Engagement Chicken

So they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Could it really be all that easy??  Is cooking for a man the way to win his affections??

When my niece Nina heard about a roasted chicken recipe that had men proposing marriage to their girlfriends, she immediately thought of her single aunt and sent me the cookbook.  This cookbook, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know is from the editors of Glamour Magazine.  This was the cookbook where I found and posted the No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad, which has become my favorite go to salad for kale.  Nina didn’t send me the cookbook for the salad recipe though.  It was for the roasted chicken recipe, otherwise known as the Engagement Chicken. 

The story goes back over 25 years ago when an editor for Glamour magazine gave her assistant this recipe to prepare dinner for her boyfriend.  About a month later, the boyfriend proposed and had commented that the dinner was one “your wife would make” and had begun thinking of her in that way.  Hearing that, the recipe was passed among the Glamour staff resulting in one after another proposals!  In fact, the forward of the book lists over 70 engagement stories following this chicken dinner!

Ina Garten also did an episode on the Engagement Chicken and its history.  If you watch Ina’s show, chicken is her husband’s favorite Friday night dinner.  Ina did tweak the recipe a bit adding in onions and chicken broth to this lemon and herb roasted chicken.   Glamour’s recipe uses whole lemons pierced with a fork and placed inside the bird.  Then plenty of lemon juice is poured over the bird creating a very moist and tender chicken.

Now I know you’re all wondering what happened to me when I made this bird.   Well, I’ve had this cookbook almost a year now and I’ve enjoyed many of the recipes.  I finally made this last week .… for my son.  So, no story to report on my end but I do pity the girl who tries to steal my son’s heart because she better know how to cook!  He is definitely spoiled in that area!!

 Engagement Chicken

Adapted from 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know

Serves 2 to 4

1 whole chicken (approximately 4-5 pounds)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 whole lemons—2 for stuffing in the bird, 1 sliced for garnish

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup chicken broth (optional)

Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)

Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack.  Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.  Prick 2 whole lemons with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)  Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out.

Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Check the bird to make sure the lemon juice does not completely evaporate and add in more juice or chicken broth.  Continue roasting if necessary.  Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.    And here’s the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken— this is the “marry me juice.”   I also removed the lemons, cut them in half and squeezed the warm juices over the bird.   Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Chicken with the Ultimate Lemon and Rosemary Sauce

While making the roasted oranges the other day, it reminded me of my ultimate favorite lemon sauce.  It’s actually the method of broiling the lemons that sends it over the top!  The lemons are cut crosswise, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and broiled until the pulp softens and plumps up.  When cooled, the pulp and juice is squeezed out resulting in gently sweet, tart lemony goodness.  I learned this from my favorite chef, Michael Chiarello and became my best tip for creating many other lemony sauces. 

The chicken itself is moist and perfectly baked every time.  A simple chicken and potato dish fabulous for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  There are a few steps involved, but having everything mise en place (put in place) will allow this and anything else you’re cooking to be prepared with relative ease.  At the final point in preparing the sauce, if it tastes too lemony for your preference, adding a tablespoon of butter to the sauce should mellow it as well as add a nice gloss to your sauce!

Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Sauce

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello, Tra Vigne Cookbook

2 large lemons

Kosher Salt (or Gray Salt)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 4-5 lb. chicken, cut in parts, skin on

Olive oil for sautéing

1 ½ pounds small new potatoes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup double strength chicken stock – boil 2 cups of stock until reduced by half

¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter, optional

For the broiled lemons:  Preheat the broiler.  Cut a small slice off both ends of each lemon (to allow the lemons not to roll) and then cut in half crosswise.  Arrange the lemons on a baking dish suitable for broiling, drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper.  Broil until brown, plump and soft, about 10 minutes.  Remove and cool.  Squeeze the lemon over a sieve to capture any seeds and squeeze out all the pulp and juice, mashing to get out as much as possible.  Discard the peels and set aside.

For the potatoes:  In a large pot, place cut up potatoes in cold water and bring to boil.  Simmer until tender about 15 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

For the chicken:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.  Add the chicken, lower to medium and cook, turning once until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes.  Remove to a platter.

Return the skillet to medium high heat, add additional oil if necessary and add in the precooked potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to brown all over, about 10 minutes.  Drain off any excess oil, top the potatoes with the chicken pieces and place in the oven to continue cooking about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.  Remove the chicken to a platter, placing the potatoes to the side.  Return the skillet to medium high heat on the stove top.  Add the lemon juice and pulp, garlic and rosemary scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add in the reduced chicken stock and simmer.   Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.  If sauce tastes too lemony, stir in the optional tablespoon of butter.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.  Makes about 4 servings.

