Easy Roast Chicken Dinner
From What I Know Now
Serves about 4
- One 3-3 ½ lb Chicken (free range, kosher, or organic — I like a smaller bird because it fits in my cast iron frying pan better)
- 1 onion, cut into quarters or sixths
- 1 fennel bulb, or 2-3 large carrots, parsnips or whatever other root vegetables you like cut into chunks all about the same size
- 6- 8 small new potatoes (red bliss or yukon gold), cut in half
- Salt and Pepper
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tsp finely chopped thyme or rosemary
(Although you don’t have to, this recipe is best if you season the chicken the night before you are going to make it and let it sit in the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours.)
Wash and dry the chicken. In a small bowl, combine about a tablespoon of salt, half that of pepper. Sprinkle generously all over the bird. Don’t forget a little inside the cavity, in the leg joints and all the nooks and chicken crannies. Cover with cling wrap loosely and stow in the refrigerator for overnight, a day and up to two days.
When you are ready to roast, preheat oven to 450°F. Scatter the vegetables and onions into a cast iron pan (I use my 10” one). Scatter the potatoes in the pan, cut side down. Sprinkle the vegetables with a little bit of salt and pepper. (Remember, the bird’s juices will do a lot to season the veggies so go easy).
Pat the bird dry thoroughly with paper towels. A dry bird makes a crispy skin. Truss the bird (tie the legs together, tuck the wing tips under). Place bird on top of the veggies in the pan (they provide a nice rack). Roast for 50-55 minutes until it’s done and the juices run clear.
Take the chicken, veggies and potatoes and remove to serving platter. Add the wine and rosemary or thyme to the hot pan juices, stir well, and pour over the chicken and veggies. Cover loosely to keep warm and let rest 10 minutes before carving. Set the table, open the wine, and toast to all the things you’ll learn this year! Calories: about 400-450 calories per serving.
Chicken Fricassee (a.k.a.: Cheap, call me) Serves 2
From What Siri Hears
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2/3 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1/3 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 TBSP butter at room temperature
- 1 TBSP flour
- Zest of a lemon, plus 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 6 oz. asparagus spears
- 2 slices good white bread
- Salt and pepper
- 2 TBSP chopped parsley
Cut up the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil, and lightly brown the chicken. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the minced shallot to the pan and a pinch of salt and sauté until just softened (add in a little more oil if necessary). Deglaze the pan with the wine or vermouth, scraping up any brown bits. Add back in the chicken and any accumulated juices, then stock and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the flour and butter together into a paste with a fork. The fancy term for this is beurre manié, and it’s one of the best ways to thicken a sauce or gravy and guarantee no lumps. Set the paste aside.
Once the chicken has cooked for about 10 minutes, add in the peas and simmer for another 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter-flour paste and simmer sauce 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Toast the bread and cut in half on the diagonal. Put two triangles of toast in each plate. Steam the asparagus spears until just tender, and lay across the toast points. Spoon the fricassee over the asparagus spears. Calories: about 470 per serving.
Tarragon Chicken Casserole Makes 4 servings
Tarragon Chicken Casserole
With it’s origins in my chicken thing recipe, this casserole gets classed up a bit for company with tarragon, cognac, fingerlings and peas. You could serve it just like that, but any good casserole it needs a topping and I’ve given you a few options, from breadcrumbs to biscuits or puff pastry. Whatever you choose, it’s a perfect bring-along for any casserole occasion.
Makes 4 servings
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken thighs (about a pound or a little more)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 10 oz. package of sliced cremini mushrooms (or whole mushrooms you slice)
- 8 oz. fingerlings potatoes
- 3 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 TBSP heavy cream
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- Zest of a lemon
- 2 TBSP cognac
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup frozen peas
Preheat oven to 400°F. Add salt, pepper and flour into a zip-closure bag and mix. Cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces, drop into the bag and give the chicken a good mixing in the seasoned flour so every piece is covered.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté chicken over medium-high heat until it is lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Turn heat to medium, add in the onions, mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are wilted and mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and the pan is relatively dry. As the vegetables are cooking, put the fingerlings in a microwave safe dish. Toss with a TBSP of water and a pinch of salt. Cover and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until the potatoes are just beginning to become tender but not mushy.
When the mushrooms are a little moist but not wet, remove the pan from the burner and add in the cognac, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Place pan back on the heat, add in the remaining ingredients except the peas and bring just up to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook about 25 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove cover and continue to simmer another 5 minutes to thicken sauce a bit. If you still think it’s too soupy, dissolve 2 tsp corn starch in one TBSP each of cold water and sour cream, cream or milk, add to dish and stir. The sauce will thicken as it heats up. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the frozen peas, and pour into casserole dish large enough to hold 5 cups (you should have about that much filling).
Choice of toppings
Breadcrumbs: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned), drizzled with 1-2 TBSP of melted butter and a pinch of salt– bake until crumbs have browned and casserole is bubbling.
Biscuit topping: Use your favorite “box mix” (enough for 4-5 biscuits), or make them from scratch using any of the many drop biscuit recipes out there. Spread or drop biscuit dough on top of casserole and back according to the recipe you use.
Puff pastry: Using your favorite brand, roll out to fit about ½ inch larger than your casserole dish. You could also divide up the casserole filling into individual potpies too. Wet the rim of your dish with a little water, then cover the dish with the pastry and pressing the extra dough around the edges so it sticks. Cut a slit or two in the center of the dough to allow steam to escape. Brush with milk or cream and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or more, until the dough is golden and filling is bubbly.
Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes before serving. Calories: The casserole without topping is about 360 calories per serving. The toppings add anywhere from 60 (breadcrumbs) to 160 (pastry) to 200 extra calories per serving.
Easy Chicken Cacciatore
- 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ large onion or 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 10 oz. (one box) cremini mushrooms, cut in half (quarters if the mushrooms are large)
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed into small pieces
- 1 28 oz. can or jar marinara sauce
- 2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Salt & pepper
Generously salt and pepper the chicken thighs and brown them in 1-2 TBSP olive oil. Once the chicken is browned, remove from pan and add in the onions, mushroom, dried thyme and rosemary and a pinch of salt. Add in a little more oil if needed. Sauté until the onions and mushrooms are soft and the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Add in thinly sliced garlic and sauté another minute or two, just until the garlic softens but doesn’t brown.
Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add in the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer, cover and let cook about 35-40 minutes. Once done, taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread or over polenta. This is great the first night, but even better the next day. Calories: approximately 375 per serving.
Chicken Thing 2012 Makes 3-4 servings
A new take on an old classic, sans the condensed cream of mushroom goo.
The chicken part:
- 1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ TBSP butter
- ½ TBSP olive oil
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 TBSP dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- 1-cup low sodium chicken broth (if you use regular, decrease the salt and pepper above by half)
- 2 ounces herb garlic goat cheese
- 2 TBSP heavy cream
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 TBSP lemon juice, plus another 2 tsp to add in at the end
The mushroom part:
- 1 ½ cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 tsp butter
- Pinch of salt and pepper
To thicken the sauce
- 1 TBSP room temperature sour cream
- 1 TBSP cornstarch
- 2 TBSP cool/cold water
Heat the ½ TBSP butter and oil over medium high heat in a deep sauté pan. Mix the salt and pepper together and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. Brown chicken thighs well on both sides and remove to a bowl. Drain all but 1 TBSP fat from the pan, set over medium-low heat and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add in rosemary and cook another 3 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Add vermouth or wine, turn up heat and scrape the browned bits up as the liquid boils for a minute (in other words, deglaze the pan.) Add back in the chicken and any accumulated juices, the chicken broth, lemon zest, a tablespoon lemon juice, goat cheese and cream, stirring until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Bring liquid to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes.
At about the 20-minute mark, melt a teaspoon of butter in a small nonstick pan. Add in the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté over medium high heat until the mushrooms are soft and a little browned, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms to chicken.
Mix together the cornstarch, sour cream and water. After the chicken has cooked 25 minutes, remove cover, add the sour cream mixture and bring chicken and sauce to a slow boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring well. The sauce will thicken quickly. Remove from heat; add in the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Serve over noodles, rice, or my favorite, steamed sugar snap peas or asparagus. Calories: about 385 per serving (3), 290 per serving (4).
