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Chicken Marsala

October 26, 2009

This week’s dish is a simple favorite, Chicken Marsala.  The recipe comes right off of the bottle of Holland House Marsala Cooking Wine, uses few ingredients, and can be made all in one pan.  The result – a very light, very tasty, four-serving dish – will be made again and again until the whole bottle is finished!

Chicken Marsala

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. Flour

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Cups mushrooms, sliced (This is half of an 8 ox. package of whole mushrooms, sliced.)

3/4 Cup Marsala Cooking Wine

1/4 Cup water

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (I didn’t have any on hand, so I omitted this herb.  However, I will definitely add for a future dish)

1/4 Tsp. Rosemary (Optional. I don’t care for the flavor of rosemary, so I skipped this.)

1.) Pound the chicken until thin.  (A meat mallet works best, but if you don’t have one – you can improvise as I do by going to town on the meat with a rolling pin.  Its a little messy, but it gets the job done.) Dredge the chicken lightly in the flour.

2.) In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the mushrooms until browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms from the pan.

3.) Add the chicken to the pan and cook through, about 4 minutes per side.  I added a little more butter to prevent sticking.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a serving dish.

4.) Remove the pan from the heat and very carefully add the Marsala wine and water.  Return the pan to the heat. Scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan.  Add the mushrooms and herbs.  Reduce the sauce slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Pour over the chicken and serve.

Chicken Marsala and Sides

Chicken Marsala and Sides

I served the Chicken Marsala with a side of fresh steamed cauliflower and green beans.  Typically you would find this dish served with a starch such as potatoes or pasta, but I wanted to use up the remainder of a head of cauliflower I had from another meal.   An adjustment I would make in the future would be to lightly butter the beans and add some slivered almonds.   To sop up the delicately delicious sauce, I buttered up some day-old crusty bread and gave it the old “toasted with garlic and Parmesan”  treatment.  The meal was a fantastic success, a necessary comeback from a two-week Chicken Monday slump.

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Foul Fowl

October 20, 2009

For those of you keeping track, there was no Chicken Monday post last week.  The reason is because the meal was a total flop and I was too disappointed to write about it.  Deviating from the standard plan, Andrew and I decided to purchase some fried chicken for the chicken portion of the meal.  I can not make really good fried chicken and the deli down the road does, so we decided Andrew would pick up the chicken on the way home from work and I would furnish the sides for the meal.

At first, I was not looking forward to this meal.  I had all but crossed fried anything off of my “to eat” list recently and I was having a major guilt trip about it.  Then, as I started to imagine eating the fried chicken, with its unmistakably greasy, crunchy exterior and savory, juicy interior, I began – ever so slightly – to salivate.  Ok, so I really was looking forward to some fried deliciousness for dinner!

So, when Andrew walked in the door and delivered the blow, I was devistated.  They didn’t make the fired chicken today!  Instead, we had rotisserie as a substitute.  Normally, I would have been thrilled, but I had psyched myself up all day for the fried stuff!  To make matters worse, this was not good rotisserie chicken.  It was overly dry and lacked any sort of flavor.

The meal was not a total loss, however.  We did have a nice side of three-cheese tortellini and peas.  The best part of the meal, however was that good old standby – cornbread.  Fresh and hot out of the oven and dripping with butter…I had several pieces to make up for my fowl loss.

Chicken Tarragon

October 6, 2009

After last week’s feast I had a number of not-that-usual ingredients left in my refrigerator that were not-that-cheap, so I began investigating recipes to use them up.  I had to buy tarragon for an asparagus dish and wanted to explore other uses for the anise-flavored herb.  Then I remembered a delicious chicken dish that I had one evening in a very lovely Mom-and-Pop type place near where I went to college.  The bistro has since closed, but the lingering memory of Tarragon Chicken has remained with me over the years.  I found this recipe “Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce” on allrecipes.com (which is one of my most frequently visited websites).

Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce

Vegetable cooking spray

2 tsp. lemon pepper (I’m not sure how much I actually used, I just seasoned both sides of the chicken well)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, mined

1 cup chicken broth (I used my homemade stock, see previous post: Simple Chicken Stock)

1/4 cup light cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1.) Season the chicken with lemon pepper seasoning.  Spray nonstick skillte with cooking spray and heat 1 minute.

2.) Add chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned.  Add shallots and garlic and cook until tender. Tip: Push the chicken to one side of the pan so that the shallots can cook evenly.  You should lower the heat so they don’t scorch.

