Part Science Experiment, Part Dinner

One of my favorite chefs is David Chang.  For some reason I don’t seem to have much luck mastering his recipes though.  And then I started to think…maybe he doesn’t actually want anyone to master his recipe.  What if this is really just a game or cruel joke.  That was my frame of mind when I picked up Chang’s cookbook Momofuku to start the next recipe tagged.

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Last time I used this book I had the misfortune of attempting to make pickled fruit, read about it here.  Luckily my friends don’t hold it against me too much for serving it to them.  This time I had tagged the recipe for Chicken & Egg, which was inspired by the Japanese dish oyako-don.

I started making this dish 4 days before actually having it for dinner… this is not a come home from work and make meal, it takes planning.  And like my title infers, it was very much like a science experiment.

First I took boneless chicken legs, which I was going to debone myself but I ended up finding legs already boneless at MultiFood in Windsor, and I put them in a brine solution of water, sugar and salt.  The chicken sat in the brine inside the refrigerator for 6 hours.

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The next step required a cold smoker, something Chang has at his restaurant.  But he also gives an options with those who do not have access to a cold smoker.  But if I did have a cold smoker I would have had to cold smoke the meat for 45 minutes.

The alternative to those without a cold smoker was to use 2 strips of smoked bacon in this next step.  I preheated my oven to 180 degrees F.  Then I took a oven safe vessel just big enough for the chicken legs to fit snuggly and placed them in the dish.  Since I didn’t cold smoke I wrapped my bacon strips around the chicken pieces.  Then I used a mixture of rendered pork fat (from bacon – I have started to save my bacon grease in the refrigerator) and warmed grapeseed oil to cover the chicken….can you see why this seemed very science experimenty now?  I put the baking dish in the oven for 50 minutes.

what is it??
what is it??

The photo above is straight out of the oven.  The dish was brought to room temperature and then covered and refrigerated several days.  (Chang says you can do this a week or more in advance though…can’t imagine this in my fridge for over a week!)

After 4 days I decided I might as well finish this dish.  The first step was to make slow poached eggs.  Chang’s recipe for slow poached eggs seems like it definitely came right out of the lab for high school science class.  I needed to let eggs sit in a “bath” of 140 degree F water for 45-50 minutes.  The pot needed to be large for some reason or another and the eggs could not sit directly on the bottom of the pot.

is this my kitchen or my high school science lab room?
is this my kitchen or my high school science lab room?

After the bath I cracked each egg into a little dish, tipped the dish to pour out any liquid that wasn’t attached to the rest of the egg and there you have it, a slow poached egg!

tada!
tada!

Back to the chicken…I had to warm the chicken in the dish it originally cooked in, which is was still housed in my refrigerator in a 200 degree F oven until the solid fat liquefied.  As that went down I made quick pickled cucumbers – which was the only part of the recipe which was actually super simple (and spoiler alert – edible).  I thinly sliced a cucumber and mixed it with 1/2 TB of sugar and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.  Gave that a stir and let that sit until the rest of the dish was ready.

surprisingly easy Chang!
surprisingly easy Chang!

Oh also during this time I was making rice…no photos of that but want to let everyone know the multitasking going on here.  Also about this time Cheetoh was starting to wonder when I would ever be done making dinner.

"When is dinner going to be done Mom?"
“When is dinner going to be done Mom?”

When the solids had liquefied from the dish in the oven the chicken was removed, put on a hot skillet and cooked several minutes while be weighted down by another skillet.

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When the chicken was “done” it was sliced, then put on a bed of rice with the pickled cucumbers and the slow poached egg.

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The Verdict:  Nope!  I actually did not eat dinner.  I tasted the chicken and was weird, super salty, extra weird texture and to top it off I am not even sure if it was really cooked all the way.  During this whole production I was texting with my friends Jen and Tash, giving them the play by play (a few screen shots of those texts below).  Tash insisted that I couldn’t give my verdict until I tasted all the elements together, which I did against my better judgment…still not good.

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But the pickled cucumbers were good – so will probably make those again.  And even though it was a really weird way to make eggs I will probably do them again this way for eggs benedict.  And I let me also say, If Dave Chang was actually the one cooking this  I’m sure it would have been super tasty (and edible).  Until next time Momofuku cookbook!

And now for your reading pleasure…here are some of the play by play texts.

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