Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#214 - Not Thomas Keller Chicken, Chaource & Baguette With '07 Fichet Meursault

We're torn.

On the one hand, Thomas Keller chicken is chicken on crack with stupid-good crispy skin, a pool of juice that could be sold on the street and turn a tidy profit and leg and thigh meat that turns so dark and succulent.

On the other hand, due to the high cooking temperature and longer time in the oven, keeping the breast meat moist (huh-huh - I enjoy lame running gags) has been a delicate balancing act, usually just missing the mark.

So along came the Cook's Illustrated version of simple roasted chicken in this month's issue, cutting the cooking time in half while turning the oven off halfway through to allow the bird to continue cooking but at a gradual and incrementally lower temperature.  Seemed right and proper to keep the breast meat juicy.

So we gave it a go.

Food:  Cook's Illustrated weeknight roasted chicken, Chaource cheese with baguette and a mâche salad

Recipe here.  The result was a much brighter, more Frenchy chicken with juices flowing everywhere (sort of a better version of a French chicken in a pot).  Tons to like here.  An easier recipe, less time in the kitchen and succulent, delicious meat all around while being bright enough to play into a huge range of wines on the more delicate end of the spectrum.  We liked it immensely with caveats.

The crispy skin is gone, now a bit wet and flabby.  The breast meat is over-the-top good, which wasn't something that could be said with TK chicken, usually ending up in weeknight enchiladas.  But the leg and thigh meat were barely distinguishable from the breast meat in terms of flavor and color and the chicken juice doesn't have that dark essence of chicken.  It's less concentrated, therefore more light.  Very good to dip baguette in but missed that TK goodness.

With all that, it's still a great alternative and serves the purpose of roasting a whole chicken and being able to want all of said chicken.  So much juice.

Lincet Chaource cheese and baguette.  The cheese again three weeks past its expiration, this one a touch more firm than last time.  Came off more straightforward this time, showing a medium-deep touch of funk, a nutty component and a bit of August heat wave grass.  Missed the chicken juice background from the last time but this one was probably better, staying well within the realm of the brie style without being all brie-like, offering more of a definition and jostling of flavors.

Mâche salad with a dill-pesto vinaigrette to finish.

We're torn on the chicken recipes but it was interesting to taste a chicken that gives Thomas Keller chicken a run for its money with the added benefit of being much easier to prepare.

Wine:  2007 Jean-Phillipe Fichet Meursault Le Tesson ($60 - WDC)

Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation:  Meursault
Vineyard:  Le Tesson (Mr. Fichet considers this bottling his baby, his premier cru
Vintage (WS): 92  Drink or hold, Precise, pure and elegant, with lively structures if harvested late; at worst unripe if picked early

Pop and pour.  Quizzical nose, not revealing much.  On the palate, pineapple Jarritos, orange creamiscle, white peach cocktail, green apple, a background something that came off like lime salt and oodles of minerals at every stage.  Lovely restraint here in every respect.  From our limited experience with white Burgundy, it falls into a hybrid between a new and old style, showing a profile that comes off like an extrovert while making sure to pull back at the right places.

Medium body, medium length and surprisingly dry along with a surprising lack of floral notes.  The connecting thread is the minerals with proper touches all along the way, keeping it restrained and making the fruit sparkle, though I can't say that the minerals are as chiseled, defined or unveiled yet.  Big personality that nonetheless never needed to be liked.  Thought-provoking with an appealing confidence at its core.  

Probably a top-three white Burgundy we've ever had and should be better in a year or two when its personality settles down a bit, revealing more nooks and crannies in a paced way.  If we were given this one blind alongside the 2006 Fichet Auxey-Duresses, we might prefer the latter, though.  Something about the smoky, ultra-fine mineral notes in that one that appealed to us in spades.

But Jean-Phillipe Fichet wines overall are what took us from a dalliance with white Burgundy to genuine love.  Properly priced, deliciously understated, very precise without coming off technical and entirely driven by minerals.  They taste like they come from someone who really cares.

Pairing:  91  Just a hair from being in the world of great

Best with the Chaource, upping the nutty notes in the cheese while focusing some the minerality in the wine.  Darn good with baguette and chicken juice, good with the breast meat and less so with the leg and thigh.

In the end, it was tasty, juicy chicken with a cheese that's quickly becoming a favorite served with a beautifully put-together wine that will only get better.

That makes for Good Eats.    

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