Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 25, 2020

Chefs are nothing if not creative, but sometimes every cook can get into a rut. And there may be nothing that induces a rut more than your basic roasted chicken. We like what we like. We’ve figured out our perfect technique and favorite ingredients and it’s just an easy go to.

But how about dialing it up a little with a slightly different approach, if not for clients perhaps for yourself? As in a skillet chicken with a finger-licking sauce?

This would certainly work for any piece of chicken–including a whole cut up chicken–but I’m partial to thighs. I love their moistness and flavor.

Since I like to caramelize chicken skin with honey on occasion we start here with honey, along with garlic–such a great pairing. To offset the honey’s sweetness I use anchovies. I have a large tin of salted Sicilian anchovies and they’re perfect to mince with the garlic. Meyer lemons are in season this time of year so clearly they, too, factor in.


Finally, butter. Yeah, butter, browned and foamy and nutty. That pulls it all together.

Making this dish isn’t just a matter of throwing the ingredients together and shoving the pan in the oven to bake for awhile. Nope, you have to hover over the stove to build the flavors.

So, pull out your reliable cast iron skillet and add a tablespoon of unsalted butter. While the butter melts over the heat, season the chicken thighs with a little salt and pepper. Then, with butter sizzling, place the thighs into the skillet to sear, skin side down first, then turned to cook for a few more minutes. Remove, along with most of the pan juices, which you can discard (the juices, not the chicken, of course). Add just a bit more butter to the skillet, scraping up the bits, and gradually the stirred butter foams and browns. To that add the honey, stirring it to get it to dissolve, then the garlic and anchovies. Now don’t make a face. The anchovies are fairly indiscernible in the dish, but create this lovely underlying salty umami.

Once the aroma becomes this side of mouth watering, add the lemon juice. Now you’ve got sweet, salty, and tart in a molten sauce. That’s when you add the chicken back to the pan skin side up and continue cooking, spooning some of that sauce over the chicken to baste. You’ll cover the pan to finish it up before running the skillet under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin.

And that’s it. For the effort, you get tender, juicy chicken bathed in one of the best sauces you’ll ever love. Serve it over rice. Serve it over greens. I chose arugula for the spiciness. Then spoon the sauce over it all and swoon a bit.

Honey Skillet Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemon, Garlic, and Anchovies

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovies, minced
Juice from 1 lemon

Instructions

Preheat your oven to broil.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch oven-proof pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. While the butter melts, season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken thighs, skin side down first, until the skin is crispy. Turn and sear again until golden. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the pan juices. Transfer chicken to a warm plate.

Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan or skillet the chicken was seared in over medium heat, scraping any bits left over in the pan from the chicken with a spatula. Stir the butter and swirl the pan occasionally for about 3 minutes as the butter changes color to golden brown and has a nutty fragrance.

Add the honey and stir it into the butter to dissolve. Then add in the garlic and anchovies. Sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the lemon juice. Stir well to create a well-blended sauce.

Return the chicken thighs skin side up to the pan with the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes uncovered in the sauce, occasionally basting the skin with the pan juices. Reduce heat to simmer, cover the skillet with a lid, and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a thermometer to measure the doneness. It will be fully cooked at 165 degrees F.

Remove the lid and transfer the skillet to your oven to broil for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tops of the chicken are nicely charred. Then remove from oven.

Serve over rice or a plate of arugula. Drizzle sauce over the chicken and rice/arugula.

Have you recently been in a chicken rut? How did you change things up?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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Congratulations! After a lot of hard work, marketing, and great word of mouth you’ve got a full stable of clients to work for. Just as many cook dates as you want and need.

But don’t get too comfy. It’s inevitable that at some point one of those clients is going to have bad news for you. Could be they’re moving out of town. Could be their life circumstances–or finances–have changed. Or could be they just want to make a change. But now you’re down a client and some income.

What are you planning on doing to make up that void?

For some chefs, it might be good timing. They’re ready to slow down the business. For others, it might offer the time and incentive to expand their personal chef umbrella into other areas like teaching, catering, or writing.

But for everyone else there’s that matter of shopping for a new client–or two–to fill the new gap.

The first lesson is never stop marketing yourself. Even when you’re full up with clients. Even when you don’t see any threat to your business. Change always happens and you don’t want to be invisible to your potential client base when it does.

