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Archive for the ‘chicken breasts’ Category

Halloween has passed us by, leaving candy-jaded palates and shriveled up old jack-o-lanterns by the wayside. After one week, our jack-o-lantern, which sat atop a lamppost covered with a sheet, looked as if he had sucked on a lemon. His face had turned in on itself and he was relegated to the trash pronto. My remaining stash of candy will follow post-haste.

However, we still see pumpkins and other squash varieties in the markets and the thought of the warm, earthy, delicious taste of these vegetables whets my appetite. We made pumpkin french toast and it was delicious. No special recipe needed – for four servings, just add a half-cup or so of canned pumpkin puree to your egg and milk mixture along with 1/3 cup sugar and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg) and cook as you normally would. I plan to fix a pumpkin soup later this week and will provide the recipe when I do. Pumpkin pancakes will be on our breakfast menu this weekend, served with real maple syrup, not the fake stuff.

I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter. I will peel, cube and roast it next week as a side dish to a pork tenderloin I’m planning to stuff with dried fruit. An acorn squash also awaits my attention. 

Fall also gives us the opportunity to savor the unique tastes of the many root vegetables available. I have selected a few recipes using parsnips, one of the vegetables that I neglect, unfortunately. We enjoyed one this week, and will be having another one next week. 

The recipe I followed this week was found in the September, 2008, issue of Southern Living. The accompanying photograph of the dish caught my eye and as soon as I saw that parsnips were included, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. We both thought it was a great dish, and one that can be adapted in a few ways. It calls for chicken, but would work just as well with pork chops. I followed the recipe with only two exceptions. First, I did not use the “skin-on” boneless chicken breasts called for; I used “skinless” boneless breasts. Also, it called for whole wheat flour for dusting the chicken. I used white flour.

I found the pan sauce delicious, but a bit skimpy. next time I make this, I may double the amounts of shallots, and Marsala.

 

CHICKEN BREASTS WITH STEAM-ROASTED PARSNIPS, LEEKS, AND THYME

Thanks to Southern Living, September, 2008

Serves 4

1 medium leek

1 pound parsnips, peeled, cored, and sliced into spears

2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided

4 4-oz. boneless, skin-on chicken breasts

1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 T. whole-wheat flour

3 T. olive oil, divided

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 c. dry Marsala, Madeira, sherry or white wine (or water)

2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 T. low-sodium soy sauce

Fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

 

1. Cut leek lengthwise and wash carefully. Thinly slice white part crosswise and discard greens. Place leek, parsnips and half of the thyme leaves in a microwave-safe dish with 1/4 c. water. Cover and microwave on high until easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain, toss and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay chicken, skin-side down, on waxed paper on a hard surface; cover with another layer of waxed paper. Pound to an even thickness of 1/2 inch to facilitate even cooking. In a shallow dish, mix remaining thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper with flour; dredge both sides of chicken.

3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to parsnips, leeks, and thyme; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in top third of oven and roast for 15 minutes.

4. Coat a 12-inch skillet with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, place chicken breasts in pan, skin-side down, and brown for 2-3 minutes. (Do not move; they’ll release easily once browned.) Turn and brown other side, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, cover, and keep warm. 

5. Reduce pan heat to medium-low and add shallots and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Increase heat to medium-high and add Marsala or other liquid, scraping up brown bits. When liquid reduces by half (about 1 minute), whisk in parsley and soy sauce.

6. Remove chicken skin. Surround chicken with parsnip mixture and top with pan sauce. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

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I tend to fall into the habit of buying boneless chicken breasts, sometimes at a premium, for the convenience of having a quick, easy poultry dish ready in a jiffy. Buying other cuts of chicken, mainly on the bone, is much more economical. 

I like the flavor and moistness of chicken thighs much better than breast meat, but seem to find so many more recipes at present that call for the boneless breasts. I really need to “bone” up on removing the breast meat from the bone myself. I have seen it done, but every time I try, I wind up mutilating it. So, until I hone my butcher’s skills, I resort to buying the boneless breasts.

Anyway, here’s a recipe using bone-in chicken breasts. It takes very little time to assemble, and then it’s into the oven for 40-45 minutes while you get the rest of the meal ready. That’s not too bad, especially on the weekend.

