Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Naked Chicken


Cooking Naked

(How To Cook Like A Pro Without Using Recipes)

  • Wouldn't you just love to effortlessly whip up a fabulous dish?
  • Itching to develop a knack for knowing what goes with what?
  • Want to spend less money and eat healthier with less time in the kitchen?

Learning to cook without recipes is simply a matter of learning to cook "naked".

When you cook naked, you experience food on many levels so get ready for a magical mix of aromas, tastes and sublime interaction. (Bet you thought this was about cooking in the buff!) Once you learn to cook "naked" you'll never look at food the same way again!

Cooking naked is easier than you think plus cooking without recipes will save you a ton of money. You'll eat better, be healthier, have more energy AND feel incredibly accomplished.

So what are you waiting for? Let's get into the kitchen!


Chicken 101

We'll begin with chicken. Chicken is the little black dress of the kitchen. It's versatile, goes with everything and everyone likes it. Chicken never goes out of style and people never get tired of it. Dress it up or dress it down. If you've got a chicken in your fridge or freezer you're set for any occasion.

Choosing a Chicken
Forget about cut up raw chicken, chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, deli cooked chicken and frozen breaded chicken. Even on sale you're spending too much.

What you need is a whole, raw bird - the bigger the better. Bigger birds are older. They have more meat, less fat and more flavor. The ideal chicken is free range, all natural and locally raised. That's important. Don't worry that a big bird is more chicken than you'll need. You'll freeze the extra.

Naked Chicken
Before you can dress a chicken in a fancy sauce, you have to experience it naked.

Naked chicken (cooked, plain chicken) is the beginning of a gazillion recipes. Using the slow cooker is the easiest way to cook chicken plus you get a bonus of a pot full of gorgeous chicken stock. You'll save loads of money on purchased chicken stock alone when you use this cooking method - which, by the way makes a yummy meal on it's own. If your slow cooker comfortably holds more than one chicken, save on the electric by cooking an extra chicken or two at the same time.

Here's how:

Get a chicken and put it into the sink. (Thaw it first if it was frozen.)

Give the chicken a good wash under tepid running water. Let the water run over the bird, through the bird, under the skin, around the legs and wings. Always wash chicken longer than you think. You can not over wash a chicken. Drain.

Put the chicken into the slow cooker. Cover cooker. Set temperature to high. That's it. There's nothing else to add. No water, no salt, no pepper, no anything. A good chicken doesn't need assistance.

Cook about 4 hours or until meat is no longer pink, starts to fall off the bones and there's lots of broth in the pot.

To eat the chicken, naked:
Put chicken and some broth into a shallow bowl. Top with a sprinkling of fresh herbs if you happen to have some. Basil, thyme or parsley all work with chicken. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread for dunking. Add a bottle of chilled, white Virginia wine and some sliced, very ripe tomatoes from the garden. Voila, as they say.

To use naked chicken in other dishes:
Turn off the slow cooker. Remove the lid and let the chicken cool until it's easy to handle (about 20 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a heat safe bowl. Pour the broth into another heat safe bowl. Refrigerate both. When they're cold (like in about an hour) cover both and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, use your fingers to remove all the meat from the bones. (Try to keep the meat in big chunks but don't obsess about it.) Remove the meat from the neck bones, too. You'll also have (although not always) a heart, liver and gizzard. They're perfectly OK to eat but I usually give them to my dogs as a treat. They adore them! Discard the bones and the skin. On to the broth.

The fat from the chicken will have congealed and risen to the top of the gorgeously gelled broth. Using a spoon, scrape as much of the fat as you can (again without obsessing) and discard. Some people like to save chicken fat in the freezer to use for other recipes. You can save it if you want to but I don't. I save beef fat and bacon fat but not chicken. Why exactly, I couldn't say. That's just what I do.

Next: "No - Recipe" Recipes for Naked Chicken



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