Posts Tagged ‘chicken dinner’


Like the rest of America, we eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Not because they are my preference, but because those of us on a cardiac-health diet are told to eliminate the skin. To make mine look as though they still have that delicious crisp skin, I lightly coat them in seasoned Wondra flour and sear them in a very hot nonstick (Scanpan, usually) pan with just a hint of olive oil for about 3 minutes per side or until golden. I then transfer to a very hot oven for about another 5 minutes or until just barely cooked through. I allow the breast to rest for another 5 minutes to finish cooking and to hold the juices in before slicing it, crosswise, on the bias. Because they are so large, one chicken breast serves both my husband and me. In this photo, I have transferred the cooked breast to a pan of warm old-fashioned creamy chicken gravy that I had saved (and froze) from a roast chicken dinner. I think if you try my method, you will find that you will end up with juicy meat with a slightly crisp exterior.




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My favorite combo – easy as pie, beautiful to serve, and so delicious; grilled chicken halves with grilled lemon.  All you do is split small chickens in half, lengthwise, of course.  Place them in a resealable plastic bag with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest (as much or as little as you like, and some rosemary.  Marinate for a half hour or so and then season with salt and pepper and throw them on a hot grill – or, if you don’t have an outdoor grill, a hot stove top grill pan.  Grill for about 30 minutes, turning frequently, or until nicely charred and cooked through.  Just before ready, add a few lemon halves to the grill, cut side down.  Serve the chickens drizzled with more extra virgin olive oil (preferably a tart green one) and a good healthy dose of hot lemon juice.  Add a tossed green salad and, in this case, some warm cherry tomatoes, and some crusty bread and a perfect meal is on the table – an everyday one or a guest-ready one.

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We eat a lot of chicken and I always have some leftover.  Even a single chicken breast will leave me with a few scraps, so I am always looking for ways to use the odds and ends that are stored in the fridge.  One of my frequent go-tos is fried rice – I always dread taking the time to make all the mise en place (those little bowls of prepared ingredients that decorate a chef’s work table) – precooking the rice, shredding the chicken, julienne carrots, bias cut scallions, diced peppers, tiny broccoli flowers, fresh peas, whatever I can find laying around that will extend the rice mix to a single dish dinner.  But, once I’ve done all the work, the rice comes together in a flash.
Here’s what I do:  Add a bit of grapeseed oil and sesame oil to my treasured wok (from The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown, (www.wokshop.com) that is burning hot.  I quick scramble up a couple of eggs with some grated ginger and garlic, throw in the rice, add a mix of soy sauce and chili sauce, followed by the veggies – the toughest ones first down through the list ‘til at last the scallions get a quick turn into the mix.  Pile it high on each of our plates and then we chopstick our way to fried rice heaven.
I have to admit that I once made chicken fried rice for friends and forgot to add the chicken so forevermore my chicken fried rice is known as chicken fried rice without chicken!  It was still delicious no matter what my buddies say.

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For some time I have been promising my friend Deena (of tamale lady fame) to make mole for her.  I got to be a self-proclaimed expert at it when I was doing a lot of consulting – advising large companies on how to introduce new products into an ever-expanding marketplace.  I will admit that I’m a bit lazy these days and don’t use the mortar and pestle like I should, so mole making is not quite as time consuming as it once was.  Steve, my wonderful photographing husband, loves nothing better than the time he spends in Oaxaca, Mexico, an area known for its great moles so he has come to really appreciate the authentic dish.  A long story to say I spent the day making mole in preparation for a Mexican celebration of chicken in mole sauce, pinto beans, rice, and guacamole for Deena.  We’ll probably down some cerveza or cerveza preparada (tomato juice, beer, and hot sauce mix) or margaritas to toast the many wonderful cooks south of our borders.

