Entries Tagged as 'Chicken and Turkey'
Those of you who have your Ph.D in D.A.L.S. are already aware of the groundbreaking scientific work we’ve done proving various theories about dinner — the preparing of it, the consumption of it, the enjoyment of it. For instance, this well-worn favorite: When you take three measly minutes in the morning to do something that helps you get the momentum going on dinner prep — chopping vegetables, marinating meat, placing a pot of water on the stovetop – you will end up saving up to 15 minutes on the other end of the day when you arrive home from work. I can’t pretend to know why this is the case — as backing up our dinner theories with real data tends to take more time than we actually have. Time we would rather spend coming up with more impossible-to-prove wrong theories. Such as:
- Shredding bagged lettuce makes it taste fresher and better. It doesn’t matter what kind of lettuce — romaine, iceberg, endive — Last night I made some chili-rubbed chicken and placed it on a bed of shredded spinach (pictured above; recipe below), which I usually find chewy in its whole raw form. Not the case with the shred. Along the same lines, the fine chop of anything as it pertains to a saladex summerus will almost always upgrade it.
- When it comes to entertaining: Each kid under eight years old is the equivalent of five grown-ups in terms of volume and space and mess generating.
- Heat is the great equalizer when it comes to bagels. I’ll take a just-out-of-the-oven bagel from Missoula over a cold outer-borough bagel any day. (Please do not forward this to my Bronx-born Jewish father.)
- Dinner will taste twice as good when it’s eaten outside. It will taste three times as good when eaten in an outdoor space surrounded by white string lights. Four times as good when eaten in an outdoor space surrounded by white string lights and with a view of any body of water.
- Magic Formulas Worth Committing to Memory: Melon + Salt; Mint + Peas; Peanut Butter + Fudge Brownies; Bacon + Brussels Sprouts; Bacon + Eggs; Bacon + Maple; Bacon + Bacon; Bacon + Shoe Leather
- The quality of dinner at a restaurant is in converse proportion to the number of words on that restaurant’s menu. For instance, Tom Colicchio’s menu at Craft. This is how it reads: Mushrooms. Potatoes. Braised Short Ribs. A menu like that is always going to win out over the one listing Pork chops marinated in brandy and pomegranate juice with sweet potatoes and miso-mango chutney on a bed of shaved salsify and butter lettuces. (Another red flag: the pluralization of lettuce.)
- Kids are able to tap into deep wells of resourcefulness with remarkable efficiency when it comes to assembling the ice cream, the peanuts, and the chocolate sauce for sundaes.
- You won’t find a single parenting expert who endorses using bribery to convince a kid to eat.
- You won’t find a single parenting expert, who is a parent, who hasn’t used bribery to convince her kid to eat.
- Food eaten on sticks has a 40% higher rate of consumption with kids. Food served in conjunction with dips: 20%.
- Pop Tarts, Apple Jacks, Toast-R-Cakes, and other usually verboten breakfast foods possess nutritional merits when consumed on vacation.
- Everything tastes better on vacation. It just does.
- Anything braised tastes better the next day cold, eaten right out of its leftover dish with a fork, while standing in front of the refrigerator.
- Be wary of people who say they enjoy radishes dipped in salt.
- It’s practically the law that the phone call from the client – the one you’ve been dying to check off your list all day — always comes five minutes before you are leaving the office to make it home in time for dinner. Don’t question it. Don’t fight it. Don’t try to control this phenomenon or — worse — allow it to control you.
Chili-rubbbed Chicken with Shredded Spinach (Rule 1) and Dip (Rule 10)
I generally go with about one medium size chicken breast per diner. You don’t need a lot of chicken if there is enough salad to stretch it. Best part about this meal: totally deconstructible for the kid who doesn’t want anything touching.
For rub: In a small bowl, mix together the following:
1 tablespoon chili powder
pinch cayenne (1/8 tsp)
pinch garlic salt (1/8 tsp)
2 generous pinches salt (1/2 tsp total)
shake or two of dried oregano
For dressing: In a measuring cup, mix together the following:
juice from 1 lime
3 heaping tablespoons sour cream
3 heaping tablespoons salsa
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of sugar (to taste)
Pound 3 to 4 chicken breasts until about 1/4 inch thick. (As always, the most important thing is that the breasts are of even thickness.) Sprinkle a teaspoon of spice rub on top of each breast and, using your fingers, spread and press into the meat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet set over medium heat. Add chicken, spice-side down and cook 3-5 minutes until chicken looks cooked around the edges. While chicken is cooking, sprinkle and rub spice mixture into the other side of chicken. (Do not outsource this step to your children; there will be spitting oil.) Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes until cooked through. Slice as shown above — or actually however you want.
