♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Today on "America's Test Kitchen," Erin shows Julia how to make poulet au vinaigre, Dan explains the science of crispy chicken skin, and Keith makes Bridget tourte aux pommes de terre.
It's all coming up right here on "America's Test Kitchen."
♪♪ -Poulet au vinaigre or chicken in vinegar is a classic example of simple French cooking.
It's from the city of Lyon and often served in bouchons, which are casual restaurants that highlight traditional food.
And today Erin's gonna show us how to make it.
-I am, Julia.
This is a fabulous, rustic French dish, and it consists of chicken, white wine, red wine vinegar, and it's finished with a touch of cream.
-And it's a snap to make.
Okay, so we're gonna start with chicken thighs... -Mm-hmm.
-...because we love how it braises.
And we're starting with eight chicken thighs and each one is about 5 to 7 ounces each and they're bone-in and skin-on.
I have one more chicken thigh to trim, so really want to make sure that you leave enough skin to cover the meat.
-And that's gonna protect the meat as it cooks.
It's gonna baste as the fat renders out of the skin.
But we're gonna sear these, and moisture is not good when you're searing something.
So no matter what you're cooking, you always want it to be as dry as possible.
So now we're gonna season the chicken with salt and pepper.
-So I have 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of pepper.
I'm just gonna season both sides.
Okay, so the chicken's ready to go.
I'm just gonna go wash my hands before we go on to the next step.
Okay, so, Julia, I have 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil heating up in a traditional 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
-So we're ready to start cooking our chicken.
When you use a traditional skillet, you get more fond, and we want that fond.
Fond is, like, the key here.
It's really gonna add a lot of flavor to our sauce.
And if you use a nonstick skillet, it doesn't have as much fond.
-That's right, because the browning sticks to the food, not the pan.
So while this is cooking, I'm gonna come over here and prep my shallot and garlic.
-This is a shallot.
Lop off the ends, cut it in half.
There's a little skin left on there.
-You want to remove that.
Put your fingers on top and then just slowly run your knife through it in many horizontal cuts.
And then I'm gonna turn it, and I'm gonna do perpendicular cuts.
And then you basically just run your knife through it.
Most important thing here is that the shallot is stable.
As I'm holding that with a claw, I'm kind of guiding my knife with my middle knuckle.
-And here we go -- a fine mince.
-Now I'm gonna move on to my garlic.
So two peeled garlic cloves.
-And I'm just gonna lop off the ends.
And now I'm just gonna slice this very thinly.
Again, I'm using the claw.
I'm gripping the garlic, so it's not sliding.
I'm guiding the knife with my knuckle and I just run right through it.
So it's been about eight minutes, and as you can see, the chicken thighs are shrinking.
I'm just gonna flip these over.
And now we're gonna let these cook for another three minutes, and we're gonna get the other side nice and brown.
Okay, so these have been cooking for about three minutes, and we're browning the second side and we're just lightly browning it.
-And...and we're gonna transfer these to a plate.
They're not cooked yet, clearly.
Look at that fond in the bottom of the pan.
-It is beautiful, isn't it?
And that's gonna add serious flavor to any sauce.
-Okay, so now I'm gonna pour off all but 2 tablespoons of chicken fat.
Now we're building our braise base.
Okay, so I'm gonna add our shallots and our sliced garlic, and we're just gonna slowly cook this for about a minute and a half.
We really want to scrape that up as the shallots and garlic soften because you want to incorporate that into our braising liquid.
So you can smell that, right?
-Smells amazing, doesn't it?
Now we're gonna add our liquid, so I'm gonna start with 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of dry white wine.
And if you don't have white wine on hand, you can also use vermouth.
-And then the star of the dish -- red wine vinegar.
-We're using 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar, as I'm just scraping up any last fond that I might have missed earlier.
So we're just bringing this up to a simmer, and I'm gonna add the chicken back to the pan, skin-side up.
If we did it skin-side down, we would just totally lose our nice, crispy, beautiful skin.
So we're gonna put this into a 325-degree oven on the lower middle rack.
The sweet spot that we want to keep this chicken cooking at is between 140, 195.
-And we want it to be in that range for as long as possible.
