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CHICKEN RECIPES

Classic Cookbooks: Steamed Chicken in Casserole Recipe

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 Whenever you hear about how people don’t have time to cook because we’re all so busy with work and kids and the gym and eight hours per day of reality television and internet surfing and whatnot, don’t you think, “Hey, people used to find time to cook because they had no choice. What’s the matter with us?”

I’m not thinking of a mid-century family helmed by a mother whose job description was to help with the PTA and have dinner on the table when father walked through the door at 6 p.m. I’m thinking of pioneers and farmers, men and women, who did hard physical labor all day long and still had to face the dreaded problem: what’s for dinner? I’m not saying I want to return to the era when we all had to grow or make just about everything we ate and wore ourselves—there are definitely days when I’m grateful that I can cop out and order a burrito. But contemplating that time does make me think that most people today, even busy people, could forgo takeout and make dinner two or three times a week if they cared to.

This idea is usually in the back of my mind but lately has been at the forefront because I’ve been reading about the summertime activity in Freetown, Virginia, during Edna Lewis’s youth. Berry-picking, harvesting, canning, gardening, gathering eggs, hunting for nests, mid-season planting, tending livestock, and butchering kept everyone busy all summer long (she doesn’t even mention the laundry and other routine housework that must have been incredibly time-consuming in those days), and yet they were eating the most gorgeous-sounding meals. During busy times, she says, dinner would be started before breakfast, since nobody would be free to watch pots all afternoon.

Ingredients

  • A 2 1/2 pound chicken cut into 8 pieces, with a few extra wings
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. 1.

    Wash off the chicken pieces and dry with a clean cloth.

  2. 2.

    Into a heavy pot or saucepan put the butter and heat to the foaming stage. Add the onions. When the onions are quite heated through, add in the chicken. Raise the flame and brown the chicken and onions well, without burning.

  3. 3.

    When the chicken is well browned, turn the burner as low as possible, add the thyme, bay leaf, and carrots, cover with a closely fitting lid, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir by shaking the pot around. (The pot can be set into a preheated 250°F oven. Be sure it’s quite hot when set into the oven. Cook for 45 minutes.)

  4. 4.

    If you have fresh tarragon add 1/2 tablespoon about 15 minutes before the end of cooking, then salt and pepper to taste, and swish the pot around to blend in the herb. Adding the tarragon at the last gives a better flavor than if it is cooked in from the beginning. Don’t use dried tarragon; it is too strong.

  5. 5.

    The chicken wings can be removed if you like; they are added really to give thickness to the sauce, which comes from the two last wing joints.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

The Crisper Whisperer: How to Glaze Root Vegetables Recipe

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One of the first lessons you learn in culinary school is the unyielding power of mispronounced French words. Culinary French don’t sound purdy, but it can inspire a vast range of emotion, from dread to desire, among the clog-wearing set.

Few words wield more fury than the unassuming-sounding tournage, the name for the meticulous cutting of vegetables out of hand into small, seven-faced footballs, often for hours at a stretch. If the ability to tourne carrots, turnips, and potatoes is not particularly relevant for the vast majority of professional chefs these days, schools don’t see that as reason to cancel the plumage-fest that its teaching inevitably becomes.

You might not think this topic bears heavily on the home cook, but it does. Because of tournage, home cooks have been robbed blind of one of the simplest and most delicious methods of cooking winter’s abundance of root vegetables. The classic French practice of glazing is quick and rewarding and produces a surprisingly elegant result (which bears little resemblance to the cloying dishes sometimes called glazed vegetables in the United States).

More Whispers

For whatever reasons to do with peacocks and machismo and what have you, the perfectly proper way to glaze root vegetables requires that you tourne them first. But chopping them into bite-sized pieces gets you 99 percent of the way to perfection with maybe one percent of the effort. I’m no Good Will Hunting, but that looks like 100 to me.

French glazed vegetables are cooked in a shallow bath of water fortified with small amounts of butter and sugar. One of the few tricks to glazing (and it’s a trick home cooks should learn anyway, since it’s widely applicable and cheap as hell) is to cover the cooking vegetables with a cartouche, a circle of parchment paper with a hole cut out of the middle. This method makes the cooking liquid evaporate slowly, giving the vegetables time to cook through gently and leaving you with just the right amount of glaze. Unlike tournage, cartouche is the kind of poorly pronounced culinary French that you’ll want to keep in your vocabulary.

This week I’ve glazed carrots because that’s what we had in our crisper, but this method works beautifully with just about all root vegetables, from turnips to parsnips to beets to pearl onions. If you’re combining vegetables into one dish, classic technique would have you cook each separately to ensure perfect tenderness, but if you cut them all about the same size, it’s perfectly reasonable (I’d say a lot more so, in fact) to cook them all together. Just be sure not to crowd the pan beyond a single layer, or the veggies won’t brown properly.

Ingredients

    • 5 medium carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (or other root vegetables, to yield about 2 cups)
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and/or chives, for garnish

Directions

  1. 1.

    Prepare a cartouche by cutting a circle of parchment the size of your sauté pan with a circular hole in the center. This is a good tutorial, except that you should snip off the pointy end of the triangle to make a hole in the center for steam to escape. (If this sounds like poorly pronounced French to you right now, it will make more sense after watching the short video.)

  2. 2.

    Melt the butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauté pan (preferably not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and some salt and pepper. Pour in water to go about halfway up the carrots, not more than 1/2 cup. Cover with the cartouche and adjust the heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender on the outside and still a bit too firm in the center.

  3. 3.

    Remove the cartouche, return the heat to medium-high, and cook the carrots uncovered, shaking the pan occasionally, until they brown in spots and the liquid is reduced to just enough glaze to coat the carrots, about 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives (or other herbs of your choice) and serve.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

Dinner Tonight: Broccoli Sautéed with Crisp Garlic Recipe

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Gordon Ramsay’s In the Heat of the Kitchen has been fun to look through, but I haven’t really been able to put it to much use. Most of the recipes seem rather complex for a hectic weekday night. So I was a little surprised to find this quick little broccoli recipe stuck between “Caramelized baby onions with beet jus” and “corn fritters with lime crème fraîche.” With only eight ingredients, seven of which I had already, this proved to be a perfectly practical side.

While the crisp garlic is fun and those onions sure do add a lot of sweetness, what really separates this dish from a standard accompaniment is the oyster sauce. It somehow binds all the ingredients and transforms this into an interesting side dish worth paying attention to. It’s such a simple addition, too. This, of course, all depends on whether you have oyster sauce just hanging around the fridge ready to go in to random dishes. I do. Its cost is so small, and it keeps surprising me with dishes like this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 head broccoli, thick stems removed, and cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. 1.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Also, get a large bowl of ice water ready. When the water is boiling, dump the broccoli in and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain the broccoli and transfer to the ice water. When cooled, dry the broccoli in a towel.

  2. 2.

    Pour the oil into a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic slivers and saute until golden brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

  3. 3.

    Toss the onions into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the broccoli and cook until hot, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, pour in the oyster sauce, and sprinkle the garlic slivers atop. Season with salt and serve.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

James Peterson’s Pickled Chiles

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Pickled chiles are a versatile pantry staple. They can be used to add mouth-puckering tang to just about any place you’d ordinarily use hot peppers, they keep for weeks at a time, and they take all of five minutes to prepare.

While it is easy to throw just about anything into a hot pickle brine, James Peterson keeps his pickled chiles simple in Vegetables.

Encouraging readers to experiment with chile varieties (he recommends both hot jalapenos and mild poblanos), he provides a barebones description of the technique as well as a slightly more elaborate recipe. Still, even in the recipe, he adds only onion, garlic, and thyme to the chiles and covers them with brine made of nothing but boiling white wine vinegar and salt.

Ingredients

  • about 1 pound assorted large fresh chiles, such as poblano, Anaheim, or New Mexico, or 1 1/4 pounds small fresh chiles, such as jalapenos
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Directions

  1. 1.

    Rinse off the chiles and remove their stems. Cut large chiles in half lengthwise and, wearing rubber gloves, pull out their seeds. Leave small chiles whole. Fill a 1-quart mason jar with the chiles, distributing the onion, garlic, thyme, and salt evenly among the layers or chiles. Bring the vinegar to a boil and immediately pour it over the chiles. Be sure the chiles are completely covered with the hot vinegar. Immediately twist on the cap and let cool without opening. Refrigerate the chiles and serve within several weeks.

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