Category Archives: Chicken

Spring Chicken

ready to eat When spring finally arrives, most people don’t normally turn to braising as a cooking method. But you guys don’t read this blog because I’m like most people. I promise I will hustle out to the BBQ very soon, but this braised spring chicken recipe really deserves your attention now. Mindy Fox created this recipe for epicurious.com. I adapted it slightly.

I decided on using boneless skinless thighs for this to hasten the cooking time. Feel free to use bone-in thighs or breasts if that’s how you roll. Just promise me you won’t select boneless breasts. They are not meant for braising. I treated the thighs to a generous seasoning of ground fennel seeds, paprika, salt and pepper.seasoning chickenAfter an initial browning, the thighs are simmered gently in white wine and chicken stock. The proper technique is to have the chicken pieces only halfway submerged in the braising liquid. Don’t drown them.

Leeks are thinly sliced and slowly sautéed until meltingly tender. Fat spears of asparagus and green peas pretty much shout “SPRING”. I used frozen peas because fresh are still a few weeks away for us here in Ottawa. Mini yellow, red and purple potatoes seemed like a good idea so I invited them to this spring fête as well!slicing leeksThe braising liquid gets reduced and treated to a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Scatter chopped dill and lemon zest over everything and celebrate spring.pouring on sauce 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for Spring Chicken.

ready to eat 2

Chicken Thighs with Sicilian Cauliflower

thighs and cauliflower on blue oval platter 625 sqGood chicken recipes are like men. There are lots of available ones out there, but very few great ones. I make chicken for dinner at least twice a week and have aquired several favourite standbys: Pomegranate ChickenChipotle Lime ChickenChicken Skewers with Ginger Coconut Sauce, and Chicken Tortilla Soup. But a girl needs something new every once in a while to spice things up.dinner for 1 with wine 2So when I saw Michael Symon making this tofu dish on The Chew a few weeks ago, I loved the citrus flavours of the marinade, but not being a tofu lover, my mind instantly went to boneless chicken thighs. I made a few other adaptations to his recipe and I think I’ve found a new weekday favourite. sicilian cauliflowerPound the boneless thighs to about 1/4 inch thick so that they will cook more quickly.flattening thighsThe marinade contains citrus juice and zest (I used clementines and lemon), red pepper flakes, cumin, honey and olive oil. chicken marinadeOne of the most brilliant things about this recipe is that you only have to dirty one pan. The cauliflower, chicken and sauce all get made in the same skillet. The other genius thing is that the recipe calls for multi-tasking. You cook the cauliflower while the chicken is marinating. No wasted time.

I am an eminently practical person and I love accomplishing as much as possible in the shortest amount of time available. Like when I go to the hairdresser to get my hair coloured, I have to sit for 30 minutes after the colour is applied. So while I am waiting for my grey hair to disappear, I get a manicure or pedicure and accomplish two things at the same time. I suggested to my dentist that he offer pedicures while you get your teeth cleaned. Imagine the extra revenue, I suggested, but he just looked at me like I was crazy. Clearly multi-tasking is not for everyone.

Once the cauliflower is finished browning in the skillet, the chicken gets a light coating of rice flour and is shallow fried to make it really crispy. When chicken is done, remove it from the pan and make the sauce. No need to clean the pan, all those little browned bits on the bottom of the pan will make your sauce extra delicious. White wine, shallots, garlic, golden raisins and capers combine to make a zesty Sicilian inspired sauce.

Garnish with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley this is destined to become a new dinnertime favourite. Any leftover chicken makes a fantastic cold salad the next day with avocados and tomatoes.dinner for 2

Click here to print recipe for Chicken Thigh Cutlets with Sicilian Cauliflower.

dinner for 1 with wine

 

Sticky Chicken Lettuce Cups with Corn Salad

chicken and corn saladConsider this post to be a Public Service Announcement (PSA) warning you about the dangers of drinking and grocery shopping. You would think that I had learned my lesson last year while visiting my friends Marla and Ed in Florida. After a delicious dinner which included several bottles of wine, we stopped in at the local Publix under the guise of getting some milk. Ed led me down the “Aisle of Eden” (candy aisle), and convinced me that buying the family sized bag of Twizzlers was a stellar idea. Waking up in the morning with a killer headache, and viewing the empty candy bag on the couch made me realize that perhaps our judgement was less than sound.

And yet I fell victim to drinking and grocery shopping again this week. After dinner, my husband and I stopped in at the supermarket to pick up a few ingredients I needed to make Bobby Flay’s sticky chicken in lettuce cups with a grilled corn salad. Cilantro was on my list. I was excited to see a small clamshell package of it, as I usually buy a big bunch and end up throwing out half of it once it starts to go slimy and ferment in my vegetable drawer.

Yesterday afternoon I pulled out all the ingredients to make dinner. I opened the package of cilantro and saw these huge spiky leaves. I looked at the package again closely.culantroWhat the hell is culantro?

In my defence, I only had one glass of wine with dinner, but, full disclosure here, I forgot my reading glasses. So, let’s amend that PSA to also include the dangers of shopping without your reading glasses.

