March 17, 2011

middle eastern chicken salad

For my last act in salad I wanted to make something with chicken (the only other mass-consumed meat I hadn't used), so I found this recipe for Middle Eastern Chicken Salad in the salad station binder (we have binders full of recipes for each station).

middle eastern chicken salad ingredients
Went to the walk-in refrigerators to gather all my ingredients in a hotel pan (standard metal pans used in culinary settings) and was struck by the contrasting colors and textures of the vegetables, so I took this picture.

Although this dish is a so-called salad (and thereby served cold), I would rather eat it warm, as one of those one-pot hearty dinners. For those that are interested in the recipe, you can see it in the zoomed-in version of the picture above, available here.

Basically you cook rice in chicken stock (1 to 2 ratio, but depending on the rice) with the addition of sauteed garlic and shallots, and dried currants (I substituted dried cherries and dates since we didn't have currants). Cut up some chicken and put it in a separate pot with a bay leaf and enough chicken stock to cover, bring it to a boil then simmer for half an hour (same procedure as rice really). To adhere to the one-pot policy, one could sautee the chicken first then add it to the rice.

Side note: I learned the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth! Stock is made from the bony chicken parts (as opposed to meat for broth) so it is heartier. Although I would say they're interchangeable if you don't have stock on hand.

While the rice and chicken are cooking, cut up some carrots, celery, and scallions. Once the rice and chicken are done cooking, mix all of the ingredients together, like so.

middle eastern chicken salad pre-mixing

Season the mixture with lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, mint leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. I like things spicy so I opened up a container of cayenne, but then made the mistake of talking to someone while I was adding the spice so I dumped some handfuls worth into the rice. If you know cayenne, you'll know that "some handfuls" really means "way too f-ing much". So I scooped out the contaminated portions of the rice, but then I didn't want to throw it away so I made the mistake of eating it. Let's just say my tastebuds were shot for the next hour or so.

Since this was a boxed salad I was doing (and not a composed salad, where I would have kept all the ingredients separate instead of mixed), presentation was not such a big deal. But I put in the effort anyway.

middle eastern chicken salad presented
The white stuff is plain yogurt in the middle. If you want to be a little fancy you could mixed in some diced cucumber and dill or something, but I decided to keep it plain (especially after that cayenne mishap, I could use a little plain, hah!).

In other news, it was around this time when Chef revealed to me that I had been chosen for the Iron Chef competition, which coincidentally is tomorrow. There are 6 teams with 8 members each, the majority of which are second and third semester students, which meant not many first semester students were chosen, so I consider this an honor. Each team has an hour and a half to prepare three courses, and even though I'm not experienced enough to take the lead on any dish, I hope to do much preparation and put my presentation skills to good use. Wish my team luck!

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoying your blog. Great pictures. Delicious-looking food! Hope your new adventures in culinary school tastes as good as they look. Good luck!