Oct 16 2019

Firefly – The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel (Review Part IV)

Ugh, I’m so sad to be coming to the end of this review series! It’s been such a delight to cook my way through this terrific volume, and I’m sad that our journey together ends here. Of course, I’d love to hear if any of you whip up some of the amazing treats in this cookbook, so do comment here or send me a message if you do! And, if you need a refresher, you can always check out Parts I, II and III once more.

So what else is there to say about this superlative book? Aside from being a whip-smart cookbook that extrapolates beautifully from the show and movie to provide a surprising depth and breadth of recipes, Firefly — The Big Damn Cookbook also perfectly captures the voices and tone of the characters as each “contributes” to the volume. The pictures are gorgeous and evocative, even if some of the larger Firefly stills lack the quality of the rest of the photos, an unfortunate aftereffect of the differences in high-definition technology then and now. Overall, however, this is a terrific gift both for the Firefly fan and for anyone who enjoys a quality cookbook.

For our last review column today, we’re going to make something I very much share Shepherd Book’s philosophy on, embracing its versatility and how every culture makes their own version of this delicious dish (recipe lightly edited for format):

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Book’s Street Chicken Skewers

2 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 Tbsp five-spice mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp paprika or spicy pepper

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch and paprika. Cover and let marinate at least 2 hours. At the same time, submerge several bamboo skewers in water to soak.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450°F and set out a baking sheet. Thread the pieces of chicken onto the soaked bamboo skewers and set on the baking sheet. Reserve the marinade. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, pour the marinade liquid into a pan, bring up to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for around 5 minutes. In a separate small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a splash of cold water, stirring until dissolved. Add the cornstarch solution to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for another minute or two, until combined and thick. Remove from heat. When the chicken skewers are finished cooking, either dip them in the sauce or brush the sauce onto the skewers. Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot.

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These were so incredibly delicious, with a really nice mix of sweet and savory on the perfectly cooked thigh meat. I grew up eating satay and these skewers give that traditional dish a run for its money. The five-spice mix was really great for adding to the marinade, tho speaking of marinating, I had so much liquid that I decided to toss in a few more cubed chicken thighs, resulting in enough meat for 8 skewers instead of the 4-6 suggested by the cookbook.

This was a really terrific dish to close out on, and I hope you get a chance to try some of the recipes from this amazing cookbook too! Shameless self-promotion time: I also run a weekly cooking column over at CriminalElement.com, so if you want to see more book-cooking, do join me over there. In the meantime, many thanks to Titan Books for this opportunity!

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