Culantro, in case you’re curious, grows in southern Mexico. It is sometimes referred to as cilantro on steroids, as it has a very intense cilantro flavour. The leaf is quite tough so it is not really meant to be used raw but rather added to soups and stews.

A quick trip to the grocery store, with my reading glasses this time, and I had everything I needed to make the mint cilantro dressing for the grilled corn salad.corn salad dressingThe sticky glaze for the chicken simmers on the stove for about 20 minutes.making sticky saucegrilling chicken and corncutting corn off the cob corn salad 625 sqLettuce wraps are the ultimate in guilt free healthy eating. chicken and lettuce 625 sq Click here to print recipe for Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Mint Dressing.

Click here to print recipe for Sticky Glazed Chicken Thighs in Lettuce Cups.wrap

 

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Ginger Coconut Sauce and Mild Annoyances

on white 625 sq I am the grill master of our house. However, if the weather is particularly nasty, I will try to send my husband out to cook, but inevitably I will be beckoned to see if the food is done. It seems that I have the magic touch. Well, total disclosure here; I spent the summer between my first and second year of cooking school working in a restaurant as the grill chef. 

The restaurant had a huge stone barbecue on their patio. They stored the charcoal for the barbecue in 50-pound bags on the roof of a shed at the back of the patio.  I had to climb a ladder at the side of the shed and toss down the sacs of charcoal. My nickname that summer was Cinderella as my face was always covered with charcoal streaks. In addition to cooking the proteins, I also had to prepare pan sauces on the grill. That required a deft hand in moving the charcoal around to create hot and cool spots on the grill. I burned more than my fair share of pans the first few weeks, but eventually I got the hang of it. By the end of that summer I was fairly proficient in determining when a burger was done, when a strip steak was cooked to medium rare and when halibut was just cooked through to perfection.

These days I cook on a gas grill, and rely more often than not, on an instant read thermometer. They are basically idiot proof and they guarantee perfect results almost every time. This one is expensive but works very well.

This recipe for Grilled Chicken Skewers with Ginger Coconut, sauce hails from Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby’s brilliant book, “License to Grill.” Although this book was written over 17 years ago, it still feels fresh and relevant. I have been making this recipe for many years and never tire of it. The original recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I recommend using boneless skinless thighs.

I must admit that I get mildly annoyed when people tell me they only use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Not quite as annoyed as when people tell me they never use salt in their cooking, but I won’t get started on that one right now. I always use boneless skinless thighs and serve it to guests who say they don’t like dark meat. They don’t even realize they are eating thighs and they always ask me how I keep my chicken so moist. Thighs are a no-brainer. They are next to impossible to overcook because of their higher fat (and therefore flavour) content.

The velvety coconut-ginger sauce enrobes the chicken and the ginger, jalapeño and lime add a seductive little flavour zing. The “shake” topping, crafted from peanuts, sesame seeds, cumin and red pepper flakes adds crunch and packs a welcome buzz of heat.mise en place 2If you are using wooden bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them for about an hour before skewering the meat, so that they do not burn. This recipe is also quite delicious when you substitute tofu for the chicken (or so I have been told by my vegetarian daughter!)

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Chicken Skewers with Coconut-Ginger Sauce.

on black

 

Three Pea Coconut Rice and Chicken

in pan 625 sq 1Just did a quick check and discovered that coconut has been featured 15 times on my blog.  To  the coconut haters out there, “I’m sorry”, and to the rest of you lovely folks I say, “you’re welcome”.

When I saw this dish on serious eats last month I bookmarked it immediately. This recipe checked all the boxes for me; one pot complete dinner, flavourful moist chicken thighs, coconut milk and jasmine rice. Since we are trying to limit our intake of white carbs, white rice has been scarce around here lately. But every so often, I get a craving for Basmati or Jasmine rice. The nutty, popcorny aroma that envelopes my kitchen makes me believe that all is right with the world and that I am very loved.

Yasmin Fahr, creator of this recipe asked “Why I don’t cook everything in coconut milk is beyond me.” Well Yasmin, in answer to your question, I would bathe in coconut milk if I could, but if I cooked everything in it, I would surely weigh 200 pounds. The sweet luxurious coconut milk in this recipe  is saved from a cloying fate by the addition of cumin and a strong hint of cayenne. The finishing touches of lime and cilantro produces a dinner that packs a wallop of flavour.

You must exercise great patience when browning the chicken thighs. Put the pan on high, add the thighs, skin down and leave them alone for a good 8-10 minutes. The brown caramelized bits and pieces of chicken that get stuck to the pan, known in French as “fond” should not be thrown out.  The chicken stock and coconut milk  will help you to to scrape up all those flavourful dark bits. They will dissolve and become the foundation for the luxurious sauce that the chicken and rice are cooked in.browning chicken

zesting limesdicing onionsThe original recipe called for adding snow peas during the last few minutes of cooking for some crunch and gorgeous colour. I went with a triple pea crunch and added snow peas, sugar snaps and some frozen green peas, because that’s how I was raised. I come from a home where more is better. When my mom made banana bread, if the recipe called for 3 bananas, my mom added 5.  It produced a loaf with the heft of a brick, but heck, that’s just  how mom rolled. sugar snaps

Click here to print recipe for Three Pea Coconut Rice and Chicken.