Chicken and rice casserole

A simple chicken, rice and carrot casserole tastes like home and is super comforting. This is a step up flavor wise. Still harmonious, more of a chord than the three notes of the plain chicken and rice. And not much more involved. I cooked this on stove. You could also bake in an oven, if you needed the room on the stovetop. One way it’s Indian; substitute saffron and peas and it skews paella. All delicious in a homey way.

Ingredients:

3-5 chicken thighs

1 onion, sliced

shallot, minced

Jalapeno or other hot pepper, minced

Ginger, minced

turmeric, minced; or use dried

Izak (dried sweet pepper, cumin and garlic mixture)

cumin, 1 t

Garlic, 2 cloves, minced

White basmati rice, 1-1/2 c

Vegetable or chicken stock, 2-1/4c+

Carrots, sliced

Directions:

Season chicken with S&P. Heat dutch oven, add ghee or oil and brown chicken for 10 mins, turning a couple times to brown evenly. Remove to plate. Spoon off the excess fat from the pan.

Add onions and salt and cook 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Before 10 mins is up, add (1) jalapeño, shallot, then (2) add dry spices, and stir, then (3) ginger, turmeric and garlic, and stir and cook for 1 minute. 

Add in rice, stir to toast a bit. Then add in stock, carrots, and tuck in chicken thighs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Variations: If you are pressed for time, use one of the basic recipes from Mark Bittman under “other references,” below, adding saffron and peas — a la paella(!)

Sources:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021080-one-pot-chicken-and-rice-with-ginger-and-cumin

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018299-weeknight-fancy-chicken-and-rice

Other references:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9118-easy-chicken-with-rice

Plain with peas and saffron: https://food52.com/recipes/22615-chicken-and-rice

Black bean and chicken enchiladas

Entirely from scratch — corn tortillas from masa harina, home-cooked black beans, instant pot or perhaps leftover cooked chicken, home-made enchilada sauce. Yes, you’ll spend some time in the kitchen. It’s a pandemic health crisis so a couple non-stressful hours in the kitchen is actually a pleasure. Warning: do not attempt this without a dishwasher. You are going to use many bowls, two food processor bowls, etc. But really this is not difficult or stressful time-wise, just several steps.

Instant pot chicken
Throw boneless chicken thighs — 1 to 1-1/2# — in pot with 1/2 onion, diced, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 c stock and 4 oz can of roasted chiles. Cook at high pressure 10 mins. Let release on its own or go ahead and release pressure. Remove chicken and pull off and discard skin; shread with forks (or in mixer with paddle!) or cut into large-ish bite-size pieces and set aside on plate.

8-12 corn tortillas. Use high-quality tortillas from a store or make your own.

Tortillas:
2 c masa harina
Good pinch salt
1-1/2 c warm water

Stir together with wooden spoon, and knead a bit with your hands in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for last least 1/2 hour.
Cook with avocado oil if you do not have a cast iron skillet. Keep warm-ish, covered with towel.

Sauce: [see Sundays at Moosewood, Cheese & Pepper Enchiladas]
Onion, 1/2, diced
Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
Red pepper, 1/2, cut into large dice
Mexican oregano
Cumin
Red pepper flakes
Small can chipotle sauce (or chipotles in adobe)
Canned tomatoes, 3-4 c. (whole; can use diced tomatoes)
Tomato paste, 2 T

Sauté onion, add salt, then peppers, oregano, cumin. Add garlic and cook one minute. Then add tomato paste. Add canned sauce, then tomatoes, breaking up with spoon. Cook at gentle simmer for 20 mins. Take off stove to cool and bit and purée in food processor. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Cheese:
Grate cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, such as in food processor. Set aside.
Enchilada assembly Ingredients:

Chicken
Black beans, 3 c.+/-
Grated cheese — cheddar or Monterey Jack, about 7 oz
Cream cheese — about 2 oz., cut into chunks
Corn — 2 c frozen. Can take out and put in bowl and use even semi-frozen.
Tortillas
Sauce
Red pepper, 1/2, diced (or try roasted peppers from jar, rinsed)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out large casserole pan.
Spread a layer of sauce in bottom of pan. Layer in tortillas. Add beans, chicken, corn, cheese and some peppers. Top with sauce. Add another layer of tortillas and repeat layering, ending with cheese on top of sauce.
Bake covered for 1/2 hour.

Serve with crema, or sour cream reduced with cream, milk or water.

Soy ginger marinated chicken thighs

When you want an easy, delicious, no-hands-on dinner, marinate some boneless chicken thighs, and roast potatoes and asparagus, or other green veg. All oven, no tending! Marinade is Asian-themed; spiciness of red peppers is balanced by sweet of hoisin and brown sugar.

