Monday, November 03, 2008

Asian Chicken and Water Chestnut Patties (Page 376)


  • Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

Now that I have just a bit more time, I am trying to get back on track with my project, rather than only cooking the 15 minutes or less items (truth be told, I was also running out of such items!). The Poultry section is the one I am the most behind on, and this was the quickest recipe left in that section, so I figured it would be a good compromise between trying to save time and trying to make progress in the sections where I need to. This recipe didn't sound so good to me from the start. The first direction was to pulse raw chicken in the food processor until chopped. Mmmm.... food processed chicken. The chicken was then removed from the processor and in its place went water chestnuts, scallions, and jalapeno. These too got chopped up, and then mixed into the chicken along with cilantro and salt. The chopped chicken mixture was them formed into small patties, which I was supposed to thread onto wooden skewers and pan fry until cooked through. Mysteriously enough, my wooden skewers seem to be the one thing the sublettors used up this summer. Who knows what they did with them, but there were two whole packages in the drawer and now they are gone. I don't mind -- they were disposable ones. I can just buy a new package. But since I didn't know they were gone, I didn't buy new ones while I was at the store. Some rummaging through my drawers turned up two skewers, so I skewered some of these patties and not others. From that experience I can tell you: don't skewer. Having them on the skewers only made them more difficult to deal with, and caused them to fall apart. It was much, much easier without the skewers. And since they added no aesthetic value, I say you should just cross the skewers out of the recipe entirely. My real objection didn't have anything to do with the skewers though -- I just didn't like these patties. Part of it was textural. Ground up chicken breast just isn't that good. It took a long time to cook through, and by then the parts toward the exterior were a bit dry. I think the water chestnuts were supposed to add nice textural contrast, but instead they added unwelcome crunch in my ground up chicken. It reminded me of those urban legends people tell where someone bites into a Chicken McNugget and finds a huge tumor, or a human finger. Anyway, the texture freaked me out. The flavor wasn't terrible, but wasn't strong enough to cause me to forgive the texture. My special gentleman liked them a little more than I did -- but even he wasn't too positive.

Here is the recipe.

After a crazy month of travel and work, things feel eerily normal this week. We came back from Indianapolis yesterday morning, which meant that I had almost a whole Sunday in town. It has been more than a month since I have been in Bloomington on a weekend day, and it was great! I grocery shopped, I ran errands, I cooked. It's amazing how much I appreciate those simple things now that I haven't had a chance to do them in so long. This feeling of triumph will be short-lived though. Starting on Friday I will be out of town at least every other night for the next 10 days. I am making several consecutive trips, but returning between each so that I can teach my classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is going to be a little crazy!

In the meantime, I am trying to be productive and get organized so that next week isn't super stressful with all the traveling. At the same time though, I am trying to cut myself some slack and relax as much as possible. It has been a crazy semester so far, and I am only a little more than halfway through. Now that I am not running 4 to 5 days a week, I have a bit of extra time on my hands. I am trying to put most of that time towards getting more work done, but a bit of it towards taking hot baths and sitting on the sofa reading magazines. I haven't done any of that in way too long! And, of course, I am making time to do some real cooking again! It feels good to be back in the kitchen, making things because they sound good rather than just because they are super-quick! Speaking, of, my timer is going off. Time to put my Panna Cotta in the fridge!


Becky LeJeune said...

Do you think you could substitute store bought ground chicken for this recipe? My local store carries it and would save mess and time. Just curious.

Daniel said...

My friend once got a giant Chicken McNugget. He was quite happy about it until he took a bite and found the inside was (not a tumor!) but uncooked.

Teena said...

Becky: Maybe... the difference is that the recipe calls for the chicken to be coarsely chopped in the food processor, which is a very different thing than ground chicken. So the outcome would definitely be different. But it isn't clear to me that it wouldn't be better with the ground chicken. It's worth a try!

Daniel: That's gross. Ick.