Operation: Mother’s Day

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.11.17 AMAttention, significant others of mothers: Breakfast in bed is a thoughtful, time-honored gesture for Mother’s Day. There is, however, an alternative to a precariously balanced tray of eggs, orange juice and coffee, all of which she eats by herself while the kids hang around watching. That alternative is a simple but wonderful dinner, cooked by you and those same adorable children, eaten together at an actual table.

Here’s a three-course meal, easy enough for novice cooks to pull off and impressive enough so that those who know how to cook will be pleased. It features a chicken dish that may become a lifelong standard and a can’t-fail version of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s warm, soft chocolate cake.

I’ve also included a comprehensive battle plan — a timeline for everything you’ll need to do in the kitchen with suggestions for the tasks to delegate to your kids. (If they’re the better cooks, they can delegate to you.) Just remember: Even though you cooked, you still have to do the dishes.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in American, Recipes, Uncategorized

How to Cook Everything: The Basics: Chicken and Rice

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By Alaina Sullivan

The simple combination of chicken and rice is a one-pot dish that’s made all over the world. Despite the countless variations on the theme, this version is stripped down to the bare essentials: chicken, rice and onion (with peas added at the very end). Short-grain white rice is what the classic recipe calls for, but since I already had brown jasmine rice on hand, I went with long-grain (less sticky, more fragrant).

The ingredients initially take turns in the pan (the chicken browns, then the onion sautés, then the rice gets a glossy coat), until finally all three come together to simmer, covered and undisturbed. The rice will slowly absorb the cooking liquid (water, or stock, if you want a more intense flavor), and become tender at about the same time that the chicken is cooked through. With saffron laced throughout, peas adding little bursts of sweetness, and fresh lime juice to brighten the entire plate, this one-pot wonder deserves a spot on your roster of go-to recipes. Recipe from How to Cook Everything: The Basics.

Chicken and Rice

Time: About 1 hour

Makes: 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole cut-up chicken or about 3 pounds parts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice

Pinch saffron threads, optional

3 1/2 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock, or more as needed

1 cup peas (frozen are fine; no need to thaw them)

2 limes, quartered, for serving

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed but adjusting the heat so the chicken sizzles but doesn’t burn, until the pieces release easily from the pan, 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn and rotate them every few minutes to brown them evenly. As the chicken pieces brown, after another 5 to 10 minutes, remove them from the pan.

2. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and pour or spoon off most of the oil so that only 2 tablespoons remain. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rice; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and coated with oil. Crumble in the saffron threads if you’re using them.

3. Return the chicken to the pan, add the water, and stir gently to combine everything. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so it bubbles gently but steadily. Cover the skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes, then check the rice and chicken. The goal is to have the liquid absorbed, the rice tender, and the chicken cooked through. If the rice is dry but nothing is ready, add another 1/4 cup water and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. The meat is done when a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155–165°F.

4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste the rice and adjust the seasoning. Add the peas, then cover the pan again and let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes. Fish the chicken out of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Fluff the rice with a fork, spoon it around the chicken, add the lime wedges, and serve.

Tips:

-Saffron (as you probably know if you’re using it) is not cheap. Fortunately a little goes a long way.

-Don’t be intimidated by cooking chicken and rice in the same pan. It’s no harder than cooking either ingredient on its own. You may need to monitor the moisture in the pan toward the end of cooking, but as long as you resist the urge to uncover the skillet and stir, it will come out great.

-Short-grain rice is classic here, but if you like rice less sticky and more fluffy, use long-grain rice. You’ll probably need to add the extra liquid in Step 3.

Variations:

Chicken and Lentils: Skip the peas and use lemon instead of lime. Replace the rice with 1 cup dried brown or green lentils (rinsed and picked over) and continue with the recipe.

 

Posted in Recipes

No Chicken Breast Left Behind

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By Meghan Gourley

Occasionally, we test a recipe that doesn’t make it to print. Here’s one that we loved and thought people should see: chicken breast with cumin and honey. We understand the fear of undercooking chicken, but if you learn how to gauge doneness correctly you will end up with perfectly juicy, moist chicken breast every time. 

About four to six minutes per side is all it takes, depending on the quirks of your oven or grill. You’ll know it’s done when you cut the breast with a knife and clear juices run out. (Or if a meat thermometer registers 155 dgF.)  It’s easy to get distracted by the sizzle of honey and olive oil and the tang of cumin wafting through the air but try to resist. The last thing you want to do is overcook the chicken.

North-African Spiced Chicken Breast

4 chicken breast halves (or 2 whole chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper

lemon wedges

fresh parsley

yogurt (optional)

Heat a broiler or grill to medium heat and put the rack 4 inches from the heat source. If you’re broiling, put the chicken in the pan in which you’ll cook it. Combine the olive oil, honey, dry sherry, cumin, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Spoon the mixture over both sides of the chicken. Grill or broil chicken breast halves for 4 to 6 minutes per side (a tad longer if you’re cooking two whole breasts), until browned and just cooked through. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedge. Optional: serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Here are 9 more ways to sauté, poach and roast chicken breasts.