In a bowl, toss together a few handfuls of baby spinach (shredded with a chef’s knife into confetti), thawed frozen corn, 1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 avocado (chopped), grape tomatoes (chopped), 1 bunch scallions (chopped), 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped). Top with chicken and drizzle with dressing.
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I was at a party last week where a friend introduced me to someone as “Jenny. You know…She’s the one who writes about how we need to eat dinner with our families every night.” This is the point when I sort of look at the ground and try to kick an imaginary stubborn rock out of the dirt. “Uh, nice to meet you,” I cough up to my poor new aquaintance, who, for all I know, has a job with completely inflexible hours and a spouse who works the night shift and who, for all the family dinner desire in the world, would not be able to make a nightly meal happen with any kind of regularity.
I know this person introducing me doesn’t deconstruct these things the way I do, and I know this person is proud of what I do and in a million years wouldn’t mean to make anyone feel bad about their dinner situation, but here’s the thing: I have never once said on my blog or in my book that you need to eat dinner with your family every night. And, as long as I’m on the topic, I have never once “emphasized my strong belief that the family that eats together stays together,” as one book reviewer recently wrote in round-up of the year’s cookbooks. Who am I to say you need do anything with your family?
It’s so hard not to sound like a sanctimonious finger-wagger when you write about anything under the parenting umbrella, but I would like to just take a minute today to emphasize my strong belief that family dinner has been a huge and meaningful ritual in my life — and that I, personally, need to eat dinner with my kids as often as possible because we depend on it for our home’s sanity and well-being – but I never mean to infer that this is the one-size-fits-all solution to ensuring connectedness and togetherness in a family. Or, that, conversely if you don’t eat with your kids every night you might as well kiss your kids’ emotional health, their college degrees and their futures goodbye. (In my opinion, there are already enough studies out there shaming us at every turn.) A friend was just telling me how she, her husband and two teenage sons barely see each other during the week, but always converge and recharge on the weekend. “The weekend is family time and it’s non-negotiable,” she said. Another friend, Sara, a mother of three, who grew up in a family that skied every weekend, and who still today is a major badass on the slopes, told me that those winter trips were when the bonding happened. In her words: “We always got it done on the chairlift.”
We get it done at the dinner table — and for those of you out there who agree with me and feel as though this is the logical place to get it done, or might be the most logical place for you to get it done or even every now and then might be the place to get it done….well, then, by all means, stop by for some inspiration. But if you’re just in it for a tasty grilled hoisin burger recipe that I’m hoping your family will love next time you all sit down together? I’m not going to stop you or tell you need to do anything more. That part is up to you.
“Daddy, did you just say we’re having poison burgers tonight?
“Hoisin burgers, Abby. Hoisin burgers.”
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon chinese 5-spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped finely
salt and pepper
Mix the above ingredients, shape into patties, and grill over hot coals, flipping frequently for a total of 10-12 minutes, until firm but not rock hard. Serve on buns with extra hoisin sauce. Hoisin is available in better supermarkets and Asian specialty stores.
Also: If you replace the ground turkey/chicken with ground pork (in Abby’s words): “It’s not like it’s going to be bad.”
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Tags:burger·family dinner pep talk
I bought the perfect black blazer earlier this spring. I had been looking for one forever — it’s such a basic wardrobe staple that it had to be exactly right — and as soon I brought it home, I headed straight to my closet and started pulling out different tops and pants I could wear it with. I tried it on with jeans and Bensimons. With wedges and a skirt I hadn’t seen in ages. Then with jeans and flats. And then with those white jeans that had been buried way at the bottom of the trunk. And the dress jammed in the back of the closet. (Hello old friend!! Where have you been?) Does this happen to you? When you are excited about a new piece of clothing does it somehow make you see everything else in your closet with brand new eyes?
Well, last week, I think a pack of chicken chorizo sausage had a similar effect on the contents of my refrigerator. Whenever I have a few links in my kitchen, opening the fridge door on a weeknight at 6:30 seems somehow rich with potential — instead of fraught with peril. This week it was all excitement and experimenting: What should I wear my chorizo with? Last week I sliced up some links for a frittata with kale, potatoes, manchego, onions, and tomato. This week, I browned some slices and stuffed them in a tortilla with spinach, avocado, and a creamy cilantro dressing — a riff on a salad I order all the time at the local Tex-Mex joint. It almost feels like cheating, this having chorizo around. Like I need to suffer more for my dinner somehow. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.
