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Roasting without an oven

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Basic point: I am living in Japan for a year, and like most people in Japan I have only a range and a smallish combo toaster/microwave oven. Ranges here do, however, have a rather shallow broiler drawer, in which people broil whole fish, but anything taller than that is going to brush the top.

Okay, so the point is, my favorite way to deal with leftovers, odds and ends in the fridge, and so on is to make poulet en saucisse, i.e. chicken boned out and rolled up around whatever. What I do at home is roast it, make gravy from the juices, a splash of wine, and the stock I've made from the bones and trimmings.

But I can't roast here.

Based on Chinese techniques, I'm thinking of steaming it until done through, drying it in front of a fan, then deep-frying.

Done right, this dish will be spectacular, I'm pretty sure. But I'm much less confident that I can do it right, or even close to it, first time out.

Any suggestions? Anyone ever tried something like this? Anyone have other approaches to cooking this thing without an oven?
post #2 of 14
Why not just pan-fry the roulades, and make, say, a bechemal sauce with additions (i.e., mushrooms, onions, whatever) that suit the filling?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 14
Toaster ovens work quite well for roasting, you can also look for one of the big white rectangular roasters. A crock pot roasts sort of but its a lot more of a moist heat.
post #4 of 14
While it's not an oven, you can do very nicely with a pressure cooker (save time and energy too). Once the chicken rolls have been constructed, sear them in the pot, setting them aside as they become browned on all sides. Then deglaze the pot, insert the cooking rack, put in the chicken and appropriate seasonings, and at least the minimum amount of liquid needed to build pressure. Put the lid into place, bring up to pressure. Start timing now. 5 minutes should do it. Kill the heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally. Carefully remove the lid.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
KYHeirloomer,

I'm not quite clear. Are you suggesting cooking a whole poulet en saucisse in a pan, on the rangetop, or dividing it up and making smaller roulades insead? If you mean the whole chicken, any suggestions for cooking a thing this big effectively in a pan? I'd have thought that the outside would be nearly burned long before the inside was done through.
post #6 of 14
Hi again Chris,

I misread your OP. I see that this a whole, deboned chicken that you will stuff with whatever is availble in the fridge. You could definately also do this in the pressure cooker. Stuff, roll and tie the chicken with string to keep it together. Brown on all sides in the oil of your choice, right in the cooker. Deglaze the pan. Put in a cooking rack, add the liquid you like ... suggestions would be wine, broth, water, beer? etc... lock the lid in place, bring up to full pressure (start timing now), reduce heat to the lowest setting needed to maintain pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Let pressure drop naturally, as this is counted as part of the cooking time. Once it's done through, you can certainly then deep-fry it, however, you might not want to. That sounds to me like guilding the lily. I think once you see it, you'll want to make a sauce with the cooking juices, and just dig right in. :lips:

The purpose of the rack is to suspend the chicken above the liquid, so it is actually 'steam braised', rather than boiled. Just be sure to use at least the minimum amout of thin liquid required for building and maintain pressure. (Re: liquids, please note: kechup, mustard, honey, juice concentrate, and other similarly very thick products are not considered 'liquids' in this application...they will not produce enough steam to build pressure).
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Pressure cookers: why is this necessary? Full-blast steaming in a tall, wide pot gets terrifically hot. Chinese chefs routinely steam whole ducks this way. Am I missing something?

