Semi-Boneless Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

August 2, 2015

About a month ago I made these 5-star Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing. They were easy to make and had amazing flavor. The only drawback was that the bone-in chicken was a little difficult to eat. Then I remembered back to last Thanksgiving’s deconstructed turkey thighs about how deliciously easy a semi-boneless leg quarter was to eat. Today I applied that same technique to chicken leg quarters. The technique opens up a slit on the inside of the thigh, leaving the skin in tact. Use a boning knife to carefully shave the meat away from the thigh bone; once exposed, cut through the leg/thigh joint to remove the thigh bone. Leave the drumstick bone-in. Finally, stuff the thigh and truss it together again using bamboo skewer and kitchen twine.

Best dollar I ever spent

Best $1.15 I ever spent

The results were spectacular, and the deboning/stuffing technique really elevated the presentation of the chicken. Stuffing the thigh made the flavor much more intense. While I gave it 5-stars as a bone-in, the recipe as I cooked it today was an out-of-the-park home run.

Comments:

  1. I adjusted the recipe below so that I would have more paste to marinade the chicken. The original recipe called for just a few teaspoons of spices; without any lime or cilantro.
  2. I would suggest trying the deboning/stuffing technique at least once. It adds about 20 minutes to the preparation time, but really transforms the meal into something very special.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (2 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 Tablespoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs. Remove any remnants of the backbone exposing the top of the thigh bone (probably need a chef’s knife for that). Using a boning knife follow the line of fat that follows the thigh bone, cutting into the thigh along the entire length of the thigh bone. Use the boning knife to shave down along the thigh bone until you reach the thigh/leg joint. Cut through the joint and discard the thigh bone.
  3. Trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 2 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  4. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  5. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20-to-25 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  6. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  7. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 11 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  8. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the pieces come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.

Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

June 25, 2015

For some reason my DVR has stopped recording Cook’s Country episodes, so I went online a few days ago I saw this recipe for grilled chicken quarters; a perfect match for the beautiful June weather. I also love this recipe because it doesn’t require me to separate the thigh from the leg; but the downside is that it is a little more difficult to eat as one big piece. Most of the preparation takes place the night before; making a flavorful paste and preparing the chicken. It’s best to leave let it marinate overnight; allowing time for the bright flavors to work their way deep into the chicken (Chris Kimball says a minimum of 1 hour). The chicken was very flavorful and bright. 5-star, for its simplicity, ease of preparation and it’s fullness of flavor.

Delicous 5-star meal

Delicious 5-star meal

My house it 90 years old without central air conditioning, so at this time of year, I love keeping the heat of cooking is outside. My kitchen (and my whole house) stays much cooler.

Comments:

  1. The original recipe says to reserve just the 2 teaspoons of paste for up to 24 hours. Instead, I added the olive oil in Step 1 (instead of Step 8). I think it preserved the paste from oxidizing and gave more time for the flavors to permeate the olive oil.
  2. The sauce was perhaps a little salty. The original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons kosher salt, but next time I will try it with only 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  3. I with their was a little extra sauce, to eat with my bread and potatoes.
  4. If you plan to make this on a gas grill, pre-heat by turning all your burners on high. Cover, and allow to heat up for 15 minutes, before cleaning and oiling. To cook turn down the primary burner to medium, and reduce the other burners to low. Adjust the primary burner as necessary to maintain a grill temperature of between 400 to 425 degrees.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (1 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 teaspoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs, trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 4 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint, and 2 across the thighs. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  3. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  4. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  5. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  6. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 9 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  7. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the prices come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and
    2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.

 


Chicken Flautas

June 19, 2015

I love recipes with lots of leftovers so that I have food to bring to work for lunch the next day. This recipe is perfect; making between 20 and 24 flautas; enough for almost an entire week’s worth of lunches. Generally Chris Kimball does not make very good Mexican food; this is a recipe that I’ve personally been developing for about 9 months; trying to make my lunchtime chicken taste more like pork or beef. The results are very good; I use tomato paste, dark beans and a few anchovies to add meaty flavor (no, of course it doesn’t taste fishy). I used chicken thighs because they won’t dry out if I cook them until they become shreadable. I guarantee; you will not believe that you are eating chicken. 4-stars; great depth of flavor, but there are textural issues with the tortillas when reheating in the microwave. Optimally, reheat them in conventional oven.

