Category Archives: Chicken

Have I mentioned my book?

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

My husband Jason and I received I a picinic “basket” as a wedding gift from our friend, Jess. The vintage suitcase arrived, filled with beautiful, reclaimed flatware and serving ware, linens and wine glasses. Like Jess, it is fabulous-casual. You know, like those friends who roll out of bed, pull on whatever clothes lay about their feet, and end up looking like the cover of Vogue?

Now I needed a dish as fabulous as the picnic case. Something that we could serve with a bottle of sparkling rosé, sipped by ladies in gloves and men wearing hats and suspenders.

Et voilà, I succeeded! This herb-poached chicken is perfectly moist. The dry wine, peppercorns and bay ground a beautiful sauce. It’s made slightly sweet by the chicken, tarragon and butter. Cook it ahead and serve it cold with cucumbers dressed in Merlot vinegar, French potato salad and slices of sweet, clean, white peaches and nectarines.

Now I just need a hat.

*I was recently advised that I needed to get comfortable with shameless self-promotion in order to sell my upcoming book, Simple Summer: A Recipe for Cooking and Entertaining with Ease. Here’s one of the recipes. I hope you enjoy it. How was that for shameless?

Herb poached chicken

Serves 6

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 chicken breast halves
  • 3 sprigs tarragon
  • 3-4 sprigs parsley
  • 4-5 chives
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbs Champagne Mimosa* or other white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs cold butter, cut in pieces

*Sightly sweet and beautiful balanced, the mild acidity of Sapore’s Champagne Mimosa vinegar brightens this dish and many summer salads without overpowering the fresh ingredients.

Serve light-tasting French potato salad with this white wine, herb-poached chicken.

Serve light-tasting French potato salad with this white wine, herb-poached chicken.

Directions:

  • Warm oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Reduce heat if needed, to cook onions without browning.
  • Add garlic and cook two minutes, until fragrant.
  • Place chicken breasts in pan in a single layer. Tuck herbs between chicken.
  • Mix together wine and stock, and pour into pan.
  • Cover pan and bring to a simmer. Cook chicken for 10-15 minutes until done, 165 degrees. Be careful not to let poaching liquid boil.
  • Remove chicken to a platter and tent with foil.
  • Add peppercorns, bay leaves and vinegar to pan and simmer until reduced by half. Strain sauce, discard solids and return liquid to pan.
  • Add any juices that have collected under the chicken and cook until reduced to 1 cup.
  • Remove sauce from heat and whisk in butter to thicken.
  • Serve warm or chill and serve cold. Either way, don’t forget the sauce.

Everybody hates leftovers

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Gone are the days of meatloaf Mondays, canned corn Tuesdays, green bean wednesdays and mashed potato Thursdays building to Shepherd’s pie Fridays. Yet, in today’s time and budget-starved world, more and more people cook Sunday for the whole week. Even as we portion meals into plastic containers, we are guilt-filled with the knowledge that by Thursday our meals will remain untouched in the office fridge as we head to the closest food truck rally.

Thinner waists and fatter wallets – casualties of boring leftovers – were the inspiration for these two dishes. We used the same ingredients – chicken, cauliflower and spinach –  in two distinctly different dishes. They are simple enough to prepare in one night, delicious enough to hold our attention throughout the week, and the ingredients are cheap.

Yum! Pass me the leftovers.

Smokey Tomato Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs Spanish paprika, or Hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tbs Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar to deglaze the pan*
  • 1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, puréed
  • ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose

*Supermarket solutions: You can order these online from Sapore or sub sherry vinegar for Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry and a 25 year balsamic for the Dark Chocolate Balsamic.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Stir tomato paste and paprika into onions and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes to pan, stir together with other ingredients and simmer for five minutes.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Stir through Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, check seasoning and serve.

Curried Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

This spice list may seem a bit daunting. Most of these are available at your local supermarket. See everyday substitutions below.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs mustard seed
  • 2 tbs cumin seed
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tbs asafetida*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ head cauliflower , cut into florets
  • 1 tsp fenugreek*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose
  • ¼ tsp mango amchoor*

Supermarket solutions: Asafetida adds depth and could be replaced by leeks cooked with the onion. Fenugreek offers the herbal notes of dried oregano with the floral notes of coriander. Mango amchoor ads acidity. A splash of sherry vinegar can replace it.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Add mustard and cumin seeds, and toast until mustard seeds begin to pop.
  • Add turmeric, asafetida, cinnamon and coriander and cook for one minute until fragrant.
  • Add stock to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken and fenugreek and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, season to taste with salt, pepper and mango amchoor, and serve.

