Stovetop Roast Chicken with Lemon-Herb Sauce

January 28, 2013

I made this skillet chicken for my kids and their friends, because I needed an easy weeknight meal that would be ready in under an hour. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, but I used the higher end of Chris Kimball’s time ranges (as usual). My youngest son (who turns 12-years-old today) loved the sauce, while the older son liked the plain chicken. The secret of this recipe that ensures crisp skin: brown the chicken skin-side down for a second time (in step 4), after a quick 15 minute, stove-top braise. It’s a little more juggling, but it does provide nice skin and flavorful sauce. I did end up with too much sauce, so should have reduced it further in Step 6 beyond 1/2 cup. Overall, a delicious weeknight meal at 3-1/2 stars.

Quick weeknight chicken ready in 40 minutes

Quick weeknight chicken ready in 40 minutes

 

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball does have three other sauces associated with this recipe: Grapefruit-Tarragon, Spicy Thai, and Sake Glaze.
  2. I did accidentally add 2 tablespoon lemon juice instead of 2 teaspoons, but I liked it.
  3. This recipe works with any combination of bone-in chicken parts. I used 100% chicken breast, because they were on sale for $1/lb. Alternatively, Chris Kimball also says that you can cut up a whole chicken, which might add 10 minutes to the preparation time.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars
Cost: $4.50
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 5:30 PM.  Ready:  6:15 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

3-1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (could be breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or any mix)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 to 1-1/4 cups chicken broth

Lemon-Herb Sauce:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium shallot
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
1-1/2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

  1. Cut breasts in half and trim of any excess fat. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to 12″ non-stick skillet. Heat over medium-high burner until the oil begins to shimmer. Place chicken with skin-side down into skillet and cook without moving for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Use a splatter screen it you have one to make clean up easier.
  3. Flip chicken with tongs, and turn down burner to medium-low, then add 3/4-cup chicken broth. Cover skillet and cook for 12 to 16 minutes until white meat reaches 155-degrees and dark meat reaches 170-degrees. If they cook unevenly remove the pieces as they become ready and place on plate.
  4. Pour liquid into a measuring cup and reserve. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels, and add another 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Turn up burner to medium-high and pre-heat oil until it begins to shimmer. Cook chicken with skin-side down and cook without moving chicken for 5 to 7 minutes until chicken reaches its final temperature (160-degrees for white meat and 175-degrees for dark meat). Put on clean serving platter and tent loosely with foil while you finish the sauce. Meanwhile, mince your shallot.
  5. Skim any fat from the reserved liquid and add broth so that you have 3/4 cup.
  6. Reduce burner to low and heat another teaspoon vegetable oil. Saute shallot for 1 minute until it has softened. Add flour and cook for 30 seconds, constantly stirring. Increase your burner to medium-high, use your 3/4 cup cooking liquid to deglaze the pan, and bring up to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes until it has reduced to 1/2-cup. Add back any juices from the serving platter and finish cooking for 30 seconds before removing from heat.
  7. Whisk together the lemon juice, parsley, chives and butter. Taste as adjust season with salt and pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and pour around chicken on each individual plate.

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cilantro and Lime

January 20, 2013

The main recipe from the January 2013 issue of Cooks Illustrated was seasoned with Parsley and Anise, but instead went with a Latin-themed variation. I love shrimp, so unless something goes seriously wrong the recipe will usually get at least 4-stars. Fortunately, enough went right to give today’s recipe 4-1/2 stars. I found it impossible to find Chris Kimball’s recommended shrimp; shell-on, 16-to-20 per pound shrimp. The larger shrimp were supposed to promote browning; few shrimp will not crowd your pan, and leaving the shells on will allow them to brown longer because the shells are protecting the shrimp’s delicate flesh. However, I used slightly smaller 26-to-30 per pound that were factory-deveined and only had their tails remaining. While Chris Kimball warns that such a substitution would result in overcooked, rubbery shrimp that is over-seasoned,  I found the shrimp to be perfectly cooked. While the seasoning was strong, I personally liked their spiciness. If I can ever find his recommended shrimp I may give them a try, because his logic seems sound. But my shrimp were on sale for $4.99/lb and I’m sure his shrimp would cost at least double that.

Delicious and flavorful and ready in just an hour.

Delicious and flavorful and ready in less than an hour.

