Look for plump, smooth, glossy pieces of ginger, which would yield the most juice. The blunt edge of a spoon is your best bet for peeling it.
If you opt to make the ginger juice in a vegetable juicer, be sure to cut the peeled ginger pieces across the grain into half-inch slices; lengthwise slices will wind themselves around the juicer's works and can clog the mechanism.
Mashed potatoes and buttery spinach would be good with this chicken.
- For the ginger juice
- 1 pound ginger, peeled
- For the ginger juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- For the chicken
- 4 (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds) boneless chicken breast halves, skin on
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or clarified butter)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ginger juice (recipe available)
- Sugar (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro, for garnish (optional)
For the ginger juice: Chop ginger roughly into 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a food processor and add the lemon juice. Process until reduced to a pulp, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and press with the spatula or a spoon, then squeeze the pulp in your hand to release the juice. (It will make about 2/3 cup juice.)
For the chicken: Season the chicken breasts well with salt.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil or clarified butter. When hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook, undisturbed, until golden, about 5 minutes. Adjust heat to ensure that the chicken cooks briskly but does not over-brown.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Turn the chicken and sprinkle the minced shallots between and around the chicken pieces. Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to avoid burning the shallots.
Uncover the pan. Spoon off and discard all but 1 to 2 teaspoons of the fat, taking care not to remove the shallots. Leaving the chicken in the pan, increase the heat to medium and deglaze the pan with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of water, gently scraping to loosen any caramelized juices.
When the water has evaporated, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of ginger juice and the sugar, if desired. As the mixture begins to simmer, start to baste the chicken pieces with the pan liquid, turning the breasts occasionally to coat them well. Continue basting and turning intermittently until chicken is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes; thick chicken breasts will need 2 to 3 minutes more. (The pan juices will thicken somewhat; if they threaten to cook away completely, add hot water, a tablespoon at a time, as necessary.)
Transfer the chicken to a carving board or plate and let it rest, covered loosely. Remove the pan from the heat. About 2 tablespoons of juices should remain in the pan. If there's more than that, raise the heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. If there is less, don't worry. Stir in the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of ginger juice and any juices from the chicken and adjust the seasonings to taste. Slice the chicken breasts on the bias. Place chicken on warmed plates and drizzle sauce on top. Sprinkle with chopped mint or cilantro, if desired.
Adapted from Edward Schneider, an editor and translator in New York.
Tested by Andy Boltax.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.