Monday, January 11, 2010

Rosemary Roast Chicken With Vegetables

It's The Great Chicken Project - Recipe 2 - cooking my way through 365 Ways To Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker.

Rosemary Roast Chicken With Vegetables (serves 4)

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
salt/ground pepper
1 t rosemary, crushed or chopped fine
2 T butter, softened
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 small onions, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine

Note: I used 1 medium/large white potato and one large sweet potato and 4 boiler onions, halved.

Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 t rosemary in cavity. Tie legs together (I skipped this) and rub butter over skin. Place in a large gratin dish or roasting pan.

Roast chicken for 15 minutes. Arrange potatoes, carrots and onions around chicken.

This is the chicken after the 15 minutes

Sprinkle remaining rosemary over chicken and vegetables. Pour the wine over everything and back for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Note: since this was a small chicken I started checking at 45 minutes. After an hour I pulled out some of the white potato to brown in the toaster oven because it wasn't getting crispy, and that's how The Aussie loves his potatoes.)

The recipe doesn't call for gravy, but roast chicken without gravy is just criminal! I removed the chicken from the pan to rest.

Add in a tablespoon of flour and stir in any pan drippings, making sure you don't have any clumps of flour left.

Deglaze with water, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth brown gravy.

Roast chickn. Does it get any better than this?

We aren't the only ones getting bigger...

I made an observation the other day. People aren't the only ones bigger than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Most of the "whole chicken" recipes in 365 Ways To Cook Chicken call for the chicken to be about 3 pounds. The chicken on the right is about 3 pounds. 2.87 to be exact. When I first picked it up at the store I thought they accidently packaged a half chicken. Nope. That's a whole chicken. The chicken on the right is 5.4 pounds.

So a recipe calls for 3 pound bird and it serves 4. If you make it with a bigger bird, which is almost all that's available these days, is it still going to feed 4? Yup, it probably will given the way many people eat now. The only thing is, I don't hear the chicken saying "supersize me," do you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Great Chicken Project - day 1

Welcome to "The Great Chicken Project." This might be a stupid idea (the jury, aka The Aussie, is still out on this), but I'm going to cook my way through the book "365 Ways To Cook Chicken" by Cheryl Sedaker. My Mom has a copy of this 1986 book and I've used several of the recipes over the years. I picked up a used copy on Amazon because I missed having access to the book. I figure if you're going to eat chicken a lot you should have a bunch of recipes to chose from.

Last week, before I started The Project, I made the Kung Pao chicken (pg. 51) with a couple of ingredient variations. Since it's absolutely freezing here I wanted the next dish to be something warm and comforting. The winner was...

Coq Au Vin (serves 4)

4 slices of bacon, diced
1 T butter (I used bacon drippings instead)
1 chicken (3 pounds) cut up (I used 4 chicken thighs)
18-20 small white onions, peeled (I used 4 boiler onions. I cried peeling them too.)
2 cups thickly sliced mushrooms (Yes!)
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I use chopped from a bottle)
2 T flour
1/4 cup brandy (I don't have brandy, so I didn't use any)
1 3/4 cups red wine (I used YellowTail Grenache with the bright pink stripe on the label)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1/4 t dried thyme

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Preheat oven to 325.

I had so much bacon drippings that I poured out most. Season chicken with salt and pepper (both sides) and cook until a nice golden brown. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes on the skin side. I used my cast iron skillet because I've found that chicken browns really well in it.

Transfer chicken in casserole dish that has a cover.

And we're slicing... (I had plenty of mushrooms in the fridge. Memo to self: when inviting people over for New Years Eve dinner, find out *first* if they like mushroom sour cream sauce or stuffed mushrooms. You won't have so many leftovers.)

Add onions to frying pan and cook until lightly browned. (I forgot to do this and put them in together with the mushrooms. They didn't brown, but they still tasted good) Transfer onions to the pot with the chicken. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan and cook until soft. Transfer to casserole with the rest of the gang.

Add flour to the fat in the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the brandy (if you have it) and the red wine to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is bubbling and thick.

It's Pink!

Remove from heat and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with 3 T parsley (I forgot to do this), add a bay leaf, thyme and the cooked bacon pieces.

