Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicken & Mash with Moscato d’Asti Leeks

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Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday

The nation’s most fashionable bird’s most unfashionable bit. An overwhelming majority of the people I know do not like the chicken’s dark meat. My lovely, gifted, accomplished wife for one, will not go anywhere near it. I have tried to reason with her. Tried! However, you can lead an exceptional lawyer to the table, but you cannot make her eat. Que Sera, Sera!

Chicken legs are the most flavorful part of the bird. There is no room for debate there. Additionally, they are much more affordable than the white meat. Case in point, today I purchased some free-range organic chicken at my local farmers market. I paid $5.00 lb for chicken breast for the wifey. For myself, I paid $2.00/lb for some wonderful chicken legs. I win…

This dish has two different preparations of chicken. The drumstick is baked in the oven varnished with a tangy Asian glaze. I know I’ve been on an Asian flavor kick. Don’t worry my mind works in cycles. While the thigh, covered in eight secret herbs & spices, is rendered on the pan at medium-high heat, then finished in the oven.

My mashed potatoes are ethereal. I have no problem saying that. Every spoonful is like a silky, luscious, cloud on the palate. I learned this approach from a man who in my opinion is the greatest living chef in the world, Joel Robuchon. It takes some work, however as is the case with most things in life that do; it is well worth it. You will need some kitchen equipment, such as, a potato ricer, a Tamis “drum sieve”, and a whisk. Please never make mashed potato in a food processor; you will be left with a gluey mess.

The last component of the dish is my Moscato d’Asti leeks. Moscato d’Asti from Coppo Moncalvina, an Italian sparkling white, is my favorite wine. You can purchase it online for around $20. These leeks are caramelized on a pan, then I add wine and reduce till dry.  Add the same amount of wine, and cook to a syrupy consistency. This be quite the versatile side dish, so give it a go. PSA – Countless Moscato d’Asti bottles were decimated in the production and consumption of this dish. Hopefully the People for Ethical Treatment of Moscato d’Asti will not come after me?!

Note: You must butcher the chicken legs. Separate the drumstick and thighs. Carefully debone the thigh.

The wifey's Chicken Breast version

Chicken & Mash with Moscato d’Asti Leeks

For the drumsticks:
10 chicken drumsticks
Sea salt & White pepper
Walnut oil

6 tbs organic honey
3 tbs fish sauce
3 tsp Ponzu sauce
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
4 tsp sesame oil

1. Heat the oven to 400 F

2. Season the drumsticks with salt & pepper

3. Arrange on a sheet pan

4. Drizzle with walnut oil

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Mix the glaze ingredients in a glass bowl

7. Take the chicken out of the oven. Pour the glaze over the chicken. Coat well

8. Return the chicken to oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

9. Remove the drumsticks to a RACK to rest

For the Chicken Thighs:
10 chicken thighs
Walnut oil

Spice Rub:
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp all spice
1 ½ sea salt
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp chervil

1. Coat the thighs in walnut oil

2. Season generously with the spice rub

3. Lay the chicken on a cold frying pan. No oil.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high.

5. The chicken slowly renders as the pan heats. 11 minutes total

6. Once the skin is nice a brown, (Not Black), transfer the pan to the oven

7. Cook at 400 F for 8 minutes. Coordinate with the cooking of the drumsticks

8. Remove to a RACK to rest.  SKIN SIDE UP.  Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel

For the Mashed Potatoes:
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes – (peeled)
8 oz heavy cream
8 oz crème cheese
1 vanilla bean – (split)
4 oz Gruyere cheese – (finely grated on Microplane)

1. Fill a pot with water. Bring the water to boil.

2. Reduce to simmer. Add potatoes.

3. Simmer potatoes for 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife

4. Rinse a small sauce pot with water. Do not dry.

5. Add the heavy cream & vanilla bean

6. Bring to a simmer

7. In a large bowl, add the crème cheese. Rice the hot potatoes through a potato ricer, onto the crème cheese

8. Mix well to incorporate

9. Push the potatoes through the drum sieve

10. Return the potatoes to the pot. Over medium heat.

11. Discard the vanilla bean. Slowly pour the cream over the potatoes. While whisking vigorously.

12. Remove for the heat. Stir in the gruyere cheese.

For the Moscato d’Asti Leeks:
3 leeks – (white & light green parts only) – (sliced thin on a mandoline)
2 cups Moscato d’Asti wine
2 tbs butter
Cane sugar

1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter.