January is #citruslove month!
Please join in on the #citruslove by linking up any citrus recipe from the month of January 2012.  Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #citruslove event! The twitter hastag is #citruslove :).
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Pork Cutlets a la Purgatory

During my recent, and can you believe, still ongoing ankle injury, I was forced to do a lot of couch time with my foot elevated and iced.  Lying around has never been something I could tolerate; but not having any other choice, I settled down with some good books…and my remote control.  I was overwhelmed by the selection of reality shows, popular mini series, survivors, bachelors, dancers, housewives, who’s hot, who’s not, home staging, selling, buying, remolding,  hoarding… so much to see, so little time.  I settled on Millionaire Matchmaker, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, last season’s Boardwalk Empire series and of course, the Food Network channel.  I wonder now how my viewing choices reflect my personality 🙂

Not having to challenge my choice on watching the Food Network, I’ll continue forward on that note.  I passionately watch the chefs mostly to get ideas, learn new tips and frankly, anything that has to do with food truly grabs my attention.  Ann Burrell is one of my favorites to watch; in her casual, witty entertaining way around the kitchen she shares a wealth of information and great recipes.

Ann’s Veal Chop Holsten Schnitzel, a schnitzel topped with a sunny side up egg and caper sauce, inspired me to make this with an Italian twist. Replacing the caper sauce with marinara drew on the taste of my Eggs in Purgatory.  I used thinly pounded pork cutlets, but veal or chicken, would be excellent.  I continued with the breading and sautéing of the cutlets as I have in my Schnitzel recipe and serving the meal by placing the cutlets in pool of marinara and topping with the sunny side up egg.

What more can I say, each tender bite of pork was bathed in a sauce of creamy yolk swirling in the spicy marinara.  Oh. yum.

Pork Cutlets  a la Purgatory

For the cutlets:

4 thinly pounded pork, chicken or veal cutlets

2 eggs

1 cup of flour

2 cups of breadcrumbs

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil and butter for sautéing

For the marinara:

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes – blended to a puree

¼ cup finely diced onion

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional for spiciness

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ cup red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sunny side up eggs:

4 egg

Olive oil for sautéing

For the cutlets:  Prepare a breading station with 3 large dishes; one with flour, the second with 2 beaten eggs and 2 tablespoons of water, and the third with the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Place a cutlet in the flour and lightly dust, shaking off excess.  Dip into the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a sheet tray and refrigerate covered.  The cutlets can be made up to 1 day ahead or at least one hour.  When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Heat a large skillet with a combination of butter and oil.  Work in batches to sauté each cutlet until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes in total.  Place in oven to keep warm.

For a quick marinara:  In a medium saucepan, lightly sauté the onions and crushed red pepper until soft. Add in the pureed tomatoes, red wine, balsamic vinegar, dried basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaf.  Simmer gently for about 35-40 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaf and discard.

For the sunny side up eggs:  Coat a nonstick pan lightly with olive oil and fry the 4 eggs sunny side up, about 4 to 5 minutes with the whites set and the yolks runny.  The eggs are not flipped but covered to gently steam and cook the egg whites.

To plate:  Place each cutlet on a pool of marinara sauce and top with a sunny side up egg.

Fresh Tomato, Garlic and Herb Chicken Wings

This summer’s heat has been truly draining!  I’ve never been one to complain about hot weather as the years spent up North with the cold and snow have made me love and appreciate every hot and humid day here!  I adjust my days to easier activities though; spending more time in the pool than bike riding,  less baking and heating up my kitchen and eating smaller, lighter meals.  

When I was growing up, my father’s garden supplied the basis of our summer meals.  Gorgeous ripe tomatoes would find their way into every meal but I remember most the simple tomato and onion salad my mother would make several times a week.  The true flavor and scent of the ripe, homegrown tomato made this simple salad so special.  Dressed with just a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper and served with a chunk of Italian bread to mop up all the juices.  This was my summer memory of a great tasting meal.  

On Sunday we had tickets to see a baseball game…in an air-conditioned suite, thank you Randy.  It was another hot day ahead of us and I wanted to make sure I had something ready for a casual, easy dinner.  This dish is perfect for making ahead and eating at room temperature.   The flavor intensifies with the tomatoes, garlic, herbs and juice saturating the chicken.  It’s also a great dish for taking along on a picnic too.  

The wings can be grilled or roasted with just a rub of olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt and ground pepper.  While the wings are cooking, in a bowl, prepare the tomato dressing with two diced tomatoes, two sliced green onions, fresh parsley or basil and three minced garlic cloves.  Drizzle on one tablespoon of red wine vinegar and two tablespoons of olive oil.  Mix gently and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  

As soon as the wings are done, place the wings in a large non-reactive bowl, i.e., not metal, and pour over the tomato dressing.  Cover and allow the wings to marinate for at least one hour at room temperature or refrigerate and remove one hour prior to serving.  A sprinkle of gorgonzola is a great flavor touch too.  Serve with garlic rubbed grilled bread and a salad.

