May – Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

May – Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Another long title this time but I wanted to include it all as a description. The inspiration came from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mellissa Clark from the NY Times. This is another sheet pan dinner. I’ve added a few things to make it a full meal, and simplified it as well. All you need is something green to complete it. We loved an arugula salad with a mustard and lemon dressing.

The original did not include the carrots or the croutons. I had a couple of bunches of multi-colored carrots from the recently opened farmer’s market and wanted to include them. They made a perfect ‘rack’ on the sheet pan and roasted to perfection under the chicken thighs. The croutons were added near the end of cooking time along with the feta. The irregularly shaped chunks became crispy on the edges and absorbed the wonderful cooking juices.

You could use another vegetable or even potatoes instead of the carrots, make sure they have a similar cooking time. Brussels sprouts would work, thick slices of cauliflower as well.

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 – 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or smashed into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Zest and juice of one lemon, Meyer if possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 lemon (Meyer if possible) sliced thinly
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled into large pieces
  • 3 thick slices of ciabatta or brioche, torn into pieces about 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces for the croutons
  • chopped mint or parsley for serving

Method:

  1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix together garlic, honey, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes. Add the chicken and toss with your hands, spreading the paste all over the chicken. Add the rosemary sprigs and lemons slices, toss again to combine. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil.
  3. Spread the carrots on the sheet pan, spread the chicken over the carrots with the skin side up, tuck in the rosemary spreads and lemon slices. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and tuck in the croutons around the chicken. Sprinkle the feta on top.
  5. Continue to bake for another 20 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and additional red pepper flakes for serving.
Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

It’s Fiesta Friday #382 and I am taking this easy sheet pan dinner to the party . You can find the link to Fiesta Friday here. It’s a virtual (aren’t most things now) party, a collection of posts hosted by Angie. Come on over to read a collection of blogs about cooking, gardening, decorating and crafts.

May – Celery and Lentil Salad with Salsa Verde

May – Celery and Lentil Salad with Salsa Verde

Celery and Lentil Salad

Celery and Lentil Salad

So I am going to start this post by admitting that I am not a great celery fan. Not a fan of celery seeds either. But this salad converted me. The celery provides a crisp freshness to the lentils, toasted almonds and sauce which is rich with umami from anchovies and capers. I personally love anchovies but I know many folks do not agree. For a vegetarian version leave them off; you may want to add a splash of coconut aminos or soy sauce to the dressing to provide a similar lift. If you want to make the salad several hours ahead, just bring it back to room temperature before serving. Refrigerated leftovers were wonderful for lunch the next day, this time with some crumbled goat cheese on top. I think cottage cheese would also be good.

If your celery from the market has its leaves, use them in the salad. Otherwise chopped Italian parsley or baby arugula will work. I used a combination of all of those.

I served it at our first BBQ of the season with a buttermilk brined beer can chicken and crisp sourdough bread. It was perfect.

Celery and Lentil Salad with Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

For salsa verde or vinaigrette:

  • 3 anchovies, smashed and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 large lemon, finely grated zest and 3 tablespoons of juice
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

For salad:

  • 3/4 cup of green French lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 5 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 3 cups)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups of chopped celery leaves, Italian parsley leaves, and/or baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup toasted thinly sliced almonds
  • 2 oz. shaved pecorino or parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet until beginning to turn golden. Turn them out to a small plate to cool.
  2. Place lentils and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Keep the lentils covered by addition additional water if needed.
  3. Meanwhile make the salsa verde: combine the anchovies, shallots, capers, lemon zest and juice with a few pinches of salt in a small jar with a lid. Shake to combine and let sit for about 5 minutes for the flavors to meld. Then add the oil and shake to emulsify.
  4. When the lentils are done, drain them and discard the bay leaf. Return the lentils to the pan, add about 3 tablespoons of the salsa verde and the raisins. Let cool and then taste for seasoning. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.
  5. In a large serving bowl, toss the celery and leaves with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette, red pepper flakes and salt if needed. Add the lentils and almonds, toss to mix. Taste again and add more of the vinaigrette, lemon juice or salt if required.
  6. Shave the pecorino or parmesan on top when serving.
  7. Can be served immediately or at room temperature.
Celery and Lentil Salad

Celery and Lentil Salad

 

This recipe comes from the Food52 site by EmilyC.

