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.

 

February – Quick Chinese Chicken

February – Quick Chinese Chicken

This quick and delicious oriental chicken recipe came from the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, a great resource for Chinese cooking. There they call it Three Cup Chicken. It is perfect for the Chinese New Year celebration. The “standard” public holiday in Mainland China is the 7 days from the Chinese New Year’ Eve to day 6 of the lunar calendar new year. This year that took place January 27 to February 2.

The traditional holiday period may be as long as 23 days, starting 3 weeks before Chinese New Year’s Eve; and ending at the Lantern Festival (February 11th this year).

This is the year of the Fire Rooster. There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac, the rooster is the 10th sign. Additionally each year is also associated with one of the 5 elements, Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years. In general people born in a year of the Rooster are very observant. They are also hardworking, resourceful, courageous, confident, and talented.  If you are interested you can read more about them at this link.

Ingredients for 2-3 servings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Chop them crosswise into 2 pieces (the butcher did it for me).
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 cup rice wine or sake, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil
  • leaves from a bunch of Thai basil (I substituted fresh cilantro) and sliced scallion
  1. Put the chicken in a saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring it slowly to a simmer, skim off any scum that rises to the top, turn down the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the chicken in a strainer over a bowl, save the cooking water for stock or to cook your rice.img_5669
  3. Heat a heavy saucepan or wok over high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil, add the ginger and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the drained chicken and fry for another minute, add the 2 tablespoons of rice wine and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to fry on high heat until the chicken is browned, another 2 minutes or so.
  5. If you are using a heavy bottomed skillet, you can leave the chicken in it. If using a wok, transfer the chicken to a Dutch oven or casserole. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thickened, another 30 minutes or so.

    Chinese Clay Pot

    Chinese Clay Pot

  6. Stir in the chopped basil or cilantro and scallion before serving.
Quick Chinese Chicken

Quick Chinese Chicken

Serve with steamed rice, or baked sweet potatoes, and a green vegetable.

I am adding this post to the virtual blogging party at Fiesta Friday #158 hosted by Angie. The co-hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

September – Chili Lime Marinade for Chicken or Pork

September – Chili Lime Marinade for Chicken or Pork

In my opinion both chicken breasts and pork tenderloin need some help. In our search for “low fat” we have bred the flavor out of them both. Chewy, tasteless, bland, dry…all those apply. So when I was served the most delicious marinated pork tenderloin at a friend’s house, I had to try it. I am not going to post the recipe for the pork tenderloin, you can search on-line to one from Chris Kimball at Cook’s. It involves halving the tenderloin crosswise, then pounding it to a thickness of approximately 3/4 of an inch. At that point you can score the meat and marinate if for 45 minutes (I think the more the better). However, don’t leave it too long or you will end up with ceviche pork because of the lime juice.

I thought, if this is so good with pork tenderloin, what will it do for chicken breasts? Oh yum! I modified the recipe only slightly to give it a little more heat. Use boneless chicken breasts with the skin if you can get them or bone out the breasts yourself. It takes a little practice but is easy with a small knife. Start by cutting at the center cartilage and slide a sharp knife between the breast bones and the meat until the breast is free of the rib and other bones. I keep the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer until I have enough to make stock or chicken soup.

Pound the breasts the same as the pork but to a thickness of 1/2 inch. That will both tenderize the meat and also hasten the cooking time.

boned chicken breasts with skin

boned chicken breasts with skin

Chili Lime Marinade

  • 4 half chicken breasts, boneless but with the skin
  • 2 limes, zested and squeezed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used a mixture of canola and coconut)

For the sauce (optional)

  • 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise

Garnish

chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

  1. Bone the chicken breasts in not done already. Leave the skin on but trim any extra fat. Use a meat pounder to flatten them (I put the breasts into a gallon plastic bag for this chore) to about 1/2 inch.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the lime zest, juice, garlic, honey, fish sauce, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle the vegetable oil into the mixture until it slightly thickens and becomes smooth.
  3. Measure out 1/2 cup of the marinade into a small, microwaveable bowl (if you intend to make a sauce), whisk in the 4 teaspoons of mayonnaise and set aside for later.
  4. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl with the marinade and turn to coat. You can then transfer everything to a ziplock gallon bag, press to remove as much air as possible, and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Preheat a large, heavy bottomed skillet on the stove on medium high heat (or heat your charcoal grill). Once hot, brush with oil and place the chicken skin side down in the pan. Cook on the one side until browned and the breast releases easily. You will see the edges start to turn opaque, it will take about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook another 10 minutes or until done to about 160 degrees F on the middle. They will cook quickly and continue to cook after you take the pan from the oven.
  8. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain.
  9. If using the sauce, microwave it for 30 seconds until warm and stir in the chopped herbs. Pass the sauce with the chicken.
    Boneless chicken breast with chili lime marinade

    Boneless chicken breast with chili lime marinade

    Chicken with Chili Lime Marinade

    Chicken with Chili Lime Marinade

February in the Kitchen – Best Ever Crisp Chicken Wings

February in the Kitchen – Best Ever Crisp Chicken Wings

I’ll start out by admitting I did not invent this trick for baking chicken wings that taste as if they were deep fried. I read about it on two other blogs and they got it from Cook’s Illustrated. But, they don’t have my amazing recipe for Teriyaki Sauce.

Let’s start with the wings…what’s the trick, (actually there are two tricks)? Baking Powder, yes, baking powder is trick one. Coating the wings in a thin layer of baking powder draws moisture to the surface so it can evaporate. Trick two (where is Dr. Seuss?) is baking first at a low temperature to melt the fat under the skin, then increasing the heat to brown and crisp the wings.

Best Ever Crisp Chicken Wings

  • 4 pounds of chicken wings, cut into wingettes and drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder (you may need a bit more)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Olive oil spray
baked chicken wings

Best baked chicken wings

  1. Pat the wings very dry on paper towels (leave them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours if you have the time)
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and place racks in the lower third and upper third of your oven.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place racks on the foil to keep the chicken above the fat which drips into the pan. I used cake cooking racks. Spray the racks with cooking oil to make clean up easier.
  4. Place the baking powder in a large plastic bag; add the chicken wings a few at a time and shake the bag to coat them. You will need to do this in batches.
  5. Once lightly coated with baking powder, place them on the racks in one layer. They will shrink slightly so it’s ok to put them close together.
  6. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, move the wings to the upper third of your oven and increase the heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  8. Bake at the higher temperature for 40 to 50 minutes. Ovens vary a lot so check them at 40. If your oven has “hot spots” rotate the tray half way through.
  9. Remove the tray and let the wings cool for 5 minutes before coating with your favorite sauce.
Chicken wings with Teriyaki Sauce

Chicken wings with Teriyaki Sauce

I tossed them with my favorite very best teriyaki sauce  which I make in large batches (we really like it and I find lots of uses). It’s great on plain rice as well. Look for that recipe in the next post and here.

I think I’m going to take these to Fiesta Friday #55 at Angie’s The Novice Gardener. Come take a look at the wonderful food that is being served at the party.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

January in the Kitchen – Friday Chicken

January in the Kitchen – Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken

I first encountered this recipe for a roast chicken stuffed under the skin (Friday Chicken) in a cookbook by Mary and Vincent Price (yes, that Vincent Price!), A Treasury of Great Recipes, published in 1965. They called it “Friday Chicken” because it’s perfect weekend food. Serve it to your family and friends on a Friday evening; then eat the leftovers cold over the weekend. It’s a wonderful choice for an elegant picnic or lunch.

Friday Chicken

Mary and Vincent Price (Friday Chicken in lower right hand corner)

Richard Olney had his own version called “Poulet Fendu Farci” in his book Simple French Food. He used a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, herbs, butter, onion and zucchini. There are no breadcrumbs in that stuffing recipe; it would be a good choice for Paleo or gluten free diets. (Let me know if you would be interested in seeing that recipe in another post.)

Over the years I’ve read (and cooked) several other variations. The basic idea is the same in them all; stuff the chicken under the skin with something flavorful, then roast it. You could use pesto, butter and fresh herbs, ricotta and spinach, or (as in this case) an actual stuffing. I’m partial to the one I use with our Thanksgiving turkey. The stuffing bastes the chicken ensuring wonderfully juicy flavorful white meat and crisp skin.

Substitute your own favorite stuffing and it will be equally delicious. There are a few rules though…use use fresh bread rather than dried croutons or cubes, make sure the sausage is cooked, and don’t spare the butter or oil. The stuffing needs to be cool before handling so time it appropriately.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday as part of the second block party celebrating the one year anniversay of Angie’s (from the blog The Novice Gardener) weekly celebration. Fiesta Friday joins together bloggers interested in food, travel, and related topics for a weekly virtual party. Last week we concentrated on appetizers and drinks, this week it will be main courses and desserts. Friday Chicken makes great leftovers!

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Friday Chicken – Stuffing

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 small handfuls of golden raisins or currents
Stuffing

Sausage and Raisin Stuffing

  • 1 large chicken (I’ve used roasting chickens to great success and more leftovers)
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
  3. Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into pieces in a large bowl.
  6. Add the raisins and mix.
  7. When cooked, add the contents of the skillet and mix well.
  8. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl.
  9. Cover and set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and the reach of the dogs.

Preparing and baking the chicken

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. You will need a roasting pan big enough to hold a rack, preferably V shapped
  3. Remove about 2 cups of stuffing into another bowl (you will not want to contaminate the bulk of the stuffing)
  4. Dry the whole chicken with paper towels, inside and out
  5. Gently, with your hands, loosen the skin over the breast and legs. You do this by gently sliding your hand under the skin. Be careful not to tear it.
  6. Press the stuffing into the cavity you’ve created completely covering the breast and pushing the stuffing over the tops of the legs and thighs. If it tears slightly (this often happens near the tail end) use a small skewer or toothpick to sew the skin together.
  7. Brush the chicken with butter or oil and place on the rack.
  8. Roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until done, timing will depend on the size of your chicken and how “done” you like it. We prefer our chicken still very slightly pink. If it browns too quickly, tent the breast loosely with foil.
Prepared Chicken Before Roasting (I know it looks anemic)

Prepared Chicken Before Roasting (I know it looks anemic)

Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken After Roasting

Baked Remaining stuffing

  1. Put the remaining stuffing into a baking dish, add about ¾ cup of chicken stock and cover the dish with foil.
  2. When the chicken has baked for 35 minutes, add the stuffing to the oven.
  3. Bake covered for 25 minutes, then uncover until the top has browned and is crisp.
  4. Serve with the chicken.
Raisin Stuffing

Baked Stuffing with Sausage and Raisins

This stuffing is exceptional. Over the years I’ve changed it to reflect the changing tastes of my family and friends. The original “seed” recipe came from my (now ex) mother-in-law in Wisconsin. She used hamburger rolls, poultry seasoning, margarine, and raisins. The raisins have remained as a crucial part of the recipe.

Use any leftover stuffing in sandwiches, as a “bed” for poached eggs, or in a bread soup. The cornbread and brioche will thicken the broth beautifully.

Panini with stuffing

Stuffing Panini

The panini above was made with raisin stuffing (regular dark raisins), cranberry sauce, red onions, and mozzarella. It’s reason enough to make stuffing even if it isn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken