Tuesday, 22 July 2014 | MYT 2:25 PM

Cooking from your bag of tricks

Only a few ingredients are required to make bronzed chicken. - Photo JANE F. RAGAVAN

Only a few ingredients are required to make bronzed chicken. - Photo JANE F. RAGAVAN

Plus a recipe for Cajun spiced bronzed chicken.

Every cook is advised to have a bag of tricks with recipes for simple but impressive dishes that they know are fail-proof and can be whipped up at a moment’s notice.

Knowing how to roast chicken is a good skill to have. Even in a rice-eater’s heaven like Malaysia, a good roast chicken gets most people’s approval and it can be seasoned or marinated in many ways. I often roast the chicken seasoned with a Cajun spice rub for “blackened chicken”.

Although I don’t cook for a large household, I may use a whole chicken, butterfly it and apply the spice rub, then roast it in the oven. It takes no extra effort, and there’s the bonus of having leftover roast chicken which can be used for other dishes. But just get cuts of meat, if you prefer. The chicken can be cooked on the stove just as easily as in the oven, so use this alternative if you are just cooking a few pieces.

Some time ago, I read an article which quoted American chef Paul Prudhomme about “bronzed” chicken. This is what he says about the process:

“My advice to people at home is bronzing rather that blackening. This avoids the smoke and the risk of handling a red-hot skillet while still achieving an excellent result... The coat of this bronzed chicken breast is golden and caramelized from the cooking method. The secret to bronzing is to keep the skillet at the right temperature. The chicken should take six to seven minutes to cook. If it takes much longer, the skillet is not hot enough.”

Whether “blackened” or “bronzed”, this Cajun spiced seasoned chicken is one for your bag of tricks.

Bronzed Chicken Breasts
Makes 2 servings

2-3 tbsp Cajun spice rub (ready-made or homemade, recipe follows)
2 boneless chicken breasts or thighs, about 400g, skin off
1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Spread spice rub on a plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Press chicken into spice rub, coating both sides well. Cover and set aside at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 8 hours.

Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over high heat and add oil. When it is very hot, add the chicken pieces. Immediately turn down heat to medium. Cook until the underside is blackened and the meat does not stick to the pan, about 5 minutes. Cook second side 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.

Cajun/Creole Seasoning/Spice Rub
Makes about ¼ cup

2½ tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

Tags / Keywords: bronzed chicken , Cajun spice


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