2. When the butter begins to foam, add the leeks.

3. Sprinkle with cane sugar. Cook till soft.

4. Drain the leeks of the fat.

5. Return to pan.

6. Add 1 cup of wine. Cook till completely reduced

7. Add 1 cup of wine. Cook till syrupy consistent

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!


  1. I'm a sucker for mashed potatoes...add to that an excellent gruyere...I'll invite myself over. Just don't forget to make dessert ;o)
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  2. Everything sounds wonderful; it made me hungry just reading it!...Your mashed potatoes seem very decadent and fabulous; thanks so much for these recipes...Have a fun weekend.

  3. vanilla bean in mashed potatoes? I should try that! The chicken sounds flavorful. love the combination of sauces you used on the glaze. Im a fan of sesame and ponzu. i have never tried walnut oil. You think peanut oil would be an 'okay' alternative?

  4. Oh I love that dish combination! I can tell the chicken is perfectly cooked from the way the skin detaches itself from the bone, but still moist...and the potatoes are very silky you can see from the way they lay on the plate (what is creme cheese? never heard of it). That is a wonderful dish lazaro, simple enough but yet intricate in flavors and textures! I can just taste the sweetness of the leeks with moscato. Super idea!

  5. hi Lazaro
    what a great job with this dish....I love the Asian glaze on the chicken...what a great rub!!
    and I do prefer the dark much more flavor. Those potatoes must be so very very good, Yukon gold is my personal favorite and then all that wonderful add caramelized leeks and its heaven...
    you are such a truly gifted chef.
    all the best

  6. omg I adore those potatoes and the spice rub cant wait to try both, I do something similar but your ingredients are over the top awesome~ thanks

  7. I'm completely agree with the dark meat being the tastiest part of the chicken!! This recipe is just fantastic and made my mouth water, I will certainly be making those mashed potatoes - thanks for sharing!

  8. I didn't have dark meat for ages because I thought it was super unhealthy, when it turns out it's not that much different nutritionally than white meat. My first time having it I thought it was undercooked because it was so moist, but now if I'm gonna eat chicken, it's going to be dark meat. I don't even eat chicken that often so might as well. And yeah, it's way cheaper so it's an added bonus. :D

    Looks delicious! Is crème cheese different than cream cheese?

  9. Hey Lazaro! I was thinking about you guys today-hope it's not as grossly hot there as it is here. I hate to be one of these people that loves to talk about the weather, but it is so awful here (inspirationally awful)!
    I love dark meat by the way, and this looks wonderful. I'm with Silvia, as I can tell it's cooked quite nicely. Ooh, and I like the spices in the rub too.

  10. every element is flavorful and well taken care of. I love dark meat and chicken thight, good choice! The chicken just looks perfectly crispy. I agree with you that your potato mash looks silky and creamy!

    Is this one of your 7-course meals 'coz I probably need like 3 plates of this! :)

  11. It took a while for my husband to like dark meat - and now he prefers it to the bland chicken breast - I would love to taste your mashed potatoes, they sound awesome

  12. It's a well known fact that lawyers don't like dark meat :) The spice rub sounds divine, though. Will have to try it on some chicken breasts sooon ;)

  13. Wow! As usual, this looks divine! The potato recipe could be used for so many different meals. Thanks!

  14. Now that my friend is what I called a good plate of food! Love the idea of a semi-sweet wine and onions like that! Looks fabulous!

