Tag Archives: Chicken

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma

chicken, onions and pitaI live in Ottawa, while my mom, brother and four sisters all live in Toronto. I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like to. Admittedly, we have become a little lazy about communicating with each other. These days, it’s mostly emails and texts and very few phone calls.

Last week I got an email from my brother. The subject line read, “Mom passed!!” My heart stopped. Logically I knew that my brother would never tell me that mom died in an email. But in the heat of the moment, I got nervous, and for good reason. My family and I have a bit of a sketchy history when it comes to communicating about death.

When I was in University, I came home one weekend for a visit. I asked my sister where Heidi, our dog, was. Apparently, my parents had put her down a month ago, and no one remembered to tell me. I was also the very last one of my siblings to know that my dad died, although to be fair, the signs were there.

You will be relieved to know that mom did not die. The body of the text read: “Mom passed her drivers test today. 2 more yrs of driving at least. Wish her Mazel Tov!” My mom is 82 years old. In  Ontario, after the age of 80, you must take a test every 2 years to ensure that you are still fit to drive. I fired off an email to my brother with the subject line, Don’t send an email with the heading “Mom passed”. It could be misinterpreted.” Then I promptly called my mom to say congrats and I love you. For the record, all my sisters had momentary heart failure and my brother properly apologized. 

The recipe for this chicken shawarma came to my attention via a text from my baby sister. She is always sending me links to different recipes she thinks I would like. She said she’d never read a recipe with so many positive reviews.

Recipes are like rumours. You must always consider the source. This recipe is from an impeccable source, Sam Sifton, food editor of The New York Times. If you don’t already subscribe to cooking.nytimes.comget on it right away! It is one of the best food websites. Their Mobile App is fantastic. Not only can you save and categorize their database of over 18,000 recipes, you can also save non-NYT recipes to your recipe box. I finally have a way to save all the online recipes I am inspired by, in one place. Genius! Subscribing to their daily newsletter is free, but they charge $5 US per month for the App.

Boneless skinless chicken thighs are bathed in a highly flavourful marinade.spice rubLet the thighs marinate for up to 12 hours in the fridge. If you’re short on time, even an hour will still produce spectacular results. ready to marinateAdd a quartered red onion to the sheet pan and bake the whole thing off for 30-40 minutes. ready for roastingIf you have time, mix up some great sides to go with the shawarma. I made an Israeli salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro and dressed it simply with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I doctored up some store-bought hummus with a sprinkle of smoked paprika,  toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of good olive oil. I thinned some tahini with lemon juice and hot water for a drizzling sauce. I also added some charred corn slaw that I had leftover from last night’s dinner. Sour dills and hot sauce are more than welcome to join this party.all the fixins Stuff everything into a pita pocket or lay it flat and roll it up. Whichever way you choose to go, make sure you have plenty of napkins to catch all the drips. This is messy eating at its finest. stuffedflat to roll

Click here to print Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma.

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Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Skewers with Peanut Coconut Sauce

on blue platterSomehow, when you put dinner on a skewer it just seems more festive. Local peach and nectarine season is right around the corner, so bookmark this recipe and celebrate the season.

The combination of peanut butter and coconut milk could skew a bit sweet and heavy, but lime juice and jalapeño provide the perfect balance. Cilantro adds a fresh-grassy herbal note, but  cilantro haters could certainly substitute Italian parsley. The marinade also includes Greek yogurt. If you keep kosher or just want a dairy-free marinade, I have discovered a great yogurt alternative – So Delicious Dairy-Free Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt. It provides the tanginess of yogurt without the dairy. Surprisingly, it does not taste overwhelmingly of coconut. peanut coconut sauceI used boneless skinless chicken thighs, as they are almost impossible to overcook. Don’t forget to soak the wooden skewers so they don’t burn. making skewersgrillingFor a casual dinner, wrap some warm pita around the skewer, pull the wooden stick out and to make a wrap. Serve extra sauce, lime, chopped peanuts and cilantro on the side. skewers on pita

Click here to print recipe for Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Skewers with Coconut –Peanut Sauce.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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