I’m taking this one to Fiesta Friday, a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie. The party is home to bloggers with recipe and craft ideas. It’s Fiesta Friday #379 and this would be wonderful served at your Mother’s Day BBQ. Please consider joining us and adding your own post to the party.

Celery and Green Lentil Salad

Celery and Green Lentil Salad

April – Curried Sweet Potato Salad

April – Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad – I’ll have some of that!

I have shortened the title of this recipe which should really be Curried Sweet Potato Salad with Toasted Cashews, Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Goat Cheese. Yes, I agree, much too big a mouthful. Serve this warm from the oven if you want a melty cheese topping. You could also let it cool a bit, crumble the goat cheese over the top and refrigerate. It will keep for a few days. Let it come back up to room temperature for the best flavor before serving (although I ate the leftovers for lunch right out of the fridge).

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Feta could be alternative to the goat cheese. Leave off the cheese if you want to make it vegan.

Pine nuts or pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) can sub for the cashews.

If you want something sweet in the salad, how about a few raisins? Plump them first for 10 minutes in some freshly boiled water.

Sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that I could eat every night. Give me a big roasted sweet potato and a green salad, I’m happy. I don’t even think it needs any butter although I often add a big spoonful of Greek yogurt.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad with Cashews, Garbanzos, and Fresh Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (3 – 4) sweet potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed – any color although yams are pretty. I used a combination since that was what I had on hand.
  • 4 tablespoons of neutral oil or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup of cashews
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of mild curry powder (use less if it is hot)
  • Red pepper flakes if you want it hot
  • 1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled goat or other fresh white cheese
  • optional – chopped cilantro would be good

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with baking or parchment paper
  3. Cut the sweet potatoes in half, then into 1/4 inch half moon slices.
  4. Put the potatoes into a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the oil, the curry powder, red pepper (if using), salt and freshly ground pepper. Scrunch them around until they are coated with the seasonings and oil. I find my clean hands the easiest.
  5. Scatter the potatoes evenly on the prepared sheet pan. It’s ok if they won’t fit in one layer. Roast the sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes until they are beginning to brown on the bottom.
  6. Meanwhile, add the drained garbanzo beans to the empty bowl, stirring them to coat with any remaining oil and seasonings.
  7. For the cashews – heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet. Add the cashews and cook, stirring, until they begin to brown. Remove the nuts and any remaining oil to a small plate to cool.
  8. If using the raisins, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain after 10 minutes.
  9. After the sweet potatoes have roasted for 20-25 minutes, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Carefully turn the sweet potatoes over and add the garbanzo beans to the pan.
  10. Roast for another 15 minutes, then remove and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the pan.
  11. Transfer everything to a serving dish. Squeeze the juice of the limes over, scatter the raisins and cashew nuts (plus any oil) over the top.
  12. Garnish with sliced scallions and crumbled fresh goat cheese.

The garbanzos will get a little crisp from their stay in the oven.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

This could be a great side for a BBQ, or an entire vegetarian dinner.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday #377 would also enjoy it and plan to take it over to Angie’s place for the party. Click on the link to read all the fun blog posts. You will find recipes for yummy food, decorating and craft ideas, plus much more. And please think about adding your own link to the party. This week I am co-hosting the party with Angie.

Quinn agrees as you can see from the first picture.

April – Even More Perfect Roast Chicken

April – Even More Perfect Roast Chicken

How would you describe the perfect roast chicken? Would you mention moist white meat, or flavorful and rich dark meat, or crackly crisp skin, or still juicy leftover white meat for sandwiches and salads the next day? Maybe your answer would be ‘and’ to all those things. You want it all.

Roasted chicken has been my signature dish for years. And I am going to make it your own as well. I have found that any form of brining will dramatically improve the flavor and moistness of any baked chicken. I commonly use two methods, a dry brine and a salted buttermilk wet brine.