Chicken Chorizo Taco with Spinach and Avocado
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 links smoked chicken chorizo sausage, sliced into rounds (or 1/2 link per eater)
4 whole wheat tortillas
4 handfuls fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
Make creamy cilantro dressing: Using a small food processor, blend together yogurt, cilantro,lime, cumin, and salt.*
In a small skillet (preferably cast-iron), fry chorizo rounds until crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes a side. Remove from skillet. Turn heat to medium-high and cook each tortilla until brown, about 30 seconds per side. Top each with a handful of spinach, chorizo rounds, avocado and a drizzle of cilantro dressing.
*If you are pressed for time and can’t deal with a food processor, you can skip the dressing and just garnish your taco with cilantro, lime, and yogurt (or sour cream).
Chorizo and Kale Frittata
1 link chorizo, sliced into coins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onions or shallots
Handful of fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced into “coins” like thick potato chips (about 1⁄2 cup)
8 to 10 grape tomatoes, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 handful washed and roughly chopped kale
1/3 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or cheddar or Jack)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or chives
Preheat the broiler. In a cast-iron (or oven-proof) skillet, fry the chorizo over medium-high heat until brown and crispy, 3 -5 minutes. Remove from pan.
Add oil and cook onions about 1 minute.
Push onions to side of the pan and add the potatoes in a single layer. Cook another 5 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy and mostly cooked through. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the kale to the pan and stir until the leaves wilt. Add chorizo.
Whisk together the eggs, cheese, and herbs in a small bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir lightly to make sure the spinach and potatoes are evenly distributed.
Let cook without stirring for about 2 minutes. When eggs are mostly cooked around the edges, transfer to the oven. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until eggs are cooked and top is slightly golden. Cut into pizza-like wedges and serve.
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Tags:chorizo and eggs·frittata recipes·kale recipes for kids·recipes for chorizo
Friday Night Spicy Chicken Sausages with Baked Beans and Kale Salad
1. Procure 6-8 good quality Italian-spiced chicken sausages.
2. Fry in a skillet for 10-12 minutes until brown and cooked through.
3. Pour wine.
4. While sausages are frying, chop up some kale into shreds. Toss with olive oil, tablespoon or two of chopped shallots, handful grated Pecorino, squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper.
5. Heat up some canned baked beans, preferably Bush’s original.
6. Serve everything with a dollop of whole grain mustard.
*PS: Iris is our dog. She’s not Hasidic. That was iphone’s autocorrect for “has gone.” Obviously.
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Tags:easy dinner·Friday night dinner·gluten free·gluten free menu·last-minute meal ideas·quick family dinner·quick gluten free dinner·sausage for kids
Do you know how annoying it is every night to have to wait another five hours for Mom to finish taking pictures of her food? If you are wondering why she has to take pictures of food, well, you’re looking at it. Take for instance a black bean burrito! Shrimp rolls! And this chicken with artichokes that you are looking at right now. I think that all of you — well most of you — are sitting at the table and having your parents sit right down and eating a delicious dinner. It’s different in my house. I have to wait, as I told you, for fiiiive hours for ONE picture to be tooken of SHRIMP SALAD!!! That seems psychotic to me. I’m an innocent child! All I want to do is sit down at the table and enjoy my dinner. Imagine if you were me, sitting at the table with a warm ficelle right in front of you without EATING IT! It’s TORTURE! All of you out there are LUCKY. You sit at the table with your family, pick up your fork, and eat. My life would change if my mom wasn’t a blogger! I do have one positive reason why being a food blogger’s daughter is fun. It is fun because every night we get to have a different dinner that some families might never have. We have interesting dinners and basically I have not had one dinner that was made by Mom or Dad that was not fantabulous. Except the egg dinners that are all mushy and slimy and D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G in my opinion. – ABBY, 8
Chicken with Artichokes in Creamy Mustard Sauce
1 1/3 pounds chicken thighs, salted and peppered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped grape tomatoes, or to taste
8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) thawed frozen artichokes canned artichokes (drained) or to taste
zest from 1 lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 – 1/3 cup cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
chopped parsley or thyme
In a large skillet, brown chicken pieces in olive oil over medium-high heat, in batches if necessary, about 2-3 minutes a side. (They do not have to cook through.) Remove, decrease heat to medium, and add onion. Cook a minute or two, scraping brown bits leftover from chicken. Add tomatoes, artichokes, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Nestle chicken thighs in the vegetables then add wine and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes.
