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Archive for the ‘chicken’ Category

Bricks in the Kitchen

 

One day last week I was catching up with the DVR’d Food Network shows I like to watch. Mostly, Barefoot Contessa, Tyler Florence –  that’s enough. If I watch too many shows, I would have way too many ideas floating around in my mind and wouldn’t get around to trying any of them. I usually find one or two to try each week and those that I have liked best were usually from Barefoot Contessa or Tyler Florence. 

I use her method for roasting beef tenderloin**. It never fails, and is so easy. Tyler’s dishes are usually great, but sometimes just a little too involved for me to make at the last minute. I do like his Ultimate Potato Gratin with the Savoy cabbage*** and prepare it several times a year.

Last night I was compelled to prepare a meal that Tyler Florence had on his show last week, “The Ultimate Brick Chicken”. It looked intriguing, weighting down the whole chicken with bricks while browning it in a skillet. The method was used to force as much surface area as possible to be in contact with the hot oil in the skillet. The cooking was finished in the oven while I made the recommended couscous and delicious yogurt sauce flavored with cilantro and mint, honey and lemon juice. The sauce was so good that I had to try a few – HA!  – spoonfuls. I think it would make a delicious salad dressing on its own. 

The chicken, a whole split chicken, backbone removed, and flattened, was rubbed with a Moroccan inspired spice mixture and allowed to rest in the frig for about 4 hours. Then it was into the hot skillet, bricks applied, and cooked for 15-20 minutes undisturbed on the burner, then flipped over, and finished in the oven for 35 minutes. It was served with the apricot, almond couscous, the recipe for which takes couscous to a whole new level. Delicious!

Here’s the recipe for the whole she-bang. It will become one of your favorites.

(You will need a brick a heavy rock, the afore-mentioned extra cast iron skillet, or something really heavy (and relatively clean) to lay atop the chicken. I had an old brick in the yard which I covered in foil. It wasn’t big enough to weight down the whole bird so I scrounged around and found another rock which did the trick.)

(Go to this link and  read the comments sections for other folk’s reviews of this meal. The photo shows the chicken and couscous served on flatbread seasoned and grilled. I didn’t fix that this time. If you can’t find a flat chicken, ask your butcher to remove the backbone of a whole chicken and flatten it for you. If you can’t do that, look for a “split chicken” in your grocery. I found one at Kroger. I suppose you could always use a cut-up chicken and cook  it the same way. Maybe I’ll try that next time.)

 

*Brick Chicken with Apricot Couscous

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 whole free-range chicken (3 pounds), split (see directions below or have butcher split chicken for you)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Mint Yogurt Dressing. recipe follows
  • Apricot Couscous, recipe follows

Directions

Toast cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant. In a clean spice grinder or coffee grinder, blend spices until fine. Add the toasted spices to a bowl with paprika and cayenne. Season with kosher salt. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice.

Prepare chicken by splitting it down the back and removing the backbone, breast bone and rib cage. Lay the chicken out flat and rub the blended spices all over. Marinate for up to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof pan) over medium-high heat. When hot, add a 2 count of extra-virgin olive oil and place the chicken skin side down in the pan. Cover it with a second cast iron pan (you could also use a more traditional foil-wrapped brick) immediately so the skin doesn’t have time to contract. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is golden brown and has a nice crust. Finish cooking in the oven for a further 20 to 25 minutes. Internal temperature between the leg and thigh should register 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, when cooked through. Serve with Mint Yogurt Dressing and Apricot Couscous.

Mint Yogurt Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green onions, green parts only
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

While chicken is cooking, combine yogurt, cilantro, mint, green onions, honey, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender. Blend until mixture is fully combined and has a smooth consistency.

Apricot Couscous:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 scallions green parts only
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan add a 2 count of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the red onion, apricots and almonds and saute gently over low heat until translucent and slightly fragrant. Add the couscous then dump in the warm chicken broth. Stir with a fork to combine, add lemon zest and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, then uncover and add the scallions, mint, and cilantro. Fluff again with a fork. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Serve family-style on a large platter and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

 

 

***The Ultimate Potato Gratin

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence and the Food Network

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 35 min Level: Easy
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head savoy cabbage, cored, cleaned, and shredded
  • 1 (2-inch) piece slab bacon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped to 1/4 cup
  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch), see Cook’s note*
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Finely shred the cabbage. Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch chunks. Place a small skillet over medium-low heat and fry the bacon, until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to bacon fat in frying pan. When it has melted add 1/2 the garlic and give it a quick stir with a wooden spoon to soften. Add the cabbage and coat it with the butter. Slowly let it wilt. Add the bacon. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat and add most of the chives, reserving a little for the garnish.

Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch ovenproof casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, 1 1/2 cups of cream, 1 cup of Parmesan, and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, place a layer of potatoes in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and repeat with 2 more layers. Spoon the cabbage mixture on top and spread it out evenly over the potatoes. Top it off with 2 more layers of potato and Parmesan. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream over the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Leave for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chives.

  • Cook’s Note: Slice the potatoes immediately before using so they don’t turn brown.

 

*BEEF TENDERLOIN CONTESSA

Copyright, 2001, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, All rights reserved

Prep Time: 5 min
Inactive Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) fillet of beef, trimmed and tied
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions 

(Be sure to remove the beef from the frig an hour before cooking so that it can reach room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the beef on a sheet pan and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Spread the butter on with your hands. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the fillet thickly.

Note: Be sure your oven is very clean or the high temperature will cause it to smoke.

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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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I bought some nice thin chicken cutlets the other day at the grocery, a little time-saver. No need to pound them to an even thinness myself.

I prepared them day before yesterday by dredging them in flour, then egg, then slightly crushed, seasoned panko, while the skillet was preheating. It only took a few minutes on each side to get them nicely golden brown. I stuck them in the oven to keep warm since I had to do two batches.

We ate them plain, no sauce, no condiments; we just enjoyed the crunchy chicken. The seasonings were just salt and pepper and a little Lawry’s salt since I was too lazy to think up my own original mix.

We are having chicken again today – chicken thighs, tossed salad, baked potato, and the leftover green beans. I’m thinking I will make devilled chicken thighs. That’s nice and tasty, and will go well with the baked potato. I’ll probably make a relatively mild salad dressing, nothing too tangy.

If I have time, I’ll add some photos of the chicken as I prepare it.  

Here’s how I fix Devilled Chicken:

(1.)  First the ingredients:

2 T. catsup, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1 t. anchovy paste, 2 T. Mango Chutney, 1 t. grated nutmeg (powdered works fine, too), salt and pepper to taste, 1 T. melted butter, a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.  Oh yeah, 4 chicken thighs (sure, you can use whatever chicken pieces you want.) 

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(2.)  The method: 

Mix all the ingredients except the chicken.

Paint the chicken thighs with the mixture.

Bake 350 for 30 minutes, turn, paint the other side. Bake 30 more minutes. (It might not take that long. It depends on how big the chicken pieces are and whether or not you are baking other things in the oven. Always check the chicken by slicing into it and checking to make sure the juices aren’t pink.)

Did you notice my ancient roasting pan? Although caked with the “funk of forty thousand years” it still works. It’s just the right size for 4 chicken thighs,  4 legs or 2 breasts and it fits easily in the dishwasher. I keep looking for a nonstick one that size, about 7 x 11. Nonstick would be nice.  Then it wouldn’t look so disgusting. Once a year or so, I do a scouring job on it, but it still looks pretty bad afterwards.

Meatloaf tonight.

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September 19, 2007

I am guilty of being a lazy cook this past week. By the end of the day, if I haven’t started something for dinner early, I am not in the mood to spend a lot of time fussing with new recipes. I have been tired because my dogs haven’t been cooperative during the night. One was sick and needed to go outside (’nuff said) every 15 minutes and the puppy has been ready to go out at 4:00 in the morning the past 3 days. Maybe that’s it.

Last night, I had some chicken breasts marinating in lemon juice and pepper and a little bit of olive oil. That was simple enough. I also had some medium-sized new potatoes that I rolled in kosher salt, pepper, and olive oil. I stripped the leaves of a small sprig of rosemary and mixed that with the potatoes. I preset the oven to roast the potatoes for 45 minutes at 400 degrees while I was gone for an hour or so in the early evening. When I returned, I cooked some green beans and grilled the chicken. It was quick enough but rather bad planning because I have some other chicken pieces that I must prepare tonight.

I guess chicken 2 nights in a row isn’t the worst thing that could happen. My sister Ellen could eat chicken every day in any way – boiled, roasted, fried, any way. I’m not the biggest chicken fan but it’s hard to pass up the great deals on whole chickens other special sales like “buy one, get one free.”

The recipe for tonight is one I found last weekend in the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Edition. Each Saturday, the WSJ features a chef who provides a meal’s worth of recipes suitable for the relatively adventurous home cook. Sometimes the recipes require more adventurousness or $$$ than I have. Other times the list of ingredients can be daunting. Occasionally, they are straightforward and appealing and I usually save those to try when I get around to it. (I have a file of hundreds of recipes to “get around to.”)

This recipe combines chicken with tomatoes, garlic, and white wine with just a few other things. How could I not save it? Tomatoes and garlic always appeal to me. This one also has some vinegar for a little tang. The chef, David Waltuck, owner of Chanterelle in Tribeca, NYC, recommends as sides Fried Zucchini “Coins”, which I will also make tonight, and Sauteed Penne with Cauliflower and Chickpeas, which I will not.

