Life is funny sometimes. My cousin got married Friday evening, and we all had a great time. My sister is getting married next month. Today was SUPPOSED to be her bridal shower. We wanted to have food, but keep it kind of light, and chicken salad was the idea. Except that my sister doesn’t really eat mayo, so I decided that I would come up with something that would keep her happy too. As you might imagine, I have lots of cookbooks, and although I may not have made anything out of all of them I have read through them, and sort of picked out anything that might come in handy for later. In this case I went to my copy of Heart of the Artichoke for this recipe. I decided to adapt it slightly for my needs. I made everything for the party before I knew it was going to be snowed out!
I had made tea smoked chicken before, but this turned out far better. It also took longer, but I think the results justify the extra time. The nice thing about this particular smoking method is that it was a little less intense. The chicken was pre-cooked and so all I needed to do was give it enough time in the smoke to give it flavor, rather than trying to cook it through. The first step will give you a very tasty broth which you could certainly eat if you wanted. I just don’t have space for that at the moment, but I did taste it, and it was very nice.
6 chicken legs quarters, salted and peppered (I broke them down into thighs and legs just to make them a little easier to deal with)
water to cover
1″ piece of ginger peeled and chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic chopped
4 green onions, sliced into 1″ pieces
3 star anise
Season the chicken and allow it to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Place in a large pot and add the water and all of the other ingredients. Bring up to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and then remove the chicken legs from the water. Allow the broth to simmer for another 30 minutes and adjust the seasoning. (If you want to keep it. I didn’t.)
On to the smoking! Here is where you want to make sure you have good ventilation! You can use the method I used in my previous post, or if you have a stove top smoker you can use that. I have a Cameron’s stove top smoker, and it works very well. It also uses less of the wood chips or tea in this case.
Cooked chicken legs
1/2 cup tea leaves (Yes, you can use Lipton)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw white rice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 – 3 star anise crushed
Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine everything but the chicken legs in a bowl, and line a skillet with foil, and add the tea mixture to the bottom if the skillet. Then place a rack on top, and place the chicken on it. Place the lid on the skillet, and turn the heat on high. When you start to hear the sugar crackling and smell the smoke, give it two minutes, and then turn off the burner and place the whole thing in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t take off the lid to check, or you will lose all of the smoke.
If you’re using a stove top smoker, follow the manufacturer’s directions for how much wood chips (tea) to use. You can still use the time above.
Once the chicken was smoked I pulled the meat off the bones, and roughly chopped it into bite sized pieces.
Next I made the ginger lime vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette dressing are very simple to make, and add lots of flavor to a salad. In this case it complimented the chicken very nicely! You can use a whisk to make this dressing, but I almost always use my food processor. It chops up the shallots and ginger for me, and makes quick work of emulsifying the dressing. Mine is a small one, and for doing recipes like this it works perfectly.
1 shallot finely diced
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons finely diced or grated ginger
(I just dropped all three in the food processor, and let it do what it does!)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?)
1/4 cup neutral oil, canola, grape seed
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime
I also added about 1 Tablespoon of honey just to balance out the flavors a bit.
If you’re doing this with a whisk, add the shallots, garlic, and ginger to the bowl, and add the lime juice, vinegar, honey, and mustard, and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oils, until combined. If you have a food processor you can use the same order. It will just go a bit more quickly.
To serve your salads, mix a little of the dressing with the chicken, and then place a handful of spring greens on a plate (I drizzled a bit of the dressing on the greens as well.) Place the chicken on top of the greens, and add some sliced cucumber, and finely sliced scallions! Enjoy! It was a nice lunch with my family even if the shower was canceled!
Chicken cacciatore is one of those dishes I always heard of, but strangely, never had as a kid. I couldn’t tell you why that is, but it certainly is worth taking the time to make. It is such a simple dish, and in many ways, reminds me of the poulet basquaies I made ages ago. I like these kinds of rustic dishes, they are generally pretty easy, and have loads of flavor. Simple ingredients that don’t get screwed up by trying to make them into something they aren’t.
What you need:
chicken, whole, cut up, or breasts if you prefer.
10 – 12 crimini mushrooms sliced thin
garlic, minced how much do you like?
1 onion sliced thinly
1 bell pepper sliced thinly (about the same size as the onion)
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
herbes de provence
That is really it. You could add pancetta, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, fresh basil, you know, that kind of thing.
I decided serve it on top of some gluten-free noodles, and I picked up a box of Schar tagliatelle.
This is pretty straightforward stuff. Season the chicken with salt, and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet, and sear the chicken. When it releases from the pan, flip it over, and sear it on the other side. The second side won’t take as long as the first. Remove the chicken and set it on a plate for the time being.
There should be some oil left in the pan. Throw in the mushrooms add a little salt, and saute them until they are tender. Then add the bell pepper, onion and garlic. Again, add a touch of salt, and saute until it is tender. Add some wine, and bring it to a boil. Scrape the brown bits up. I can’t really tell you how much, I wanted enough of the liquid to get some with the noodles. Next add the can of tomatoes and stir them in and bring the whole thing up to a boil. Add the black pepper and herbes de provence. See how much liquid you have, if it looks like enough that you can get the chicken down in it part way. Put the chicken in with whatever liquid is on the plate, put the lid on the skillet, and turn it down to a simmer.
While the chicken is simmering get the water boiling for your pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Keep in mind that the chicken will be fine if it is done a little before the pasta. The pasta on the other hand will turn into a gummy mess while the chicken finishes cooking.
Of course right about now you might be thinking, “But that needs to marinate in red wine overnight??!?” And you would be right. So I made kind of a quick and dirty coq au vin. It had most of the right stuff, and tasted pretty damn good, but it wasn’t quite what you would get from a traditional recipe. Of course, it took a lot less time too! Total time: under two hours to go to the store to get a few things I needed, wash a few dishes, and get dinner cooked and on a plate! With a traditional recipe you would still be braising your chicken (If you had already marinated it!). I found this on the Epicuirous web site, and figured I’d give it a shot. I kind of tweaked it a little, but I almost always do that.
4 strips of bacon, cut into lardons or thick strips
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I only had two handy so I went with that, but I had plenty of the sauce left.)
8 oz crimini or button mushrooms quartered
2 medium onions quartered (or you could use small onions like cipollinis or pearls.)
4 cloves garlic minced
1.5 cups dry red wine
1.5 cups chicken stock
Chopped flat leaf parsley
I didn’t thicken this, but I did let it reduce. You could use a corn starch slurry if you want to thicken the sauce a bit before you serve it. The recipe called for a few tablespoons of AP flour to be whisked in, but that isn’t really helpful in our case.
The first thing to do is heat some oil in a skillet, and add the bacon. Over medium heat cook the bacon until it is crisp and brown. Remove it from the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken on both sides, and remove it.
Now you can add the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the pan and saute them until they are lightly browned. Now, as you can see in the pictures there is a bit of brown stuff on the bottom of the pan. That is a good thing, and it is why I didn’t use a non-stick skillet for this. That is fond. What that means is that we have a sauce to make! Deglaze the pan by pouring in part of the wine and scraping the bottom with your spoon or spatula. This will loosen up the bits from the bacon, etc.. Then add the rest of the wine and the stock, and bring it up to a boil.Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, turn down to a simmer and cover it. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in chopped parsley, and serve! In this case I served it with some roasted potatoes and asparagus! Not too bad for a Tuesday night! Oh, and of course it was gluten free. Like I said you could thicken it with a corn starch slurry, in that case you would want to take the chicken out when you were ready to serve, and whisk it in while the sauce boils.
Early in our relationship I took Amy to a restaurant that I really like. It is this tiny place in what is a not very good neighborhood of St Louis. The place is called Fritanga. It is a Nicaraguan restaurant, and they serve some of the most fantastic food I have ever eaten. It is not a fancy place, and you don’t ever want to go if you are in a hurry. On a busy night all of the tables will be full of people eating, drinking and talking, enjoying the food and relaxed atmosphere as well as the company of the others at their table.
Once I went gluten-free I knew that there would be some sacrifices that I would have to make when dining out. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Fritanga is almost entirely gluten-free!!
Amy likes the pollo al achiote, and I like the lomo de cerdo asado. The two dishes are actually pretty similar, either chicken or pork, marinated in achiote or annatto paste. Annatto seeds are ground with various spices such as cumin, and oregano. It is a very tasty combination, but not hot. I was at Global foods the other day and ran across a container of achiote paste. After seeing how easy it was to use the achiote when I made my chili at work I decided I would try my hand at the pollo al achiote from Fritanga.
The first step for this dish is to marinate the chicken. Pork loin could also be used. The lomo de cerdo asado that I frequently eat there is a thick pork loin chop that is marinated in achiote and grilled. To make the marinade combine a tablespoon of canola oil, and a tablespoon of the achiote paste. This stuff goes a long way, and it will impart a fantastic color and very nice flavor to the chicken.
Combine the achiote and your chicken and allow it to sit for several hours in the fridge. You could grill or bake the chicken. In this case I decided to just bake it.
At Fritanga this would be served with gallo pinto or black beans and rice, with a side of a really tasty slaw, and plantains. The Plantains are served one of several ways. They give you a choice of either chips, tostones or maduros. Any of those are fantastic choices. I personally really like tostones! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to pick up any plantains. When you have them what you do with them depends on how ripe they are. You can make chips when they are green, tostones when they are yellow, and maduros when they are pretty well black.
As the weather gets warm people tend to break out the grill more often. It is easy to just put a little salt and pepper on whatever we want to grill, and call it good. While that is ok, it is not all that interesting. I’ve been playing with various marinades and grilling chicken to make it more interesting. When I had some fruit I needed to get rid of, and some leftover wine I decided to combine them and make sangria. Since we had sangria I thought it might be nice to have sort of a Spanish theme for dinner!