While it’s simmering, whisk together cream and mustard. Remove skillet from heat and stir in creamy mustard mixture.
Garnish with parsley or thyme. Serve with rice. Or ficelle — the par-baked loaf from Trader Joe’s. The kids will sit through any food photography nonsense if they have one of these waiting for them at the other end.
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Tags:chicken with artichokes·easy weeknight dinner·pan fried chicken·quick dinner·skillet meals
There are times that call for Julia Child’s Coq au Vin: Holidays. Birthdays. Someone special coming over. (I always knew my mom liked her dinner guests when I saw Mastering the Art of French Cooking splayed on our mustard-colored formica counter.) And there are times that call for the abbreviated version. Like two weeks after coming home from the hospital with our firstborn. Thanks to casserole-bearing well-wishers, we hadn’t cooked for ourselves for what seemed like years, but it was a cold Sunday night and we had some red wine begging to be put to use, and so we did what we’d do about eight thousand times in the next ten years: We took some shortcuts. We used chicken thighs instead of hacking up a whole chicken. We skipped the igniting of the cognac (and the cognac itself); Instead of making separate recipes for brown-braised onions and sauteed mushrooms, we just threw both into the pot with the chicken. The recipe we came up with and still make ten years later — unless someone special is coming over, in which case we stick with Julia’s — isn’t quite fast enough for a weeknight meal. But it’s just right for an easy Sunday family dinner. Especially the kind of Sunday family dinner when you forgot that soccer practice ends at 6:00 so you won’t be able to start browning or simmering anything until 6:30. The kind of Sunday dinner where you have to go back and forth from the stovetop to your eight-year-old’s bedroom in 10-minute stints because all day you promised you’d play school with her but never got around to it. In other words, the normal kinds of Sunday dinner. (more…)
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Tags:Chicken recipes for kids·quick coq au vin·sunday dinner
Remember when a dietary restriction was the exception rather than the norm? A decade ago, having a vegetarian over for dinner was a panic-inducing proposition in our house, but now, given that we are eating plant-based meals so much more regularly, it hardly even registers as an issue. These days it seems to be all about the gluten-free guest. And by that I mean, the unnecessarily apologetic gluten-free guest who says at some point before he or she comes over: Please don’t think about it — just cook the way you normally do. I can always find something on the table to eat. I pretend to honor this request, but if you looked at my Google history over the past six months you’d probably find a whole mess of search terms that reveal exactly how clueless I am (“Who is Emma Stone?” is the latest example I feel comfortable sharing) intermingled with this daily query: “Is Fill-in-The-Blank gluten free?” This dinner I cooked a few weeks ago for my in-laws (Grandma “Hubba” is GF) was a good one and I thought I’d share it with you guys from soup to nuts.
(PS: Other recipes referenced in my diary above (which aren’t gluten-free): Black Bean Burritos, Cold Sesame Noodles, Scalloped Potatoes and Kale Salad, Cooked Carrots.)
This menu serves four. Bonus: Every bit of it can be done in advance including the quinoa. (Just don’t toss your greens with the vinaigrette until it’s time to eat.) If you want a starter, go with the always-reliable Chips and Guac. I never have to worry about dessert since I have a world-class gluten-free bakery in my neighborhood. But I’m interested in hearing from you guys about sweet notes to end on.
MAIN: Sweet and Sticky Chicken Pieces
This recipe started out as the chicken wings I shared last year — but turned into something else entirely on the night I realized I had no wine in the house. I used pomegranate juice instead and now that’s the only way I prepare it. It could not be easier and it makes the house smell so good. Note of warning: DEFINITELY line your baking dish with a layer of foil — maybe even two layers. The sauce gets sticky and makes for a dish-washing nightmare.
2 pounds chicken pieces (we do thighs and drumsticks)
1 cup gluten-free soy sauce or Tamari
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange chicken in one layer in a foil-lined large baking dish or roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour this mix evenly over chicken pieces. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake until sauce is thick and sticky, about 1 hour more. They are supposed to be dark and gooey, but keep an eye on them in this second round of baking so they don’t get more charred than you prefer.
SALAD 1: Quinoa with Feta and Herbs
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa and simmer, covered, until tender, fluffy, and water is absorbed — about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. (This yields about 4 cups cooked quinoa.) Add 1 bunch scallions (chopped), a handful of chopped parsley or mint or both, and a handful of crumbled feta to taste.