By the way, if you’ve ever tried to peel those little pearl onions without ripping the top layers off the onion, you’ll be glad to know you’re not the only one. If I can find it at the grocery, I try to keep a bag of frozen pearl onions on hand. Then, after a quick thaw, they’re recipe ready. I have not seen frozen purple pearl onions, however. If you need those, you probably have to blanch and peel them yourself. Here’s an easy way to do that. Boil the onions for two minutes, then stop the cooking by transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Let cool for a while, then cut off the root end, and pinch the skin off the bulb. You may lose the top layer of the onion. Then you can trim off any long stringy end on the other side. 

 

BALSAMIC GLAZED CHICKEN WITH PEARL ONIONS

4 bone-in chicken breast halves

1/2 lb peeled pearl onions, (frozen pearl onions, thawed, work well)

1/2 green pepper, in 1″ chunks

1/2 red pepper, in 1″ chunks

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped (do NOT substitute dried- just omit the rosemary)

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar

1 T. brown sugar

2 t. olive oil

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

——-

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. In a shallow ovenproof or roasting pan, arrange the chicken, onions, and pepper pieces. Sprinkle with the garlic and rosemary.

3. Whisk the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and sugar together. Pour over the chicken.

4. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

(I have made this with pork loin and it turned out great. I added some small red potatoes, cut in quarters,  to the pan and had the entire dinner in one fell swoop. I did turn the potatoes over once or twice during the cooking. The only additional thing I did was to brown the pork in a skillet before putting it in the roasting pan. To give the sauce even more flavor, I might try sauteeing the onions and peppers after browning the pork, then deglazing the pan with a little broth before adding the other ingredients and pouring over the pork in the baking pan and baking as before.)

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I had two little visitors staying with us for a few days while their parents were out of town. We played inside, outside, checked out the toys at Walmart, picked up Happy Meals at McDonald’s, and had picnic lunches. Not knowing what each afternoon and evening would bring, I decided to let the crockpot do all the hard work and threw together one of my old stand-by crockpot meals for one evening. 

I’m glad I did, for a couple of reasons. One is that the house had the best aroma floating around for several hours. Another is that all I had to do when we were ready to eat was fix some rice, a salad, or some fruit, and we were all set.

If you followed the link, you found basic directions for a recipe that is quite adaptable, a beef stew that will take up any ethnic flavor depending on which way you want to go. We had a Mexican-type beef stew with rice and beans on the side. 

I layered a diced carrot, celery, a half of an onion, also diced, and a small-ish red bell pepper and a poblano pepper (I think) both cut up as well. On top of this, I put about a pound and a half of beef cubes and two cans of Ortega enchilada sauce. I turned the crockpot on low and let this cook for about 8 hours. I hoped the wee ones would like it. I knew they like some Mexican food and I operated on the theory that a really hungry kiddo would  like it, or at least eat it. They did.

For the next night. I fixed a chicken “tettrazini” casserole which we ate late, after soccer and baths. I know the kiddos were hungry and they ate everything on their plates. I’ll have to share the recipe for the “tettrazini” with their mom. It was easy, and I put it together well in advance of cooking it, perfect for a busy family. Thus, we have a good new stand-by.

CHICKEN TETTRAZINI

1 can cream of mushroom soup*

1 can cream of chicken soup*

1 lb chicken breast, cooked, cubed (and cooled if you’re preparing it in advance)

8 oz. frozen green peas

3/4 to 1 lb. spaghetti

1/4 cup diced yellow onion, or more

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Mozzarella-Parmesan combo shredded cheese (or any shredded cheese your family likes


*Can use two cans of mushroom or cream of chicken soup instead of one of each.


1. Cook and cube the chicken and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Cook the pasta as directed on the package. Add the peas, the onion, and the oil to the pot for the last 9-10 minutes. (All you organized cooks take note: If you have any leftover peas, just add them at the last minute.) Meanwhile, mix the canned soups together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Prepare a large oven proof dish, 9″ X 9″, 9″ X 13″, something relatively shallow, by spraying it with Pam or rubbing it with butter. I used a square 11″ X 11″ Corningware casserole.

