CREAMY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

This recipe, made in the pressure cooker (or Instant-Pot) brings chicken thighs to the table in less than 30 minutes, but they will give that impression of comfort food that your Mom (or Grandma) cooked for you slowly and lovingly for hours. Since the skin suffers some abuse in the pressure cooker environment, I go through the extra step of crisping up the skin under the broiler, just a few minutes of added work, for a big pay-off. Six chicken thighs fit nicely in our pressure cooker and provide dinner with benefits (aka leftovers).

CREAMY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
(inspired by Rasa Malaysia)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
salt and pepper to taste
2 T grape seed oil
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 onion, diced (optional)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
Herbes de Provence to taste

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pressure cooker, heat until almost smoking, add the chicken, skin side down, and saute until golden. Flip the pieces and saute on the other side for a couple of minutes. If necessary, do it in two batches so that the chicken will fry, not steam. Reserve the chicken in a platter, covered with aluminum foil.
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Discard the extra fat accumulated, keeping about one tablespoon in the pan. Sautee celery and onion (if using), seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. When they get translucent and fragrant, add the chicken stock, whipping cream, sun-dried tomatoes, herbes de Provence, and a little more salt. Whisk, making sure the stuff glued to the bottom of the pan gets incorporated in the liquid.

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Add the chicken pieces back into the pan, trying to leave the skin poking over the liquid. Close the pressure cooker and bring to maximal pressure. Cook for 25 minutes, release pressure, open the pan.  Remove the chicken and run the pieces under the broiler. If you like, reduce the sauce by simmering on the top of the stove as the chicken broils.  Serve the chicken with the sauce around it.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:
If you want to make the sauce smoother, simply transfer to a food processor and get all those bits of sun-dried tomato incorporated in it. I would probably do that if serving it for guests, but for a weeknight dinner, rustic is perfect. I love the texture of chicken thighs cooked under pressure, and by crisping up the skin I get the best of both worlds.
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A little rice, my favorite quick broccoli dish, and dinner is taken care of!
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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread
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NINE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

TURKEY BURGER, JAPANESE-STYLE

If you are a food blogger, you know how it goes. Even a great recipe is made once, perhaps twice, then left behind, living exclusively as a blog post that you read and say to yourself “I must make that again, it was so good!”  But then, some recipes somehow materialize as regular appearances. Usually they hit a magical trilogy: simple to prepare, great flavor, and all the people you cook for happen to love it too. From my reasonably recent blogging past, two dishes hit this jackpot and show up all the time: Eggplant Parmigiana (version from Jeff Mauro), and Turkey Portobello Burgers. The eggplant turned into a once-per-week deal, actually, and I have simplified the preparation even more. I should edit that post to reflect my changes. As to the turkey burgers I can probably make them with one hand tied behind my back. Today I share with you a new version that incorporates Japanese ingredients.  The ticket is a mixture of shiitake mushrooms and red miso. If you are new to miso, maybe you should start with the milder, white version, but if you are a seasoned miso-eater (apologies for lousy pun), go big and go red.


JAPANESE-STYLE TURKEY BURGER
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon red miso
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sansho pepper (or pepper of your choice)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh cilantro leaves to taste

Place the mushrooms, miso, olive oil, sansho pepper, salt and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until it all forms a paste.

To prepare the burgers, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together; divide the mixture into 4 equal parts, forming a burger patty with each fourth of the mixture. Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes (or longer, but then cover lightly with plastic wrap.

Grill to your liking, about 5 minutes per side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a thing for grill marks. In my mind, without them, grilled food won’t taste good. It is obvious I eat with my eyes first. For that reason, I am always adding a touch of honey or maple syrup to all my marinades, and often add some in a turkey burger mixture. In this recipe, miso does the job nicely, look at the beauty of those grill marks!

The other interesting bit of this recipe is that, contrary to ground beef, you don’t need to use a light hand forming the patties. The type of muscle fiber and fat content of turkey meat makes it behave in a totally different way. In fact, if you massage it well, and get the meat to be more fully compacted, the texture will be better. This tip was mentioned in America’s Test Kitchen during a show on turkey meatballs, and in a great book called The Japanese Grill (I told you I am in a Japanese-obsessive mood, didn’t I?). I proved it to myself with these burgers – massaged the living bejesus out of the meat. It ended up with perfect texture.

We rarely have bread with our burgers, and in fact, according to The Japanese Grill cookbook, a turkey burger must be served only with a little sauce, as if it’s a steak. Bread is considered a big no-no. Of course, if they see I added Velveeta on top of mine, they would prevent my entry into the country. I really want to go some day, so let that be our dirty secret…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Whole Chicken

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey-Mustard Dressing

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CHICKEN KATSU

For something so simple to put together, it is amazing how this recipe delivers everything you’d need for a weeknight dinner. Hard to believe I had never tried to make it, as we love breaded and fried chicken breast, usually either plain or taken to the limit of the gastronomic naughtiness: Chicken Parmigiana. But, better late than never, this will definitely become part of our regular rotation.

CHICKEN KATSU
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

2 chicken breast filets
2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 tsp salt
Panko bread crumbs, a cup or so
grapeseed oil or other mild tasting oil
for sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Make sauce mixing all ingredients and reserve.

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, and pound each half to have it thin and uniform in size. It needs to be thin because you will cook it exclusively in the frying pan, a few minutes per side.

Season each slice lightly with salt, dip into the egg and coat with Panko.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry until golden brown on each side and the meat is cooked through. Set on a piece of kitchen paper to drain excess oil. If you need to fry in batches, make sure to clean the skillet of burned up pieces of Panko, and add new oil for the second batch.

Serve over white rice, with the sauce drizzled on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What a delicious meal this was! Phil is not that much into sauces, and was ready to enjoy his chicken plain. But he ended up trying a bite from my plate, and next thing I know, he was adding sauce to his too. It does add a lot to the chicken, that sweetness cuts through the fat, makes the whole thing more satisfying. I served with rice, as traditional, but also quickly sautéed zucchini, which went very well with the whole thing too.


I highly recommend you give this recipe a try!

 

 

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AIR-FRIED MEXICAN MEATLOAF

Don’t run away, you can make this tasty recipe in any oven, but let me tell you that the air-fryer shines on this preparation.  My friend Dorothy blogged about it not too long ago and urged me to give it a try. I made it three times in consecutive weeks. Yes, that’s how much we loved it. Simple to put together, and ready in 20 minutes thanks to the air-fryer environment, a blast of very intense heat concentrated in that small chamber. Pure awesomeness. It gets a nice crust, the meat inside is moist, with just the right amount of spicy heat. We inhaled them. Leftovers are wonderful too, by the way.

MEXICAN TURKEY MEATLOAF
(adapted from Shockingly Delicious)

1 egg
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped (I omitted)
1/3 cup almond flour
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup green salsa (I used La Victoria)
1 cup finely sliced spinach leaves
2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper

Spray the basket of the air fryer with nonstick spray. If you have a perforated parchment sheet protector, lay it on the screen.

In a large mixing bowl, crack the egg and use a fork to beat it lightly. Add the turkey, onion (if using), almond flour, cheese, salsa, spinach, cilantro, and all spices. Gently mix with your hands.

Shape the turkey mixture into 4 loaves.  Place them in the air fryer, turn the heat to 390F degrees, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

Remove basket from oven, and place each meat loaf on a dinner plate. Top with additional salsa — either green or red salsa,  if you so desire.

You may also shape this into a single loaf and bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first time I made this recipe, I completely forgot to spray the basket of the air-fryer with some oil. I had the most epic mess to deal with later, as bits and pieces of crusty cheese bonded happily with the screen. I tell you, it was not fun. Having learned a painful lesson, I made it again and not only greased the basket, but I also protected it with a special perforated parchment liner that works like a charm both for bamboo steamers and air-fryers.  I highly recommend those, although you could improvise with parchment paper and scissors. I am not very gifted with this type of DIY stuff, so I rather amazon-it.

My main modification of Dorothy’s version was to use almond flour instead of bread crumbs, which reduces the carbo-load a bit, and gives a slight nutty flavor which I love. You can definitely go for the traditional bread crumb option, in this case you should add about 1/2 cup.

Dorothy, thanks for the inspiration! Glad you are having fun with your air-fryer, I hope we’ll go on inspiring each other!

Note added after publication: it was brought to my attention a nice review on different brands of air-fryers. If any of my readers is considering such purchase, take a look here before you decide which one to get.

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CLAY POT ROAST CHICKEN

In my las post – In My Kitchen – I mentioned that we got a large clay pot. I put it to use right away, making the most classic item in clay cooking: a whole chicken. It is truly a non-recipe, essentially no work, no special ingredients. Salt and pepper. I added lemon slices just because. The clay pot gets soaked in water for half an hour, drained, and placed with the chicken inside (obviously) in a cold oven. As the oven heats up, the water retained by the porous surface of the pot turns into steam – a lot of steam – contained in the pot. With time moisture is reduced and the pot turns into a real roaster.  You simply cannot beat the texture achieved by this type of cooking, and if you are into crispy skin, no problem, open the lid and let it roast for 10 to 15 more minutes.

CLAY POT ROAST CHICKEN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 chicken, about 4 pounds
fingerling potatoes
carrots
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Soak the clay pot in cold water for 30 minutes.

Pat dry chicken, season liberally with salt and pepper all over, and place lemon slices in the cavity. No need to truss it, but you can do it if you’d like.

Place fingerling potatoes, left whole if small, cut in half lengthwise if big, on the bottom of the clay pot. Add carrots. Use enough veggies to fully cover the bottom of the pot.  Place the chicken on top. Close the lid, and place in a cold oven.

Set the oven to 430 F, and cook the chicken for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Open the lid and let it roast for additional 10 to 15 minutes, if you like a more crispy skin.

You can make a simple gravy with all the juices accumulated in the clay pot, or simply drizzle it over the meat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It’s so nice to go back to simplicity in cooking. Yes, there’s something to be said about involved sauces and marinades, braises that take every single spice you own, measuring 1/8 of a teaspoon of this, a pinch of that, to the point that you wonder… could I really tell a difference if I left a few of the spices out?  In this preparation, all you need is salt and pepper. You can gild the lily if you prefer, grab that smoked paprika, the fennel, the Herbes de Provence. But consider making it once like this. You’ll be surprised by how flavorful a simple roast chicken can be.

