Really Eating

Apricot Chicken

Posted in Recipe Fail, Recipes by Bethany on April 6, 2011

Over the summer, the markets were inundated with yummy yellow and white peaches and nectarines. I’d often get too greedy (or ambitious, if you want a positive spin) at the market and come home with way too much produce for two of us, especially since I’m the only one who really loves eating produce all day long.

This timely recipe popped into my Google Reader mid-July and I finally put it to the test closer to the end of the month. Why the delay? Well, I didn’t have apricots in the house and strangely enough, I don’t really ever buy them. I don’t think I dislike them at all, but I just never found myself attracted to them. I asked Elise (the main blogger at Simply Recipes) if I could use peaches and she suggested I use yellow, so I proceeded with that.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is another Recipe Fail post, so I’ll post the actual list of ingredients and directions found on the original recipe and try to dissect why it was a Fail. A quick disclaimer- I can only blame myself for Recipe Fails. I’m pretty sure most food bloggers only post recipes they’ve tried and love, but I go ahead and alter something (sigh), yielding a sad, far-from-perfect result.

Actually, now that I think back, I’m not sure if this is a PURE recipe fail. I didn’t mind the chicken, but the sauce wasn’t quite right… it had kind of a Chinese taste to it, and I’m not exactly sure if that’s what it was supposed to taste like (based on the comments).

I’d be willing to try it again in the summer with actual apricots instead of peaches and will let you know how it goes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, roughly chopped, pits removed and discarded
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (can sub olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can add more if you like)
  • Black pepper

Directions

Place the chopped apricots in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar. Let sit while you brown the chicken in the next step.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan, without crowding the pan, and brown them on each side. As the chicken cooks, sprinkle salt over it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the pieces from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. As the onion cooks and releases moisture, use a flat edged spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits from the chicken (called fond) from the bottom of the pan.

Once the onions have browned a bit, add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium.

Put about 2/3 of the apricots, along with any juice they have given up, into a blender and blend into a purée. Pour the purée into the pan with the chicken stock and onions.

Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco and taste. You may need to add some salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, put the chicken and the remaining apricot pieces into the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice.

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Classic Baked Chicken

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on April 5, 2011

I knew I had to try this recipe when I read this: “This baked chicken recipe is one of those recipes that every home cook should have in their repertoire.” I’m a home cook, right? I’m not much of one, but I definitely cook and at home, so that meant I had to try this.

It’s as easy as it sounds. The original recipe includes instructions for how to make gravy after the chicken’s done, but I’ve never been determined/courageous enough to try that part of the recipe. I’ve made it with a handful of different chicken parts (cut up chicken, thighs-only, drumsticks- all bone-in) and it always turns out delicious.

Note: It’s one of those recipes where having an instant-read thermometer is super helpful because certain parts of the chicken cook faster/slower and you don’t want to end up with some pieces overcooked and others still pink.

As a sidenote- I was always a little wary of chicken with bones in it and/or skin; I think I only cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts for much of my time in college. While yes, white meat is “healthier,” I now better understand how chicken cooks differently on the bone, how it changes the flavor, and how it costs much less at the grocery store. Seriously! I rarely see boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1/pound, but you’ll find drumsticks, thighs, and legs for $1 or less somewhat frequently.

Ingredients

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken (6 thighs, 8 drumsticks, or whatever you want)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse chicken pieces in water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil (I used a rimmed baking sheet). Rub some olive oil over all of the chicken pieces in the roasting pan. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the pieces skin-side up in the roasting pan so the largest pieces are in the center (the breasts) and there is a little room between pieces so they aren’t crowded in the pan.

Cook for 30 minutes at 400°F. Then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for 10-30 minutes more (approximately 14 to 15 minutes per pound total cooking time) until juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife or the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is 165°F and the thighs 170°.

Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove chicken from roasting pan to a serving plate. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Refer to the original recipe for instructions on how to make gravy with the drippings/oils/yummy goodness.

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Smitten Kitchen Thai Style Chicken Legs

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on February 25, 2011

Smitten Kitchen is a blog I’ve followed since before I knew about the Pioneer Woman (gasp!) and before I actually cooked anything worth mentioning. Why? you ask? Because before I cooked, I baked!

It’s been fun following Deb through her culinary and personal adventures, like the huge announcement about her pregnancy and now looking for the subtle, but super cute picture of Jacob hidden in each entry. Deb posts a pretty wide range of stuff and a lot of it I’m super impressed by, but way too intimidated to actually try making myself. For example: homemade granola bars and pretzelschocolate pudding (that I am DYING to try), and… well, you get the point.