Cover and bake for an hour. When done, remove bayleaf and serve, garnishing with the remaining chopped parsley.

Phew. Day 1 of The Great Chicken Project has been completed. Well, kind of day 2, since I did make the Not Quite Kung Pao Chicken already.

The Verdict: This was a great dish to serve on a cold winter night. The leftovers were great the next day too.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quick Fix Fish

I wish I'd taken pictures of this Tuesday night before we chowed down. I don't know where this recipe originally came from, but @PhatBFF tweeted the link the other day. Since I hadn't planned anything for dinner I decided this would be good. It was so good even The Aussie ate without complaint.

Oven-baked Crispy Fish Fillets

6 Tilapia fillets (I used tilapia and a leftover cod fillet)
1 large egg beaten (the recipe calls for 2)
1 T water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 t paprika
1 t ground black pepper
1 t salt
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c bread crumbs (I used panko flakes instead of bread crumbs)

I also added a teaspoon of italian seasoning and a teaspoon of garlic powder.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray glass baking dish with cooking spray. Beat the egg(s) and water in a bowl. Combine olive oil with the bread crumbs, grated parmesan and seasonings. Dip the fish in the egg wash and then in the bread crumb mixture. (I patted the mixture in to coat a bit more evenly). Place fish in baking dish. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. I actually cooked mine for about 20 minutes because it wasn't as browned as I like. This recipe would work well for any mild white fish.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oh no, chicken again?

I love Chinese food. Some of you have heard me whine that there's not a lot of good Chinese restaurants in the North Dallas suburbs. There's not many bad ones either, for that matter. To get my fix of Chinese food I've had to learn to cook a few things that are outside my normal comfort zone.

Since there's only so many days we want to eat chicken in a week, it's fun to spice it up when you do. Because I didn't have all of the same ingredients, this recipe is an adaptation on the Kung Po Chicken recipe in the book 365 Ways To Cook Chicken.

Not Quite Kung Po Chicken (serves 4)

1+ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (my Costco pack has 5), cut into bite sized pieces
1 egg white
1 T + 1t of cornstarch
2 T soy sauce
2 t dry sherry (I used white wine)
1 t rice vinegar
1 t Szechwan chili paste with garlic
1/4 c chicken broth
1 t sesame oil
3 T peanut oil
1/2 cashews
2 scallions, cut into 1/2 pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1. In a small bowl, combine chicken pices, egg white and 1 T of cornstarch. Toss to coat and set aside.

2. In glass measuring cup combine chili paste, soy sauce, wine, vinegar, broth, 1 t cornstarch and sesame oil. Set aside.

3. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir fry until mostly done and lightly browned. This will take around 5 minutes, depending on how big you made the pieces. (If they're too big, take smaller bites!)

While the chicken was cooking, I got my broccoli going. I sauteed over medium high heat for several minutes, then added a couple tablespoons of water, covered the pan and turned the heat down.

4. When the chicken is done, remove from the pan. Add in the nuts. (I used cashews because I didn't have peanuts). Lightly toast for a couple of minutes.

5. Add the scallions and garlic to the pan and sautee for a minute or so, then add the chicken back to the pan. Pour in the sauce and stir around to coat the chicken and warm up the sauce. At this point I added a teaspoon of peanut butter to get the peanut taste that Kung Po Chicken has.

I served with rice and broccoli. Yum.

I've just realized that our dishes are looking a bit boring. At least the food looks good. And it really tasted good too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wishes for a Happy New Year

This was sent to me in an email by my boss in NY. I thank her for passing along these words to me. May you be inspired by them as well.


Today is January 5, 2010. I am supposed to pick twelve women
who have touched my life and whom I would want to participate.
I think that if this group of women were ever to be in a room
together, there is nothing that would be impossible.

By this communication, I hope that you are reminded how special
you are. Please send this back to me. Remember to make a wish
before you read the quotation. That's all you have to do, there is
nothing attached. Please make a wish before you read on......

"May there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly
where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite
possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May
you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love
that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself
just the way you are. Let the knowledge settle into your bones
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise,
and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

"It's okay to fail, but you cannot quit..."