The root veggies will cook and get soaked by the juices, and for that reason I think the lemon is a simple addition that brightens up the flavor.  This was our non-traditional Easter dinner, by the way.  We did not feel like having lamb, a light snow was falling outside, roast chicken was a perfect choice that evening.

Added bonus?  The glazed interior makes cleaning a breeze!

Stay tuned for more adventures in clay pot cooking… I’ve got quite a few things on my list to try soon, including a nice loaf of sourdough bread. If you have a favorite recipe to use the clay pot, please let me know in the comments, will you?

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Light Rye Bread

 

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CASHEW CHICKEN, MY WAY

Beware: I am taking a Chinese classic and messing with it. This turned out absolutely delicious, and so quick to put together like it’s the case for stir-fries. Gather all your stuff, turn the heat on, and be ready for dinner in 5 minutes. It did involve about 25 minutes prep ahead, mostly waiting time, which was perfect to cook some rice as a side dish. Efficiency. One of my favorite words. Particularly welcome on a weeknight in which my experiment was a big failure and last thing I needed was to face a complicated dinner preparation.

CASHEW CHICKEN
(adapted from Easy Chinese Recipes – Bee Yinn Low)

for the chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 + 3/4 pound)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
a bunch of snow peas, sliced or cut in half
about 1/3 cup cashews, lightly toasted
salt to taste
for the sauce:
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Place in a bowl and add the baking soda, mixing to coat all pieces. Leave 15 minutes at room temperature. Rinse the baking soda out using a colander, then place the pieces of meat on kitchen paper to dry.

Marinate the chicken pieces in rice wine and cornstarch for a few minutes.  As the meat marinates, mix all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry until almost cooked through. Remove and reserve.

Heat one more tablespoon of oil, add the grated ginger and the snow peas, stir fry for a few minutes. Add he chicken back to the wok, pour in the sauce and cook until the meat is fully cooked and coated with the sauce. Sprinkle toasted cashews, mix and warm up for a minute or so. Serve right away over steamed rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What I love about this recipe is the simplified method of “velveting” the meat. Usually the process, very common in Oriental stir-fries, is a lot more involved. The pieces of meat are marinated in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch, then dropped in either simmering water or oil for a brief pre-cooking time. You can find a detailed explanation here. It results in amazing texture, but it is a bit involved, you are left not only with the wok to clean but the large pot used for the pre-cooking time. In this recipe, the meat is simply coated with baking soda, which increases the pH (or in other words, reduces acidity) and affects the way the molecules of protein at the surface of the meat interact with each other. Instead of trying to stick together and resulting in that harsh texture so common in quick stir-fry dishes, they behave with a lot more composure, and interact with the sauce components more efficiently instead. The texture changes so much that it does give the impression of velvet. Try it, and you will be hooked, I guarantee. You can use the exact same approach with other types of protein, seafood, beef, pork. Just add the baking soda, allow it to sit for 15 minutes, rinse it out, dry the meat and proceed with your recipe.

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FESENJAN, FAST-FOOD STYLE

When you buy a container with fresh pomegranate seeds from the store, you need to put it to use before the husband hits said container and inhales them all while watching Broadchurch late at night. I managed to salvage enough seeds to showcase them over a favorite of mine, Fesenjan. Yes, I’ve blogged about it in the past (click here), but this time I used the pressure cooker and really enjoyed the added lusciousness-factor the method provided. If you have a pressure cooker,  or the fashionable instant pot, you can turn this classic into fast-food. Can you imagine so much joy on a weeknight dinner?

FESENJAN
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

6 ounces walnut halves, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup pomegranate seeds, for serving
chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor and grind them to a coarse powder. Reserve.

On a large skillet or in the pressure cooker (on the instant pot), heat the olive oil and add the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown them lightly, if necessary in two batches. Reserve.  Add the shallots, saute’ for a couple of minutes, then add the turmeric, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock. If using a skillet, transfer the mixture to the pressure cooker now.

Add the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses and honey. Stir to combine, Close the pressure cooker and once full pressure is achieved, cook for 15 minutes. Release the pressure, if the sauce is too thin, cook for a few minutes with the lid open to reduce it.
Serve the chicken with fresh pomegranate seeds and cilantro leaves scattered on top.
 
 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: If you don’t have a pressure cooker (or an Instant Pot) you can obviously adapt it for a regular pan, just cook it on a very low simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. I like the chicken to be super tender.  Pomegranate molasses is a great ingredient to have in your pantry. You can cook down pomegranate juice with sugar to the point of a syrup, and use that instead, but the convenience of opening a bottle is hard to beat. If you’d like to make it from scratch, here is a good method.

Fesenjan goes well over white rice, over Persian rice (see my version here), or cauliflower rice for those who prefer to follow a low-carb route. Leftovers enjoyed inside a corn tortilla are a no-no. If you know a food blogger who admits in public to doing that, stop following her (or him) immediately.

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