Thursday, July 9, 2015

Peachy Five Spice Black Vinegar Chicken Thighs

     Presentation Is Nine Tenths Of The Law!   
     One thing that I have noticed over the years, is that many pictures of economical food recipes that are marketed for the average cook in a home kitchen tend to look like something along the lines of bulk food that is meant to be served in a military mess hall.  There is no style.  There is nothing exciting.  There is only a picture of something like a casserole dish filled with a heaping messy pile of ingredients smothered with canned cream of mushroom soup, cheese and bread crumbs.  
     Modern home cooks are capable of creating much better food than this, so why would a home cook settle for an easy bake recipe that looks like a time capsule from the 1960's?  
      In today's age, home cooks have more cooking knowledge than ever before.  During the last two decades, the media has increasingly focused upon culinary arts.  Periodicals, newspapers, local TV news shows and TV networks all present plenty of culinary information and cooking ideas on a regular basis.  Food topics are in the the entertainment industry spotlight.  The viewing audience is not only entertained by TV food programs and food articles each day, the audience is also learning more about cooking in general.  Viewers are becoming more open minded about accepting new food ideas and learning about the food traditions of other cultures.  

     Because of the media focus upon culinary topics, food items that were once considered to be exotic and hard to find are becoming commonplace.  This media exposure has created consumer interest and demand, so grocers who are in tune with the current times realize the marketing potential and they stock new items on store shelves that have never been marketed before.  Sooner or later, the food items that were once considered to be exotic end up being commonplace.
     Home cooks that are way ahead of the game realize that new exotic food items at grocery stores have always been available at specialty food markets.  Items like Chinkiang Vinegar (Chinese Black Vinegar), Ponzu or Vietnamese Fish Sauce have always been available at Asian food markets.  
     Items that are used in today's chicken recipe were once considered to be exotic items, yet they are becoming commonplace in the western world.  None of the items in this recipe are expensive.  Chinkiang Vinegar sells for a few dollars per bottle and a little bit goes a long way.  Chinese black vinegar is often compared to balsamic vinegar, but the the flavor of black vinegar actually is more complex. 

     Chicken thighs sell for a cheap price, because the demand for white chicken meat is high.  Experienced gourmands tend to like dark chicken meat, because the meat is tender, juicy and it has more flavor.
     A great chicken thigh recipe can be a real crowd pleaser that sells for a modest price at a restaurant and the actual food cost yields an extreme profit percentage!  Since "presentation is nine tenths of the law," tastefully presenting a new chicken thigh creation on a plate is the key to creating consumer interest.  
    The simple café style presentation of the chicken thighs in the pictures above is good enough to inspire home kitchen cooks to take interest in cooking some fusion style chicken thighs.  In this day and age, an Asian fusion style café chicken thigh recipe is far more appealing to home cooks than a boring chicken thigh casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup! 

     *This entire recipe yields 2 lunch entree portions!  (4 chicken thighs)

     Five Spice Black Vinegar Marinated Chicken Thighs:
     Step 1:  Place 3 tablespoons of Chinkiang Vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 2 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground galangal.  (Thai Blue Ginger)  
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir the ingredients.
     Step 2:  Add 4 skinned chicken thighs.
     Toss the chicken thighs with the marinade.
     Place the ingredients in a sealed container.
     Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

     Peachy Five Spice Black Vinegar Chicken Thighs:
     Step 1:  Peal and pit 1 peach.
     Cut 8 thick peach wedges.
     Add the peach wedges to the marinade and chicken.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the 4 marinated chicken thighs on a roasting pan that is brushed with vegetable oil.
     Place 2 of the peach wedges on each chicken thigh.
     Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Roast the chicken, till it is fully cooked and a few caramelized highlights appear.

     Five Spice Black Vinegar Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 2 servings!
     This finishing sauce can be made while the chicken thighs roast.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Chinkiang vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 2 pinches sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Step 2:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Add just enough cornstarch and cold water slurry to thicken the sauce to a thin glace sauce consistency.  (About 1 teaspoon to 1/2 tablespoon.)
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add a splash of hot water if the sauce is too thick.

     This presentation describes 1 plate. 
     Step 1:  Blanch 8 peeled asparagus spears and 7 bias sliced carrot flower shapes in boiling salted water.
     Drain the water off of the vegetables.
     Toss the vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 1 drop of pure sesame oil.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Place 2 Peachy Five Spice Black Vinegar Chicken Thighs on the front half of a plate.
     Fan out the asparagus spears on the back half of the plate.
     Cascade the carrot flowers over the asparagus spear stalks and the plate.
     Step 3:  Spoon the Five Spice Black Vinegar finishing sauce over the chicken thighs and onto the plate.
     No garnish is necessary.
     Serve with steamed white rice on the side.

     Viola!  A tasty nice looking café style chicken thighs entrée.  

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