3.) Add broth, cream and tarragon.  Heat to a boil.  Cover and cook over low heat 5 minutes or until done.

I loved this dish for its simple list of ingredients, short cooking time and clean flavor.  This dish really popped when I added the tarragon to the skillet.  The lovely aroma filled the kitchen as it was simmering.  The chicken came out very moist and tender.  My only criticism was that the cream separated a little from the broth.  I don’t typically make cream sauces, so I’m not sure if this was a recipe issue, or a chef issue.  If you have any cream sauce tips, please let me know!  As per my husband’s request, the next time I make this recipe I will reduce the sauce a little and add some butter to make it a little more decadent.

I served the chicken tarragon with boldly buttered fine egg noodles and a steamed broccoli-carrot-cauliflower medly.  On the side I also splurged and made those pop-out-of-the-can crescent rolls.  It was a neccessary indulgence, that also happened to be on sale this week at the food store.

Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce

Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce

Finally, as I did a little research to prepare this week’s post, I came across some interesting facts about tarragon.  Since it is an herb that I am unfamiliar with, I wanted to know more about it for my own culinary development.  I found these links from about.com to be especially helpful.

Tarragon Cooking Tips – Cooking with Herbs

Tarragon History

A Break-the-Fast Feast

September 30, 2009

For those of you that fasted yesterday, I hope your fast was easy.  As a welcome end to the day, I whipped up a holiday feast for my husband and family.  I cooked for two whole days to provide the following meal:

Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Noodles. I improved this hearty soup that could have been a meal in itself by adding matzoh balls.  See the recipe in the previous post.

Fresh Greens Salad.  This was a last minute add-on that I made to help out those at the table who were required to weigh in the following day at a weight-watchers meeting.  I have been informed that even with the matzoh balls, 1.5lbs were lost this week!  Good work, Mom!

Grilled Chicken and Pinapple. I wanted to make the protein out of the kitchen as I already had enough dishes to do.  I marinated the chicken in a combination of teriyaki and jerk sauces.  For those of you who have never had grilled pinapple, you must try it the next time you fire up your grill.  Grilled pinapple is a real treat for the palate.

Baked Sweet Potatoes and White Potatoes. Simple, easy, delicious – with butter and cinnimon sugar or sour cream and chives.

Asparagus and Herbed Cheese Strudel. This was an advanced-skills dish involving phyllo, goat cheese, tarragon, asparagus and lots of butter.  It was completely worth the effort.

Baked Apples. A simple desert involving whole apples baked with cinnimon, brown sugar and dried fruit pieces in the center.  The review: “Its like apple pie without the crust.”

I set out my good china, silverware and crystal for the meal.  I meant to take lots of photos to show the lovely spread.  Of course, I forgot to take pictures so you will have to use your imagination to visualize this one!.  Happy New Year to all who celebrated yesterday.

Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Noodles

September 30, 2009

As a wedding shower present, my sister-in-law supplied me with a Jewish recipe book.  Now, after 3 years of marriage, I finally decided to take the plunge and try some recipes.  The following recipe is from the Yom Kippur section of Jewish Holiday Feasts by Louise Fiszer and Jeannette Ferrary.  It is a hearty soup that truly eats like a meal.  It serves 10-12 people, so if you are making this for a small group, be prepared to freeze some for a later meal.

Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chicken and Noodles

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, white part only, chopped (To clean the leek, put the chopped pieces in a bowl of cool water and swish.  The leeks will rise to the top and all of the sand and dirt will fall to the bottom.  Its foolproof!)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 small fennel bulb, chopped

1/2 head cabbage, chopped

4 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (The zucchini at the store were mammoth so I used only one here)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped parsley

6 cups chicken broth (I used homemade broth, see previous post, Simple Chicken Stock)

3 cups water

8 oz. fine egg noodles

3 whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (The original recipe does not specify if the chicken should be cooked first or not.  I decided to pre-cook the chicken and it was a good decision)

Salt and pepper

1.) In a LARGE pot (seriously, large.  I had to use the biggest pot I own) , heat the oil over medium heat.  Cook the onion, leek, celery, carrot, red pepper, fennel, and cabbage until barely tender, about 8 minutes.

2.) Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, and parsley.  Cook until bubbly, about 2 minutes.

3.) Add broth and water and simmer 20 minutes.  Add noodles and chicken and simmer 10 minutes.

4.) Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cool and refrigerate.  Just before serving, reheat and taste again for salt.  Serve hot.

