Tag Archives: chicken

abi’s chicken with peppers

This dish is what chicken parmesan would be if it grew up, ate mostly salad, and got a personal trainer, but still yielded to the occasional urge to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy. Is it perfectly healthy? No. But it’s trying, and it comes close.

Maybe this dish deserves a catchier name. But let’s be honest. Abi – Xavier’s daughter – is the one who requests this dinner most frequently. She calls it “the chicken with the peppers.” Then I wonder if it was the stir-fried chicken, where bell peppers were accompanied by a handful of broccoli? Or perhaps the curried chicken with caramelized onions and strips of pepper almost melting into the sauce? As it turns out, none of the above. Why not just call it “Abi’s Chicken with Peppers?”

Abi’s Chicken with Peppers was born by accident. Don’t you love when you throw together a random meal and it turns out to be a huge hit? The kind of meal that is requested again and again? That was how this happened. It was the end of the week and the fridge was looking bare. I had chicken breasts, some leftover tomato sauce, and a smattering of vegetables. What to make?

My first thought: chicken parm. Now, our household loves chicken parmesan. I mean, really, really, really loves it. Nobody is Italian, or even close to it – we’re a mixture of Eastern European and Ecuadorian – but somehow that dish has made its way into our hearts and souls. The only issue is, we feel guilty eating it. The chicken is breaded, fried, and smothered with mozzarella. Obviously we love our indulgences, but generally we try to stay active and eat healthy foods.

I decided to skip the breading stage, and just saute chicken breasts to give them a quick sear. Then I’d smother the cutlets in sauteed bell pepper. Crunch is great, especially when it comes from crispy veggies and not breaded chicken coating! The chicken is placed in a baking dish, just like chicken parmesan, where it receives a healthy splash of tomato sauce and a moderate sprinkling of cheese. Sure, you can skip that if you’re really going for the low-calorie version. But as I tell myself, our brains need fat to stay healthy and continue to think of healthy modifications to recipes!

abis_chicken_peppers

Abi’s Chicken with Peppers

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint tomato sauce, warm (my favorite)
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
Olive oil, for sauteeing
1 bell pepper, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, grated, to taste (I use about 1/2 cup)

First, prepare the chicken breasts. Using a very sharp knife, slice the breasts in half lengthwise so you end up with four thin cutlets. Pound the cutlets (between two pieces of plastic wrap, or inside a plastic bag) until they are thin and somewhat even. I do this with whatever heavy object I have laying around, be it a wine bottle, a can of tomatoes, or sometimes my fist.

Right about now, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 425F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken breasts in the mixture. Pre-heat a large saute pan over medium-high. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and saute the chicken breasts until browned on each side. You may need to do this in batches. The chicken is thin so this won’t take long, maybe 2-3 minutes per side. The idea is just to brown them. It’s okay if they’re still a little underdone inside, because they’ll be spending time in the oven, and you want to keep them moist! When the chicken is done, place the cutlets in one layer on a baking sheet that fits them comfortably.

Add just a splash more olive oil to the still-hot pan, and saute the bell peppers for just a minute. You want them to cook just a bit, but keep them crispy.

When the peppers are finished, layer them on top of the chicken cutlets. Ladle sauce on top, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and begins to brown.

With pasta and salad, this will serve four people… or two to three hungry ones.

Notes: I have been known to add onion and mushroom to the pepper mixture. You could definitely experiment here.

If you make Chiffonade’s sauce, you’ll end up with much more than you need for the chicken. Serve some with the side pasta, and refrigerate or freeze the rest.

fondue-stuffed chicken baked in bread recipe

fondue_chicken_baked_in_bread

Fondue-Stuffed Chicken Baked in Bread

My last post was a recipe for the Wine Dive Challenge through 37 Cooks. But that wasn’t my only dish inspired by the Wine Dive. While the restaurant’s Florida location inspired my seafood dish, this one came straight from the wine. I thought about classic dishes that incorporated wine, and wondered which ones could be amped up to include something else.

One of my favorite food memories was the first time I tried fondue. It was during my junior year of college at my adviser’s house. She was a writing professor, but she managed to pull off some awesome courses that incorporated her love of fine food. In one such class, she teamed up with a chemistry professor and we learned the science of cheesemaking while sampling dozens of fine offerings from Zimmerman’s. I remember my professor pouring wine into the fondue pot, while we underage students eyed each other nervously and hoped we’d be able to try the alcoholic concoction. Of course we scraped up every bit of melty cheese using chunks torn from bread that our professor had baked herself. Man, I miss college.