So good you'll forget it's chicken

So good you’ll forget it’s chicken

With beef prices roughly double from what they were a few years ago, I have been eating a lot of alternatives. I posted these pork taquitos earlier this year. While pork is more flavorful with a richer, more succulent texture, chicken is a healthier option.

Comment:

  1. The topping you add can elevate these flautas from 4 to 4-1/2 stars. Some of my favorites toppings include: guacamole or diced avocado, sour cream, lime juice, and of course, salsa. Also, after the tortillas have become crispy (or if reheating in a conventional oven) I love to sprinkle grated cheese over the top and run them under the broiler until the cheese browns a bit.
  2. Sometimes, instead adding vegetable oil to the pot, I use the skin from a few pieces of chicken and render out the fat; using that chicken fat in lieu of vegetable oil. It adds about 4 to 5 minutes; bit does two things: (1) adds flavor, and (2) also helps build up the fond on the bottom of the pan which translates into deeper flavor in the final flautas.
  3. If reheating prepared pre-made flautas, bake in oven at 300-degrees until heated all the way through; about 20 minutes, flipping half way through reheating. If you have to reheat them in a micowave, bake them in Step 14 until the tortillas become very hard, and flip them half way through re-heating.
  4. When I first was developing this recipe I did not add the cheese to the mixture, rather I topped the  chicken prior to rolling (in Step 13) with grated cheese. This had two drawbacks; first the flautas I prepared first had more cheese than the last flautas in the second batch. But beyond that, as the cheese melts during baking it oozes out the open ends and burns.
  5. 4-lbs of chicken thighs yields 1-1/2 pounds of shredded chicken meat. I think I prefer to use closer to 5-lbs.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $11 for 20 to 24 flautas. (plus toppings)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 3:30 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s doesn’t have a recipe for flautas. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

1/2 bag dried, dark kidney beans, or 29-oz can of beans.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (see Comment #1)
4-to-5-lbs bone-in chicken thighs
1 onion
1 jalapeno
1 red bell pepper, small
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 clove garlic
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
juice from 2 limes
1/3-cup chopped cilantro
8-oz mild cheddar cheese
20 to 24 small fajita-size flour tortillas
Server with diced avocado, diced tomato, salsa

  1. For best results, soak 1/2-pound of dried beans for 8 hours or overnight. Use 1-1/2 tablespoons salt for 2 quarts of water. Otherwise if you don’t have dried beans or the time to soak them overnight, you can use 29-ounce can of dark kidney beans.
  2. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs. Pre-heat 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil a large dutch oven set over medium-high burner; when the oil begins to shimmer. Place half the chicken skin-side down in skillet; cook for a total of 7 minutes, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Wipe out pot using paper towels, add another 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil and repeat this step for the second batch of chicken.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients. Dice your onion and jalapeno, removing the seeds (as desired to control the heat of the final flautas). Peel the 2 cloves of garlic. Also in a small bowl, add 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons coriander, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  4. After you are done cooking the second batch of chicken, reduce burner to medium. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, your onion, jalapeno, bell pepper and  and 2 teaspoons salt; allow to soften over medium burner for 5 minutes. Use the liquid exuded from the vegetables to deglaze the bottom of your pan.
  5. Add tomato paste and pressed/minced garlic; continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the contents of the spice bowl from Step 4; allowing the flavors to bloom for 1 minute.
  6. Add chicken stock and beans, bring up to a simmer over high burner. Cover pan, turn down burner to medium-low and maintain a simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thighs registers about 185-degrees, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
  7. Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.
  8. Meanwhile, turn up burner to medium and allow cooking liquid to gently boil; about 20 minutes. The beans should become thickened with very little liquid remaining. Meanwhile, begin to pre-heat your oven to 375-degrees.
  9. Use your fingers (or two forks) to shred the chicken, discarding bones and anything that feels like excess fat or cartilage. Add shredded chicken directly to the pot once your beans have finished reducing.
  10. Zest 2 limes and squeeze their juices; adding to the pot; mixing until everything is evenly combined.
  11. Grate cheese on the large holes of a box grater and add shredded cheese to pot. Mix until evenly combined.
  12. Prepare a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, lightly sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray.
  13. Prepare the flautas in batches of 10 to 12. Form 1/4-cup (2-1/2 ounces) of chicken mixture into a line in running along the center of tortilla. Tightly roll up flauta and lay on baking sheet so that the weight of the flauta holds the tortilla closed.
  14. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, then flip for 5 minutes. If you plan to re-heat them in the microwave then bake until the tortillas become very hard.
  15. Repeat from Step 12 with the second batch.
  16. Serve immediate with toppings of your choice (see comment #1).