So that's why we're putting it into a fairly low oven for about 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken temps out at 195.
♪♪ -That smells amazing, Erin.
Alright, so we cooked this for 35 to 40 minutes.
-And it cooked until it reached 195.
-We didn't want to go beyond 195 or else it will start to get dry.
-That's right and fall apart.
But you still managed to keep that crisp crust.
-It's so important, right?
We worked hard for that crust.
Okay, so now I'm taking the chicken out so I can finish the sauce.
Tent that loosely just so it stays warm.
So now to the sauce.
So traditionally the recipe calls for fresh tomatoes.
-But we wanted to add tomato flavor but from the pantry.
-So now I'm gonna add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, like, a sweet-tart flavor and also, like, a blast of umami.
Also it helps to thicken up the sauce ever so slightly.
-Yeah, it does.
And as you can see, there's more fond on the edge of the pan.
You want to scrape that in.
-Looking mighty fine there, Erin.
-Look at that.
So this has been reduced down to a cup and a quarter.
We are ready to finish it.
I'm gonna add 2 tablespoons of butter off heat... -Mm-hmm.
-...and a tablespoon of minced tarragon.
And look at the consistency.
The sauce already has body.
It's good on seasoning, but I'm also gonna give it a splash of vinegar.
So up to a teaspoon of vinegar.
It's just gonna brighten up the flavors of the dish.
What the heck?
I'm gonna add all of it because I can taste with my eyes and I know that it's gonna be perfect.
-You can taste with your eyes.
-I can taste with my eyes.
-I love that phrase.
-Now I'm just gonna pour the sauce around the chicken, and I'm gonna avoid the skin.
And a trick that I can show you is I also like to tip the plate.
So you can also pour it on one side and then tip it so it goes everywhere.
Are you hungry?
Would you like to try some?
-I would love to try some.
-Would you like a thigh or a thigh?
-[ Laughs ] I'll take a thigh...or two.
-They look beautiful.
-I saved a little sauce for our plates.
-This is the easiest dish to pull together, and it's the most gratifying.
-Alright, here we go.
That sauce has so much flavor.
I was worried it was gonna have sort of a harsh bite, but it is mellow and smooth and just has a lovely, complex flavor.
-And the chicken is absolutely tender, juicy, supple.
[ Chuckling ] -Is that good?
-That's really good.
-I mean, this sauce tastes like we literally made, like, a chicken stock, and we reduced it twice.
-I mean, it's -- it's so rich in flavor.
-Oh, and that little hit of vinegar and tarragon at the end.
This, Erin, is lovely.
-So if you want to make this simple but flavorful chicken, brown chicken thighs thoroughly in a 12-inch skillet.
Use a combination of broth, white wine, and red wine vinegar for the braising liquid.
Let the chicken finish cooking in a moderate oven.
From "America's Test Kitchen," a classic Lyonnaise dish -- poulet au vinaigre.
♪♪ This is definitely going into my weekday rotation.
♪♪ -We've all been there.
You roast a chicken to a lovely golden brown, pull it out of the oven, and it looks perfect like this with beautiful, taut skin.
You're so excited to eat.
Then after the chicken rests, it ends up looking like this, where the skin is all wrinkled.
Well, here's what's happening.
The chicken skin right out of the oven is a lot like this balloon.
The skin has stretched and inflated thanks to steam.
And the resting period where it cools down causes it to wrinkle up like this.
We can bring this balloon back to its former glory by removing it from the liquid nitrogen and letting it warm up in the heat of the air.
And the same thing works for our chicken.
Just place the bird back in the oven for a few minutes to heat the exterior.
You'll have beautiful poultry like this every time.
♪♪ -Hey, do you like scalloped potatoes?
Or how about pot pie?
Well, have I got a treat for you.
Today we are making a tourte aux pommes de terre.
It's a potato pie from France, and it might just be the pinnacle of all comfort foods.
And Keith's here.
He's gonna show us how to make this incredible dish at home.
It's really, really decadent.
And like you say, it's comfort food at its finest.
And what it consists of are thinly sliced potatoes and onions that are tossed with heavy cream or crème fraîche, and they're baked in a double-crust pastry shell.
So we are gonna start with our crust today.
-I'm going to start by grating some butter.
I'm gonna grate 4 tablespoons of this butter.
I've left the paper on a stick of butter so I can just kind of measure 4 tablespoons from the end.
And also so I don't grate my fingers on the grater.
So I just have a box grater here.
-And that butter is very cold.
-You can't grate warm butter.
It's not fun.
-So I'm just gonna put this into a bowl.
I want to make sure that this is really, really cold when it goes into the dough.
So I'm gonna put it in the freezer, and I'm gonna leave it there until it's time to use it later.
-Okay, the butter is safely in the freezer, and we can start to put the dough together.
So I have 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour in here, and I'm gonna add a teaspoon of table salt.
And I just want to pulse this really quickly to work that salt into the flour.
-Now I'm gonna take all of our butter -- 16 tablespoons that's been cut in half-inch pieces.
-And this butter is very cold as well.
-It is cold.
So I'm gonna let this run for 40 to 50 seconds.
So what we're looking for is the butter is gonna fully incorporate into that flour, and it's gonna look kind of like a cookie dough.
-It's been about 45 seconds, and you can see that we've worked that butter into the flour completely.
So I'm just gonna break this into large chunks -- about 2-inch pieces.
Just redistribute it around the blade.
Now, for the second part, I'm gonna add 1 cup of all-purpose flour to this.
And now, this flour, when it's mixed with water later on, that's gonna provide the structure for the dough.
So this is gonna be super tender, but the flour and the water mixed together will create gluten and make the structure that we need.
Now, I don't want to work this too far into the dough.
I just want four or five quick pulses just to break up large butter pieces and get the flour mixed together.
So we have some larger pieces in here and some smaller pieces, but that's okay.
We want to make sure that we leave some flour unmixed.
Take this, transfer it over to our bowl.
Now, you can kind of look in here and see.
I have some larger pieces like this.
I can make sure I break those up.
We do want to make sure that we leave enough unmixed flour in there to create structure.
-So I'm gonna go get our grated butter, and we'll mix that in next.
-Okay, so I'll just toss this around, making sure to separate those pieces of flour, breaking up any really large chunks of that flour dough.
We're gonna add 1/2 cup of ice water in total, but I'm gonna do it in two batches to make sure that we get that water really well-incorporated in there.
So I'm gonna start with 1/4 cup.
-I'm just gonna mix this around, kind of push it against the side.
Make sure that I'm getting all that dry flour off the bottom there.
-You're just looking for even hydration after the second batch, right?
Yeah, we want that flour that's not coated with fat to absorb all of this liquid.
This is our second 1/4 cup.
I'm just gonna add this to the dough.
This is our final addition of water.
You can start to see that it looks really wet.
It looks like you've made a mistake at this point.
-But trust the process.
It really will work.
Fold it over, smear it, fold.
This looks great.
It looks wet right now, but it will dry as it sits.
So I'm just gonna divide this in half with my spatula.
And if I can ask you to bring a piece of plastic wrap over here, I'm gonna put half of it here.
Now, there's some ways to shape this to create no fissures around the side.
Really want to bring the sides of the plastic wrap up and kind of smoosh it down as you're bringing it up tightly.
-And you're wanting to get it nice and compact because later on, when you roll it out, if there's a small crack or fissure in there, it turns into a big fault line.
-And you can't come back from that.
So we want to make sure that we have a fissure-free exterior right now.
I'm just gonna finish pulling up the edges here, making sure that we don't have any fissures.
Tuck that in, press this down into a 5-inch circle.
and you can feel this dough right now is quite soft, but it will hydrate as it sits.
So I'm gonna shape the rest of our dough into another 5-inch circle, and I'm gonna put those in the refrigerator after that for at least two hours and up to two days.
♪♪ -On to the filling.
Now, when we tried this, we found some problems with the filling.
Most recipes are putting raw potatoes and onions into the crust and baking it, and then you finish it with a little bit of cream towards the end of baking.
Well, we found that to be really inconsistent.
Sometimes the potatoes didn't soften, the onions didn't soften or you had too much cream or too little cream.
So I have a couple of tricks that we're gonna use to get the perfect texture of this filling.
