Roasted Chicken Provencal on rice….that’s nice!

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Bless the New York Times Food Section. There are so many recipes that are simple and delicious. Recipes that don’t call for bizarre ingredients that you will NEVER use again. Recipes that don’t require odd pans that will collect dust from lack of use. This is one of those recipes. I start judging a recipe by the individual ingredients. Do I like the ingredient flavors on their own? This has lemon, garlic and shallots with vermouth. Yes. Yes. Yes…..and YES! Then I look at the cooking method. You put the ingredients in a pan and roast them. No browning. You can do this! Now I won’t lie; it takes about 1 ½ hours from start to devour. It takes a bit to assemble, but none of the steps are difficult.  Let’s cook.

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

½ cup of all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. herbes de Provence

2 lemons, quartered

10 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole

6 medium –size shallots, peeled and halved

2/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine

 

Step 1

Heat oven to 400 degrees. It’s important to make sure your oven is really this temperature. I always use an oven thermometer. You need this heat to crisp up the chicken skins. So, oven temperature. Check. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow pan or bowl. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, on both sides. Shake off the excess flour.

Step 2

Swirl the oil in a large roasting pan, and place the floured chicken in it. I didn’t measure the oil. I eyeballed it. Season the chicken with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken. Tuck them here. Tuck them there. Tuck them, tuck them everywhere. Add the vermouth to the pan. Step back. Just imagine how this will smell in a short time.

Step 3

Put the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Baste it with the pan juices. If you find there isn’t much pan juice, add a little more vermouth or chicken stock. You want the pan juices to go half-way up the chicken. You don’t want it submerged, but immersed. The skins need to be dry to crisp up. Continue roasting for another 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through.

Step 4

Serve in this on a bed of rice with a side of salad. Eat it slowly and enjoy the mellowed, softened flavors of garlic, shallots and lemons. So easy. So delicious! Enjoy!

 

Here’s the original recipe.

 

Chicken with Peppers, Onions and Cashews – Comfort by the bowl!

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This is my idea of comfort food. The onions and peppers are cooked tender so they are almost sweet and create a delicious pan sauce to coat the chicken and rice. The chicken is browned in the same pan and picks up the caramelized bits. The cashews soften as they warm. I serve this on piping hot white rice, in a bowl. It’s such a quick and easy meal that usually provides at least one leftover bowl to enjoy. When the kids were all younger and living at home, I made this often. Everything you need in one bowl! I even made this several times when we lost power since it’s so easy to cook on the stovetop by lantern!

The beauty of this “recipe” is there is no recipe. I use some skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Life is too short to fight with chicken skin and bones. Splurge! I usually use a mixture of one each of red and yellow pepper. This is not a recipe for green peppers. They are too strong flavored and will overpower the dish.

Let’s cook!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in approximately one inch pieces

2 red peppers or 1 red and 1 orange or yellow pepper, sliced thin

1 large onion (or more if you wish!)

olive oil

salt

pepper

roasted cashews (salted or not, it’s up to you!)

The beauty of this dish is you can use as much or as little of an ingredient. I used three chicken breasts for the two of us because I knew I would get another meal or so out of this one. That’s my kind of planning! Use more onion if you LOVE onions. It’s about cooking what you like to eat.

Cut the top off the peppers and rinse them after pulling out the core and seeds. Slice the peppers in half, long ways. Then slice the pepper halves into thin pieces. They will cook faster if they are thin. If you don’t have the knife skills to slice thin, they will still taste delicious. Put peppers in bowl. Cut the onion from root to tip. Peel off skin from each half. Put the flat side down on a cutting board and slice your onions thinly. It’s so easy to cut them when they are not rolling around! Put onions in bowl with peppers.

Heat a large skillet to medium high. Once a drop of water rolls around and evaporates, the pan is ready to be coated with olive oil. When the oil I is shimmering it’s time to add the onions and peppers to the pan. Sauté them until they start to brown and soften. Season them gently with salt. It helps draw out the water. Once they are cooked as golden and soft as you like, transfer them to a clean bowl. It’s important to season as you cook. You don’t want to add too much salt or pepper at the end, so adding a little as you cook helps control the amount of salt you use.

