Category Archives: Poultry

Simply the Best Roast Chicken!

Sometimes simple does it just fine.  Take chicken, for example.You can dress it up, cut it up, marinade it, grill it, and use it in innumerable recipes for soups, stir fry dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes, wraps, and more.  One of the most versatile of foods, it is a staple in most, if not every major cuisine and culture.

But  just tossing a whole chicken in a high temperature oven with a little butter and some vegetables can result in the most delectable meal you could ask for. And that’s what I did last night.

Before

Before – everything right in the pan with no rack.

I usually butterfly chicken, or turkey, for that matter, when roasting in the oven because it results in more even cooking and browning.  If you have never tried it, get yourself a pair of very sharp cooking shears and click How to Butterfly a Chicken for excellent instructions.

In fact, it was the recipe presented in the post linked above by Deliciously Organic blog author Carrie Vitt that inspired my version of roast chicken, sans squash but with potatoes. But, bottom line, you can do this using any number of vegetables and combinations thereof. Just be sure the quicker cooking veggies are cut in bigger chunks so they don’t get overdone during the roasting process.

All I did was put four small potatoes, a few carrots in big chunks and two medium onions quartered in with my 4.5 lb chicken, brushed everything with melted unsalted butter, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and put it in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour or so. I used my convection option, but a preheated hot oven will also do the trick. Just be sure to  cook until it reaches to 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast.

AFTER

After

Cook’s note: if the chicken seems to be getting too browned before it comes to temperature, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or so.

As you can see, this came out beautifully.  If you click the photo, you will be able to see the resulting juices in the pan – plenty to make a cup or more of delicious gravy to go along with the tender and juicy chicken and the roasted veggies. And that’s what I did.

Like I said, sometime simple does it fine.

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Another note: Using amazingly fresh ingredients helped make this dish even better.  The chicken was pasture-raised by Copicut Farms, butchered just a few days before and purchased at the Winchester Farmers Market, and the potatoes and carrots were purchased on the last day of the Wakefield Farmers Market from Farmer Dave’s.  There is NOTHING like freshly butchered pasture-raised chicken and locally grown and dug potatoes and carrots… The onions were from Market Basket – but at least were organically grown. :)

Under Pressure: A Tough Old Bird Goes Tender

Upon learning that I had never prepared a stewing hen, Jeff from Copicut Farms suggested I try one since he knows I like to experiment in the kitchen.

Spoiler Alert: 15 minutes in a pressure cooker does the trick, although I know one can have equally excellent results using a crock pot or simmering or braising the bird long and slow on the stove top or in the oven.

The other spoiler alert:  Stewing hens are UG-U-LY!

The hen with the ingredients going into the pressure cooker.

The hen with the ingredients (other than the neck- I put that in the freezer to use later for stock or a gravy base) going into the pressure cooker.

This angle shows just how skinny the breast is.

This angle shows just how skinny the breast is.

I was a bit short on time and I also had a hankering for garbanzo beans since, in my research, I had come across some recipes that combined chicken and chick peas, as garbanzos are also known, in a hearty stew, hence my opting for the pressure cooker method.

I came up with an outline for a recipe, posted it on Facebook so I would have it in writing, and onward into the kitchen I went to get the beans into a quick soak before cooking them with the chicken and barley.  I had decided I wanted a stew and barley seemed a good choice for a fall concoction.

There are some variations in instructions for soaking beans, but generally, dried legumes bigger than lentils or peas need to be soaked about 8 hours and then drained before cooking in fresh water.  If short on time, you cover the beans by about an inch of water in a pot, bring it to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit covered for an hour in lieu  of the longer soak.

In a real pinch, you can opt to cook beans in the pressure cooker without any soaking, but unsoaked garbanzos would have taken way longer than the chicken and barley; plus, I’d rather soak beans so as to make them more digestible.

While the beans soaked, I gathered the first set of ingredients and cut up the chicken and seasoned it with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cut up and seasoned with salt and pepper

Cut up and seasoned with salt and pepper

Once the beans were ready to go, I lightly browned the chicken in some olive oil, added a clove or two of garlic, (about a scant tablespoon chopped) stirred until fragrant, and then added the soaked and drained garbanzos and 1/2 cup pearl barley that I had first picked over and rinsed.  I tossed in two bay leaves and topped it all off with 6 cups of water, closed the lid, brought to pressure, and cooked for 15 minutes.

lightly browned and garlic just added

lightly browned and garlic just added

chicken, with the garbanzos, barley, and 6 cups of water ready to go

chicken, with the garbanzos, barley, and 6 cups of water ready to go.

