Tag Archives: chicken

Easy ga kho gung (Vietnamese braised chicken with ginger) [based on my mom’s recipe]

23 Jul

Slow-cooked chicken with ginger, garlic, and onions.  I love this recipe.  It’s one of those classic home-cooking recipes that you aren’t likely to see at a restaurant, but every family makes it.  In fact, when I was in Vietnam several years ago I made some friends and visited their village for one night.  They showed me how to grow rice in their paddy, and we walked around the village, and practiced driving a motor scooter while trying to avoid the water buffalo that hung out on the roads.  At night their mom made us a big feast for dinner, consisting of rice from said paddy, rau muong xao toi, and this braised chicken (freshly killed from their neighbor).  Very traditional, very delicious.

I also ask my mom for it every time I make it, so I thought I’d blog it so I could stop bugging her.  I’ll tell you how I do it and also make notes for where my mom takes more time and makes it more delicious than I do.  Also, it’s made with items that you probably have in your pantry (we buy garlic from Costco and always have onions and ginger and frozen chicken parts).

This is a RAW file.  I'm just kidding it's a jpeg.

This is a RAW file. I’m just kidding it’s a jpeg.

If you don’t have fish sauce in your pantry and you’re interested in making Vietnamese food ever, then you should buy a bottle.  If you aren’t, then I’m not sure why you’re reading this post.  I like using coconut water/juice (I always keep it around because it’s all I drink when I’m sick), but water or chicken broth work great too.

My mom always soaks chicken in salted water for half an hour before cooking it, “to get rid of the smell.”  Brining does keep the chicken super moist, but I’m always too lazy to do it.  It’s good if you feel like it though!

Also, traditionally the chicken parts are chopped up into bite-size pieces for this dish.  Part of that is frugality and part of it is flavor- more surface area to soak in more of the sauce.  Plus it’s fun to bust out your cleaver!  I generally make the pieces baby-fist sized (so three or four bites) because I am lazy.  You could also not chop them.

I guess they had to give that suburban sitcom star a nickname instead of just calling him by his last name.  Then it'd sound like a serial killer sitcom instead of a family one: Leave it to Cleaver!

I guess they had to give that suburban sitcom star a nickname instead of just calling him by his last name. Then it’d sound like a serial killer sitcom instead of a family one: Leave it to Cleaver!

Next, chop up some garlic, onion, and ginger.  A few thoughts on this: for our wedding someone gave us a mortar and pestle, and it is AWESOME for garlic.  I don’t even peel or smash the cloves, I just throw them in and smash them a couple times.  The paper falls off and you can pick it out.  This isn’t great if you care about uniform sizes, but if you want a ton of garlic quickly smashed into smallish pieces, this is definitely the way to go.

If the actress from Young Frankenstein comes up to you and wants to fight, try to walk away.  You'll get Teri Garr-licked in no time.

If the actress from Young Frankenstein comes up to you and wants to fight, try to walk away. You’ll get Teri Garr-licked in no time.

I am a total sucker for those stupid “17 life hacks that will change the way you sit on a couch!!!” articles.  I’ve seen “one weird trick” a few times for peeling ginger: use a spoon.  Unfortunately, this one actually works!  Especially if you have a fairly smooth/not-too-knobby piece of ginger.  Just push the spoon tip in at one end of peel, eating side facing the ginger, and pull down while pushing into the ginger.  I can’t believe this worked and now I’ll go nail polish my keys so I don’t mix them up and save my bread bag close-things to label cords.

I actually have naked ginger in my house a lot (my baby is a redhead!)

I actually have naked ginger in my house a lot (my baby is a redhead!)

You’ll want diced onion, smashed pieces of garlic, and matchsticks of ginger.  Throw that in with your chicken (if you brined it, toss the brine), along with sugar and salt, and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Just like in the human world, in horse races there are far more males than females.  I've been to exactly one horse race in my life, and it was almost all stallions, but there was one lane with a female.  There was a mare in eight.

Just like in the human world, in horse races there are far more males than females. I’ve been to exactly one horse race in my life, and it was almost all stallions, but there was one lane with a female. There was a mare in eight.  [I just told my husband this caption, and his response: “our kid is going to love you.”  Not even a chuckle from him!]

