Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Chicken Tebee

I am bringing over my food-related posts from Kittychat and putting them here, now, so... if you have followed me over there, it will be a case of déjà vu for a bit... (Just warning you.)
Yesterday was my partner Tebee’s birthday. I really wanted to take him out to lunch at the Auberge de Guerlédan, it’s one of our favourite spots and, frankly, affordable… but… not affordable enough this month, sooooo… I thought I would dig out a recipe I created for him when he first moved in with me in Cleg, way, way, back in September 2005, and for reasons unfathomable, hadn’t made since.

“Mummy… what is that you are making?” “It’s something special for dinner, baby, you’ll like it, you had it before.” “Is it with the octopus? I like the octopus thing, with the tenti… testic… te” “Tentacles, sweetie. No, no octopus this time, anyway, that’s called Cioppino, remember?” “Do we get a starter?” “Yes, love, go get me the little salad plates”

Then bigger kitten wonders what littler kitten is getting action with in the kitchen…

“Mum, what’s for start.. OH!! Andouille! Yummy! …and de Vire! I love that kind!” (Yes, my children CAN and DO differentiate about very odd food choices, seriously. You should hear them discuss cheese…)

Little kitten wrinkles her nose. “What’s the squiggly bits?” “That’s how Vire does it, sweetie, in Guémené the intestines are pulled inside each other so it makes concentric circles and then it’s boiled, baked, smoked, baked, smoked…etc until it’s done.” “Intestines?” she still queries. “Pig guts,” her sister helpfully explains.

“Hmmm… do I LIKE pig guts, Mummy?” “Well, you used to like Andouille, but, try it… if you don’t like it, someone else will eat it.” “Do I get cherry tomatoes?” “No, but there is cucumber and red pepper.”

This seems to assure her, but I see her sneak the jar of Maille cornichons from the fridge, just in case…

So, I’ll just describe this, since there is no real written recipe. First, thickly slice some brown mushrooms, if you can find them, or white Paris mushrooms if not. Place these in a non-stick skillet with a hunk of butter (NEVER margarine, ick, you know I hate margarine, horrid stuff, all that hydrogenated fat… but I digress.) Add some squished garlic and finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, thyme, marjoram. Cook then until all the water boils off and you are left with just the little mushrooms happily browning in the last vestiges of the butter. Then, add half a glass of white wine to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits. Take off the heat and set aside.

Then, for each person, you take a skinless, boneless chicken breast, butterfly it open and then pound it into a vague square shape. First, smear roasted garlic butter all over the breast and lightly sprinkle with finely chopped fresh herbs (same mix as above for the mushrooms.)

At the bottom edge of the pounded breast, place a thin slice of Roti du Porc or Canadian Bacon, cut in pieces to fit. On top of that, place slices of half a ball of mozzarella ( leave some to go on top, in other words, each breast uses half a ball of mozza) then roll it up so the pork and mozza are enclosed inside.

Using thin strips of smoked streaky bacon, wrap around and around the roll so it is completely secure. I use three slices per breast/roll. You don’t HAVE to secure it with toothpicks, but, if you feel better, go right ahead.

Brown in a non-stick pan over medium heat. You don’t need to add more fat, since the streaky bacon should, in theory, have enough but if it’s looking dry, add a tiny dash of olive oil. Turn carefully so all sides brown, slightly. Continue to cook and gently turn until it looks evenly browned, this should take about 10-15 minutes or so, in total, and the mozzarella inside should be beginning to try to leak out. Make sure all sides of the chicken have turned opaque white, then push the rolls together, place the remains of the sliced mozzarella on top of each, then a generous dollop of crème fraîche down each on top of the cheese, THEN cover all this with the mushrooms. Cover tightly; turn heat to low and cook until the cheese melts, about another 5-8 minutes or so. It is done when it probes at 160°F or 72°C. The heat WILL continue to rise, slightly.

Now, I probe EVERYTHING to make sure it is thoroughly cooked and you should as well. OK, yes, you might NOT have an instant-read thermometer, well, go on Amazon dot com, or dot fr, or dot and BUY one. Seriously, it helps you both NOT undercook or overcook meats. Either are bad. One “can” make you sick, one is an insult to the animal that died to give you it’s tasty flesh to eat. If you don’t have a probe, then cut the fattest roll in half and LOOK to make sure. If it isn’t, then return all to the pan, cover and cook another few minutes.

To serve, you can either slice each one into slices and arrange in a semi-circle around one edge of a (warmed) plate or just plunk the whole thing down and let each person have at it with a steak knife. Serve with (real) mashed potatoes or sautés and some steamed broccoli (or asparagus, when it’s in season.)

This dish is kitten approved, by the way.