Here’s the bad news, it’s almost impossible to get all things with one recipe. What are you willing to give up? The decision has to do with chicken skin vs. the moistness of the leftovers. With many methods you will get crisp skin when the chicken first comes out of the oven. But leftover chicken skin is not particularly enticing at any time.

With a dry salt brine you will get wonderfully crackly crisp skin and delicious concentrated chicken taste, just not quite as moist breast meat the next day. With a buttermilk brine your leftovers will be wonderfully moist and delicious but the chicken skin will not be quite as fabulous when just out of the oven. Don’t misunderstand, it will still be a lovely burnished brown, just not as crisp. They both result in a freshly roasted chicken deserving an A+.

The other secret to a perfectly roasted and flavorful chicken is purchasing the best possible chicken available to you. By that I mean an organic, free range chicken that is ‘air chilled’. Besides flavor, there are food safety and environmental reasons to avoid the ones chilled with other birds in a huge vat of chlorinated water. You can read more about the difference here. Although ‘air chilled’ chickens are still sprayed with a fine mist of chlorinated water in the beginning, they don’t sit in it. That liquid can account for 2 to 12% of the chicken’s weight, thus diluting their flavor. And who wants to pay for chlorinated water? It’s what you see in the bottom of the pre-packaged chickens.

Any form of brining requires some advance planning. Ideally the chicken should brine for 24 hours (I’ve left them as long as 72 hours), but at least 6 hours for the best results.

Years ago, when brining first became ‘the thing’, I would prepare a liquid wet salty brine for my turkey and chickens. It required gallons of liquid (in the case of a turkey) and an ice chest (often full of bags of ice) on the back porch. Unfortunately it also frequently resulted in a spilled liquid mess on the kitchen floor. Then I read about the Zuni Cafe method. The Zuni Cafe is a restaurant in San Francisco, famous for its roasted chicken. There is no liquid required in their recipe, just a kosher salt rub and your preferred seasoning (mine is always Herbes de Provence) and an overnight (or two or three) stay on a rack, uncovered in the fridge. Yippee! No spilled mess. I still often use this method and you can read more about it in a post from 2019 here.

Perfect Roast Chicken

The Perfect Dry Brined Roast Chicken

When it emerges from the fridge it looks like a wizened wrinkled century old chicken, don’t worry about it.

Then, a few months ago, I read about roasting a whole buttermilk brined chicken. Samin Nosrat writes about this technique in her book Salt Fat Acid Heat. Buttermilk has long been used to improve the flavor of fried chicken but I had never thought to use the method on a whole chicken. Don’t worry, there is no need to pull out that ice chest. You only need a cup or two of buttermilk and a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt. I simply mix the buttermilk and salt in a gallon zip lock bag, plop in the chicken, close up the bag, smush it around (put the bag in a bowl in case there are leaks) and place it in the fridge for a few hours to a few days. You can add seasonings if you want.

I found this brining mix at my favorite spice pervader, the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s intended for that big liquid brine I mentioned in the beginning, but I simply add a couple of tablespoons to the buttermilk. It works great.

Smoky Brine

Smoky Brine

The skin comes out a wonderful burnished brown due to the caramelization of the sugars in the buttermilk. it’s not quite as crisp as the dry brined method but still wonderful.

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Here’s the fantastic thing about the buttermilk brined chicken…the leftovers. “What?” you say. Well, do you know how those rotisserie chickens you get at the store are quite acceptable when warm the first day, but the leftovers are almost always dry and tasteless? The leftover buttermilk brined chicken is still moist and delicious, even two days later. Even the breast meat!

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

For a dry brine:

  • Remove the chicken from its packaging and dry with paper towels (never rinse)
  • Rub the chicken with 2 – 4 tablespoons of kosher salt, all over. Place in a small pan, on a rack, breast up, uncovered, in the fridge. You can also rub with any other seasonings you may favor at the same time as the salt…cumin, herbes de Provence, chili powder, sumac, etc.
  • Leave undisturbed for at least 6 hours but as long as 72

For a buttermilk brine:

  • Dissolve 2 – 4 tablespoons of kosher salt in 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk in a gallon plastic bag.
  • Remove the chicken from its packaging and dry with paper towels (never rinse)
  • Place the chicken in the plastic bag and squeeze to remove as much air as possible. Squish the liquid around the chicken.
  • Please inside a bowl, or in a second bag to catch any leaks, and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours, up to 48. You can turn the bag when you think about it but it isn’t entirely necessary.