This recipe was one that caught my eye because of the way she described it: “This might be the best chicken I have ever made…because this is perfection.

That’s a pretty compelling testimony, right?

However, I couldn’t exactly make it the next day given I didn’t have fish sauce, hoisin sauce, coriander, or Thai sweet chili sauce in the house. By the time I got around to buying all the ingredients, I had almost forgotten why I needed them… but I’m so glad I bought them because this recipe is now part of our “regular” menu. I also like this recipe because the chicken can be marinated overnight and popped into the oven when I get home from work. Delicious, check. Convenient, double check.

There are instructions for grilling on the original recipe as well, but since we don’t have a backyard grill just yet, it’s oven-roasting for me for now.

Ingredients

  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 8 whole chicken legs, split, or 8 drumsticks and 8 thighs (about 5 pounds total)
  • Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving

Directions

Combine the garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, vegetable oil, hoisin sauce, coriander, kosher salt and pepper in a blender (or food processor, that’s what I use) until smooth. Arrange the pieces of chicken in a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn to coat the pieces thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

To roast the chicken: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover baking dish with a lid or foil and roast chicken for about 25 minutes. If the sauce begins to char, sprinkle a few tablespoons water into the dish. Remove the lid or foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through.**

My sauce ALWAYS chars. I have no idea what it is, but it always always chars and requires that I soak my Pyrex overnight or over-a-few-nights to get it all off. But it’s worth it.

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Pioneer Woman Chicken Cacciatore

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on January 21, 2011

This recipe is a little more work than I’d usually spend on a weekday dinner, but we had invited some friends over for dinner on the MLK Jr. holiday, which would have given me more time to prep and cook without having to rush home from the office. Unfortunately, the guests had to cancel and we ended up ordering Domino’s pizza since I didn’t really feel like cooking after a long leisurely day of doing nothing.

Aside: I have to say that the new Domino’s pizza is pretty good! Even though it’s further than Pizza Hut from our apartment, I’d say that we’ll probably never order Pizza Hut again. Plus, the $5.99 for a medium 2 topping is such a crazy deal! We ended up buying two pizzas for $13- and it was QUICK!

Since I had bought all the ingredients for the recipe, I ended up making it the next night anyway, adjusting some of the quantities and knowing we’d eat the leftovers for lunch. Thankfully, it wasn’t actually as labor intensive as I had thought and Bryan and I both liked it. I don’t know if i LOVED it, but it definitely is a pretty dish that tastes good and would be perfect for company since you can prep a lot of it beforehand and then just pop it in the oven.

One complaint- I still haven’t figured out how to cook with Turmeric and not end up with stains everywhere (counters, dishes, wooden spoons, etc). Anyone have tips?

I’ve adjusted the ingredients/instructions below to what I actually used/did, but the original recipe is here: Pioneer Woman Chicken Cacciatore.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound Spaghetti
  • 4 Chicken Thighs (Skin On, Bone In)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 1/3 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3/4 Large Onion, Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced (not Too Thin)
  • 1 whole Green Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced (not Too Thin)
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 12 ounces, Crimini Mushrooms, Sliced
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
  • ¼ teaspoons Turmeric
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • Red Pepper Flakes, Crushed, To Taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 can (14 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes (with Their Juice)
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Parmesan Cheese, For Sprinkling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Salt and pepper both sides of the pieces of chicken. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat olive oil and butter in Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Place chicken skin down in pan, four pieces at a time. Brown chicken on both sides, then remove to a clean plate. Note: Because I only used four chicken thighs, I didn’t discard any of the fat and only had to do one round of browning.

Add sliced onions and peppers, as well as the garlic. Stir around for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and stir around for 1 minute. Add thyme, turmeric, and salt. (And crushed red pepper flakes if you like things a little spicy.) Add extra black pepper to taste. Stir, then pour in wine. Allow to bubble.

Pour in canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Add chicken back into the pan, skin side up, without totally submerging the chicken. Place lid on the pot and put it into the oven for 45 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to 375 degrees. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

After increasing the heat, cook pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook! Drain and set aside. Multi-tasking is the way to go! This also means your pasta will be hot and freshly cooked when you combine it with the other ingredients.

Remove pan from the oven. Because I only cooked four chicken thighs and used a 14 oz instead of 28 oz can of tomatoes, there weren’t many juices for me to reduce. Instead, I just plated the pasta, topped it with veggies, chicken, and sauce, and for a final touch, added the parsley and Parmasean.