Sunday, 5 February 2012

Happy Call Pan No-oil Chicken Chop with Enoki Mushroom Sauce

I'm not starting with the first foods I've cooked, but with the one I did yesterday. ;)

And there's only one pic of the result and here it is:

The principles of using the HCP is very simple - low heat, timing and evapouration.

Because of the pan's construction, heat is distributed very quickly, so at medium heat, food can char very easily beyond 3 minutes.

Therefore, the best friend of the HCP isn't the silicon cooking utensils to prevent scratching on the non-stick ceramic surface (although that's a close second ;P), it's the timer on my iPhone! :)

The final priniciple is to remember that the HCP has a seal.  This means that most of the water that's evaporated from the ingredients are trapped in the pan, creating a steam-like environment, which is great for veggies, but not so much when you want crispy meats or fish.

So, how then do we achieve perfect Chicken Chop that tastes tender and moist, and yet has a crispy exterior?

It's simple with a HCP.

No-oil Chicken Chop
Ingredients:
Boneless Chicken meat with skin
Salt & Pepper to taste

(Yes, that's all.  No marinates needed. ;P)

Method:

  1. Use a kitchen hammer and hammer the chicken chop.  The purpose of this is to tenderise the meat, and to get it uniformly flat.  If you skip this step, the chicken meat may not sit well on the pan, and some parts of the surface may be crispier than others. ;)  I usually use boneless Chicken legs which I buy frozen in 2kg packs from NTUC.
  2. Salt and pepper your chicken after hammering.
  3. Turn on the fire to medium heat and place the chicken skin side down on the pan and close the lid. (There's space for 2 to 3 large chicken pieces, so to save fuel, just put in as many as would fit)  Set the timer for 2 minutes.  Refrain from the urge to open the pan and lose all that lovely steam, which will cook the chicken into tender moistness. ;)
  4. Open the pan to check the progress of the chicken at the end of 2 minutes.  My medium heat and your medium heat are different.  For me, I'll need another minute to get the skin a little more golden.  If your medium heat is a bit higher than mine, and you've already achieve some golden crispiness and chicken oil seeping out, you're done with this step.  If yours need more cooking, set your timer at 1 minute intervals to check until you get a light golden skin.
  5. At this stage, use a silicon-coated tong to turn the chicken pieces, so that the skin side is up.  I know some people would prefer to flip the entire pan, but I don't like to do so.  I find it messes up the position of my chicken and I lose all that lovely heat that's evenly distributed on the bottom pan. ;) Set your timer to 3 minutes and lower the heat.  Don't fully close the lid though - put something thick between the magnetised handle to all the lid to cover, but not seal the lid.  We want the steam to evaporate and retain all that crispy skin.  I use the handle of my stove lighter to wedge the handle, but you can use a wad of thick cloth, or find a bottle or something to wedge the handle.  By now, you'll note that the bottom of the pan has oil that came from the chicken... all those lovely chicken fats are full of flavour, and it's the best oil to fry the meat side of the chicken. :)
  6. At the end of the 3 minutes, open the lid and check the progress of the skin side.  Determine if you need more time for a golden finish (it ought to be darker than the skin side), or if it's just nice.  If it's ok, you'll just need to flip the chicken one more time, for one more minute at this heat for the skin to really crisp up.  Remember to have the lid partially open with the wedge so that the steam can evaporate.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan and then put it in an aluminium foil and keep it covered for about 5 minutes (or until all the chicken chops that you're cooking are done).  This final step, also known as 'rest', helps the chicken juices to redistribute through the meat so that the meat is moist.  Don't cut the chicken before it has rested - otherwise all the moisture will be lost, and you end up with dry, gummy chicken!
  8. If you're cooking more chicken, pour the residual chicken oil on the pan into a glass/porcelain bowl and wipe the pan down with a kitchen paper before beginning the process again.  I usually use a tong holding the kitchen paper to scrape down the debris and throw the paper away.  Save that chicken oil for making the sauce!
  9. When the 'rest' is done, you'll find that there is a lot of fragrant chicken juice left at the bottom of the aluminium foil.  Add this juice to the chicken oil to make the sauce.
This method of cooking chicken skin-side down first, is also the way I cook my Salmon fillets.  The heat renders the fats and I don't need to add extra oils to cook my meats on the non-stick surface.  With the fragrant fats, I find I don't need to use too much condiments to add taste to the food. ;)


Simple Brown Sauce
And it's really simple.  Brown sauce is made from thickening the fats that have dripped from cooking meats.  If baked in the oven, the fats and juices are retained and cooked with flour, and water is added to form a gravy.  It is then seasoned to taste.  In a HCP, this is very easily done.

Ingredients:
Flour, about 1 tablespoon
Hot water, about half a cup
Salt and Pepper to taste (Salt can also be replaced with light soya sauce or a mix of the two is also fine)

Method:
  1. After frying the chicken and while the chicken is resting, there's no need to pour away the oils or wipe down the pan.  Just pour whatever oils and chicken juice that's available into the hot pan and add in about a tablespoon of plain flour to the pan.  Once most of the flour is absorbed, heat the pan to low heat and stir the mix until it's brown - it takes about 1 minute.
  2. Add in water to the pan and close the lid for 1 minute.  When you open the lid, stir to blend the mix so that it looks like gravy.  Add more water if you need to thin it, or allow the pan to evapourate the water if it looks too watery.
  3. Add in the salt and pepper to the taste you want.

The brown sauce is versatile in that you can add other flavourings to get different kinds of sauces.  For a wine sauce, replace the water with red wine.  Others have added A1 sauce for a more sourish-sweet sauce, or honey for a sweetish finish.  Play and experiement to your preference; try adding fresh herbs etc, and then strain the gravy through a sieve for a smooth finish if necessary.


Enoki Mushroom Sauce
For my Enoki Mushroom Sauce, all I did was to add 2 packets of Enoki Mushroom into the Brown Sauce and close the lid for 1 minute (I cooked 5 chicken legs for dinner).  After that, I adjusted the water, and stirred the mushroom a bit and it was done.  After I did the sauce, there was still more juice from the resting chicken during the time I cooked the sauce, so I added those into the sauce and stirred it in.  Yum!

Because I wanted to retain my chicken's crispy skin, I put the Enoki mushroom on the plate first and then the chicken on top.  Not only it looks better, I won't end up with soggy chicken skin. :)


Enjoy your Happy Healthy Happy Call Pan Meals! :)

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