WHOLE CHICKEN SOUS-VIDE

No sous-vide? You can still make this recipe using a regular oven, very low and slow for the first part of cooking and then brush with the final glaze and roast under the broiler. But the texture you get from sous-vide is hard to beat. I just rubbed it with dry spices and sealed in the bag. Although on my first time I cooked a whole chicken inside the bag, I found it easier the way I share today. I cut the chicken in four pieces (two breast/wing, and two full legs, placing two pieces in a single bag. Works great and the final presentation is better than keeping it whole or even spatchcocking.

WHOLE SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 whole chicken, cut in four pieces
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
for final roasting:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
squirt of lemon juice

Pat chicken dry.  Rub the skin with the mixture of spices. Place in bag and seal.

Heat sous-vide to 150 F. Cook chicken for 6 hours.

Whisk all ingredients for the roasting step. Once the chicken is done, remove from the water bath and transfer it onto a plate. Pat with paper towels.  Place on a roasting pan. Brush the skin with the olive oil mixture, run under the broiler until the skin is cooked to your liking.  The meat will be tender and juicy.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As usual, the timing with sous-vide is very forgiving, which is one of the reasons I love it. If you need to leave it longer than 6 hours, no harm done. You can change the spices to take this recipe in any direction you like. Gochujang will be happening soon in our kitchen.

We enjoyed it with sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Almonds, and a little couscous with roasted butternut squash (full disclosure: the squash was leftover from a previous meal).

The leftover meat can be pulled from the bone and used in many different preparations, we usually save it for a couple of days and then the husband turns it into chicken fajitas or tacos. It has such perfect texture, all it needs is a brief encounter with a hot skillet, some lemon juice and additional spices, if so desired.

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CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES

Puff pastry turns any delicacy into something special. It is hard to beat the taste and texture of a nicely laminated dough. You can go sweet or savory, you can skip any additions, just form them as sticks, twist them around and enjoy plain or with a humble sprinkle of spices. Today I share a recipe for puff pastry squares using a classic Brazilian filling: chicken and hearts of palm.

CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for rough puff pastry:
(makes a little more than you’ll need)
345 g unsalted butter, frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
300g all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp (to toss with grated butter)
80 g whole milk, cold
80 g water, cold (may not use it all)
1 egg for egg wash

for the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lemon (to poach chicken)
salt and ground black pepper to poach chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100 g hearts of palm, cut in ¼ inch rounds
100 g frozen peas (no need to defrost)
80 g cream cheese (full-fat)
Sriracha sauce
fresh cilantro to taste
1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup whole milk

Mix in a large bowl the 300g flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Grate the butter using a food processor with a grating disk attachment. Toss it with 2 Tbsp flour and reserve.

Take 155 g of the grated butter and mix with the flour in the large bowl, tossing with your hands to form reasonably small crumbles. Keep the rest of the butter in the freezer. Add to the flour/butter mixture all the cold milk and half of the water. Make a smooth dough, trying to handle it as little as possible. Adjust with water and or more flour.

Roll it out as a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Add roughly 50 g of frozen grated butter to the center of the dough. Fold bottom half up, add 50 g more butter to the folded portion. Fold the top portion down, covering the butter. Turn the dough so that one open side is facing you. Roll it out as before, add the leftover grated butter exactly the same way. Fold and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough as before, fold two more times without adding any more butter. Roll out as a rectangle and keep in fridge until filling is ready and cold.

Roll out about 1/3 of the dough (roughly 300 g) as a square a little bigger than 12 inches. Do the same for another third of the dough.  Cut 12 squares from each piece of dough, punching a star using a cookie cutter in the center of half the squares (they will be the top of the pastry).

Place the squares that will be the bottom over parchment paper. Add enough cool chicken filling, brush the sides with egg wash, place the top pastry and push the edges to close it down. Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

FOR THE FILLING (can be made a couple of days in advance)
Poach the chicken breasts very gently in water seasoned with salt, pepper, soy sauce and lemon juice. I like to bring the water to almost a boil, turn the heat off, and leave the chicken in the pan for 15 minutes. Keep in mind it will cook longer in the pie.  When chicken is poached and cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a couple of forks. Reserve.

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper in a large skillet until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, tomato paste, hearts of palm pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Dissolve the flour in the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Pour into the meat mixture and heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cream cheese, then the frozen peas and mix everything gently. Add the Sriracha sauce, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced cilantro, lemon juice and allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pastries.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The filling for these puff pastry squares is very similar to this one of my recent blogging past. It is a classic component of Brazilian recipes like pasteis, empadinhas and pies. The recipe will provide you with leftovers that you can enjoy over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or if you are truly daring, try it as a topping for pizza or flatbreads. Add a bit more cheese on top for good measure.

You will have a little bit of puff pastry leftover. You can cut in small squares, fill mini-muffin pans and play with other fillings like….