My mom first browns the chicken in a little bit of oil, then adds in the garlic, ginger, onion.  I actually marinated it in the pot, and just put the pot on the stove and turned it on.  Like I said, super easy.  Put it on high, add some fish sauce for flavor, and then your liquid (I used coconut water).  Bring it to a boil, then turn it down and simmer for as long as you have.  The longer you simmer, the richer the flavor.  The chicken will be cooked after about 15 minutes so if you’re in a rush just eat it then.

How cute would it be if we called every adult animal like we call chickens?  Kittenens?  Puppyens?  PUPPY YENS?!?!

How cute would it be if we called every adult animal like we call chickens? Kittenens? Puppyens? PUPPY YENS?!?!

A few minutes before you want to finish it, I like to add some cornstarch to thicken it.  To avoid lumps, put the cornstarch in a small bowl/ramekin and spoon some of the hot liquid into it, then whisk that til smooth.  Add the mix to your pot, and stir.  Then bring it back to a boil.

'don, sob', some', shiratak': these are all rame'kin.

‘don, sob’, some’, shiratak’: these are all rame’kin.

Serve this with rice and plain boiled vegetables to soak up as much of the sauce as you can.

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Easy ga kho gung:

Bone-in chicken pieces (I like thighs, but drumsticks or a whole chicken are also great) [Enough for the number of people you are serving]

1/2 head of garlic (just a lot of garlic.  Like 7 cloves at least)

1 thumb-sized piece of garlic per 4 servings

1/2-1 onion

2 TB sugar

2 TB fish sauce (nuoc mam; we always get Three Crabs brand)

salt, pepper

2 C water or chicken broth or coconut juice

2 TB corn starch

Chop chicken into pieces.  If desired, brine in salt water for half an hour.

Dice onion, smash garlic, and peel and matchstick ginger.  Add to chicken (drain brine, if using) with sugar, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 TB of salt should be fine, you can always add more fish sauce later).  Stir, and marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.

If desired, heat 2 TB of oil over medium-high, and brown chicken pieces, 5 minutes.  Then add marinade, and proceed.

If you didn’t brown, just cook the whole thing over medium high.  Add fish sauce and liquid of choice, bring to a boil, stirring a few times (at least two or three times).  Lower heat and simmer at least 15 minutes, or for an hour.

Five minutes before you want to eat, place corn starch into a small bowl.  Spoon in some of the hot liquid, and whisk until smooth.  Add corn starch mix to pot, and incorporate and bring back to a boil.  Boil for one minute while stirring, then turn off stove.

Serve with rice and boiled vegetables.

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Turducken day 2: Assembly, Baking, Carving, Devouring

3 Jun

Butchery will be another post.  Yesterday was the actual eating day.  This post is about what I did yesterday- finishing up the stuffing with that delicious duck-chicken stock, sewing together a turducken, and eating the results!

On Friday night after boiling the duck and chicken carcasses for three or four hours with a bay leaf, some carrot, and an onion, I let the pot cool, discarded the bones, and threw the remaining liquid in the fridge.  By morning a solid half-inch of fat had congealed on top of the resulting gelatin.  I scooped and threw out the fat (I maybe could/should have saved it but I had so much duck fat from the crackling the night before already), and measured out two cups of the leftover stuff:

If someone steals this I will be so angry and there 'll be GEL TO PAY.

If someone steals this I will be so angry and there ‘ll be GEL TO PAY.

Nuked for thirty seconds, then mixed with my pre-made stuffing (sausage, apples, walnuts, onion, celery, carrot, stuffing mix) in order to put on the birds!

I laid out my turkey flat, then covered the entire thing with a thin layer of stuffing.  TIP: next time, I think I’ll cut off the fillet-looking pieces of turkey breast and put them inside the chicken.  As it was, we had a huge layer of turkey on the outside, and I think putting it in the middle would help differentiate the birds.

This guy was born and bread to become a turducken.

This guy was born and bread to become a turducken.

