Category Archives: chicken

Winner Winner Buffalo Chicken Sammie Dinner

IMG_1828 All of those 4 or 5 or 6 or under 10 ingredient meals are so alluring.  Just think, with a very few items you too can make scrumptious meals.  But the ones I’ve tried end up being so blah that its easy to return to (still) simple preparations with a few more ingredients to punch up the flavors.  This flavorful buffalo chicken sandwich takes the cake for simple recipes with loads of flavor.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

(inspired by this recipe)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Franks hot sauce

2 chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch thick “steaks”

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

3 TBS lite mayo (or more as needed)

lettuce

tomato, sliced

onion, sliced

4 ciabatta rolls, split

Directions:

1.  Combine 2 TBS hot sauce with 1 TBS softened butter, mix and set aside.

2.  Combine blue cheese and lite mayo.  Set aside.

3.  Combine remaining hot sauce with chicken and let marinade while you start up the grill.  Grill the chicken about 3 minutes per side and remove from the grill.  Pour hot sauce and butter mixture over the chicken.

4.  Toast ciabatta rolls lightly on the grill.

5.  Schmeer blue cheese mixture on the top of each roll, then assemble sandwiches with chicken, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Notes:

  • Lite mayonnaise tends to be a bit sweet.  I’ll try this with light sour cream next time around.
  • Our whole family loves hot wings, so the chicken was a big hit.  And since each person can choose their own veggies on the sandwich, everyone gets a perfect sandwich.

Chicken in Coconut Gravy

Have you ever waited around and waited around and waited around for something to happen and it didn’t, so you just piped up and did it yourself?  At work, years ago, we shared monthly pot luck meals.  There was usually a theme, but that was not necessary.  It was just so comforting to share a good meal with people that depend on each other every day.  But the organizer moved away, and stuff happened, and times got rough with the economy, and I wondered what I could do to bring back shared warm experiences with this group of people.  Gathering a few partners in crime, we just set up dates and themes for the year, and voila, food and people appeared!  Food and stories are once again being shared, and we’re just enjoying some relaxing time together.  Mission accomplished.

A bonus to being part of creating themes is that my favorites get included!  We all love the fresh produce in the area, so salad bars and finger foods always include amazing local delectable treats.  This group loves soup, so that will be one theme.  But me?  I just love stuff over rice.  Veggies over rice, stir fry over rice, and especially curry over rice.  Luckily, a friend renamed it “goodness over rice” which was a wonderful advertising improvement.  This is my favorite curry recipe from my favorite curry cookbook that has been reworked for my own home kitchen and was well received at our shared meal.  And isn’t that what it is all about anyway?  Sharing food, sharing stories, and sharing time together.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

Adapted from the recipe “chicken in thick coconut gravy” in 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond flour (almonds pulverized in a spice grinder until powdered)
  • 5 TBS canola oil
  • 15 dried arbol chilies
  • 4 heaped tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamon pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 ¼ lb boneless chicken, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • salt
  • water

Directions:

1.  To a large skillet heated over medium heat, add 1 TBS oil to coat the pan and the chilies.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring often.  Add the coriander, mustard, cardamon, and cinnamon and cook for just under a minute.  Add the cumin, peppercorns, cloves and turmeric, cooking 1 more minute stirring constantly.

2.  Put the spices, coconut milk, almond flour, 1 cup of the onions, and cloves into a blender.  Blend until it becomes a smooth paste, about 5 minutes.  Add water if the mixture becomes too thick to blend.

3.  To the skillet heated over medium low, add 3 TBS oil and the remaining onion.  Sauté slowly until just turning golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add the spice paste and one cup of water to the skillet.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Add the chicken and cook over low heat, covered, 15 minutes.  Remove the lid, add ½ cup water and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce reduces to the desired consistency.

Notes:

  • It is imperative to have the spices measured out and ready to use before step 1.
  • The original recipe used fresh coconut and required creating your own first and second extracts of milk.  I found by trial and error that using canned coconut milk with ground almonds produced a very similar consistency.
  • Buying all of these spices in the spice rack of pretty bottled spices at your local store would put you back a pretty penny.  Look for the spices in small bags in the Mexican or Indian sections of the store.
  • For those who like to double some of their spices, do not double the cardamon pods as they are quite strong in flavor and will easily take over the dish.
  • For the work potluck, I complete the steps through the sauteed onion, then put everything in a crockpot that I brought to work and plugged in to cook the chicken.

