Posts tagged ‘chicken’

Spring-y Saffron Chicken and Snap Peas

I am aware that this post is coming late: spring has long since sprung.  Morels, fava beans, and ramps – the heralds of the season in New England – have populated and then disappeared from the market shelves, making room for the first husks of sweet corn and mounds of heirloom tomatoes.  Nevertheless, I decided last night to peruse the “Spring” chapter of one of my favorite cookbooks with the aim of giving May a proper (though belated) send-off.

Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques is a truly wonderful volume for any cook who loves to entertain.  The recipes are elegant and intensely flavorful, though never overly complicated.  Their simplicity is juxtaposed brilliantly with their originality – I often ask myself, “why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?”  As an example, the meal I made last night involved thinly slicing sugar snap peas on the bias and sauteeing them quickly with onions and thyme, finished with saffron butter and lemon juice.  Surely, one need not prepare the snap peas this way to enjoy the delicious flavor combination, but I loved the way the peas separated from the pod, creating a varied texture and a far more interesting visual on the plate than the standard whole pod.

Another lovely feature of this cookbook is that it is organized around full meals.  For each season, Goin provides eight 4-course menus, including dessert.  I have had great luck cooking her recipes — her instructions are very clear and concise, and she always notes when some aspect of the meal can be done ahead.  Last night, I made just one course although it had three components: Saffron Chicken with Parmesan Pudding, Spring Onions, and Sugar Snap Peas.  RJ and I raved about the layered flavors of the chicken breasts, and I could not get enough of the green vegetables.  After an initially lukewarm reaction to the texture of the parmesan pudding, both of us came around to appreciating its subtlety when paired with the zesty chicken.  Only two things would have improved this meal: first, we should have listened to Suzanne Goin and used skin-on chicken breasts.  We missed the crispy goodness!  Second, in making this again I will definitely whip up a quick pan sauce to accompany the protein – why waste all those rich drippings?

Saffron Chicken, Spring Onions, and Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 6

1/2 tsp. saffron threads
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, separated
6 boneless chicken breasts, about 5 oz. each, skin on!
1 Tbs. thyme leaves, separated
2 Tbs. sliced flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, zested
3/4 lb. sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 c. sliced spring onions plus 1/2 c. sliced spring onion tops
4 oz. pea shoots

Toast the saffron in a small pan over medium heat until it just dries and becomes brittle. Pound the saffron to a fine powder in a mortar. Dab a tablespoon of the softened butter into the saffron powder, using the butter to scoop up about half the powder. Set aside.

Stir 4 tablespoons olive oil into the mortar, scraping with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of the saffron powder. Mix with 2 teaspoons of the thyme leaves, all of the parsley, and the lemon zest. Pour this into a large ziplock bag with the chicken breasts, coating the chicken well. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Swirl in 1 tablespoon olive oil and wait a minute. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan (you might need to cook the chicken in batches). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Turn the breasts over, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook them a few more minutes, until just cooked through and springy to the touch. Transfer the chicken to a resting rack.

Return the pan to the stove over medium heat for a minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and when it foams, add the sliced spring onions, sugar snap peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and the remaining teaspoon of thyme. Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes stirring, until the onions are translucent. Add the saffron butter and 1 tablespoon water. Swirl the pan, and when the liquid comes to a simmer, toss in the pea shoots and onion tops. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and squeeze a little lemon juice over the vegetables. Taste for seasoning.

Arrange the chicken on a large warm platter and spoon the vegetables over it. Serve with the hot parmesan pudding.

Parmesan Pudding
(obviously this part of the meal is not gluten free)

3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. whole milk
2/3 c. heavy cream
1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat a medium pot over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add the butter; when it foams, whisk in the flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.  Slowly pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate it.  The butter and flour will seize up and get pasty at first.  Continue whisking vigorously as you add the liquid, and the mixture will become smooth.  Cook a few more minutes, until warm to the touch.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl.  Slowly drizzle the eggs into the cream mixture, whisking continuously until combined.  Stir in the cheese, and season with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Pour the mixture into a 8×6 inch (or equivalent) baking dish, and cover tightly with foil. [I used individual ramekins instead, and cut the cooking time to 40-45 minutes which seemed to do the trick!]  Place the baking dish in a roasting pan, and add hot water to the pan until it comes halfway up the outside of the custard dish.  Place the pan in the oven and bake about 1 hour, until the pudding is just set.

(You can make and bake the pudding ahead of time and refrigerate it, covered.  Bring it to room temperature about an hour before serving, and rewarm it in a 400 degree F oven, 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until it’s hot and begins to brown slightly around the edges.)

