When my husband and I went to visit my parents for the 4th this past weekend, my mom gave me some back issues of Cook’s Illustrated that she had gotten from a friend of hers. I know lots of home cooks love this magazine, but it was my first experience with it, and I have to say I am impressed. Anyway, when we got home today, I got right to work picking out some recipes from the magazine to make this week and ended up pairing May/June 04′s oven-cooked brown rice with Jan./Feb. 05′s homemade chicken teriyaki. The brown rice was outstanding. It takes a little longer to make than brown rice on the stove, which I make frequently, but the texture is flawless. I consider myself pretty good at making rice on the stove, but I will definitely make it this way in the future. The homemade teriyaki sauce was yummy as well.
The chicken also gave me a chance to practice some butchering skills, as it calls for de-boning some bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I am a firm believer that the best cooks are always talented at butchering their meat, so this was a good chance to practice these skills. It was a little difficult, but practice is good. Here are both recipes:
Oven-baked brown rice
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1 ½ cups brown rice (any grain length – I used long grain)
2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 ½ Tbsp. butter
Large wedge of lemon
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375 degrees.
2. Spread rice evenly in the bottom of a small round casserole with a lid.
3. Bring broth and butter to a boil in a covered saucepan (make sure it’s covered – otherwise, some of the liquid will evaporate and mess up the proportions). As soon as it’s boiling, stir in dash of salt and pour the liquid over the rice. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
4. Remove rice from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Squeeze wedge of lemon into the rice and add garlic powder and black pepper. Fluff again to combine.
5. Cover with a towel and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes more. Fluff and serve.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
This recipe requires starting with deboned chicken thighs (with skin on – the skin is important). I can’t reproduce CI’s deboning instructions for you, but there is a similar set of instructions here, on AllRecipes. CI also calls for making 3 slashes in the skin of each thigh, which I found difficult, but I managed something resembling that.
4 chicken thighs, butchered to specifications above
Salt and pepper
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sugar (you could reduce this to 1/3 if you wanted)
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tbsp. mirin
½ tsp. cornstarch
(this is the full sauce recipe, but half the amount of chicken – 2 servings instead of 4 – so there will be sauce leftover, which will save just fine in the fridge)
1. Heat broiler with oven rack about 8 inches from heating element. Line baking sheet with foil and place a flat rack on it if you have one (I don’t, so I skipped this step and it was fine).
2. Place thighs on baking sheet and arrange so that they are of even thickness and the skin covers the tops evenly. Broil until skin is crisp and internal temperature is 175 degrees (My thermometer hit the temperature before the skins were super dark brown, and, concerned about them drying out, I took them out a minute before I probably should have. You want the skin as crisp as possible, and the meat doesn’t dry out at all, so next time I’ll just judge them based on the skin). This should take about 10-14 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking time.
3. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir together mirin and cornstarch until no lumps remain, and whisk it into the sauce. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until reduced to ¾ cup or takes on the texture of a glaze, about 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.
4. Let chicken rest for a couple of minutes before slicing crosswise and drizzling with sauce. Serve with additional sauce on the side.