Tag: chicken

Italian Faux-Fried Chicken

Italian Faux-Fried Chicken

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I call this dish, Italian Faux-Fried Chicken and that’s because it ends up tasting like fried chicken but there’s no frying involved. It’s not baked either. You grill it outside.

The end result — with its moist, breaded, and savory crust — is reminiscent of that traditional American favorite without all of the work. This is an easy recipe that doesn’t take much more work than grilling a few hamburgers, and is probably less expensive.

 

Breaded chicken thighs
Chicken thighs are inexpensive and are one of the most flavorful parts of the bird.

 

The most difficult thing in this recipe is peeling the 12 cloves of garlic. However, I’ve got a trick that makes this process simple and fast. Simply place a head of garlic in a metal bowl and cap it with an other metal bowl and shake it vigorously. Remove the paper skins from the bowl and shake it again until all of the garlic is peeled. Watch the video below:

 

 

I got the basic recipe for this dish from an “Italian grill cookbook,” which was given to me several years ago.  However, I tried making it that way and didn’t find the breadcrumb crust flavorful enough. So I substituted Ritz Crackers instead.

 

 

Chicken on the grill.
You cook the chicken using an indirect heating method, which means you put all of the coals on one side of the grill and place the chicken on the other side.

 

I also omitted the suggestion of drizzling the chicken with “olio piccante,” a spicy oil made with 5 jalapeno peppers and a half cup of hot red pepper flakes. I’m not sure if this cookbook wants to be Italian or Mexican?

 

Grilled chicken on a platter.
I made only eight thighs using this recipe but there’s enough breading to coat 12 thighs.

 

The other thing I did was to finish off the crusty brown succulent pieces of chicken with a sprinkling of course Kosher salt and fresh dried crumbled sage. Serve with a green vegetable or salad.

Italian Faux-Fried Chicken

May 23, 2019
: 6
: 30 min
: 30 min
: 1 hr
: Easy

You can make this in about an hour and that includes lighting a charcoal grill, which is the first thing you need to do.

By:

Ingredients
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 good squirts of anchovy paste (or 2 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed, and patted dry, or 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups of crushed Ritz Crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
  • 12 bone-in thighs (you could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Sage, fresh or dried, to taste
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine the garlic, 1/2 cup of oil, anchovy paste, parsley, and Ritz Crackers in a food processor and mix until smooth.
  • Step 2 Put chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with the Ritz Cracker mixture, turning and applying pressure to coat well. Arrange chicken in a single layer and put in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, covered.
  • Step 3 Prepare grill for indirect grilling. For a charcoal grill, this means lighting the coals in a pile and when they’re ready to cook on, push all the charcoal to one half of the grill.
  • Step 4 Place chicken on the cooler part of the grill. Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes before turning over and cooking the other side for 15 minutes.
  • Step 5 Put cooked chicken on a platter and sprinkle with course Kosher salt and chopped fresh sage or dried sage. Serve with a green vegetable, salad, and/or corn on the cob.

 

5 Ideas for Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

5 Ideas for Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

 

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With work, social obligations — and perhaps children, dogs, and aging parents to care for — it’s not easy to cook every night. Ordering takeout is easy but it’s not cheap. Here’s something I hope will help you out:

 

Weeknight Meal Planning Guide

 

Steak pizzaiola in a bowl
This is a bowl of delicious “meat candy.”

1.) Monday: Steak Pizzaiola (in a slow cooker)

If you haven’t tried this yet, what’s stopping you? Do you need a slow cooker or maybe one of those Instant Pots that are all the rage?

Seriously, this is the best slow cooker recipe out there, developed by a professional chef who always cooks authentic Italian. He calls this “meat candy.” Take 10-minutes to prepare the ingredients before throwing them in the pot and then wait a couple of hours and you’ll see why.

 

2.) Tuesday: Quick, Easy Turkish Eggplant Casserole

Eggplant dish in pan
If you use a cast iron skillet to make the sauce you can layer the eggplant in it and then bake it in the oven (using only one pan).

This looks, smells, and tastes delicious. It’s like eggplant parm without all the work and without all of the fat. A pinch of cinnamon adds depth and takes this to another world.

 

3.) Wednesday: Mexicali Chicken

Close up of Mexicali chicken
Gooey, delicious comfort food.

Just four simple steps for gooey pseudo-Mexican comfort food.

 

4.) Thursday: Marco’s Fuscilli

How hard and long does it take to boil water? That’s how hard and long it takes to make this. Nothing could be simpler or tastier.

 

5.) Friday: Breakfast for Dinner, Gingerbread Pancakes

Pancakes with melted butter
Save the best meal for last.

Yes, you could just scramble up a couple of eggs, but this is much better. It’s the bold flavor or gingerbread in one of the lightest pancakes you’ll ever eat.

 

Bonus: 10-Minute Crostini

Crostini with salsa
These are great for holiday get-togethers.

There’s nothing quicker and easier than this appetizer (of course you could make this a meal if you ate enough of them). Three ingredients: guacamole, salsa, and a good baguette. You know what to do.

 

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “9 Of Our Best Recipes ” along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

Chickplantasagna is Born

Chickplantasagna is Born

(Above: Layered like lasagna, with eggplant, chicken, and zucchini, chick-plant-asagna was born out of necessity.)

We were hungry.

I had eggplant, zucchini, some leftover cheddar cheese and a new block of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the refrigerator. All day long I thought of those ingredients and asked myself what I could make for dinner. Around 4 p.m., the answer came to me.

 

I just needed chicken cutlets so I stopped at the supermarket on my way home and found some chicken tenders that looked better than the other cuts of chicken there. I brought them home and flattened them between two pieces of aluminum foil (I had nothing else). And that’s where our story (recipe) begins.

 

Zucchini on a cutting board with eggplant slices
You start by slicing the vegetables and baking them. Notice how the eggplant slices (top left) have only a little skin left on them.

 

I don’t believe that salting the eggplant and letting it drain helps get rid of the bitterness so I never do that. Instead, I make sure to buy a really good eggplant: one that is dark in color, one that has a smooth skin without blemishes, and one that is firm to the touch. And I peel the skin, leaving vertical stripes, so that when you slice the eggplant, each slice only has a little skin on it. I believe this helps to keep the bitterness to a minimum.

 

Slices of eggplant on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt before baking.

 

After you bake the vegetables, fry the chicken, and saute a tomato and wine sauce, you assemble the dish ending with a layer of cheese and fresh salsa.

 

A close-up of salsa, cheese, vegetables

 

The dish was delicious but it still needed a name. I posted a photo of it on Facebook and asked for suggestions. My friend Katie M. suggested Chickplantasagna. It was the perfect name for a perfect dish.

Chickplantasagna

August 10, 2016
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Chicken tenders (About 9 or 10, flattened by pounding them with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.) Or, if available, use thinly sliced chicken cutlets.
  • Eggplant (1 dark, purple — firm, but not bruised — beauty).
  • Zuchinni (1)
  • Red pepper (1)
  • Cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup shredded)
  • Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, grated)
  • Fresh salsa (about 1 cup)
  • Tomato Paste, imported and from a tube (about 3 or 4 good squirts)
  • Red wine (about 1/3 cup), and a little water too.
  • Garlic (1 clove, torn open with your fingers)
  • Olive oil, regular, not extra-virgin (about 1/2 cup)
  • Lemon pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the skin off the eggplant by peeling off strips of it using a vegetable peeler. The eggplant will look like it has stripes as some of the skin remains.
  • Step 2 Cut thin (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick) slices of the eggplant. Brush olive oil on one side of each slice. Brush olive oil on a cookie sheet and put eggplant, dry side down. Cook in a 450 degree oven, turning over once, until both sides are brown.
  • Step 3 Cut thin slices of zuchhini (about 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch thick). Put oil on both sides. Cut long strips of red pepper (about 1/2 inch thick) and put oil on both sides. Cook zuchhini and red pepper on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven until done.
  • Step 4 Fry chicken cutlets in a little olive oil and the clove of garlic. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  • Step 5 When chicken is done, heat frying pan again. Add the tomato paste and the wine and water and stir. Add salt and pepper. Let the wine and water evaporate a little bit. Stir scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and stir some more. Turn off heat.
  • Step 6 Assemble the dish by putting a little olive oil on the bottom of a ceramic baking dish, along with a few tablespoons of the fresh salsa. Add half of the chicken cutlets. Pour over half of the tomato paste sauce. Add half of the cheeses. Top with half of the zuchhini, red peppers, and eggplant slices. And then repeat this with the remaining ingredients, ending with the rest of the cheese and some fresh salsa.
  • Step 7 Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts.
This Meal is Rated X: Sex on the Kitchen Table

This Meal is Rated X: Sex on the Kitchen Table

(Above: This meal plan is rated X for X-tra delightful. Graphic by JamesHenstridge [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

You’ve heard of the “Sex on the Beach” cocktail? Well, I’m calling last night’s dinner, “Sex on the Kitchen Table.”

It was basic, impulsive, and glorious. And not because of the greatness of any one dish. It was the combination of kitchen maneuvers all working together in perfect harmony that led to a culinary ecstasy resulting in complete satisfaction.

Although it was healthy, it left us feeling a bit guilty too.

I think that’s because of the buttery richness of the barbecued shrimp, combined with the succulent flavors of roast chicken and roast potatoes. The salad keeps it all real, cleansing the palate between bites with the fresh, clean flavors of greens, kissed by the sun.

 

Chicken, roast potatoes, shrimp, and salad
The combination of roast chicken, barbecued shrimp, roast potatoes and fresh salad sent this dinner over the edge.

 

You can make the four dishes for this meal — roast chicken, barbecued shrimp, roast potatoes and salad — according to your favorite recipes for each. As Sly Stone said, “It’s different strokes for different folks.” But here’s how I did it to wonderful results.

 

Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes

Uncooked chicken and potatoes in a roasting pan.

I bought one of those free-range, non-hormonal chickens from Whole Foods. You know, one of those birds that is given a massage, warm bath and is french kissed before they chop its head off. The lemon and rosemary roaster was on sale for just $1.99 a pound and it was a great piece of meat.

Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes

May 18, 2016

By:

Ingredients
  • Whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
  • Potatoes, 5 or 6
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Olive oil
Directions
  • Step 1 Peel the potatoes and then cut them into small chunks, about 1- to 1 1/2-inches round. To do this, simply trim off all the hard edges of each chunk with a paring knife. The result will be round potatoes. Their shape is important as it affects they way they brown and cook. Then make holes in each of the round potato chunks, either with the sharp point of the paring knife or with a fork.
  • Step 2 Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add the chicken (breast up). And then surround the chicken with the potatoes. Drizzle some more olive oil over the bird and potatoes. Sprinkle some kosher salt, pepper and dried rosemary over everything and cook in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes per pound of chicken.
  • Step 3 Be sure to turn the potatoes over about every 15-20 minutes to prevent them from sticking. The potatoes should develop a crispy crust when they’re done cooking.

 

Shrimp with Lemon Horseradish Sauce

Lemon, butter, horseradish, shrimp

I made up this lemon, butter, horseradish sauce on the fly and it’s what my honey raves about in this dish. I use uncooked, frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp. I find the uncooked shrimp to be more flavorful than the cooked shrimp available at most supermarkets.  I also buy U.S. shrimp because I believe they’re healthier than shrimp from other places.

The first time I made this the weather was warm and so I cooked the shrimp in a grilling basket over hot charcoals until pink. In the winter when you may not have access to a grill, you can boil the shrimp in a small amount of water with an onion quarter, some cloves and parsley for added flavor. And then drench them in this sauce.

Lemon Horseradish Sauce

May 18, 2016

By:

Ingredients
  • Unsalted butter, about 1/2 stick
  • Lemon Juice, a squirt or two or about 1/4 cup
  • Horseradish, 1 or 2 tablespoons depending on your taste
Directions
  • Step 1 Melt butter
  • Step 2 Add lemon juice and horseradish
  • Step 3 Stir until everything is melted, warm, and blended

 

Salad

Salad
Dried cranberries and walnuts perk up this salad.

For the salad I used a mixture of greens, including arugula. In warmer months, I like to add pea tendrils which are available at my local farmer’s market.  They have a subtle pea flavor and a juicy crunch.

To the greens, you can add croutons, dried cranberries, walnuts, whatever.

When everything was ready, I made up plates with all four dishes. I served mine to my honey, who came home from work with a bad cold, in bed.

Yeah, I know, I think we have things backwards.

 

Mexicali Chicken

Mexicali Chicken

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and Lose Weight.”  

You won’t find many recipes on Rootsliving that use processed food. But with this we’re making an exception because this one is tasty, easy to make, and has been pleasing crowds for decades.

I like to think of it as pseudo Mexican chicken parm. It is tender, white chicken meat, sprinkled with taco seasoning, in a salsa sauce and smothered in melted cheese.

There are basically only four steps to follow:

  1. Make some rice
  2. Saute some chicken
  3. Heat up some refried beans
  4. Assemble and bake

This is quick, weeknight comfort food, perfect for when you’re too busy to prepare a more authentic meal. And you’ll get no complaints from children or adults.

 

Mexicali Chicken

February 4, 2013
: 4-6
: 1 hr 15 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Boneless chicken breasts or tenders (2 pounds, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • Rice Pilaf (1 box, Near East)
  • Refried beans (1 can)
  • Taco Seasoning (1 packet)
  • Monterey Jack Cheese (8 oz, shredded)
  • Onions (1 small or medium, chopped)
  • Water (about 3/4 cup)
  • Salsa: (About 1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)
Directions
  • Step 1 Make the rice pilaf according to package directions.
  • Step 2 Saute onion in olive oil and cook until translucent. Add chicken and brown on both sides.
  • Step 3 Sprinkle taco seasoning and salsa over chicken. Add water. Stir and cook until some of the water evaporates and chicken is done or just about done. Do not overcook.
  • Step 4 Heat up the refried beans in a small pot.
  • Step 5 Spread rice evenly in the bottom of a baking dish. Spread a line of the refried beans down the middle. Put cooked chicken on both sides of the refried bean line.
  • Step 6 Sprinkle cheese all over. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

 

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

Gnocchi di pollo e patata sounds so much better than chicken and potato gnocchi. But they both taste the same: light, savory, elegant.

This recipe, from the classic Italian cookbook from 1894 The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi, makes many gnocchis so it’s great to make and freeze. And then when you crave gnocchi, you’ll always have it on hand.

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

November 28, 2010
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • For the broth:
  • A whole chicken (1)
  • Celery Stalk (1, split in half)
  • Carrot (1 whole, peeled and cut in half)
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)
  • For the gnocchi:
  • Mealy potatoes, peeled, boiled and pressed through a ricer or strainer (1/2 pound)
  • Small chicken breast, boiled and minced (Use one from the chicken you used to make the broth).
  • Parmesan cheese (3/4 of a cup)
  • Egg yolks (2)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Nutmeg (a pinch)
  • Flour (3-4 tablespoons)
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the broth: Put a whole chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water.
  • Step 2 Add celery and carrot, and salt and pepper.
  • Step 3 Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for an hour or more.
  • Step 4 Remove chicken. Pour broth through strainer into a large plastic container and refrigerate over night.
  • Step 5 The next day, take the fat off the top of the broth with a soup spoon.
  • Step 6 To make the gnocchi: Mix all of the ingredients, except the flour, together well.
  • Step 7 Work the flour into the mixture to bind it.
  • Step 8 Roll the mixture on a floured surface into a snake, the diameter of your little finger.
  • Step 9 Cut the snake into 1-inch lengths. Put what you don’t use into a large freezer bag and put in a freezer for later use.
  • Step 10 Simmer the gnocchi in the broth. They are very delicate and may fall apart. Don’t be too concerned as when they fall apart, they flavor the broth.
Mary’s Chicken (or Seafood) Paella

Mary’s Chicken (or Seafood) Paella

(Above, Mary shows off her kitchen skills and a necklace she bought on her last visit to Spain.)

