Frying

 

Pieces of poultry and game can be pan-fried, deep-fried, sautéed or stir-fried. These are all quick-cooking methods so small joints or breasts are the most suitable. The pieces can be fried plain, coated or stuffed.

MAKING SCHNITZELS

Escalopes cut from the breast can be pan-fried plain or coated with seasoned flour. Coating them in egg and breadcrumbs protects the delicate flesh. If you refrigerate them, uncovered, for one hour before pan-frying, the coating will harden to give a crisper result.

1. Season each escalope; dip in flour and beaten egg, then coat in fresh or dried breadcrumbs, pressing them firmly on to the meat.

2. Make criss-cross scores on the escalope with the back of a chef's knife. Heat enough oil and butter in a frying pan to just cover the bottom.

3. When the butter is foaming add the escalope. Cook over a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve.

STUFFING AND FRYING A CHICKEN BREAST

Boneless chicken breasts make perfect pockets for holding stuffings. Butter or soft cheese mixed with crushed garlic and/or herbs is the classic stuffing; chopped mushrooms, garlic and fresh herbs also work well, so too do chopped spinach and ricotta. Take care not to overfill the pocket or it may burst during cooking. The parcels can be fried plain or coated as for schnitzels above.

1. Cut a pocket 3-4 cm deep in the side of the breast, without puncturing the base of the pocket. Fill with stuffing.

2. Secure the opening by threading a soaked wooden cocktail stick through the cut edges of the breast.

3. Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the parcels and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the cocktail sticks before serving.

PAN-FRYING A BREAST OF DUCK

Duck breasts can be "dry-­fried" in their own fat and juices because they are so fatty. For successful results, trim and score the fat first. Begin skin-side down, in a dry pan over a moderate heat, so the fat runs into the pan.

1. Season the duck breast and place skin-side down, in a frying pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, pressing with a palette knife to extract the juices and keep the breast flat.

2. Turn the breast and cook for another 3-5 minutes (duck breast is best medium rare). Remove from the pan and let rest, covered. With the skin-side up and knife at a slant, cut thin diagonal slices.

CHARGRILLING ESCALOPES

One of the simplest ways to fry escalopes is on a ridged cast-iron stovetop grill pan. The ridges on the pan give the meat a striped "chargrilled" effect, which looks most attractive and as if the meat has been barbecued. The escalopes are best simply fried in a good-quality virgin olive oil or a nut oil, or a mixture of oil and butter if you like. Deglazing the pan with balsamic vinegar adds to the flavour and is one of the simplest ways to make an instant sauce.

1. Brush a little olive oil over the pan and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the escalopes and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, turning once. Add 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and stir into the pan juices to make a tasty sauce.

2. Serve the escalopes on a bed of crisp rocket, as shown here, or on other leaves such as baby spinach or oak-leaf lettuce. Spoon the pan juices over the top of the escalopes and salad leaves as a dressing.

SAUTEING PIECES

Sautéing is the technique of turning joints or pieces in a pan over a high heat to seal and brown the skin. Turning prevents the meat from burning on the outside before the inside is properly cooked. Use a good-quality virgin olive oil or a mixture of oil and butter. Duck can be sautéed in its own fat.

In a flameproof casserole or sauté pan, heat about 2 tbsp oil to a high heat. Add the poultry pieces and cook until they begin to brown, turning them frequently with a fork or tongs to ensure they colour evenly. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 25-30 minutes or until done - the juices should run clear.

STIR-FRYING STRIPS OF POULTRY

Cut skinless, boneless breasts of chicken, turkey or duck across the grain into strips. Coat and stir-fry as shown here, then stir-fry vegetables, liquid and flavourings in the wok according to your chosen recipe. Finally return the strips to the wok and toss with the other ingredients.

1. Stir the poultry strips in a mixture of egg white and cornflour until evenly coated. For 250 g chicken use 1 egg white and 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed until smooth.

2. Heat a wok until hot. Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the poultry. Toss over a moderate to high heat for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon.