June – Perfect Roast Chicken

June – Perfect Roast Chicken

In her classic book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (vol. 1), Julia Child states “You can always judge the quality of a cook or restaurant by roast chicken.” Roasting a chicken is certainly an important skill to master. Your own home cooked roast chicken will be miles better than any supermarket or deli chicken.

Julia’s method results in an excellent roast chicken. However it requires turning the chicken 4 times and basting every 10 minutes. Just reading the directions can be off putting. My own method doesn’t require any basting at all and only 1 turn. It results in crisp skin and juicy meat. I don’t truss because tying the legs close to the breast results in undercooked thigh or overcooked breast meat.

Here is the trick. I take advantage of the newest information on brining, and borrow a technique often used when roasting duck. I pre-salt the chicken and let it sit in the fridge (uncovered and breast up) for several hours or overnight. That’s the only preplanning that is required.

The perfect roast chicken starts with the quality of the chicken. Buy the best you can afford, preferably free range organic and air chilled. Water bath chilling results in the bird absorbing a lot of that soaking water. I also prefer the air chilled for food safety reasons, dozens of birds are not sitting in a vat of water. If one of the birds is contaminated it increases the chances that all will be contaminated as well.

The Perfect Roast Chicken

These are general directions.

Adjust the cooking time according to the weight of your chicken. I find it is done when the leg moves easily in the socket when jiggled. For a 4-5 pound chicken that will be somewhere between 50 and 70 minutes. There will be some personal preference determining the time. I don’t mind if the white meat has a very slight pink tinge, you may want to cook your own longer. Your oven temperature will also play a part. My oven runs hot, your own may run cool. It’s best to know those things, check your own with an oven thermometer. They are cheap and it will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

You can use an instant read thermometer for more precise measurements of doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh without hitting the bone. The FDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. I take mine out just before it reaches that temperature. The bird will continue to cook with the residual heat after it comes out of the oven. Allow it to sit on your carving board or platter for 15 minutes, that allows the juices to settle back into the meat.

Salted Chicken on a Rack Ready for the Fridge

Salted Chicken Ready for the Fridge

So here we go…

There are two methods for brining a bird. The first, and older method, is to submerge it in a salt water solution. The second is a dry brine, simply rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of kosher salt. I don’t use method the first method anymore, I am not partial to a vat of salty water taking up space in my fridge (a spill will create a big mess…I’ve been there). In addition, a water chilled bird is what I am trying to get away from. I want to intensify flavors, not dilute them.

Dry brining intensifies flavors and will give you crisp skin. I use kosher salt because it doesn’t contain any additives and has a clean flavor.

Remove the chicken from its wrapping and dry it with paper towels. The latest food safety recommendations are to not rinse it. Rub it generously with kosher salt, both inside and out. Put it on a rack in baking dish, breast side up, and place it in the fridge for at least an hour. If you have 24 hours you will be amazed at the result. Don’t go longer than 24 unless you are brining a turkey.

Take the chicken out of the fridge while you preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C). I don’t use the convection fan. Rub your chicken with olive oil and any flavorings you may want (I don’t worry about the salt). I have used my confit lemon oil and lemon slices with herbs to Provence (the aroma as it roasts is incredible), paprika, chili powder, roasted fennel spice, zatar, fresh herbs, etc. You can let your imagination run wild. But you will find this chicken is delicious with only a simple coating of olive oil.

Poke a few holes in a whole lemon and place that inside the chicken. You could also add a few sprigs of whatever fresh herb you have handy. The lemon adds additional flavor. You could even use an orange or a couple of limes (especially nice if you are giving the chicken a Mexican vibe).

Line your roasting pan with foil to make clean up easier. Rub a rack (V shaped if you have one) with oil and place the chicken breast down on the rack. Once your oven has reached 425 degrees F, place the chicken in the middle of the oven and roast for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove it from the oven and turn it breast side up, roast for an additional 25 minutes or until done.

Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

Look at how moist and juicy! And the skin is super crisp.

I often serve the chicken with a simple salad, I pour some of those chicken juices over the salad as a dressing with an additional squeeze of lemon juice. The fresh salad below had sliced peaches and red onion as well as some avocado. The combination was delightful.

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken Thigh

Perfect Roast Chicken

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday to share with Angie and the gang. It’s Fiesta #279 and I am a co-host along with Jenny from Apply to Face Blog.

Click on the links to join the party or check out all the blogs about food, the garden, and crafts. You can also add your own link.

Thank you so much for visiting and I would love to hear your comments.

 

May – Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

May – Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

What is that grain in the salad? Is it rice, is it cracked wheat, is it couscous? Nope, none of that. This salad is grain and gluten free. It’s my favorite substitution, cauliflower! And this salad is wonderfully delicious as well as healthy; it’s full of chopped herbs plus cherry tomatoes and toasted almonds with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It keeps well so you can make it ahead.

I can find already riced cauliflower in the grocery store, both Trader Joe’s and Safeway carry it. But it is easy to make at home in your food processor if you need to start from scratch (or have cauliflower growing in your garden…lucky you). I don’t recommend using the packaged already riced cauliflower if you are making mock mashed potatoes I think it has a high percentage of stem. It won’t result in a creamy rich amazing mashed potato substitute. You need to have mostly florets for that recipe. But, it is perfect for use in this recipe. The kernels hold their shape and crunch once cooked.

I roasted the cauliflower for extra flavor before mixing it with the other ingredients.

Middle Eastern Herb and Cauliflower Salad

If you are starting with a head of cauliflower, slice the head in half and remove the tough core. Roughly chop the florets. Working in batches, add the cauliflower to your food processor and pulse until the consistency of ‘rice’. Transfer to a large bowl.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower:

  • I head of cauliflower or a package of pre-riced cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons of fruity olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped flat leaved parsley
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped mint
  • 4 scallions white and light green, chopped
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced to make about 1/4 cup of juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 3/4 cup of sliced almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the riced cauliflower in a large bowl and add the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes until tender and browning around the edges. You may need to leave it for a few additional minutes but check it so it doesn’t burn. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool on the parchment paper.
  4. Spread the almonds on a small baking sheet and toast in the same oven for about 5 minutes, again check constantly as they will turn from nicely toasted to burnt in seconds. Remove and cool.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking you can make the herb salad. Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a bowl and let the herbs and tomatoes marinate until the cauliflower is cool.
  6. Once cool, add the cauliflower to the bowl with the salad and mix well. The parchment paper works well as you can just lift it off the baking sheet. Taste to see if you need to add any additional lemon juice or salt or pepper.
  7. Chill until ready to serve, garnished with the toasted sliced almonds.

I found this salad kept well and was still good the next day for lunch.

You could turn this into an entire meal by adding some sliced feta or leftover chicken to the salad. It would be an excellent side with lamb chops or kebobs.

Middle Eastern Cauliflower and Herb Salad

I’m taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday #274, over at Angie’s place (where she is feeling the need for spring cleaning). Please click over to meet other food, garden and craft bloggers. And guess what, I am co-hosting with Antonia @ Zoale.com

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

January – Lemon Chicken

January – Lemon Chicken

Remember that lemon cofit I made back in November of last year? It was really just sliced lemons slowly braised in olive oil. The oil is infused with lemon and makes marvelous salad dressings, or brush it on meat or potatoes before roasting. Anyway, to get on with things, it makes the most amazing and easy chicken breast recipe I have come across in a long time. I am not normally a big chicken breast fan, I much prefer the juiciness and taste of dark meat. But this one recipe has changed my mind. And it is easy (did I already say that?) and quick as well as delicious. There are really only 3 ingredients (4 if you count the salt). If you don’t have lemon confit on hand, not to worry. Just use freshly sliced lemons and olive oil, or lemon olive oil if you have a bottle stashed somewhere. Because you are going to eat the skin, it is best to get organic lemons if you can. Otherwise, scrub them well to remove any wax coating.

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

For the best flavor, start this is the morning so it has time to marinate.

Without further ado, here goes…

Ingredients for 2 people, easily doubled:

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

and either

  • 1/4 cup oil from the lemon confit plus some lemon slices

or

  • 1 lemon, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (prefer organic if available)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

plus

  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (less if you are using regular or sea salt)

Method:

  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels (don’t wash them) and place in a clean zip lock bag or bowl.
  2. Add the lemon slices, olive oil, and salt. Close and seal the bag if using one.
  3. Massage the chicken breasts, evenly coating them and the lemon slices with oil. You can use clean hands if the chicken is in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Heat an oven safe non-stick pan on the stove top using medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and sliced lemons to the skillet, don’t wash off the oil. Cook on each side until brown (about 4-5 minutes).
  5. Place the pan it in the oven, cook for 10-15 minutes. This will depend on the thickness of the breasts and how well you like them cooked. My own were done in 10 minutes but my oven runs slightly hot.
  6. Carefully remove the pan from the oven, the handle will be very hot. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with the caramelized lemon slices. They are amazingly sweet and delicious.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

i roasted some asparagus in the oven at the same time and served them both with a fresh green salad from the garden. A perfect low carb and delicious meal.

You could make a sauce by adding a bit of butter and chicken broth to the pan, boil it down until thick. But the chicken really didn’t need it. If not watching what you eat this January, roast or boil some potatoes and coat them with any leftover lemon oil when they are finished.

Lemon Chicken, Roast Asparagus and Green Salad

Good for phase 2 of the Fast Metabolism Diet.

I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #259. Come on over the Angie’s blog and take a look at all the fabulous food and crafts this week. The co-hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

 

December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

Do you have a lot of leftovers from this week’s holiday? My contribution to the big dinner was roasted vegetables: carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. This was a large gathering and I made a lot, no one should go home hungry from the big dinner. Most of it was consumed but there are still some leftovers and I have been searching for ways to use them up. Their time had come, it was use or toss or compost day. My usual solution to leftover veggies is to make a stir-fried rice dish, or a soup, or just toss them all into a salad with an interesting salad dressing. But, then in my search, I happened upon this recipe from Nagi at recipetineats for Christmas Leftovers Toasted Bread Bowl. Can you say melty cheese? It’s my personal achilles heal. Leftover turkey (or rotisserie chicken), veggies, any antipasti you happen to have around, and cheese. The mix could be anything and you don’t need to wait for Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers.

My mouth was watering.

This sandwich is based on a traditional Italian sandwich, Muffuletta, usually made in a round loaf and served cold. It’s a big favorite for picnics because it can be made ahead and the flavors only blend and become more delicious with made ahead. It is quite famous in New Orleans as well where an olive salad is a requirement and they use deli cold cuts.

Serve it hot with crispy bread and melty cheese, or room temperature. Weigh it down and let the flavors melt together for a couple of hours if serving at room temperature. If it is cold, let it warm up a bit before serving.

At Nagi says on her blog post, it’s the perfect food to take on an international flight.

Use whatever you have on hand but start with a good bread with a hearty crust, a sourdough or artisan type would be perfect. I used a ciabatta from a local bakery which I cut in half horizontally, removing most of the crumb in the middle of of the top and bottom, leaving about 1/2 inch of the crust. You want all that extra room for the filling.

I don’t have a real recipe for this, it is really about what you have lurking in your fridge. I can see it with stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and mozzarella. One of my personal post holiday combinations..

There was a package of prosciutto that never made it onto the antipasto platter, some roasted garlic cloves, and the remainder of a jar of sweet relish I had served with cheese. I even found some deli chicken meat that needed to be used. Everything is a possibility. Add some slices of cheddar and gruyere cheese (also leftovers) and it looked like the beginnings of a feast.

Note: you will need something heavy to weigh down the sandwich. I used a cast iron skillet.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2: Slice the bread horizontally and tear out most of the bread from the middle, leave about 1/2 inch inside the crust. Lay the bread on a large sheet of foil on a baking dish.

Step 3: Brush the inside of each half with olive oil.

Step 4: Place a layer of baby spinach, baby kale, arugula, or other greens on the bottom half.

Step 5: Start layering, veggies, meat, antipasto, more deli meat, then top all with cheese.

Step 6: Place the top on the sandwich and brush the whole with more olive oil, wrap in the foil tightly.

Step 7: Place the sandwich in the oven with the weight on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the weight and the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to crisp the bread.

Step 8: Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Or, rewrap in the foil for later.

Delicious!

 

 

The season of leftovers is here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now New Year. I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday have a lot of them judging from the delicious goings-on in their kitchens. Come visit with Angie at Fiesta Friday #256 and my co-host  Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Please add your own link but be sure to read the guidelines if you would like to be considered for the “Post of the Week”.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

 

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

This recipe originally appeared in the NY Times without the chicken. I wanted something heartier for a visiting friend who had driven 3.5 hours to visit us up on the coast. This was the perfect dinner after a long drive on a cold and rainy autumn evening. The coconut sauce is amazing, you really need something to soak it up. Serve it with lavash or other flatbread for dunking if you have some. Not having those in the cupboard, I served it over brown rice. I consider this comfort food as well as (somewhat) health food. It is a soupy stew and could also be considered a thick soup/

Without the chicken, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan. A delicious option if you have a dinner party with mixed eating preferences. Add the chicken to only a portion of the soup, a deli chicken would be easy and perfect. I had some sous vide chicken thighs in the fridge and added them at the end. The recipe also called for adding greens (kale or spinach), which I forgot to purchase at the market. So the picture doesn’t have greens. I am definitely making this again and will add them next time and take a picture. With the addition of a half-can of chickpeas, the leftovers were delicious the next day.

I consider this a pantry meal, most of the ingredients are already in my pantry and available for a quick meal. If you have greens and mint in your garden you are already perfectly positioned. No chicken, no problem. The original recipe didn’t include chicken. But check your freezer for a lone chicken breast that might be hanging around. Defrost it in the microwave, cut into cubes, and add it once the coconut milk and stock come to the simmer. If you have any salad greens in your fridge, use them as greens. Maybe some baby spinach? Arugula would be fine as well, shredded romaine…why not. If it is a cold and wet night, who wants to go to the store?

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Spiced Chickpea Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach – stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped for serving
  • Lime slice for serving
  • Optional whole fat plain yogurt for serving
  • Steamed rice, toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread for serving

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and starts to brown a bit. That will take about 3-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas start to sizzle and brown and fry a bit in the spices and oil. I had to add a tiny bit more oil at this point. They will start to soften and break down, becoming brown and crisp. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3.  Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stock to the remaining chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any crusty bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add your chicken if using.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened slightly and the flavors have come together., about 30-35 minutes. Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  7. Add greens and stir, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cook long enough for them to soften, which will depend on the type of greens you are using, about 3-7 minutes. Spinach and chard will soften much faster than kale.
  8. Divide among bowls and add the reserved chickpeas and mint, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes if desired. A dollop of whole fat yogurt with a dusting of turmeric would be nice as well.

 

Sous vide boneless chicken thighs

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The recipe was adapted from the NY Times article, A Creamy Stew That’s Hearty and Virtuous.

I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #253 to share with Angie and the gang. Click on the link to see all the wonderful ideas for holiday food, crafts and decorating. I am excited to be a co-host for the virtual party this week with Mila @ Milkandbun

I think the folks at Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen will enjoy it as well. Follow the link for other soup, salad or sandwich ideas. Perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  .Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.