A Sarcastic Appetite


Weeknight Dinners: Chicken
September 1, 2014, 8:00 am
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Weeknight Chicken Dinner

You fair readers seem to care a lot more about the terrible dates I go on and the fun activities I plan for you than anything I’m cooking at home, but as this is “technically” a food blog I figured I should throw you a couple food posts every now and again. I often get asked what I cook during the week, and one or two nights that answer is usually chicken. But instead of taking my own crappy photos of the versions I’ve cooked (see above), I thought I would do you one better: link to a couple of my favorites, with my adjustments noted. Their photos are much nicer; gaze upon them fondly. And tell me if you end up making any of these.

 

Spatchcocked Chicken, from Food52 via Yummy Books: I just tried this for the first time a couple weeks ago, and the only problem was realizing about five minutes in that I don’t actually own a good pair of kitchen shears. So I kind of butchered the job (ha ha), but the result was still delicious. Shove some herbed butter under the skin and roast it at 425 for 45 minutes, or follow any one of Cara’s suggestions.

 

Chicken Legs Baked in White Wine, Olive Oil & Parmigiano Reggiano, from Alexandra Cooks: If you’re not yet cooking chicken thighs, you need to start, and this is a good one to begin with. I typically use just thighs here instead of a mixture, and roast for 45 minutes at 425°F. It works like a charm every time, and the apartment smells heavenly as they cook. I have long since stopped measuring the wine and the olive oil; just glug a fair amount of both into a bowl with the other ingredients and you’ll be fine.

 

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs, from Bon Appétit: when I’m in a rush to get dinner on the tv trays table, this is my go-to. The thighs roast skin side down in a pan for about 6 minutes on a fairly strong medium heat (cover to reduce splatter) before being flipped and thrown into the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes. I use a different baking dish for their time in the oven as the oil from the pan smokes too much in my oven. Do what you will.

 

Mustard Chicken: ok, ok, now you have to go look at some truly terrible photos, and for that I sincerely apologize. This one’s been in the rotation for a long time; it was a childhood favorite that we still haven’t soured on, and for good reason. Plus, I love this recipe because it necessitates a bottle of wine – which means the cook needs to have at least one glass.

 

Soy-Glazed Chicken Thighs from Bon Appétit: notice a theme here? Seriously, enough with the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These thighs only require a 30 minute marinade, and I never include the aniseed because I never have it. I also rarely bother with “spooning fat off” the remaining sauce because there’s usually not enough, but maybe that’s just me.

 



Indonesian Ginger Chicken
February 23, 2011, 7:59 am
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I think it was amidst the frenzy of the new year, that time when we all Vow to Make Resolutions We’ll Break Before February, that I decided I’d become a far more organized cook. No more dashing around after work each night, picking up one ingredient from this shop and three more from another store, only to head home and realize I’d forgotten the key ingredient. Harried shopping can equal harried cooking for me and I had had enough.

I vowed – no, Vowed – to start planning ahead to the point of choosing recipes that could marinate overnight. If I’m already in the kitchen cooking dinner, why surely it’s no problem for me to throw a few extra things together that can have a slumber party in the fridge. I love slumber parties!

So one night I made this chicken recipe, one my mother swears by because it’s so embarrassingly easy – both to do ahead and to make. The flavor really does seep into the chicken, even if you take the lazy man’s route and use boneless, skinless breasts. And we all know the honey-soy combination is magical, as I’ve already documented here.

…In the end, I’m embarrassed to admit this recipe was the only one I ever made ahead. I’d still consider that a success, but I’m too busy scrambling around trying to figure out what I’ll cook tonight, and could it involve two heads of 8-day-old broccoli? Want to come over? We’ll have our own slumber party!!!!

 

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. Serves 3.

Note: I halved this recipe, and used boneless skinless chicken breasts, because I am lazy and I always have that in the fridge. You could substitute bone-in breasts with skin, or boneless thighs, or legs – whatever suits your fancy. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

 

1/2 c. honey

1/3 c. soy sauce

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. minced gingerroot

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/3 lbs. total

 

Heat the honey, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a small sauce pan over low heat. Arrange the chicken in a suitably sized Pyrex; pour the sauce over, cover with foil, and marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for 30-33 minutes, until the breasts are cooked through.