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Put a little more olive oil in the pan and add about 1/3 of the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with a few pinches of salt. You want to let them brown. Don’t keep stirring them. Once the bottom of the chicken pieces are browned, then flip them. You want the chicken cooked through.

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This takes a while since I like to do small batches so the chicken browns and not steams. I usually start the rice when I start cooking the chicken. Once this batch is browned, put it in a clean bowl and toss more chicken into the pan. Make sure you use clean bowls and spoons/spatulas as you cook. You don’t want to contaminate cooked food with a spoon used with raw chicken. Once all the chicken is cooked, add the peppers and onions back in and to finish cooking. Add the cashews into the pan and let cook for a few minutes. Cut into a piece of chicken to make sure it’s done.

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Serve the chicken and peppers, onions and cashews over rice.

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There’s a little pan sauce that coats the rice. It’s filling and very flavorful with only a few ingredients. |
Enjoy!

Chicken Marbella-ous or how to keep loving’ the 1980’s

Chicken Marbella

I’ve been told this is a classic chicken party dish from the 1980’s. I was kinda busy in the 1980’s. I graduated from college, got married, started having beautiful babies, and was trying to blend two strong families together. We moved and stopped trying so hard. The beautiful babies continued for a decade. Like most newlyweds I cooked what my mother cooked. I started to venture off a little bit, and even had in my possession since the 1980’s, the Silver Palate cookbook with this recipe. I just never saw it. I usually looked at the baking sessions since I thought I had cooking down. WRONG!

The original recipe calls for 2 small chickens to be cut up. I found an easier and a wee bit healthier approach to this dish. I buy the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I use about 5-6 pounds when I make this for a crowd. When I say “crowd” I mean about 8-10 people. You can increase the ingredients proportionately for a larger crowd. The chicken still tastes delicious and is less fatty. You can use a mix of chicken pieces. Whatever you heart desires. The magic is in the sauce.

5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or a mix of chicken pieces.

Cloves from ½ head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

2 tbsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

¼ cup red wine vinegar – I have also successfully used balsamic.

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup pitted prunes

½ cup large pitted green olives, cut in half

¼ cup capers with a bit of juice

3 bay leaves

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup white wine

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Do NOT add in the white and brown sugar. That fun happens later. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let marinate, refrigerated, several hours or overnight. I usually do this the night before. Oh the glorious smell you will be treated to when you take off the cover.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in single layers in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar over the chicken pieces and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, uncovered, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when the juices run clear, not pink. Just stick a sharp knife in the thickest piece to test.

With a slotted spoon, move the chicken, prunes, and capers to a serving platter. Pour some of the pan juices over the chicken and sprinkle generously with parsley. Serve remaining juices in a gravy boat.

I like to serve this with noodles or rice to absorb the juice. But do as you wish. We both know you will!  Don’t tell anyone there are prunes in this dish. I’ve seen some very funny faces when I divulge this. If you have any leftovers, they will taste even better the next day.

Enjoy!

Here is the original recipe 

Cutlet out!

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Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce

This is a quick and delicious meal that looks elegant but is perfect for a weeknight meal. I serve it with Crispy Smashed Potatoes and steamed broccoli. It’s very quiet when the family eats this meal. Very.Quiet.

The original recipe calls for chicken cutlets, but I like to use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are more flavorful than cutlets. You can often buy these thighs on sale. Buy several packages. Remove any extra fat, pound them to uniform thickness and toss them in the freezer. You can use these for a delicious Chicken Parmesan as well.

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. butter

½ cut white wine

½ cup water or chicken stock

¼ chopped fresh parsley, or freeze-dried parsley, plus 2 tbsp. for garnish

1 lemon, juiced

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the flour on a plate or shallow bowl next to the stove. Put the chicken between plastic wrap and pound with a heavy pan, until the chicken is uniform in thickness.

Place chicken on a cookie sheet and season with salt and pepper.

