Monday, February 8, 2010

Another winner from Chef Keller: Chicken Mar Y Muntanya

I think I'm in love... with a cookbook.

It's rare that my husband raves about a chicken dish. We like chicken, but it seldom gets the comment, "This is one of the best dinners you've ever made." Saturday night, I once again turned to Chef Keller's ad Hoc at Home and my husband sang the chef's praises throughout the meal. He's even looking forward to leftovers tonight!

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Full of big Spanish flavors, this is a great winter meal - it'd be a sure winner for a dinner party. I stuck pretty close to Keller's recipe. I couldn't get Piment d'Espelette in time, so I used a little cayenne and a little smoked paprika. I also left out the mussels since my husband is allergic to them. I did have piquillo peppers (go figure!), but a roasted red pepper would make a fine substitution. You could also add lobster, clams or veggies other than green beans and it would taste great.

My one caution (which I rarely heed myself) is read the recipe all the way through before you start. Brining the chicken gives it amazing flavor and keeps it deliciously moist, but you need to do some advance work to make the brine, cool it and then soak the chicken for 12 hours. I halved the rice recipe, but with all the leftover chicken, I may need to make some more. Also, my chicken took longer to cook - it was a little bigger than 4 pounds, so just be sure you cook it thru!

Note well: For some of teh Spanish ingredients, look on La Tienda. Piment d'Espelette can be found on amazon. And my all-time favorite chorizo is d'Artagnan.

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Chicken Mar i Muntanya
with shrimp, mussels, green beans, piquillo peppers, and chorizo
From Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller
  • One 4-pound chicken
  • 1/2 recipe Chicken brine (see below), cold
  • 12 extra-large shrimp (12-15 count), shells on
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Piment d'Espelette
  • Canola oil
  • Saffron rice (see below), warm
  • 4 piquillo peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1 cup thin green beans (haricots verts), blanched
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, warm
  • 1 Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 18 small mussels, preferably Bouchot or PEI (I didn't add these, but feel free!)
  • Flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Fleur de Sel 
Cut the chicken into 10 pieces. Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken, add the chicken, and refrigerate for about 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty).

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air dry. Set aside.

Without removing the shells, using a small pair of scissors or a paring knife, make a shallow cut down the back of each shrimp from head to tail. Gently open up the shrimp and, with your fingers or the paring knife, remove the vein. Rinse the shrimp under cold water.

Combine 4 cups water and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salt in a medium bowl and stir to dissolve the salt. Add the shrimp to the brine and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse, and drain on paper towels.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Espelette. Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dark meat skin-side-down, lower the head to medium-low, and cook until the skin is a rich golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. (If you turn the chicken too early, more moisture will be released from the meat and you will not get the crisp caramelized surface you are looking for.) Turn the pieces and brown for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the second side. Remove from the heat, transfer the dark meat to a plate, and set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil as needed. Add the breasts skinside-down and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove from the heat.

Spread the rice in the bottom of a large heatproof serving dish or baking dish. Arrange half the piquillos and half the green beans over the rice. Tuck the dark meat and the breasts into the rice, pour the stock over the ingredients, and put the dish in the oven.

Heat some oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the mussels in one layer. Add the chorizo and cook until browned and crisp on the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a plate and pour off the excess fat, leaving just a coating in the pan. Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté until just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the wine to the pan, bring to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the mussels, cover the pan, and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the chorizo, shrimp, and mussels in the baking dish; set aside in a warm spot.

Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining peppers and green beans, and heat through. Arrange them over the chicken and shellfish, garnish with parsley leaves, and sprinkle with fleur de sel.


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Chicken Brine
  • 5 lemons, halved
  • 24 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
  • ½ cup clover honey
  • 1 head garlic, halved through the equator
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
  • 2 gallons water
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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Saffron Rice
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion (cut just smaller than a grain of cooked rice)
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 cups (about 14 ounces) short-grain rice, preferably Calasparra
  • 2 ¾ to 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and season with a sprinkling of salt. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the saffron. Reduce the heat to very low, and cook for another 2 minutes; do not brown the onions and saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, to toast the rice for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add 2 ½ cups of the stock, stir once, scraping the sides of the pan if necessary, and cover with a parchment lid (see page 120). Bring the stock to a simmer and simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 8 minutes, until most of the stock has been absorbed. The rice will still be firm. Gently stir the rice, scraping it up from the bottom, and reduce the heat to very low. Add an additional ¼ cup of stock, cover with the lid, increase the heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the stock is absorbed. Taste the rice and, if necessary, continue cooking, adding up to ¾ cup more stock ¼ cup at a time, as necessary, until the rice is almost tender and the final addition of liquid is almost absorbed. Turn the heat to low to allow the rice to absorb the remaining liquid, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and serve hot.


Anonymous said...

beautiful photos...the colours are fantastic...this dish looks delicious and well worth the effort!

Gabriella said...

Dear Ladyberd, your chicken mar y muntanya looks fantastic! I think it is so cool that you made something from Chef Kellers book! OMG! Incredible presentation. Loved your site, very professional. Photos were crisp and clear. Recipes concise and easy to read. I shall be back for a bite of more.
Thank you for sharing.
Cheers, Gaby
You can visit me at

ladyberd said...

Gabrielle, Chef Keller's recipes can be intimidating - I have the French Laundry and those recipes are challenging, but ad Hoc is much more approachable. I highly recommend it to cooks of all skill levels. thanks for your comment!

Jacktels Kochbuch said...

Hi Ladyberd,

can sign only with Gabrielle.
Posting superlative

Cooking Rookie said...

Great dish - thanks for sharing!

CRBSR said...

How long do you cook in the oven?

Dutch Fielder said...

Hi There. I am assembling all the ingredients for the amazing Chicken Mar Y Muntanya (I know, I know, old thread. .. but how can I pass up something that beautiful?) I have a couple of questions though: As CRBSR asked "How long do you cook in the oven?" and my own query; what stock and how much are you refering to on the line before that?
Great blog, wonderful recipes and amazing photos!! Thankyou for sharing your talents with us.

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