After the 15 minutes, I removed the pressure cooker from heat and let it sit until the pressure came down naturally and the pot could be opened safely.  (You can run a pressure cooker under cold water – the fast release method – but it can wreak havoc with some foods, such as beans!)

First I removed the chicken.

First I removed the chicken.

Just so you know, while I left the skin on for the flavor, it sure does not look pretty!

Just so you know, while I left the skin on for the flavor, it sure does not look pretty!

All drained!

All drained!

Then I drained the beans and barley because they were almost too done and I still had carrots and leeks to cook in the liquid.

Chopped carrot and leek - both veggies from Farmer Dave.

Chopped carrot and leek – both veggies from Farmer Dave.

Along with carrot and leek from Farmer Dave, I chopped up a bunch of fresh parsley from Flats Mentor Farm to make a 2-3  tablespoons, and added a teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried thyme to the liquid.

This parsley from Flats Mentor Farm is so gorgeous I had to take a picture.

This parsley from Flats Mentor Farm is so gorgeous I had to take a picture.

I also had a tomato that was just about too ripe, so I chopped that up to add to the fun.

I was just using up a tomato, but I recommend keep this ingredient in the recipe. :)

I was just using up a tomato, but I recommend keeping  this ingredient in the recipe. :)

Next I brought the liquid back to boil, added the veggies, and simmered until the veggies were tender. 

While that was going on, I picked the now cooled chicken off the bones and the skin off the chicken and pulled the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces.

The just over 2.5 lb chicken resulted in just over 9 ounces of meat.

The just over 2.5 lb chicken resulted in just over 9 ounces of meat.

Note how dark the meat it compared to that from a chicken raised for butchering. It makes for a nice deep flavor…Nothing against Copicut Farms regular chickens!  Those rock, too.  :) And have more meat, of course.

Once the veggies were tender, I added the chicken, garbanzos, and barley back to the stock, and heated through.

mix

All together and ready to heat through.

All done! Delicious.

All done! Delicious.

A final touch of salt and pepper was all it needed.  Quick, easy, tasty, nutritious.  A winner!  I’ll be asking Copicut Farms to bring some more stewing chickens to the market this week, that is for sure!  And, thanks for the suggestion, Jeff!  :)

Roasted Chicken Quarters with Fennel, Green Onions, and Potatoes

Last Saturday, I could not resist getting a just-picked fennel bulb from Farmer Dave and some lovely big green onions from Flats Mentor Farm.  And, the week before, I had picked up a pack of two big chicken leg quarters from John Crow Farm and had finally remembered to defrost them. (Their meats/poultry come frozen, as do most meats and poultry offered by farmers at farmers markets, at least in the Boston area.)

Green onions and a fennel bulb, pre-trimmed.

I also had some potatoes on hand (organically grown but sadly, not local) and decided to create a meal based on a combination of of a sausage/fennel dish that Steve and I really enjoy and one of our favorite chicken quarter recipes.

This was a really easy meal to prepare.  All I did was peel (optional) and chunk a few potatoes, trim and thick-slice the fennel bulb, and trim the stems and ends from the green onions, then season them with chopped fresh rosemary (dried is fine, too) kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly toss, all right in the roasting pan.

seasoned veggies and ready to add chicken

Veggies ready – now to rub and add the chicken!

Next, I prepared  a variation of the paste/rub from my other chicken quarter recipe, combining a minced garlic clove, chopped rosemary, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a touch of cumin.  Onto the chicken it went (this is a hands-on operation!) as I nestled the chicken into the veggies.  Oh, I also added a bit over a 1/2 cup of chicken stock before putting into an oven preheated to 425 degrees.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven!

50 minutes later it was perfect, although I did opt to remove the chicken quarters to a small tray and pop them under the broiler for just a few minutes to further crisp up the skin.  I also  drained out the remaining liquid into a small saucepan and added some cornstarch to thicken just a bit before adding back to the veggies, but, while it added a smoothness, it is not necessary to the success of the recipe. Neither is the extra browning, for that matter, but to each his or her own taste or time available.  :)

This was a really delightful meal, made all the better by the chicken having being raised right here in Massachusetts on a farm that raises its animals in a responsible and healthy manner.