Put oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over the medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, dredge the chicken, one piece at a time, through the flour, shaking off any excess. Place chicken in hot pan, repeating the dredging with the next piece of chicken. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Throw out any remaining flour.

Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on one side before turning the chicken over. You want to brown both sides of the chicken. Once the second side has browned, remove the chicken from the hot pan and place it in an oven safe pan. You can check for doneness by cutting into a piece. If it’s still pink, cook it a little longer on the stovetop.

Once all pieces have been cooked on the stovetop, place the chicken in the oven while you make the pan sauce. This will keep the chicken warm and finish cooking any pieces that may not be quite done.

Add the wine to the skillet, keeping the heat at medium-high. Let the wine reduce by half, while you scrape the brown flavorful bits from the bottom and sides of pan. Add the water or chicken broth and continue to stir until the liquid has thickened slightly and reduces a bit more. Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet and swirl the pan around until the butter is melted. Add the parsley. Turn off the heat. The first time I made this I measured exactly. You don’t really have to. I like to make extra sauce so I eyeball it. You can do this when you cook, not bake. Taste as you go along. You can add salt or more water if need be.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, squeezing the lemon juice over the chicken. Sprinkle with additional parsley for garnish if you’d like.

This is a perfect recipe if you’re cooking for yourself or for a group. You can play with the sauce ingredient amounts.The leftovers are delicious too, so make extra!

The original recipe is Mark Bittman’s. Here is the recipe with thorough directions and variations.

Enjoy!

Zuppa duppa

White Bean and Chipotle Chili

Don’t shy away from trying this non-recipe. The Chipotle part is totally optional. In case you’ve been living in an igloo, lately we’ve had extreme winter weather here in New England. All the cold and snow draws me to the warmth and comfort of soups. I’ve been making a lot of the oldies but goldies. I stumbled upon a recipe for a white bean soup that knocked my Boston Red Sox off! It’s very simple but flavorful. You could make this with items in your pantry. Okay. I’ve stopped laughing. Who has a “pantry”? I store my canned goods in a cabinet or a hall closet. We pretend it’s a “pantry”. Tom Brady and me, that is. I pretend a lot. Oh soup, right. This soup uses canned cannellini beans and store bought chicken stock. If you’ve got an onion, garlic and some spices, you are almost there. The original non-recipe calls for uncooked chicken breasts. Well, I decided my soup was going to have a rich flavor and used skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Oh.Yum. I did make the Chipotle part. I make this recipe a lot and have left over adobos and sauce that I freeze. Now I have another way of using them. My freezer thanks me.

So let’s get this party started (I crack myself up, sometimes)

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in spoon size pieces

4 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

In a 4-quart pot, heat olive oil and add onions. I like to sprinkle onions with a teaspoon of kosher salt. It helps draw out the water and caramelize them. Stir onions and cook until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the cut chicken thighs and start to brown them. Stir them occasionally. Don’t worry about any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. These add flavor to the soup. Add the oregano and cumin, stirring until mixed. Stir in the minced garlic. Cook for about 1 minute. Add 4 cups of chicken stock. If you want your soup a little less soupy, add only 3 cups. You can always add the remaining cup. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer soup for about 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally. You want to make sure the chicken is cooked. At this point, I like to turn this healthy soup into something less healthy by adding a piece of Parmesan rind. Yes, you read that right. As the cheese melts off the rind, the soup becomes a little creamier. After thirty minutes, I remove the rind and mash some of the beans with a fork, on the side of the pan. This makes it a little creamier too. This step is totally optional.

Like many soups, this tastes even better the second day, if there’s any left.

The Chipotle part is very easy. I spoon some sour cream or plain Greek yogurt into a jar and then add some chipotle sauce. Stir until mixed. I like it spicy, so I add a lot. Drizzle this cream over the bowled soup. The soup is fantastic without this so don’t fret if you don’t have adobos.

I hope you try many different soups this winter! Spice it up a bit.

Here’s the original non-recipe.

Please note that I used Progresso beans. The can was 19 ounces, while other brands were less.

Hot time in the summertime…..

