Back to the Basics
If you learn a recipe you can cook one thing, if you learn a technique you can cook hundreds of things. Here we'll give you some basic techniques that you can apply to many types of dishes, Once you have a concept of how to do something you can expand your imagination to include endless variations of flavors.
Roasted chicken is a classic comfort food item that everyone should know how to cook. It's easy to prepare with a minimal list of ingredients and it can be used as an ingredient for other dishes such as chicken salad, chicken soup.
Roast chicken is an easy meal to make and I eat one at least a couple of times per month. You can change up your seasoning mixes and make your roast chicken your own. It's a great thing to cook for company as well as eat everyday. For Chicken I do the standard sear at high heat then lower the temperature to continue cooking. Start at 450-475 for 25 minutes to get a good sear on the skin then lower the temperature to 350 and cook your chicken for 15 min/lb. You should also use a meat thermometer to check that your bird registers 165 internal temp at the breast and at the thickest part of the thigh. To get an extra crispy skin you can also rub some butter all over the skin (butter baste) every 20 minutes. It's important also to keep some liquid int he bottom of the roasting pan to minimize smoke (otherwise you might set off the smoke alarm in your kitchen) don't go crazy wth the liquid as it won't add much flavor unless you are going to be making it into a pan sauce- in other words water is fine- make sure you use a rack to keep the chicken dry and out of the liquid while it roasts-otherwise you're not roasting you're poaching in liquid.
Poaching in butter is a fantastic way to infuse delicate pieces of fish or seafood with a rich, buttery flavor, and it’s easier than you might think.
Here is the basic method for making a Beurre Monte
Bring 2 Tablespoons of water to a simmer in a small heavy sauce pan over medium heat (you may also use a skillet if you are going to be cooking a fish fillet or chicken breast) When the water comes to a simmer/boil, it will get to temperature fast, reduce the heat and gradually whisk in pieces of butter one tablespoon at a time constantly whisking so butter stays emulsified. Keep the butter mixture at 180°-190° This is crucial, if the mixture boils it will separate and you will have to start over. Use an instant read thermometer to maintain temperature. You can use any amount of butter from 1 tablespoon to 1 pound of butter depending upon the shape of your protein and size of your pan. Don't worry as you can reuse the leftover butter. This is a basic recipe you can also add flavors to your Beurre Monte, but don't over do it let the flavors of your protein shine. When cooking shrimp, lobster, and scallops just cook them gently until they are no longer opaque, you'll know when they're cooked be careful not to over cook. For scallops, butter poaching prior to searing them will make sure they stay juicy and succulent.
Buerre Monte is a fancy French term for liquid butter that stays emulsified. It's favored by chefs like The French Laundry's and Bouchon's Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsay for cooking lobster, fish and even chicken breasts. It adds a luscious buttery flavor to the protein and it keeps all of the juices inside.
Butter poaching is easier than you might think, it requires really only two things: 1) Butter 2) Water. The amount of butter is dependent upon which pan you are using-I guess then it requires 3 things: 1) Butter 2) Water 3) Pan.
Here is a recipe for a flavored beurre monte for fish:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of chicken or if your rich lobster stock
1 pound of butter salted or unsalted cut into small pieces (keep your butter cold and bring it out when your ready to use it)
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Thyme, chopped (optional) especially if you don't like thyme
Saute garlic and shallots in a large sauce pan over medium high heat until they are translucent, make sure you don't caramelize them. Deglaze with the white wine and allow to completely reduce (cook until wine is all gone) Add the stock and reduce the heat to low, you can either use a whisk or your handy immersion blender to whisk in the the butter slowly one tablespoon at a time, make sure you keep the temperature right (DO NOT BOIL!) the ideal temperature is 180°-190° otherwise your sauce will break and you'll be sad. Taste and season with salt and pepper-great opportunity to use some of your flavored salts here!
Finish with the thyme.
To cook the fish, this a great way to cook halibut and snapper, in either a saute pan or large saucepan, bring your Beurre monte to 120 degrees and carefully monitor the temperature. Add your fish fillet after you pat it dry with a paper towel, the liquid should cover at least 3/4 of the fillet ( you can spoon butter over the top) ideally it covers the entire fillet. It should take 10 minutes per 1/2 inch of fish or so cook your fish until it is no longer opaque if you maintain 120 degrees you won't overcook it- this is how Sou Vide works, but that's a whole different topic that we'll cover at some point (I got a Sou Vide from the kids for X-mas) Remember to save the butter for another use keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and it will keep for a month or so.