The article in the paper suggested watching a video of the preparation of the chicken in the WSJ Online video offerings. It was not the most professional food video in the world. In fact, it was apparent that the chicken was barely cooked, certainly not to the degree required for safe eating, and more evidently, not browned enough to even be attractive. Chalk it up to inexperience on the WSJ’s behalf; it isn’t the Food Network, after all, and I wouldn’t expect the Food Network to give me a full and reliable report on the stock market. That being said, I still was interested in fixing the recipe and tonight’s the night.

I’ll share the recipe now and let you know how it was later.

BISTRO-STYLE CHICKEN WITH TOMATO AND TARRAGON
from Wall Street Journal, Sep. 15, 2007
Recipe provided by David Waltuck, owner and executive chef of Chanterelle restaurant

Yield: 4 servings
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

3 T. olive oil
2 chicken breasts and 2 leg/thighs, oin the bone and with skin (or a 3 1/2-pound chcken, cut up)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed with your hands, juice reserved
1/4 c. tarragon or white wine vinegar
3 T. unsalted butter
2 t. roughly chopped fresh tarragon leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy, nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. When it just begins to smoke, add only enough chicken pieces to fit into the skillet without touching and cook until well browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside while you saute the remaining pieces in batches, if necessary.
2. When all the chicken has been removed from the skillet, add the garlic to the drippings and saute over medium heat until fragrant but not browned, about 15 seconds.
3. Add the wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices and boil the liquid until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes to the skillet along with about half the juice in the can, the vinegar, and the butter. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (it should register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer) and the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes; turn the chicken pieces once or twice during the cooking time and break up the tomatoes with a spoon. The sauce should hold together but still be chunky. (If the breasts are very thick and are not cooked through after 30 minutes, remove the legs from the skillet, cover with a lid and continue to simmer until done.)
5. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the fresh tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Serve the chicken in the skillet or transfer to a polatter, topping it with the sauce.

————–

Sounds good, doesn’t it? I hope it is.
————–

UPDATE:
September 20, 2007

The chicken was good. It sure was messy, however. Splattered grease everywhere, even though I used a splatter-shield. The flavor was delicious. I made brown rice and the sauce was great with the rice. I did make the fried zucchini which was delicious, more splattered grease. \

The zucchini was a simple “dip zucchini in beaten egg then dredge in fine crumbs and saute in hot oil.” You know the drill. It only took about 3 minutes on a side for the zucchini to be done.

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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.

————-

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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I made Chicken Divan last night for dinner. I had two chicken breasts halves to cook and plenty of broccoli plus the other items that I needed to throw together. It’s a tasty dish and full of that great vegetable, broccoli.

There are lots of recipes for Chicken Divan, from simple to complicated. The easiest one would be basically, cooked chicken cubes, a can of mushroom soup, frozen broccoli (cooked) and cheese, mixed and baked for 30 minutes. From there, you can get as complicated as you wish.

My recipe falls somewhere in between the two extremes. I can get everything assembled and ready to bake in under 30 minutes. With another 30 minutes in the oven, that qualifies as relatively quick meal. The time in the oven can be spent preparing a salad, another vegetable, or just relaxing with a nice glass of wine. Sounds like a plan to me.

CHICKEN DIVAN

SERVES 4

2 whole or 4 half chicken breasts, boneless for quicker preparation, bone-in for economy and free broth (you want at least 2 cups cooked cubed chicken)
1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion, one small or half medium onion
1/2 t. salt or to taste
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. flour
1/2 c. chicken broth, either canned or fresh
2/3 c. milk
2 T. dry sherry (optional)
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 lb. broccoli, washed and chopped, or 1 box frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 c. grated cheese Parmesan, or cheddar, or any type, divided
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 t. dijon mustard
1-2 T. heavy cream, optional, if needed to thin the sauce

1. Cook the chicken until tender, remove from bones and cube into small bite-sized pieces; set aside. Preheat oven to 35o degrees. While the chicken is cooking, steam the fresh broccoli for 4-5 minutes, rinse with cold water and drain.

2. In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion and saute until tender but not browned. Add the flour and stir constantly to remove the raw flour taste. Stir in the chicken broth and milk. Stir often being careful to not let it burn on the bottom.

3. Add the sherry, if using, salt and pepper, and nutmeg. Keep stirring until thick and bubbly. Add more milk or heavy cream if the sauce is too thick.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the mayonnaise and mustard. Add half of the cheese and stir to melt.

5. In an ovenproof casserole or gratin dish, layer the broccoli and chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

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