Here are some ideas from current personal chefs:

  • Be up front and ask clients for referrals: “I ask my other clients for referrals,” says Jennifer Grawburg. “I still ask everyone I meet, ‘if you know anyone who needs a private chef…'” adds Ray Lopez.
  • Be out there: “I have monthly on air cooking spots on our local news station. I also have cooking classes I do with the community. I’m always advertising even when I’m full,” Grawburg adds.
  • Be online: Lopez also does internet marketing.
  • Contribute to your community: Lopez donates to sick friends, and church functions. So does Grawburg. “I do a lot of charity promotions throughout the year too. I give to a few that are close to my heart and a few others that are bigger organizations with more attention.”

And consider these:

  • If you and your client are separating on good terms, don’t be shy about asking for referrals.
  • Identify who your ideal client is. A young family? A health and fitness aficionado? A professional couple? Someone who has a specific medical condition? With that knowledge, target those institutions and organizations where they would be. Get involved in an organization directed to helping a specific medical condition. Join a gym where you might find potential clients–or target gyms in your area and offer to hold a cooking demo. Be creative. There’s always an intriguing angle for you to come up with.
  • Do you have favorite reporters or food bloggers in your region? Think up some story ideas for them about food topics or holiday food topics and help that person out by offering these ideas and yourself as a source. In other words, get yourself some publicity!
  • Never leave home without your business card. You never know who you’re going to meet in the course of a day and if you’re open to chatting with those people you could find that they know someone who knows someone…

Finally, no matter the reason for the client separation, make sure it’s on good terms and that you don’t do or say anything that could burn bridges. They may come back!

When was the last time you lost a client? How did you rebound from that?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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Homemade Yogurt

Filed under: Recipes,Special Diets,Special Ingredients , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 10, 2020

Imagine being a New Stone Age human, just starting to engage in food production back around 9,000 B.C. You have sheep and goats that you’ve discovered are tasty (Domesticated cows wouldn’t show up until about 4,000 B.C.). And, their wool keeps you warm. But what really made them appealing is their milk. It’s so nutritious!

Just one problem that many of your clients can relate to. People—not all, but enough—couldn’t digest it easily. Yep, there was lactose intolerance back in the very old days. But by fermenting the milk—as in creating yogurt and cheese—a lot of that lactose morphs into lactic acid, which is much more easily digested.

Today, of course, there are entire walls of supermarkets dedicated to yogurt. And, yeah, it’s so convenient to toss a bunch of containers into your cart. It’s a great, easily transportable snack, transforms into a beautiful sauce or dip, and, yes, is magical when flavored and frozen.

But you haven’t tasted the real deal until you’ve tasted homemade yogurt. That’s because it’s missing all those chemical additives that keeps the processed stuff more time to languish in your fridge. What you have with homemade yogurt is the milk—cow’s, sheep, or goat—along with some culture. That’s it.

The most important element in making yogurt is the quality of the milk. Sure, you can buy milk, even goat milk, at a market but read the labels and you’ll find they’ve been pasteurized to within an inch of their lives. Your task is to dive into relationships with farmers, Local Harvest, and natural health food stores to find out how you can access farm-fresh milk.

The cooking process is then straightforward. First make sure everything—from utensils to the cooking container—is spotlessly clean. You’ll pour the milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it to about 180 degrees, then cool it down to 115 degrees with an ice bath. The milk is then ready to receive the culture that will transform it. Use either a cup of unflavored yogurt or yogurt culture that you sprinkle on the milk. Stir it in well and then place the yogurt in a water bath. If you have an Instant Pot you can use the Yogurt setting. If not, you can use a clean, sanitized ice chest with water that’s 120 degrees. Cover the milk mixture tightly and let it sit in the chest or slow cooker for up to 24 hours. Then you’ll refrigerate the yogurt, aiming for 38 degrees. If the yogurt isn’t as thick as you’d like, turn it into Greek-style yogurt by hanging it in muslin over a bowl to drain the whey (which you should save and use).

At that point you can flavor it if you want and pour it into individual containers. But first taste it. It will taste like no yogurt you’ve ever had—fresh and tangy and clean. You’ll want to eat it all up or, if you have some will power, use it as an ingredient in a sauce.