Watching my friend Mary cook in her kitchen is more exciting than watching Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentiis battle it out on the Iron Chef. You can see, hear and smell the food cooking, knowing that in a few minutes you’re getting some!

Mary’s a great cook and hostess and last night she and her husband Ray invited a few close friends to their home in Gloucester, Mass. for sangria, tapas and paella, followed by a wine tasting. The tapas included a homemade aloili, stuffed mushrooms, manchego cheese and crackers, a mortadella and ham salad, and bowls of almonds and olives.

But the main course was paella, two in fact: one made with seafood and one made with chicken. Both were perfectly prepared: light, moist, a hundred flavors playing on your tongue at once with only a delicate hint of saffron.

Mary notes: “There are so many variations on this dish. For the fisherman husband who does not like seafood, I leave that out and have chicken and chorizo. You can also make a veggie type with asparagus and beans, etc. I’ve played around with quite a few versions, but usually end up doing something like this… It’s like building layers of flavor all in one pan. Best served with a nice glass of tempranillo or garnacha, and good friends of course. J

Mmm. After eating the tapas and paella we sampled a few bottles of some red Spanish wine. But to be honest, we had so much fun I can’t remember which bottle we liked best.

 

Mary's Chicken (or Seafood) Paella

March 28, 2010
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • Chicken (Boneless thighs and/or drumsticks and/or breasts
  • About 3 pounds)
  • Spanish Onion (1 large, diced)
  • Green bell pepper (1 large, diced)
  • Parsley or cilantro (About 2-3 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Diced tomatoes (1 14.5-ounce can)
  • Chicken broth (4 1/2 cups)
  • Spanish-style chorizo links (1 pound, cut into slices on the bias)
  • Valencia or Arborio short-grain rice (2 cups)
  • Fresh or frozen green peas (1 cup)
  • Saffron threads (Just a pinch)
  • Paprika (2 tsp.)
  • Salt, pepper to taste.
  • Lemon wedges (to serve as garnish)
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat a paella pan or very large, shallow skillet or pot, preferably with 2 handles over high heat. A large cast iron skillet would also work here.
  • Step 2 Pour in the olive oil and let it heat up. Season the chicken all over with salt, pepper and paprika. Sear in the olive oil until brown all over. Transfer to a plate with tongs.
  • Step 3 Lower the heat to medium and saute the onions and bell pepper until softened.
  • Step 4 Stir in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and chorizo.
  • Step 5 Bring the liquid to a boil and then stir in the rice and saffron.
  • Step 6 Add the browned chicken pieces. The rice should be completely covered with liquid.
  • Step 7 Cook the paella without stirring for 20 minutes. When the liquid has all been absorbed, pour the peas over the top of the pot, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a kitchen towel.
  • Step 8 Let stand 5 minutes and then serve with lemon wedges.
Joe’s Weight-Loss Chinese Chicken & Veggies

Joe’s Weight-Loss Chinese Chicken & Veggies

Get a free Rootsliving eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy
and Lose Weight.”  

(Above: This dish is healthy, fast and fresh: just like you.)

My friend Joe, who recently found out he is diabetic and lost more than 50 pounds, credits this dish with his success.

Using brown rice, instead of white, is healthier and has fewer calories.  You can also add other vegetables to it as you see fit. This dish is flavorful and doesn’t feel like you’re cutting calories when you eat it.

Joe with his artwork
Joe Gem at one of his art exhibits north of Boston.

 

Joe is an artist, with a natural born talent for sketching people. You can see his work here. He’s available for commissions, and his prices are extremely reasonable. He lives north of Boston with his partner Karen and their two goldendoodles. He likes to cook and even makes his own dog food.

Two goldendoodles
Amos and Andy are goldendoodles and very well behaved.

 

This dish is as easy to make as you like. Joe buys the brown rice (not fried rice) at a nearby Chinese restaurant and gets the chicken meat from a rotisserie chicken he buys at the supermarket. But if you want to save a few bucks (and know exactly what you’re eating) you can choose to roast a few chicken breasts and make the brown rice yourself.

Vegetables in bowls
Once the chicken and vegetables are chopped, this dish comes together pretty quickly.