Mushroom duxelles!  Or save in the freezer for future important experiments in the kitchen. It does freeze beautifully…

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ROSE HARISSA CHICKEN THIGHS

Harissa is an ingredient I am quite fond of. Not only for its intense taste, but because I was introduced to it in a restaurant in Paris and the whole experience was pretty magical. It was my first time enjoying Moroccan couscous. I was with a Parisian friend who ordered the Couscous Royale, a real feast with several types of meat, including lamb and merguez (which I fell in love with at first bite). But what I remember the most was the waiter offering to add some harissa to our plate. He grabbed a ladle of the couscous broth, added this sexy red paste to it, mixed it with a small spoon, and poured it over our serving of couscous. Just a little bit, so I could decide if I wanted more, which obviously I did. When I learned from Ottolenghi that there’s this thing called Rose Harissa, I could not wait to get it and try it. If you think the regular kind is sexy, this one is sexy and she knows it.

ROSE HARISSA CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Simple)

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 celery ribs, diced
5 boneless, skin-less chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons rose harissa
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced thin
1 can stewed tomatoes
15 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
cilantro to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker or regular large sauce pan. Sautee the celery pieces seasoned with salt and pepper until very fragrant and soft. Add the chicken pieces, let them briefly color on both sides. Add the harissa and the paprika and saute it all together for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes and the juices, the red bell pepper, and if cooking under pressure, add just about 1/2 cup of water, or enough to cover the  meat. Add the chocolate pieces, cover the pan and cook under pressure for 25 minutes. If using a regular pan, add the full cup of water and simmer it all gently for 40 minutes or longer, until the meat is very tender. After 30 minutes, add the pieces of chocolate and mix to dissolve.

When the meat is tender, or the pressure cooking time is elapsed, remove the chicken and, if needed, reduce the sauce and use an immersion blender to make it a bit more smooth. No need to fully blend it, just process until some pieces of tomato and red bell pepper still remain more or less intact.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and lemon juice right before serving.

Spoon the sauce over the reserved pieces of chicken, serve with white rice, mashed cauliflower, polenta… anything you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When I opened the pressure cooker, I was hit with such intense peppery blast, that I thought dinner was ruined. Thankfully, it was not the case. The sauce turned out with a very nice flavor, hot, but not burning-hot, the rose component just made it all taste complex. We liked it so much that, contrary to what happens most of the time, I had nothing left for my lunch next day. We stopped when all chicken thighs were gone. Pups got nothing, not even a taste. Yeap, that’s how greedy we were.

We had quite a bit of leftover sauce, which I used as the basis for a turkey chili made a couple of evenings later. It would go very well with lamb, perhaps a perfect pairing for that tender lamb I spoke about not too long ago. And now, I am on a mission to find new uses for my sexy Rose Harissa. If only all life’s problems were as hard as this one…

 

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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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SLOW-COOKED CHICKEN MEATBALLS

A little note added after publication: today is the first Monday of the month, so let me tell you which was my favorite post of January: Happy New Year in My Kitchen!  If you’ve missed it, here is the link.  But come right back, ok?  To see what many of my virtual friends pick as their best post, visit Sid’s blog.

Sometimes a dinner makes me so happy I cannot stop smiling. This was one.  Not only because it was delicious, but because I made it all in advance and we arrived home to a dinner ready and waiting, without that “crock pot taste” that so often is present when recipes take the “dump it and forget it” approach. Basically, not every type of meat shines during long cooking. These meatballs do. And they even hide a little surprise inside…

SLOW-COOKED CHICKEN MEATBALLS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from many sources)

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 cup almond meal
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup water (or chicken broth)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
small mozzarella balls, one per meatball

Start by sauteing shallots in coconut oil in a large skillet until translucent and fragrant. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then add the kale. Cook until wilted, transfer to a bowl and allow it to completely cool. If you like to cool it faster, add it to a baking sheet on a single layer.

In a large bowl, add the two types of meat, the sautéed kale, egg and egg yolk. Season with a little salt (the sausage is already seasoned), then add the almond flour.  Mix gently and form into large balls, incorporating a small mozzarella ball in the center. You should have enough for 8 to 9 chicken meatballs. Refrigerate them for one hour or more to firm them up. You can make this the day before.

Pour the crushed tomatoes in the bowl of a crock pot, add the water (or stock) and the butter cut into large pieces. Season with some salt and pepper, add the Herbes the Provence. Place the meatballs gently inside. Cook on low for 5 hours. If you have a chance, flip the meatballs after a couple of hours.

Serve right away or save in the fridge for next day, when flavors will be even better.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I prepared the chicken meatballs on Sunday, stored them in the fridge, started them cooking next day during our lunch break. My slow-cooker keeps the food warm for a couple of hours, so we don’t have to worry about rushing home in that type of situation. Mondays are usually tough. You’d think that we would be all relaxed after the weekend, but truth is there is so much to do around the house that by the time Monday comes we are seriously hoping it would be Friday instead… For that reason I try to plan a very easy dinner for the first evening of a working week.

Now, of course, not everyone is as spoiled as we are, having the chance to go home for lunch. Keep in mind you can always do the slow-cooking part in the evening, then enjoy them for dinner the day after, they only get tastier. I was thrilled that Phil decided to stick with his smoothie and cereal bar for lunch later that week. I did not have to share the leftovers…  Yes, he is a keeper. But I suppose I’ve mentioned that a few times.

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