This dish makes a neat package of those classic flavors. Wrapped in a bread crust, chicken and fondue make a perfect pair. You can omit the apple if you’d like but it does add a nice contrast to the savory cheese flavors. I love these chicken rolls served alongside broccoli and cauliflower, another traditional fondue accompaniment that’s even better when enlivened with garlic.

Fondue-Stuffed Chicken in Bread Crust with Garlicky Broccoli and Cauliflower
serves four

For bread crust:
20 ounces bread flour
12 ounces water
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, combine all ingredients. Mix with a spoon (or the paddle attachment) until uniform. When blended, knead by hand on a floured surface for about ten minutes (or with the dough hook for five minutes or so). Mist the dough ball with olive oil and place in a covered bowl to rest while you complete the rest of the prep. You could also do this the day before. Just be sure to take the dough out an hour or two before you want to cook.

For fondue-stuffed chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese, or a mixture of the two
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove peeled garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch
1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 egg and 1 tablespoon water, optional

Slice each chicken breast lengthwise, beginning from the thin side. Cut horizontally not quite through, leaving the last part intact, so that the breast opens up like a book. Lay the breast flat, sandwiched between plastic wrap, and pound until the breast is thin and as even as you can make it. Season breasts with salt, pepper, and parsley.

Rub the raw peeled garlic clove around the sides and bottom of a medium saucepan. Add the cheese, wine, cornstarch, and kirsch to the pan. Over low heat, stir constantly until a smooth sauce forms. It will be thick due to the cornstarch.

Now, assemble the chicken rolls. Open each pounded chicken breast and spread fondue sauce and a fourth of the apple mixture on top, then roll it up.

Divide the bread dough into four portions. Stretch each portion out like pizza dough, and place a chicken roll inside. Seal the edges of the dough around the roll. If desired, mix the egg and water together and then brush with egg wash. Use a sharp knife to cut a little vent on top of each. Place rolls onto a sheet pan and bake at 300 for 20-30 minutes, or until 160F inside.

For Garlicky Broccoli and Cauliflower:
1/2 head broccoli
1/2 head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size florets, then steam for about five minutes (until crisp-tender). Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper over medium-low heat. When the garlic is fragrant, turn off the heat. Toss steamed veggies in the garlic oil, then serve alongside the chicken.

Enjoy!

37 Cooks

I can’t believe I forgot to mention a fun new endeavor that I’ve been participating in. Have you heard of 37 Cooks yet? It’s this new phenomenon that’s taken the Internet by storm lately. It started when Sandra offered to share some of the two gallons of Slap-ya-mama seasoning that she’d received as a gift. It snowballed into a variety of cool cooking challenges. The latest development? We have sponsors!

Head over there and see what the 37 Cooks have been creating. You can start by checking out my recipe for green chile-chicken pot pies. They’re tasty and miniature, a winning combination. And if nothing else, just answer me this: how sweet does our dining room look in that photo?

the coconut-chicken curry recipe

 
 
Comfort food used to be your mom’s mashed potatoes, chicken soup with noodles, or maybe even macaroni and cheese from a box. It’s something traditional, familiar. It’s effortless – perhaps brought to you on the couch while you’re sick. Prepare to reboot all of your expections, because once you try this coconut-chicken curry, you will forever turn to it in times of need. Times when you need dinner ready in half an hour. Times when you need to impress a date. And of course, times when you need to indulge in something creamy and delicious that comes together fast.
This dish was inspired by traditional Sri Lankan chicken curry. We take it to the next level by making it creamy instead of dry, because extra curry sauce is a gift from the kitchen gods. You’ll start with a whole onion, sliced thin and sauteed into smoky sweet ribbons. Then you’ll add a burst of flavor in the form of aromatic ginger and garlic, coupled with garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne enough to tingle but not burn. A kaffir lime leaf, if you have one, is a great tidbit to throw into the skillet. Sliced chicken will brown in the spice mixture before simmering until cooked through. At the end, coconut milk brings everything together. The richness is tempered a bit by the addition of tomatoes, which soften enough to release their juices.
 
Some enjoy the dish as is, almost like a soup, but it’s also wonderful served with steamed jasmine rice.
The Coconut-Chicken Curry
Serves 2-4, depending on appetite
1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1-inch piece of ginger, minced or grated
1 tbsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayenne
1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 cup water
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tomatoes, quartered with seeds removed
2 tsp salt, or to taste
In a large skillet preheated over medium-high heat, sauté onion in vegetable oil or ghee. Stir frequently until brown and . Add garlic, ginger, spices, and kaffir lime leaf, stirring constantly until aromatic – thirty seconds, minimum. Add chicken and stir to blend. When the chicken pieces are beginning to brown, add one cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat down to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through – no more than five minutes.
Add coconut milk, tomatoes, and salt. Simmer for about five more minutes. The texture will be that of a rich broth, studded with chicken and laced through with caramelized onions.
Salt to taste. Serve with white rice, if desired.
 
