March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The meat section of the store was almost empty, I could tell that the butchers were delving into the very bottom of their freezer or cooler. I bet many of you are experiencing the same situation. I was looking for a family sized package of chicken drumsticks, but there were none to be had. I searched in vain. I wanted to make a recipe from the Frugal Hausfrau for BBQ chicken drumsticks in the Instant Pot. The weather has been mild enough to uncover the BBQ, which I was hoping to do. The recipe made a lot of chicken and leftovers for the week’s lunches would be welcome (it’s always a challenge to figure out lunch and here we are, home all day, every day). As well she has a recipe for making a delicious BBQ chicken chili with the juices left in the pot. It was the winner at our 2020 New Year’s Day chili party.

They did have family sized packages of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Menu change coming up.

In search of a recipe on Pinterest and the www, the only ones I came across were for 4-6 thighs, not the 10 that were in the package. Time to improvise. I think the result was repeatable.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot – browned in the oven

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of browning that many thighs before cooking, something that every recipe I came across recommended. Why not do that step at the end, a quick roast in a 425 degree F oven would do it. As well, that means the thighs could be cooked ahead and just finished at the end. I was roasting some thick fries at the same time, the oven would already be on. Served with a big salad it was an easy meal with plenty of leftovers.

Salad

Salad with Sweet Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

  • Family sized package of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Trimmed of extra fat and skin.
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Method:

  1. Place the chicken thighs on the rack in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. You can stand them up to minimize overlap but don’t worry too much about it.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over the chicken, trying to coat all of the thighs.
  3. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure, cook for 13 minutes once full pressure is reached.
  4. Use quick release (I put a kitchen towel over the valve so the steam doesn’t spray all over the kitchen).
  5. Open the cooker and remove the thighs.
  6. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F when you are ready to eat (or heat up your BBQ)
  7. Line the baking sheet with foil for easiest clean up.
  8. Roast the thighs until the skin is brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.

Note: Save the juices left in the pressure cooker. Refrigerate them, any fat will come to the surface making it easy to remove. Look for another post about using those juices in an Asian inspired chicken noodle soup.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The recipe is a keeper.

 

 

 

 

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

The inspiration for this recipe came from the NY Times, Melissa Clark’s Roasted Chicken Thighs with Winter Squash. She used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, delicata or acorn squash, fresh sage, and lemon. I didn’t exactly have those on hand and my sage plant is late to the party called spring. But I loved the flavor combination of ingredients and I did have a lemon. So here is my adaptation, Lemony Boneless Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash. 

Boneless chicken thighs with butternut squash, lemon and baby kale (see the steam rising from the dish?)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lemon, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and thinly sliced crosswise into wedges
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided
  • 1 rounded teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, use less if not kosher plus additional 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon chile powder, depending on the heat of your brand and your tolerance
  • 4 cups of butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale

Method:

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil; drop in the lemon slices and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a small skillet toast the coriander and cumin seeds until you start to smell their deliciousness and they are light brown. Remove to a plate to cool. Then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to a medium powder. You want some texture to remain.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of oil, cumin, coriander, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or several hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  5. In a large bowl combine the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup, chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with the cubed butternut squash. Toss to mix, then add the cornstarch, again tossing so the cubes are evenly coated.
  6. Spread the squash out onto the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes until brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool.

    Roast butternut squash

    Roast butternut squash

  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and lemon slices plus any marinade. Toss until browned and cooked through, add the butternut squash, and kale (or spinach) to the skillet and continue to toss everything together until warmed and the kale is wilted.
  8. Serve with rice, polenta, or other grain.

The tip here is coating the butternut squash with cornstarch, this works with sweet potatoes as well. It results in a crisp exterior and meltingly soft interior.

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

How are you adapting recipes for what you have on hand?