Next, we took out the chicken and duck which had been brining overnight. (Based on my computer’s web history, boyfriend used this recipe from allrecipes to make the brine).  TIP: you should try to brine all of the birds.  Because of our unfortunate Jewel incident I couldn’t brine the turkey as it was thawing overnight (we moved it to fridge for overnight and thawed in a cooler in the morning, and I still ended up having it frozen in the middle as I carved).  Rinsed those suckers off, then layered them on top of the turkey with more stuffing.

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Regardless of if they were female or male, all three birds are now great layers

Regardless of if they were female or male, all three birds are now great layers

Last year we used the internet and barbecue skewers to put our turkey together.  BIGGEST TIP IN THIS POST: don’t use skewers, use butcher’s twine (in the utensils area of the grocery store) and turkey lacers and a small, sharp knife.  I had my roommate take photos of the process because my hands were covered in poultry (you guys my hands got so dry these two days because I had to keep stopping, washing my hands, taking a picture, and going back again), but we were super in the way so there’s just a hint of what we did.

Three birds in four hands is worth... how many birds in the bush?

Three birds in four hands is worth… how many birds in the bush?

Basically we folded the sides shut so the turkey looked like a turkey, then cut small holes in the skin/meat near the edges of the turkey and used a turkey lacer as a needle with the butcher twine as thread.  Then we threaded the turkey shut like shoelaces in a shoe.

I really can't WhINE too much about this picture: I think it looks really cool even if you can't see what we're doing.

I really can’t WhINE too much about this picture: I think it looks really cool even if you can’t see what we’re doing.

Once it’s shut, it looks just like a distended turkey!  The chicken and duck are a secret!  I love assembling the turducken.  And it’s much easier to manipulate when it’s sewn shut rather than skewered: last year we needed three people to move it, and this year just two of us did so easily- even one could probably put it in a roasting pan.

Rock a bye baby, in the roasting pan, when the wind blows,  the oven will warm, and when the timer beeps, the rack will be hot, and baking will be baby roasting pan and all

Rock a bye baby, in the roasting pan,
when the wind blows, the oven will warm,
and when the timer beeps, the rack will be hot,
and baking will be baby
roasting pan and all

BE VERY CAREFUL with that baby taking it in and out of the oven.

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I actually have no photos of the carving or devouring stages.  Carving just happened in chunks, and we had about 25 people come eat.  We probably ate about 3/4 of the turducken.  One thing we did do was put the turducken on a rack to let it dry, and we wish we had roasted it in a proper roasting pan so it wouldn’t boil in its own juices.  I used those juices to make gravy: melt two tablespoons of fat/butter, add in two or three tablespoons of flour and whisk until smooth, then pour in two or three cups of stock (I skimmed off LOTS of fat before this step).  Bring it to a boil and let it boil for a few minutes, whisking every now and again, until its thickened.  Delicious.

We didn’t baste the birds because brining will keep them moist, but we should’ve because we didn’t brine the turkey.  It was a little dry, but nothing gravy couldn’t fix.  On the whole it was a delicious and wonderful Thanksgiving!  Friends brought sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, dressing, garlic soup, broccoli salad, asian noodle salad, banana bread, and cake!

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Turducken day 1: getting a turkey at the last minute, chef’s treats, and brine

1 Jun

I owe lots of math posts.  I know.  But it’s my birthday (well, it was on Wednesday) so give me some leeway.  My boyfriend got me flowers for it!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, and so I have it for my birthday every year (as in I did it last year and am doing it this year).  Last year I’d never had turducken before but after that experience I decided I’ll do it every year (until I’m sick of it).

If you’re planning on making a turducken for June 1st or Thanksgiving, make sure you plan ahead.  Or do what I did.  Or buy a premade turducken but where’s the fun in that?  The next paragraph is complaining you can skip it I’ll probably edit/shorten it later when I’m not as mad.

I called the store last Sunday around 10 a.m. to order a turkey and duck.  They asked me to call back the next day so the manager could talk to me.  So I called on Monday around 4:20 p.m., and he asked me to call back on Wednesday between 7 and 4 to talk to the manager, and that he’d leave a note for the manager anyway.  At this point I’m in high worry mode and should’ve switched stores, but this is my local grocery store that I shop at every week and I have some cognitive dissonance-type loyalty to it.  I call back on Wednesday and talk to the manager, who tells me he wasn’t in yesterday (Tuesday) before continuing our conversation.  He says he’ll have the birds ready for Friday, and I say I’ll pick up in the evening around 5.

