Friday, July 25, 2014

Contest and Bobby Flay

by Sheila Connolly

No, you do not win Bobby Flay for a day. Hmm, something to think about...

In case you haven’t heard (impossible!), we’re wrapping up both our 5th Anniversary Contest and our individual blog post contests. For today’s individual winner, my alumna-guest from last week, Ellery Adams (Jennifer Stanley), will send you a signed copy of Pecan Pies and Homicides, her most recent Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery, to the lucky winner (drawn at random from those of you who leave a comment today—with email, please!).

We apologize to our wonderful Photo Contest entrants but there's a tiny delay in tabulating the votes because someone (not naming any names) set it up to end at midnight. We promise we'll post them tomorrow!

And now for something that is not a cake! (I adore sugar, but we've had a lot recently.)


Bobby Flay wants me to change the way I cook chicken.

I have to say I’m not one of his biggest fans (although my sister is), but maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up with Southwestern flavors and I’m still not sure how to cook with them (I’ve never liked strong spices—but them, I didn’t like onions at one point, so maybe I can learn). As I’ve no doubt said before, I was raised in the meat/starch/veg tradition, each in its own section of the plate. At least I’ve gotten past that!

Chicken was one of the first things I learned to cook. My mother had a job and would sometimes come home late, so I would be responsible for taking the chicken pieces out of the fridge, seasoning them (Season-All!), putting a dab of butter on each piece, and sticking it in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Hey, I was ten! And we didn’t starve.

I picked up other chicken tips later, mostly from Julia Child. Things like: sear the chicken on high heat, then cook through at lower heat. I admit still have trouble with the timing when I cook a whole chicken (which is why I flatten them often, which distributes the heat better)—it seems like the front end is always done well before the back end. I end up either with dry white meat or pink dark meat (not a good idea!).

So now, in a New York Times article from June 29th, Bobby tells me I’ve been doing in wrong all along. What I should be doing is:

--wash and dry the chicken (already got that part right—if it’s wet, it won’t get crisp). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

--coat the chicken pieces with dry spices and a lot of salt and pepper (S&P I’ve done, but the rest? Not so much.).  Really rub it in! For spices he suggests paprika, ground cumin, ground mustard, and ground fennel seed. Note: this means spices, not herbs, which will get lost in the cooking.

--Put some olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan. Set the pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot and the olive oil is shimmering, place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Keep it as flat as possible (like with a brick! Though maybe you should wrap the brick in foil first…or just use a smaller heavy pan that fits inside your saute pan, as long as you make sure the bottom of the pan is clean). You want as much skin as possible in contact with the pan. And don’t poke at it or peek at the underside during this stage—just leave it be.

Pan on pan!

--Cook—still on medium—until the skin is golden, maybe 8 minutes. Don’t let it burn!

--Turn the chicken pieces over in the pan, then slide the pan (minus the one on top, of course) into the oven, to finish cooking, maybe 12-15 minutes. (No, you don’t try to brown the second side.) Let it rest just a bit before serving.

And that’s it! You can make a sauce of your choice if you want.

So I’ve been doing it wrong all along? Maybe. Scrub that high heat sear—going slower lets the fat render out and makes the skin crisper. Works with either white or dark meat, although you may need to adjust your timing a little, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.

After trying this out, I think Bobby is right. The chicken came out nicely browned, with great flavor, but it was still moist (and thoroughly cooked) inside. My only quibble is that it would be hard to do this with more than a few pieces of chicken, unless you do it in multiple pans (my guess is that Bobby’s kind of spoiled by all those big restaurant ranges!).

Don't forget to leave a comment today (before midnight) with your contact email for the drawing for Ellery's book!

The next Orchard Mystery, coming October 7th!


  1. It looks so yummy! I adore mysteries because I like to figure out who done it. :)

  2. Sounds like a great book and really want to try that chicken .

  3. Love making chicken that way! What a great post!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Yummy recipe and a new mystery to read!

  6. The book sounds wonderful and the recipe looks delicious. I wouldn't mind winning Bobby Flay, even if it were just for one day :)

  7. I love pie and I love mysteries. A match made in heaven.

  8. I suspect that Bobby is also spoiled by having other people to clean up his greasy splatters!!! My (new) wall oven is not self cleaning and says NOT to use oven cleaner on it, just soap and water. That does NOT do the trick so I am very careful at what temp I cook food these days. Still, I may give this recipe a go. The book sounds wonderful; would love to win it. sharonquilts at yahoo dot com.

  9. Love the pie shop series and I've got to try this recipe for my picky teen who really only likes chicken.

    bevarcher AT me DOT com

  10. I love Ellery's books! I enjoy watching Bobby Flay and the chicken recipe looks great. Have to try it some day.

  11. I think it's funny that the picture FB picks up when you share this is of the uncooked chicken pieces. Not the most beautiful picture!
    You might have a discussion with Bobby about washing the chicken. Recent recommendations are to NOT do that for sanitary reasons.
    libbydodd at comast dot net

  12. Book sounds terrific as does the chicken recipe.

  13. I love recipes using cast iron. Love your books too. :-D.

  14. Love the title!

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  15. The chicken recipe looks really good. Thank you! Pies and mysteries....such a good combo. I love them both.

  16. It would be nice to win Bobby Flay for a day to walk us through the recipe! Looks really good. Thanks for all the great giveaways.

  17. Surely do hope I win this book! Love your writing!

  18. I like Bobby Flay----but I'd rather win the book.

  19. Definitely going to try the chicken recipe!

    littleone AT shaw DOT ca

  20. Oh, that sounds a lot easier than how I've been doing chicken! I'll have to give a try!

  21. Well, that looks interesting. It's too hot to cook though!

  22. Nice chicken recipe
    Told a friend

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  23. I coat chicken pieces with a mix of spices and a little olive oil then bake them in the oven. I turn the oven up to 450 for the last 15 minutes of the cooking time and the skin gets nice and crispy. I don't know if this would work with breasts since my family only likes leg quarters.

  24. That recipe looks fantastic!
    kim j

  25. Sounds yummy, I'll have to try this.
    momzillasteel at gmail dot com

  26. Sheila, I agree, that this might be hard to do with a large number of pieces, but it sounds pretty fascinating to try. I would imagine it was a bit of a mess?? Sure looks good, though.

    Daryl / Avery

  27. It looks delicious! I will have to try it.

  28. There's nothin