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June 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm 4 comments

Best Ever Chicken Scallopine

Scallopine

It seems I am not the only one lax in my blogging duties.  Some of my favorite sites are on indefinite breaks.  Granted, I don’t have a truly good excuse, as I am not in the middle of opening my own restaurant, mourning the loss of my pet, or recovering from a difficult break-up.  I’m more in the same league with Katie of Chaos in the Kitchen, who just wants to hang out with her kids, since my reason is that I’m pouty about not having my own kitchen.  This, however, is all about to change!  Starting July 6th, my table — of “From My Table to Yours” fame — will be relocated to Beacon Hill in Boston, MA.  From those heights overlooking the historic city, the dirty river Charles, and the ivory towers of Cambridge, I hope to bring my cooking to a whole new level.  Think: exotic cheeses from Formaggio Kitchen, game meats from Savenor’s, and guess what — a Whole Foods only a couple blocks from my front door!  If I can just manage to keep my graduate student homework to a minimum, I can really get something accomplished here!

So, unlike my compatriots listed above I am not on a break from posting, I simply need another week to gather myself together and get back into the swing of things.  To tide you over, I have a great recipe to share though I do need to make a confession.  While my Cookbook Challenge was conceived with the absolute best intentions, I always suspected it might come back to bite me in the arse.  The mission was to work my way through the massive collection of cookbooks I own so that I could at least say that I had tried several recipes from each one (and thus justify their purchase).  Yet deep down I knew that I had a dark secret — I buy books faster than I can cook from them.  Since the start of the challenge at the end of April, I have added five cookbooks to my collection, or seven if you count Ratio and The Flavor Bible in the count!  No matter — I won’t let my own weakness for shiny hardcovers and glossy photographs lessen my dedication to (or enjoyment of) the Sisyphean task of the Cookbook Challenge!

Next up: Sweet Basil by David Becker.  This book is particularly close to my heart since the restaurant Sweet Basil is located in my hometown of Needham, MA and is a favorite of mine.  Inside the small establishment, corrugated tin walls flank an open kitchen from which steam clouds billow and giant white bowls of pasta emerge.  Outside, crowds gather to await their tables, each couple sharing the burden of a mysterious brown paper bag.  Those in the know, of course, are aware that the bags contain wine and beer, since part of the charm of Sweet Basil is their BYOB policy.  And as Dave Becker confesses in the book, he’s seen wine harvested during the Reagan administration sitting on one table, with Schlitz in a can holding court at the adjacent one.  It’s just that kind of place.

What I loved most about this first recipe is that it came out tasting just like it does at the restaurant.  The characteristic flavors of bright lemon juice, pungent garlic and, yes, sweet basil, were all present and accounted for.  Each bite came alive in my mouth – and each tastebud was singing in chorus: salt! sweet! sour! umami!  (it’s true – it’s from the parmesan cheese).  I would not call this recipe the “Best” unless it really was extremely good and the best I’ve tasted.  Please make this.  Go.  Now.  Cook!  Or if you don’t cook, get yourself over to Sweet Basil on Great Plain Ave in Needham.

Chicken Scallopini with Lemon, Capers, and Tomatoes, from Sweet Basil the Cookbook [Printable Recipe]
(Serves 4)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
All-purpose flour
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic, minced (about 1/2 cup – don’t skimp too much!)
1/2 c. white wine
Juice of 2 lemons
2 c. chicken stock
2 plum tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. salted capers, rinsed (I used the capers in brine)
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Cooked angel hair pasta for serving

scallopine-chickenPlace the chicken breasts, two at a time, between 2 sheets of plastic wrap [or in a gallon-size Ziploc bag]. Use the smooth side of a meat mallet [or a rolling pin] to pound them to about 1/2 inch thickness. Arrange the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the chicken with a pinch each of salt and pepper, and then dredge generously with flour, coating both sides. Shake off the excess and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. of the butter. When the butter melts, place the chicken in the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Turn over and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate (it is not cooked through at this point).

chicken scallopini sauceAdd the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the white wine and the lemon juice. Simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan for a few minutes until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and capers. Increase the heat to high, and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer for 6 minutes, or until the liquid is decreased by about one-third.

Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the herbs [and cheese] and serve immediately.

July 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm Leave a comment

Kung Pow! Chicken

Kung-Pao-FinalAs they say, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”  Though I’m not sure it’s the perfect analogy, I must say I did feel a rush of culinary freedom when I found out I was going to have a weekend in the kitchen without my husband around.  Of course, of course, I miss him terribly.  However, the thought of being able to cook any combination of fish, vegetables, or ethnic food I can dream up is nearly intoxicating.

