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Roast Brined Chicken, Ricotta-Stuffed Cabbage, and Mushroom Rice by (_i_) Visit Thread
I'm batching it for the next few days, so I decided to make a big meal and feed on leftovers. The original intention was to make a plain brined roasted chicken with two sides from _The Silver Spoon_, the Italian cookbook I just bought. However, things didn't exactly turn out as I expected, as you'll see.

Roast Chicken

1 roasting chicken
6 cups or more water
1 1/4 cups coarse salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste

Meet Jessica.

Like her namesake Miss Simpson, she's got big breasts and short skinny legs, has no brain or guts, and is currently dead in the water. Well, this Jessica is actually dead in the brine. Let's go back one step.

An exciting picture of six cups of cool water to which I added the salt and sugar and stirred and mixed until everything was dissolved. I then dumped in the chicken, added enough water to cover, and weighed the chicken down with a glass jar full of water (so the chicken was covered by the brine; otherwise it would have floated). I then covered the chicken, bowl, and jar with cling wrap and shoved the whole thing in the fridge for six hours.

Here she was six hours later. I removed the chicken from the brine, rinsed it, and dried it off with a paper towel, then I brushed it with about two tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkled the cavity with black pepper. Jessica then went into the oven to roast at 350F until the internal temperature of the thigh meat reached 175F. If you want an Italian touch, roast until the thigh meat is at about 150F, then increase your oven temperature to 450F and roast until done.

If you're not brining, I strongly recommend you put a bit of foil on the breast to prevent it from overcooking. I would have even though I brined - had I been able to find the damn foil. I love this house.

A beauty. The meat is as juicy and tender as you can imagine.

Ricotta-Stuffed Cabbage


1 head cabbage (supposed to be Savoy)
Water for boiling

11 oz. fresh Swiss Chard or 1 cup cooked Swiss chard
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp minced red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Half of a 28 oz can of tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Oh, this is where the fun started. First of all, I couldn't actually get a Savoy cabbage from any of the four stores I visited. I also couldn't find any Swiss chard, but I thought "hey, maybe a little radicchio would be nice," so I bought a head of red-and-white radicchio.

Don't try this. First I tried parboiling the radicchio - bitter. I then tried sauteing it. Bitter still. I ended up sludging through the freezer and I eventually found one cup of frozen Swiss chard my mom had put up some years ago and which I inherited. I have a feeling there may be forum users younger than this Swiss chard, but it was still in good shape. Anyway:

To remove the cabbage leaves from the cabbage, you have to be like a GBSer and SEVER. Specifically, you have to sever the leaves as close to the stem as possible and detach them from the head carefully starting at the stem end. For this recipe I needed about twelve leaves for eight rolls.

The thrills and mystery never end here at GWS: here's a picture of a pot of water. In order to stuff the leaves, I had to wilt them a bit, and to do that I parboiled them for three or four minutes in boiling water.

Hot hot parboiling action. Once they parboiled, I drained them and set them aside.

If you're using fresh Swiss chard, you should then cook it in the water (you can use the same water) until it's wilted as well. Mine was blanched before freezing, so all I had to do was zap it in the microwave for a few minutes until it was defrosted.

Next (or more particularly, at the same time) comes the tomato sauce. I used something called Fire-roasted Diced Tomatoes.

This is a tiny pot (.75 quarts, I believe), so don't be fooled into thinking you need a lot of tomatoes. The recipe calls for nine ounces, but I didn't know if that was by weight or by volume, so I stuck in half a 28 oz. can and it worked just fine. To the half can of tomatoes (with juice), I added salt and pepper to taste and simmered for 30 minutes. I then mashed them with a potato smasher, added the 2 tsp of basil, and cooked for 15 minutes more.

The sauce hasn't actually gotten redder; it's just become more liquid, although it never actually became smooth, which I think was the point. At this time I added the 2 tbsp of olive oil, stirred, and removed it from the heat.

(Note: this sauce would be delicious on seafood just as is.)

The fuzzy filling ingredients. I gotta cut down on the espresso.

Swiss chard can be watery. To cut down on the liquid in the filling, I heaped the slightly cooled chard onto my cutting board and sliced it finely in four or five different directions. I then held it over a bowl and squeezed out all the liquid I could.

Here are the ingredients in a bowl, ready for mixing.

The completed filling. It smelled heavenly, and despite the terror of raw egg I tried some; it tasted better than it smelled.

You see the problem here. The damn cabbage fell apart after being parboiled for only about 3 1/2 minutes. I think the problem was, I bought too small a cabbage and the leaves were too tender. If you want to try this recipe, I suggest buying either a savoy cabbage (if you can find it) or a big horking old tough monster cabbage. As it was I had to cut up a few of the leaves and use them to plug the tears.

I have been making cabbage rolls since I was ten years old. That's over thirty years. These are the most teratological cabbage rolls I've ever made. Oh well, they'll still taste fine.

To hold the rolls together, _The Silver Spoon_ recommends that they be tied with kitchen string. I usually just use toothpicks on my cabbage rolls, but these puppies might have fallen apart if I had poked a hole in them, so I followed the recipe. I then poured the tomato sauce in between the rolls. That's an 11 1/2 inch frying pan, by the way.

I started the rolls on medium heat, then when it started boiling a bit I turned the heat down to low and covered the pan (with an old used pizza pan I found at a garage sale last month - fancy lids 'R' us). The fragrance is out of this world. It took about 20 minutes to cook after turning the heat down to minimum.

Mushroom Rice


1 stalk celery with leaves
1 clove purple garlic, or 1 shallot
200 grams or just under half a pound of any type of mushroom
2 cups basmati rice
2 cups mushroom stock
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

I had originally meant to prepare a recipe from _The Silver Spoon_ for mushroom risotto. Unfortunately, my arborio rice had been freaking invaded and I had to ditch the plan. Instead I used regular basmati rice - still delicious but not cooked in the same way, and therefore not the same creamy texture.

Our parade of ingredients. That's a 450 gram package of sliced mushrooms - I used just under half of that.

I diced the celery (including the leaves) and the mushrooms and crushed the garlic.

Here's another breaking news item - a pot with oil in the bottom. Heat the oil on medium-low heat until it's warmed.

Add your vegetables to the oil and saute for four or five minutes.

Add the rice, stir, and continue to cook dry for a minute or two.

Add the mushroom stock and the water. Turn the heat up to maximum until liquid boils: stir, cover, and turn down to minimum. Check in 10 minutes and every couple of minutes after that.

When the rice is done, stir to mix in the vegetables.

The important stuff

I did not choose this wine because it complemented roast chicken or because it goes well with the sides. I chose it because it was the only bottle of wine currently in my house. I do have five gallons of wine in a carboy right now, but it's brewing and I don't think it would be a fantastic taste sensation.


Ain't it grand? The chicken is moist and juicy, the rice is full of flavour, and the cabbage rolls are delicious despite their morphology.

A closer look.

(_i_) fucked around with this message at Nov 27, 2005 around 02:48

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