Todd wants wings.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Two years ago, my husband, Jason, and I were sitting at home watching Food Network. On comes Giada De Laurentiis who announces she’s preparing a Game Day menu for her husband and his buddies. “Todd,” she exclaims, “is going to be thrilled when I substitute his usual game day foods with these healthy alternatives!”

Now, I love Giada, but Jason and I, without speaking a word, exchanged a look that said, Todd and his buddies are going to be pissed when Squid Stew and Swordfish Sandwiches replace chili and sliders.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Fast forward to last weekend and my live cooking demo at Eastern Market’s Sapore Oil and Vinegar. Reading my Super Bowl Snacks menu filled with roasted, spiced chick peas, orange and rosemary oil marinated olives, and spicy homemade hummus, Jason tells me, “You’ve turned into Giada.”

A compliment under any other circumstances, I knew he wasn’t talking about my figure and that he was right. There was only one solution: we needed wings. These two recipes were designed to showcase two special vinegars available at Sapore, and they are available online. They are sweet and spicy, sticky, rich, tender and moist.

We’ll even cook a few extra for Todd.

Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Honey Wings

This is based on Sapore’s wonderful, seasonal Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar. Order it online or use the substitutions I suggest below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2” ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with salt
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 1.5# split chicken wings and drum sticks

*To substitute, add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup pear nectar and 2 cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan and simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Directions:

  • Whisk together marinade ingredients. Place wings in a ziplock bag and toss with 1/2 cup of the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Place wings in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Don’t skip the foil. The sugary marinade will caramelize and make a mess on your unlined sheet pan. Cook for 30 minutes, turning once. If roasting two pans at once, switch positions in the oven at 15 minutes.
  • While wings cook, place remaining sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and let bubble away for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • When wings have cooked for 30 minutes, brush with sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Serrano Chile Soy Honey Wings

This is based on Sapore’s versatile Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar. The vinegar is made from fermented honey and is wonderful with Asian, African and Asian recipes. Order it online or use the substitutions I suggest below.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar*
  • 1/4 honey
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 2 tbsp soy
  • 2 tsp Sriracha Thai-style hot sauce(optional)
  • 1.5# split chicken wings and drum sticks
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds

*Try a good quality Sherry vinegar instead of the Serrano Chile Honey and substitute puréed chipotle in adobo for the Sriracha to get some smokey flavor.

Directions:

  • Mix together marinade ingredients. Place wings in a ziplock bag and toss with 1/2 cup of the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Place wings in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Don’t skip the foil. The sugary marinade will caramelize and make a mess on your unlined sheet pan. Cook for 30 minutes, turning once. If roasting two pans at once, switch positions in the oven at 15 minutes.
  • While wings cook, place remaining sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and let bubble away for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • When wings have cooked for 30 minutes, brush with sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove wings from oven, brush again with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Merry and light.

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Stuffed Cornish Game Hen My 70 year-old Aunt Stephanie joined us for the first Christmas dinner I ever cooked. Mom asked me to keep the menu light. While my youthful, iron-clad stomach couldn’t comprehend too rich a meal, I complied, serving Cornish Game Hen as the main course. Cracking open Cook’s Illustrated’s small, pink cookbook on holiday roasts, I prepared brined, balsamic-glazed hens that were moist and golden brown, filled with a wild rice stuffing.

Having cooked for fifteen on the 23rd, I was faced with a second, smaller Christmas dinner on the 25th. Without a recipe, I wandered bulk product in Whole Foods, picking up Israeli couscous, dried Turkish figs and apricots, and preserved lemons. It was a wonderful balance of sweet and tart, rich with couscous plumped with homemade stock. Drawing upon my stash from Spices, LTD – my spice hook up at North Market in Columbus, OH – their Aqua blend of candied lemon, dill and Sonoma sea salt brightened the flavors and added needed complexity.

Mom was happy, Aunt Stephanie would have been proud, and I hope Christopher Kimball would have been too.

Israeli Couscous stuffed Cornish Game Hen

Cornish Hens brine in only 2-3 hours, so you can start this dish the afternoon before your meal.

Ingredients:

Stuffed Cornish Game Hen with Aqua SaltFor hens:

  • 4 cornish game hens
  • 2-3 cups coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbs cold butter

For stuffing:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup diced, dried turkish figs
  • 1/4 cup diced, dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup diced preserved lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • cayenne pepper
  • Aqua salt blend or coarse sea salt

Directions:

Brine Cornish Game Hens:

  • In a cooler or large pot, dissolve 2 cups salt in 2 gallons of water. Rinse hens thoroughly inside and out, under cold running water. Submerge in brine. As needed, add additional water and salt to cover. Add 6 cups of ice and set aside for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator or on the patio if you’re lucky enough to be spending the winter somewhere cold.

