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Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Barley is typically found in a beef stew or soup in the grocery store.  Today I’ve create a chicken version that is lean for your waist as well as your pocketbook.

By roasting my poblano peppers, I’ve brought a sweet smoky undertone to the soup.  I’ve been rather obscessed with poblanos.

This soup froze reasonably well, so it’s great to pack for lunch if you have access to a microwave.  The poblano peppers were very mild, Big Brother didn’t mind eating them.  Little Sister was too busy stuffing her face to really see what she was eating.

  • cooked chicken
  • 2 whole Poblano peppers, roasted and peeled (remove seeds for mild)
  • cup of baby carrots
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock & water
  • sea salt and pepper
  • any herb you like (cilantro, parsley)
  • 2/3 cup cooked barley

Simmer everything together until the carrots are done.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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It’s a rare thing these days, buying stock in a box or can.  Before the holidays arrive full of turkey, chicken, and family members visiting I spend time to prepare and freeze stock.

Stock will keep in sealed containers in the freezer for about 6 months.  Make sure to label anything you freeze for later use.  Portions that are easier to manage are a good idea.  Most of my containers hold 2 pints (about 4 cups), I use this as soup and stew base.  Smaller containers, even freezer bags, work well for gravy.  Sometimes when you roast drier types or cuts of meat, there’s not a heck of a lot liquid left in the pan.  That’s where a bit of stock can extend or replace the pan drippings when making gravy.

To make your stock you need any of the following vegetables, spices and herbs:

  • celery
  • leek
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • black peppercorns
  • cardamom pods
  • cumin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dill
  • fennel
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Then, if you want meat you can collect chicken, turkey or pork bones and freeze them in freezer ziptop bags until you have enough to make stock.  When I buy whole chickens, I save the neck, wings, and legs.  Either roasted or raw, freeze the extra bits for your stock.  Bone marrow helps add richness to the stock.  Beef can be used too, we just don’t have many beef bones leftover at my house!

Salt, should you add any at all, should be minimal.  The stock is a component for something else, the destination might already contain salt so you don’t want to end up with sea water soup.

Ready?  Throw the chunks of veggies, palm full of seasonings, the optional meat components into the biggest pot you own.  Add water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil slowly, then reduce to low heat for an hour or longer.  The longer you simmer the stock, the more concentrated it will be due to evaporation.

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Peppered Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Peppered Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Autumn Vegetables

The nights are releasing their grip of their clenching fists of daytime warm air.  Visually, there’s not much evidence of fall in Texas.  The long dry summer sucked the moisture out of the limbs and leaves of even the heartiest of flora.  There was a lack of lush flowers and bushes since the middle of spring.  Bluebonnets suffered a short growing season and I have no fields of blue dotting my recent collection of digital photographs.  The land remains stagnant, waiting for water to return.

This subtle change in the night air is like a whisper from the far north, the snow-capped mountains sleeping through the summer.  Winter and hopefully rain will be here soon.

October must be the best month during fall.  Not only do we see and feel the changes of autumn, it’s also Little Sister’s birthday and Halloween.  Double the chances to have excuses to bake treats for the family!  October is also then month of Thanksgiving in my native land.  I often observe the holiday abroad with a whole roasted chicken, or if I’m feeling ambitious enough, a turkey.

Peppered Lemon Rosemary

This year I was inspired by what was waiting in the fridge: lemons and fresh rosemary, assorted vegetables, and a whole chicken.  With minor preparation, you can have a warm succulent chicken bursting with citrus and piney rosemary.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small lemons, zested and halved
  • 1 white or yellow onion, halved lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 3-4 small zucchini squash, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tomatoes, halved
  • 2 carrots, cut into manageable pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano or Italian herb blend, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.

Start by preparing the vegetables and arranging them on a baking sheet.  Give them a rub with olive oil then sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano.  Set this aside.