It was so good that Steve and I dug right in before I remembered to take a picture of it plated for this blog.  In fact, I did not remember until the next morning, but you can get the picture (forgive the pun) from this lovely re-creation:

plated

Plated, albeit cold leftovers from the fridge. It still looks (and IS) delicious!

And, that’s it for now.  :)

Spicy rub for chicken, grilled sweet potatoes, cabbage saute – all with no garlic or onion!?!

It was a hot day and I knew Steve would want to grill and I didn’t want to spend the money on pre-marinated chicken or the like. But, I didn’t have time to defrost AND marinate for long enough the 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts I had in the freezer.  I also had a half a cabbage and some sweet potatoes I wanted to use up.  What to do?

Well, I punted and first looked for a way to quickly make grilled chicken really flavorful and came across this incredibly simple but totally delicious rub:

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Rub

The recipe calls for equal amounts chili powder, brown sugar, dried oregano, and olive oil, in this case, 1 Tablespoon each – and I added another tablespoon of olive oil to make it easier to spread around.

Rubbed and ready to grill!

So – THAT took care of the chicken, but what else to serve?  Time to do a search for “grilled sweet potatoes” on the Internet, via which I found lots of options.  Rather than create more work for Steve by asking him to deal with multiple slices of sweet potatoes on the grill, I opted for a recipe that combined cubed sweet potato and seasonings in a foil pack that could go on the grill with little supervision.

I honestly don’t remember exactly what I did, but it involved  3-4 modestly-sized sweet potatoes cut into 1” or so cubes, a few pats of butter, a drizzle or two of olive oil, a few turns of the pepper mill, a pinch of salt, and a healthy sprinkling of brown sugar.  I liked the idea of using brown sugar since it was also an ingredient in the chicken rub. And, so easy to just wrap it all up in a sheet of heavy foil and toss on the grill! Of course, this could easily be roasted in the oven or, with a bit of added liquid, cooked stovetop, as well.

For the cabbage, I decided to use a recipe that I had made with great success a few weeks before – with the original version using green beans with the cabbage:

Green Beans and Cabbage with Coriander Butter   You can see how I prepared this veggie dish in my post of May 15, 2011

This time, I didn’t have green beans on hand but figured that carrots would work since their sweetness would also benefit from the coriander in the recipe as well as compliment the sweetness from the brown sugar in the chicken rub and sweet potato dish. So, I improvised:

Green Beans and Carrots with Coriander Butter

4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 -2 cups julienned carrots
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Into the Frying Pan….

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until butter just begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and add cabbage and green beans; toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon ground coriander and toss well. Return to stove and cook over low heat.

So, there you have it. A totally amazing meal with lovely flavors that totally complimented one another.  Steve and I were in heaven during this meal of grilled chicken breast with a sweet and spicy rub, sweet potatoes roasted with brown sugar, and a cabbage and carrot sauté.  Unbelievably delicious!!!!  And I still can’t believe I made an entire meal with NO garlic and NO onions (or scallions or shallots, etc.) But, I am sure all three dishes would taste great with onion and or garlic added. Indeed, I have in my notes that I was planning on adding garlic to at least the veggie sauté…. Maybe next time.  :)

Note to those Wary of Cabbage:  I have served both red and green cabbage a lot this past winter and spring with Steve and I discovering, to our surprise, how much we REALLY like cabbage and leading Steve to comment: “Cabbage really gets a bum rap…”  Needless to say, cabbage, with or without a complimentary vegetable, is superb when combined with butter and coriander!

Another Note:  I just realized that this meal was based on fall vegetables and flavors but worked just fine on a hot summer night.  Perhaps the chili powder brought it all together in a way that smoothed over that juxtaposition.  Although, now we know what veggies to use on that first day warm enough for grilling but before the summer veggies are in. :)

Once again, I forget to take a picture of the plated meal. Here are the leftovers. :)

Unbelievable Chicken “All-in-One” Casserole

Okay – this is REALLY GOOD.  Unbelievably good, in my opinion – with that opinion shared by my husband.  It is a WOW. It gets even better when leftover and it goes especially well with strongly-flavored vegetable such as fiddle heads (in the spring when you can get them) or Brussels sprouts.  Click HERE for my fiddlehead recipe that goes with this casserole perfectly.