4. Drain the pasta, peas and onion when done and mix with the soup. Add the chicken and about 1/4 of the cheese. Mix well and put into the casserole. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. [At this point, I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator to cook later in the day. My chicken was already cool, and I let the pasta, peas and soup mixture cool for a while before I added the chicken to it.]

5. Bake 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. [Because my dish had been refrigerated nearly all day, I had to cook it for considerable longer, about 45 minutes.]

 

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Image from www.handsoffcooking.com

I used to have a luncheon for my mother and mother-in-law for Mothers’ Day. It was fun trying to plan a menu that was “girly” enough to be special for the “Moms” and yet hearty enough to appeal to the “Dads” who were invited as well. 

One time I prepared a multi-course meal, keeping the total calorie count for all dishes, including dessert, under 500 calories.  We had salad, skinless chicken breasts with a red bell pepper sauce, fresh green beans, and a raspberry dessert. It all tasted rich and delicious, belying the low calorie dishes.

If you want to pamper your mom(s), start looking through your recipes, or mine, and come up with some recipes for pretty dishes, a few special touches, good china and silver, and needless to say, flowers on the table. Any mother would feel honored to be feted in such a way.

Most moms, and dads, too for that matter, enjoy a tasty chicken salad. Easy to prepare ahead, in fact improving with a day’s rest, it makes a great luncheon centerpiece. With a bed of leaf lettuces, some fresh vegetables or fruit to garnish the plate, and a mound of chicken salad, you will serve a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate. Top it off with  some quick bread, like banana or nut bread, and fruit and cheese for dessert. 

Mimosas or Bellinis would be grand for those moms who would enjoy a special bit of alcohol in the middle of the day. Otherwise, iced or hot tea, punch or coffee would do. 

I usually make a more or less traditional chicken salad, mayonnaise based, with chopped celery, a little bit of onion, and usually meat from the chicken breast only. There are a few additions I use occasionally. After I mix the chicken, celery and onion, I sometimes add coarsely chopped pecans, and grapes. (The grapes are cut in half and added just before serving to keep the salad from becoming too watery. If your grapes are small, by all means, don’t halve them, and you can add them right at the start with the other ingredients.)

To the mayonnaise, I add a healthy amount of curry powder. You can be the judge of what “healthy amount” means. I usually add a tablespoon or so. But it all depends on the amount of chicken, et al., the kind of curry powder being used, and how much you and your guests like the curry flavor. Along with the curry powder, I add several tablespoons of mango chutney. A few teaspoons of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste will finish it.  As with most salads, you have to adjust the amounts or omit some ingredients to suit yourself. 

I would probably fix a nut bread and serve butter or cream cheese with it. A few perfectly julienned carrot sticks around the plate of chicken salad, and presto! You have a lovely luncheon entree. The fact that you prepared it the day ahead makes it so much easier for you to set a beautiful table in relaxed manner.

 

Raspberry sherbet, strewn with a few fresh raspberries, and a simple cookie would be irresistible for me. If you have the time, soften the sherbet a bit and dish out perfectly formed sherbet balls earlier in the day, stored in the freezer, of course. Remember to cover them with plastic wrap to prevent strange freezer odors from permeating the dessert. Lemon, lime or orange sherbet would be equally fine.

If you are lucky enough to have some family serving pieces or china, now’s the time to bring them out and use them. You have nearly a month to get ready. No excuses, now. It’s the least you can do. If you have no longer have a mother, or she is unable to come for a meal, prepare a special luncheon in her honor of in her memory. You will be doing yourself a favor too.

 

(Image credits: Chicken Salad -www.handsoffcooking.com/salad.jpg

                         Sherbet – wikipedia)

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Remembering that raspberries and blueberries are so full of good things for us, I will buy a carton of raspberries at the grocery later today. We will use some on our cereal tomorrow morning, and some tonight in a sauce for chicken breasts. I will also need to pick up some mushrooms.

The recipe I will be using is a variation of a tried and true quick sauce recipe which is so adaptable to the type of meat, availability of ingredients and nearly foolproof.

It relies on the simple technique of sauteing a cut of meat (one suitable for a quick saute, not a 3″ hunk of beef or a giant pork chop), then removing the meat to keep warm elsewhere (in a low oven or on a plate, covered with foil) and using a liquid or liquids to release the stuck-on browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Any number of liquids can be used – wines, broths, lemon juice, vinegar – and any number of vegetables can be sauted in the fat in the skillet before the liquid is added. Then various enhancers can be added as the sauce reduces and the flavors meld.

Today we will use chicken breasts, boneless, skinless and pounded to an even thickness. I will saute them in approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of butter added. After the chicken is brown on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side) and removed to a plate, I’ll add about 1/4 cup of chopped onions, more oil if needed, and 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms and a few minutes later, a small clove of garlic, minced. Just 30 seconds after adding the garlic and stirring it around, I’ll add about 1/2 cup of dry white wine. After scraping up whatever browned bits are still on the bottom of the skillet, I’ll add about 1/2 cup of raspberries and cook that for 10 minutes to break up the berries. Then I’ll add 1/4 c. heavy cream, the chicken, and whatever juices have accumulated on the plate. After the chicken has warmed up, it’s ready to serve.

NOTE: If the chicken breasts are really thick, they can continue to cook in a 350 degree oven after browning them on the stove while the sauce is being made. I usually pound them thin enough so that the initial browning takes care of cooking them sufficiently. Covering them keeps them plenty warm for the fifteen to twenty minutes it takes to make the sauce.

ANOTHER NOTE: No mushrooms? No worries, mate. Don’t use them. No white wine? Use chicken broth or dry sherry instead. No raspberries, use apple slices or pear slices. No bananas, though. Yuck.

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Are you looking for a quick chicken dish? One that’s full of flavor? Here’s a go-to recipe that requires fresh rosemary and garlic, two flavors that complement each other so well.

Rosemary is an easy herb to grow. It thrives in hot summer with very little attention other than occasional watering and some pruning if you want to keep it compact. I have had it winter over in mild winters, but it usually dies and needs replacing each spring. I have not had luck growing it in the kitchen window for some reason. It gets mealybugs. Yuck. I may try to keep it going in the garage window this year.

This is one of those recipes that benefits from the cook pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness to prevent one thin end from becoming too dry before the thicker end is finished cooking. You can pound them as thin as you want, just make sure that they don’t fall part.

CHICKEN WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY(For variation, see * below)

4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless, pounded to even thickness
1/4 c. flour
salt and pepper
1-2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 c. chicken broth
2 T. red wine vinegar

1. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken and shake off the excess flour.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Saute the breasts in the hot oil, about 4 minutes/side until done. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook 1 minute, stirring.
3. Add the broth and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer to reduce the liquid to 1/2 c.
4. Return the chicken to the pan and cook over low heat just to reheat the chicken.
5. Serve with the pan sauce.

*Variation:

In addition to the above ingredients:
1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise, core removed
1 small onion, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
half of a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (or whole ones broken up), with half of the juice

After browning the chicken, remove to plate and cover. Add fennel and onion to the hot oil. Saute, stirring, until tender. Add garlic and resemary. Cook 1 minute. Add broth, tomatoes and red wine vinegar. Bring to boil to reduce the sauce by half. Lower heat and return chicken to pan and simmer for a few minutes.

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You can find recipes anyplace, even when you’re not looking. That’s one reason my collection of recipes keeps growing. I estimate that I need to live to the age of 327 just to prepare all the chicken recipes that I have collected.

Here’s one I found, not too surprisingly, on a package of boneless chicken breasts in a grocery in upstate New York a number of years ago. We were vacationing with my sister and brother-in-law at their wonderful house in the Adirondack Mountains near Keene and Keene Valley. It was my turn to cook dinner and this dish was the entree. I don’t remember the rest of the meal, but I made sure to keep this recipe, for years still on the plastic wrapper of the chicken taped to another piece of paper. Now it is safely committed to the ether as well as one of my cookbooks. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: If you don’t have chili paste, use hot sauce instead. But don’t substitute ground ginger for fresh.)

SERENDIPITOUS GRILLED CHICKEN

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. oil
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 t. minced fresh garlic
1 t. chili paste (or hot sauce, to taste)
1/4 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
black pepper to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Put the chicken and the marinade in a plastic food storage bag or other covered container and mix well.

Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Grill or broil until done.