 


Peri Peri Chicken

June 10, 2015

The funny name, which comes from the African Piri Piri pepper, made this recipe very fun for my kids. Chris Kimball’s version of Peri Peri chicken uses Arbol Chiles, which are much easier to find, and marries with a traditional two-level barbecue technique. He further slows the cooking by using tap water in a disposable aluminum pan to help moderate the temperature of the cool-side of the grill.  The recipe’s varied list of ingredients made me skeptical; peanuts, chiles, five spice powder and lemon. But in the end, the flavors meld into a deliciously unique barbecued chicken. Unfortunately, I relied too heavily on the clock and stepped away from the grill with the chicken over the hot-side of the grill; which resulted in too much of a char. While this was only a 4-star execution, it’s a 4.5 star recipe; for its deep, complex richness.

Delicious; even if a little over charred

Delicious; even if a little over charred

While the recipe requires refrigerating chicken overnight with the paste applied, it makes the actual day of the barbecue very easy. You essentially do all the preparation the night before. Chris Kimball’s Yankee palate has influenced the recipe by providing a wide range of chiles; from 4 to 10. Today, I only used 4 because I was worried about my two sons. Next time I will use 7, because 4 chiles was quite mild.

Issues:

  1. Flare ups during Step 6 overly charred my chicken. It was my fault, because I walked away from the grill for a few minutes. The charring will happen much faster than you think; so don’t leave the chicken unattended even for a minute during Step 6.
  2. If you are using a gas grill; pre-heat the grill for 15 minutes with all burners on high. When ready to cook chicken primary burner to medium-high and turn off all other burners. Use two disposable pie plate; each filled with 1-1/2 cups of water; directly placed on 1 of the gas burners (opposite to the primary burner).

Rating: 4-to-4.5 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 5:50 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

8 garlic cloves
1 shallot
4 to 10 arbol chiles
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves, crushed
6-lbs bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or drumsticks)
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 large disposable aluminum pan (13″x9″)
Lemon wedges

  1. Peel 8 cloves of garlic and 1 shallot; roughly chop and add to blender. Also add to blender: 4 arbols, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon five-spice powder, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and crumble 3 bay leaves.
  2. Process for 10 to 20 seconds until smooth. Taste the paste and add up to 6 more chiles; spice level will be hotter as paste than on chicken.
  3. Finely chop peanuts and add to a large bowl (I mixed some paste with the peanuts to prevent the nuts from flying everywhere as I chopped them). Also add the paste to bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Using a metal skewer to poke skin side of each chicken piece between 8 and 10 times. Add chicken to large bowl and toss until chicken is evenly coated with paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for between 6 hours and 24 hours.
  5. When you are ready to grill, open the bottom vents halfway and set a disposable aluminum pan filled with 3 cups of water on 1 side of the grill. Ignite a chimney starter filled with charcoal (about 6 quarts). After 25 minutes when the upper-most coals are partially covered with ask, evenly empty the coals on the side of the grill opposite the pan of water. Replace the grill grate, cover, and open the lid vent half-way. Pre-heat grill for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the cooking grate.
  6. Put the chicken with skin-side down over the hot side of the grill and cook for between 2 and 5 minutes until brown and blistering in spots. Flip chicken and continue to cook the second side for 4 to 6 minutes until the second side in browned.
  7. Move chicken with the skin-side up to the cool-side of grill; with the legs and thighs closer to the fire and the breasts further away. Set cover so that lid vent is directly over the chicken. Cook for between 50 to 60 minutes until white meat registers 160-degrees and dark meat registers 175-degrees.
  8. As the individual pieces of chicken come up to temperature remove them to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil; allowing to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Pass separately with lemon wedges.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