For both:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line your roasting pan with foil to catch spills and oil a rack on which to place the chicken.
  3. Spray or rub the chicken with a bit of olive oil. There is not need to clean off the salt or buttermilk.
  4. Place the chicken, breast side down, on the rack and roast for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes turn the chicken breast side up, continue to roast for another 30-40 minutes until a leg moves easily in the socket and juices run clear when pierced with a small knife in the thickest part of the thigh.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

That’s all.

I’ve also cooked brined chickens (both ways) on the BBQ using the beer can method, and in the oven. You don’t need to use beer in that can. Wine works, juice works, also plain water.

You can read more about Beer Can Roast Chicken here with Middle Eastern Flavors, and Beer Can Roast Chicken with Italian Flavors on the BBQ by clicking on the links. When cooking chicken on the BBQ, or in the oven, I often  make two because the leftovers give me additional meals for the week ahead. I recommend you do the same.

Do you have a signature, tried and true meal that you can whip out with your eyes closed?

It’s Fiesta time! By that I mean Fiesta Friday, this week #376. Come on over and join the party. Angie hosts and this week’s co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Fiesta Friday is a virtual (isn’t everything these days) collection of posts from a talented collection of bloggers. You will find tips for home maintenance, weddings, food, crafts and occasionally travel. I am taking this one over to share with the group.

April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

Cuties are seedless mandarin oranges from California. They are available in bags in most grocery stores, a single one provides 35% of your recommended vitamin C and has 45 calories, they pack powerful nutrition into a small self contained package. They are perfect for snacking or putting into a child’s lunchbox. On top of all that, they are incredibly juicy and tasty. I usually have a bowl on the kitchen counter ready for a quick snack attack.

But, have you tried cooking with them?

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

When roasted the orange slices are delicious; the ones on top become caramelized and crisp, the ones under the juices soft and sweet…rind an all. You can marinate the chicken overnight or prepare it hours in advance, a nice convenience. But it isn’t necessary if there isn’t time. Do make sure your baking dish is big enough to separate the chicken so it browns properly.

The original inspiration for this dish came from Yotam Ottolengihi’s book Simple. Then I saw an adaptation on the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen for Roasted Chicken with Clementines. I was sold. I made a few alterations of my own to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand. I used bone-in and skin-on thighs. You could use a whole chicken, cut into pieces. In that case monitor the breasts closely so they don’t overcook before the other pieces are done. The original recipe called for fresh fennel, I substituted onion slices as did Alexandra. The original also called for an anise-flavored liqueur, I used an orange flavored one. Alexandra used white wine.

The important ingredients here are the chicken and the orange slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of anise scented liqueur, orange scented liqueur, white wine or extra orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • 4 Cutie oranges, unpeeled, and sliced thinly
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 – 3 medium onions, peeled and cut lengthwise, then into quarters
Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wine or liqueur, oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar (or honey) and salt. Season with pepper to your taste.
  2. If you are roasting immediately:
    1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
    2. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  3. If you are marinating:
    1. Place the chicken with the orange slices, thyme and onion pieces in a large mixing bowl or plastic bag. Pour over the sauce and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
    2. When ready to roast, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.
    3. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  4. Transfer the baking pan to the oven.
  5. After 30 minutes, check on the chicken. If the skin is browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 400 degrees F and continue roasting until the skin is brown and crisp, probably another 20 to 25 minutes. Ovens vary a lot and the size of your chicken pieces will also determine how much longer you need to cook them. I found 50 minutes at 475 degrees F was enough for the thighs in my oven.
  6. Transfer the chicken, onions and orange slices with juices to a warmed serving platter. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Orange chicken is a big hit in our house and this is a much healthier version.

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

I’m going to share this with the folks at the Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party hosted by Angie. Come on over and think about adding your own post. It’s Fiesta Friday #375 this week.