Make couscous stuffing:

  • While the hens brine, prepare the stuffing. Warm the oil over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan (use one that has a lid).
  • Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the turmeric, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, along with the dry couscous. Cook for five minutes until couscous is lightly toasted.
  • Add stock and turn heat to medium high. Bring the stock to a boil, cover and reduce to low. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Transfer couscous to a microwave safe bowl. Stir in chopped fruit and parsley. Season to taste with a pinch of cayenne pepper, black pepper and Aqua salt blend or coarse sea salt.

Cook Cornish Game Hens:

  • Remove hens from brine, rinse inside and out with cold water, and pat dry. Prick skin all over with the tip of a paring knife.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Microwave stuffing until very hot. Fill the cavity with stuffing and secure the skin flap with trussing skewers and tie together the legs. You can secure the wings to the body with more string, but that seems like a lot of work and doesn’t make a huge difference with so small a bird.
  • Scatter onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaves in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place hens, breast side down and wings out, on top of a roasting rack set in the pan.
  • Roast 1: Roast hens, for 25 minutes, on a rack set in the middle of the oven.
  • Roast 2: Remove pan from oven, turn hens breast side up and legs out. Whisk vinegar and oil, and brush birds with the mix. Add two cups of stock to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Roast 3: Remove hens from oven and baste again with oil and vinegar mix. Return to oven a final time and roast until both stuffing and thigh register 165 on an instant read thermometer. Remove hens from oven and place on a serving platter. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Make pan sauce:

  • Meanwhile, place roasting pan on stove top and reduce pan juices to 3/4 cup. Strain juices into a small sauté pan and discard solids. Add white wine and any juices that have accumulated under the resting hens.
  • Reduce liquid to 3/4 cups, remove from heat and whisk in the cold butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alongside hens.

Homemade is better. Part II

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Chicken stock is cheap and easy.

Okay. Go ahead. Get the jokes out of your system. I like my coffee black too*. Ready to move on?

Stock is the perfect weekend project. Hit the market in the morning for your ingredients – or pick them up on your way home Friday night. Saturday or Sunday you are going to be home for a few hours: working in the garden, cleaning house, or sitting on the couch watching an America’s Next Top Model marathon while recovering from Friday night happy hour, right? So, dump your ingredients in a pot, set it to a low simmer, and kick your feet up on the couch. Tell everyone not to bother you. You’re cooking.

*I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you got the joke.

Homemade white chicken stock

“White” here refers to the fact that your ingredients go right into the pot without browning them first.

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs chicken parts (see notes)
  • 1 large carrot (2″ diameter and 8″ long)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion (about the size of a baseball)
  • 1 leek, white parts only (optional)
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 parsley stems
  • 4-6 sprigs thyme
Directions:
  • Cut the chicken into 3 inch pieces. Better yet, have your butcher do it. Place them in an 8 quart stock pot and add water to cover the chicken by 2 inches.
  • Meanwhile, roughly chop the vegetables. This is not the time for fine knife skills.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and hold at a slow simmer – just a few bubbles per second.
  • Cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes. Skim off the grey/brown foam that gathers on the surface, and discard.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer for three hours.
  • At the end of three hours, remove and discard the solids.
  • Strain your stock through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth or a coffee filter.
  • Remove the fat from the stock. the easiest way to do this is to cool the stock to room temperature and cool it in the fridge overnight. The fat will congeal on the surface and is easily removed. If you need the stock right away, let the stock rest for 15-20 minutes. It will float to the surface of your stock. You can remove the liquid fat with a spoon.
  • If the stock is too thin, or bland, reduce your stock down to 8 cups over a gentle boil.
Notes:
  • Most grocery stores have their chicken delivered pre-butchered. Buy cheap meat with plenty of bones, like thighs and wings. You could also chop up an entire chicken. If your market or specialty grocery breaks down whole chickens into parts, ask them for chicken backs and have them cut them into 3″ pieces for you. You will pay about $.98 a pound.
  • Letting the chicken cook for 20 minutes first makes it easier to skim off the foam. Otherwise you are fighting with the veggies floating on the top of your pot.
  • Don’t let the stock boil until the end, after you have removed the solids and the fat. Otherwise your stock will get cloudy
  • You can test the level of flavor by putting a little in a small dish and adding a pinch of salt. Taste it. If it tastes to watery, reduce the stock further.