This recipe seems very ingredient heavy, but all of the vegetables contributed to make the soup have a very deep flavor profile.  I suppose the soup could be served the day it is made, but the idea is to prepare the meal the day before the holiday because if you were celebrating the holiday, you would typically be fasting all day, attending temple, and otherwise obtaining from work.  Out of curiosity, I tasted the soup both the day it was made and the following day, and the time overnight really did improve the soup and allow all of the flavors to come together.  I think the soup could also be made early in the day and then allowed to sit for a few hours before serving.

In addition to this recipe, I also served another dish from the same cookbook.  I was delighted to find that the directions for both dishes were spot on, all of the times and quantities were perfect and really needed no tweaking.  For example, I was worried that the noodles in the soup would suck up all of the broth overnight and I would be forced to add more the following day.  However, to my pleasant surprise, when I re-heated the soup, there was just the right amount of broth.  I believe this soup is going to become a family favorite in the Lubchansky household!



Simple Chicken Stock

September 29, 2009

Chicken stock is a miracle additive to so many dishes and soups.  The type of chicken stock you use can really make or break your dish.  Unfortunately for me, I am not privy to the luxury of opening a can of Swanson stock or any of the other supermarket isle favorites as the additive in those broths can give me a serious knock-em-out headache.  I’m talking about the kind where your head feels like its in a vice grip and you can’t even manage to lift you head off the pillow type of headache.  So for the past few years, I’ve been perfecting my own easy chicken stock that uses leftover chicken and some simple vegetables  and herbs to round out the flavor.  The best part about making your own stock is not only knowing exactly what has gone into it, but the cozy, comforting way your house will smell while you are cooking it!

This recipe will make about 8-10 cups of stock from the carcass of a 5 lb. chicken roast.

Heather’s Simple Chicken Stock

Chicken roast carcass (bones, skin, drippings, etc. )

One medium onion, peeled and quartered

The leafy parts of a bunch of celery (or 2 stalks, cut into large slices)

Two medium carrots, unpeeled and cut into large slices

Two cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

One Bay Leaf

A handful of fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano, or other flavors that you prefer (If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can add a few teaspoons of dried herbs)

A handful of parsely

Salt and Pepper to taste

Water

1.) Place the chicken carcass in a large stock pot (8+quarts).  Add all of the other ingredients and fill the pot with water so that it just covers the chicken (approximately 8-10 cups).

2.) Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the broth for about 2 hours.

3.) Strain the liquid through a cheese-cloth lined strainer into a large bowl or pot.  Discard the contents of the strainer.

4.) Allow the stock to cool and skim off the fat.  Store the stock in the refrigerator, or freeze in appropriately labeled containers.

This recipe truly makes a lovely stock.  I used to make it with fresh-bought chicken pieces, such as thighs and drumsticks.  This also made a tasty broth and you can use the chicken again in a soup or for chicken salad.  But, I have found that the above recipe is an economical way to use up the remainder of a chicken without feeling like you wasted any of it.  I have some relative that put chicken necks and feet in the pot too for flavor, but I can’t stomach looking at those things floating around in the pot while it is cooking.


Chicken Salad and the Chocolate Goat

September 26, 2009

Its hard to believe that the half-price chicken sale was only last week, as I have been ripping through my supply that I figured would take me halfway through the winter!  This past week I roasted the whole boiler/fryer that I purchased for the amazingly low price of 84 cents/pound.  Yes, you read that correctly – a young chicken, just over 5 pounds cost me slightly less that $5.  I served up the chicken with steamed green beans from my neighbor’s garden and mashed sweet potatoes.  I fed both my husband and my parents and had leftovers.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!

With the leftover chicken, I made some killer chicken salad today for my girlfriends Elissa and Meredith as fuel for our second annual “Chocolate Goat Anniversary Sale Shopping Trip.”  I shredded the chicken, added chopped celery, craisins, slivered almonds, mayonnaise, mustard and some horseradish sauce.  I really love a good chicken salad.  The delectably leftover delicacy was served on toast, in pita pockets, or rolled up in cheese.

And what fuel it was!  We power-shopped the Chocolate Goat, a local specialty shop which carries some of our favorite merchandise, where they were having a store-wide 15% off sale.  As I like to say, we did our part to boost the economy this afternoon.  If you’ve never been to the Chocolate Goat, its a wonderful destination shop that happens to be on the way to my house .  So if you are in the mood for a home-cooked meal and an endorphin rush (a.k.a. wallet dump) feel free to drop by….

http://www.chocolategoat.com/