May 5, 2015

When I was looking to make Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, I realized that I only had this very old post.  So I wanted to update the recipe using Chris Kimball’s most recent recipes and techniques. To prevent the boneless chicken breasts from overcooking and drying out, I used dry milk powder to promote a quick char (see his technique here). The Caesar Salad is based upon his best 2011 recipe (but the crouton portion of that recipe was a failure. Unfortunately, today I used store-bought croutons). Overall, the recipe was great. 4-stars. I slightly under-dressed the salad. The biggest problem was that over-sized breasts were too thick and the char-to-meat ratio left the chicken slightly under-flavored.  I modified the recipe below to solve that problem next time I make this recipe (this makes for a great summer weeknight dinner)

Light and simple

Light and simple

Comments:

  1. Next time, I will pound the chicken so that the thickest part of the breasts measures about 3/4-inch thick. The larger surface area will allow for more of a char, offering better flavor. When I cubed the thick part of the chicken, it was so thick that only one side of the chicken cubes had a char. Pounding it thin should double the amount of flavor in the chicken.
  2. I might also try boneless chicken thighs, which I have been using lately in lieu of breasts. They not only have more flavor, but are more forgiving in terms of overcooking. They are also naturally thinner.
  3. Often times people are afraid to eat raw egg yolks; but there is no way around it in making Caesar salad. One of Chris Kimball’s prior recipe cooks the egg for a scant 45 seconds in boiling water. However, the yolk’s temperature only made it up into the 70’s; I am still eating raw egg. So why bother? It turns out that a USDA study found that only 1 in every 30,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, and that most of those are merely contaminated on the outside of the shell. This step helps mitigates that slight risk.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:30 PM. Ready at 7:00 PM.

Here is the Cook’s Illustrated link to the Ceasar Salad Recipe. Chris Kimball’s grilled chicken recipe is here.  My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or three smaller breasts)
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick vegetable oil spray

  1. Trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat or skin. Pound the thicken part of the chicken so that the entire chicken is a consistent 3/4-to-1-inch thick. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup table salt and 1/4-cup sugar with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water. Add chicken to brine, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour (or until the coals are ready; i.e. step 5).
  2. After chicken has been brining for 30 minutes, prepare your charcoal grill by completely opening both the top and bottom vents. Fill a chimney starter so that it is slightly overflowing (mounded) with briquettes and light, which will take about 20 minutes to fully ignite.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, and use paper towels to pat it dry. Combine 2 teaspoons milk powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle each side with half the milk powder, spraying each side with nonstick cooking spray to moisten the powdered milk.
  4. When the coals are ready, create a two level fire by emptying 2/3rds on half the grill, and the remaining 1/3rd over the other half of the grill. Pre-heat grate for 5 minutes then clean a rub with paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  5. Put chicken with the skin-side down directly over the hottest side of the grill. Grill for 2-1/2 minutes, then flip chicken (leaving on the hot side) cooking the second side for another 2-1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken again (skin-side down) but over the cool-side of the grill; another approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees. Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving. When ready to top chicken, you can either slice or cube the chicken.