Two issues to note: Again, make sure everything involved is scrupulously clean, but if for some reason your creation doesn’t smell like yogurt or cheese, don’t eat it. And don’t flavor it until it’s cooked (except the coconut yogurt, to which you can add agave or other sweetener and vanilla bean). Ford explained that the flavorings will deteriorate the yogurt faster than if it is plain.

Sheep, Cow, or Goat Yogurt
Yield: Depending on the species, yields will vary. Sheep and cow milk will yield between ¾ and 7/8 of a gallon. Goat milk will not have as high a yield. If you make Greek-style yogurt, yield will decrease about 50 percent.

Ingredients
1 gallon fresh milk
Yogurt culture or a cup of yogurt

Tools
Stainless Steel Pot
Thermometer
Extra Fine Butter Muslin
Colander
40-quart Ice Chest, or a Slow Cooker, Ricer Cooker, or Instant Pot

Directions
Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot on the stove and bring up to 175 to 180 degrees.

Once milk reaches the correct temperature, cool the milk down to 115 degrees by pouring it into a bowl and place that bowl into an ice bath.

When milk is cooled sprinkle culture on top of milk and let hydrate for a minute or two. If you use yogurt simply stir into the milk. Stir yogurt culture into the milk going both directions and bottom to top to make sure the culture is well mixed, otherwise your yield will go down and it can also result in a grainy texture.

In a clean and sanitized ice chest pour in 120-degree water for your water bath. It should be just enough so that the water line and milk lines are level. Not enough can cause yogurt not to fully develop, while too much will cause pot to float and possibly tip over. Cover the pot of milk tightly with lid or plastic wrap. You can also use individual, sanitized glass jars. Close the lid of the ice chest and let sit for 18-24 hours.

As an alternative you can pour the milk into a slow cooker, rice cooker or Instant Pot and set to low or yogurt setting for 12 hours.

Remove yogurt from ice chest/water bath or electric cooker and refrigerate until fully cooled and set.

Once yogurt is well chilled (38 degrees), you can create a thicker Greek-style yogurt by placing the yogurt in a fine butter muslin and colander and letting the whey drain into a bowl. The more you hang and drain the whey the sour/tart flavor will increase. Save the whey and use in smoothies, blend with fruit for frozen pops, or include in sauces.

Have you ever tried to make homemade yogurt? Did it live up to expectations?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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Personal chef and APPCA member Anne Blankenship

We always say that one of the benefits of being a personal chef is creating your own work parameters. Over the years we’ve had members who chose this profession after exhausting hours spent on restaurant kitchen lines.

Well, chefs over age 40 might want to consider cutting back their work days to three a week, based on the findings in a 2016 Australian study. They found that workers performed better if they were only on the job three days a week, noting that working for more than 25 hours a week resulted in fatigue and stress for most middle-aged participants.

The study, published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series, asked 3,500 women and 3,000 men (aged 40 and over) to complete cognitive tests while their work habits were analyzed, according to HuffPost.

Data for the study was drawn from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, which is conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. It looks at people’s economic and subjective well-being, family structures, and employment. Those taking part were asked to read words aloud, to recite lists of numbers backwards and to match letters and numbers under time pressure.

Researchers found that cognitive performance improved as the working week increased up to 25 hours. After that, performance declined for both men and women. Study subjects who worked 55 hours a week demonstrated cognitive results worse than those who were retired or unemployed.

“Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress which potentially damage cognitive functions,” the report said.

Colin McKenzie, professor of economics at Keio University who took part in the research, said it would appear that working extremely long hours was more damaging than not working at all on brain function.

BBC News, however, interviewed Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, who said: “The research looks only at over-40s, and so cannot make the claim that over-40s are different from any other workers. What the authors find is that cognitive functioning improves up to the point at which workers work 25 hours a week and declines thereafter.”He added: “Actually, at first the decline is very marginal, and there is not much of an effect as working hours rise to 35 hours per week. Beyond 40 hours per week, the decline is much more rapid.”

Some APPCA chefs already have adopted this approach. “I managed my clients so that I had three-day work weeks except for one week each month-that was a four in a row week,” said Dallas-based Anne Blankenship. “Worked great for me.”

Tori Scaccia agrees. “Yes. Worked for me and paid Sous chef very well,” she said.

But that’s not how chef Christina Hamilton Snow sees it. “Not a reality for personal or private chefs,” she said.

Are you over 40? What do you think about this study’s results and recommendation?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

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