Brined Roasted Chicken

Way back in 1998, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a story on brining meats which I cut out and put into my recipe binder.  (Remember those?  Back in the dark days before online recipe sites and food blogs?)  I hadn’t heard of the technique before, but it sure caught my fancy, and I gave it a go, first with chicken and then with pork chops.  Each turned out better than any cooked at home ever before.  Yes, just as promised, the meat was juicy and flavorful as opposed to dry and bland.  Call me a convert.  Now, a brine is always used on these meats.

A few years back, there would be a brined and roasted chicken on our dinner table about once a month.  Easy, inexpensive, and delicious were the traits that kept that dish coming back.  What caused the habit to fade is a mystery to me.  Then, last month, I was browsing my favorite food blogs and ran across Michael Rhulman writing about how he roasts a chicken for dinner weekly and tried the brining method for a change.  Memories of lovely roasted chicken came whirling back through my mind!

If you have not yet brined a bird, now is the time.  Yes, there are extra steps, but with a little planning, they take very little time. This is the basic plan:

  • While making dinner the night before the roasted chicken dinner, make brine while making dinner.  Use the same pot that you’ll put the bird in when the brine has cooled.  The brine just involves a few ingredients that need to be brought to a boil and can be put together in under 5 minutes.  You’re at the stove anyways, just add one more pot for the brine.
  • Let the brine cool during the evening and put it in the refrigerator before going to bed.
  • In the morning, rise the chicken, remove any innards, and put it in the brine.  Leave the brined bird in the refrigerator all day.  At this point, you have completed all steps for the brining process and are ready to roast the chicken that night.

Brined Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

1 gallon water, more if need to completely cover the chicken while in the pot

1 cup kosher salt

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife to break open

1 to 2 TBS peppercorns cracked with a mortar and pestle

2 sprigs rosemary (can also use oregano or sage)

1 chicken

Directions:

1.  Combine water, salt, garlic, peppercorns and rosemary in a large pot on the stove.  Heat to a boil and stir until salt dissolves.  Remove from heat and cool.  Place in refrigerator overnight.

2.  In the morning, remove brine and chicken from refrigerator.  Rinse chicken and remove any parts in the body cavity.  Place chicken into the pot, breast side down, cover, and return to refrigerator.

3.  When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees, remove chicken from the pot and allow to air dry while coming closer to room temperature. Place chicken, breast side up,  in roasting rack or iron skillet for cooking.

4.  Set the roasting pan or skillet in the oven.  After 15 minutes lower the heat to 350 degrees, and continue roasting for one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Notes:

  • The roasting method is based on Julia Child’s recommendations.  I miss Julia.
  • Because the chicken drippings will be salty, homemade gravy just doesn’t work with this method.
  • Ruhlman talks about using a cast iron skillet for his roasted birds.  I’ll give that a go next time around.
  • Once you have the basics of salt, garlic, and peppercorns down, play around with different herbs.  The possibilities are endless!
  • The Chronicle article provides great information, especially the “What the Pro’s Know” and “How Long to Brine” sections.
  • Once that chicken is in the oven, you have time to relax with a glass of wine.  Nice!

Arroz Con Pollo For a Crowd

Need to cook for a crowd?  Large family?  Make a few extras to share or stash for lunches?  Here’s your recipe.  Arroz con Pollo.  Basically, we’ve got chicken, rice, and some veggies working together to make sheer comfort food.  This recipe came from my father in law quite a few years ago.  I know that because it is printed in black and white, while anything from the past few years is in color.  He is a good cook and along with Sandi they practice and perfect dishes, then kindly share them out.  Nice!

The original recipe calls for “chicken parts” which could mean whatever is on sale that day.  I tend to go with a whole chicken because it is economical and any home cook clearly equates breaking down your basic chicken with cooking street creds.  And yes, this is one area where I’ve got street creds.

This arroz con pollo is another of those recipes where if you read it through first, you’ll notice that while the meat is cooking you can chop the vegetables, and while the vegetables cook,  you can get out the spices and open the canned tomatoes and wine (ok, you may want to open that wine earlier, but still), and by the time they are all cooking happily together,  you can clean up the chopping board, read the mail, and enjoy another glass of wine.  Once again, nice.

Serves 6 to 8 with leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 TBS olive oil

1 1/2 lb chicken parts or 1 small chicken broken down into parts, patted dry and liberally seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb italian sausage, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, but into 1/2 in dice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1 can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 bay leaf

2 cups medium grained rice, such as Goya

2 1/4 cups water

Directions:

1.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil on medium high.  Brown the chicken on all sides in batches and transfer to a platter.

2.  Brown the sausage, breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Transfer to a platter.  Drain all but 1 TBS of the oil in the pan.

3.  Reduce heat to medium and saute the onion, pepper, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and tumeric to the pot, and stir.  Return the chicken and sausage to the pot and stir gently to mix evenly.

4.  Add the canned tomatoes with liquids, wine, and bay leaf to the pot.  Increase the heat to medium – high and cook for 2 minutes.

5.  Add rice and water.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, cover,and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until the rice is done and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.  If excess liquid remains at that time, remove the lid and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.

6.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve.

Notes:

  • I cut the chicken breasts in half so they are of a similar size and cooking time as the other parts.
  • This was served with a simple salad of romaine and spicy ranch dressing.  For the dressing, just add some salsa to ranch dressing and stir.
  • The cumin is the must have spice on this list.  If one of the others is not in your pantry today, no need to purchase it just for this dish.

Salpicon of Chicken Tacos

salpicon of chicken tacoBurning Desires, Salsa, Smoke and Sizzle is a cookbook you just need on your shelf.  If you are a cookbook reader, ie you take a stack of cookbooks and a nice cold one out to the deck to plan all of the wondrous meals you will make during the endless hours of your weekend, you’ll be way into this.  The topics are all things grilled and lovely marinades and sauces to accompany them.  Chapters include the obvious like “A Smoldering Passion:  BBQ and beyond” and the less obvious such as “With a Little Help From My Friends: Starters, Salads, and Starches”  and yes, all of those are actually grilled.  There are recipes (duh!), each preceded by a little story.  But, the key here is the perfect introduction to each section.  How to grill?  Got that.  And I know you have access to this basic information a gazillion places.  Salads on the grill?  Interesting, but not new.  Here’s the kicker people … if you actually follow these conversational style directions, you cannot lose.  This is one of very few books where everything, and I mean everything, made from it is 100% top notch! Um sorry, just double checked on where you can find this priceless book, and discovered it is out of print.  Shoot!

On to today’s dish … this is kind of like a spicy chicken salad in a soft taco.  There is an interesting technique of marinating the smoked, shredded chicken after it was cooked.  It really makes for a fresh, bright flavor.  The book desribes how to perfectly smoke the chicken on a kettle grill.  While the dish is certainly exceptional with that method, I’ve been known to just rub a bit of liquid smoke on the chicken before popping it on a gas grill when the wind is whipping up too much of a breeze.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut into breasts, drimsticks, thighs, and wings

3 cups smoking chips

1/2 cup lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves

3 TBS thinly sliced green onions

Romaine leaves

flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

1.  Smoke the chicken by setting on the cool area of the grill, starting skin side down, and turning every 15 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from the grill and cool to room temperature.  Skin the chicken, remove the meat from the bones and coarsely shred it.

2.  While the chicken is almost finished cooking, prepare the marinade.  In a large bowl, stir together the lime juice, olive oil, jalapenos, salt, and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Add shredded chicken and toss together.  (The salad can be prepared to this point up to 1 hour ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

3.  Just before serving, add the tomato and avocado, tomato, cilantro and green onions to the bowl and mix gently.  To serve, line a tortilla with a large romaine leaf, top with chicken salad, and fold in half to create the taco.

Notes:

*  For a lower carb version, just do away with the tortilla.

*  Fresh lime juice is a must in this dish for that bright, zesty flavor.

Best Tortilla Soup Ever!

000_0054This weekend we were hosting the occasional home brewers’ group to do some, uh, home brewing. The brewers get started mid day, and generally the families join in the event a few hours later. I figured that doing some dinner would be comforting and had visions of soup and sammies dancing in my head. But, here in California, that quickly became Tortilla Soup and Quesadillas. Yum!

Tortilla soup is a staple in mi casa, with a batch prepared about once a month during the soup season. This time I was ready to play around with it. I started with some research, from my tried and true slow cooker version, to another barely more than broth with chicken and tortillas, and yet another in the “everything but the kitchen sink” soup variety. My mood was leaning towards something a bit leaner than my usual, but still needing a few items from the kitchen sink recipes. How can someone NOT include some black beans and corn in tortilla soup? That would just be wrong!

Lucky for me, the peppers and onions were fresh from a local farm stand. While a few tomatoes can still be found ’round here, I went for the canned variety as the freshies are not so reliable lately.

For our brewers’ gathering, I made huge amounts of this, so here is the scaled back recipe. This makes enough for a hungry family of 4 with left overs for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

1 TBS vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, roughly diced

1 TBS chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 quart chicken broth / stock

1 lime, juiced

1 chicken breast, divided into 2 or 3 pieces

1/2 can corn, drained

1/2 can black beans, rinsed

1 Anaheim pepper, roasted and diced

1 Poblano pepper, roasted and diced

1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeno

Accompaniments:

3 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips

1 Haas avocado, diced

1 cup grated jack cheese

low fat sour cream

handful cilantro, chopped

1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced

Directions:

1. Roast peppers. Line cookie sheet with foil and set oven on broil. Lay peppers on the cookie sheet and place under broiler until skin is blackened and blistering, turn over peppers and return to the oven until skin blackens and blisters on the other side. Place peppers in a plastic bag and seal so that peppers steam. When peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins, and remove the seeds. Dice peppers and set aside.

2. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium – low heat. Add onions and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add chicken broth / stock, raise heat until the mixture simmers. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the chicken breast. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate to cool.

4. Add the roasted peppers, tomatoes, black beans and corn to the mixture. Return to a simmer and leave it alone for another 20 minutes.

5. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks. Cover with foil and set aside.

6. Place cheese, cilantro, and jalapeños in serving dishes.

7. Serve soup with tortilla slices, avocado and chicken in the bottom of each bowl, topped with soup. Guests may help themselves to the remaining toppings.

Notes:

  • While roasting the chilies, I was sure appreciating those canned versions. But, when tasting the soup, I realized that roasting fresh chilis was an important component to the success this time around. Anaheims are a nice, safe addition, but I really love the poblanos with their stronger flavor. I am convinced that the roasted poblanos were a major contributor to the success.
  • There is no way to overestimate the patience needed with the onions at the start of this soup. Be kind to them and keep that heat low. Also, the low heat at the beginning keeps the garlic from getting that nasty burnt garlic flavor that can jump in way too quickly at this step. Patience!  (This is also an important skill to learn when cooking Indian curries.)
  • Go ahead and get your fingers and hands messy with the peppers. You’re going to chop them up anyways, so don’t worry about keeping them all perfect.
  • I know that half a can of corn and black beans sounds a bit odd, but more than that with these proportions will give you more of a stew. Just take the left overs, toss in a bit of tomato and Serrano chilies and ta-da, you’ve got a lovely salsa for tomorrow night!
  • Avocado in the bottom of the bowl?  Just try it once and you’ll be hooked!

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

Its been awhile since this dish has come out of my kitchen, and I really don’t know why. After making the 40 clove garlic chicken again, it is definitely going back into the rotation.

Knowing that this Kaleidoscope dinner would be like cooking for a crowd, with my family of 4 plus a friend staying the night, and the other family with 6, 4 of them being teens. We needed some serious protein portions! I picked up 2 whole chickens from the store and went to work. Its been quite a few years now since I finally sat myself down and mastered breaking down the bird, but I must admit it is one useful skill! The time involved is minimal, once you know where to look for the correct joints to sever, everyone ends up with a cut of chicken they like, and if I’m into it, I get some “free” homemade chicken broth from the carcass. If you haven’t yet mastered this skill, do give it a try …. you’ll be quite proud of yourself when you do! Ok, you can wimp out and use breasts, thighs, whatever you find already cut for you, but you’ll also have to carry the guilt of not having given it a go yourself.

Forty clove chicken is one of those wonderful dishes where you end up with both chicken and a nice cream-less creamy sauce all from one pan. Fewer dishes! Yes! Don’t let the garlic frighten you away. It bakes right along with the chicken and mellows into a light flavor.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut into legs, thighs, and breasts, with breasts cut in half

40 cloves garlic, very coarsely chopped

1 cup white wine

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp tarragon

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the chicken pieces, and pat in place.

3. Spread chicken pieces out in a roasting pan, allowing a bit of room between each piece. Add garlic, distributing evenly across the roasting pan. Add wine, rosemary and tarragon.

4. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes, turning chicken half way through. Chicken should be 170 degrees. Transfer chicken to the serving plate.

5. Using a fork or potato masher, gently smash the garlic pieces and stir to incorporate with the pan juices and wine. It should look like a slightly lumpy gravy when you finish. Pour over chicken and serve.

Notes:

* Personally, I love the flavor of tarragon in this dish. Other than that, if you don’t have rosemary, go ahead and substitute some other similar herb that happens to be in your pantry.

* Cutting each breast in half makes each piece more even in size which is important when cooking it all for the same amount of time. Another benefit: portion control.

* This is not the time to peel all of that garlic! Buy the kind that has already been peeled. And you don’t need to get all particular and count out the garlic cloves. Just pour a whole bunch of cloves on your cutting board, give them a few quick chops and toss them on the chicken.

* I was amused to see how many You Tube videos show how to cut up a chicken!  It truly never occurred to me to film myself breaking down a bird and sharing it with the world.  Time to expand my goals!