Je veux de la viande tendre !
Give me some Tender Meat!
When it comes to eating savory food, hearty plat uniques are what I prefer the best. I might be saying this about a lot of dishes thinking about it, but I assume this is bound to happen for anyone as attached to la bonne bouffe (good grub) as I am.
When I resumed my meat consumption a few years ago, instead of favoring lean meats, I developed a pretty clear tie to more fatty meats, as well as red meat versus white. I suppose that because my body was deprived from meat for over eight years, my internal biological clock rewired itself in response to it. “Give me some blood!” is what it cried for. Hence, I currently prefer to eat more fatty meats. Because they are juicier too, aren’t they?
Les plats uniques — Everything in One Dish
Plats uniques, commonly known as Plats complets, have a special place in my cooking. At home, my mum used to prepare this type of food a lot. Not only was it good, and much better réchauffé (reheated) the second day, but it was also a practical way for her to plan meals while she was working a full time job. To this day, despite the fact that she no longer works but enjoys a deserved retraite (retirement), she has not changed her cooking habits. Do I seem to complain? Not at all, I am absolutely in love with it. Between her canard à l’orange, couscous algérien, hachis parmentier, blanquette de veau, pot-au-feu, I do not know which one I can say is my favorite. Whenever I visit, the dilemna to choose only one is always as hard as ever. I want them all.
Brining Meat — Saumurage de la viande
Now that I enjoy meat again, I am yet much more pinailleuse (picky) about it. Above all, I will always rate a dish according to how tender the meat is. Over a year ago, I discovered the brining technique, which I started to use while preparing chicken. The results were instantaneous. In a few words, I would not go back. Fair enough, I might not always plan or have enough time to include this step while preparing my meat, but when I do, it becomes a must. Brining chicken really makes the meat much more tender.
Even if I am not an expert in understanding and knowing the many details involved into the brining process, my research led to some basic steps which I followed successfully. Plus, they are easy: mix water with salt and sugar, immerse your chicken in this broth, cover and place in the fridge before waiting for a few hours. And, the longer the better, with a minimum of 1 hour advised per lb of meat.
Lemon Chicken, Green Zebra Tomatoes and Black Olives — Poulet au citron avec tomates vertes et olives noires
This dish brings together a lot of flavors that I particularly like. Between the lemon, sage, black olives, the French beans and succulent Green Zebra tomatoes, it has to find a place on your table before it is no longer possible to find those wonderfully tasty tomatoes. There is absolutely no difficulty in making the dish. In many ways, it is as if it was making tout seul, on its own. Magic? How can it possibly be so easy?
Many more knowledgeable cooks than myself will tell me whether this is right, but while I am still ignorant as to why it is a successful dish, I just ignore it and enjoy.
- 4 chicken legs chicken (2 lbs)
- 3 oz black olives
- 1 lemon and a half
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp sage leaves, chopped
- 14 oz green beans
- 4 to 5 green Heirloom tomatoes (Green Zebra)
For the brine:
Count about 1 quart water for 1 lb of chicken.
- 2 quarts of cold water = 8 US cups
- 1/2 cup Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp sea salt
- 4 Tbsp fine sugar
Brining the Chicken:
- Cut your chicken legs in 2 pieces each.
- Mix the water with the salt and sugar, and immerse the chicken in it.
- Cover and place in the fridge for a min of 2 hours.
The Lemon Chicken Recipe:
- Preheat the oven at 350 F.
- In a bowl, mix together the honey, juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and chopped sage leaves, and pour over the chicken.
- Place the chicken legs in an oven dish with the marinade. Add the quartered tomatoes and half of a lemon cut in slices.
- Add the olives. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
- In the meantime, blanch the washed and cleaned French beans for 15 mns in boiling salted water, and rinse them under cold water. Keep them on the side.
- 10 min before the end of the chicken cooking time, add them in the dish.
I served this plat mijoté with plain polenta.