Last week was crazy, but I still got a few precious minutes of tv time. And how did I fill it? Food Network, of course!
I was watching Giada de Laurentiis do a picnic menu, and thought her Chicken and Shrimp with Pancetta Chimichurri sounded like a great recipe for the grill this weekend. I prepped the chicken and shrimp, and got started on the chimichurri early in the day, and went to taste the chimichurri to make sure it was good. Not such a fan. I found it very acidic. To salvage the chimichurri, I decided to use it as a marinade instead of as a post-grill sauce. This ended up working out great – the chicken and shrimp were flavorful and moist (definitely use fresh herbs for this marinade and not dried herbs).
Serving Suggestion: I would recommend serving this with a flavorful tomato or fruit salsa.
Another non-dessert post! Don’t get me wrong, I do plenty of cooking – almost every night. However, usually I don’t think the dish is unique enough to blog about, or just don’t think about snapping a photo before we eat. Also, I cook like my mom – I throw a whole bunch of spices or veggies together without measuring much, and that doesn’t make for a great recipe.
This Thai Chicken Stir-Fry was a new recipe for us, from my favorite cooking magazine, Fine Cooking. As usual, it was another hit – easy and quick but full of flavor compliments of the fresh basil. I enjoyed the slight spiciness of the herb, which I don’t normally notice in pastas or salad caprese. This stir-fry did make me happy that I planted basil again this year.
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 c. lightly packed fresh basil leaves, cut roughly into 1/2 inch strips
Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok or a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it’s no longer pink and the shallots are beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through and the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. (If the sauce reduces before the chicken is cooked through, add water, 1 Tbs. at a time.) Remove from the heat, add the basil, and stir to wilt it.
I was very excited when I saw that Karen of Shortbread chose Ina Garten’s Caesar Club Sandwich for Barefoot Bloggers this month. I have come across this recipe a couple times and have been waiting to try it. I was not disappointed. The sandwich was amazing – easy and flavorful. The dressing tasted way better than any bottled Caesar dressing does (I made mine without the anchovy paste, which I couldn’t find at my grocery store), and the sun-dried tomatoes were a surprising burst of flavor. I prepared everything ahead of time and assembled it shortly before my friends arrived. I have a feeling that my hubby will be adding this to his list of favorite dinners.
1 whole chicken breast (bone in, skin on, and split) or leftover rotisserie chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
1 large ciabatta bread, or other bread with a slightly crunchy crust
2 oz. arugula or spinach, washed and dried
12 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
2-3 oz. Parmesan, shaved (I used shredded, since that’s what we keep on hand)
Make the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 350F. Rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up, and roast 35-40 minutes, until cooked through. Cook slightly. Slice meat off bone and set aside.
I used left over chicken from an rotisserie chicken I made the night before, and that worked perfectly. This is a great way to use up leftovers!
Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients:
1. Make the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Or, combine all ingredients in a food processor, processing until smooth.(Refrigerate if not using immediately.)
2. Place pancetta on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, until crispy. Pat off grease with a paper towel and set aside.
3. Slice bread in half horizontally. Place on a baking sheet (cut-side up) or directly on wire oven racks. Toast for 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Assemble the Sandwich
Spread Caesar dressing on both piece of bread. Then layer: arugula / spinach; sun-dried tomatoes; pancetta; chicken; shaved Parmesan (or, if using shredded, sprinkle on top half of bread, so that it will stick to the dressing). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place top on sandwich and cut into pieces. Serve at room temperature.
The only change I made with this recipe was to make two birds instead of four. If you’re going to make four birds, be sure to double the sauce below.
This recipe was mighty intimidating. I don’t like to make turkeys or chickens (um, ew, pulling out the innards?), and have never deboned any bird in my life. Since this was part of my special Valentine’s Day dinner for the hubby, I started the day early (when he was involved in video games and not paying any attention to me). It was slightly traumatic, and they weren’t the prettiest birds, but I did it!
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry-Port Sauce
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves (save the stems for the broth)
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme (save the stems for the broth)
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
Ingredients for the Broth:
2 tsp. olive oil
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 c. chopped shallot
Reserved backbone & wing tips from hens
Reserved sage & thyme stems
Ingredients for the Sauce:
1/3 c. ruby port
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. minced shallot
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Fresh ground black pepper
Prepare Birds At Least 12 Hours in Advance:
Step 1: Split each hen down the center of the back using a chef’s or butcher’s knife. Remove the backbone. Or, using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone. Set backbone aside.
Step 2: Extend wings on each side and chop off the last two joints. Set wing tips aside, with backbone.
Step 3: Combine sage, thyme, 1 Tbs. salt and 1 tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Pat hens dry and rub sage-thyme mixture on both sides of the hen. Place hens, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Hens should not be touching. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
My backbone-less hens… not the prettiest but they sure were tasty.
Make Broth & Sauce 12 Hours in Advance:
Step 1, the Broth: Heat oil in a 3-4 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Pat the wings and backbone dry and add to hot oil. Stir a few times until browned on all sides. Add chicken broth, shallots, and sage & thyme stems. Reduce heat, simmering for 30 minutes. Strain, removing the solids, and let cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Step 2, Start the Sauce: Combine port and cranberries in a small bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight, so that cranberries plump up.
A couple hours before mealtime… remove the hens from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for an hour.
Roast the Hens:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 1/2 tbs. unsalted butter and brush it over the hens. Roast the hens for 30 minutes, rotating half-way through. An instant thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 175°F to 180°F when done. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, Finish the Sauce:
Remove broth from fridge and skim fat off broth, and heat in a small sauce pan.
In another saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tbs. butter. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 1 minutes. Stir in flour and whisk for about 30 seconds, until a thick paste has formed. Strain port into sauce pan, setting aside the plump cranberries. Whisk for another 30 seconds.
Whisk in broth until the sauce is smooth. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, whisking occasionally until sauce reduced to 1/3 its volume, 5-8 minutes.
Stir in cranberries and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Just prior to serving, pour any juices left from the roasted hens into the sauce, stirring to combine.
Serve roasted hens with a drizzle of the cranberry port sauce.
I love meals that are quick to prepare. This one only took me 5-10 minutes to actually prepare, making the sauce. I marinated it for only a couple hours and it came out great. Sweet sauce and moist chicken, my only complaint was that I hate picking the chicken off the bone. I’d love to try this as a marinade and sauce for grilled chicken cutlets this summer.