I would have though that after the steaming the thing will be rather limp and sad, with sticky skin, and need a little work before it could be served without embarrassment (unless it's chilled and sliced cold). That's why I was thinking of hanging the thing (it's already fully tied, after all) in front of a fan for an hour or so to dry, then quickly deep-frying at high heat to crisp up the skin. Again, a standard Chinese approach to duck. When I've seen this done with a duck (only done it once, myself), it comes out of the steamer looking really awful, and then turns spectacular only after the drying and frying.
post #8 of 14
Pressure cooking isnt necessary. However, it is a way to save time and energy, and also ensure uniform cooking throughout without the meat becoming dried out. The internal heat of a pressure cooker is much higher than that of any regular pot. Because of this, flavors intensify and are infused more thoroughly through the foods. However, if you have a decent steamer, you certainly may use that instead, increasing the cooking time appropriately. Searing or browning the meat on all sides prior to the steaming process adds desired color and flavor to the skin. Doing this will also enhance the finished appearance, so that all you would really need to do is make a nice sauce with the cooking juices. If deep frying is the final goal, by all means do it. I wouldn't bother with that, but that's just my opinion, for whatever it's worth. :)
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #9 of 14
I spent about 6 mo. in Osaka w/ the same exact kitchen rig you just described. My toaster/microwave actually did a fine job of baking/roasting, the hardest things were thinking in metrics, and reading the buttons on the thing (I'm american and can't read kanji, hiragana, nor katakana).
It's not clear if you're in Japan yet or not, but these seem to be your choices:
1. Give the toaster/micro a whirl. You may be surprised. I was.
2. Bring a rotisserie oven with you. There's only a 10V difference in wall power from the US (if that is where you are) and will work just fine. Appliances there are very expensive and the shipping + cost will actually save you money. You can give it to someone when you go.
3. Befriend a Japanese homeowner w/ a fancy kitchen.
4. Live without and learn some new tricks. Your stuffed chicken will taste sooooo good when you return to your home.
Another thing that you'll want to consider is that you'll be eating in restaurants quite a bit. Believe it or not, being a home cook in Japan can actually be MORE EXPENSIVE than eating out. I kid you not, about 90% of the food there is imported & the prices show it. Of course, the quality is stellar. You'll go to the store and buy, say, a peach, and it's got the most fancy, excessive packaging you can imagine, and find it is the BEST peach you've ever had. It'll be $3 for the peach. Or so. I was there in 2001.
Rumors are inflated. A watermelon is not $75. It is about $25, though, and often square.
The long & short of it is really just see how it is when you get there, if you belong to this forum you likely have some sense of gastronomic adventure. Japan has lots of great stuff for you to eat & drink. There are not hot chili peppers, though. In between contracts I brought back fresh and dried serranos & jalepenos.
RTF
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
That's the plan, yes. Thus my disinclination to acquire roasting equipment, and my hope to get a good line on doing this the way Chinese chefs do.
Well, yes and no. Eating out can indeed be surprisingly inexpensive. These days, though, imported food is generally less expensive than local, unless you're talking about European imports; Chinese, Korean, and so on imports are the cheap route -- and the quality is lower, but still generally higher than at a US supermarket. Local seafood is inexpensive if you look for what's in season. You can indeed get a watermelon for $75, or in fact more, if you want one --- and you can also get one for about $10. Depends what you're looking for.

Much of what you're describing really fits the department store market, where quality is very high -- and the prices match. But there are ways and means, like shopping in the open arcade markets where ordinary older (and thus cooking) folks shop.

Fortunately, I'm in Kyoto, where the restaurateurs all shop at the same market that is nearest to me, and so long as I am willing to deal with things essentially unprepared, or prepared only in the most common ways for Japanese restaurants, I can do just fine. For example, I just made a huge pot of bourride, using seven different kinds of seafood, to serve 8 people. Cost me about $20 US. But one of the reasons to work with things like whole chickens is that you pay less for them if you look, because nobody wants them: since nobody has an oven, nobody roasts, so nobody buys whole chickens. The further result is that the chicken sellers end up with mountains of bones they don't want. As yet, I haven't found a way to convince them to sell me just bones for cheap, but I'm working on it. Same with the pork and beef dealers.
Again, you have to know where to look. You have to figure out where the Korean community shops, and where the Chinese and Indian chefs shop. All of a sudden, all that stuff is available, usually coming in from the Philippines. These days, department stores have them, but you can count on paying about 25 cents per serrano, minimum, and the quality is not so great.
post #11 of 14
Hi Chris,
You should do a little research on Cardboard box ovens, Dutch ovens and Cast iron cookware. My sister teaches these techniques for the boy/girl scouts. We have baked cakes, pies and roasts in cardboard ovens and done quite a few "Trash can" turkeys for “Thanksgiving” in the woods events.


Line a suitable sized box completely with aluminum foil and cut a 1 to 2” hole in one of the upper corners of your “oven” as a vent.


Lay down Aluminum foil to cover the ground about the size of the box. (Grass will die, rocks and concrete won’t.) Do try to pick a level spot!


You could use empty cans as supports so that your roasting pan is about a third of the way off the bottom of the oven. If you fill them with gravel they will provide more stability though.


You can approximate the heat using this formula- one glowing briquette = 25° .

For a 400° oven that is only 16 of Kingsford’s finest. If this isn’t available there use whatever they use and guess as to the volume!


This will provide about 30-40 minutes of 400° heat. You will have to add a few more coals to sustain.


It works remarkably well and the box is barely warm to the touch.


I can’t help you with what the neighbors will think about this though!


Good luck from Wisconsin!
Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
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Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
Reply
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
SGMChef,

That's fantastic -- I'll seriously think about doing this. I am a little afraid my neighbors would freak out, because small old Kyoto neighborhoods like mine are still largely built of wood and they are understandably terrified of fire. But you've given me some ideas that I might be able to implement without such difficulties. Regardless, I had never heard of this, and it's extremely cool and clever. Thanks!
post #13 of 14
Hi Chris,

Glad the insight provided some ideas!

You could always invite a neighbor over to have a baked chicken dinner and show him how it works, then he can spread the word to the worry-warts!

Note- Cold weather doesn't require an increase in coals! Found that out the hard way on a winter camping trip. I burnt the cookies because I thought the cold would rob the heat. It didn't...

If you want to try a Turkey, let me know. That is a different technique.

Good luck!
Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
Reply
Have fun!
SGMChef

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
Reply
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
SGMChef,

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll pass on the turkey, though: you do not want to know what a turkey costs in Kyoto, believe you me. :eek:
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