Pumpkin, Turkey and Spinach Enchiladas
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 10 corn tortillas
- 16oz. jar or 2 cups of your favorite enchilada sauce
- 6 oz. shredded turkey or chicken (you could leave this out if you wanted a vegetarian version and just add in another cup of spinach and ¼ cup cheese)
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed mostly dry
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I use ½ cup sharp cheddar and ½ cup of a lite Mexican mix. Jack, Pepper jack, or any cheese you like is fine as long as it melts well. Don’t use fat-free)
- A good pinch of salt and pepper
- 3-4 TBSP dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread about ½ cup enchilada sauce in a 9 x 11” baking dish to cover the bottom. Wet some paper towels, wring them out and wrap around the corn tortillas. Microwave for 45 seconds to soften and make the tortillas are more pliable. Mix together the turkey, spinach, pumpkin, ½ cup shredded cheese and a good pinch of salt and pepper together in a bowl. Take a tortilla (keep the others wrapped until you use them), put about ¼ cup of the mixture down the center, top with a few cranberries. Roll the tortilla up and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, fitting them all tightly in the baking dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over, making sure to cover all the tortillas. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
Garnish with your favorite toppings. (I like just a little sour cream and some pomegranate seeds.) Calories: about 160 per enchilada.
Roast Chicken Breast with fennel, 2 ways Serves 2 for dinner, or one with leftovers for sandwiches and whatnot.
From Talking to strangers
This is my favorite way to make chicken breasts for dinner or to use in other recipes. Chicken roasted on the bone with the skin is juicier with far more flavor than the boneless, skinless kind, and you can always remove skin and bones before serving if you prefer. Or, nibble on the crispy chicken skin while removing the bones in the kitchen, then serve your oh so juicy and healthy chicken to your guests (shhh….it will be our secret.)
For the chicken and fennel, the first way:
- 2 split chicken breasts, skin on bone in
- 2 medium to large bulbs of fennel
- 2 TBSP olive oil, or olive oil cooking spray
- salt & pepper (if you have leftover rosemary salt from the roasted potato chips, it is great here too!)
- Your favorite fresh herbs for chicken (in other words, 2 tender rosemary branches, about 4 inches long, or 6-8 small sprigs of thyme, or two large sage leaves)
Preheat over for 400°F. Line a sided cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray, or drizzle with a little olive oil.
Pat the chicken breasts dry, and make a pocket under the skin by loosening the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Take sprig of rosemary, thyme or one sage leaf and tuck under the skin of the breast. Repeat with the other breast. Drizzle 2 TSP olive oil over the chicken and rub it over both the front and back of the breasts. Liberally sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper (or rosemary salt if you have it).
Trim off the fronds/stalks off the fennel bulbs and remove any banged up parts of the outer leaves. Take one of the fennel bulbs and cut two one-inch thick slices crosswise at the widest part so you are making two cross-section rounds. These will be your roasting rack. Place the fennel on the baking pan and spray or sprinkle with 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place each chicken breast on one of the fennel circles.
Bake for 35-45 minutes (if you are using a convection oven, it will probably be closer to 40, conventional oven, 45 ).The chicken is done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you can cut into the chicken – if it is pink inside, it needs more baking, if it is not and the juices are clear, it’s done!
For the fennel, part deux:
- Juice from ½ a lemon
- 2 tsp good extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
While the chicken is roasting, Take the remaining fennel bulb and cut in half vertically through the core. Cut out the core, and slice the fennel into thin strips (about ¼ inch). Toss with the juice from ½ a lemon and a two tsp. of good olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until chicken is ready.
When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest on the tray for 5-10 minutes. If you like the vegetable with a little more color, pop the fennel back in the oven for those 5 minutes to brown it a little. Serve the chicken with the roasted fennel, and the chilled fennel salad.
Calories: For the chicken, approximately 300 calories/breast, 250 without the skin. For the fennel, either way, 135/serving.
Variations: There are a lot of ways you can adapt this recipe simply by changing up what you tuck under the skin of the breast. I’ve done this with goat cheese, tapenade (olive paste), fig jam, apricot, peach or apple slices, brie. You can also mix in things to the goat cheese like dried cranberries or finely chopped fresh herbs. And you can use other vegetables instead or with the fennel. Root vegetables work best here. I like 1 inch cross slices of onion, or better yet, slice a potato into 1 inch rounds and add that too. The juices will absorb into the potatoes and you will have amazing roast potatoes.