Caesar Salad:
1 large clove garlic
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 anchovy fillets
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 romaine hearts

  1. Rip the romaine into 3/4″ pieces; then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  2. Peel garlic cloves. Press directly into a large bowl, and add lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, minced the anchovies and use a fork to mash to form a paste (should have just under 1 teaspoon of paste). Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, minced anchovies, and 2 egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. Whisk until it is combined.
  5. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the canola oil and olive oil into the bowl. Whisk until the dressing has become fully emulsified. Finally, whisk in 1/2-cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Add romaine lettuce to bowl and toss until the dressing is evenly coating the lettuce. Add croutons and gently mix gently.
  7. Slice the chicken crosswise into 1/2″-thick slices, or cube chicken into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes.
  8. Serve salad immediately on individual plates or bowls, then add sliced chicken breast on top of each salad.
  9. Pass the remaining Parmesan cheese separately.

Coq au Riesling

May 2, 2015

One of my all-time favorite recipes is Coq au Vin, with its deep, rich sauce; almost a demi-glace. Today’s recipe took an hour less than a standard, red-wine-based Coq au Vin, but I was skeptical when Chris Kimball lightened up its hallmark sauce using a white Riesling. The recipe resulted in great, well-balanced flavor. However, the sauce was a little too subtle; not bold or luxurious. Also, there was not enough chicken in the final dish; by the time I trimmed down my 5-lb whole chicken it was closer to 2-1/2 lbs of bone-in chicken. Given that the two recipes cost the same to make, I would choose the original Coq au Vin (even with the extra hour of cooking time). Overall, 4-stars; today’s recipe makes for an enjoyable meal.

Delicious, but I prefer Coq au Vin

Delicious, but I prefer Coq au Vin

Comments:

  1. Using a 5-lb whole chicken left just over 2-1/2 lbs of bone-in chicken. Next time I think I will use 4-to-5-lbs of pre-cut chicken thighs. Because the pre-cut chicken would not provide me the back and wings (key to the recipe), I could still use some of the chicken trimmings that I always have in my freezer (for making chicken stock).
  2. The cooking times listed in the recipe were understated across the board. For example, browning the skin took 20 minutes, and browning mushrooms took 15 minutes.
  3. While the recipe calls for crème fraîche; I substituted a mixture of 50% sour cream and 50% heavy cream. There are a couple of variations of the substitution here.
  4. Chris Kimball suggests serving with buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

The recipe calls for “dry Riesling”. Unfortunately, I discovered that the term “dry Riesling” did not help me to select the right bottle in my local wine shop.  I ended up selecting my bottle because it had 11.5% alcohol. You should go wine shopping armed with the following advice from Chris Kimball on how to select the proper bottle:

  1. Chris Kimball says that Austrian Rieslings are a safe bet; as most are dry. In my store, every single bottle of Riesling was German.
  2. He says to look for the word “trocken,” which means dry. Again, not a single bottle had the work “trocken”
  3. I did see that on the back label of some Rieslings there was a sliding scale indicating where the wine falls on the dry-sweet spectrum. but the few bottles that had the scale were all sweet.
  4. Finally, he says to look for Riesling that has 11% alcohol or above. The higher the alcohol level, the drier the wine. I found a $10 bottle that had 11.5% alcohol. The recipe left we with a glass to drink and it was indeed not a typically syrupy Riesling.
  5. Chris Kimball’s last alternative is to use a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. He specifically says to avoid Chardonnay, which will turn bitter as it reduces.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $19.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 3:45 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

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

5-pound whole chicken,
Salt and pepper
2 slices bacon
3 shallots, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped coarse
2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups dry Riesling (leaving 1 glass to drink)
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh parsley, plus 2 teaspoons minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound white mushrooms
1/4 cup crème fraîche