Since the sangria will take more time than the chicken I’ll start with that. It is kind of a free-form thing (for me, anyway). A little leftover wine, some fruit, some more wine, a little sugar, some juice, and let it sit. That is literally what we did. We had quite a few cherries (We pitted them before they went into the jar.) that we needed to get rid of before they turned to mush, some blue berries, a couple of oranges that we cut into wedges. All of that went into a glass jar with a quarter cup of sugar. We had some leftover merlot, and some riesling in all totaling maybe a bottle’s worth of wine. Then just a little bit of orange juice. We put it in the fridge and let it sit for a few days.
On our quest for something different to do with grilled chicken we went looking in one of my books for a marinade. This is what I found! It originally called for saffron, bloomed in hot water, but I don’t have any at the moment so I left it out. It is very tasty with nice bright fruity flavors.
zest and juice of 3 oranges
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sherry
2 TBSP soy sauce (obviously gluten-free)
2 TBSP sherry vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 TBSP cracked black pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients, and marinate the chicken breasts for 4 hours or so. I used my vacuum sealer to marinate mine, but you can use a zipper bag just as easily. This marinade would work quite well on shrimp or pork as well.
While I waited, I decided that I wanted to make some roasted potatoes as well. A while back I went to a tapas bar and had a very tasty dish that had grilled baby octopi and roasted potatoes in a sherry bacon vinaigrette. I decided that I would do something similar with our potatoes. I made up a quick sherry vinaigrette with sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, dry mustard and cayenne. Then quartered some red skin potatoes and popped them in the oven. When they were ready I poured them in a bowl, and tossed them with the dressing. It was very easy, and very tasty. Keep in mind that the sherry vinegar will get pretty potent as a smell when you pour it over the hot potatoes!
When I was about ready to cook I started the fire. When the fire was ready I sprayed the chicken with cooking spray and put them on the grill. Remember, when you grill if you start moving the food around it will stick. Leave it alone for a bit, and it will release. Then you can turn it or flip it. Once the chicken is done bring it inside and get ready to eat.
We had some asparagus that we sautéed, the chicken, potatoes, and a nice salad. With the sangria it made for a very nice summer supper, and we didn’t even have to travel to Barcelona! (Not that it wouldn’t be nice to go there at some point!)
Ok, so this dinner has its genesis in a couple of places. The first was a truly disappointing tamale pie I had from a well known manufacturer of organic foods. I don’t have a big problem with the fact that it was vegan, but it didn’t taste like anything at all. I really liked the idea, but the execution didn’t do anything for me. Then, I had some leftover chicken. I had cut up a chicken to make dinner a couple of nights ago, and we only ate the breasts. This left wings, thighs, and legs to use. Amy doesn’t care for them much, so they needed to be handled in a way that would make it less obvious what we were eating. The truth is this would be a great way to use up leftover beans, and rice as well as chicken. On the other hand since I was cooking the chicken, beans and rice I could season everything exactly the way I wanted it for this dish. I guess what you do will depend on what you have laying around, and what state it is in.
1/2 cup dry black beans soaked over night
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 large onion finely diced
2 chicken leg quarters, cut into leg and thigh
salt and pepper
1/2 cup rice (uncooked)
1/2 large onion finely diced (yes, the other half!)
2 cloves garlic
1 poblano pepper finely diced
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1 can enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso. They have a very strict policy on labeling for gluten containing ingredients)
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free corn bread mix
1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil or melted butter
Obviously you should soak your beans ahead of time to cut down on the cooking time. Combine the first half of the onion and garlic with the black beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until tender. Just fish one out and try it. If it is not tender give it a little longer.
While the beans are cooking, preheat the oven to 350F. Season the chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and paprika, and bake until cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool a bit, and pull the meat off the bone, and chop into small pieces.
Cook your rice. This is a fairly easy step, I just made some plain white rice for this.
In a large skillet sweat the second half of the onions and garlic until tender, add a little salt to draw out moisture, and help move this along. Then add the poblano and bell peppers, and sweat until they are tender. Add the chicken, beans, rice and enchilada sauce, and bring the mix up to a boil, and then simmer for a few minutes. Stir frequently. Pour this mixture into a 13×9 inch pan. Turn the oven up to 375F.
Prepare the cornbread mix according to the directions on the package, and then spread on top of the chicken and bean mixture. Try to spread it as thinly and evenly as possible. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cornbread is golden brown on top and the filling of the pie is bubbling, and hot.
I ate mine topped with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, and a nice gluten-free beer! It was a great dinner, and the kind of thing that is even better the next day!
Now of course if you wanted to make this vegetarian you could just leave out the chicken, there is protein already with the beans, and you could even add some squash and zucchini or whatever other veggies you wanted to. This kind of dish gives you lots of options to make things your own. Hope you enjoy it!