Saturday night – 05/28/2016

We celebrated my husband birthday with friends this week. The menu is built around the beer braised brats; my first attempt was a success.

Menu
Beer-braised Brats with Onions
Baked Beans
Pasta, Pesto and Peas

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Notes under the cut

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Chicken with Turnip and Apple

I found the basis for this recipe while poking around the Interwebs looking for something to do with chicken thighs and turnips. The original recipe, from Bon Appétit online, introduced the dish with the following, “Finishing chicken thighs in a quick pear and turnip compote creates a rich, sweet and savory sauce.” I’m not sure I’d call this quick however the results of my modified dish were tasty to me.

The skin on the chicken thighs I had was anemic at best so I pulled it off. Apple replaces pear and vermouth subs in for white white because that’s what I had on hand. Enjoy!

Chicken with Turnip and Apple
Servings: 3-4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and excess fat trimmed
  • 1 onion, 1/4″ dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, 1/4″ dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 small turnips, peeled, 1/4″ dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine

Directions:

  1. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, skin side down, until skin is well browned, 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook until the second side is also nicely browned. You may want to lower the heat to medium after flipping to reduce the risk of burning the fond. When the chicken is well browned on both sides transfer it to a plate.
  3. Evaluate the fat left in the pan; if you have less than a tablespoon then make up the difference with more vegetable oil. Return the pan to medium heat. Add onion, pear, turnip, and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat in the oil, distribute in the pan and ignore for 5 minutes. Toss and distribute again and ignore for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and thyme. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vermouth. Stir into the other ingredients and return the pan to medium heat. Nestle the chicken into the apple/turnip/onions; add any juices the leaked onto the plate.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check the check temperature; if it is 165° or above then remove the cover and allow the liquid to evaporate; about 5 minutes. Otherwise recover and cook for an additional 5 minutes for every 10° short of 165.
  7. Taste the apple/turnip/onions and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with braised greens or a green salad.

Notes:
You can toss the apple and turnip with 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar to help prevent browning while you prep your other ingredients. Really any vinegar or even lemon juice will work here.

We interrupt this program…

We’re taking a couple of weeks off from our regular Saturday night gatherings. A break is nice from time to time, especially when there are interesting things to do of a Saturday night.

Of course that limits my creation of new content. I often end up feeling bad when I can’t maintain my own self-imposed schedule. I’ll be posting something new tomorrow and then probably won’t have another post until June 1st.

Happy cooking!

Skillet Chicken, Veggies and Rice

[Chicken, veggies and rice]I wanted something simple for dinner and had chicken thighs thawing in the fridge. A trip to the grocery store yield mushrooms and a bit of inspiration from the canned soup aisle.

I have a fond memory for a baked chicken and rice dish that involved condensed cream of something soup. The strongest memory I have of it is from a youth retreat program from my late teens that had a strong influence on me. In the intervening years I’ve learned more than I want about how not-great-for-me condensed soup is and so I decided to try to make something similar with just chicken broth and water. The result was pretty good without the I’m eating what self-shame.

Continue reading

Saturday night – 05/07/2016

This week our usual gathering was joined by a couple of prom weekend guests of JG. I went with tacos because they can feed a crowd and everyone gets to customize them the way they want.

Menu
Tacos with either Crockpot Salsa Chicken or Black Bean and Yellow Squash
plus all the usual accompaniments
Baked “Spanish” Rice
Orange and Fennel Salad

Brownies with ice cream for dessert

Notes under the cut

Cauliflower Green Olive Salad

Last month I made a dish and this recipe appeared on the next page of the cookbook. I dismissed it until my husband said he thought it sounded interesting. I’ll give anything a try once so even though it seemed like an odd combination I gave it a try.

The result was garlicky, crunchy and colorful. Give it a try sometime.

Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (plus resting time)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4″ x 2″ strips
  • 1 cup 1/4″ bias-cut celery
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water and set it over high heat. While it heats you can make the dressing by combining the first 4 ingredients with a pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Set the dressing aside and prep the other ingredients.
  2. When the water has reached a boil add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Allow it to return to steady boil and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until a piece is just tender to the bite. Add the pepper strips and cook for 1 more minute. Drain or use a sieve to capture all of the cauliflower and peppers. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl and allow to drain for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove the paper towel, add the celery and olives, and stir until well mixed. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Serve at room temperature; toss a couple of times before serving to redistribute any dressing that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.

Notes:
The original recipe, from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, included raw red onion, which I find too sharp so I left them out. Next time I might try giving the onion a quick soak in ice water; it is reported to mellow the sharp flavor I don’t like.