Preheat oven to 425°

Marinade:
Whisk together:

Soy sauce, 1/2 c.
Toasted sesame oil, 3 T
Hoisin sauce, < 2T
Light brown sugar, 1+T
Sambal Olek, 1 t
Ground pepper
ginger, 1-2 T minced
Garlic, 1 clove minced

3-6 boneless chicken thighs

Place chicken on aluminum-lined sheet pan (1/4 sheet pan if 3 thighs) in 425° oven and cook for 35 mins, approx, until 165°, turning half way through and basting with marinade.

Optional toppings: green onions & cilantro
Accompaniments:
Roasted potatoes with garlic and thyme; roasted asparagus with olive oil, S&P

Inspiration:

Sam Sifton’s Grilled soy-based chicken thighs, adapted from Chris Schlesinger

 

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.

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 flavor-packed marinade/paste (put S&P on chicken before applying paste):

Turmeric, 1 T
Hot paprika, 1 T
cumin, 2 t
Olive oil, 2 T
Light brown sugar, 1-1/2 t
Butter unsalted, 2-1/2 T
Mustard, 1 T

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

Stir-fry with any vegetables

A surprisingly delicious simple stir-fry with rice.

When you’re going out to an evening meeting and want to eat something when you come home, do what I did and eat contentedly.
Before leaving, put up some brown rice in the rice cooker. I like medium grain. 2/3 dry with 2-1/2 x water and some salt is a good amount for two servings.

Ingredients:
Red onion, large dice, 1/2
Brussels sprouts, cut in half, rinsed and sliced
mushrooms, 4, cut into large slices and cut in half
Leftover chicken

Directions:
Sauté onion for 5 minutes in olive oil. Add in Brussels sprouts, and turn and cook a minute or so. Add good splash of water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover and let steam and water escape. Add mushrooms, cook a couple minutes, then add chicken in pieces to warm through.

Very delicious served with fresh rice. A dabble of olive oil on top is nice. Or nutritional yeast if it’s around.

Coconut rice w/ marinated boneless chicken breasts

Craving something tangy and tantalizing, I started with putting up a pot of coconut rice in my rice cooker. Easy: 1 c brown jasmine rice, rinsed and salt added to pot. Pour 1 can of coconut milk into 2 c measuring cup, add water to bring to 2-1/4 c, and cook in the regular way.

I used the cream on top of the can, and next time I think it would be better to spoon that off and perhaps save for sautéing, rather than use for the rice.

Make a marinade for chicken breasts:

1 c coconut milk — heat to simmer in small pot. Add:

1 hot pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Ginger, grated, ~ 1 T or less (Will need same amount later for cooking chicken)
2/3 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
Star anise or smallish piece of cinnamon stick
Brown sugar, 1 T
1 T chili garlic sauce

Stir together, transfer to flat bottom bowl, and then let sit together and then cool to room temp.
Cut chicken into strips, and then large bite-size pieces.
Add to marinade. Refrigerate if going to be more than one hour until cooked. Can sit marinade 2-4 hours.

Heat sauté pan over medium high heat and add 1 T canola or coconut oil. Scoop chicken out of marinade and add to pan. Sauté for about 4 mins, turning. Right before removing, add reserved minced garlic, toss a bit for one minute, and then remove onto plate or atop rice on plate.

Nice served with plain steamed fresh local broccoli.
Otherwise add peas to rice, perhaps.
Or roast a sweet potato, in wedges. Or carrots, roasted or boiled/stove-top braised.

Coconut Thai-inspired chicken breasts

When you want to change up the preparation of boneless chicken breasts, try this simple marinade and technique. It’s akin to the classic Thai soy-fish sauce-chili-ginger flavor notes, with coconut milk added to mellow the whole thing and no lime for acid. It can be made in less time than it takes to cook rice, if you have not thought ahead to marinate the chicken. The chicken ideally would like 2 to 4 hours of marinade time, but if you’re pressed, less than one hour still works.

Put up a pot of coconut rice in your rice cooker. Easy: 1 c brown jasmine rice, rinsed and salt added to pot. Pour 1 can of coconut milk into 2 c measuring cup, add water to bring to 2-1/4 c (!), and cook in the regular way. (I used the cream on top of the can, and next time I think it would be better to spoon that off and perhaps save for sautéing, rather than use for the rice.)

Make a marinade for chicken breasts:

1 c coconut milk — heat to simmer in small pot. Add:

1 hot pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Ginger, grated, ~ 1 T or less (Will need same amount later for cooking chicken)
2/3 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
Star anise or smallish piece of cinnamon stick
Brown sugar, 1 T
1 T chili garlic sauce

Stir together, transfer to flat bottom bowl, and then let sit together and then cool to room temp.
Cut 1/2 # chicken into strips, and then large bite-size pieces.
Add to marinade. Refrigerate if going to be more than one hour until cooked. Ideally marinate 2-4 hours.

Heat sauté pan over medium high heat and add 1 T canola or coconut oil. Scoop chicken out of marinade and add to pan. Sauté for about 4 mins, turning. Right before removing, add reserved minced garlic, toss a bit for one minute, and then remove onto plate or atop rice on plate.

Nice served with plain steamed fresh local broccoli.
Otherwise add peas to rice, perhaps.
Or roast a sweet potato, in wedges. Or carrots, roasted or boiled/stove-top braised.

Source: Jonathan Rosenberg’s Coconut-Marinated Chicken over Coconut Rice, p. 359 in One Big Table; a portrait of American Cooking by Molly O’Neill

Easy Curry chicken and eggplant

Ingredients:

boneless chicken breast, 1/2#

coconut milk, 1 can (Chaokoh brand is good)

red curry paste (Maesri brand)

eggplant, 300 g+, cut into large chunks. Or small Thai eggplants if available.

cilantro, chopped

optional: fresh peppers — hot or sweet; ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions

Well it’s so 2017, but I have launched myself into (back into?) it with a purchase of yes, an Instant Pot. I read about Amazon’s one day a year sale on them, and again missed it this year but then read about Walmart competing with an even better model and for only 50 bucks I sprung. I have a honking-large 6-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker and who knows what else because though I have washed it is in just sitting in the middle of my kitchen taking up an elephant-size share of real estate.

I thought I might try it last eve since I got out of the library the “butter chicken lady” cookbook called Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. Still too involved what with the making up the garam masala mixture before I even got to cooking and I was getting hungry, so I used my can of curry paste and cooked in my mother’s old-fangled dutch oven. Here’s what I did:

Sauté 3/4 can red curry paste in 1 T oil. (Or you can instead of oil, use the skimmed coconut fat/oil on top of the can of coconut milk.) Cook and stir for a couple minutes. Add one can of coconut milk and bring to a boil. (I think you can add some fresh ingredients before the milk, such as: fresh peppers — hot or sweet — ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions and other sauté-type ingredients.)

Add boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces, and eggplant also cut up. Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant is cooked through. Taste and correct with fish sauce, soy sauce and/or sugar.

Serve with rice garnished with cilantro.

IMG_6066

Roast chicken on a winter eve

Is it hygge or is it. . . . sloth? Whatever. Dinner hour approaches and we’re going to want to feed ourselves. If you have picked up a nice little chicken, and have around some storage vegetables, you are on your way to a delicious, no fuss hearty meal.

Take the chicken out and put on the counter for an hour to come to room temp. Leave there. Or take the extra step and put the naked bird on a plate, pat dry with paper towels and salt liberally. (If you’ve planned ahead you can strip the bird from its packaging a day before and salt and put in refrigerator uncovered. This amps up a crisp skin on the bird.)

Preheat the oven to 375.

I put S&P in a small bowl to use later on the bird after my hands get chicken-yucky. Get out:
Thyme sprigs and/or sage leaves
1/2 lemon
Garlic cloves, a few
Shallot, sliced in half
S&P in a bowl
olive oil in a little bowl
cooking twine for trussing (very optional)

Put the chicken in a roasting pan. Dry inside and out with paper towels. Try to minimize your contamination zone — the small bowls help that way.
Rub some salt and pepper into cavity of bird. Stuff with: thyme, garlic cloves, shallot and stuff the half lemon in last.
Rub the bird with olive oil all over and rub on some S&P.
Get out your twine, turn the bird breast side down and bring string across wings. Turn over and bring string across indentation between legs and breast, crossing string. Bring up and over tips of legs, crossing to draw in taut. Tie a knot and clip excess.
Dab on more olive oil & reapply S&P as needed.

Put into center of oven uncovered and bake 1-1/4 hours, perhaps basting and turning the pan mid-way. The bird is done when thermometer reads 165 in dark meat, or if you stab into leg or thigh with knife and it doesn’t look very pink. Take out, tent loosely and let sit 10 or so minutes before cutting up or carving.

Vegetables:
This is the best part!
Get out:
Carrots, 2-3
Turnips, peeled and cut into wedges or large cubes
fennel, cut into 1/6ths or 1/8ths depending on size of bulb
Potatoes, 2-3, scrubbed and cut into wedges
Red onion, 1, cut into LARGE wedges (otherwise they will disintegrate in roasting pan among sturdier root vegetables)

Garlic — Put a couple heads on a sheet of aluminum foil. Pour a little olive oil in top, cover up, making a little package, and put in oven on the rack to roast of 50+ minutes. Take out and it will sit nicely while everything else is getting finished cooking.
Put vegetables on a nice, heavy baking sheet in a little mound, and pour on some olive oil and some S&P. Rub in and give the veggies some space on the pan.
Put in oven and roast for about 45+ minutes, turning occasionally to prevent anything burning, and it’s nice to turn potatoes so they get a crust on different cut edges.

Serving:
Cut chicken into pieces with shears, cutting away back bone. And/or slice breast meat.
Put vegetables into a bowl with a big spoon.
Put garlic on a plate and pass to eat with potatoes and perhaps chicken.
Yum!