Shredded Asian Chicken Salad

When my daughter came home for her bday weekend, I had this salad  ready for her arrival with her cousin and roommate.  I knew it would be well received by her as she likes Chinese/Asian influenced foods and was perfect for me as I could make it ahead.  It’s an easy, portable salad great for picnicking as it contains no mayo (which also pleases those mayo haters, and you know who you are).

The chicken breasts were poached for this recipe.  I normally do not like to poach my chicken as I feel the flavor just simmers away, but leaving the chicken in the liquid to cool, it soaks in the flavor and stay so very moist.  A gentle shredding of the chicken, a quick chopping of veggies and simple whisked vinaigrette blends all the flavors together.

I overheard my daughter’s roommate commenting that Gina should make this and my daughter’s reply was that it’s about not having all the ingredients on hand.  So, my dear little Gina, see below, the ingredients are not all that uncommon to keep in your pantry and when I visit you next, I will, as always, fill your frig and pantry.

Shredded Asian Chicken Salad

For the salad:

4 boneless chicken breasts

Small cabbage, thinly shredded, about 2 cups

1 small red pepper, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

2 green onions, diagonally sliced, green tops included

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted for garnish

For the vinaigrette:

2- 3 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of Chinese hot mustard

2 tablespoons Sesame oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or slightly less

In a medium skillet, place in chicken breasts covering with water.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and gentle simmer until no longer pink, about 10-13 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow chicken to cool in its liquid.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Drain the chicken and shred using two forks into thin strips.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken and remaining salad ingredients.  Pour over vinaigrette and mix well.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

For the vinaigrette:  In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients up to the oils.  Slowly whisk in the oils until combined well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Chicken Piccata

About 10 months ago I began this blog to share my recipes with my daughter, Gina.  I wanted to give her the basic, classic recipes she could “go to” when her busy life consumes her days and nights.  Quick, familiar recipes that she can expand upon, be creative with and satisfy herself with healthy, good food.  I know her freezer is always stocked with boneless chicken breasts until of course; the freezer door is accidentally left open when she and her roommate leave for a weekend….lesson learned.

I previously posted Chicken Francese and here now is Chicken Piccata.  Gina is not a lemon lover, but maybe her taste will change as time goes on; in the meantime, just use a little.  The quick sauté cooking and lemony sauce makes this chicken so fork tender, lovely to present and yummy to eat.

Chicken Piccata

serves 4

4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness

Kosher salt and pepper

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons rinsed capers

Juice from one lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Combine the flour with the salt and pepper.  Lightly coat each chicken breast in flour.   In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil.  When oil is hot, add the chicken breasts; do not crowd in the pan to allow for a nice browning.  Sauté for 3 minutes or until chicken is browned and easily turned.  Continue to sauté on the other side for about 3 minutes and then remove chicken to a serving platter.  Pour broth in the skillet and cook over high heat scraping bottom until liquid is slightly reduced and thicken.  Add in lemon juice, capers, parsley.  Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Easy Mexican Chicken with Tortilla Chips

There are times when a really easy and good recipe is what I need to prepare during a busy work week.  I’m all about making everything from scratch and nothing can compare to the freshness and flavor of homemade, but in all honesty, I am a busy gal!  Plus, I have a hungry teenage son at home!

 I saw a post from Claudia on What’s Cooking Italian Style and immediately loved the idea and perfect this week for Cinco de Mayo!  Her recipe used ground beef and I used roasted chicken.  The presentation is so “party” and festive!  It can be served with additional tortilla chips for scooping up the yummy goodness or simply plated as the bottom layer is slightly crushed chips.  Toppings and spiciness are completely personal preferences.  My son and I like spicy food so jalapeno peppers are generously sprinkled on top as well as using a spicy vegetarian refried beans and salsa.

Prepare a pitcher of Margaritas and finish off with my Avocado Pie or Mojito Cheesecake

 Easy Mexican Chicken with Tortilla Chips

1 bag Tortilla Chips  (about 1 cup for baking, remaining for serving)

4 cups roasted chicken, homemade or rotisserie, torn in chunks

1 can vegetarian refried beans

1 jar prepared salsa (about 1 cup plus)

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off (about 1/2 cup corn)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese or your choice

Toppings:  ½ cup sour cream, chopped jalapeños, diced seeded tomatoes, chopped black olives, sliced green onions, chopped avocado

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine roasted chicken with refried beans, corn and salsa.  Mix well to combine, add more salsa if the mixture feels too dry.  Line a large baking dish with tortilla chips, pressing down on them to break into bite sized pieces.  Spread the chicken, bean and salsa mixture over the chips and top with cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and hot and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with toppings of your choice.  Serve with additional chips if desired.

