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Spanish-style chicken with mamaliga

19 Apr

chicken before passover

Planning meals right before Passover is a challenge. We do our best to use up all our chametz — stuff that is forbidden during Passover — which leaves us with little to chow down on just before the holiday starts.

We usually get our kitchen squared away for Passover on the weekend, though now that we’re retired it’s more out of habit than necessity. But here we were, with a kosher-for-Passover kitchen on Monday and very little that is not kosher-for-Passover in the pantry. Hmm, no pasta or noodles allowed, not even matzo before the holiday starts, and we hadn’t done our big fruit-and-veg shopping and so I didn’t have any potatoes. What could I serve with chicken breast?

Then I had a bright idea. Why not eat kitniyot? This is a word that refers generally to rice, beans and seeds — things that are not forbidden on Passover by law but have become taboo among Ashkenazi Jews (from central and eastern Europe) by custom.

The powers that be in Conservative Judaism, of which I am a member, recently ruled that it’s OK to eat kitniyot at Passover. But my daughter and her family follow stricter kashrut standards and won’t accept that ruling, so we’ll go by our long-standing tradition and abstain during the holiday.

BUT…kitniyot are not the forbidden chametz, and so cooking with them will not invalidate the kosher-ness of my Passover pots and dishes. And since it’s not Passover yet, why not eat kitniyot until Friday night, when the festival begins?

Our custom has always been to open fresh packages of foodstuffs for Passover, and I didn’t have any unopened packages of rice, so that was out. But I did have a nice big bag of stoneground cornmeal from the Livesay Grist Mill at Fiddlers Grove in Lebanon, Tennesee, a sourvenir from the Wilson County Fair where my musician son played last August. I hadn’t opened it yet because I was waiting to use up the box of Quaker cornmeal I had just bought before he presented me with this gift — and how often do we use cornmeal?

All this is prelude to tell you why I came up with this dish that we had for dinner last night. And I made enough to have once again before Passover. Since we’re in Jewish mode, I’m calling it mamaliga, which is a Rumanian-origin cornmeal mush similar to polenta, but without any cheese added.

Ingredients:

3 cups water
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups cornmeal
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped (I used two mini-peppers)
1 stalk celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large chicken breast halves, cut in half horizontally to make thin, flat pieces (about 1 lb. total)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

For the mamaliga:

Bring the water with the salt to a full boil. Slowly add the cornmeal while stirring briskly with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps.

Lower the heat and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 10 to 20 minutes until the cornmeal is thick and pulls away from the side of the pan. Keep on very low heat until ready to serve.

For the chicken:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over  medium heat and saute the onions  for about 3 minutes.

Add the pepper, celery and garlic and continue to saute for another 3 minutes or so until the vegetables are soft.

Shove the vegetables aside and add the chicken slices to the pan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until no longer pink.  Add the tomatoes and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mamaliga among four plates (or make two plates and save the rest for another meal). Top each serving with one of the chicken slices and a generous amount of vegetables.

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

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Panko-crusted chicken with mustard sauce

16 Feb

This is tasty!

If you don’t have coarse-grained mustard, use additional Dijon mustard. You can also substitute dried parsley for the fresh if necessary. The original recipe called for “low sodium” chicken broth, which I didn’t have. You can use regular chicken broth and simply add less or no salt.

Ingredients:

4 thin chicken breast halves, or two thick ones (about 1 lb. total)
1 large egg
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbs. canola or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbs. coarse-grained mustard

Directions:

If you have thick chicken breast halves, cut them in half horizontally, so that each is about a half-inch thick.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, parsley and 2 tsp. Dijon mustard. Place the panko crumbs on a plate. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then place on the panko crumbs and turn to coat the other side, pressing the crumbs into the chicken. Put each coated cutlet aside for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook the chicken cutlets until they are brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard and remaining 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard.

Transfer the chicken pieces to plates. Add the broth mixture to the skillet, bring to a boil, and boil until reduced and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Serves 4

Honey Sriracha Chicken

19 Jan

chicken sriracha honey

Doesn’t this look scrumptious? There are a lot of marinade ingredients, and you have to plan ahead so the chicken can marinate at least two hours — overnight is better — but it’s really tasty and worth the bother. It’s a little like the Sweet & Spicy Roast Chicken recipe I posted in October — but different enough that I thought I’d tell you about this one today.

This dish has a somewhat Asian flavor, due to the Sriracha, soy sauce, garlic and ginger, and a little zing, but it’s not too spicy. If you  don’t like spice, add the little more honey. If you like it really zingy, add a little more Sriracha.

The original recipe (from the Detroit Free Press‘s 2015 recipe roundup) calls for cilantro. I didn’t have any cilantro, and we don’t like it much anyway, so I used parsley for the garnish. Cilantro would give it some added flavor.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts with skin and 2 wings or 4 chicken thighs *
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce (or more or less to taste)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
1 Tbs. cornstarch
½ cup chopped cilantro or parsley and/or 4 green onions, chopped, optional, for garnish

*double the marinade ingredients to cover a whole cut-up chicken

Directions:

Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except cilantro and green onions, in a small bowl. Pour over the chicken in the bag, seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish. Bake about 30 to 45 minutes, basting occasionally, until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Arrange on a platter and garnish with cilantro or parsley and/or green onions.

Serves 2

Crunchy onion chicken

11 Nov

crunchy onion chickenI got this recipe from my friend Mandy Garver, who said she got it from a French’s fried onions can. I couldn’t believe how easy it was!

Ingredients:

2 cups (4 oz.) canned French fried onions (e.g. French’s)
2 Tbs. flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Crush French fried onions with flour in a zip-lock bag.
Dip the chicken pieces in egg.  Coat with onion crumbs and press firmly to adhere.
Place the chicken pieces in a greased baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes.

Serves 4

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

15 Oct

Chicken-Sweet&Spicy

I clipped this recipe from the New York Times about a month ago and made it for one of the recent holiday dinners.

New York Times recipes are never what you’d call easy, but this one is complicated only because you need to measure out a lot of ingredients. Simplify your life by getting all the ingredients ready the day before you want to serve the dish, and marinate the chicken overnight. The actual cooking is very easy.

I used a little less salt than the recipe calls for since I use kosher chicken, which retains some residual salt from the kashering process.

I’m not sure if you really have to go to the trouble of blanching the lemon slices; seems to me you could just throw them in with the marinade, especially if you’re letting the dish sit overnight. This is what I will probably do next time I make it, but his time I followed the directions.

I doubled the recipe — didn’t seem worth the effort to make the dish for just the two of us, and we were having company for the holiday. I had to use two gallon-size Ziploc bags to marinate everything, but it was easy enough to put one chicken in each bag with half the marinade and half the carrots.

The next morning, turn the chicken over in the bowl, or give the Ziploc bag a little squeeze and turn it upside down a few times to make sure everything is getting marinated evenly.

The original recipe said the chicken would take 20 to 30 minutes for the breasts to brown and 30 to 40 minutes for the legs and wings, and suggested removing the pieces as they got done. I found the roasting took a little longer — and I know from experience that chicken will brown much more nicely if you baste it a few times while it’s roasting.

Instead of spooning the carrots over the chicken, I decided to serve them separately — mainly because I didn’t have a large enough serving plate! The carrots worked well as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 lemon
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. orange juice
4 Tbs. olive oil
1½ tsp. whole-grain spicy mustard
3 Tbs. honey
2½ Tbs. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
½ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 4-pound chicken, cut up
3 cups sliced carrots (¼-inch slices)
1 onion, halved and then thinly sliced
⅔ cup sliced dates
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
¼ cup chopped toasted pistachios, for garnish

Directions:

Put a small pot of water on the stove to boil. Quarter the lemon lengthwise and remove any seeds. Thinkly slice crosswise into small wedges and add the lemon to the boiling water. Blanch for two minutes, then drain and cool.

In a saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Cool.

Put the chicken into a large bowl or gallon-size Ziploc bag and add the cooled honey mixture. Add the carrots, onion, dates, thyme and lemon slices.

Turn the mixture several times to coat every piece of chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 425 degrees (or 400 for convection). Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a large pan with a rim. The chicken should be skin-side-up in a single layer. Roast, basting a few times, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Stir the carrots and continue roasting another 10 to 12 minutes.

Spoon the carrots over the chicken and top with the cilantro or parsley, sliced scallions and pistachios.

Serves 4 to 6

Grilled Caribbean Chicken Breasts

5 Aug

Chicken Breasts Grilled CaribbeanThis simple, summery barbecue recipe came from the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. I made a mistake and used 1 Tbs. of orange zest instead of 1 tsp., so feel free to use more than 1 tsp. if you like. It’s very tasty!

Be aware that you need to marinate the chicken overnight or at least eight hours so it can absorb the fruity flavors.

Ingredients:

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest (or more!)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1Tbs. lime juice
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce
½ tsp. minced fresh thyme, or a dash of dried thyme leaves
1½  lb. skinless, boneless  chicken breasts

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a large bowl.

Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 8 hours).

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Prepare an outdoor grill with a rack 6 inches from the heat source. Coat the grill rack with cooking spray.

Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 6 minutes per side or until cooked through.

Serves 4

Sesame Encrusted Chicken with Raspberry Sauce

27 May

Chicken with Raspberry SauceI adapted this from a recipe that appeared in the Detroit Free Press. It was originally sent by Robert Harrison of Swartz Creek, Mich. If you make only two chicken breasts, you don’t need to add any water to the egg. I used panko bread crumbs, which I think adds a little extra crunch. The recipe is a little long and involved, but not difficult.

We used the frozen Empire chicken breasts from Costco, which are quite large, and so we had one left over after the meal (but we used all the raspberry sauce). The next day I sliced it in half vertically and we had lovely cold chicken sub sandwiches for supper.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup water
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. ground ginger
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, washed and patted dry
2 Tbs. olive oil or vegetable oil

Raspberry Sauce:

¼ cup seedless raspberry preserves
2 Tbs. white or cider vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. ground ginger

Directions:

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts and shake until the breasts are coated.

Put the beaten egg in a shallow dish, and in another shallow dish, combine the sesame seeds, breadcrumbs, garlic powder and ground ginger.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Shake off any excess flour from the chicken pieces, then dip each one in beaten egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down so that the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds stick to the chicken. Set aside until all are done.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and sauté the chicken breasts over medium-high heat about 2 minutes on each side until they are browned. Don’t crowd them in the skillet, but do in two batches if necessary. Remove to a baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes (more or less depending on size and thickness of the pieces) until chicken is fork-tender and cooked throughout.

While chicken is baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Heat to boiling and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes before serving.

Arrange the chicken on a platter or individual plates and drizzle the raspberry sauce over the top.

Serves 4