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball warns against using smaller shrimp, because they will overcook and absorb too much spices. I didn’t follow his recommendations and used 26-to-30 per pound, because I already had these in my freezer.
  2. His instructions for shrimp that remain fully-shelled are difficult to find. I’m not sure where he buys his shrimp, but all my local supermarkets only sell them with tails-on; never shell-on.
  3. Annatto powder, also called achiote, was in the Mexican food aisle at my supermarket. It was very inexpensive, but an equal amount of paprika could be substituted.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars
Cost: $13.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 5:30 PM.  Ready:  6:00 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1/4 cup salt
2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 teaspoon annatto powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 lime, sliced into wedges for serving

  1. Defrost your shrimp using one of the following methods; (1) defrost in refrigerator overnight, or (2) by putting in a large bowl of cold tap water, replacing the water every 15 minutes. The shrimp will be thawed in 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. If you are able to find non-deveined shrimp, then use kitchen shears or a paring knife to cut through the shell and use a paring knife to cut to 1/2″ deep and remove the vein. But leave the shell on for protection against the hot broiler. Add 1 quart of water to a large bowl and dissolve 1/4-cup of table salt, and place the deveined shrimp to brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Set an over rack so that it is 4″ from the broiler’s heating element, and begin to pre-heat the broiler. In a second large bowl, add vegetable oil, pressed garlic, 2 teaspoons lightly crushed coriander seeds. lime zest, annatto, and pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
  4. Drain shrimp and pat them dry using paper towels. Add shrimp and cilantro to bowl containing the oil mixture, and toss to combine, ensuring that oil gets worked into the inside of the shrimp.
  5. Place shrimp in single layer on wire rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. The wire rack will allow air-flow around the entire shrimp. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, rotating half-way through broiling.
  6. Flip the shrimp and broil the second side for 3 to 4 minutes more, again rotating the pan halfway through broiling.
  7. Put cooked shrimp on a clean serving platter and and serve immediately, with lime wedges.

Crispy Orange Beef

January 12, 2013

Crispy Orange Beef is a typical Szechuan. Officially it’s supposed to be made using dried-tangerine peels, but Chris Kimball recommends using a vegetable peeler to remove peel and some pith from navel oranges. The beef is deep fried in 3 cups of oil, but it cut into thin strips so that it cooks quickly. The beef is rich and delicious, but was a little too heavy. Not because of the oil, but the flavors were not quite balance. A little brightness would have made for a better meal. Still, it was a delicious and interesting, and not too much work. 4-stars.

Rich and delicious Szechuan Beef

Rich and delicious Szechuan Beef

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball says to use flap meat, which I wasn’t able to find in my regular 3 supermarkets, so I used skirt steak which had a similar open grain.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

Rice Ingredients:
1 cups long grain white rice
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Beef Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds beef flap meat
1+2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons cornstarch
10 x 3″ strips orange peel
1/4 cup juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups vegetable oil
1 jalapeño chile
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions

  1. Slice beef with the grain into approximately 2-1/2″ to 3″ wide strips, then slice against the grain into 1/2″ wide slices. If the slices are much more than 1/2″ thick, then slice them in half so that they aren’t quite so thick and will cook more quickly.
  2. In a medium bowl, add beef and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Toss together with 6 tablespoons of cornstarch until they are evenly coated. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and arrange beef strips into a single layer. Freeze for 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, Line a second rimmed baking sheet with 3 layers of paper towels. Use a vegetable peeler to remove oranges peel into 3″ strips, ensuring you peel deep enough to include some pith. Set aside for now. In a small bowl, juice the oranges and remove any seeds, then combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, molasses, sherry, vinegar, and sesame oil.
  4. Put rice into a strainer and rinse under running water until the water runs clear; this will remove the excess starch from the rice. Pre-heat the oil/butter in a saucepan over a medium burner. Increase burner to high. Add the rinsed rice and salt and bring to a boil. Stir (or swirl pan) to combine, then reduce the burner to low, cover and allow to simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove rice from heat, remove lid and place a clean kitchen towel. Allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a fork to fluff just before serving.
  5. Set a Dutch oven over a medium burner and heat 3 cups vegetable oil to 375-degrees. In 3 batches, add 1/3 of beef and fry for about 3 minutes until golden brown; stirring occasionally. Remove beef and place on paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Make sure oil returns to 375-degrees before frying the remaining batches.
  6. While the beef cooks remove stem and seeds of jalapeno, then slice lengthwise into thin strips. Also slice the orange peels lengthwise into strips, which should yield about 1/4-cup. Slice your scallions on a bias. Peel your garlic and grate your ginger.
  7. Place a 12″ skillet over medium-high burner and use 2 tablespoons of the frying oil. Pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add orange peel and jalapeño strips and saute for 2 minutes. Press garlic directly into skillet, add grated ginger, and ­pepper flakes. Saute briefly, only 45 seconds, before using the soy sauce mixture to de-glaze the pan. After 45 seconds, add the beef and scallions and toss. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Chicken Noodle Soup

January 5, 2013

For over 20 years, every time I have gotten sick I have made myself a big pot of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. While I doubt the soup is the cure, by the time the soup is gone I invariably feel much better. It’s perfect, because I can re-heat the soup, little by little, requiring only minimal effort for each meal. Perhaps the extra rest is more of a cure than the soup. Today my youngest son got a stomach flu, so I made him a big pot of chicken soup in the hopes that he would be able to eat (and keep down) a healthy meal on his upset stomach. I can’t believe I’ve never posted my recipe for Chicken Soup. Here is my recipe, plus a link to Chris Kimball’s recipe, which had some influence over the evolution of my own soup recipe. 4-stars.

Chicken Noodle Soup is the best medicine for winter flu

Chicken Noodle Soup is the best medicine for winter flu

Comments:

  1. Today I used chicken thighs, which are great for braising. Sometimes I use boneless breasts if I happen to already have them in my refrigerator, but bone-in chicken is always better for soup.
  2. I used 4-cups of my homemade chicken stock, but you could also use broth from a can or carton. In fact, you could even use a total of 2-1/2 quarts of plain water in this recipe, though the flavor won’t be quite as good.
  3. Chris Kimball recommends just 2 cups of wide egg noodles. I prefer my soup more fully-loaded so used a 9-oz package for fresh, refrigerated pasta.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $9.50 for 3 quarts of soup.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 10:00 AM. Finish time 12:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (or about 4 pounds of chicken pieces)
2 medium onions
4 large carrot
4 to 5 teaspoons table salt
1 quart chicken broth (4 cups)
1-1/2 quarts water (6 cups)
2 bay leaves
4 springs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 rib celery
2 potatoes
1 package of fresh fettuccine or 3 cups wide egg noodles (5 ounces).
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

  1. If you are using a whole chicken, break it down into individual pieces (e.g. thighs, drumsticks, breasts, etc). Remove the skin from the chicken and trim away any visible fat. Pat the chicken pieces dry using paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large dutch oven set over medium-high burner until just smoking. Add half the chicken, meaty-side down, brown for 6 minutes per side. Use tongs to flip and brown the second side for 6 more minutes. Remove the chicken to a clean plate, and repeat the browning process with the remaining chicken (using the same oil).
  3. While the chicken browns, cut your onion into a medium dice. Peel and cut your carrots into 1/4″-thick slices. Also peel your potatoes and cut into 1/2″ dice, and cut your 3 rib of celery into 1/4-” thick slices (but keep the potatoes/celery separate from onions/carrots). Use kitchen twine to tie together your thyme sprigs.
  4. After you remove the second batch of chicken, use the same oil to saute your diced onions and carrots for 6 minutes, using the moisture of the onions to deglaze the pot.
  5. Add the chicken broth and water to the Dutch oven, and arrange the chicken pieces bone-side down. Add 1 tablespoon table salt, 2 bay leaves, thyme bundle, ground black pepper, diced potatoes, and celery slices. Bring the soup up to a gentle boil, then reduce burner to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 50 to 60 minutes until the chicken and vegetables are very tender.
  6. Use tongs to remove chicken from pot. Then use two forks to remove the meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Discard the bone. Add the shredded chicken back to soup, and adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste. Stir in minced parsley, and serve.
  7. Allow to cool for 2 hours before refrigerating leftovers. Alternatively you can empty leftovers into two or three 4-cup containers and refrigerate the individual containers.

Happy New Year 2013

January 1, 2013

I am hoping for a great 2013! 2012 was a challenging and transitional year, both at work and home. My busy kitchen continues to be the major bright spot in my daily life, having become my greatest source of relaxation over the past few years. Unfortunately, I missed my blogging goal of making every recipe published by Cook’s Illustrated in 2012. Until August I had missed only one recipe (Chilled Tomato Soup). But life’s changes and the beginning of the school year wrought havoc on my ability to blog, reducing my free-time to allow me to only post an average of one recipe per week. Since September, I have missed more recipes than I have made. However, I am beginning the New Year full of hope that the turbulence of 2012 is now behind me and that 2013 will be the great year.

Welcoming in the New Year at midnight

Welcoming in the New Year at midnight

Here are my top 5 recipes from 2012.

  1. Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp. When I made this paella in June, I already knew that this would top this year’s list of best recipe. It was that spectacular.
  2. Coq au Vin. For 20 years this dish has been my nemesis. The promise of its rich, luxurious sauce has never been able to overcome the inherent limitations of bland, supermarket chicken. While not perfect, this Coq au Vin is my best attempt yet.
  3. Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I’ve tried a few different recipe for Jerk Chicken, but Chris Kimball has a few secrets to make this the best Jerk Chicken outside of Boston Bay, Jamaica.
  4. Pulled Pork Sandwiches. The best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve made. This recipe was from 1997, but was better than his more recent recipes.
  5. End-of-School-Year Party Pretzels. Adjusted the recipe so that these 3-hour pretzels would be ready by 7am.

Honorable mention, and why they didn’t make the grade:

  1. Carrot Layer Cake. The cake’s picture-perfect appearance made this cake a contender, but the inherent fact that it’s just a carrot cake kept it out of the top five.
  2. Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Dried Cherries and Rosemary Port Pan Sauce. This recipe was a surprisingly easy week-night meal, but the not-quite-perfected sauce kept it out of the top 5.
  3. Broiled Steaks. Based upon taste alone, this was absolutely my third best dinner in 2012. Of course, the technique was solid and allowed the meal to shine. But the dinner was spectacular based upon the beautifully marbled steaks; lesser steaks would have not made this a memorable meal.

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