Here’s my recipe for Mole Negro Oaxaqueño (Chicken in Mole Sauce, Oaxaca-Style).  Tradition says cook the chicken first and then proceed with the recipe, but I always have plenty of chicken stock in the freezer so I use that to prepare the sauce.  I make the sauce and when I want to serve it I sear the chicken pieces (I usually cut up 2 whole chickens, but you could use any parts you like – if you use skinless, boneless breasts, don’t overcook), add them to the sauce, and cook for about 25 minutes just before serving.  You can garnish with toasted sesame seeds or chopped cilantro if you like.  Tradition also says “use lard” but I opt for the healthier olive oil

2 ounces guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed

4 pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed

4 ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed

5 tablespoons olive oil

Two ½-inch thick slices French or Italian bread

1½ cups canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles with juice

1 cup chopped onion

¼ cup diced dried apricots

¼ cup black raisins

¼ cup unsalted peanuts

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups chicken stock or canned nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2½ ounces unsweetened chocolate

Salt to taste

Break the chiles into pieces and place in a small, heatproof bowl.  Cover with very hot water and set aside to soak for 1 hour or until very soft.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the bread and fry for about 4 minutes or until the bread is turning brown and the olive oil has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Drain the chiles, separately reserving the soaking water.

Combine the chiles with the tomatoes, onion, apricots, raisins, peanuts, almonds, cilantro, garlic, sesame seeds, pepper, thyme, oregano, cloves, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Add the reserved bread pieces and toss to blend.

Working in batches, puree the mixture in a high-speed blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, adding the reserved soaking water as needed to make a very thick paste-like puree.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the paste and fry, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes or until the paste has taken on some color.

Scrape the paste into a large saucepan.  Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and place over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Add the chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted into the sauce.

Season with salt to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until the flavors have blended nicely.  (You can make the sauce up to this point; then cool, place in a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 3 months).



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Some weeks ago I got it in my head to try to find what used to be normal-sized chickens – those about 2 to 2½ pounds.  An impossibility!  You can find a chicken breast half that weighs almost that much but no delicate little birds are to be found anywhere.  So, my best buddy Lynn and I cornered Chrissy Chiacchia from Gaia’s Breath Farm (for mail orders try mtoro@wildblue.net) at the Cooperstown Farmers Market and she agreed to produce 3 small chickens for me to try.

This past weekend the chickens came home to roost and, although by now I had forgotten exactly what I had planned to do with them, they found their way into a spur-of-the-moment on the grill dish.  I had a container of Kalamata olives and a small jar of 3 preserved lemons from Kalustyan’s (www.kalustyans.com). The combination of the smoke from the grill (we only use hardwood charcoal) and the wonderful farm-fresh flavor of the chicken wedded to the punguent, salty lemons and olives made for a very memorable meal.  It didn’t hurt that we had a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot to toast our good fortune.

This recipe should serve 6 people unless you are used to giant pieces of chicken – it would then feed 4 amply.  And, if you don’t have a grill handy, it would work just fine in the oven.

            Three 2 to 2½ pound chickens, rinsed and patted dry

3 small fresh spring onions

1 cup white wine

 ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 preserved lemons with their preserving liquid

1 cup Kalamata olives

About 2 to 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

About 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh sage leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves

   Whatever chicken giblets that came with the chickens except the livers

About 2 pounds small new potatoes, cut in half

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill.  If using charcoal as we do, build a hot fire on one side of the grill and place the grill racks on.  I don’t have any real experience with gas grills but would imagine you could heat one side of a gas grill as well.

Place an onion in the cavity of each chicken.

Place the chickens in a large baking dish – I used my largest cast iron skillet.  Pour in the wine and olive oil.

Slice the lemons, crosswise, and randomly place the slices around the chickens and into the liquid.  Add the olives and herbs to the pan along with the giblets.

Nestle the potatoes around the chickens.

Pour whatever preserved lemon liquid that remains in the container over the chickens and then liberally sprinkle pepper over all.

Place the pan on the grill away from the fire.  Cover and roast, adding coals to keep the fire at about 400ºF for the first hour.  Continue to roast for about another 30 minutes or until the chickens are golden brown and cooked through.  The fire can be less hot for the final 30 minutes.

Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes.  Cut each chicken in half and serve with the potatoes, lemon slices, and olives and any pan juices.


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