(NOTE: Boneless breasts may be pounded to an even thickness. This prevents the thinner end from becoming too dry after cooking. It also shortens the cooking time a little. Always cut into the thickest part of the breast to make sure the juices run clear instead of pink.)

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There is nothing like boneless chicken breasts for convenience. Someone else dispatches the poor bird, plucks it and guts it – all those unpleasant chores required by us carnivores. Then, Chicken Little is dismembered and its breasts are de-skinned and de-boned for our convenience. All that for a price, I might remind you.

Gone are the days when most people had a little coop in the backyard, with a few hens and a rooster to keep the families intact, the chopping block and hatchet at the ready. This was the source of the expressions I heard as a child from my mother and grandmother from their days on the farm. “He’s running around like a chicken without its head!” “Quit that or I’ll wring your neck!” We knew that there was no way our necks were in danger but the message got across very well.

Today, we go to the grocery, pick up a plastic pack of nicely skinned and boned breasts for five or six dollars and head home to prepare a quick meal without all the struggles previously mentioned. Properly prepared, the breasts can be cooked in 6 minutes, bathed in a sauce made in another 3 minutes and devoured in five. You can’t beat that for efficiency.

With that in mind, I looked yesterday for a recipe for the three boneless breasts I had in the refrigerator. I wanted a relatively simple dish, but one with a tangy flavor to go with the succotash that I was planning to fix as a vegetable side dish. When I think of “tangy flavor” I usually think of lemons or mustard. In this case I decided to go with the mustard.

I rinsed and dried the chicken pieces and set them aside on a plate. I mixed 1/3 cup Dijon mustard and 1/3 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl with a little salt and black pepper. I picked a small sprig of rosemary, stripped the leaves and chopped them to get about 1/2 teaspoon and added that to the bowl. I slathered that on both sides of the chicken, covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook them a few hours later. (It isn’t necessary to let them rest for a while. They can be cooked right away.)

I started cooking the succotash, a recipe that I will give you below, and preheated the broiler. (I could have cooked the chicken outside on the grill, but it was just too darn hot!) I transferred the breasts to a broiler pan and broiled them about 4 inches from the heat for 3 minutes per side, then I turned the broiler to low (you could move the rack down one level if you only have one broiler setting) flipped the chicken back to the first side again and sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese. I continued cooking them for another three minutes until the cheese was starting to turn golden brown. They were ready to eat.

(Note: These breasts were pretty evenly thick, but when putting then on the broiler pan, I did make sure to fold the thinner edge under to even them out a little more. I didn’t have to pound them to an even thickness which is advisable if one end is thicker than the other. Pounding them not only prevents one end from being too dry it also shortens the time necessary for cooking. Always cut into the thickest part to make sure that any juices released are clear and not pink. If pink, return to the heat for another minute and recheck.)

I’ve been making this dish, or variations of it, for years. Some recipes call for bread crumbs and garlic; some for yogurt instead of mayonnaise; some for Worcestershire sauce, for a deeper flavor, or cayenne pepper for some heat. The one I used today is just about the simplest. Don’t have any rosemary? Don’t let that stop you. The chicken will be delicious without it.

We had a few slices of fresh no-knead bread and succotash for the rest of the meal. The succotash is a recipe from the Fine Cooking website. It is a little different from the frozen box of corn and lima beans that I personally hated as a child. It has a lot more vegetables in it and would go a long way to furnishing the variety of vegetables that we are urged to eat daily. It is quick to prepare, despite the relatively long list of ingredients, but benefits from advance preparation, cutting up the vegetables and lining them up on the counter in the order to be added to the pot. It takes about fifteen minutes of cooking, and about fifteen minutes of chopping the vegetables. I used custard cups to hold the individual vegetables and had everything ready about an hour before I wanted to cook. They just sat there on the kitchen counter, the fragrant onion and garlic making my mouth water in anticipation. Here’s the recipe, again, thanks to Fine Cooking.

SUMMER SUCCOTASH

2 T., plus 1/2 t. olive oil
1 small red onion, in 1/4″ dice
1/8 t. dried red chile flakes
Kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1/4″ dice (note: I did 1/2″)
1/4 lb. fresh green beans, 1/4″ pieces (note: I did 1/2″)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a garlic press)
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ dice (I did 1/2″)
Kernels from 2 large ears corn (about 1 1/2 c.) (I used thawed frozen corn)
1/4 lb. thawed frozen baby lima beans (I used fordhook)
1 small ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4″
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely
2-3 T. chopped fresh basil

Heat 2 T. oil in a deep 10″ saute pan of a large shallow pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile flakes, and a generoud pinch of salt and cook until the onion is soft and has started to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans; cook for 2 minutes.

