Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tyler, My Little Chicken Sandwich, Give Me A Bite

Tyler's Ultimate with Tyler Florence
Ultimate Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad and Cranberry Brie Toast
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

To get the recipes:

I like the entire premise of this series. Tyler takes a dish that has several components and shows us how to make each one properly. It's sort of the opposite of Sandra Lee, where each step is a bigger abomination than the one before. He layers more and more flavors into each part of the dish, so that when they come together as a whole, you get an explosion of taste.

That's why for this show, he takes the time to poach the chicken, not just in water, but in a broth of his own making, which will certainly enhance the natural sweetness of the chicken. This is as far from boneless chicken breast as you can get. Note that it's always better to cook chicken on the bone and with the skin and then skim off the fat and remove the skin later on.

Tyler grabs a really big pot. He's adding lots of aromatic vegetables - turnips, celery and carrots, plus sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Now he gets a separate board for the chicken. Don't forget to do that. He looks it over and tells us he likes organic chickens. I don't blame him. He places the chicken in the pot and washes up. I hope that's second nature by now...that the minute you touch a chicken, or any raw meat or fish, you don't touch anything else until you've washed your hands...He fills the pot with water, so that it covers the chicken, then puts it on medium heat and brings it up to a slow simmer.

Onto dessert. Tyler tells us that the Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars are good enough for a bake sale. For the crust, he melts 1/2 stick of butter. He pulverizes "one big brick" of graham crackers in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of sugar, which will make the crust crisp. He adds the melted butter and cinnamon, which adds a great smell and processes until mixed.

Tyler is using a 9" by 9" baking dish and he is very proud of himself for his little truc in lining it. He butters the bottom of the dish and folds two sheets of parchment, so they're 9 inches wide.

He puts one in the pan, leaving the edges to stick straight up. he turns the dish and does the same with the second piece, so now he has "handles" to get the entire thing out of the dish.

I would have greased the top piece of parchment, but he doesn't. He presses the crumbs in with a little glass bowl. Good idea. He bakes the crust for 12 minutes at 325 deg. F to get it nice and crisp. When it comes out of the oven, he sets it aside to cool.

He cuts a really good looking loaf of sourdough bread in thick pieces. He likes the chewy texture and he explains that he's serving the sandwich open-faced like a tuna melt. Ok, now, I get what he's after now, I was wondering what the brie was for.

He toasts the bread at 325 deg. F for 10 minutes.

He places the walnuts in a heavy bottomed pan AFTER he chops them. Hmm, I've never done that before. He toasts them, "There you go...Walnut City."

"I've got a mixer here (as he grabs the food processor.)

"Are you taking notes?" He actually says that...YES I am, Tyler...I am. I'm hanging on your every broad shoulder word.

He adds 16 oz. of room temperature cream cheese to the "mixer" with 2 eggs - broken one-handed, natch, and the zest and juice of 2 lemons. He reminds us not to get the pith as we zest. Lastly, a half cup of sugar goes in and he processes quickly. He pours it into the crust, trying "not to disrupt" it. He sprinkles an entire pint of blueberries on top. Bake at 325 deg. F. for 30 to 35 minutes, until the centers jiggles just a bit.

Back to the chicken, "Pop chicken straight out of broth onto baking pan". Wow that looks good. Thank goodness my Comcast guide is wrong when it says I'm watching Ellie make energy bars.

He gets the bread out of the oven.

Now he's moving on to the dressing for the chicken. He chops 2 stalks of celery in a small dice. I'm noting that there are no trendy knives for him, just a standard LARGE chef's knife. He rolls up parsley into a cigar and chops it to add to the celery. He tells us that lemon juice "is king for fresh salads". That goes in with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. He gives it "a little stir." He adds the beautifully poached chicken. We didn't see him take it off the bone.

He butters the bread and adds a "creamy tangy layer of cranberries." He slices a granny smith apple and puts it on top. Then he puts on the chicken salad. (A LOT). He tops it off with a slice of Brie. He puts the whole enchilada (sorry that's another week) under the broiler.

The lemon cheesecakes thingies come out of the oven. Just as he promised, he grabbed the corners and the whole thing came out beautifully. Did he do that after it cooled? Yes, it seems like he did. So cool it first and then try his fancy trick. He dips the knife in warm water, so it goes "through the cheesecake like buttah." Finally, Tyler dusts it with powdered sugar. I think I might put the whole thing in the freezer before lifting it out of the pan and slicing it, to get really clean cuts.

Our chef uses a spatula to remove the sandwiches to a platter. They're so big, he could have used a shovel. He garnishes each one with a sprig of parsley. (I like REAL men that know their way around a delicate garnish.)

"Enjoy the sweet sound of the Ultimate Chicken Salad." He brings it to his mouth, takes a big bite. CRUNCH!!

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