Chicken cacciatore

I love cookbooks and recipes. But . . . the problem for many is that they are too precise. You don’t want to set up a science lab every evening as you’re getting ready to make a meal. For me that means I open the refrigerator and then close it, unmotivated to go the distance. What’s great about becoming an experienced home cook is that you get a feel for cooking. So once I have the parameters of the cooking technique and ingredients, I can put away the recipe(s) and work intuitively over the stove and cutting up vegetables. Here’s what I did yesterday to make chicken cacciatore:

Cut up some onion, peppers, mushrooms, garlic. Opened a can of tomatoes and heated up frozen chicken stock. Went out to the garden and cut some oregano and rosemary. Threw in some pitted olives because… why not?

Chicken thighs on the bone (3). Wiped dry and set on counter to come to room temp. Season w/ S&P

Onion, 1-1/2, sliced thin
Peppers — red is best IMO. I had mini peppers so that’s what I used. Washed and sliced after removing core and seeds
Canned tomatoes
Chicken stock — heated up frozen stock
Mushrooms, 4 cremini, sliced
Red pepper flakes
Fresh oregano and rosemary, chopped
Celery, 1 stalk, sliced (because I had a nice bunch of organic)

Heat dutch oven, add 2 T olive oil with bit of grapeseed oil. (Grapeseed is a higher heat oil, raising available temp of olive oil by itself)
Put chicken in pot skin side down over medium heat, which should sizzle when you put in. Cook about 4-5 minutes until browned, and flip over and cook on other side. Remove from pan and spoon out and remove oil to leave 2 T oil. Turn off heat and add onions, and season and cook, stirring occasionally for at least 5 minutes. Higher heat to sauté, not just sweat. Add peppers for a couple minutes. Then add mushrooms, hot pepper flakes, and garlic at end. Season again w/ S&P.

Cook until everything is wilted. Add chicken stock and cook a bit. Add in torn up tomatoes and fresh herbs. Put chicken back in, nestling into liquid. Don’t put in so much liquid that chicken is swimming in sauce — vegetables will release juices creating more as it cooks.

Cover and simmer on low for 35-40 minutes.
Serve over buttered noodles or soft polenta.

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Roasted sweet mini-peppers

For when you purchase those sweet little sweet peppers.

Roast 1# peppers in 425 degree oven for 20+ minutes. Fit in a snug vessel, toss with olive oil and salt, and then balsamic vinegar. Roast until wilted; remove and let cool. Remove stems. Thanks Alexandra!

Make a pasta sauce:

Sauté 1/2 onion, diced or semi-sliced, in olive oil. Add marjoram and cream and salt and reduce. Set aside.

Cook pasta — trumpets are good.
Meanwhile slice 1/2 # peppers. Mix into cream, adding more cream if too thick.

Toss together: pasta, cream sauce. Voila!

Other ideas:

Ricotta with peppers.
Quinoa and peppers — cold salad

And here’s another idea to make a sauce with peppers and tomatoes.

Impromptu Thai-ish salad with leftover steak

If someone should give you a cooked steak to take home post-barbecue, this a nice way to see it again.

Dressing:

Lime juice — macerate red onions in this first
Fish sauce, same quantity as lime juice
Soy sauce (just a tad)
Ginger, finely grated
Salt
Sambal oelek — or other red pepper product for heat
Brown sugar
Dash peanut oil

Red onions, sliced or diced — macerated in lime juice
Cooked beans, such as cannellini
Watercress, spinach or other greens such as lettuce
Red pepper, diced
Carrot, diced
Radishes, sliced
peanuts, roasted and unsalted
Cold cooked steak, sliced

inspiration:

and Ellie Krieger

 

Roasted Chicken — boneless chicken thighs

I am in the habit of occasionally buying boneless chicken breasts for a quick easy dinner. Even better I’m here to say: boneless thighs! Two advantages: (1) thighs offer greater flexibility in timing — they stay moist even if cooked longer than necessary, and (2) these are less hands-on and frankly, easier. You stick ’em in the oven and do something else for 20 minutes, though turning them 1/2 way through is a good idea.

You prepare marinade and stick chicken in and leave on the counter for 1/2 hour + while you empty the dishwasher and/or prepare side dishes, such as 1/2 hour brown rice in Instant Pot.

425 degree oven
Roast 20+ minutes to 165 degrees
Tent and rest 5-10 mins

Marinade:

Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Peanut oil
Mirin
Hoisin
Ginger, grated
Ssam sauce
Black vinegar

Try to marinate for 1/2 hour on counter while you prepare other parts of meal.

Roast in oven 20 minutes, turning 1/2 way through. Take temperature — you want 165 degrees.

Serve with roasted asparagus — pour extra marinade over, and roast 15 mins.

Brown rice — pour on juice from cooked chicken pan. (Plan for over 1/2 hour for coming to pressure and letting pressure release naturally.)

 

Inspiration:
https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-boneless-skinless-chicken-thighs-in-the-oven-180140

Here’s another method from NY Times, adapted from Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby’s “Skewered Boneless Chicken thighs with sweet and pungent soy baste and spicy cashews,” from Let the Flames Begin

Chick pea spinach salad

Preparing for a pot luck, I cooked some chick peas and then while the instant pot was doing its thing, I went outside to do some gardening and planting and cutting lilacs, and playing with the cat, and oh, planting a shrub. I came inside to find that the pot had reached its set 49 minutes oh, 27 minutes ago. Surely overcooked! I released the pressure and found the beans somewhat mushy and was immediately disappointed. Then I found this warm chick pea and spinach recipe that seemed like a good idea.

Then I was hungry and it being lunch time I thought: Hmm, freshly-cooked chick peas, I can serve myself some mushy beans. I went halfway with the ideas in that aforementioned recipe:
Spinach in a bowl sprinkled with olive oil and salt, topped with warm chick peas, to slightly wilt the spinach. Macerated some red onion in lemon juice, went outside and cut some chives; sprinkled beans with smoked paprika and then chives. Added cut up carrot, aforementioned onions, some feta and lots of olive oil and salt. Mmm. IMG_6602

Olive oil, spinach and beans are delicious. The subtle dark tone of smoked paprika sets off the flavor against the bright high-note lemon. I always like two familial flavors such as here red onions and chives. (I think next time I will macerate onions longer, and/or reduce quantity.)

Ingredients:

chickpeas, 1 # cooked with 1 T salt & 1 garlic clove (49 minutes in my Instant Pot)

Spinach
Red onion, cut into pieces, macerated in lemon juice for 2 – 4 minutes.
Smoked paprika (sweet)
Chives
carrots, 2 sliced
Feta

Pasta with asparagus for the Spring

When asparagus is locally-grown and freshly-harvested, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy its fresh flavor. In the winter I prefer a cream-based Parmesan-loaded pasta dish because hey in winter who doesn’t appreciate indulgently fatty comfort foods (isn’t that the definition of comfort food?)

Here is what I came up with last eve when hunger struck and new asparagus was at hand: Pasta sautéed with butter and olive oil with spinach (or arugula), lemon juice and zest, topped by Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan if that’s what’s on hand)

Ingredients:

Bucatini (or spaghetti)
Asparagus, 1/2#, cut into 3/4” lengths
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pecorino Romano, grated
Directions:

Put up big pot of water for pasta. Add kosher salt when it comes to a boil. Add pasta and cook to within one minute of being done. Scoop out some pasta water into glass measuring cup to use for sauce mid-way and when completing dish.

Rinse and cut up 1/2 # asparagus. Mince 3 cloves garlic.
Heat sauté pan and add butter and a bit of olive oil. Add asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes, adding some pasta water to steam. Add garlic, sauté, and then add spinach on top with salt, lemon juice, and more pasta water. Set aside.
When pasta is almost done, drain and add to asparagus in pan, toss with lemon zest and some more pasta water. Season w/ S&P and cheese.

A weirdly interesting, or interestingly weird and delicious broccoli sandwich

Years ago I would visit Manhattan and stay near the No. 6 Sub shop on Broadway around 27th Street, which is about the size of a closet, where Tyler Kord or his staff would sling a dyno-mite roasted broccoli sub. It was delicious. I tried to get there every visit. Addictive, even.

The sandwich consists of roasted broccoli, pickled lychees, pine nuts, ricotta salt and fried shallots. I just learned the components recently having purchased Kord’s “A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches” in which he irreverently describes his food preferences and techniques. Of course I homed in on the broccoli sub and soon got to work crafting my own version.

I was unclear about the lychees and in various stores I checked out canned lychees and found there were all in sugar syrup and thought: Hmm, that can’t be right. Well turns it is right — you make pickles with ‘em if you are fully on the Kord train. Me, here’s what I did for one person at home:

Baguette
Roasted broccoli
Pine nuts, lightly toasted
Mayo mixed with honey and apple cider — sweet and tart, kinda like lychee pickles (!?)
Feta (Kord calls for ricotta salata)
Pickled cherry peppers

Spread mayo on bread, layer on remaining ingredients. Grab a bunch of napkins and chow down!

Kord also calls for fried shallots, which I was going to do as he recommends — double fried slices after dipping in corn starch — but I had enough food prep steps and was hungry.