Family Dinner recipe: Chicken Surf n’ Turf

This Sunday I’m planning another Family Dinner, which will be special because Aki is coming back to town. Fortunately, she’s been in London so expectations won’t be terribly high. The theme for this week could also be “starter French cooking”, because the meals are slightly French but neither the materials nor the techniques are terribly difficult for an American amateur. Other than that, the feature entrees are the chicken of land and sea.

Chicken Poached in Buttermilk

Yields: 4 servings

1 quart buttermilk
4 large sprigs fresh thyme
4 (7 to 8 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, preferably pasture-raised
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Meyer lemon, or regular lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon crème fraîche
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 head frisée lettuce, trimmed, washed and dried well

Place the buttermilk and thyme in a casserole, preferably cast iron, that’s large enough to hold all of the chicken in a single flat layer without overlapping.

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the breasts so they are covered in the buttermilk. Heat the chicken slowly over medium heat until the buttermilk is shimmering and almost simmering. It should not be boiling, but too hot to stick your finger in (about 170 degrees). Cook slowly, adjusting the heat as necessary.

Rotate the chicken and turn it over now and again so it cooks evenly until it is cooked through, about 15 minutes from the time it almost simmers. Chicken should be soft but have some resistance when pressed.

Remove the breasts from the buttermilk and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside to rest.

Mix the lemon juice and crème fraiche in a small bowl until well combined. Add the oil and honey and mix vigorously.

Put frisée in a medium bowl, drizzle liberally with the lemon vinaigrette mixture, about 2 to 3 tablespoons, and toss to coat well. Adjust dressing to taste.

Slice chicken thinly and transfer each breast to a plate. Divide the salad evenly between the plates, arranging on top of each breast. Serve immediately.

Tuna L’Occidental

Yield: 10 servings

2 pounds yellowfin tuna, #1 grade or “sashimi-quality”
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 shallots, peeled
3 cups canola oil
¼ pound mixed microgreens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de sel
Citrus marinade

Remove skin and any bloodline or fibrous sections of the tuna. Slice tuna into ¼-inch thick slices. Refrigerate until needed.

Slice the shallots into thin rings. Heat the canola oil, and gently fry shallots until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt

Portion one layer of tuna into a circle, about 6 inches in diameter, on a metal tray. Season each piece with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan, heat one pound of butter, until brown, stirring constantly. (Important: The butter must remain hot; do not pull the butter back during the process. It must reach a high temperature to sear the tuna.)

When the butter is hot and brown, slowly pour it over the entire surface of the tuna. It should turn gray on contact. Do not let any of the butter solids get on the tuna. Drain tuna of any excess butter when done. (Important: Only do 3-4 portions at a time to ensure that the butter remains hot.)

Place the tuna into the center of the plate; be sure it is not dripping with butter.

Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons (to taste) of citrus marinade over the tuna. Season with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Dress the plate with microgreens and fried shallots.|

Citrus Marinade

Yield: 1 cup

1 orange
1 lemon
1 lime
½-inch ginger, peeled
1 whole shallot, peeled
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 ounces white wine

Combine coriander seeds and wine in a small saucepan and simmer until all of the wine has evaporated.

Zest the citrus into a bowl, no pith.

Peel and segment the citrus, adding all the juice and the segments to the zest.

Thinly slice the ginger, shallots and garlic, and place in bowl with the citrus.

Add the coriander seeds and any liquid, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.

Let everything marinate for about 24 hours. Strain and reserve the liquid.

Potato Puffs

Yield: 60 puffs

2 1/4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Vegetable oil, for frying

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

Simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Cook for 1 minute over high heat, shaking the pan frequently to dry out the potatoes.Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Stir in the egg, butter, dry milk, cheese, flour and nutmeg; season with salt. Using floured hands, roll the potato mixture into 1-inch balls; you should have about 60.

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Working in batches of about 12, fry the potato balls over moderately high heat until they are browned on 3 sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, season lightly with salt and transfer the potato balls to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls.

When all of the puffs are fried, reheat them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve at once.

Chocolate Mousse

Yield: 6 servings

8 (1-ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup water, divided use

2 tablespoons butter

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped

In a microwave or double boiler, heat chocolate, 1/4 cup water and butter until the chocolate and butter are melted. Cool for 10 minutes.

In a small heavy saucepan, whisk egg yolks, sugar and remaining water. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches 160*F (70*C), about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate mixture. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into dessert dishes.

Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

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