I took RJ’s absence as an opportunity to tackle a second book in my cookbook challenge, and I picked one I knew he wouldn’t enjoy – Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health by Nina Simonds.  While many of the books in my cookbook collection were gifts, and even more were bookstore (or Costco) purchases, this one has more of a story.  I currently work at an art museum and design programming to attract new members and donors.  Last spring, I invited Nina Simonds to speak at the museum for a lecture and luncheon event.  I used her appearance as an excuse to purchase her most recent cookbook, Spices of Life — for research of course!

She brought with her baskets and baskets of spices — assorted seed pods, gigantic rolled cinnamon sticks, peppercorns of all colors.  The guests at the museum loved being able to handle each of these, and breathe in the varied aromas, both familiar and exotic.  While some of us are more adventurous than others when it comes to spices and strange flavors, few of us can describe the plant that produces sesame seeds, or have handled all of the different components of a garam masala.  It was a true treat to have Nina, such a well-traveled food writer and cook, share these things with us.

Nina’s approach to cooking emphasizes the use of healthful ingredients and she describes throughout the book the restorative powers of specific herbs, vegetables and spices.  The concept is a great one — incorporate these health-giving (not to mention delicious!) ingredients into your cooking on a regular basis, and improve your body’s form and function.  Nina’s other website actually supplies a great list of spices and produce items along with their nutrients and perceived healthful properties, though the book is far more comprehensive.

I quickly realized that working with this book was going to take a bit of pantry makeover.  Ingredients such as rice wine vinegar, mirin, and oyster sauce are not part of my everyday mise en place, but I am always happy to expand!  The first recipe I tried was Kung Pao Chicken, served alongside her Asparagus with Cardamom Butter.  The prep work for the chicken was pretty intensive, but I attribute that primarily to my unfamiliarity with the ingredients.  When I get to the point of ‘a splash here’, ‘a handful of that’, ‘a dash of this’, I think that I can minimize my time spent and the amount of measuring cups and tablespoons I dirty up!  I also think there’s a more efficient method for making the marinade and sauce mixtures, since they are quite similar at the base.

I really liked the comforting Asian flavors of the chicken dish – the salty soy sauce, spicy ginger, and nutty sesame oil mingled together nicely – but the texture was the most fun.  Between the tender bites of chicken, the light snap of the water chestnuts, and the firm crunch of the peanuts, this recipe provided really exciting variety and no two bites were the same.  I also thought it was great that the whole scallion was used (I hate ditching the green tops), especially since the onion provided a nice contrast, both visually and flavor-wise, to the rich brown sauce.  This recipe is definitely worth a try!

As for the asparagus…  I am glad to know that by including the cardamom my digestive system is better off and my ‘spasms’ may now be under control, but the flavor just wasn’t for me.  Give me lemon juice, parmesan cheese, or balsamic vinegar any day — the cardamom was just too out there.  I am sure I could get used to it, of course, but I think that unless I need to quell a bout of belching, I will stick to what I love.

Kung Pao Chicken, slightly adapted from Nina Simonds’ Spices of Life

(Serves 6)

12 ounces skinless chicken breast

Marinade:kung-pao-mise
2 Tbs. light soy sauce
2 Tbs. Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup peeled water chestnuts
2 Tbs. oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 c. unsalted peanuts, dry roasted
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped white parts, green parts chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (to taste)

Sauce (mixed together):
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. rice wine
1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock

kung-pao-sauteDirections:

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Mix together the marinade ingredients, and place the cubes in a bowl; toss lightly. Marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Blanch the water chestnuts in a pan of boiling water, then refresh in cold water. Drain, pat dry, and cut into thick slices.

Heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and heat until very hot. Stir-fry half the chicken pieces, turning constantly, until the meat is cooked. Remove with a wire sieve or slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining chicken. Wipe out the pan.

Reheat the wok over high heat, add the remaining oil, and heat until very hot. Stir-fry the spring onion white parts, ginger, garlic, and the chili flakes for 10 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the sliced water chestnuts and stir-fry for 15 seconds, or until heated through. Pour in the mixed-together sauce ingredients and scallion greens and simmer until thickened. Add the cooked chicken and the peanuts. Toss lightly to coat with the sauce and serve over rice.

kung-pao-mixed-good

May 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Thai-Style Stir-Fried Chicken and Basil

Thai Chicken with Basil

For all the flack I give my unadventurous husband, I was not always the intrepid eater that I am today.  My siblings will certainly attest to the years that I spent eating only hamburgers, and one of my best friends and fellow epicures will surely remember a time not long ago when all fish were abhorrent to me.  I credit both my love of cooking and my expanded palate to one person.  I am not sure if she knows this (I will be sure to give her a poke on Facebook to read this post, however) but my friend Robin is the source of all of this.