You can also buy the vegetables already chopped up at the supermarket, but beware: there’s a huge markup on the price and I’m not sure the chopped veggies are as fresh.  A little slicing and dicing never hurt anyone and it’s a great way to build up your cooking skills, if you’re a novice cook.

Vegetables and chicken in a frying pan
Stir it up in a frying pan with a little olive oil. And don’t forget to add the oyster sauce.

Once you have your veggies chopped and your cooked rice, you simply fry it all with a little olive oil and add a little oyster sauce. What could be simpler (and healthier) than that?

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Joe's Weight-Loss Chinese Chicken and Vegetables

January 26, 2010
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Cooked white chicken meat (about two breasts) cut into 1-inch pieces. You can roast your own by drizzling a little olive oil in a roasting pan, and adding salt and pepper on the breasts. Then cook for about 30-45 minutes (for bone-in breasts) at 350 degrees. When done, cut 1-inch pieces off the bone. Or you can simply buy a cooked chicken at the supermarket and cut the white breast meat off it.
  • Cooked brown rice. (About 4-6 cups)
  • Onion (1 whole, chopped)
  • Scallions (2 bunches, about 8-10). Cut off the roots and then cut them where the stalks are light green and throw away the leaves. Then slice the remaining ends into tiny discs.
  • Mushrooms (About 8 ounces, cut into quarters)
  • Broccoli (about 2-3 cups of florets, cut up into bite size pieces)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (just enough to coat a frying pan to cook the onions and scallions, and just enough to coat a roasting pan if you’re roasting your own chicken breasts)
  • Oyster Sauce (A few tablespoons, to your taste. Available at most specialty shops or in the Chinese ingredient section of some supermarkets. Make sure it does not contain any high glucose corn syrup. Joe uses Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce. I tried the Yummy House brand which has more fish flavor and has only 5 calories per serving to Lee Kum Kee’s 25 calories.)
Directions
  • Step 1 Drizzle a few teaspoons of the extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan. Add the onions and scallions and cook until translucent.
  • Step 2 Then add the mushrooms and broccoli and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and the broccoli is tender, but not wilting.
  • Step 3 Add the chopped chicken and stir.
  • Step 4 Add the oyster sauce and stir.
  • Step 5 Add the brown rice and stir.
  • Step 6 Cook until heated well through (about 5 minutes) and serve.

 

 

Work Night Dinner: Octopus’s Garden Gazpacho/Sandwiches

Work Night Dinner: Octopus’s Garden Gazpacho/Sandwiches

Here’s something to kick off a weeknight in the late summer: two quick and easy recipes, perfect to make and eat after a long day of work or to enjoy while you’re working through dinner.

An Octupus’s Garden Gazpacho with Leftover Chicken Hummus Sandwiches

BEWARE: This Octopus's Gazpacho may attract a puss or two.
BEWARE: This Octopus’s Gazpacho may attract a puss or two.

(Tip: Gazpacho should sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before eating, so you could make this the night before. This soup is also very low in calories. For you Weight Watchers, it’s about 4 points per serving with the shrimp — or only 3 points without.)

An Octopus’s Garden Gazpacho

This recipe came from Parade Magaziine via Epicurious. The original name was Farmstand Gazpacho, but my brother Peter (who first made this for me) had the brilliant idea of adding shrimp to it, so I changed the name.

Eating this is like eating a bowl of nature and combined with the shrimp, you may feel like a playful sea otter surfacing from the deep with a fresh morsel in his mouth.

Octopus's Garden Gazpacho

September 12, 2009
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 cups, about 1 large, peeled and diced (1/4 inch) cucumber
  • 2 cups, about 2, diced (1/4 inch) red bell pepper
  • 2 cups, about 2, diced (1/4 inch) ripe tomato
  • 1/2 cup, about one small, diced (1/4 inch) red onion
  • 2 cups of tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce (You can add more if you like it more spicy. I added four dashes and found that suited my taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shrimp (about 16 whole, medium-sized cooked shrimp. More or less to suit your taste.)
Directions
  • Step 1 Place all of the diced vegetables in a large bowl. Add tomato juice, vinegar, oil and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Step 2 Transfer half of the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse the machine on and off to coarsely puree the ingredients. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
  • Step 3 Add eight of the shrimp to the soup. Save and refrigerate the other shrimp to use as garnish around the cup or bowl. Refrigerate gazpacho for 4-6 hours. I put it in the refrigerator for only three hours before eating it and it was fine.
  • Step 4 Put soup in bowls or cups and hook a few shrimp around the rim. Serve with your favorite sandwich.

