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Best Stir-fried Chicken

17 Jan

This is pungent! Great flavour, but not for the faint of heart.

BEST STIR-FRIED CHICKEN
Gwenyth Paltrow
serves four

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup minced green scallions (white & green parts)
Pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toss the chicken with cornstarch, a large pinch of salt and quite a bit of pepper. 

Heat oil in large, non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and chile flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, for one minute. 

Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, and five or six grinds of black pepper.

Boil on high for three minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely.

Add the soy sauce, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve immediately over fried rice (recipe below), sprinkled with cilantro. 
 
Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions
serves four

1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce

Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to brown the garlic.

Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions.

Cook for two minutes and then add the rice and cook for another two minutes, stirring.

Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.

 

Funky Chicken

27 May

Battle of the ’80s: Neiman Marcus bacon wrapped chicken breast ($100 a package) Large chicken tenders are stuffed with cream cheese and four asparagus spears and then wrapped with Applewood bacon.

Versus:

CHICKEN BREASTS STUFFED WITH ASPARAGUS
Recipes from Best of Bridge Aces
Ingredients:
4 Whole chicken breasts, halved, boned and pounded
24 medium asparagus spears, lightly blanched
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Prepare chicken and asparagus. Combine butter, mustard, garlic and wine. Dip chicken breasts in this mixture to coat. Place 3 asparagus spears on each breast and roll securing with a toothpick. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan and parsley together and roll breasts in this mixture. Bake 30 minutes at 350 F. Serves 4 – 6. Pass the blender hollandaise sauce and hear the raves.

Peking Duck

2 Dec

“I would be perfectly happy with only Chinese food. Either French or Chinese. Could live with only Chinese.” Julia Child

If it’s good enough for Julia to eat every day, it’s good enough for us.

Cold, dark winter nights make us crave simple, steamy Chinese dishes.

Plus. Also. We are lazy and the massive Asian market near work makes it easy to pick up mandarin pancakes, barbecued pork loin or roast duck.

Instant Peking duck or pork:
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We'd like to pick up some barbecued duck or pork to assemble some little peking pancake rolls at home. The hardest the assembly gets is making the little scallions for brushing hoisin sauce:

Cut the roots and greens off the scallions, leaving 3-inch pieces of scallion white remaining.
Make a series of 1-inch lengthwise cuts in each end, gradually rotating the scallion, to form the individual "bristles" of the brush.

Soak the scallions in a bowl of ice water for a couple of hours to swell the ends of the brushes.

Mound the duck, chicken or pork in the centre of a platter.

Arrange the mandarin pancakes (or tortillas cut into quarters) and scallion brushes around the chicken.
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PEKING CHICKEN ROLLS
recipe from Lucy Waverman, Globe and Mail

Buy Mandarin pancakes frozen at Asian grocery stores for the best results. Small tortillas or Boston or iceberg lettuce leaves also work well. Let your guests make their own rolls.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 250-gram (8-ounce) chicken breasts boned with skin on

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

16 Mandarin pancakes

½ cup hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 English cucumber, peeled and cut in strips

6 green onions, cut in 3-inch lengths

Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken

with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Remove from heat. Place chicken breasts on a baking tray.

Combine honey, soy sauce and mustard, and brush over seared chicken breasts. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove from oven and let chicken rest on a carving board for 5 minutes. Slice chicken into thin slices.

Heat Mandarin pancakes by following package directions. Place green onions and cucumbers in small serving dishes.

To serve, spread hoisin on pancake and top with a couple of chicken slices, some cucumber and green onions, then roll up.

Brown Bagging it in Banff

8 Nov

Just back from Banff Mountain Festival and days watching amazing films documenting extreme sports and hidden cultures from far away places.

It’s a great tradition… watching films back-to-back at the wonderful Banff Centre.

But each year, I forget how crummy the brown bag sandwiches are, and kick myself for not planning ahead.

We would have killed for a healthy, hearty sammich with these famous cookies from Evelyn’s Coffee Bar, recipe at bottom. Evelyn’s super yummy Health Sandwich of avocado, hummous, mayo, tomato, cucumber and sprouts on healthy bread would likely never survive the trip from town!

We were madly craving a ham, brie, tomato and Dijon on baguette. But also thinking of a pretzel bun with Gruyere and Swiss salami — a little old school mountain mouthful.

Then we started thinking about chicken salad, and not just any chicken salad. What about a GORP/trail mix-infused recipe, with raisins, dried cranberries and nuts? With celery bits and mayo/apple cider vinegar, and honey to bind it together, it would be yummy.

But we’ve been hoarding this for years, and we’re thinking a curry chicken salad would have done the trick. And it looks like it would feed a few friends!

