The cooking site Food 52 has this great section called “Genius Recipes” which is all about killer cooking tips and essential recipes from classic cookbooks that everyone should try. The Genius Recipes column never fails to provide me with just the bit of inspiration I need when I find myself deep in a cooking rut. Way back when, I suggested Paul Bertolli’s recipe for super minimalist and totally silky cauliflower soup (vegan by the way) from his book “Cooking By Hand” which they featured in their column along with a really great write up. If you are a cauliflower hater (and I know a few) this might just be the recipe to begin changing your mind.
Another absolutely genius recipe from this amazing book that I come back to time and again is his recipe for “Boiled Chicken with Vinegar Sauce” which appears in the chapter devoted entirely to balsamic vinegar (no wonder I love this book!). The name of the dish really doesn’t do it justice. A more compelling description might be “a super comforting, moist chicken with a wonderful toasty, tangy gravy”. You make it by simply poaching a whole chicken, then using a few ladles of the flavorful poaching broth to create a sauce along with toasted sourdough bread crumbs and “young” balsamic vinegar (no need for the super expensive aged stuff, since you want a bit of tang and acidity). It’s just the kind of meal my family is in the mood for on a chilly fall evening after a busy afternoon riding bikes and running around outside.
With food as simple as this, it’s all about finding the perfect balance of a few flavors which makes this a great recipe to make with kids. The more kids’ cooking classes we teach, the more I am convinced that at the heart of becoming a good cook is becoming a confident taster (something I’m still working on, too). So this would be a perfect recipe to exercise those tasting muscles: give your young cooks the sauce ingredients (encourage tasting things individually), provide support with measuring/pureeing as needed and then turn it over to them to dial it in until they think they think it’s amazing and delicious, resisting the urge to get in there and meddle — which is of course the hard part.
Poached Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar and Bread Crumb Sauce
- 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 1 stalk of celery, cut in half
- 1 onion, outer skin removed, quartered
- 2 cups of toasted sourdough breadcrumbs (**see directions below)
- 5 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar