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Category Archives: Chicken Recipes

What’s For Dinner?

I used to post a weekly menu every week, sometimes adding menus or comments about what I was cooking. After a while (particularly as I entered the fresh produce-free winter slump) I decided that no ones’ world would be rocked by the revelation that my family was having chili mac on Tuesday or lemon chicken on Friday. So I stopped, and there was barely a ripple.

Last week, at a party, I spoke with a young friend of mine who is newly married and has an avid and charming curiosity about the world in general, and cooking in particular. She asked me why I had stopped writing those weekly menus, and said that she “just liked to know what other people were eating.” Being fairly nosy myself (I look into windows when I am walking the dogs at night to admire bookshelves and shake my head at bad paint choices) I fully understand this. I am therefore restoring the weekly menu feature, starting today.

Saturday

Braised Chicken Breasts with White Wine Sauce; Risotto with Asparagus

I don’t really have recipes for either of these; I sautee chicken breasts in olive oil for about 15 minutes (turning every 5 minutes), then I de-glaze the pan with white wine, return the chicken to the pan, season with salt, pepper and maybe some Tarragon, and add enough chicken stock to cover most of the chicken. I then reduce the heat under the chicken to medium-low and let it cook while I make the risotto (usually like this), about 30 minutes tops. I serve the chicken with the risotto and some pan sauce poured over the top. If I’m feeling thin, I add a little cream to the sauce before serving.

Sunday

Broccoli Cheddar Potatoes and Green Salad

This is simple as can be. Bake big russet potatoes, steam some broccoli, make a cheese sauce (white sauce with shredded sharp cheddar), mix the broccoli into the sauce and serve over baked potatoes. Extra shredded cheese or bacon are lovely flourishes, and leftover ham goes nicely into the mix, although I like to serve this as a vegetarian dinner.

Monday

Chicharrones de Pollo, Green Beans and Rice

I have never made chicharrones before, but I found a recipe in the September 2007 issue of “Gourmet” that has been calling to me. It isn’t on “Gourmet’s” website, but I did find it here. I may play with a little saffron action in the rice, and will serve the green beans steamed with a little lemon, butter and good salt.

Tuesday

Pan-Fried Pierogies and Scalloped Apples

Busy day; frozen pierogies. I’ll just sautee them in a pan with some onions, slice and sautee some apples with some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, and call it good.

Wednesday

Braised Pork Chops with Rosemary; Ditalini with butter and Parmesan and Green Salad

The braised pork chops are prepared much like the braised chicken from Sunday, except that I use Rosemary, and lots of it. I also usually sautee a little garlic in the pan and remove it before starting the pork.

Thursday

Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo and Tortillas (Migas) and Fruit Salad

I have made my own version of Migas many times, but this recipe was in the same issue of “Gourmet” as the Chicharrones de Pollo, and looked pretty fabulous.

Friday

Grilled Burgers, Potato Chips and Fruit

Hey, its a free country. Don’t judge me.

P.S. Is it wrong that I am totally freaked out by the fact that every time the spell-checker finds the word “sautee,” it offers me “suttee” as an alternative?

Cast Your Bread Upon the Chicken

The last night of my recent visit to Florida, we found the only really, truly terrible restaurant in the City of Apalachicola. I will not utter its name (just avoid restaurants with the word “wheel” in their names and you’ll be safe) but I will say that my father and I had the worse fried fish in the history of time, and that we were both incapable of eating it once the heavy breading fell off to reveal not the firm, fresh white Grouper we were expecting, but something grey-ish and slimy and most unappetizing. Honestly, I would have been thrilled to see the Gorton’s Fisherman and/or Mrs. Paul at any point during our meal. They apparently knew enough to eat at home.

The strangest thing about the icky fried fish at the Restaurant-that-Cannot-be-Named was that Southerners are usually so good at breading stuff. They bread and fry everything from chicken to tomatoes, and I would not be at all surprised to be served breaded and fried potatoes or beans. I think breading should stay on fried things, if one is going to eat them; if you end up with an empty sleeve of crust and a tiny, damp piece of protein, you might as well just do the right thing and order it broiled or baked to begin with.

In my own life as a cook, I have stumbled upon a somewhat time consuming, but highly effective method of breading chicken, which I have also applied to pork cutlets and fish (although I skip the pounding step when I make fish). I adapted it from “Cuisine at Home” magazine, and the clipping is so tattered and egg-covered that I am not sure when it was published. Here it is, and may you never serve anyone something as appalling as the Alleged Fried Grouper of Apalachicola.

Crusting Chicken

  1. 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken (whole breast halves are too large; I use two breast halves and cut in half lengthwise)
  2. 2 egg whites
  3. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  4. juice of 1/2 lemon
  5. 1 cup dry, coarse bread crumbs (I like Panko, but also use plain old dried crumbs from a canister).
  6. 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley (or another fresh or dried herb)
  7. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  9. zest of 1 lemon, minced
  10. 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 . Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Trim excess fat from chicken breasts, and pound, one at a time, in a closed, zip-top plastic bag with a bit of water inside to prevent sticking. Pound to about 1/2 inch thickness, and be gentle to avoid creating holes or excessively thin spots.

3. Blend egg whites, cornstarch and lemon juice in a wide, shallow dish and set aside.

4. Combine bread crumbs, parsley, salt and pepper and lemon zest in a second wide shallow dish (I actually use a paper plate).

5. Spray a cooling rack with non-stick spray, and place over paper towels, plastic wrap or waxed paper.

6. One at a time, dip both sides of each chicken piece in the egg mixture, then in the crumb mixture, pressing firmly to coat. Place chicken on rack.

7. Let chicken pieces rest on the rack at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, to set the crust.

8. Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

9. Saute chicken on one side for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

10. Carefully turn chicken with a spatula and put skillet in oven to finish cooking, which should take about 8 minutes.

Once you have mastered this technique, try Parmesan Crusted Chicken or Pecan Crusted Chicken, both of which use the same technique.

Just Because I Love You…

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In the past two days, my son found out that he needed to have 6 teeth extracted as part of an ongoing orthodontia project, and a friend who I dearly love learned that his employment contract would not be renewed for next year. In both cases, I feel tremendous empathy, a desire to smite the wrongdoers (orthodontists and bosses) and a need to FIX these people that I love, and restore them to their pre-trauma glory. Since I can’t really right either situation, and there are limits to the helpfulness of saying “I’m sorry; it will be okay” 500 times a day, I made another plan. I’m making soup. Even if neither of my traumatized loved ones ever eats a bite (although I hope that they will) I am putting such support, encouragement and positive energy into this soup that its mere presence in the universe will begin the healing process.

It happens (I believe due to an act of God) that last night’s dinner was a roasted chicken, rice, and carrots. At the moment, I am making stock from the chicken carcass, using Michael Ruhlman’s method from The Elements of Cooking, which involves cooking the carcass and water over very low heat (not even a simmer) for about 3 hours, skimming frequently and adding aromatics (bay leaf, peppercorn, celery, carrots and onion) only in the last hour. I will then strain it, adjust seasonings, and be ready for the next step.

To this clear, flavorful broth I will add small bits of only the tenderest bits of white meat chicken, with any hint of gristle, vein or skin removed. (If you are curing someone of heartache and fear, you make sure they get the best bites imaginable, every single time). I will also add maybe two cups of cooked rice, and the leftover cooked carrots cut into coins. I’ll taste the soup again, heat it gently to warm all the ingredients (too high would toughen the chicken and turn the rice and carrots to mush) and ladle out full bowls for all available fallen warriors. I can’t fix everything, but I can’t think of a better way to express what’s in my full and sympathetic heart than to pour it into a pot of homemade soup.

P.S. If, like me, you believe in the transference of emotions through cooking (and you are open to a little magical realism) you may want to read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Eggs?

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Last night I played with fire for dinner, and it was so good that I did it again today. I served boneless, skinless chicken breasts and rice with black beans and corn, topped generously with a more picante version of the Roasted Chile Verde Sauce from Isabel Cruz’s first cookbook, Isabel’s Cantina. The sauce is labor-intensive, but absolutely fabulous in terms of flavor, flexibility and healthiness. I made it blow-your-head-off hot, but the original recipe calls for the removal of most of the chiles’ seeds, so it could actually be quite a bit milder. I also had to use winter-pallid plum tomatoes, but I think this will be even better in the summer when I get fresh, locally grown produce.

There was sauce left over, so for lunch today I scrambled eggs with white Mexican cheese and poured the remaining Chile Verde over the top. Honestly, it was so damned good that for a minute I genuinely believed that I could whip up some mole, make some tortillas from scratch, and challenge Rick Bayless to a throw-down.

Restored to my senses, I offer you the recipe for the Chile Verde sauce. As Cruz notes in her book, it would also be good with pork, or simply served with tortilla chips. I’d also like it over burritos, I think. If you are serving it with chicken, try it over grilled or sauteed breasts, or even roast chicken parts. If eggs are your pleasure, try this over a creamy plate of scrambled specimens or atop two fried or over-easy on a heated tortilla.

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Roasted Chile Verde Sauce

(Adapted from Isabels’ Cantina by Isabel Cruz)

Ingredients

  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  3. 5 garlic cloves, minced ( I used big garlic cloves; if you end up with the tiny ones I’d use 6 or 7)
  4. 4 Anaheim chiles, roasted and chopped
  5. 2 Poblano chiles, roasted and chopped
  6. 1 pound tomatillos, roasted and pureed
  7. 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  8. Kosher salt

Preparation

  1. To roast chiles and tomatillos: cook over the flame of a gas grill or other fire source until skin turns black and begins to blister and peel. Place in a brown paper bag and leave for 15-20 minutes. Remove chiles and tomatillos from bag and remove skin with the bag or a paper towel or kitchen towel.
  2. To prepare chiles: Cut off stem ends and split in half lengthwise. (WEAR GLOVES and if you don’t wash hands very thoroughly before touching your eyes or other tender parts of your body). The heat is in the seeds, and Cruz’s original recipe calls for “removing and discarding the seeds,” easily done with a knife blade. If you remove the seeds, the sauce will be flavorful but quite mild. I left all of them in, which made the sauce extremely hot. You could also remove any other percentage of seeds and adjust the heat to your liking. Once you have removed the desired amount of seedage, roughly chop the chiles.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook onions and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add the chiles, tomatillo puree and tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 cup cold water and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes or until thickened, and season with salt. (Note: the original recipe calls for adding 1 cup of water, but I found that at the end of 30 minutes the sauce was still very watery and had to be cooked over higher heat to evaporate some of the excess liquid. In future, I’ll start with the half cup, watch the sauce and add a little more water if it seems to be too chunky).
  5. Serve hot; sauce will keep in the refrigerator for three days.

“As You Like It” Curry

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Last Friday night, I invented a curry-like dish. The plan had been for some sort of Italianate meal involving risotto, chicken, mushrooms and white wine, but since I had used up the mushrooms and white wine the night before, and had several packets of new and intriguing spices that had been waiting patiently since Christmas, I decided to see what I could come up with. Disclaimer: This is not how to make authentic Indian Curry and if that is what you are looking for, there are literally hundreds of other blogs that can give you great recipes. I would hate to think of some trusting type making a batch of this to serve yo prospective in-laws from Delhi. This is to curry as Egg Foo Young is to real Chinese food (I think) but it still tastes complex and rich and wonderful and can be adjusted to suit your family’s tastes and the contents of your kitchen. It also includes protein, starch and a vegetable, and if you add another fruit or vegetable you have a balanced meal. We had ours with sliced citrus on the side, which was a refreshing counterpoint to the heat (literal and figurative) of the curry.

“As You Like It” Curry
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  1. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I think you could also easily use firm tofu, shrimp, pork, or even portobello mushrooms)
  2. 4 shallots or 1 yellow onion, dices
  3. 4 cloves garlic, smashed or diced
  4. Garam Masala (or curry powder, although it will taste different)
  5. Red Pepper Flakes or Cayenne (optional)
  6. Salt
  7. Sugar
  8. 2-3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  9. About 1 cup frozen peas
  10. 1 cup chicken broth
  11. Milk or cream (optional)
  12. 1/4 cup flour
  13. 2 cups Basmati rice
  14. Water

Preparation

  1. Start rice by placing 2 cups Basmati and 3 cups water in a pot that has a lid.
  2. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat and add onions or shallots. Cook for about 4 minutes
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. If there’s any sign of browning garlic, reduce heat immediately.
  4. When rice comes to a boil, reduce heat and cover; set timer for 17 minutes.
  5. Add to pan about 2 tablespoons Garam Masala, 1 teaspoon salt, a pinch of hot pepper and a pinch of sugar, heat and stir for about 1 minute until you smell the spices
  6. Raise heat to medium-high and add chicken breasts.Cook, uncovered for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
  7. (If rice timer goes off during the making of the curry, simply turn it off and leave it covered. It won’t be long).
  8. Check largest breast at thickest point to be sure juices run clear and chicken is done. If it is, remove to cutting board. If not, turn and cook another 5 minutes and check again.
  9. When chicken is cooked through and removed to cutting board, add flour to pan and stir into pan juices, scraping up anything from the bottom of the pan. Cook at least 1-2 minutes to “toast” flour.
  10. Add chicken broth and continue to stir until mixture thickens. Taste and adjust flavorings; if you want more heat, add more red pepper, if you want deeper flavor add more Garam Masala and if its too sharp or bitter add a little more sugar. This is a very personal thing.
  11. When the flavor is “as you like it” add more water or cream or milk (I used milk to get a creamier sauce) until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, but is not gelatinous or like a dip. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in peas.
  12. As the peas cook, slice chicken into strips about 1/4 inch wide. This will be messy since they will be coated with juice and spices, but try to retain as much of that as you can; its where the flavor is.
  13. Add chicken to curry and stir in. Check a pea for doneness, correct seasonings again if needed, and serve over Basmati.

Random Dinner Snapshot: Life Happens

I had planned this interesting, vegetarian, Carribean black bean and rice dish for dinner, but I kept seeing the brave faces of my guys who, two nights ago ate Penne with Vodka Sauce that still tasted a little like vodka (according to the wise claudia, I could have cooked it off over high heat, but I swear that the recipe never indicated that the temperature should be above a “simmer” once the alcohol was added), and last night ate a Moroccan chicken dish with prunes in it and a side of Brussel sprouts. So they have had an inappropriately alcoholic dinner and a fiberama. They need a down-market, anti-haute break.

As if in response to my thoughts, I received an e-mail as part of a recipe exchange in which I’m participating. It required ingredients I had in the house (although I did go out and buy an avocado), cooked in the crock pot in exactly the amount of time I had before dinner, and seemed to be a good combination of tasty and un-exotic. Here it is:

  1. 4-5 boneless chicken breasts
  2. 1(15 1/2 ounce) can black beans
  3. 1 (15 ounce) can corn
  4. 1 (15 ounce) jar salsa, any kind
  5. 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (I used reduced fat)

Take 4-5 frozen, yes, frozen, boneless chicken breasts and put into crock pot.
add 1 can of black beans, drained, 1 jar of salsa, 1 can of corn drained.
Keep in crock pot on high for about 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked.
Add 1 package of cream cheese (just throw it on top!) and let sit for about 1/2 hour.
Shred the chicken with two forks, while still in the crockpot.
Serve in tortillas or dip chips in it. Or, you can just eat it by itself.
Serves 4.

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I chose to serve it with grated cheese and avocado with chips as a bed or a dipping utensil. It was a little runnier than I had expected, and somewhat soup-like; if this is not to your liking, you can remove the lid and cook longer on high heat to reduce some of the liquid. It was also a bit bland for us in its original incarnation, and I added a great deal of hot sauce.

Random Dinner Snapshot: Chicken Paprikas, Buttered Egg Noodles and Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

I am getting close to the halfway point of NaBloPoMo, and so far I’ve only had one day when I really, really didn’t want to write and had to force myself. On the plus side, I’ve plumbed my depths for ideas about food from cookbook selection to memories; on the negative side I have written some lower quality entries than I would in an ordinary month.

I have designated Tuesdays, during this marathon of blogging, as Random Dinner Snapshot days. Today’s dinner was from my brand new BonAppetit Cookbook which I won in a raffle. I made Chicken Paprikas, buttered noodles with poppy seeds, and Roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower with orange.

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The paprikas is a dish with which I am well familiar, having come from a long line of Hungarian cooks. Although the recipe notes (and it is true that) the traditional recipe calls for sour cream and bacon fat, the dish has always been sour cream -free in my family, most likely because the Hungarians of my ancestry were Jewish, and would not have mixed dairy and meat in the same dish. This version is similar to what my grandmother and mother made, although it involves more peppers than I remember. (It still, by virtue of all of the tomato and pepper tastes more Italian than Hungarian to me, but its yummy). Both the paprikas and the roasted vegetables are healthy recipes, and I tossed the egg noodles with Smart Balance and poppy seeds, so this meal is a good choice for anyone watching fat grams and calories.

Chicken Paprikas

(from The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild)

  1. 4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about a 2/3 pound)
  2. All purpose flour
  3. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 red, yellow or green bell peppers, cut into strips
  5. 1/2 medium onion sliced
  6. 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  7. 5 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  8. 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika
  9. 1 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  10. 1 cup chopped, drained Italian plum tomatoes
  11. 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Sprinkle chicken with salt ad pepper. Coat with flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add chicken and sautee until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. transfer chicken to plate. Add bell pepers, onion and garlic to skillet; saute 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add both paprikas and stir 2 minutes. Mix in broth, tomatoes and tomato paste. Return chicken to skillet. Brink liquids to simmer. Cover skillet and simmer gently until chicken is just coked through, about 8 minutes.

Transfer chicken to platter; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce coats spoon thickly, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower with Orange

  1. 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds) cut into 1-inch florets
  2. 1 pound fresh brussel sprouts, or frozen thawed and patted dry (I used fresh)
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 tablespoon grated orange peel (I started my prep work only to discover that someone had eaten the orange I purchased to make this dish, so I subbed lime zest. I guess my version is “with citrus” rather than “with orange”)
  7. 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  8. 1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley
  9. Orange slices for garnish (again, not so much in my version)
  10. Additional chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl; toss to coat. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

P reheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread vegetables on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned and almost tender, stirring once, about 12 minutes. Pour orange juice over. Roast until vegetables are tender and juices evaporate, about 8 minutes longer. Stir in 1/2 cup parsley. transfer to sering dish. Garnish with orange slices and additional parsley and serve.

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