Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fine dining at the Serenghetti Spa and Veldt Lounge

Late Saturday afternoon, the usual question was presented to your scribe; "What will you be making for dinner tonight?"

Hungry Albion College Grad getting a Cat Scan

Good question, and I better have a good answer, or somebody will have to pay.

"Chicken," said I, "Vermouth Chicken..."

"Good." Said She Who Will Be Obeyed in her most cheery manner.

So off to the sweatshop kitchen I go, mentally setting up for that oldest of recipes, Vermouth Chicken.

I first had Vermouth Chicken in 1978. Our old friend, Gary had a special method of making chicken wings making use of only a few ingredients. It was very tasty (Way before Buffalo Wings!) and more importantly, cheap to make. Gary was nice enough to teach my Mom how to make them and the recipe became a very regular food for all special events throughout the 1980's, even after we had lost contact with Gary.

As everything changes due to time, so too are the improvements in foods. Chicken wings gave way to chicken thighs and legs. I can get 12 thighs for three bucks at the Commissary, which makes three big dinners for us.

I dove into the second level of Hell  freezer and pulled out a bag of thighs. I placed them into the microwave for rapid thaw. Washed my nasty hands. I gathered the ingredients together from the spice counter.

Wondra flour, garlic powder, oregano (or in today's case Italian Seasoning) salt and pepper.

We have a Spice Sector rather than just a spice rack

I placed a paper plate into the clean sink, removed the chicken from the microwave and washed the chicken carefully, pat dry with paper towels and readied the chicken for the annointing process.

Washed my nasty hands with plenty of Ajax dishwashing liquid. We will be repeating this many, many times.

Separate Event:  There is a rice component to this meal, I place a cup of Basmati rice into two cups of cold water to soak for 20 minutes.

Best value Basmati Rice, about $3. 

I like Basmati rice because of the extra long grains. Let soak for 20 minutes.

I liberally sprinkled the garlic powder on the tops of the chicken.

Washed my nasty hands, again.

I took a salt grinder and gave each thigh a half grind. Then the pepper and finally a liberal dusting of the Italian Seasoning. I flipped the thighs over and...

Washed my nasty hands.

Again with the powder, salt, pepper and faux oregano. The finale is a very liberal dusting with Wondra Flour on all sides of the chicken. I mean flood it with the flour! Next...

Washed my nasty hands. I have had food poisoning from chicken, so I will literally wash after every step. I feel obsessive/compulsive about this, but it beats spending a day in the Moon House.

As the chicken waits on the paper plate, I pour a very small amount of Olive Oil into a large dutch oven type frying pan. Only enough to barely cover the bottom. I turn the electric heat up to 7 and a half and wait for the oil to be hot.

Note how the mangled side is up for first stage

The next step is to place the thighs smooth side down into the hot oil. I sprinkle the remaining flour and spices from the paper plate onto the frying chicken. Cover the chicken and fry until it starts to brown. Once the browning starts, I flip chicken over and continue frying for a few more moments.

The pretty side is now showing for the remainder of the cooking. Stand By for the whoosh of Vermouth!

I then pour about a quarter bottle of Vermouth into the pan (Enough to come about half way up the chicken) and place cover on pan to hold in as much steam as possible. Turn the heat down to about 3 and simmer for a half hour. I sometimes add a bit more Wondra into the soupy mix which reduces down to a thick gravy.

Cheap Vermouth is ok. This is about $6

Reducing down. Add more Wondra if needed, stir it in next to the chicken.

Wait, I need sustenance, too!

Looking a bit parched. One more gulp and we will recharge the mug!

Today's Beer is brought to you by the good people at Sierra Nevada. A fine Pale Ale!
Back to cooking...

After the twenty minutes of rice soaking has finished, I turn the heat for the rice on High to get the water boiling. Then, we stir the rice once and turn heat down to simmer for twenty minutes. I use a timer so that I can hear the tone which lets me know when everything is done.

Note; Sometimes I use the smoke detecter to let me know when dinner is really done. Garlic Bread usually sets off the alarm.

Now, leave it alone for a bit!

Once the rice is finished we plate the rice and add chicken with Vermouth Gravy. Served with a fine Bordeaux White.

As the cheezy recipes will say, "Serving Suggestion"

Grand Vin de Bordeaux Chateau Guibon Entre-Deux-Mers

I thought the dozen roses from Wally World was a nice touch, do you agree?

Now all of you can see why; Most. Chicks. Dig. Me!!!

Dinner was fabulous and we rounded out the evening with a nice film about George Harrison.

Life is veddy, veddy nice at the Serenghetti Spa and Veldt Lounge.


Buck said...

I thought the dozen roses from Wally World was a nice touch, do you agree?

I do. Well played, sir. Well played.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

It's good fun to be nice and to brighten the day for those closest to us. The flowers were a silly impulsive purchase having nothing to do with anything.

Gary said...

Excellent preparation and presentation. Those pictures make me drool. Darn it, now I have to go the the store and get vermouth and chicken.

This recipe is also great with big meaty turkey wings, by the way. That was a recipe my Mom taught me specifically for those evenings after drill when everybody dropped by the apartment. The original recipe used bug meaty turkey wings which are great too. Mom would have been tickled to read this post and see your pictures. She'd have definitely approved of the roses too -presentation is everything. Nicely done.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Gary, thanks back!
Did you know that I met the Spousal Unit through Alex T.? Just a bit of trivia, I know. We are all connected in some way through the Hancock Squadron.