-The first thing we're gonna do is we're gonna take one onion, take the root end out.
We're gonna slice this up.
I'm gonna take these onions, put it into a bowl.
I'm gonna take 1 1/2 teaspoons of table salt.
I'm gonna toss that with the onions.
The salt is gonna take the moisture out of these onions and soften them.
And so, by the time we put them in the filling, they'll already be pre-softened.
You get this really sweet, subtle onion flavor in the background rather than kind of a cooked-onion flavor.
-It's really nice.
So really toss these well.
I'm just gonna let these soften over here while I prepare our potatoes.
-Now, I have 2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes cut into 8-inch slices.
We really like Yukon gold potatoes here.
They're creamy, they're buttery.
They make a really nice filling.
Now, we're gonna cook our potatoes just a little bit before they go into the filling.
That way, we can ensure that they're properly cooked when they come out.
So I have 4 quarts of water that are boiling over there.
I'm just gonna slide these into the water, and I'm gonna also add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
Stir that in.
Now, that baking soda is gonna start to break down the exterior of those slices of potatoes so they release their starches.
And you can see when we mix it with a cream, those starches will come out and thicken it and make this nice, creamy, cohesive sauce that will coat those potatoes.
So we're gonna bring that up to a boil and cook it for one minute.
We're really not looking to cook the potatoes too, too much.
We just want to give them a little bit of a head start.
Potatoes have been boiling for a minute.
It's time to drain.
Put the potatoes back into the pot, and now I'm going to add our cream.
So I have 1 1/4 cups of cream.
-There's the cream.
-There's the cream.
I have three cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
-And now we're gonna add our softened onions and the juices.
We want to make sure that we capture all of these juices because that is where the salt is.
So I'm gonna bring this up to a simmer over high heat.
Stir this and cook this for about five minutes, and you can see that the starches are gonna come out of those potatoes and thicken that cream... -Mm.
-...and it's gonna have this nice, glossy coating on those potatoes.
It's gonna look fantastic.
Okay, it's been five minutes.
You can see that the cream is thickened.
Those starches have come out of the potato and have coated these potatoes super nicely.
Mm, mm, mm.
-It will continue to cook and reduce and thicken when it gets into the pie.
So I'm just gonna shut this off, and we're gonna let that sit for at least 30 minutes and cool.
We don't want to put that into a pie crust right now because that would melt it and make a mess.
So at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
And while that is happening, we can roll out our pie dough.
Okay, it's been two hours, and all that flour has hydrated, and now it's time to roll out the dough.
So I've already floured the counter really well.
This is a fairly moist dough, and it's okay to flour the counter really well.
I'll just flour the top of it.
So I've had these out for about 10 minutes, softening, to make it a little easier to work with.
-I like to start getting this initial 5 inch down to 9 inches, pressing from the center out, kind of turn it so that I'm only really rolling in one direction.
Once it rolls out to a larger circle, it's a little bit more difficult to roll, but in initial stages, I like to keep turning it.
-What's nice, you can see those pockets of butter in the dough itself.
And as the dough bakes and it melts, the little pockets of butter are going to melt, puff up, release some steam, and you get a nice, flaky crust.
-Okay, now that I have it at this point, I really don't want to mess with it too, too much.
So I'm just kind of taking it from the center, rolling out, backwards, this way.
Looking for a 12-inch circle.
I think that is good.
Now, I just want to do one last turn.
I want to make sure that I get any heavy pockets of flour off the back side here.
I have a 9-inch pie plate and just roll out like that.
Not a big deal.
That's a great thing about this pie dough.
If you don't get it perfectly centered, you can pick it up, work it right in there.
Just like that.
-So I'm just gonna take this and lift it up and kind of push it into the corners.
Make sure that it's well worked into the corners there.
Okay, so I'm gonna roll out the second dough to a 12-inch circle just like this one.
But I'm gonna put that on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
They're both gonna go in the refrigerator for half an hour.
♪♪ -It's time to put this together.
So we have our cooled potato mixture over here.
I'm gonna add 2 tablespoons of parsley.
-Okay, that looks great.
I'm just gonna put this into our pie crust.
Scrape out all that creamy goodness.
Just gonna flatten this out, make sure that we don't have any air pockets in here.