 

January – Greek Chicken

January – Greek Chicken

Greek chicken ready to bake

Greek chicken ready to bake

This low calorie, vegetable heavy, colorful casserole is just what is needed during the grey days of winter. It’s a riot of colors and flavors, quick and simple to make and perfect for company. All you need is some crusty bread and a green salad, your dinner is complete. You can even assemble the dish ahead of time and bake it in the oven at the last minute.

Customize it to your tastes. The first time I made it I left out the onions and black olives, it was delicious. If you want dairy free, don’t add the crumbled feta at the end. It’s still absolutely delicious and even better for lunch the next day.

Greek chicken - this time without the artichokes. onion or olives

Greek chicken – this time without the artichokes. onion or olives

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 each red, orange and yellow peppers cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 pint of multicolored cherry tomatoes, leave whole
  • 3-4 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 sections
  • zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons, save juice for the end
  • 1 large sprig of fresh oregano (leaves chopped) or 1 – 2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (leaves chopped) or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1 teaspoon of salt (salts have a differing amount of ‘saltiness’)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small package of frozen artichoke hearts or canned artichoke hearts, defrosted if necessary (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives (optional)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon or 2 small – split in half
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta (optional)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients (except the feta and half the lemon juice) above in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into a large casserole dish and bake (uncovered) for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is done. Breasts might be done in 30 minutes.
  4. Crumble the feta on top and give the dish a good squeeze of the lemon

 

You can assemble this a few hours ahead, cover and store in the fridge.

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

I have also made this with bone in chicken thighs (skin on or off). Ingredients are the same. Put the chicken thighs, skin side up, in a large shallow casserole. Sprinkle them with salt. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix them with the herbs and lemon zest, pour around the thighs. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Greek Chicken with Whole Thighs

Greek Chicken with Whole Thighs

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday #313 will enjoy this. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a virtual collection of blog posts about cooking, gardening, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things that are going on in the world of blogging.

 

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

You may be aware that the end of October brought a five day power shutdown to over 2,000,000 people in Northern California, including us. This was a preemptive attempt by PG&E to prevent wildfires; the winds were high and humidity low, and our winter rains are very late. We are lucky since we have a generator and a large propane tank, but we still try to conserve energy. We are never exactly sure how long the shutdown will last.  When the power is out due to the threat of high winds and fire, we try and conserve propane as much as possible.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

One way to conserve power is to avoid the use of my oven, it’s my normal way of cooking chicken thighs but an electric oven uses a lot of energy. I was reading Canal House’s newest cookbook, “Cook Something, recipes to rely on”, and found the pages How We Cook Chicken Thighs…timely, yes? How do they cook chicken thighs? They cook them the same way they cook a duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet with no additional fat. I’ve often browned chicken thighs in a skillet before braising them, but this method was not my usual. There were only 2 ingredients, chicken and 1/2 of a preserved lemon. Wow!

 

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 6 whole chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • finely chopped rind of 1/2 preserved lemon 
  • fresh lemon, quartered for serving – optional
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish – optional

Method:

  1. Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken thighs
  2. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Arrange them skin side down in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet (cold skillet, no oil)
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook them, without moving them, until the fat is rendered and skin crisp, about 30 minutes. You might need to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the core of the preserved lemon and scrape off any white from the inside of the rind, then chop the rind finely
  6. Turn the thighs over and stir in the finely chopped preserved lemon
  7. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced.
  8. Serve the thighs with some of the pan drippings, fresh lemon and herb garnish.

I found the pan drippings made a wonderful warm salad dressing with some additional lemon juice.

The thighs were juicy and delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

If you have never made preserved lemons, I encourage you to try it. They are simple, only taking a little time. And, they are a wonderful ingredient to add tartness in many dishes. I promise they will become a pantry staple. I have even seen them chopped finely and added to avocado toast. Follow the link above if you would like directions.

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday might like them. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a collection of blogs about food, decorating, travel, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things going on in the blogosphere at Fiesta Friday #301, the co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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.