hint to the aroma. The sauce also added a lot to the champ, marrying well with the slight bite of the scallions and the richness of the potatoes. So, here, you have a very Western dish with very subtle Eastern notes [the soy sauce, the "adobo" of the chicken, and the use of scallions in the champ]. Lovely.

I also enjoyed the Meyer lemons, which I don't believe I have ever had before. Meyer lemons are essentially a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange, so you get less acidity and slightly more sweetness [though not sweet enough to eat on their own]. They are grown in California and I believe they are only available in DC during the winter months, so get them now while you can. Definitely a subtler fruit than regular lemons and actually refreshingly pleasant to bite into when you're eating this dish.

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