The sauce will still be thin, so if you want to thicken it up a bit you can pour it into a small saucepan and make a cornstarch slurry. Heat the sauce, whisk in the slurry, and let it thicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.



Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans
January 25, 2011, 9:07 am
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Oh. Are you one of those people who doesn’t like refried beans? Then I’m afraid you’re going to miss out on something pretty delicious. Even Ninja described this dinner as “the bomb.” I don’t know why he’s decided to relive 1997, but that’s a topic for another day.

Anytime I make tacos I am reminded of Taco Night when we were little – my mother would set out bowls of salsa, sour cream, scallions, and shredded cheese and we would all go to town. Or, um, I would go to town, and heap inappropriate amounts of condiments all over everything. It was great. Taco Night has apparently stuck with my gringo self, since it was all I could do not to set out a bowl of salsa. These don’t need any of that, I assure you.

As usual I’ve changed the recipe around a bit – it calls for bashing coriander seeds and pressing them into flattened chicken breasts. I just rubbed ground coriander into each breast, though you could also use chicken cutlets if you wanted. I love the refried beans, and not just because you simply chuck a bunch of stuff into a food processor and then heat the results with some chicken broth. It’s very good and very flavorful; you can just taste the oregano under everything before the heat from the chipotles in adobo hits you.

Serve these with sliced radishes, diced avocado, and plenty of freshly squeezed lime juice. I kind of wish I could take a Hot Tub Time Machine back to my 8-year-old self on Taco Night; I have a feeling she’d probably think these were the bomb, too.

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans

Serves 4. Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe.

2 15 oz. cans pinto beans

about 1/2 of a good-sized onion, roughly chopped

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole

1 tbsp. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo – including sauce, though add more to taste

1 tsp. ground cumin

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. chicken broth

3 tbsp. canola oil

plenty of salt and pepper

2 chicken breast halves

about 3 tbsp. ground coriander

6-inch soft corn tortillas

3 radishes, sliced thinly

1 avocado, diced

2 limes

a handful of cilantro, chopped

In a food processor, blend the beans, onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, and cumin. Pulse, then add the olive oil. Taste and season as necessary. In a large saute pan, heat the beans with 1/2 c. chicken broth. Let that go while you do the chicken, but taste occasionally – you might want to add more chipotle in adobo sauce

On a small plate, add the 3 tbsp. of coriander and some more salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in another large skillet. Press each side of each breast into the plate of coriander, then cook the breasts over medium-high heat, about 5-6 minutes per side. Set aside, let cool, and then dice. Heat as many corn tortillas as you want, one by one, in the skillet you used to cook the chicken (no need for oil or anything). Just give it a minute or two on each side.

Plate the tacos with refried beans, some diced chicken, sliced radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Finish with plenty of squeezed lime.



Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup
December 12, 2010, 9:58 pm
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I haven’t written much about the Ninja here beyond his occasional dinner requests or snarky comments, and I’m not sure why – maybe out of some perverse desire to respect his privacy?

Well, that’s all over. From here on out, I’ll be sharing some of his other predilections, which lately have been downright bizarre.

For example, the other night I came home to find the apartment smelling like a pothead’s dirty laundry. Horrified, I threw open the windows and lit every scented candle I own. It only barely masked the smell….of sage leaves, which the Ninja had apparently been burning in an effort to “ward off bad spirits.” This is, of course, in addition to his weekly crude oil scalp treatments, which make the apartment smell like a gas station and are supposed to ward off baldness. In six months. Possibly.

Am I an unknowing extra in a dodgy remake of The Craft? Or is the Ninja merely acting out the prequel to that one Seinfeld episode when George gets a toupee? Maybe it’s some cruel combination of the two: a terrifying possibility.

He claims he’s just healthier than I am. I claim he’s just nuts. Either way, the battle lines have been drawn. He burns the sage leaves early enough in the day and I pretend not to notice when I get home, and I vacate the apartment on Tuesday nights to avoid any scent of Eau de Fuselage. I also throw away things he would otherwise recycle and buy non-organic food just often enough to annoy him. It’s an arrangement that I think really works, until I get thrown a curve ball: Crude Oil night has suddenly, inexplicably, unfairly, rudely been moved to Sunday nights. Now what?

I figured I had only one option: to cook a bunch of fragrant, aromatic stuff and hope for the best. This chicken and coconut soup fits the bill, and it’s very easy to put together. I probably should have let it simmer all evening to provide a coconut-y buffer to what’s about to happen around here – but then again, we’ve got to eat. This time next week, maybe I’ll make a ragù…or better yet, some kind of delicious bean soup. (The Ninja hates beans.) It’ll be perfect!

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup

Adapted from Joy of Cooking. Serves 4.

3 c. chicken stock

2 2/3 c. coconut milk (about 1 1/2 14 oz. cans)

3 Jalapeño peppers or 2 Thai peppers, mostly seeded and sliced thinly (or completely seeded if you don’t want it spicy)

3 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. minced ginger

1 tbsp. minced lemongrass

2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 a lime

chopped cilantro for garnish

rice

Bring the chicken stock and coconut milk to a boil in a big pot. Reduce the heat; add the Jalapeños, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, curry powder, lemongrass, and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes; taste and correct seasoning as needed. Add the sliced chicken and the lime juice and simmer for an additional 5 or so minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice and throw some chopped cilantro on there….or not, if you’re like I am and forgot about it. Again.



Pasta with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs
November 30, 2010, 11:41 pm
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Sfoglia has a little gem on its menu right now – well, actually, many gems, but tonight I will concern myself with just one: “mezze rigatoni, cauliflower, truffle, taleggio.” There’s something magical about such a stinky cheese; remember Missy Robbins’ taleggio-filled pasta with chanterelles at A Voce Columbus? If this doesn’t ring a bell, get thee to a cheese shop. Buy a wedge, slather it on some crackers, and you’ll understand. Just crack open a window while you’re at it, so your neighbors don’t think you’re growing a dirty sock farm.

Anyway, Sfoglia’s rendition, with rigatoni and cauliflower, was as stinky and delightful as it sounds. The breadcrumbs added a crunchy layer and the sauce was creamy and highly caloric – just what I needed the night after Thanksgiving! Oh, wait.

I thought about recreating it at home, but procuring truffles is not so high on my to-do list these days. Luckily, I needed to look no further than the November issue of Bon Appétit: an updated version with mustard and lemon in place of truffles, and a simpler sauce that wouldn’t stink up the place. Taleggio, I’ll miss you….but I’ll see you at my next cheese plate, so I’m not too worried about it.

This recipe is also incredibly simple, and wins serious brownie points for requiring the cooking of two separate things (pasta and cauliflower in this case) in one measly pot. The pasta gets drained (save a bit of water!) and then thrown back in the pot, where it’s tossed with some cream, lemon zest, plenty of salt and pepper, and some cheese. Add some chicken for protein, but feel free to omit it if you don’t have a crazed dietician living with you who demands a balanced meal without excessive lactose. Unfortunately that eliminates stinky sock farms.

Penne with Chicken, Cauliflower & Mustard Breadcrumbs

Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe. Serves 4.

8 oz. penne (about 2 1/2 c.)

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size florets

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. mustard

3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed (about 1 1/2 breasts)

1/2 c. heavy cream

3/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

(1/2 c. pasta water)

lots of salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the mustard, then add the breadcrumbs. Cook, tossing occasionally and stirring to remove clumps, about 10 minutes, until they’re crunchy and golden brown, then set aside. Boil some water in a big pot and cook the pasta until it’s about 5 minutes away from being ready to go. At the 5 minute mark, throw the cauliflower in there and cook about another 5 minutes, until it’s all fork-tender and the pasta is cooked. Reserve 1/2 c. of the water, then drain the pot. Toss the pasta and cauliflower back into the pot with the reserved water, cream, chicken, lemon zest, and cheese. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir together until the sauce coats the pasta, then serve in shallow bowls with several tablespoons of breadcrumbs scattered across the top.