After receiving my acceptance to college during my senior year of high school, I made the decision to defer my matriculation for a year.  While the “sabbatical year” is very common in Europe for kids that age, it was a recent trend at my school that had a very strong appeal for me.  While New York City and Columbia University certainly was alluring, I wanted to seize the opportunity to try something very new and exciting and ready myself for another four years of academic immersion.  I applied to the Wells College Program for the Arts in Paris, and packed up my film and camera for 6 months in the city of lights.  There, I met Robin who was a vegetarian from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.  We hit it off immediately, and our bond grew stronger as we realized that her dietary restrictions and my tight budget severely limited our options for meals in Paris.

Her solution, one that seems so obvious now but that at the time was quite a novelty, was to use the dorm kitchen at the Cité Universitaire (where we lived) to cook our own dinners.  This did necessitate a purchase of a mini fridge from the BHV (quite an excursion) in which to horde our creations from the pilfering masses of La Cité, as well as a scouting mission for familiar American ingredients around Paris.  Robin’s French was in its nacent stages, as were my culinary skills, but between the two of us we put together a proper pantry.  My previous experience with cooking was the occasional massive dinner party with my high school friends, where ten or more of us crowded into my mother’s kitchen to clabber together a meal.  With Robin, I was given one-on-one instruction and she introduced me to ingredients that I never would have touched before.  Something about selecting the perfect eggplant from a table at the farmer’s market, hunting down the elusive broccoli, or debating the proper substitution for an American ingredient like sour cream, made my fear of strange vegetables and creative, ad hoc cooking dissipate.  

Over the years since that first stint in Paris, I have come to love vegetables of all kind, have acquired a taste for seafood, and have (obviously) developed a huge passion for cooking.  One victory that I will credit to my friends Julie and Lindsay is my recent acceptance of ethnic foods.  Robin, try as she might, could not convince me to go anywhere near an Indian restaurant.  Lindsay (another vegetarian) and Julie (an omnivore for the most part, unless you offer her boxed mac and cheese) have introduced me to some of my now favorite cuisines – Japanese sushi and Thai food.  Though the following recipe is not typical Thai — it has been adapted for an American audience and for use in homes like my own! — it has some similar flavors.  I really enjoyed this very simple-to-make dish, as did RJ.  Next time I will slice my chicken thinner (as the recipe says to) and use more basil.  They also suggest replacing the basil with mint and cilantro.  I suppose my palate will have to evolve a bit further for that…

Thai-Style Stir-Fried Chicken and Basil, from Fine Cooking (April/May 2009, issue 98)
Serves 2-3

Mise en place2 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
1 Tbs. fish sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
chicken-with-basilHeat the oil in a well-seasoned wok or a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it’s no longer pink and the shallots are beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through and the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. (If the sauce reduces before the chicken is cooked through, add water, 1 Tbs. at a time.) Remove from the heat, add the basil, and stir to wilt it.

Thai Chicken Basil

March 21, 2009 at 9:52 am 3 comments

Carmelized Onion and Brie Stuffed Chicken

Brie Stuffed Chicken

chick-onionsSince my last chicken post was kind of a bust (no offense, honey, it just wasn’t really a recipe.  And besides no one can fry those Tyson tenders like you can – it can’t be taught!), I have a really really good one for you today.  This recipe was given to me by a friend who is taking a Healthy Cooking class out in Brookline, MA.  She shared with me some of the dishes she had already made, and I of course weeded through all the really healthy ones with such forbidden items as vegetables, tofu, and whole wheat flour, to find the only one my husband would eat.  And, boy, did he ever!  We are huge fans of this recipe, even more so when I have caramelized onions already on hand to make this even easier!  In fact, may I recommend to all of you that you always have some caramelized onions on hand?  They are great for stirring into risotto, topping on baked potatoes, adding to an omelette, layering into a vegetable gratin, incorporating into hors d’oeuvres or for any number of other possibilities.  And they do keep, especially if you freeze them this way.

Pounded Chicken BreastsIn any case, this dish just really tastes good.  I’ve made it with both grocery store President-brand brie and with the really good Brie de Nangis that my local cheese shop, Joppa Fine Foods, regularly stocks.  The good stuff does make for a richer and more flavorful result, but if you don’t have access to any, the grocery brands work fine.  Also, if pounding out chicken doesn’t sound all that fun to you, I would guess that you could make this recipe by cutting a deep slit into the side of a chicken breast (but not through to the other side) parallel to the cutting board, and stuffing the cheese mixture inside that way.  Close up the slit with a toothpick and proceed with the recipe.  You might not get quite as much filling, but it is more exciting than straight chicken! 

