Monthly Archives: February 2011

Free Cooking Class: How to Fabricate a Chicken

This is the second of weekly Free Cooking Class based out of our kitchen in Dubai. We are going back to the basics because all of us could learn a tip or two from the professionals.  I know that having married one, my kitchen skills have improved drastically (if you tell him I said that, I will deny it).   As much as it can challenge the ego of any woman for a man to be giving her cooking tips, I will admit that many of these lessons have made my life easier and have also reaped more consistent results. You can continue viewing this in text and photos or view video.

Usually, when I buy a whole chicken, that bird gets cooked whole, but that is awfully limiting! Handling raw chicken can be daunting for even the more adventurous people out there, but sometimes, you just have to do it.  It is cheaper to buy the whole chicken and fabricate it yourself and it also gives you more parts to use for different things than if you bought parts. For example, you can use the back bones for stock and soup and collect the wings for your favourite chicken wing recipe. Now back to the dangling fowl!

You will need: One whole chicken, a boning knife, a cutting board and a sense of humour.

1. Get rid of the bum. Hold on to the tail bits and slice it right off!

2. Off with the wings. Cut around the wing joints, snap them, then cut through in between the joints.

3. Spread that leg. You can see where the leg joins the thigh.  It has a little fat deposit at the joint.  Cut through it.

4.Thigh draw nigh. Lift up the thigh and cut through the skin between the thigh and the breast, bending the thigh backward until you see the ball socket.

Cut along the back bone right through the ball and socket joint…

…and you will have one sexy thigh in your hands…but we digress, back to that little birdie…

5.Lay your hand upon the breast. You see that line that runs the length between both breasts? Keep an eye on it.  Prepare to cut right along it.

Like this…

Still going, cutting until the knife comes upon the keel bone…

Then you ease the flesh away and cut along the bone (not slicing it but closely over it)

Continue cutting along the bones with delicate cuts  using the tip of the knife and you will end up with perfect breasts.

That is the wing ball and socket joint attached to the breast. You would leave that on if you were making a supreme, which is a semi boneless breast half.  But we are yielding boneless breasts with this fabrication so cut through it.

Trim away excess fat and tendons …

Repeat all steps for the other side of the chicken….

This is what will be left over.  It’ s perfect for stocks and soups so please keep it handy!

There you have it!  One jointed bird ready for some herbs and spices and the heat treatment!

CHEF’S NOTE: Fabricated poultry will have a shorter cooking time than when whole. The breasts cook quicker than other red meat parts so you may want to cook those for a short period or cook them with things like veal bacon to retain moisture. Some think that breast meat is trashy and chewy. It isn’t. Overcooked breast meat is!  Cooked right, the breast is the most delicate part of the fowl.

Best Jamaican Escoveitch Fish Recipe

Dear Escoveitch Fish, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways!  This is real Jamaican comfort food. It says everything about Jamaica in one dish: spicy, salty, island, coastal, tangy,  fresh, shelf-life,  inexpensive  and bang for buck and bite.   This may remind you of a ceviche, which is where it gets its Spanish roots.  You see, Jamaica was first colonized by the Spanish when Christopher Columbus happened upon our native American “Taino” Indians in 1493 in his “discovery” of the New World, making our country the landmark stop in the West Indies.  Ceviche, is a natural preservative and the acid in it cooks the food.  A little zealous for fire-cooked food, our people had to “Jamaicanize it” by  cooking it on the stove and then ‘cooking it’ again with the vinegary escoveitch… you know, to make certain the fish is really dead!

This dish is very popular during easter in Jamaica as many stay away from meat and chicken during Lent, but it is available year-round at the popular Hellshire Fishing Village in St. Catherine and in many Jamaican homes.  Some like it served hot out of the pot and others like it the day after when the escoveitch sauce takes on a new note after having soaked in the fish overnight.  Please try it and tell us how you like it. Here’s how you should do it. Continue reading

Salads and Fresh Condiments: The Perfect Accents to a Meal

Just look at that spread! My mother (and doctor) would be proud!  I am proud! Pity I had nothing to do with it. Well, except for the shopping and the photography. Salads are the domain of the chef. The steward tends to be stuck with a few garden variety and cannot come up with any different. I blame it on all those goat-like Sunday tossed salads in Jamaica that I hated with a passion!  It was a pain to eat vegetables: they were just.. yucky… unless of course they were cooked in the gravy or sauteed with some delicious stuff like salted codfish or beef, chicken etc.  But now, salads are a whole new ballgame.  With a wide variety of vegetables available in the UAE, there is no reason to get stuck in a vegetable rut. We can even use them as condiments instead of the typical sauces and spreads!  Heres to a table filled with colour, texture and flavour and a body that thanks you for it!

Purple Tomato Salad: A salad can be very simple. We saw these deliciously sweet tomatoes at Lulu’s, Barsha and grabbed them in a hurry.  We only managed to have a few left as Chef has been snacking on them in the kitchen-they are that sweet!  They were so good, we wanted to make them the star of their own show.  Here we garnished with finely chopped parsley and drizzled some EVOO and a little salt and a crack of black pepper. They just pop in your mouth!

The extra tomatoes, we combined with this leafy green romaine lettuce and avocado salad.  This would be perfect with a honey mustard dressing or your favourite vinaigrette or dressing.

Asian Cucumber Relish: Dice cucumbers into very small cubes.

Mince lemongrass as small as possible. Slice a lime leaf very thinly. Combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

Avocado Mash: Crush avocado, squeeze a tiny bit of lemon juice, add a little salt and pepper, top with finely diced red onion for garnish. This would also be lovely as a dip for low carb tortilla crisps or vegetable sticks.