 

How To Be a Domestic Rockstar for Under $12, Part 2

Things are excellent in your life right now! You just made delicious roasted chicken that everyone enjoyed very much. Now that your group is full and satiated, you’re ready to make stock for tomorrow’s soup. This will largely happen slowly and stealthily in the background while you’re doing other things. Here’s what to do.

You saved the bones from the chicken feast, and from the chicken that you cut up earlier. Rinse those off. Try to make sure they’re free of skin, but don’t go too crazy with it.

Place your bones in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Don’t forget the backbone and wing tips that you removed earlier! Add water to the pan, enough to cover the bones by a few inches.

Then heat the pot over medium-low until it reaches a gentle simmer. Some foamy stuff might float up to the surface of the pot while this is happening. Try to skim it off using a spoon or strainer. When the stock simmers, lower the heat to the absolute lowest setting on the stove. You do not want this pot to boil. You want it cooking for a long time.

As soon as you turn down the heat, cover the pot and leave it alone for a few hours. You’ll know it’s ready when your house smells amazing and the stock has turned a pale golden color. If that doesn’t happen, give it three hours minimum on the stove. I’ve been known to fall asleep and let mine go for eight. As long as the pot is covered and not simmering, this is just fine.

If you know a little bit about cooking, you might be wondering why we didn’t add any aromatics to the stock. You should absolutely feel free to add carrot, onion, leek, celery, peppercorns, etc. But for the soup we’re making with the stock, which will be heavily flavored with spicy peppers, garlic, and onions, it’s not completely necessary.
When you’re finished cooking the stock, use tongs to extract the bones and wing tips as soon as you can. Let it cool for a while on the stovetop, then in the fridge. Try not to agitate the broth; let it settle so all the gunk stays on the bottom. When it looks very clear, it’s time to separate the gunk at the bottom from the clean broth that will become your soup. There are a few ways to do this, but you should pick what’s most comfortable. You can use a ladle, or by carefully pouring out the good stuff without disrupting the bottom waste layer. Be as gentle as possible and don’t worry too much about the last inch or so of cloudy stock; focus on getting out the good stuff. Throw out the rest.

You can put the stock in the fridge overnight so that fat rises to the surface and is easier to remove, but there shouldn’t be much, so don’t feel guilty about making soup straight from here!

DAY TWO: TORTILLA SOUP

Making soup from scratch is incredibly easy and incredibly satisfying. You might have five minutes of hands-on work. All you do is cook some veggies in oil, add seasonings, and then add your homemade stock to let all of the flavors blend together into happy harmony. Here’s how.

In a large saucepan, heat up a little bit of olive oil over medium. Mince two cloves of garlic and an onion, then saute them in the oil until softened and browned.

Then, add some chopped peppers. Use bell pepper, jalepeno, serrano, roasted poblano, or any combination that reaches your spice level. For this batch, I used what was on hand: a green bell pepper and a jar of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The adobo adds a smoky kick to the finished soup.

Add tomato paste and season with cumin, chili powder, coriander, and salt.

Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to simmer, then turn the heat down to low. Add all of the chicken pieces that you reserved – shredding or chopping them to the size you’d like. Let it simmer for at least twenty minutes, but as long as an hour if you want – let the flavors mingle!

Boom. Tortilla soup.

Half the fun of this is in garnishing the soup with delicious toppings that add crunch and creaminess! While delicious and filling as an appetizer, this soup can be bulked out to make a meal if you add rice, corn, or black beans.

Can you believe all of that took just forty minutes? Congratulations, you’re a chef.

Next-Day Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 3-4 as entree, 8 as appetizer)
Two quarts chicken stock
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup peppers of your choice, chopped (bell, jalapeno, serrano, roasted poblano, ancho, etc)
1/4 c tomato paste
1 cup tomato, chopped, from about 2 tomatoes (or one 14.5 oz can fire-roasted)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
Salt
Garnishes (cilantro, lime, avocado, tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc)

In a large saucepan, heat a splash of canola oil over medium. Add onion and garlic, stirring often until browned. Add peppers and saute for a couple of minutes until soft. Toss in the tomato paste and spices, stirring until fragrant. Add tomatoes and stock. Let the mixture come to a strong simmer. When it does, add chicken. Lower heat and let it simmer gently for as long as you can stand it.

Ladle into bowls, garnishing as desired!

As always, thanks to Xavier for photographing the kitchen madness!