Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tarragon Chicken

This is a simplified take on a French dish, poulet a l'estragon, or tarragon chicken, and it can be more, or less  over the top than the original, depending on how hard you want to push it. For example, Nigella Lawson's version calls for a third of a cup of vermouth; I used more to get a more concentrated reduction. I did use her dried tarragon, but won't next time. All it added was a sort of pushback from the sauce that didn't work. Stick with fresh tarragon, it is as flavorful as the dried but better behaved.

As per usual, this is my take on a bunch of similar recipes culled from the internets. I'm no chef, just an old line cook. Use the salt and pepper to season every layer. You know to do this.

You need:

2 chicken breasts
fresh tarragon
a bottle of good dry vermouth
a big shallot
frozen peas
pearl onions
a lemon
2 cups of heavy cream

This is so simple, it isn't even really French cooking, much more like Italian. It's completely ingredients driven, so buy the best.

Mince the shallot.

Mince about 1/4 cup of the tarragon leaves. Keep some unminced leaves aside. You might mince the tarragon leaves at the last moment to keep them as herbacious as possible before you saute them. I do this.

Saute the chicken breasts, set aside covered in foil to keep them warm Undercook them a bit so they don't toughen up as they rest, but don't poison anyone with raw chicken.

Add the minced shallots and tarragon to the pan. Saute them for about 1 minute.

Leave the shallots and tarragon in the pan. Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of vermouth.

Reduce the vermouth by about 80%.

Add two cups of heavy cream to the pan. Reduce to about 1/2 cup, or thickened enough to coat a spoon. If you reduce too far, add some cream. Take the sauce off the heat.

Rough chop the remaining tarragon leaves.

Plate the chicken, and peas. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice to the sauce to brighten it,and stir it in. Sauce the chicken. Sprinkle some of the fresh chopped tarragon over the chicken. Serve with peas and pearl onions, or asparagus, or whatever seasonal vegetable you like.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big Magazines aren't the Problem

I'm getting tired of people saying that outlawing large capacity magazines would somehow make us safer.

I own a 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol just like the one used in the recent Tucson shooting. I use 10 and 15 round mags, because I can drop an empty mag, insert a full one, and start firing again, all in less than 3 seconds. I know this because I have done it over and over again. It's easy, I don't even train. Anyone can do this.

Here's my rig with the 15 round mag:

Smaller mags are actually MORE lethal, because the gun is so unbalanced by the outrageous weight of 33 rounds in the large mags. Use that mag and you will shoot high. If Loughner had used the mags designed for his weapon, he would arguably have killed and wounded more people.

You don't see professional soldiers putting these big mags in their pistols for just this reason.

I do want the 33 round mags to put in my Kel-Tec Sub 2000 carbine though. Its a perfect magazine for that application.

The left have this one wrong. I admire their intent, but they're focused on the wrong thing. The answer is to make it much harder to buy a handgun. I bought a pistol in Idaho simply by showing a drivers license, as if that demonstrated anything about my suitability to have weapons. Insane.

But Idaho is a pretty primitive place, after all.