In the second episode of the new season of Market to Table, Chef Dan Frenette returns to the St. Lawrence Market to shop and makes succulent crackling skin capon supreme with carrot risotto.
Dan writes: “Who doesn’t love the word crispy? Or better yet, crispy skin? Rotisserie chicken was the perfect way to eat poultry for me until I discovered the technique of crackling skin on chicken (and capon). Not only does the skin get perfectly crispy, all the juices have nowhere to go with the breast skin-side down. Perfectly cooked skin and meat every time, that’s a win-win all day. Plate it up with some creamy risotto and that’s borderline heavenly. I used to be intimidated by risotto until a chef I worked with said: “It’s just f*ing rice–cook the damn thing!” He then showed me the proper way to make it and I haven’t looked back since. I don’t think I mastered it fully, though, until I met Adrian Niman at The Food Dudes, who taught me about combining a purée with the rice to create a silkier and more flavourful result. Now it just seems like second nature to add it.”
For our main ingredient, we head back to what the National Geographic describes as “The World’s Number One Market” and visit Arnel Asube at Upper Cut Meats, Dan’s favourite butcher. We’ve decided on capon rather than chicken for the show. Capons are castrated roosters and have more body fat than a typical chicken, which makes for a more moist and tender meat. In professional cookery terms a chicken supreme, or suprême de volaille if you want to be really posh, is used to describe a boneless breast of chicken, with the humerus bone of the wing attached.
Urban Fresh Produce, where Anthony Pronesti and his partner now rule over bounteous displays of organic veggies, is our next stop. Anthony produces a lovely surprise, with fleshy bright pink oyster mushrooms from a small farm in the Niagara district.
Our final stop is Rube’s Rice. Rube was the oldest merchant in the market and sadly is no longer with us, but the new owners keep the stall in the basement going just as he left it. “Splendid,” he would have said. Bie Engelen has ridden her bike over from her Toronto Island home for the interview and gives us the rundown on the best rice for risotto, among dozens of varieties they sell.
By our second show, Dan is really cooking (excuse the pun!). All nerves evidenced in the first taping have evaporated and he looks like he’s been hosting television shows for years. He promises the best crackling skin ever and delivers on that promise, at least based on the speed with which the food disappears after the taping is over and when we let the crew eat all the food he’s prepared. As a joke on the first season, we filmed the crew chowing down and ran the footage behind the credits. We’ve done the same thing again and I’m glad we did as it shows the fun we were all having making the show and eating the great grub.
I’ve personally always been scared of making risotto. As Dan says on the show, if you go too far you end up with rice pudding. But here he shows how and really it’s nothing to be afraid of and makes a tasty starch to go with the protein, or a meal on its own. Dan’s inventive mind came up with carrot risotto and it is wonderful. As well he has a grand touch with plating and makes each presentation a work of art, as you will see.
Watch the show on Bell Fibe TV1 on cable, and on YouTube. The advantage of watching it on television (if you have Bell Fibe cable, of course) is that you get the full benefit of the amazing new ultra-high definition 4K technology we used to tape the series – four times better picture resolution than the old HD – which makes the food look good enough to eat through the screen. Sorry you couldn’t have been there for the taping and sampling. You’ll just have to make the dish yourself from Dan’s easy to follow recipe below.
CRACKLING SKIN CAPON WITH CARROT RISOTTO
- 2 pcs capon supreme (a deboned breast with a truncated wing)
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 lb orange heirloom carrots
- 1 lb purple heirloom carrots
- 1 white onion
- 1 L chicken stock
- ½ cup white wine
- 6 cloves garlic
- 250 g Pecorino cheese
- ½ lb pink oyster mushrooms
- 4 large Swiss chard leaves
- Micro greens
- Flower petals (optional)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ lb butter
- 1 whole lemon
- 2 TBSP kosher or sea salt
- 1 TBSP ground black pepper
Preparation and cooking
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / 430°F (very hot).
- Chop the orange carrots and simmer in the chicken stock, until it begins to reduce and the carrots are tender.
- Strain the carrots and blend them in a food processor until you have a purée.
- Dice the remaining ingredients: garlic, onion, purple carrots and cheese. Zest the whole lemon. Set them aside
- Season the capon. Put a cast iron pan on high heat.
- Sear the supremes, skin side down, for 2 mins and then put the pan and breasts in the oven uncovered.
- Cook for approx. 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 75°C / 165°F, then remove to a board and let the breasts rest for at least 10 minutes.
- While the capon is cooking, sauté all the diced veg in oil until onions are translucent. Deglaze with white wine and reduce until almost dry then add the rice. Pan fry the rice until it begins to change colour. Slowly add the stock until the rice begins to cook. Don’t add too much or you will have rice pudding. Pour the carrot purée into the rice and season. Finish with butter and cheese and let it stand.
- Blanch the Swiss chard leaves, then flash fry them briefly.
- Cut the stalk from the oyster mushrooms, then tear them gently apart and sautée in butter.
- Set one chard leaf on each plate. Using a cookie cutter or other deep ring, fill it with risotto. When it is about an inch high, carefully lift the ring off leaving a perfect circle of risotto on the leaf.
- Slice the breasts (reserving the wing bones for the chef), allowing about two or three slices per person. Place them on top of the risotto.
- Scatter the mushrooms around the plate and add micro greens for some sexy garnish.
NEWS UPDATE: My fully illustrated e-book, Market to Table: The Cookbook started as a project for novice cooks, but after I was picked to host a cooking show featuring food bought at farmers’ markets, developed into a more complete collection of the recipes from the series, including some from guest chefs on the show, as well as those from my well-read foodie blog. It is easy to read, divided into chapters that cover the main mealtimes of the day, and into recipes that are concise and guaranteed to work. Most recipes are accompanied by an entertaining story. Brilliant young Chef Dan Frenette, who now hosts the TV series, has written the Foreword and contributes to the book.
Categories: Market to Table