 

Posted in Recipes

Lavender-Thyme Braised Chicken

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By Alaina Sullivan

Take away the skin and bones of a chicken breast and you’ve got a protein that is notoriously prone to becoming dry and flavorless. A quick braise can remedy that, especially when you do it with wine.

A wine braise renders chicken cutlets moist, tender and inebriated with a unique bright flavor. Riesling does the job here: It’s sweet and floral, and pairs well with fresh lavender, which you can use in both sweet and savory dishes. Here crushed lavender buds swim with twigs of thyme in the braising liquid, giving the chicken a rustic, woody flavor. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.

Lavender-Thyme Braised Chicken

Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then sear them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on both sides until brown, about four minutes total; set aside. Add a tablespoon more of olive oil or butter to the pan, along with some minced garlic, a tablespoon of crushed lavender flowers (or a tablespoon of finely minced fresh rosemary), and a teaspoon of fresh thyme; cook for about a minute. Add a half cup (or more) of Riesling and deglaze the pan. Add the chicken, cover; and continue cooking until it’s done, another four minutes or so. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.  

 

Posted in Recipes

Chicken with Yogurt and Indian Spices

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Sweet, saucy, and warming. Wonderful over rice pilaf, or white or brown basmati rice. For extra flavor, start with whole cumin, coriander, cardamom, and cinnamon and toast and grind them yourself.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Indian, Recipes

Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

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By Freya Bellin

It seems like everyone has his or her own guacamole secret. I can always be counted on to use a lot of garlic, a little jalapeno, cilantro, and lime. But it’s always fun to add something new here and there, and this guacamole is in fact loaded with extras. I was pleasantly surprised by the unusual addition of shredded lettuce. It adds heft, almost like a guacamole salad, and cuts some of the richness of the avocado. Most importantly, it makes an excellent base for these kebabs, which are very easy to prepare. The simple marinade gives the chicken and veggies a nice kick, and the grill adds that signature smokiness. I made a little extra marinade and put some all-veggie kebabs on the grill, too. Mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini are all great for grilling, in addition to the veggies in this recipe; really, anything goes. Try adding pineapple or other fruits for a sweet variation. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Parsnips and Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce

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By Freya Bellin

I grew up thinking of parsnips as a soup vegetable. My mom always uses them when she makes chicken or vegetable stock, and she adds them to matzo ball soup. However, as my cooking horizons have expanded, I’ve begun to appreciate how versatile parsnips are. They have an earthy sweetness that works very well in broths, but also comes through when roasted or braised, as in this recipe.

You may consider trying this dish with a combination of root vegetables, as the all-parsnip dish was quite sweet. Potatoes, in particular, would be a nice complement to the parsnips and would also go well with the pumpkin seeds. This sauce is a really creative way of adding both flavor and texture to the dish.  Grinding the seeds more makes them more of a thickening agent, and grinding less adds some crunch. The browned chicken is tasty and adds some protein to make this a heartier meal, but the vegetables really take center stage. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Recipes

Cold Noodles with Peanut or Sesame Sauce

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Makes: 2 main-course or 4 side-dish or appetizer servings

Time: 30 minutes

A crowd-pleaser and an easy starter or side—or a main course on a hot day. To make it more substantial, add 1/2 cup or so of small tofu cubes or cooked soybeans. Or top each serving with a few slices of grilled, roasted, or poached chicken. The cucumber adds nice crunch and freshness to what is otherwise a pretty dense dish. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Japanese, Recipes

Grilled or Broiled Chicken Kebabs

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes, plus time to marinate

Well-seasoned grilled or broiled kebabs will make anyone a convert to dark-meat chicken. You can use chicken breasts here too, but watch them closely so they don’t overcook and dry out.

Other protein you can use: turkey thighs; pork or veal shoulder, steak, or loin; sturdy fish like swordfish or salmon. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Recipes

Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Bulgur

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By Freya Bellin

I’ve had several variations of tagine, but this one is easily my favorite, thanks to spot-on seasoning and the unusual addition of bulgur. This spice blend is deliciously aromatic, filling my kitchen (not to mention the hallway leading up to the apartment) with an irresistible sweetness. The raisins plump up beautifully and complement the cinnamon and ginger. The chicken thighs become super tender from being browned and then braised.  Yet the real winner for me was the bulgur. It makes a great hearty base for the other ingredients and manages to absorb all the flavors of the stew. My only suggestion for varying this recipe would be to add a dash of cayenne pepper to the spice blend for a little heat and contrast to the natural sweetness. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes