Posts Tagged 'Chicken'



Lemon-Herb Chicken

Lemon-Herb Chicken

Given that humans are visual creatures, the first thing you may notice is that there’s only one photo.  I forgot to take any pictures until the very end.  So much for montages of lemons and herbs.  But at least I remember to take at least one photo (it was actually closer to 4 but the others are very similar to the one above).

And that has almost nothing to do with this recipe.  This is part of my own desire to figure out what to do with boneless, skinless chicken breasts (a.k.a. the wonder bread of the protein world).  I make chicken marsala with it and that’s about it.  But I’m always willing to try something new.

Lemon and chicken are a classic combination and adding herbs can only make it better.  And, for a chicken breast, this is a good application.

This will not cause a transcendental experience.  It won’t remind you of your childhood or a long lost love.  But it is a good way to turn a meal that could be reminiscent of cardboard into something that’s actually tasty.  To claim that it was excellent would be a lie, it merely qualifies for the label good.  But that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, for a weeknight dinner, it’s exactly what I want.

It went well with garlic mashed potatoes and peas with prosciutto. The 2004 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Grande Cuvée (available at Costco of all places) complimented it nicely.

Lemon-Herb Chicken
Adapted from The Cuisine of California

Marinade:
zest of 1 lemon, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (any combination of rosemary, thyme, parsley, and basil)
2 tbsp dry vermouth
1/4 tsp honey
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.  Pour over the chicken breast in a non-reactive container.  Allow to marinate for 4 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
  3. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan.  Cook the chicken in the pan, about 5-7 minutes per side (be careful as the marinade will allow the chicken to brown very quickly).  Remove the chicken to a side dish.
  4. Add the reserved marinade to the pan and boil until it is reduced to 2 tbsp.  Add the cream and simmer until the cream has thickened slightly.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce, making sure the chicken is warm.
  6. Serve the chicken immediately with the sauce on top.

Serves 2.

Pollo al Diavolo (The Devil’s Chicken)

Pollo al Diavolo

Some recipes manage to surprise me. Pollo al diavolo is a fairly common recipe for Italian (and Italian-American) cookbooks. Usually, it’s just a spicy chicken that’s either sautéed or braised. It’s rarely bad but it’s become normal and expected.

This recipe was not at all what I was expecting. To be honest, I was sold on this recipe merely because the picture of it looked good (unfortunately, I don’t think my pictures turned out as well). I saw the name and recognizing that it implied spicy food, I figured it’d make a good dinner.

Except, this was significantly different than any version of Pollo al diavolo I had ever had. Most are spicy through red pepper flakes; this is spicy through the black pepper it’s cooked with as well as a spicy oil (olio picante) that you can optionally drizzle over top (I chose to, Angela didn’t).

Despite the relatively short period of time that the black pepper mixture is on the chicken, the pepper taste is absorbed by the chicken. Unlike my experiences with steak au poivre (which I would happily accept as mistakes in my cooking), the pepper did not overpower the taste of the chicken but merely complemented it. I found that the olio picante also complemented the chicken but it tastes primarily of jalapeños with a surprisingly muted heat.

The brining of the chicken is my addition to this recipe (it wasn’t in the original). It did help to make the chicken nice and juicy. If I were to make it again (and I probably will so this can be considered a note to myself), I’d probably add crushed black pepper corns to the brine.

I enjoyed the parsley salad although the parsley portion of it was my least favorite. I’d be happy to substitute a different leafy green for the parsley and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t improve the outcome. The vinaigrette nicely contrasts with the spiciness of the chicken.

As I said, my overall impression of this was surprise. It was less spicy than I expected and the spice was completely different. It’s a much more elegant version of a normally pedestrian dish.

Roast Pollo al Diavolo

Pollo al Diavolo (The Devil’s Chicken)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

Brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup/225 grams kosher salt
1/2 cup/125 grams sugar

1 three-to-five lbs. chicken
1/4 cup ground black pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
olio picante

  1. In a sauce pan over high heat, combine all the brine ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Put the brine in the refrigerator and allow to chill. Add the chicken and brine for 8 to 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Allow the chicken to rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Truss the chicken and baste it all over with the olive oil.
  4. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Combine the 1/4 cup black pepper, a pinch of salt, and the mustard and whisk together. Drizzle in 1 tbsp of olive oil, whisking until blended.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and brush the chicken with the pepper-mustard mixture all over. Return the chicken to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, combine the parsley, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss well.
  9. Carve the chicken and serve it with the parsley salad and drizzle it with the olio picante.

Serves 4.

Parsley Salad


Olio Picante (Spicy Oil)
Adapted from
Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

1 cup olive oil
4 jalapeños, seed and diced
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika

  1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat until the oil reaches 175ºF.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to stand overnight.
  3. Strain the solids out of the oil.
  4. The oil will keep for up to 3 weeks in a cool, dark place.

Makes 1 cup of oil.

Herb-Brined Roast Chicken

It's surprisingly difficult to photograph a roast chicken

Currently, whenever I think of roast chicken, I think of the roast chicken I shared with friends, in the rain, in Versailles, France. We had just taken the train in from Paris to visit the eponymous Château. We were hungry and our guide book directed us to the local farmer’s market. We eventually settled on a roast chicken and a loaf of bread. We huddled under an archway and, after the first couple bites, literally tore the chicken apart. I don’t know if it was the setting, the company, or if the chicken was as good as I remember, but it was the best roast chicken I may have ever had.

But, really, is there a need for yet-another-roast-chicken recipe out there? Has there ever been a cookbook published without one? Hyperbole aside, there certainly are enough out there. I’ve even posted one.

So why another one? Well, I originally used this brine for a turkey at Thanksgiving (if you wish to do so, increase the brine time to 24 hours). The turkey turned out excellently so I thought I’d apply to a chicken in the future.

And here we are then. I had a craving for roast chicken and I decided to share it with the rest of the world (or the limited portion of it that reads this blog).

The brine is not for the faint of heart (or pocketbook). I’m half convinced I spent more on the brine than on the chicken (and it was an organic chicken!). I wouldn’t use this as an everyday brine but it works well for special occasions. I plan to use the brine again next Thanksgiving.

For some reason, I feel like I'm wasting everything that goes into the brine

Herb-Brined Roast Chicken
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 onion, sliced
3 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
2 lemons, halved

1 whole 3-to-4 lbs. chicken

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot; squeeze the lemons as they are added. Bring to a simmer over high heat to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Add the chicken to the brine and weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Allow to brine for 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse well, and dry with paper towels. Let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator an hour before cooking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  6. Roast the chicken in a roasting tray until it reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4.

Poulet Mistral Le Preiuré (Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic)

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Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic seems like a good idea until you need to peel the garlic. And, of course, I won’t cheat by using pre-peeled garlic. It doesn’t help that I’m somewhat allergic to garlic (it makes my fingers dry-out and crack; I have to wear gloves when I work with it).

But, really, garlic is good enough to be worth it. I could launch into a diatribe worthy of Cook’s Illustrated about how every other recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic was bad until I perfected it (or, in my case, found this recipe). It’d be somewhat be true. I have tried several other recipes in the past (with the requisite garlic peeling) and have found them wanting. The chicken never appropriated the garlic flavor. They were simply not worth the effort.

This recipe sort of snuck in under the radar. For one, it’s not called Chicken with Cloves of Garlic. It does, however, sneak those 40 cloves of garlic into the ingredients list. I got suckered in by the idea of chicken with garlic (how could that not sound good?) without realizing exactly what it was. By the time I realized exactly what it was, I had already committed.

I hate having to peel that much garlic

And that was a good thing because this is good. The chicken picks up a mild garlic flavor while still being juicy. The sauce is also quite tasty. It’s almost as good to dip bread in it as the sauce from Poulet Sauté aux Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs) (but not quite).

This is particularly good served with Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin).

Yet another random picture of chicken cooking

Poulet Mistral Le Preiuré (Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic)
Adapted from Bistro Cooking

1 chicken, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
about 40 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 cup white vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter, softened

  1. Season the chicken with salt up to a day in advance.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the pepper. Brown both sides of the chicken, working in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside when done.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic cloves. Place the chicken on top of the garlic. Sauté, shaking the pan occasionally, 10 minutes to lightly brown the garlic.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and the chicken stock. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Bring the sauce to the boil to reduce until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened butter.
  6. Serve the chicken covered with the sauce and garlic.

Serves 4.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen

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Frequently found in grocery store freezer cases, Cornish game hens seem to be more exotic than they are. In reality, they’re just miniature chickens (sure to impress all the women out there who think everything smaller than normal is cute; I’m looking at you Angela).

This was the first time that I had ever had one. I had seen them numerous times in the freezer ghetto of the grocery store but had passed them by as being unfamiliar and possibly too much trouble for the benefit. I only deigned to buy one (well, two really as they come frozen in two packs) when they were on sale. And they promptly went into the freezer for longer than I want to admit.

Why did I choose to rescue them from their frozen entombment? Mainly I wanted to reclaim some freezer space.

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My first step after defrosting them is to figure out what to do with them. Unfortunately, despite my collection of cookbooks (which is either minimally sized or overly-large depending on which family member you ask), I was unable to find a recipe that really attracted me (or that I had all the ingredients for). So I decided to improvise. With a little bit of Gourmet and a little bit of Alton Brown as well as just general ideas, i think it turned out pretty well.

For a family of two, there are a number of advantage to the Cornish game hen: namely, one is enough food for two people (with a little left over to spoil our cats with). But, what really surprised me, was that it was good. The breast meat was moist and the thighs were tender. And, I should add, that this was without brining or pre-salting or any other extraordinary effort (or preparation as it’s normally called); from a frozen mass-produced bird.

I think, that in our household at least, Cornish game hens will become frequent visitors. I bet our cats will like that.

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Roasted Cornish Game Hen

1 Rock Cornish game hen
3 tbsp, softened
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp minced shallots
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter, softened (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place two cast-iron frying pans into the oven.
  2. Spatchcock the game hen (cut out the backbone so the the game hen lays flat).
  3. Mix together the butter, thyme, and garlic to create an herb butter. Season it with salt and pepper.
  4. Rub the herb butter under the game hen skin on the breast and thighs. Rub the remaining herb butter onto the outside of the game hen. Season the game hen with additional salt and pepper.
  5. When the frying pans are hot, remove the frying pans from the oven. Place the game hen skin side up in one of the frying pans. Place the other frying pan on top of the game hen helping to flatten it. Return the frying pans with the game hen into the oven.
  6. Cook the game hen until its internal temperature reaches 160ºF about 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the frying pans from the oven. Remove the game hen from the frying pans and set aside, covered with aluminum foil.
  8. In the bottom frying pan, add the shallots and cook over medium heat about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, scrapping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil and reduce until the sauce is thickened.
  9. Remove the aluminum foil and cut the game hen in half laterally.
  10. Serve each half with the sauce poured over it.

Serves 2.

Chicken Bouillabaisse

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When I’m looking at recipes, certain ones always stand out. Sometimes the whole premise of the recipe seems interesting. Some use an exotic ingredient. I always like those that involve using a part that’s discarded (frequently shells) to make a stock. Certain ingredients just look like they belong together even though I’ve never had them that way.

But some recipes appeal not for their sophistication but for their simplicity. A few accenting flavors allow enhance the main ingredient instead of fighting for attention with it. The sum of the ingredients is much more than their value separately.

These are the recipes and, in most cases, the flavors that appeal to me: simple pasta sauce, uncomplicated roast chicken, a simple steak cooked well. I don’t want my lamb to taste like beef or my pork to taste like chicken. I want lamb that tastes more like lamb and pork that tastes more like pork.

When I first saw this recipe, I made a mental bookmark about it. I hadn’t thought about it in awhile, in part because I had run out of chicken stock and hadn’t, until recently, had any time to make more. Now that I had the ingredients I needed as well as a cool day to fit the recipe.

The recipe is simple. There’s no need to even brown the chicken. It just simmers for an hour. Nothing more to it. While I have no evidence that it wouldn’t work well with non-fresh ingredients, I wouldn’t risk it. With such simple flavors, they need to be at their best.

The chicken was moist and flavorful. But what was best was the sauce. Dipping bread into it was close to divine.

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Chicken Bouillabaisse
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant

1 chicken, quartered
2 cups sliced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
salt
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 dried chili
1/4 cup vermouth
1/3 cup peeled and chopped fresh tomato
pinch of saffron threads
2 garlic cloves, coarsely diced
2 cups of chicken stock

  1. Trim any excess fat from the chicken, dry on paper towels, and season with salt.
  2. Place the onions and the olive oil in a large dutch oven along with several pinches of salt. Place over medium heat and cook until the onions are transparent and soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and chili, breaking up the chili. Add the vermouth and bring to the boil for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, saffron, garlic, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the chicken legs and thighs and return to a simmer. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, turning the meat once.
  6. Turn the chicken legs and thighs and add the chicken breasts. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, turning the meat once.
  7. Check the sauce for seasoning. Remove the chicken and boil down the sauce if needed.
  8. Serve the chicken with the sauce and fresh bread.

Serves 4.

Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid (Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon)

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I think it’s finally time to come to the conclusion that not all food looks good. I suppose it’s a bit hard to make a yellow tinged chicken covered with a yellow sauce look appetizing, particularly in a picture. When I showed the picture to Angela, she agreed that it didn’t look good but did, without prompting, declare that it was good. So it at least has that going for it.

I had originally decided to preserve some lemons when citrus season first stated here in California. I didn’t really have a clue what I’d do with them but it seemed the right thing to do. Given the length of time they needed to mature, I had somewhat forgotten about them. They had been sitting in a mini-fridge that I use from time to time (it’s a good place to cool stock or for drying pancetta, for example).

For dinner the other night, I really wanted something different. I wanted something exotic but familiar, all at the same time. This recipe seemed a good fit, not least because I had all the ingredients that I needed.

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This recipe is apparently the classic Moroccan dish. Given my knowledge of Moroccan cooking (witness the Moroccan-style pork fiasco), I’ll have to trust the cookbook on that one. Despite my previous desicration of the cuisine of Morocco, I decided to modify the recipe. The original recipe had olives. I removed them partially because I don’t like them (as Will can attest, I’ve tried them multiple times and have yet to find any I like) and partially because I don’t have any. I also removed diced cilantro and parsley because I didn’t have any (our fresh produce stock was limited as we had been on vacation for a week and a half and the farmer’s market isn’t until Sunday).

I still think it turned out fairly well while still managing to be somewhat Moroccan (at least it wasn’t pork). It was pleasantly lemony without being overly tart. I’ll make it again when I want something exotic but familiar.

And, while it may seem like a good idea, don’t take a bite of preserved lemon right out of the container. I didn’t know anything could be quite that bitter and salty at the same time.

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Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid (Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon)
Adapted from Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, cut into 6 pieces
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 preserved lemon, diced

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, then add the garlic, saffron, and ginger.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan. Pour in 1 1/4 cups water.
  3. Simmer, covered, turning occasionally for 15 minutes. Remove the breasts and cover with aluminum foil. Simmer for 25 more minutes. Return the breasts to the pan.
  4. Stir into the sauce the lemon juice and the preserved lemon peel. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and simmer the sauce for additional time if the sauce is still too thin.
  5. Serve the chicken with the sauce on top.

Serves 4.


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Lemons Preserved in Salt and Lemon Juice
Adapted from Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

4 lemons
4 tbsp kosher salt
juice of 4 additional lemons

  1. Clean the lemons thoroughly. Cut the lemons into quarters while still leaving the quarters attached at the stem end. Place 1 tbsp of salt in the center of each lemon. Put in a non-reactive container and store in a cool place for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Press the lemons down in the container as much as possible and then add the lemon juice to cover them. Store in a cool place for 1 month.

Makes 4 preserved lemons.


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