Push some of the ingredients aside to make room to saute the garlic. Heat the remaining 1/2 t. oil in this spot, add the garlic, cook until you smell it, and then stir it into the vegetables.

Add the zucchini and a pinch of salt to draw out some moisture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the corn; cook for 2 minutes. Add the lima beans and tomato and cook until all the vegetables are perfectly tender, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the butter, parseley, and basil and season with more salt, if necessary.

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This is a very colorful group of vegetables and tasted great with the tangy chicken. Give it a try. And lets hear it for the chicken neck wringers, plucker, de-boners and grocers!

Morgana

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artichoke1.gif

The artichoke is a member of the thistle family, a fact confirmed when one sees the purple blooms that match the pesky weeds in the garden.  The edible part is actually the immature flower bud.   

180px-artichoke01.jpg   We in the United States can thank the French who imported them to New Orleans and the Spanish who brought them to California where nearly 100% of the artichoke crop is cultivated, mainly in Monterey County, where Castroville declares itself to be “The Artichoke Center of the World.”

What keeps more people from buying and cooking artichokes is the rather intimidating list of steps needed to get to the heart of the matter. First, if you plan to leave the artichoke uncooked, to stuff it, for example, you must prepare a bowl of water with the lemon juice into which you plunge the artichoke which will start to turn brown when cut.  With a chef’s knife, cut off the top inch of the artichoke, and cut the stem flush with the base.  Then you must deal with the thorns at the tips of the leaves which stagger in a spiral around the outside of the vegetable. It’s easier to use a pair of scissors to remove them.

If you are going to cook the artichoke, you can either boil, steam or microwave it. In this case, it isn’t necessary to de-thorn the leaves since they will soften during cooking. Some people prefer to remove the thorns anyway because they like the look of it. To boil it, stand it upright in a deep saucepan with 3 inches of boiling water to which oil, and lemon juice may be added. Cover and boil gently 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size, until the base can be easily pierced. Stand it upside down to drain. Steam an artichoke on a rack above an inch or two of boiling water, covered, for 25 to 45 minutes. For microwaving, set it upside down in a small glass bowl like a 2 cup glass measuring cup with 1/4 c. water, 1/2 t. each lemon juice and oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and cook 6 to 7 minutes. Let stand covered 5 minutes.

To eat the artichoke, pull each leaf off,  and, holding the cut end drag the bottom half of the leaf through your teeth, skimming the soft flesh into your mouth. Some people dip this in drawn butter or into a dipping sauce. You can find a variety of dip recipes at the California Artichoke Advisory board website. When you get to the fuzzy, purple “choke” scoop it out and discard it.  Under it is the “heart”, the favorite part for some people, your truly included.  It has a nutty, buttery flavor that can stand alone or be accompanied by a marinade, or sauce such as  bearnaise.

I promised you a recipe using artichoke hearts and I will deliver. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found the recipe. I suspect it was from the “Everyday Food” magazine.  We really enjoyed it and I passed the recipe on to my daughters who enjoyed it as well. It is easy and quick.

CHICKEN WITH ARTICHOKES AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES (serves 2)

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 T. flour

4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and sliced

1T. and 1 t. olive oil

1/2 c. water or chicken broth

1/2 can artichoke hearts, in water, drained and cut in half

4 green onions , thinly sliced(I used more)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Prepared couscous, optional

————————-

1. Place the chicken between wet plastic wrap sheets.  Pound carefully to 1/2 inch thickness.

2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour, shaking off excess. Saute until golden brown and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side if you pounded them thinly enough.  Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. To the pan, add garlic, scallions, and the water or  chicken broth. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the good browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Add the artichokes, tomatoes and the rest of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Return the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring until the sauce has been reduced slightly.

4.  Serve with couscous and the sauce.

I hope you try this recipe.  If you do, comment at the bottom of any post and let me know.

Best,

Morgana

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