Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chic Chicken

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. --Julia Child

I've been reading about poultry in my textbook this week--and I found yet another kitchen tool I need: a kitchen saw/meat cleaver. (Chris is growing nervous, methinks.)

Poultry/chicken has been the theme these past few days, as Chris and I spent a lovely Sunday evening together making a very tasty Coq au Vin. (I was trying out some of my new pans/kitchen tools)

Coincidentally, there's an interesting article in today's New York Times Dining section about chicken breasts. There are some great recipes there.

Chris will tell you that numerous times I've said "I'm never making chicken breasts again!" only to serve up some form of them that same week. Chicken breasts are boring by themselves -- this is true. But, they certainly are healthy, and a blank canvas for flavor, so here are a few ways to liven those chickies up a bit:

Chicken w/butter and sage:
- Melt a lot of butter (at least 1 stick) on medium heat on the stove, in an ovenproof pan/pot. Add in 4 chicken breasts, so they are almost covered in the butter and heat through until no longer pink on the outside (do not brown!) and the liquid is lightly simmering. Add some pepper and several fresh sage leaves (dried are okay, but the fresh ones are so good!) and spoon butter over the tops of the chicken. Cover and place the pot/pan in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, turning once, and making sure that the butter is not bubbling, but simmering instead. At 30 mins, check the chicken -- it should be cooked through and juicy, if not, give it a bit longer. Serve with rice, egg noodles, or mashed potatoes. And a green salad. Yum! (I threw the leftovers in with some couscous, sauteed carrots, garlic, and brussels sprouts, which was tasty, too.)

Chicken Tikka Masala:
- Marinate 2-3 raw chicken breasts in a tupperware container with 1 small container of greek yogurt, Tikka paste, and cilantro for at least 24 hours.
- Place the marinated chicken on a grill or foil-covered broiler and cook until meat is no longer raw and sauce is browned/bubbly.
-In the meantime, make your tikka sauce. You can buy pre-made sauce, or, what I do is saute garlic and ginger in 2 TBS of butter, and then add approx 3 TBS of Tikka paste (garam masala), approx 2 TBS of tomato paste, 1 cup coconut milk or heavy cream, 1 cup of tomato sauce, salt, curry powder, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, and a pinch of sugar and heat until the sauce has thickened and is a lovely orange/red color and tastes right (you may need to add more tomato or cream). Remember, this is approximate -- honestly, I just throw a bunch of this stuff together and it always turns out great.
-Cut the chicken into 1 inch chunks and toss with the sauce. Serve over rice, or in a bowl w/naan for dipping. I also serve w/ salad of cucumber and tomato w/yogurt and cilantro on the side, as my "tikka" is spicy!

Chicken Roll-ups:
- Pound 4 raw chicken breasts until 1/4 inch thick. Top with provolone or mozzarella cheese, basil, ham and black olives. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.
-Heat butter and garlic in a pan until tender, then saute the 4 chicken rolls until brown on all sides. Then add your favorite tomato sauce (or make your own) and simmer until the meat is cooked through and the cheese has melted. Remove the chicken from the pan and remove the toothpicks. Slice into small circles and return to sauce. Serve over pasta or on crusty bread for a nice sandwich.



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