At 5 p.m. on Friday THE DAY BEFORE THE TURDUCKEN he calls me to tell me he didn’t get EITHER the duck or the turkey.  I am FLIPPING OUT but also have to focus on problem solving and I don’t yell at him.  He suggests I call one other Jewel.  I call that one.  This guy is much more apologetic on behalf of Jewel and suggests another Jewel as well as two other stores.  I call the other Jewel, and that guy brainstorms with two other people in the store before concluding they can’t help me.  Chicago’s sky has been looking ominous the whole day so I start biking like crazy to get home before the thunderstorm, and then I stop at this magical store I’ve never been to on the way.

 

Mariano%27sMarket-West%20Loop.jpg

I just want to give Mariano’s a big hug.  They had fresh chicken and frozen turkey, goose, duck, and cornish hens.  I spent a good amount of time munching on their FREE SAMPLES (my favorite thing in grocery stores) and wondering if I should switch my Turducken to a Gooduckhen instead.  We don’t own cars so I was waiting for my boyfriend to come with his bike while I was sipping some acai berry liquor

Anyways, he took the 20 pounds of turkey in his backpack and I took the 5 pound chicken and 6 pound duck in mine and we headed home.  Immediately popped the frozen turkey and duck into a cooler filled with cool water.  Lots of sites will tell you that you can speed thaw with a sink or bucket but you have to change the cool water every half hour.  If you don’t peek at your cooler you should be OK for a few hours (we changed every two or three).  Bacteria is no joke.

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England

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The birds.

I’ll do another post about butchering.  This is about all the yummy tidbits on the way!

Basically it’s not worth all the hassle of deboning chicken wings, and unless you really care about those scraps of meat, the same goes for duck wings.  That means you get chef’s treats!  I was in the middle of doing a lot of other stuff so I just slathered the wings in barbecue sauce and threw them into a 375 oven for awhile.  Maybe 45 minutes?  Until they were done and yummy.

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Meanwhile I threw the carcasses into a big stock pot with some bay leaves, a carrot remnant from the stuffing, and half an onion.  That just simmered for several hours while I was doing other things.  In particular, there was too much stuffing for the bowl I stored it in overnight, so we got a mini-casserole of sausage-apple stuffing as our second course:

There's not much, but this really is stuffing

There’s not much, but this really is stuffing

We munched on some avocados for a third course, sprinkled with lime and salt, which was a nice transition into our next course: Vietnamese chicken salad.

This photo makes me want to cuke

This photo makes me want to cuke

I used tongs to pull off all the meat from the bones that were simmering (neck, wing tips, ribcage, etc.), which basically melted off.  Then mixed in some cucumbers, thought about shredding in fresh mint and then realized I had none but if you do this add fresh mint and cabbage, and dressed it with lime juice-fish sauce-sugar-water dressing.  Topped off with fresh pepper.  This is delicious, reminds me of my mom, and is super easy and light.

He’d actually taken me to Elizabeth for birthday dinner, so this was like home-Elizabeth with only five courses instead of nine.  Dessert was duck skin crackling with maple syrup.

When butchering a duck you get LOTS of excess skin/fat.  So I decided to render the fat for later use, and this had the happy effect of making crackling!  Cut your duck skin into about one inch pieces (it shrinks when frying) and fry it until light golden brown.  BE CAREFUL THIS SPATTERS A TON

Shielding myself from the spatter

Shielding myself from the spatter

But it is delicious!  I dusted some of them with flour to get a little more crackle, and topped them with maple syrup for dessert.  So tasty!

So that was my chef’s treats from day 1 of making the turducken.  I highly recommend taking two days: butcher all the birds and brine them the night before, and then stuff and roast on day 2.  Today is day 2 and there’ll be more posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a picture of the birds floating in brine that my boyfriend made; I have no idea what’s in it:

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