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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Faster Roast Chicken & Gravy with Bacony Brussels Sprouts

Yes, yes, more chicken. But roast chicken, people, it's a different food group. You know how you think about making it but then don't because you don't have two hours and don't want to deal with picking all of the chicken off the carcass and cleaning up the mess? This is my weeknight solution. Substitute the veggies, serve with roasted or mashed potatoes and get into the comfort zone. And do not skip the gravy - please folks.

Roast Chicken

2-3 bone-in chicken breasts (whatever will fit in your cast-iron or oven proof skillet)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage (if you use dried, use 1/2 tsp)
Salt and pepper

Brussels Sprouts

1-2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2-3 strips of bacon (cooked or uncooked), chopped
2 tbsp chicken broth
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. If you're using uncooked bacon for the sprouts, cook the bacon in the pan that you plan to cook the chicken in. Set bacon aside and drain most (not all!) of the bacon fat from the pan into a small dish and set aside.

3. Salt and pepper the chicken and place skin side down in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil or bacon grease. Cook until skin is browned, then flip and put in the oven for about 30-45 mins depending on the size of the breasts.

4. When the chicken is almost done, heat another skillet over medium high heat and add a little bacon grease or olive oil. Place the sprouts cut side down and cook until lightly browned. Flip and add the stock and vinegar, salt and pepper, and bacon and cover. Cook for about 10 mins while you make the gravy.

5. When chicken is done, remove the chicken from the pan and heat the pan with its drippings over medium high heat until it starts to bubble. Sprinkle the flour into the drippings and whisk until incorporated. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and add the herbs, salt and pepper as needed. Gravy's done when it's thickened up slightly. If it gets too thick, add a little more broth.

Arroz con Pollo with Avocado-Pea Salsa

This is a one pot wonder from Food & Wine that takes only an hour. It's a good Sunday night dinner and there's leftovers for lunch and more dinners during the week. It includes both wine and beer - a really wholesome meal. I won't judge if you want to round it off with a margarita or gotta cover all the bases.

Arroz con Pollo

2 tbsp olive oil
One chicken cut into pieces (or, a couple of thighs, breasts, and legs)
1 onion, minced
2 serrano chilis or jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 plum tomatoes, cored and finely diced (or a 14oz can of crushed tomato)
1 tsp ground achiote (if you can find it)
1/2 tsp cumin
Pinch of saffron
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup light beer
2 cups rice (uncooked)

Avocado-Pea Salsa

1 cup peas
1 small red onion
1/4 cup lime juice
3 avocados finely diced
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a very large dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the oil skin side down first until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion, chilis, and garlic to the pot with a little salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, achiote, cumin, and saffron and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.

3. Add the wine and simmer until slightly reduced. Add stock and beer and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and bring to a boil. Nestle the chicken into the rice and bake uncovered in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and chicken cooked through.

4. While the chicken and rice are in the oven, blanch the peas in a pot of boiling water for about a minute. Drain under cold water. Mix the onion, lime juice and salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 mins and then mix in the avocados and peas.

5. Remove the chicken from the pot when done. Fluff the rice and serve with chicken and salsa on top.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Grilled Egg & Eggplant

Not a combo I would've thought up. But these days I'm going for meals that are high in flavor, healthy, and fast as hell to make. This is from Bon Appetit. The spicy sauce in this recipe could be used in a million other ways but it really works with this. You can pan cook the eggplants but the smokey char from the grill is like another ingredient. Serve this on its own, over some sauteed kale, or rice, both...whatever.

2 jalapenos, seeded and de-veined
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 Japanese eggplants or 1 lb of regular eggplant(s) - cut lengthwise about 1/2" thick
4 tbsp olive oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cups cilantro
1/4 cup fresh dill
2 eggs

1. Toss chiles, garlic, and a large pinch of salt on a small bowl and let sit until softened - about 10 mins. Stir in vinegar and honey and set aside.

2. Drizzle eggplants with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or cook in a large skillet until lightly charred and tender. When finished, cut on a diagonal and toss in a large bowl with scallions and half of the hot sauce, cilantro and dill.

3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium and fry the eggs until yolks are just set. Remove eggs from pan and cut into strips. Arrange over the eggplant and drizzle with remaining hot sauce, cilantro and dill.