Okay, now for our top crust, I'm gonna take a little pastry tip here.
You can use a paring knife.
I'm just gonna put a 1/2-inch circle in there, and that's gonna allow any steam to come out.
And I just want to go around and check to make sure that I don't have too much excess dough around the edges here.
I'm pinching the bottom to the top.
Now, if I feel like if I have a little bit more than a finger's width, I'll take a little bit of that off because if you have too much dough on the edges, it's hard to cook through and you have this big, doughy mass.
Okay, so now I'm gonna take it.
I'm gonna fold it underneath itself to create that nice lip, and I just fold it back until I can start to see the lip of the pie plate.
-Just like that.
You want to tuck it down into it to kind of seal it, because if you don't, then you'll have potato juices coming out the edges.
-Okay, so now for the crimping, so I usually do this in three passes.
I make kind of a rough crimp around the edges and then I come back and clean it up a little bit.
Now, if your fingers start to stick and that dough heats up a little bit, you can take a little flour, sprinkle it on your fingers and continue to go.
Now, two more passes -- one on the outside, one on the inside.
-I'm actually really digging the amount of detail that you're putting into it.
Pies are a gift.
It should look beautiful.
-Again, always going back to the flour so your fingers don't stick.
Okay, now for the outside part here.
That's when it's all coming together.
One last thing before we bake it.
I just have an egg wash here, and this is gonna help it brown and it's gonna have a nice sheen.
-And what do you use for your egg wash?
-I'm just gonna get into the crimps here with this brush.
Get the outside portion of the crimps.
That looks perfect.
Now it's time to bake.
So we're gonna start at a high temperature here.
We want to get all those insides up to temperature quickly.
So we're gonna start at 450 for 18 to 20 minutes.
And what we're looking for is the top will just start to get golden brown.
♪♪ -It's great.
So this has been about 18 minutes, and you can start to see it's getting some golden-brown color in here, so I'm gonna push it back in.
Now, we want to reduce the oven temperature.
We've gotten that filling warm.
We just want to finish baking it.
I'm gonna reduce it down to 325.
We're gonna let this finish baking 30 to 40 minutes until it's deep golden brown.
Now, if we find that it's getting too dark, especially along the crimps, we can go in there and add a foil shield to protect that.
♪♪ You remember how I talked about the foil shield around here?
I did go in -- because I found it was getting a little bit too dark -- just to put this foil on to make sure that our crust didn't over-brown.
One last thing, I just want to take a paring knife.
Make sure the potatoes are completely tender and they are.
It looks great, doesn't it?
-It looks outstanding.
-Okay, so we're gonna let this cool.
If we slice this right now, the potatoes are gonna go all over the place, so we're gonna let this sit for at least 30 minutes before we cut into it.
-It has been 30 minutes, and it's now time to cut this masterpiece.
Use the tip of the knife.
And I like to score through the crust first rather than trying to go all the way down through the whole thing.
The beauty of this pie is that you can cool it down fully and eat it chilled, warm, room temperature.
It can be eaten many ways.
A small offset spatula works really well here.
-Look at that top pie crust.
It's flaking almost as if it was puff pastry, but it's so much sturdier.
[ Gasps ] -Beautiful.
-It is a gift.
-That looks lovely, doesn't it?
-This is everything in a pie shell -- potatoes, onions.
You can smell it all.
-And you notice that all that cream is held in place by the starch from the potatoes.
It's not all running out.
That's what that is.
-It is so good.
The potatoes are creamy, the cream is creamy, the onions are perfectly soft.
-And the pastry -- it's perfect.
It's holding up to the fillings within, but it's buttery, it's flaky.
This is potato heaven.
-It is potato heaven.
[ Sighs ] As if I couldn't love potatoes any more, and you baked them in a pie.
-[ Laughs ] -Thanks, Keith.
And if you want to make this stupendous potato dish at home, make a sturdy but flaky all-butter pastry, pre-cook the potatoes with a little baking soda, and pour in the cream before assembling the torte.
So from "America's Test Kitchen," the decadent and supremely satisfying tourte aux pommes de terre.
You can get this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with product reviews and select episodes on our website.
♪♪ Alright, I'm back.