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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pan Roasting: The Kitchen's Unsung Hero

Pan Roasted Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Glazed Carrots
The primary difference between the home cook and the professional chef is technique, whether that is the ability to dice an onion in seconds flat or whip up a hollandaise sauce that doesn’t collapse. It is not just those techniques that elevate the ordinary to extraordinary, but those that save time. After all, when one has to make meals for several hundred restaurant guests in an evening, the ability to get stuff prepped quickly and efficiently is critical.

There are certain cooking techniques that chefs use time and time again to maximizes favor in a minimum amount of time. One of these, which every professional chef learns in culinary school, and one which is rarely, if ever mentioned in cook books, is pan roasting. Pan roasting combines the searing heat of the pan, with the convective moist heat of the oven. The technique is also quite easy and yields a wonderful meal in a short period of time. 

So, let’s get started with this simple step-by-step process.

Start with a heavy skillet or sauté pan that retains heat well and can go into the oven (Al-Clad or cast iron).

Next, get a piece of quality meat or poultry, well-salted and peppered at room temperature. Don't forget to pat it dry with paper towels because poultry and meat will not brown well otherwise. (I like to use chicken legs and thighs with the skin or a t-bone. If you are using pork, then get bone-in chops. In fact, anything with skin and bone works well with pan roasting.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Now, take about one or two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter and place in the pan at medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and just before the oil-butter begins to smoke, place the poultry or meat in the pan until good and browned—skin-down for the poultry. (You can get a real good brown sear if you lightly dust beef or pork in flour.) 

Next, place the pan in the oven and baste periodically. This is especially important if you are pan roasting poultry. Depending on what you are cooking and how you prefer the temperature of red meant (e.g., rare or medium), this process can take anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes, so you’ll just have to watch.

Now here comes the fun part, and the part that will really wow your dinner guests: the pan sauce!

When you take the pan out of the oven (please use a towel or pot-holder because that handle will be hot) remove the poultry or meat and set aside on a plate. Place some aromatic herbs (thyme, rosemary, or sage) and a couple of crushed garlic cloves into the pan. I like to use thyme or rosemary for chicken and sage for pork. Now deglaze the pan using about a half to two-thirds of a cup of wine, vermouth, or verjus and scrap up the brown bits (the fond). 

Once the whole thing has been reduced to about ⅔ its original volume, add about two or three tablespoons of unsalted butter and stir until thickened. Spoon on top of the poultry or meat immediately.

Voila! A quick yummy meal that is guaranteed to impress your guests….or your date!

By the way: don't forget to turn off the oven! I always forget!

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