Thursday, 7 October 2010
Chicken Ham - Sensation!
I don't know if you've ever eaten petto d'oca, smoked goose breast; it is seriously delicious and good, and puts mere pork ham in the shade. I used to make a trip to a special shop to buy it every time I visited Italy.
So I decided to try a different version; smoked chicken. I bought a plump one, de-boned and quartered it, (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmjtTUQS6g & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFjFtMA-TJE&feature=related) then soaked it in a strong brine for 4 hours.
Don't worry too much about the strength of the brine; but make sure it's strong; throw in a lot of salt (and I mean a lot; handfuls) then add a bit more. The salt will, by osmosis, suck out the chicken fluids (and the little nasties that live in them, and kill them(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFjFtMA-TJE&feature=related off).
The next process is a 'dry rub'. You can make the recommended mixture of:
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
Or else you can do a marinade of the whole lot in whatever herbs you have to hand, throwing in a few wild cards (star anise, soy sauce, etc) as you go along. Marinate overnight.
Get the smoker smoking, and lay the chicken pieces on the smoking tray. You might want to give the chicken thighs a good smack (or a slash to the bone) with a meat cleaver first, to flatten them out and make sure they cook in the middle joint. (It wouldn't do any harm to do the same to the chicken breasts).
When they've finished smoking, after about a minimum of 4 hours, they'll be sensational. Still warm, they're good; re-heated they're good, and cold, they are fresh and juicy, and make the best CLT (chicken, lettuce and tomato) sandwich you've ever tasted, and way better than a BLT.
Update: 06/10/10 For the next lot, I marinated (dry-rubbed) the pieces in whatever I could find, but I made the mistake of putting olive oil into the mix, making the final result very shiny and oily. But I also put all of the chicken bits into the smoker, and enjoyed nibbling those extra bits (neck, backbone, rib cage, cast-off fat and skin) as much as the main course.