Autumn Vegetables

Autumn Vegetables

Combine the butter, lemon zest, about a tablespoon of rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Prepare the chicken by removing the gibblets and washing the bird inside and out.  Pluck any pieces of feather that might remain.  Using paper towel, pat the skin dry.  The drier the skin the crispier it will be.  Tuck the lemon butter between the skin and the meat, all over the breasts and drumsticks.  You can save a bit of the butter to smear over the skin or use olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper generously.

The chicken I used was 4 and a half pounds, and it was ready in about 75 minutes.  Always have a thermometer handy while roasting, the thickest part of the thigh meat needs to be 180ºF and juices running clear (i.e. no pink hue).  Cover the chicken for the first 45 minutes, then remove the lid or foil for the last part of the roasting time to get a crispbrown skin.

The veggie tray will take about 30 minutes to soften and get a hint of brown caramel around the edges.

Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with rosemary as a garnish.

Look for a dressing in an upcoming post to serve alongside the chicken or a turkey!

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Oh bother!

Today is just one of those days.  My head is full of fluff and I feel like Pooh trying to remember where he left his honey.

I have no idea what to make for dinner.  I have no inclination to make dinner.  The moon and stars were not providing any help either.

Can’t I just crawl into the rabbit hole with my blanket?  You can handle dinner tonight, okay?  Last time I checked, there were numbers on your iPhone touch screen, and there is a magnet on the fridge for pizza.

Well, a fire was started in our little fire pit outside.  This contraption was the genius idea of my better half and it was meant to replace the loaner barrel  smoker/BBQ until we could buy a quality grill for ourselves.  I like being able to position myself around the grill, avoiding smoke or flame, whatever the case may be.

Waste not want not, as my dad always said.  There’s no use in wasting a good fire if you have something that can be cooked on the grill.  Chicken was the only item suitable on hand.  I discovered a secret to perfect grilled chicken (mostly because I didn’t want to stand outside for hours watching the grill, and second because I hate any pinkish hue in my chicken – so should you).  I microwaved the pieces of thigh and drumsticks on half power for about 3 minutes per piece on the plate.  Since the microwave cooks from the inside out, this gives you a leg up once the chicken is started on the grill.  Don’t over do it in the microwave or you will have tough meat in the end.

A little sauce, some Montreal Steak spice blend and just keep turning over very hot coals.

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Chicken is not a fast dinner to make, but it can be worth the wait.  Especially if you take some thighs, various sauces from the fridge and a can of pineapple, then toss it in the oven.  If you weren’t hungry when you started – you will be by the time the tangy vapours escape the oven.

Just start looking in the fridge for the nearly empty bottles of ketchup, honey, BBQ sauce and add the juices from a small can of pineapple, some tamarind water, Worcestershire sauce and stir.  I just put everything into the roasting pan.  A teaspoon of balsamic vinegar wouldn’t hurt if you have some. 

Snuggle those thighs in the sauce and turn to coat.  Sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper.  Add the pineapple around the chicken pieces.  Cover and bake for about 45 minutes, remove the lid or foil for another 15-20 minutes.  The sauce can be glazed on the chicken half way through and again towards the end.

Serve is with fluffy rice and a side salad.

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I think Hubby is missing home lately so I’ve been treating him to Mexican sorts of food.  How much of it is actual Mexican versus  Tex-mex?  I don’t really know.  Everything I create in the kitchen has my pinch of this, dash of that, or spin in a Canadian direction.  It’s all good.

This is one of those dishes where you can throw in extra ingredients if you have them.  Kinda like pizza where you mix and match toppings.  I had some red bell pepper and corn in the freezer, so that’s what I used.  Peas, green onions and the like would work equally as well. 

Start with some diced onion, about 1/2 cup, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan with a lid.  As soon as the onion starts to turn brown, add shredded leftover chicken (1 cup), rice (1.5 cups), tomato sauce (about 1/4 cup), and water.  Add a cup of water at a time and stir, we’re not trying to make risotto here.  You should end up adding a bit more than 3 cups all together.  Cover and reduce the heat.  After 10 minutes add the veggies, in my case red bell pepper and corn.  Stir just a little and cover again.   Give the veggies a few minutes to steam. 

Arroz con pollo (Rice with Chicken) can be served as a side dish or eaten as a meal on its own.  Make some steak fajita, fresh guacamole, and warm up tortillas – you’ve got a perfect Mexican meal which should cure any homesickness.

Feel better dear :)

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Chicken Picatta

Chicken poached in lemon butter sauce loaded with capers.  How inviting this dish was on my family’s table.  Someone had thirds, and could not stop enjoying the pasta smothered in the silky tangy sauce.  I can see why the French love butter so much!

This dish was a spin-off of the one I enjoyed while on a road trip with the family.  The dish prepared for me included sliced mushrooms, most of which were donated to hubby’s plate as I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms (even though my mother will tell you stories of me wolfing down every last button out of the fridge).  Needless to say they didn’t make it in my shopping cart.  Although, I’m sure hubby would have taken good care of any mushrooms lucky enough to join the butter jacuzzi.  This dish does need a supportive player though, it was really good with the capers but it could have been fantastic with… greens?  Green beans?  Hmmm….

Chicken Picatta à la Midnitechef

  • one boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (I know, shocker eh?)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 2 lemons (or one large lemon, mine were pretty small)
  • 1.5 Tbsp capers with juice from the jar
  • 1 cup chicken stock (homemade preferably, see one of my versions in this post)
  • sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper

In a large pan over medium-low heat, start warming the stock, butter, zest and lemon juice.  

Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet, small pan, empty wine bottle, or rolling-pin.  Keep the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment.  Get the breast to an even thickness so that they will cook evenly. 

Poach the chicken in the lemon butter, about 7 or 8 minutes per side, covered.  Season each side with salt and pepper.  Add the capers after the flip to the second side.  I ended up adding more capers at the end too.  The sauce should be bubbling while the chicken cooks, so I guess that’s actually a simmer.  The sauce will reduce.

Serve over pasta.

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My college roommate lived for Dr. Pepper and hot wings.  She is a petite gal, but man, she can eat some wings!   I would love for her to try this recipe as a homemade supplement to her hot wing cravings.  Miss J, yes I’m talking to you :P

Hey, she’s not the only one who loves some poultry appendages.  We love Plucker’s spicy ranch wings, which was the inspiration behind this experiment.  Plucker’s has all sorts of wing flavours, and other things on the menu, but I get stuck on something good and won’t order anything else.  Ever.  If I’m paying for you to cook, I want something that I already know and love, I’m not taking chances.  There’s even this awesome authentic Chinese restaurant south of work that I’ve named “Orange Chicken” since I always want to order the orange chicken plate.  It’s the best orange chicken I’ve had anywhere and they never disappoint.  This will be appearing in my Nites Out posts.

For ease of preparation, I turned to a package of ranch dip mix.  I added 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp sea salt to the packet contents.  Sprinkle this over the chicken, I had enough for about 2 lbs of drumsticks.  You could just as easily use thighs or wings, the drumsticks were on sale for $1/lb.  I highly recommend removing the skin from the chicken for this application, I didn’t do this and ended up pulling off the skin after it was cooked and half the seasoning went with it.  If you are worried about the meat drying out, start with a foil tent then remove it for the last 20 minutes to brown.  Also, if you have a rack for your roasting pan, put the chicken on the rack so they cook a little faster and evenly.  I baked my chicken for an hour (+10 minutes) at 375ºF.

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While checking out the results for the best cardamom recipe on Food52, I had a message “…Congrats on the EP”.  No way!  The editors actually made my chicken stock.  Maybe one of these days they will choose my entry for the two finalists of the week.  They must be making a ton of food while deciding which recipes deserve to go head-to-head, whisk-to-whisk!