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Carmelized Onions, Tomatoes and Olives

Sunday dinners are no longer what they use to be for me growing up.  Big family mid-afternoon meals beginning at 2pm, the smell of sauce bubbling away as pasta was always on the menu.  Veggie sides and meats would vary depending on the season.  My sister and I comment now on how my mother made so much food so effortlessly!!  You never saw her become frazzled or stressed; meals would simply come together perfectly and deliciously!  Not to mention the table was always impeccably dressed in the whitest tablecloth, her china and silver shiny and beautiful.   Spilled red wine or red sauce never discouraged her from using those white tablecloths!

I wish I had my family nearby to invite over on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  To see my nieces and nephews, my sister and cousins, laugh together, eat together and reminisce.  This roasted chicken recipe is ideal for serving to family and friends.  Roasting in the oven creates a welcoming aroma while also being an easy dish to prepare.  I prepare the caramelized onions, tomatoes and olives with white wine separately and then pour the mixture over the chicken as soon as it is plated on the serving platter.  The combination of crispy, tender chicken with meltingly sweet caramelized onions, softly heated cherry tomatoes and warmed olives is absolutely heavenly.  The dish can rest and soak in the sauce until ready to serve.   

As a lover of gorgonzola, I like to lightly crumble it over the chicken allowing the heat to gently soften the gorgonzola.  This is definitely a personal preference and completely optional.  As soon as my daughter grows to appreciate this irresistible, creamy robust flavored cheese, I will simply have to use it sparingly 🙂

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes and Olives

 1 3 ½ – 4 lb roasting chicken, cut up

Olive oil

Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons herbs de Provence

2 large onions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic finely minced

2 tablespoons Olive oil

½ teaspoon Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives

¾ cup white wine

¼ cup gorgonzola (optional)

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Use a large shallow roasting pan with a rack or create one by placing a rack inside a large baking sheet.  Wash chicken parts in cold water and pat dry.  Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle all sides with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence.  Place on rack and roast for 30 minutes.  Turn chicken parts over and reduce oven temperature to 375.  Continue to roast another 20-30 minutes or until done.

 Meanwhile, in a large skillet, gentle sauté and cook the onions with salt and pepper and rosemary until tender and lightly caramelized.  Pour in the wine and garlic, scraping the bottom to deglaze and toss in the tomatoes and olives.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to lightly soften and warm the tomatoes and olives. 

 Plate chicken on large platter, pour onion mixture over top and sprinkle on gorgonzola.   Allow to rest and marry all the flavors!  Serves 4.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Hoagie

I really love my foodie friends.  Friends who get excited about tasting a new dish, finding a cool recipe and wanting to share their ideas to creative something amazing.  I share a certain connection with those friends having that passion for food that a non-foodie would find uninteresting.  It’s those people who live to eat vs. those who eat to live.  My friends who purr with pleasure when biting into something decadent, who love tiny bites of tasty tapas and quaint little restaurants with to-die-for food.

When I spotted this recipe in Cuisine at Home I immediately shared it with my foodie fan, Randy.  He, like me, can look at a recipe and instantly know it will be a hit or miss.  Plus, never leaving good enough alone, we divulge in the most excited manner all the ways we would change it up!  We both loved this idea of having the classic Chicken Cordon Bleu in a casual, fun presentation.  Easy to pick up with your hands or slice up and enjoy.

I prepared the dish as below; however, Randy suggested also adding strips of sautéed peppers and caramelized onions.  Yum….

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Hoagie

Tweaked from Cuisine at Home

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

¾ pound chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin short strips

¼ cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup homemade chicken broth or quality low sodium store bought

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

1 cup broccoli florets, blanched

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

2 -3 Hoagie buns or round sourdough loaves (each 6 inches)

4-6 thin slices smoked ham

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided

2 teaspoons Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or use a slipat.  Heat oil in a medium sauté pan.  Add the chicken and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add in shallots and sauté until softened, about 2.  Sprinkle on flour and cook 1 minute.  Add in broth, stirring constantly to avoid clumping.  Stir in cream, parmesan, mustard and herbs, simmer after each additional until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add broccoli, season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Reduce heat to low.

Hollow out loaves by cutting of tops and tearing out insides, removing as much bread as possible.  Toast loaves directly on oven rack, about 5 minutes, remove to prepared baking sheet.  Place ham slices in bottom of each loaf.  Using a slotted spoon, divide chicken mixture evenly between loaves, reserving sauce in pan.  Top the chicken in each loaf with Swiss cheese and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Bake until cheese melts, about 7-10 minutes.  Serve with reserved sauce.