Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mayonnaise Chicken

Sometimes simple (and by that I mean 'easy') is best.
Okay, okay - hear me out. I know that mayonnaise chicken doesn't sound tasty at all. I'm really sorry, but I'm committed to honesty and transparency in my cooking. Please just hear me out before you break out the torches and pitchforks and open your mind to mayonnaise.

I know that Millenials have been charged with 'murdering mayonnaise' their fair share of times. I think we all know how I feel about that tired old 'millenials kill' tag, but in case we don't, I'll share: I think that if an industry is dying out because it no longer serves the population, then let it die. Rotary phones weren't 'killed' by cordless or smartphones. Lamp lighters went out of the job because of electricity. We're evolving as a society and that means we're going to live in one that's shaped by our likes and tastes.

If you don't want to read the article above, just know that mayonnaise is being 'killed' because Millenials and GenZ's tend to have more global tastes. Most of us prefer sriracha, kimchi, things like that to mayonnaise. The globalization of our palette is what's letting other things fall to the side, much like mayonnaise. Furthermore, mayonnaise isn't exactly the sexiest condiment, and it's frankly a hard sell based on visuals alone. That being said, a lot of chefs love mayonnaise, if nothing else but for it's versatility.

Do you need to make a large amount of a new kind of dipping sauce but don't want to buy a ton of ingredients and jack up your food cost? Spice up the mayo and call it an aioli. Need a secret to making a super-moist chocolate cake for an 8-top that'll be celebrating a birthday tonight, but you don't have a trained pastry chef and just have a sous chef with a spare hour? Mayonnaise. What's that? Someone wants a fancy grilled cheese? Believe it or not, mayonnaise.

How to make homemade mayonnaise - Ever tried to make your own mayonnaise and it's been a complete disaster? Make mayonnaise the easy way with this failproof method! | Get the step by step tutorial at DeliciousEveryday.com
Check out DeliciousEveryday.com to find out how
to make your own mayonnaise at home!
What does this mean for you, for cooking?

To put it simply, this is nothing but a gorgeous whipped amount of fat that you can use in cooking and baking. Spread it on your bread instead of butter to make the most-beautiful grilled cheese you've ever seen. Use a dollop of mayonnaise instead of eggs for your cakes, to make it even more tender, because of the vinegar and how the acid sort of cuts glutens to make it less stodgy. My favorite, though, is to marinate chicken in it and then roast it.

Mayonnaise is an incredibly diverse substance that's able to be used as an ingredient and as a condiment, and I'm frankly a fan of it. I like the tang, the creaminess, and I like that it's cooling so I can mix it with really spicy ingredients to get the flavor without too much heat. Unfortunately, it's not enough anymore to have just mayonnaise, unless it's on a roast beef sandwich...and even then, I'm probably going to mix it with horseradish because  - hey - horseradish is good for you.

Why should you keep mayonnaise in your fridge? Its versatility, of course! It's not just great for sandwiches, or for being a base for a sexier version of a potato salad or devilled eggs. If you entertain, you're going to want mayonnaise, if nothing else to just help bulk up certain things. If you're busy but want something show-stopping, use mayonnaise as an ingredient and be surprised at its possibilities. But what is mayonnaise?

In essence, it's a salad dressing, not unlike a vinaigrette. It is an emulsion of egg yolks, vinegar, a little salt, and quite a bit of oil. You can make your own mayonnaise, if you like, out of any oil you like. Olive oil, sunflower oil, even chili oil. (No seriously, I've tried it.) One egg yolk can take up to a cup of oil without breaking the emulsion, and you can take that to the bank. I highly recommend using a standing mixer or a blender, though, and I advise you to warm the bowl slightly before whipping. Either way, it's easy enough to put together yourself, but it's even easier to just buy a jar, use it up, and keep the jar later for other uses.

Let's be real, though - we Millenials like stuff that's fast, yet impressive. Here's a fast and impressive dish we can make after a long day at work.

Mayonnaise Chicken
yields enough for 2
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp herbs de Provence (an herb blend of marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme, and mint)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sumac powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper, ideally a peppercorn blend that has green peppercorns in it
  • Half a yellow onion, julienned
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into long pieces to serve as a sort of rack for your chicken
  • 1 half chicken, usually found in most grocery stores. You can also use 4 breasts, or 4 thighs, two leg quarters, whatever is available to you
  • 2 cups frozen peas (do not get canned, so help me)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the onion and celery in a little oil, salt and pepper, and arrange the celery sticks on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with the onions. This will be your sort of rack that will allow the fat to drip off your chicken while simultaneously steaming and cooking and adding flavor that you'll want later, I promise. Make a dressing of the spices, vinegar, and mayonnaise. Add your poultry cut of choice and toss about, ensuring that you especially get some of this dressing underneath the skin of the chicken. Arrange on your celery-onion raft and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until the oven is totally hot.

I know it doesn't look great to start, but trust me - it'll transform itself beautifully.
Pop your casserole dish, uncovered, into the oven for 25 minutes and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. When the timer tings, remove the casserole dish and place it on a wooden cutting board or just on your stove. Pour the frozen peas around the chicken, toss them in the lovely juices that have dropped and formed off your chicken with a spoon, and return to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately with couscous, pasta, or some other kind of starchy niceness that you like. I've been on a couscous kick lately, so I encourage you to try it as well. 

I'm sure you've noticed the gorgeous transformation that's taken place. The reason the chicken browns so nicely is because of the fat in the mayo, and it's become quite tender because of the acid. You've got a nicely cooked bird now, too, because hot air and flavorful steam was able to circulate all around, helping it to cook evenly. Salt, acid, fat, and heat, are the four elements of delicious food, as we all now know, thanks to the brilliant chef Samin Nosrat and her Netflix special of the same moniker.





I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! I'm writing a cookbook right now, and I hope you'll let me know if you can follow along easily with my recipes. Please keep touch with me on my instagram, comment below, and follow me on Twitter for requests for recipes! Thanks a million. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

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