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CHICKEN RECIPES

French in a Flash: Quatre Épices Candied Nuts Recipe

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In France, it would be perfectly natural to serve a big bowl of walnuts with a little apéritif before dinner. But at times, gilding the lily is half the fun. This recipe is a cross between candied nuts from street carts you get piping hot in wintertime, and a brittle. Quatre épices is a traditional French blend of spices made from cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper (ginger can be traded for the cinnamon, but I think the cinnamon works best for this recipe). The blend has the spice of the pepper and the smoky sweet heat of gingerbread spices that are warming and almost exotic. Combined with the sweetness of the crisp burnt sugar that encases the walnuts and salty, crunchy almonds like amber, it’s the perfect match.

France is a nut-eating country. Almonds hang from the twigs of Provence, and the walnuts from Grenoble are famous and have an AOC. designation, ranking them amongst the consecrated wines and cheeses of France. When we’re in Grenoble, there’s always a basket of them in the kitchen, and we spend every afternoon sitting on the terrace in the heat, cracking shells, plucking the husks away from the woodsy, almost sweet, crunchy yet yielding flesh. Growing up, there was always an enormous jar of whole, shell-on walnuts in the pantry, with the nutcracker thrown in to expedite the shucking. Maman was never more than a few rooms away from those and her sacred almonds.

I will warn you ahead of time that these nuts are dangerously addictive. Not only do they lack the daunting outer shell of the walnuts in Maman’s pantry, but they’re also covered in sweet and spicy sugar. You may choose to serve them as an apéro, or as a counterpoint on a post-dinner cheese plate. I personally choose them for late night squirreling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup roasted, salted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a nonstick pan, combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. 2.

    When the water and sugar mixture begins to turn slightly golden, add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper. Stir in the almonds and the walnuts so that everything is combined.

  3. 3.

    Lower the heat to medium, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the caramel from burning, and keep turning the nuts continuously until the water and sugar have reduced to a thick syrup that coats the nuts. At this point, the mixture will be golden brown.

  4. 4.

    Using a silicone spatula, spoon the nuts onto the prepared lined and lightly greased baking sheet. Spread them in a single layer, and leave to cool complete. Do NOT touch the hot nuts, as boiling sugar will burn.

  5. 5.

    When the candied nuts have completely cooled, separate them with your hands, and sneak at least one handful for yourself before sealing them away in an airtight jar to be plundered by everyone else.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

Cook the Book: Quick Fried Chicken

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If you still don’t know what to serve for Sunday’s big game, you might want to consider this Quick Fried Chicken from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn. Homemade fried chicken might seem like it falls into the realm of “Southern grandma cooking,” but it’s not too difficult to make at home and doesn’t require nearly as much work one might assume. Aside from the fact that fried chicken is pretty much universally adored, it’s an “eat with your hands” meal that can be enjoyed hot out of the fryer or at room temperature, qualifying it as a great dish to feed a big group.

Quinn’s recipe is fairly quick and uncomplicated as far as frying chicken is concerned, and the taste and crispy texture don’t suffer for it. The chicken is soaked in a mix of buttermilk and hot sauce for as little as an hour, but preferably for several more. Once the chicken comes out of the marinade, the real timesaver comes into play. Instead of setting up multiple containers for dredging and inevitably making a big mess, Quinn puts her seasoned flour coating into a bag and shakes the chicken pieces inside. This was a real revelation since I had yet to make a batch of fried chicken that didn’t leave my counter a floury sticky mess.

If you haven’t fried chicken before, an important thing to keep in mind is that it takes much longer than you would think, approximately 15 to 20 minutes per side. This is a time when it might be wise to occupy yourself with another task since the crust of the chicken will suffer if you poke and prod it during the frying.

I made this Quick Fried Chicken for last night’s dinner and it turned out beautifully. The hot sauce and buttermilk gave the chicken a moist and tangy flavor, and the crust was shatteringly crisp with a nice amount of heat from the pepper and cayenne. The two of us tore through almost an entire chicken, only saving a piece or two to be enjoyed cold as tomorrow’s lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces and each breast cut in half again (reserve the neck, back, and wing tips for another purpose)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus a little more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups peanut oil, vegetable oil, bacon fat, or lard

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together the buttermilk and Tabasco. Submerge the chicken parts in the mixture and leave as long as possible, at least 10 minutes (but up to overnight-in the fridge-is even better).

  2. 2.

    In a plastic or paper bag, combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.

  3. 3.

    Shake the chicken parts, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, in the flour. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Shake off the excess flour. In a 14-inch skillet (or two smaller skillets), heat 2 inches of oil over high heat until very hot. Test with a tiny bit of chicken skin. If the oil bubbles immediately, it is hot enough.

  4. 4.

    Place the chicken into the hot oil. Evenly distribute as many pieces as will fit in one layer in the pan, leaving 1/2 inch between pieces, and leave to fry undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat as necessary to prevent excessive browning before the meat is cooked properly; the oil should continue to bubble steadily. Turn the pieces and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Remove to a rack to drain. Repeat the process to cook all of the chicken. To keep the first batch warm, place on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200°F oven. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

Healthy & Delicious: Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Edamame Recipe

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I conducted an informal survey on my blog last week, asking readers what kind of inexpensive, healthy recipes they’d like to see more of in the future. Overwhelmingly, they asked for easy main dishes that make good leftovers/office lunches. Convenience and nutrition don’t usually hang out at the same parties, so keeping this up for the long-term could be a challenge.

So far, though, it’s been a hoot. Last week alone, I found a few noteworthy recipes, including a solid Bean Burrito concoction that juuuust skirts Sandra Lee territory, and a fairly simple skillet meal from Cooking Light called Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame. My boyfriend, a burrito connoisseur par excellence, preferred the former dish, while I was nuts about the latter.

First, it’s tasty: spicy and vibrant, with a nice crunch provided by the edamame. Second, it has protein and fiber out the wazoo. Third, it’s delicious hot, cold, right after you eat it, three days later, as a main dish, and/or as a side dish. Finally, the recipe makes enough to feed me, my boyfriend, and our entire city block for a good decade. (Meaning: it’s a lot.)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onions (about a bunch)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

  1. 1.

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add edamame, red pepper, and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup water, basil, chickpeas, and tomatoes; simmer 15 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups water and salt; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in onions and feta; toss well.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

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Mulligatawny marries both British and Indian ingredients to form a soup that is a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and very satisfying. There are many versions of this popular soup; some contain rice, some coconut milk, others are vegetarian while some include meat. The important elements are spice, sweetness, and in my opinion lentils.

To make my version of this Anglo-Indian dish I focused on toasted spices and sweetness. Which to me represent both cultures palates. Many recipes add a dollop of mango chutney while this version uses both an apple and a sweet potato to get a more subtle sweet flavor. Toasting, then grinding whole spices gives this soup depth, while a tablespoon of curry powder rounds out the mixture to produce the marriage of sweet and savory that is popular in many Indian influenced dishes throughout the Britain.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (about 3 large) chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 plum tomato, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils
  • 6 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth, or water
  • Greek yogurt, to garnish
  • Finely chopped cilantro, to garnish
  • Red chili flakes, to garnish

Directions

  1. 1.

    Place mustard seed, cumin seed, and coriander seed in a skillet and toast over high heat until spices begin to smell toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and process until fine.

  2. 2.

    Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Season chicken thighs with salt and add to pot skin side down, cook until skin is golden, about 5 minutes then flip and cook until other side is also brown, about another 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reserve.

  3. 3.

    Add onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and toasted spiced and stir until the vegetables are evenly covered with the spices. Add garlic, ginger, sweet potato, apple and plum tomato and stir to coat. Add lentils then return chicken thighs to the pot. Cover with broth or water and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes and lentils are soft and soup has thickened, about 1 hour.

  4. 4.

    Remove thighs from the soup and shred the meat and skin then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with yogurt, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.

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