Brie and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Chicken Breast, adapted from Cooking Light May 1997

Onions and Wine1 Tbs. and 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 c. sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine or dry vermouth
2 oz. Brie, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs. fresh sage, chopped finely
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1/2 tsp. olive oil in large oven-proof pan (meaning no plastic handles) over medium heat, add sliced onion and cook 3 minutes, until browned. Add sliced garlic and saute until golden brown. Stir in 1/3 cup white wine and cook five minutes or until liquid is evaporated.

Filled ChickenSpoon onion mixture into bowl and let cool. Once cooled, stir in Brie, sage and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, place one chicken breast into a large plastic bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a rolling pin or heavy sauce pan, using firm glancing blows, until chicken is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with all of the chicken breasts. Salt and pepper each piece to taste.

Place a dollop of stuffing mixture onto the chicken, roll up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. In the same skillet you used for the onions, add a bit more olive oil, and brown the chicken roll-ups on all sides.

Put the whole pan into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  At this point, you can dig in and enjoy, or you can remove the chicken from the pan, and pour into the pan about a 1/2 cup of white wine and some minced garlic, stirring to pull up the browned bits.  As it starts to get thicker, stir in a couple teaspoons of butter, then pour over the chicken for a nice and easy sauce.

chicken-final-2

December 29, 2008 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

Another day in Paris: Coq au Vin

coq-final

This week on Barefoot Bloggers, the featured recipe was Coq au Vin, or chicken cooked in wine sauce.  I think it was on “The Next Food Network Star” or some other such show where I first learned that Coq au Vin is traditionally made with a very old rooster.  That being unavailable, and rather unappetizing I might add…, I went with a split chicken breast.

The results here were excellent.   The sauce tasted rich and herbal; the chicken was tender and juicy.  RJ even ate the carrots, the broth was so good!  I don’t know how much I can credit the fact that I followed the recipe through the oven cooking portion the day before, then finished the sauce the next night, but the flavors were certainly pronounced and well blended.  This method also prevented us from eating dinner at 9:00 – always a plus.

I would certainly cook this again, though next time I will leave some time to reduce the liquids down a bit more.  My sauce was thin and did not really stick to the noodles or the chicken, even after the addition of the buerre manie.  Bon Appetit!

Coq Au Vin, from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 Tbs. vegetable oilcoq-mise
4 oz. good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4 lb.) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb, carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 c. Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 c. good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 lb. frozen small whole onions
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

coq-browningHeat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

coq-cookingMash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

December 11, 2008 at 7:27 am 6 comments

Mexican Chicken (or Turkey) Soup

Tortilla Soup

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I hope that this post finds you well, and FULL!  This Thursday’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe is pretty simple (more so if you have leftover chicken from this recipe) – a twist on a classic.  Start with your average, basic chicken soup with celery, carrots and onions, but add tomatoes and jalapenos for kick.  Those were nice additions, I thought, but the true revelation of the recipe was the tortillas.  Having never made a mexican soup before, I was skeptical about putting strips of corn tortillas into the pot.  Were they meant to act as thick Mexican-style noodles?  What would they taste like in my mouth?  I was imagining the texture of thick, soggy bread strips and I almost gagged.

To my surprise, the effect of adding the corn tortilla strips is to thicken the soup in a most delightful way.  The strips disolve into the broth, giving it a stew-like texture that was unexpected and quite pleasing.  When I brought this soup into the lunchroom the next afternoon, my colleagues ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the smell and the look of it.  And I didn’t even go all out with avocado garnish!  I imagine that if you are left with several pounds of cooked turkey after today, as I inevitably will be, you could easily use it to make this soup.  And while everyone else will be eating their third day of turkey with cranberry sauce, or their twelfth bowl of turkey noodle soup, you will be the envy of the Thanksgiving-leftover-lunchroom.  I would bet that some black beans in this soup would probably make you forget you were even eating leftovers.  Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Soup, from Barefoot Contessa at Home

2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin onchicken-shred
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c. chopped onions (1 onions)
1/2 c. chopped celery (1 stalks)
1 c. chopped carrots (2 carrots)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 of a 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed*
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
2-3 Tbs.chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
3 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chipstortillas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 1/2 tsp. salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.Chicken soup tortillas

* I halved this recipe, so I only used 1/2 a can of whole tomatoes.  The other half I used for a quick pasta sauce the next night – very easy.  Just make sure you don’t store the unused tomatoes in the can.  I think that it gives them a weird flavor.

November 27, 2008 at 10:00 am 3 comments

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