29 Mar 2009

Chicken, rose & rice flavour match (TGRWT #16)

Markus at Supernova Condensate has posted the invitation to join in on episode #16 of "They go really well together" (TGRWT). The idea is that foods with one or more flavour compounds in common will taste well in combination; the concept of flavour pairing. This months ingredients are chicken and rose.

I like to keep things rather simple flavourwise so that the flavours are allowed to come forth, the combinations becoming more evident. I've read that risotto is a real challenge, being many a cook's "nightmare". I suppose it's my ignorance that made me try making...

"Approximate-sous-vide" soy sauce marinated chicken breasts with chicken/rose risotto and sweet chilli tomato salsa

The risotto and tomato salsa was based on a modified recipe found at egg.no (English translation). The foodpairing scheme for rose indicates that rose should match well with tomato (strong correlation) and soy sauce (weak correlation), in addition to a weak correlation with chicken. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any asparagus, as this is also indicated to be a good match with rose and might go well with the risotto and chicken. I simply went for green peas and asparagus beans.

Ingredients (four persons)
4 Chicken breast fillets
Soy sauce, sweet + salt

100 ml sweet chilli sauce
2 tomatoes

1 onion, finely chopped
300 ml rice suitable for risotto
1/2 t saffron
2 T white wine vinegar + 50 ml water
1 l chicken stock
3 T butter (had only margarine, unfortunately)
75 ml grated parmesan (actually grana padano)
1 T rose water
basil leaves (garnish)

The chicken fillets was slashed and left in soy sauce to marinate for 8 hours (two fillets with sweet soy sauce and two in salt). The fillets were put in plastic bags and immersed in a pot with water, cooked "approximately-sous-vide" (65-69 °C) for 2 hours. They were fried quickly just before serving.

The salsa was made simply by chopping tomatoes and mixing with the chilli sauce (didn't bother skinning the tomatoes, since much of the umami flavour sits is in the skin and seeds :).

I won't give a detailed description of how the risotto was made. I simply followed a typical risotto procedure found in most standard cookbooks. The rose water was stirred in at the end of the process. I wanted just a hint of rose, and combining saffron and rose might give a distinctive Persian touch to the risotto. At least, that was the idea, and I didn't want the rose to dominate as it easily will if it's not used with care.

I'd say that the chicken vs. rose combination worked well, rather despite than because of the dish as a whole. I felt that several things didn't really work out great:
  • the chicken was good but not great, mostly due to the marinating (it'd probably been better plain than marinated, as my son commented)
  • the risotto was somewhat on the tart side. I guess I should have spent that extra money on white wine rather than using cheap vinegar (or been lighter on the vinegar). Also, I felt it was a little heavy on parmesan
That said, I felt that the rose did not dominate, probably because of the strong parmesan flavour (before adding parmesan, I thought it was heavy on rose, but not afterwards). The rose and chicken blended well together, and still after the meal I could in some way imagine/"visualise" the two flavours lingering together. It's strange, but I can't say the chicken and rose flavour resemble each other, but in some way they're definitely related. However, I really missed the asparagus...

An appropriate Norwegian name for this dish might be "Ros og ris", a phrase for giving feedback/response; "praise & smack".

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