OPRAH’S FAVOURITE: MARGAUX’S CURRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
(this looks like a lot of dressing, so we are going to add only enough to bind. Will report back!)
20 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1/2 lemon
3 pounds medium chicken tenders
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Butter for spreading
1 loaf challah or other rich egg bread, cut into 12 thick slices
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 medium tomatoes , chopped
1 bag (about 5 ounces) mesclun salad greens
Red grapes and assorted berries for garnish

In a large saucepan over high heat, add peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, lemon and 14 cups water; cover and bring to a boil. Add chicken and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through; drain. Once cool, quarter each tender crosswise.

In a large bowl, combine mustard, honey, curry powder, lemon pepper and salt; stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.

Butter both sides of bread slices. In a heated nonstick skillet over medium-high flame, cook bread in batches 3 to 5 minutes or until browned, turning once.

Combine carrots and almonds with chicken mixture. Divide chicken curry among 6 bread slices. Top with tomatoes, mesclun and remaining bread slices. Serve with fruit.
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CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES

These are Evelyn Zabloski’s cookies from her old Banff coffee shops. A classic mountain treat.

3/4 cup all purpose flour (or half whole wheat and half all purpose)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or blueberries)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking powder.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla Stir in flour mixture just until blended.
Stir in rolled oats and cranberries.
Shape mixture into 16 balls and flatten slightly on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are slightly browned and hold their shape. Cook on racks.

Monday is Taco Tuesday

14 Sep

sweet potato taco 3

OMG. Again. OMG. This is a recipe we will make forever. Hoarded from the New York Times since Nov. 7, 2004, we just got around to giving this a whirl tonight. Post yoga, pre-sensible-September-eating.

It is magnificently bright tasting and full of vitamins. The vinaigrette is so tangy and puckery from lovely lime, and the soft chicken smooshes beautifully with the toasty, cumin-scented sweet potatoes (full disclosure: we used orangy yams because the yellow sweet potatoes at the market looked about 100 years old. No matter. This is better.)

Also, we love how few ingredients there are. Simple.

Sweet and sour on an earthy organic corn tortilla and crunchy greens. If we were Taco Tuesday people, this baby would be in heavy rotation.

UPDATE: We steamed and mashed the sweet potato, leaving it lumpy, and tossed it with cilantro and the vinaigrette. While you don’t get that crunchy taste, it was still delicious. And of course it sped up the prep time to warp speed.

Also, with a grocery store rotisserie chicken and a lightning fast mandolin for slicing the sweet potatoes, this comes together faster than ever. Making the sauce the day before would be genius.

CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO TACOSsweet potato taco 2
Recipe from NYT, PAULA DISBROWE

For the chipotle vinaigrette:
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil. (we chickened out and used a generous 1/4 cup)

For the taco filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breast halves (bone-in), poached
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and tender stems), chopped.

To serve: 
12 to 16 warm flour (we’ve been using organic corn) tortillas 
2 cups hearts of romaine lettuce, shredded 
2 cups mixed field greens 
Red salsa (optional).

1. To make the vinaigrette, drop the chipotles, garlic, salt, lime juice and vinegar into a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender still running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with the cumin and salt. Fry, stirring often, until the potatoes are golden and crispy, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, pull the poached chicken breasts off the bone and use a fork to shred the meat. Place in a large mixing bowl with the red onion, cilantro and potatoes. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine well.
4. In a medium bowl, toss together the lettuce and field greens. Serve the filling on a platter with the lettuces, warm tortillas and red salsa, if desired.

The Food of Mad Men

17 Aug


“You know they make you wear a bib…”

It’s about time we talked about Mad Men. More importantly, the food of Mad Men.

We’ll begin with sexy chicken Kiev, circa 1964.

After fixing Don Draper up with his wife’s friend, Bethany, on a restaurant dinner date at Jimmy’s La Grange, Roger Sterling says, “Have the chicken Kiev. Butter squirts everywhere.”

We’ve always been a bit meh about chicken Kiev. Too many frozen, stale poultry logs with plasticy fake butter goo oozing out.

But like anything, if prepared correctly, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

We like the idea of serving this without rice or potatoes, lest anything to get in the way of an herby butter pool. The chicken is enough to soak up the butter sauce. Let the breading do its job.

Below is a classic version. Underneath that is a wacky 1960s canned soup retro version, for nostalgia’s sake.

CHICKEN KIEV

cooksillustrated.com

cooksillustrated.com


Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated March 1, 2006  
These can be refrigerated overnight or frozen. If frozen, do not thaw and increase the baking time to 50-55 minutes.