Click  HERE for the original recipe on  Allrecipes.com, a site that I love.

Here is my version.  It is not much different from the original except that I added shallots and changed the amounts of some of the ingredients.  I am sure that the original is just as fabulous.

Ingredients

whole ingredients

Here are the veggies and chicken breast pre-chopped - food art! :)

chopped ingredients

And here they are chopped, plus the RV olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast (2 halves)  cut into small cubes
  • 8 oz  sliced fresh mushrooms
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium zucchinis, cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 2 small or one large sweet potato/yam, cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cut into cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • * 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs (you can Make Your Own and add your own seasoning.)
  • 1 cup cup freshly  grated Parmesan cheese (I used parm reggiano)
  • * 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir the chicken and mushrooms  until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

    Seasoned and ready to mix with the veggies et al

  4. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat and stir in the zucchini, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of olive oil; transfer to the prepared baking dish.

    Note that I mixed everything in a separate bowl - the 12 inch fry pan was too small!

    THEN it went into the 9 x 13" three quart baking dish

  5. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork about 1 hour.
And, here it is, half-eaten.  It smelled so good that I forgot to take a picture before serving it.
half gone, and the leftovers were even better!
This really was incredible.  Try it!  Providing you like chicken, sweet potato, Parmesan cheese, and the other ingredients, the depth of flavor in this casserole will blow you away.

Stone Soup with Chicken

Leftover chicken, leftover brown rice, leftover whole wheat spaghetti…well, the pasta will have to be used for something else, but I just made a great soup with a bunch of leftovers.

From a chicken carcass to finished soup took just a bit more than an hour, but that is because the time included making the stock.  If I had used stock from my freezer or a can/box, it would have been under 20 minutes.

If you are making your own stock, start by puitting  the water in the pressure cooker (or stock pot if you are going to do a longer simmer) and turn on the burner. That way, you get a head start bringing everything to pressure (or to a simmer).  Also, if you are using anything from the freezer, pop them into the microwave to defrost a bit if you want to save additional time.

[NOTE:  you can start with frozen everything - bone/carcass and veggies if you are not pressed for time.  However, the pressure cooker could take 30 minutes to come to pressure if using items directly from the freezer.]

This time, I used the chicken carcass from the French Chicken in a Pot I made a few days back.  First, I put 7 cups of water in the pressure cooker and turned the burner on high.  Then, I picked off all of the meat that was easy to remove, leaving the rest to pick off after the “second cooking.”  Then, along with the bones, I tossed in a carrot, a small stalk of celery, a bay leaf, 6-8 peppercorns, 1/2 an onion, and a crushed garlic clove.  I let it cook 25 minute once to pressure and then turned off the burner, letting the pressure come down naturally.  [Note: if in a hurry, you can bring the pressure down quickly by putting the pot under cold running water.]

Once I strained the stock and picked the test of the meat off the bones, I brought the stock to a simmer in a pot.  Here is where you can add whatever strikes your fancy.  Basically, you want to add any seasonings that simmering will bring out first.  Then, once to a simmer, add raw rice  or noodles, if using, before adding the veggie or veggies that take longer to cook.  Then,  add the veggies that cook more quickly, then anything already cooked once the all the former are tender.  The final step is to season to taste.

Today, I started with a de-seeded and sliced up a  salsa chili pepper (we have a bunch growing in our bedroom) that was red and starting to wrinkle and then added a few veggies once the stock was simmering,  in this case, the last carrot and last chunk of daikon radish in my fridge, both sliced thinly.  Once they got soft, I added chopped fresh parsley and about a cup of snow peas that I discovered, just in time, in my vegetable bin. Last, I added my leftover cooked rice and  cooked chicken from teh carcass, as well as the meat I got off both the turkey neck and chicken neck  that I used to make stock the other day for the Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup.

The final touch was a bunch of freshly ground black pepper and a tablespoon of tamari, just to round the flavor out.    Oh no!  I forgot to take pictures and we already had lunch – two servings each so there is not much left:

Not much was left!

My final advice – try the French Chicken in a Pot recipe, too!  Someday I’ll post about it, but you can link to it above.