Debbie Dance Uhrig
During grilling season acquiring the perfect weather can sometimes be a challenge. Take this past Memorial weekend, the forecast was for rain every day at some time or the other. This causes hosts to have a plan B attack approach.
If your event is to run as smoothly as possible we have to plan for all the ‘what-if’situations. Somewhat like an outdoor wedding!
This week I’m sharing a new recipe that has been received with lots of positive feedback. The secret to the peach chicken is actually in the brining. The sauce is very nice, but it’s the brining that keeps the chicken moist and tender. Back around 2006-2008 we saw large increases in the cost of meat at the grocery store. In order to keep good tasting meats on the table people resorted to brining less expensive cuts. I could go into a very long dissertation about what brining does scientifically, however I’d rather simplify. Brines seal the molecules and allows the meat to absorb more moisture. The meat is juicier, flavorful and sometimes more tender. When we cook our meats they usually lose around 30% of their moisture content. After brining studies show us that the reduction of liquid when cooked is around 15% moisture loss.
Brines can be composed of so many different things. Fresh herbs, dry herbs, brown sugar, white sugar, honey, sorghum, spices of all kinds, fruit juices, beer, wine, or just water!
You can find so much more on line about brining. Actually you can ask any search engine for recipes according to the weight and type of meat being brined. That’s how I started with the brining. One of my best examples of brining is to tell this story: ‘One day a guest asked me why they couldn’t make fried chicken like grandma did?’ Now, I say, how did they expect me to diagnose this scenario? I looked at the guest and said: “Why don’t you step me through what your grandmother did?” They told about butchering the hen and how the night before grandma would put the chicken in a bowl in the refrigerator, with a plate over the top. The next day she would drain the chicken, pat it dry and start her dipping and battering process. About this time I yelled, ‘Stop, I think I’ve got it!’ You may have not realized it but grandmother most likely placed salt in the bowl with the chicken. She didn’t know anything about brining food for taste, she was using the salt to kill bacteria etc. This in turn rendered a juicy and tender chicken.’ If I were to guess I would also say the chicken was GMO free and it was a young hen. Both factors contribute greatly to flavor.
Let’s talk a bit about choosing a hen at the grocery store. Recently I acquired a l0 lb. turkey breast. Now be honest, how many turkeys have 10 pound breasts! The meat had lots of extra tissue and membrane and I realized I had a genetically altered turkey. Reach for a small hen at the store for the best flavor. Study up on brands that do not genetically alter their chickens. Some of my favorites are Smart Chicken/Tescumbah Farms, Braums and Springer Hill Farms. What started all the genetic altering was the demand placed upon farmers, in my opinion. Suddenly health specialists were telling us to eat more and more white meat and the need became too demanding. Also study on the processing procedures of the label you are purchasing. This too can alter the taste and quality of chicken.
What’s good about my peach sauce is how easy it is to change out to other flavors. Take a look at apricot, pineapple and mango for starters. The other benefit with this recipe is the fact that the chicken could be totally done in the oven if necessary. If you’re entertaining a large group of guests it will also offer a more controlled cooking situation.
Hopefully I haven’t confused anyone too much with all the ‘chicken’ chatter. We’ve come a long way since the 1960’s when I was growing up. Today we have to watch everything that we purchase for the family dining table.
Enjoy the new recipe, more new dishes coming next week! Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovererddish.com
Barbecued Peach Chicken
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(May substitute with bone-in, if desired.)
Black Kettle Seasoning or your favorite spices
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 ‘mini’ red sweet peppers, chopped fine
3/4 cup peach preserves
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
In a sauce pan sauté the onion and sweet peppers in the butter. When tender add in remaining ingredients in order presented. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer a few minutes. Allow sauce to cool down, if possible, before brushing on grilled chicken. Yields approximately 3/4 – 1 cup sauce.
4 cups water & ice
1/4 cup kosher salt or 3 tablespoons table salt
Heat 2 cups of the water until it’s close to boiling, but not quite. Stir the salt of choice into the hot water to thoroughly dissolve. Mix equal parts of water and ice for the additional 2 cups. Place chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and fill with the brine. Allow to set for 30-60 minutes in the brine. Rinse chicken well and cook as desired. You may desire to omit all additional salt in your recipe.
Sear chicken breasts for approximately 8 minutes per side on a grill of choice.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil. Place meat on foil, sprinkle with black kettle, and baste with sauce. Slide into 450 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Open door, flip chicken, and re-apply sauce. Cook for 7 minutes and monitor temperature. When chicken reaches 165-167 degrees remove from oven and allow meat to set. Meat will rise 5-8 degrees while resting. Serve with remaining peach sauce. (Boneless chicken breast is done at 170 degrees.)
The entire recipe could be cooked in the oven should you have a rain-out