  1. Break down your chicken, removing the into its major components, setting aside the wings and back (and the little bag that comes inside the chicken). Cut each breast in half; so you should be left with a total of 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs). Remove the skin from chicken breast pieces, drumsticks, and thighs; setting aside to use in Step 3.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with a total of 1-1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside until Step 7.
  3. Chop bacon. Set a large Dutch oven over medium-low burner, add bacon and stir occasionally until it begins to render the fat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken skin, back, and wings to pot, and increase burner to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 12 to 15 minutes. Mine took 20 minutes before the bacon browned. The skin should also have rendered it’s fat and the chicken back and wings should be browned on all sides.
  4. Meanwhile peel and chop your shallots. Peel and coarsely chop your carrots. coarsely chop the celery. Peel and smash your garlic (no need to mince or press your garlic).
  5. Temporarily remove the pot from burner and remove and reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat to small bowl; set aside until Step 10.
  6. Return pot to burner (still medium). Add chopped shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stir occasionally, until the vegetables become softened. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Slowly add wine and deglaze the pan, using a metal spatula.
  7. Increase burner to high and simmer for 2 minutes until it slightly thickened. Add 1 cup water, 2 bay leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, and 6 thyme sprigs, and bring up to a simmer. Set chicken pieces in an even layer in pot. Turn down burner to low, cover pot, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken pieces as each piece comes up to temperature; i.e. the breasts measure 160 degrees and thighs and legs register 175 degrees.
  8. While the chicken cooks prepare your mushrooms by trimming the stems. Cut small mushrooms in half and quarter any large mushrooms.
  9. Fish out and discard the back and wings. Empty the pot into a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press down on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Allow to settle for 10 minutes, then use a wide spoon to remove and discard any surface fat.
  10. Meanwhile while the liquid settles, put the now-empty pot over medium burner. Add the fat reserved in Step 5, cut mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes until lightly browned (mine took 16 minutes because they release so much liquid that they wouldn’t brown)
  11. Return the cooking liquid to the bot and bring up to a boil. Reduce burner to maintain a brisk simmer for 5 to 6 minutes until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, stir occasionally.
  12. Turn down burner to medium low. Add in crème fraîche and minced parsley. Stir until combined. Add chicken pieces and any juices from the plate. Cook, covered, for 5 to 8 minutes until the chicken becomes heated through. Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.
  13. Serve over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

One-Pan Roast Chicken and Potatoes

February 22, 2015

Simple, delicious meal of chicken and potatoes cooked together in just 1 skillet. The only other cleanup is a cutting board and a small bowl.  But be sure to allocate two hours of mostly unattended cooking time. The flavor was very well balanced, and the chicken was moist. 4-stars.

Simple to make and clean up

Simple to make and clean up

The timing on the recipe is based upon a very small whole chicken; 1 to 1-1/4 hours and was perfect for a 4-lb chicken. If your chicken is bigger, you will have to reduce the over temperature (and increase cooking time) to prevent the skin from becoming overcooked. I’d suggest 375. Alternatively, you can bake it at 350 for an hour, then increase to 425 until the breast meat registers 1y0 and the dark meat registers 175.

Comment:

  1. I also tried to make this recipe using 6 pre-cut thighs. It baked in only 35 minutes. The main drawback was that the things had too much skin; while delicious; there was too much fat that rendered. After removing this chicken to rest; discard the extra fat from the pan before finishing the potatoes on the stove top in Step 8.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $5.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time: 4:00 PM. Finish time: 6:00 PM.

The Cook’s Country link to the original recipe is here. The recipe as I prepared it today is given below:

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt
Pepper
1 (4-lb) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

  1. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven, and pre-heat to 400-degrees.
  2. In a very small bowl, add 2 tablespoons oil, thyme, 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry, then use your fingers to separate the skin from the chicken breast. (While the original recipe just calls for loosening over the breasts, I loosened over the legs and thighs too). Rub the oil mixture from Step 2 underneath and ontop of the skin of the chicken. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together, and tuck the wingtips behind the back. Set aside
  4. Peel your potatoes and square-off the ends. Slice into 1″-thick-rounds. Add potatoes to a 12″ oven-safe, non-stick skillet. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  5. Arrange potatoes so that they lay flat and in a single layer. Set over medium burner and cook for 7 to 9 minutes without moving or flipping the potatoes, until the bottoms become browned.
  6. Set chicken with the breast-side upward on top of the potatoes and put skillet into oven. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours until the breast meat reaches 160-degrees and the thighs reach 175-degrees.
  7. Move chicken to cutting board and loosely tent with aluminum foil; allowing to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. While the chicken rests, cover the skillet with a lid and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  9. Carve the chicken and serve with potatoes. Pass lemon wedges along side.

 


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