  15. This sounds like an incredible dish all around; like something that I would see on a menu and feel like I just had to order it. Love the recipe for the mashed potatoes, and if you say they are ethereal I don't doubt you for a second. ;) And the leeks... gosh I feel like I could just go on an on... I am saving this to my favorites!!!

  16. Sounds wonderful! The dark meat is my favorite, too -- just so much flavor going on that white meat often lacks.

  17. Now I wish everyday is Saturday! The dish looks terrific!

  18. A lovely meal that I will enjoy very much. I will go for the chicken thigh. I hardly use breast meat to cook.....only on rare occasions. I find it dry and tasteless. In my country, Malaysia, chicken legs are more expensive than the breast meat. When I came to Scotland, I found that it was the other way so I am very happy.

  19. I'm afraid I'm in the camp with your wife on dark meat, although I do eat it from time to time without being forced (maybe just a little). I know it's more moist, etc. etc. Perhaps your beautiful sauce would persuade me, but Joel Robuchon's mashed potatoes with it? Forget not liking dark meat, count me in and pass the plate.

    I think Joel Robuchon is as much a perfectionist as Thomas Keller. That's probably what sets their food apart from the others.

  20. Yum, so delicious. My mind has cooking streaks too... when i discover or rediscover a flavor I love doing variations and playing with it for a while. It makes for great cooking when you are working with something you feel passionately interested in!

  21. Your mashed potatoes look so smooth, and the caramelized leeks sound incredible. I love leeks. The season for wild leeks just ended here, it only lasts a few short weeks.
    Thanks for sharing your secret chicken rub too. Now I don't feel so guilty giving up the secret to my mom's tomato sauce :)

  22. I think this chicken dish is right up there with southern fried. Thanks, Lazaro, for traveling with me to "Mitford". I enjoyed your company!


  23. What a lovely meal! I completely agree -- dark meat has so much flavor! I love all the cheeses in the mash!

  24. this looks so so good- my mouth is watering and I just finished eating.

  25. What an elegant chicken dish! Your chicken sounds so good and I am totally intrigued by the mashed potatoes ... never would have thought about adding vanilla bean and gruyere! Maybe you can make some veggie version of this when you come visit ... mmm! Regarding dark meat chicken ... back when I cooked meat, I used ground dark meat chicken instead of ground beef all the time and most of dishes came out better for it. Ground dark meat chicken is especially good in tacos, mmm!

  26. What a great dish! I love the flavors in the chicken and your mashed potatoes are over the top (never would have guessed vanilla!). I also prefer white meat, but will eat the thighs since I know it really is a much better part of the bird. That was nice you prepared both!

  27. What an awesome recipe. I just love chicken and with the silkiest mashed potato, I can only imagine how good it tasted. If only I could come over for dinner ;-) Beautiful, elegant photos.

  28. This sounds lovely. The vanilla bean in the mashed potatoes is quite surprising! Very creative!

  29. This looks so good! Your mashed potatoes do look ethereal, I think you're allowed to admit it when it's true :) Great work here!

  30. What a wonderful dish Lazaro. Lol at "I win". My hubby likes dark meat and I like white meat just like you and your wife. I actually find that that works out well. I love the combo of ingredients in your glaze. Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe Lazaro.

  31. What??? Not like dark meat? Not me. I will only eat dark meat...chicken AND turkey! And I am going to try that yummy glaze.
    I have seen several chefs make their mashed potatoes with a ricer; they swear by it. Interestingly, my sister claims that if you add cream cheese to your mashed potatoes, you can freeze them and not have to do so much work on Thanksgiving Day. I still haven't tried it. (And doubt I ever will!)

  32. love the mash potatoes and leeks with moscato...excellent..great recipe


  33. I'm a dark meat girl myself and this recipe looks fantastic. I'm going to have to try those mashed potatoes...see if they're as swoonworthy as you claim :P

    I'm working on my Quickies entry!