What surprised me was that the recipe tester used a completely different flavour profile than I did, so they didn’t actually test my recipe – could that have knocked me out of the finalist position?   This is what Food52 exchanged: 2 shallots and 3 slices of ginger in lieu of the vegetables and garlic.  That would make the stock much more Asian or Indian, right?  My version is earthy with lemon notes of the cardamom, if you would like to try it for yourself.

Makes 1 batch of stock
  • 1 – 2 whole chickens, roasted, bones reserved
  • 3 cups bits of onion, celery, carrot, and garlic
  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • water

  1. In a large pot, place the chicken bones, leftover vegetable pieces (these would be the ends of vegetables, save them in a plastic bag in the freezer until you accumulate enough for stock or soup), cardamom pods, salt and pepper. Cover with cold water.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil for 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cover.
  3. Let the marrow flavor the broth. Be careful not to add too much salt as the water will evaporate and concentrate the salt in the stock. Simmer until the water as reduced by about 1/3 and is opaque from taking on all those flavors.
  4. Strain the stock to remove the bones, peppercorns, and cardamom pods. Return the stock to the pot. Taste for salt levels and adjust while simmering the strained stock.
  5. Remove the stock from the heat and let it cool. Divide into containers and freeze for up to 6 months. ( Hint: measure the stock into 1 or 2 cup portions and label accordingly. Freeze some of the stock in an ice cube tray then transfer to a plastic freezer bag for easy access.)

What you do with the stock is up to you, if you need suggestions just ask in the comments :)

P.S. Country Wife, my eyes are indeed sea green (forgive the tiredness!)

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Since finding cassoulet in my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I’ve been trying to devise similar recipes which would lessen the time and cost of preparing such a cozy dish.

This rendition was the result of less than 10$ of ingredients and a couple of hours of stewing in the oven. Us working folk normally don’t have an abundance of time to devote to cooking, but stretching what you have in the pantry at this time of the month (and year) is inevitable and necessary. Weekends are the typical days where my craft can be let loose in the afternoon to bring a leisurely made meal to the family table by supper time. This dish could equally be made in a crock pot, on low while you’re away at work or running errands. I trusted a slow oven for this hearty and thrifty meal.

The measurements are not exact, for you can use more or less depending on what you have.  Go easy with the herbes de Provence, or it will taste like you mistakenly added your flower bed to the stew.

  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin and visible fat removed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can white beans (Northern Beans or Navy Beans), rinsed
  • pinch or two of herbes de Provence (see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you can omit if gluten is a problem!)
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock, homemade preferably, or low sodium purchased
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

In a Dutch oven or equivalent roasting pan, render the bacon.  Slowly fry the bacon to release the fat and remove any crisp pieces as you go.  Use the bacon fat to brown the chicken thighs on each side, you don’t have to worry about cooking the chicken at this point, that will happen in the oven.  What you want is a bit of color on the chicken to add flavour!

Remove the chicken as it browns, split the chicken in two batches if the pan will be too crowded.  Crowds make for sweaty birds, not browned caramelized ones.

Once the chicken is out, check the pan for fat levels, add a few dots of olive oil if the pan looks dry.  Immediately toss in the onion and carrot, tossing them around to coat with the oil or bacon fat.   Sauté until the onions start to look tanned, as if they just came back from a sandy beach off the coast of nobodycares. 

Add salt and pepper, the herbs, (flour) and the garlic.  Stir until the garlic and herbs become fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Then add the stock and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans and crispy bacon pieces.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot, the liquid should come half way up the meat.

Cover the pot and place in the oven.  Turn down the oven to 300ºF and leave it alone.  After 2 hours you will enjoy a rich broth with dark chicken meat falling off the bones! 

Serve alone, with cooked pearled barley (yum, this was what I made), with rice, or a slice of fresh bread (also what I had with the stew!).

This stew disappeared before I had a chance to do my photo shoot.  You’ll have to imagine this one :)

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