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Chicken with Cream and Cauliflower January 4, 2008

Chicken with Cream and Cauliflower

I wanted to try something different with chicken...maybe curry. Like I always do, I forgot to bring the little curry powder I had at time.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 whole chicken
  • pepper
  • 6 onions
  • 1 head garlic (1 bulb, not 1 clove)
  • chili (optional) - according to your heat-level comfort
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tetrapack cream
  • 1 pack of sweet green peas (chicharo)
  • bunch of green onions

Cut up the chicken in serving pieces. Cut the florets from the cauliflower. With the stem, slice-off the surrounding tough exterior and discard. With the softer core (it should still be hard like carrots), chop it up. Remove the stringy edge from the sweet green peas and chop into about 3 pieces. Chop onions, chili and garlic. Chop green onions into half-inch length.

Cooking Process
Massage pepper into the chicken. Heat the olive oil and butter on the frying pan on medium high heat. When the butter sings, toss-in the chicken until brown, turning only once. Add cauliflower core, garlic and onions and toss until well coated with gooey caramelized chicken oil. Add water and salt and cover. Turn heat into highest setting. When water boils, turn to low and let stay for 15 minutes. Add cauliflower on top (don't mix it in), sprinkle a little salt on top, cover, turn heat on high for 10 seconds and turn to low again for another 10 minutes. If there is too much water, leave the cover half-open. If you still have too much water after 10 minutes, leave it uncovered and put the heat to high until liquid is reduced. On high heat, add the cream and make sure everything is well coated. Before the cream boils, turn heat off and add green onions and sweet green peas. Toss to coat. You're done.

As expected, the dish turned out superb. The cream had the right consistency to coat the ingredients without running or feeling too thick. The cauliflower was cooked but remained crispy (not soggy)...same thing for the sweet green peas. John, a guest to our Friday Diners Club, gave me a bottle of Sagada pear wine...a fitting spirit to accompany the meal...and the ensuing conversation.

Surprising Thoughts
Whereas before, I was feeling the monotony of using the same set of ingredients (chicken, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, etc.) and just cooking it in slightly different ways. Now, after having cooked everyday for my holiday guests, I realized one thing - that within that same framework of browning chicken and tossing in different vegetables to create a dish, I have become comfortable in navigating myself around several ingredients to constantly reinvent the recycled dish.

There was an occasion I served garlic chicken with soupy tomatoes for dinner. But I made too much, only half was consumed. The following day, I diced some carrots, tossed it in, thinly sliced a cabbage and put it on top of the dish (not mixing it), and let the steam of the tomatoes cook the cabbage. That produced something similar to a sauerkraut, which made it almost a completely different dish. We still had leftovers, so that evening, I reduced all the liquid and tossed-in a few boiled potatoes. From a soup-based chicken dish, it now became a sauce-based potato dish (all the chicken was already consumed on the 2nd recycling). Because I kept adding to what's cooking, I still ended up with leftovers. The following day for breakfast, I julienned a few more vegetables, tossed them into egg batter, and with the leftovers, created a Singaporean omelette (similar to what DenBoy did a few days earlier). Finally, the dish was completely consumed.

My house guest was amazed at how the dish was constantly reinvented, exclaiming, "...usually, in our household, we just keep warming up the leftover until it's finished. But what usually happens is, nobody wants to eat the same dish so it's left in the fridge until it spoils, then we dump it.". Well, no dish is going to spoil in my house. Now, it's become a challenge to infinitely recycle food and present it as new again. As Chef Aklay commented, good chefs are judged on that benchmark.

--- TheLoneRider

    Aklay Tips:
  • a combination of olive oil and butter is ideal for browning
  • since there are no vegetables to provide water, 1/2 cup of water is added to prevent the dish from burning
  • adding the cauliflower on top (and not mixing it) ensures crispness - if you like it crisp.
  • turning the heat high for about 10 seconds after adding new ingredients, maintains the heat level in the pan
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Reader Comments:

(Jan 8, 2008) this is making me miss sagada even more. sarap mo magluto. aprub!

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