 

I made these the other day before that summer sun heated up my house. Of course, I forgot to take a picture! Don’t despair, this recipe was lovingly adapted from this Easy Chicken Enchilada recipe. Here’s a picture of them ready to be cooked!

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Chicken Enchiladas

 

This recipe is super easy. I often cheat and used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If I have any leftover chicken, that goes right into the pan! You can make this as spicy or as mild as you’d like. This kind of meal doesn’t require a precise recipe, but some guidelines. I just eyeball the amount of chicken I use. You top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce. If you don’t think you have enough sauce to cover them, just add a splash of water or a little more of the cilantro base. The top is covered with cheese, so you don’t have to perfectly coat them with the sauce.

 

2 cooked chicken breasts or leftover or rotisserie chicken

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced or some Nacho sliced mild jalapeños (in a jar)

1 tomato, diced

12-ounce jar of Goya Cilantro Cooking base

1 10-ounce can of mild (or hot) red enchilada sauce

Olive oil

Salt

6-8 tortillas

Shredded cheese. I like to use a Mexican blend. I use about 16 ounces of cheese. Yum!

 

Shred cooked chicken and place in a bowl. You need to be careful when you are cleaning and dicing the jalapenos. The seeds are very hot. You will need to wash your hands immediately because if you were to touch your eyes with your spicy hands…..OUCH! I like to use the clear plastic grocery bags as gloves. I put my hands in them and then clean and dice the jalapenos. I just gather the seeds and turn the bags inside out and toss them in the trash. Wash your hands after you put these peppers into a bowl. Now dice you onion and put in the same bowl as the peppers. Mince the garlic and dice the tomato. Place them in a small bowl. Always do your prep work before you start cooking. It makes cooking so much easier if everything is ready to throw into the pan!

Heat a 12-inch skillet and then add olive oil. Add your onion and peppers. I like to sprinkle with a little salt to help soften them. Once this mixture is softened (about 5-10 minutes) add the chopped tomato and garlic. Let some of the liquid evaporate. Add the cilantro base and enchilada sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding the chicken to heat through.

Now comes the fun part! Grab a tortilla and add a big pinch of cheese, and some chicken. Try to leave as much sauce in the pan as you can. I just eyeball how much chicken I need to fill the tortillas. If you have any remaining chicken after filling the tortillas you can spread it on the top of the rolled tortillas with the sauce. No problem! Just tuck them in between the tortillas. So, after you put the chicken in, roll the tortilla tucking in the ends, and place it with the seam side down in a greased pan. I use a ceramic rectangular pan that is a little smaller than 9 X 13. You can use a square pan. Just squish the tortillas together! Repeat the filling process. When I make 8, I do use a 9 x 13 pan.

When the tortillas are all done and in the pan, spread the sauce over the tortillas. Top with cheese, covering it completely. At this point you can place the pan in the refrigerator and cook later on for dinner. Sometimes I cook it in the morning, let it cool, refrigerate and let the family microwave their own portion. Today, I prepared it, put it in the fridge and cooked it a few hours late. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake until the cheese is all melted and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Easy peasy!

We like to top them with some sour cream, a dab of salsa and some mild jarred sliced jalapeno peppers. Heavenly!

NOTE: I made these even easier. Instead of cutting  and seeding jalapeño peppers, I cheated and use some jarred Nacho sliced mild jalapeño peppers from a jar. I just added them to the sauce. It was delicious and easy!

Braised to the bone

                         Braised Chicken

 

I’m sorry, did I just put you to sleep. Well WAKE UP. Braised chicken is one of life’s delicacies. It’s simple and full of flavor. The best part of this dish is you make it ahead. Make a lot. You won’t be sorry.

Now I like to think that the onions are the stars of this dish. I sauté the onions in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. If you have the time to caramelize the onions, please do. They add a deep flavor to the dish. To caramelize onions, you cook them on a medium low heat and stir….for a long time. You don’t want them to burn, but caramelize and become sweeter. I prefer to let them cook down to almost a relish. If you don’t want to spend the time caramelizing them, that’s okay. Just cook them until they are translucent.