I made the following sandwiches with some leftover fried chicken and what I had hanging around my icebox. (The tomato and cucumber in the sandwich echoed some of the main ingredients of the soup making this a perfect combination.)

Leftover Chicken Hummus Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • Good, real, Italian bread (I used a loaf of pane francese)
  • Leftover chicken, sliced thin
  • Tomato slices
  • Cucumber slices
  • Hummus

What I did:

Cover one bread slice with chicken. Put slices of tomato on top and add salt and pepper. Put slices of cucumber on top. Spread hummus on the other slice of bread and make a sandwich.

 

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

(Special thanks to professional food photographer Russell French for photographing this meal. His photos appear courtesy of Russell French Studio.)

This is one of my prized recipes. My grandmother, Bruna, used to make this and it was my favorite dish when I was a little boy.

I remember sitting at her kitchen table, with a glass of red wine mixed 50/50 with ginger ale (that’s what the kids got to drink). I’d pluck out the little black olives that were covered in a red sauce and stick them on all ten fingers, and then eat them one by one. My fingertips would be hot and then instantly cool as I ate each one.

Here’s the recipe from that memory:

Chicken with Polenta: The Chicken Recipe

July 27, 2009
: 6-8
: 30 min
: 45 min
: Medium

This is what you call peasant food, created in northern Italy where my grandmother learned to cook it.

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Ingredients
  • Chicken: I like to use a mixture of bone-in breasts and bone-in thighs. For this recipe, you could use four bone-in breasts
  • and four bone-in thighs to serve between 6 and eight people. You could also use a whole chicken, cut up, or even rabbit.
  • Two or three sweet Italian sausages
  • About 16 oz. of mushrooms
  • One can of pitted black olives
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cans of tomato paste (and about the same amount of water)
  • Two or three garlic cloves
  • A sprig of fresh sage or about a tablespoon of dried sage
  • A sprig of nepitella or about a tablespoon of dried nepitella. Can also substitute a combination of basil and mint. (Optional)
  • About four or five tablespoons of olive oil
  • About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of red table wine
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of nutmeg
Directions
  • Step 1 Clean fat from chicken and soak in salted water.
  • Step 2 Boil sausage for about three minutes.
  • Step 3 Fry sausage with chicken, one clove of garlic (crushed), sage, salt and nutmeg in about one tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Step 4 Fry mushrooms in about one or two tablespoons of olive oil, with garlic clove (crushed), and nepitella. And then add to chicken.
  • Step 5 Add red wine, pitted black olives, tomato paste and dissolve with water to make a sauce.
  • Step 6 Heat in oven. If heating in oven immediately after cooking, set at 350 and heat for only about 15 minutes or so. If you’re not going to serve it for a while, turn heat down to 250 or even 200 just to keep warm. (Don’t overcook chicken as it gets tough.)

Chicken and Polenta: The Polenta Recipe

July 27, 2009
: 6-8
: 15 min
: 15 min
: 30 min
: Medium

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Ingredients
  • Three cups of corn meal
  • Seven cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Bring seven cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Step 2 Gradually stir in three cups of corn meal in a slow and steady stream. Stir vigorously as you add the corn meal to avoid lumps. Continue to stir vigorously until polenta is a creamy, yet stiff, consistency. (Tip: Have boiling water on hand in case polenta gets too thick.)
  • Step 3 You can either spoon polenta onto plates in a small pile or you can dump the whole pot of polenta on a large wooden board and let it spread out and cool a bit before slicing into rectangles or squares.
  • Step 4 Spoon tomato sauce from chicken dish on top of polenta when serving.