  34. I also know many people who will not eat the breast meat of the chicken. I'd say there is something to please everyone. So no matter whether you prefer the breast or the thigh it would be absolutely delicious prepared this way.

  35. I'm so intrigued by your ethereal potatoes. I'm going to have to try them. Vanilla bean, hmmm? Can't wait to see how they turn out. I even have chicken legs in the fridge.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  36. We usually make our mashed potatoes with the skin and keep it quite chunky. It must be a midwestern thing! But I like the ingredients in yours and we could easily replace with veganized ingredients. I may have to surprise the family with some ethereal mashed potatoes for a change.

  37. Lazaro, everything looks so yummie, from the chicken to the the ingredients that you have in it...very different and somehow exotic...great pictures as well.

  38. that looks awesome..yummy yumm!!

  39. Wow, Lazaro!! This dish was SO worth the wait. Your "mash" sounds perfectly heavenly. :-) I'm afraid I side with your brilliant wife on this one. :-) Delish!!

  40. I've been having so much fun butchering my own poultry lately, I can hardly contain myself. The savings is incredible!

    I'm not ashamed to admit, I did have to do a bit of brushing up on the recommended how to's. Perhaps a future post for Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday:)

    Thighs have been my favorite discovery. Not only are they IMHO most moist and flavorful, they offer as much to the imagination as does white meat, maybe more. I've stuffed them, rolled them, sweet & soured them, and even used them as a quick addition to pasta. My favorite way to "play" with them is to make Chicken Lollipops. I can not wait to try this recipe. I'm even contemplating making mashed potatoes un-garlicked and I don't un-garlic my mashed for anyone!!! Awesome meal, Lazaro.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  41. Wow, Lazaro, what an incredible meal! I love these different ways you prepare chicken with the delicious glaze and the awesome rub! And of course I make my potatoes the Joel Robuchon way too but you probably could have guessed that :)

  42. I don't ever recall buying parts of a chicken - it just makes so much sense costwise to buy the whole bird (well, I have a fairly large and usually hungry family).

    In my house, when chicken does make it to the table, legs and wings are always the first to go - I usually end up with the breasts *sigh* I agree that dark meat is so much more luscious but have to say that I still prefer the meat from the mid joint of the wing - such a tiny morsel but what flavour and texture!

    The glaze you've done is fantastic! I love it all, especially the inclusion of Ponzu! The spice rub is not however, without considerable charms ;)The potatoes, Yukon Gold, no less, are to die for! Vanilla in the mix is brilliant. Again, you've made me regret that I was not there...

  43. I will take that plate with the red meat... and the vanilla bean on mashed potato??? mmmm thinking about it makes it my favorite already. Ill be right there at your door joining you guys for dinner hahah!

  44. I'll also have to admit I'm one of those dark meat haters! Excellent way to create a meal that pleases you both, and looks great on the same plate!

  45. SAY WHAT?!!??! People don't like the dark meat? *thud*. wtf. sorry... I love the dark meat. I love chicken breast... but come on now... *rants and raves to self*.
    The dishes look phenomenal as usual ;)
    And, though I've always made my mashed po-tah-toes by hand, I'll have to give Monsieur Robuchon's a try. And I MUST try this wine!

  46. Lazaro, I used to feel like your wife does about dark meat but have found that if you cook the thighs or legs very well, they stay moist and flavorful unlike breast meat that tend to get dry and are bland. I think the trick is to cook the dark meat really well so much of the fat dissipates.

    I love moscato d'asti!!! Don't think it would ever get into my leeks though, I'd rather drink it! Am loving the mash, decadent!

  47. Lazaro thats a very creative way to cook chicken,everything looks perfect. Love your way of super creamy mashed potato!

  48. OH YES! Thanks so much! That mashed potato definitely looks like Robuchon's. This is so amazing and you're honestly such a pro. I hope you'll write more, I enjoy reading your posts and seeing the way you present your food.

    1. The post is very informative. It is a pleasure reading it. I have also bookmarked you for checking out new posts


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