To braise you must have a liquid. I use some water with a bouillon cube or a product called “Better than Bouillon”. You can use chicken broth too. I also add some white wine first to deglaze the onions. This means you scrape up the yummy brown bits from the pan, and let the wine evaporate. All the flavor is right there.

So let’s talk recipe. I don’t have one.  Oops. I just always wing it. It’s really just browning, sautéing and braising. Easy peasy. This is something that I have made forever. There are some components and methods that we need to discuss. First, the chicken. I like to use 4 leg quarters. You don’t have to, but please use chicken on a bone. Chicken cooked on the bone will stay moist. Make enough for two meals. This dish does take time, so make it worth it. You also need a pan with a lid. When you braise, you cover the pan to keep the liquids from evaporating. I use a large fry pan that isn’t too deep.

Tonight I used four leg quarters and two VERY large onions. I don’t think you can have enough onions in this dish. You cook them down over a period of time. Since they are the star, I cut them in half moons. First you cut the tip of the onion off. Then cut the onion from the root down to where the tip was. Peel the skin from each half and cut thin semi circles of onion, with the flat side down on the cutting board. Always do this before you even take out the pan. Put the onions in the bowl. It makes cooking so much easier when you are prepared.

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So, the first step is to heat your pan over a medium high heat. Pour some olive oil on the bottom of the pan and let it heat. Put the chicken skin side down in the pan. Let the chicken brown for about 5 minutes. If you try to lift the chicken and the skin sticks to the pan, let it keep cooking. At this point we are only browning the meat. In a while, we will cook the meat through. What ever sticks to the pan is full of flavor and will help made the sauce very tasty.  After about 10 minutes, flip chicken. If the skin is still sticking, don’t worry. The world will not end. I like to sprinkle Lawry’s seasoned salt at this point on the chicken. Let the chicken cook for about 5 more minutes. Remove chicken from pan. I like to set it on a cookie sheet while I sauté the onions.

Now, I drain off any fat from the pan. Don’t scrape the pan bottom. Just pour the fat into a Pyrex measuring cup, or even a coffee cup. My “friend” poured the very hot fat into a glass once. Nothing like shattered glass and boiling hot grease on your kitchen counter. Said no one. Ever. Set it aside to cool. You will throw this out later. I let it cool on the counter and then put it in the fridge. It hardens and gets tossed into the trash.  Someday I’ll tell you how I learned that sugar burns blue. Right honey?

Put the pan back on the burner and add more olive oil to the pan. Time to sauté the onions. We talked about this already. Don’t wander away from them. Keep a watchful eye on the onions. When they are brown enough for you, add the chicken back into the pan.  If you listen, you will hear angels singing. Really.

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I add broth/water half way up the chicken. You want to braise it, not drown it. I also add the bouillon now. Put the cover on the pan, lower the heat, and let it simmer for about an hour.

See why I said to make enough for more than one meal? This takes time, but it’s very worth it. The chicken is done when it is falling off the bone. I take the chicken and put it on a CLEAN cookie sheet to cool. I spoon out the onions, with a slotted spoon, into a bowl. Let the sauce cool in the pan.

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Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, I pull the meat off the bones and put it in a container, with the onions.  This is easier to reheat and serve when you shred the meat off the bone. There’s more portion control too. I certainly don’t want a hunk of meat that Fred Flintstone could eat. Yabba dabba do. Being frugal, I put those bones go right into the freezer for  future chicken stock. I pour the sauce into a separate container. The fat will rise as it cools. By dinnertime tomorrow, it will have risen to the top and you can throw out the fat by scraping it up with a spoon.

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That’s it. The next day when you’re ready for dinner put the meat, onions and sauce in a pan and heat on low. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice or noodles.  A simple vegetable like steamed broccoli pairs well with this dish. Ha! I said “pairs”.

I made this chicken tonight, while I was cleaning up after dinner, which I made Saturday. That’s how I roll. I like to cook ahead and serve another day. Flavors meld together and taste even better. That’s the beauty of braising. Try it. You’ll like it! Winner, winner; chicken dinner!