I am a carnivore. I make no apologies, I eat meat proudly.
There was a period of time that I could not eat meat. A few months into my first pregnancy, the act of walking into a grocery store turned me into a hound, complete with a vast network of keen olfactory nerves, all of them finely tuned to one scent; that of blood. Where a hound would have salivated, it turned me wretched from nausea. It was months before I could walk into a store unscathed.
When my appetite for meat returned, it was with a vengeance. I craved bloody rare steak with such ardor that it sent me on a quest for the perfect cut of beef to grill or sear. My search ended when I discovered flat iron steak; a remarkable cut of meat whose tenderness is rivaled only by tenderloin, yet possesses the full-on beefy flavor of sirloin. I ate so much steak at that time that I was sure that my next craving would have been for grass.
Instead, I began reveling in the pleasures of a perfectly roasted chicken: crispy skin, juicy meat, and the liquid gold in the form of chicken caramel that sticks to the bottom of the pan.
There were times when the cravings for chicken and steak were simultaneous and urgent. In those instances, I could only wish that they could be fused together.
Sometimes, wishes do come true.
chicken breast and flat iron steak
potato and toasted almond sand
miso chicken caramel
spring onion sprouts
Cravings aside, chicken and beef that is Maillard cooked form a synergism where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They share many flavor compounds and are both full of umami. When combined, individual umami compounds have a magnifying effect on each other and can increase flavor eightfold. Add to that equation potatoes, onions, and mushrooms, all rich in umami, and you can see why these are classic pairings that have stood the test of time.
McDonalds certainly understands the synergism of potatoes and beef. They have built an empire on their french fries which until 1990 were fried in a mixture of about 7% cottonseed oil and 93% beef tallow. They eventually switched to pure vegetable oil after insurmountable criticism about the amount of cholesterol in their fries. But they weren't about to give up their money maker--now, they add "natural beef flavor" to their oil.
For this dish, fried potatoes are a given, but I've presented them in the form of a sand. Micro cubes of potatoes are double fried--the first time at a 275 degrees F. to cook them through and form a skin, then they are cooled and re-fried at 375 degrees F. until golden and crisp. The addition of crushed, toasted almonds accentuates the texture and flavor.