30-Minute Red Curry

I've been making a lot of curry the past six months. Turns out my 1.5 year old prefers a good home cooked curry than just about anything else. This little boy loves his food spicy and saucy. He gets a whiff when I'm heating it up and starts to kick his legs in his high chair and bounce up and down. This Thai red curry from Bon Appetit is one of the best that I've made over the years. You could do this with fish, chicken, shrimp, just veggies - rice noodles or rice.

1 large shallot
6 cloves of garlic
1 2" piece of ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp tumeric
1 28oz can of diced tomato
1 can of coconut milk
1 lb vegetables - cauliflower, carrots, etc.
1 lb white fish (cod, halibut, haddock) or chicken, shrimp

1. Pulse shallot, garlic and ginger in a food processor to finely chop. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the garlic mixture until golden. Add the curry paste and tumeric and cook until darker in color and starts to stick to the pan - about 3 mins.

2. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 mins. Stir in coconut milk and season with salt. Simmer and stir occasionally until its thickened - about 10 mins.

3. Add vegetables and add enough water to cover the veggies. Bring to a simmer and cook until veggies are crisp but tender - about 10 mins.

4. Season the fish/chicken/shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the curry. Return to a simmer and cook until meat is cooked through. Serve over rice noodles or rice with a squeeze of lime and some cilantro.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pork Shoulder Ragu

This is my grand finale for winter time, one pot masterpieces. We still have a few chilly days left so squeeze this one in while you can. We're big on pasta and sauce in our family. It's Paddy's favorite. But sometimes I get a little tired of the same ole sauce. I came across this one on Food52 and boy is it good. I've made it twice in the last two months - the first time in a dutch oven, the second time in a slow-cooker because we just had to get. out. of. the. house. If you use a slow cooker - I highly recommend still browning the meat on the stove top and transferring 24it after. Serve this with a wide noodle like papardelle or tagliatelle.

2 - 2.5lb boneless pork shoulder (I've made this with bone-in too. If you use boneless, tie up loose pieces)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small pat of butter
1 28oz + 1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano the best for this)
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
5 springs of fresh oregano (use fresh here - it makes a difference)
*Tie the herbs together with kitchen twine so that you can scoop out later.

1. Preheat oven to 325. Liberally salt and pepper the pork. Heat olive oil and butter to dutch oven over medium high and add the pork roast to the pan. Brown on all sides.

2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. If you're using a slow cooker - at this point transfer everything to the cooker along with the rest of the ingredients and cook on high for 5hrs or low for 8hrs. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and put in the oven.

3. Braise for 3-4 hours or until falling off the bone. When done, remove pork from the pot and shred on large plate or pan. Skim off any oil from the top of the sauce. Add the pork to the sauce and mix well. Serve with pasta and top with parm.

Chicken Saltimbocca

We eat a lot of chicken. Have you noticed? This is one of my all time favorites and it's a great work night dinner since it takes about 15 minutes to make. I usually serve it with asparagus or broccoli or some other kind of green. This is from Food & Wine.

4 chicken breasts, halved or pounded into thin cutlets
10 sage leaves
4 slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place 2-3 sage leaves on each breast and wrap the breast with a slice (or two for full coverage) of prosciutto. The prosciutto should stick together so you shouldn't need a toothpick. Lightly dredge the breasts in flour and shake off the excess.

2. Heat a large skillet to medium high and add oil and 2 tbsp of butter. Cook the chicken until the prosciutto starts to curl  - the chicken may not be cooked through - you'll finish it after next step. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.

3. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter to the pan, add the win and cook over high until reduced by half. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half again.

4. Return the chicken to the pan and cook until chicken is done.

Fennel and Carrot Soup

When I was pregnant last fall, I made dozens of bulk batch soups and froze half for those first few months of parenthood when you can barely see straight. I came across some good, simple recipes and now that the cold weather is here again, I'm bringing them back! This is unbelievably easy and very flavorful. Jack loves it too! (modified from Bon Appetit)

6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided (I used olive oil this time since I knew Jack would eat it)
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
4 carrots, chopped
1 yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and halved
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups (1 box) of chicken broth or vegetable broth

1. Heat the butter (or oil) in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add fennel, onion, carrots, potato, thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

2. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 mins or until potato is falling apart. Remove herbs.

3. Puree in a blender and serve!