Herb Butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chicken
4 – 5 slices white sandwich bread , cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (7 to 8 ounces each), tenderloins removed
1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs , beaten
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the Herb Butter: Mix all ingredients until combined. Form into 3-inch square on plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

For the Chicken: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Make bread crumbs in two batches: Add half of bread cubes to food processor and pulse until cubes are coarsely ground. Repeat with remaining bread cubes (aim for 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Add salt and pepper to crumbs.

Add oil and toss to coat crumbs. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Shake pan twice during baking. Let cool to room temperature (you should have about 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs).

Butterfly chicken breasts starting at thinnest side and by slicing lengthwise almost in half. Open breast up to create a single, flat cutlet.
With cutlet between sheets of plastic wrap, pound (starting at center) to 1/4-inch thickness. Pound outer perimeter to 1/8 inch.

Unwrap butter and cut into 4 rectangular pieces. Place chicken breast cut side up on work surface; season both sides with salt and pepper.

Place butter slices in centre of bottom half of chicken. Roll bottom edge of chicken over butter, then fold in sides and continue rolling to form neat, tight package, pressing on seam to seal. Repeat with remaining butter and chicken. Refrigerate chicken, uncovered, to allow edges to seal, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate pie plates or shallow dishes. Season flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; season bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add mustard to eggs and whisk to combine.

Dredge rolls in flour, then coat with egg mixture. Coat rolls entirely with bread crumbs, pressing crumbs in if you have to.
Place on wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until 160 degrees inside, 40 to 45 minutes. Rest five minutes before serving.

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HOUSEWIFE CHICKEN KIEV
[
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 clove (medium) garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp rosemary, crushed
2 lb chicken breasts, boned/split
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
2 Tbsp. butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 c. lowfat milk
2 Tbsp. Sherry

Blend together 1/2 c. butter, parsley, garlic, rosemary and pepper. On waxed paper, form patty 1 inch thick; place in freezer till hard.
Meanwhile flatten chicken breasts with meat hammer or possibly edge of heavy saucer to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut butter into 6 equal pcs, place one in centre of each breast. Tuck in ends and roll out tightly. Secure with toothpicks or possibly skewers. Dip in egg and then in bread crumbs. Chill.
In saucepan, cook onion with parsley in 2 Tbsp. of butter till tender. Blend in soup, lowfat milk and sherry. Heat; stir occasionally. Fry 2 breast rolls at a time in deep fat at 350 degrees for 10-12 min till well browned. Drain on absorbant paper, serve with sauce.

Berry Nice to Meat You

29 Jul

Nyuk nyuk.
Here is a meditation on summer berries paired up with grilled chicken on the barbecue.
Very summery flavours!

CHICKEN SATE WITH WILD BLUEBERRY PEANUT SAUCE
Recipe from Wild Blueberry Association
3 tablespoons finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 shallot or 1/4 cup onion
1 teaspoon oil
6 oz of water
3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups wild blueberries
squeeze of lemon or lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 single chicken breasts or 1 lb thinly sliced chicken breast
salt and pepper/grill seasoning/curry paste or rub.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
skewers
Preparation
Peel the ginger and shallot, finely dice. Heat oil and briefly sauté both. Add the water and peanut butter over medium heat and whisk together. Add blueberries. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the chicken breast filets lengthwise into thin strips or use prepared sliced breasts. Flavor with salt and pepper. Put the strips in an accordion manner onto a lightly oiled skewer. Heat oil in a coated pan and cook the skewers from both sides for 2-3 minutes each. Serve together with the blueberry sauce. Serves 4. Preparation time: Approximately 30 minutes

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CHICKEN KEBABS WITH SASKATOON BERRY SAUCE
Published by Chatelaine on 7/1/2007

We prefer chicken thighs for these kebabs; they’re inexpensive and get super juicy on the grill when glazed with our Saskatoon-berry sauce.

•1/2 cup (125 mL) barbecue sauce
•1/4 cup (50 mL) Saskatoon berry jelly
•5 garlic cloves or 1 tbsp (15 mL) bottled chopped garlic
•2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary
•1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
•8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 4 skinless, boneless breasts
•1 large zucchini
•1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
Oil grill and heat barbecue to medium. If using wooden skewers for kebabs, soak in water. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir barbecue sauce with jelly, garlic, rosemary and salt.
Cut chicken into large chunks. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, then thickly slice. Place chicken chunks, zucchini slices and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add sauce. Stir to evenly coat. Alternately thread chicken, zucchini and tomatoes onto skewers.
Barbecue kebabs, with lid closed, turning occasionally, until chicken is springy when pressed and vegetables are tender, from 12 to 15 min.