Poulet: More Than 50 Remarkable Meals That Exalt the Honest Chicken
Chronicle Books (2011)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (12/11)
“Chicken is one of the world’s main sources of protein. How you treat it matters, for it can make the simplest or most sophisticated of meals.” The last sentence certainly gives you the choices of what recipe you plan to make or whether you are cooking for a family or a dinner party.
I found the beginning of the book interesting as I perused the information about what labels really mean. Being consumers are more conscious now than they used to be, behavior of the chicken or how it is processed seems to matter to many. The problem is, sometimes labels are deceiving and not entirely government approved. Other information includes buying, storing, cooking and just about anything else you need to know about chicken.
For the purpose of the review we are asked to test three recipes. The first one I tested was “Brickhouse Chicken Over Orzo with Tossed Greens.” The sauce consisted of chorizo, cipollini onions (I used shallots instead,) red and yellow pepper strips, garlic, white wine, and chicken stock. To this I added fresh fava beans, baby carrots, and thyme. The preparation/cooking process was time-consuming but the end flavor was well worth it. Served over orzo with a side of simple green salad the dish was well received.
The second recipe I tested was “Sumo Wrestler Stew.” The photograph looked appetizing and I must say the end result was very similar. There were a lot of ingredients for this stew which needed additional preparation, for example, soaking the burdock for 20 minutes. As well, for me, there was a lot of preparing separate vegetables at different times to finally get it all put together into one container. Oh, and don’t forget you’ll have to poach an egg and be sure the jasmine rice is ready in time. It was a lot of work and it seemed like I had to re-read the recipe a number of times to get it right. However, in the end we had the most delicious soup, and, yes, it was worth it.
The third recipe I made was “Grilled Thighs with Blackened Stone-Fruit Relish, Saffron Rice, and Frozen Pickled Cucumbers.” Yes, that’s right, frozen pickled cucumbers. (That’s the reason I chose this recipe!) The easy part was grilling the thighs but the fun part was making the relish. The recipe calls for specific fruit but you can use any combination of stone-fruits. I used peach, plum, and cherries. After chopping, I added toasted coriander seeds, kosher salt and a little cider vinegar. I was surprised how well the coriander seeds went with the fruit. The saffron rice was easy enough to make but surprised me that I had to use whole milk as the liquid. Now, for the frozen pickled cucumbers. No, you don’t take pickles and freeze them; you actually make your own using an English cucumber, making a brine and freezing for about 20 minutes or until crystals form. By this time the cucumber is marinated and extra crunchy. The whole combination made a wonderful dinner and received many compliments.
I liked “Poulet” by Cree LeFlavour for the fact that the recipes are different, unlike any you would find in other chicken cookbooks. Most of the recipes add ingredients you probably wouldn’t use otherwise; not that they can’t be found but probably because you hadn’t thought of it or other recipes don’t call for the combinations.
I give “Poulet” two thumbs up and encourage those that want to prepare chicken meals out-of-the-box to consider this recipe book.