For this month’s tribute to Gourmet magazine, I made Chicken with Black-Pepper Maple Sauce from the March 2006 issue. The recipe was adapted from one by the chef Gray Kunz. It involves butterflying a whole chicken by removing the backbone and then cooking it with rosemary in a skillet under another skillet filled with weights. (Two cans of tomatoes work well.) The sauce, made with black peppercorns, maple syrup, chicken broth and cider vinegar is a wonderful sweet, tangy, spicy medley and really makes this dish.
One issue I encountered while making it was that it was difficult to check how done the skin side of the chicken was in order to know when to flip it. As a result, and maybe also because my burner was a bit too hot, I ended up blackening the skin a little more than I would have liked. (To all those who know me well, I avoided a major fit when that happened.) As I often find with stovetop chicken preparation, it was also a bit tough to get the meat to the desired doneness at the same time. I ended up with a chicken that was tender and perfect through the breast and most of the thighs, but slightly underdone in one leg. Despite my struggles, the flavors were complex and worth the effort. Here’s to March and the beginning of spring!
Chicken with Black-Pepper Maple Sauce
Gourmet, March 2006
1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) whole chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 (3-inch-long) sprigs fresh rosemary plus 1 (1-inch-long) sprig
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup dark amber or Grade B maple syrup
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Special equipment: kitchen shears; 2 (10-inch) heavy skillets (one well-seasoned cast-iron or heavy nonstick); a 10-inch round of parchment paper; 5 to 6 lb of weights such as 3 (28-oz) cans of tomatoes
Cut out backbone from chicken with kitchen shears and discard. Pat chicken dry, then spread flat, skin side up, on a cutting board. Cut a 1/2-inch slit on each side of chicken in center of triangle of skin between thighs and breast (near drumstick), then tuck bottom knob of each drumstick through slit. Tuck wing tips under breast. Sprinkle chicken all over with salt and ground pepper.
Heat 3 tablespoons butter in 10-inch cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add chicken, skin side down, and arrange larger rosemary sprigs over chicken. Cover with parchment round and second skillet, then top with weights. Cook chicken until skin is browned, about 15 minutes. Remove and reserve weights, top skillet, parchment, and rosemary, then carefully loosen chicken from skillet with a spatula. Turn chicken over and re-place rosemary sprigs, then re-cover with parchment, skillet, and weights. Cook until chicken is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Make sauce while chicken cooks:
Toast peppercorns in a dry 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board and coarsely crush with a rolling pin. Return peppercorns to saucepan and bring to a simmer with syrup, 1/2 cup broth, and small rosemary sprig, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a platter and loosely cover with foil. Add vinegar to skillet and deglaze, boiling and scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in maple mixture and remaining 1/4 cup broth and boil until slightly syrupy, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce with salt and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Serve chicken with sauce.
See my other Gourmet, Unbound posts:
April 2010, Shrimp Scampi Pasta
February 2010, Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
January 2010, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Pancetta
December 2009, Walnut Spice Cake with Lemon Glaze