SALAD 2: Greens with Fennel and Blood Oranges
In a large bowl, add the following: Fresh greens (or as fresh as you can find in the winter), 1/2 bulb fennel, shaved superthin (preferably with a mandoline), 2 small blood oranges (outer layer of pith removed, sliced horizontally), and a handful of chopped mixed herbs such as cilantro, chives, parsley. Toss with cider vinaigrette below.
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
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Tags:gluten free·gluten free entertaining·gluten free main dish·gluten free menu
There’s a photo we have, in our album from 2002, that captures the exact moment my parents and Jenny’s parents saw Phoebe for the first time. Jenny’s in the hospital bed, all wired up and groggy from surgery, head slightly elevated, and she’s holding Phoebe in her arms. Phoebe is swaddled, purple-faced, about thirty minutes old. Thirty minutes old. All four of our parents are lined up on one side of the bed, leaning in, as though peering off the edge of a cliff. The expression on Jenny’s mom’s face is one of those amazing, ecstatic expressions you see in life’s happiest moments – such as the birth of your daughter’s first child – or on the front page of the New York Times, in the grief-stricken face of the person who has just walked away from some kind of life-altering natural disaster. For real, her expression has that kind of emotional weight to it. Stripped of context, it could be an illustration of the most sublime kind of joy, or the most warping kind of pain. In this case, thank god, it was joy. I remember taking that picture — standing off to the side in my scrubs with my old-fashioned film (!) camera — and the one that came a few seconds after it (above) when all four parents had moved one step closer to Jenny and that primal expression had morphed into something more closely resembling tears of joy. When I think of Phoebe’s birth, I think of that moment, and how little we really understood about, you know, what it all meant.
I have a bunch of these kinds of memories from the day Phoebe was born, flash-frozen moments floating through my head, mostly intact, ten years later – writing a rambling journal entry, as Jenny was in labor, on the Esquire notepad I’d stolen from my place of work, though God, I could never ever bring myself to read it now; standing in the waiting room in my white sterile booties, waiting to be reunited with Jenny as she was being prepped for surgery; being so incredibly confused when we realized Phoebe was a girl because we’d been so firmly convinced that Phoebe was a boy (something about the angle of the bump); I even think I remember what it felt like to hold Phoebe for the first time, though if I really focus on it now and try to conjure it up, I can’t be sure.
If it sounds like I’m protesting too much, that’s probably because I feel some weirdness around the fact that so much of what I remember about those four days in the hospital has to do with food. It’s bizarre – and might point to a larger problem — but I can remember pretty much everything I ate, and how I felt when I ate it. The hamburger and Tanqueray-and-tonic I devoured at the legendary JG Melon’s with my in-laws, six hours after Phoebe’s birth. The bagel (plain, with scallion cream cheese) and coffee I bought at Eli’s, and ate on a bench on Madison Avenue the morning after: the bagel and coffee were average, and I hadn’t slept a wink, what with the baby in the room and my rolled-up jacket as a pillow, but the sky was so incredibly blue and I’d never felt that kind of euphoria before in my life. If someone could bottle that feeling, I would eat it, inject it, and snort it. I would snuggle it to death. I would be king of the… that was a heartbreakingly good morning. The turkey ragu I made when I raced back to our apartment the next afternoon, and froze in batches, to be eaten when we returned home. The O’Henry bar I bought in the gift shop. The bottle of Bordeaux my brother-in-law brought over, and which we took down in short order, with a corkscrew I ran out to buy at a wine store down the block. The chicken consommé and lime jell-o I plucked from Jenny’s hospital tray as the Percocets worked their magic. The dinner we had, on the third night, when my aunt Patty – whom we’ve written about on this blog before – dropped by to see the baby. She brought a white paper bag with her.
“What’s in the bag?” I asked.
“William Poll,” she said.
“What’s William Poll?” I asked.
“Jesus, nephew,” she said. “It’s only the best deli ON THE PLANET.”
Out of the bag came two neatly-wrapped sandwiches: chicken salad with bacon on pumpernickel bread that had been sliced about ¼ inch thick. “These things cost a fortune,” Patty said.
“How much?” I asked.
“You don’t want to know,” she said.
We sat there in the hospital room, by flourescent light, and ate. I’d had a lot of chicken salad in my life, but this was insane. I was in a heightened state (more…)
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Tags:chicken salad·easy lunch ideas·william poll chicken salad·william poll upper east side
Recipe writing can be such a buzzkill sometimes. Last week, as I was making this classic skillet meal — Chicken with Spinach and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette — I was, as always, amazed by how fast it came together. While I was whisking in the wine, I was mulling over the angle I wanted to take when I would eventually write it up for DALS. (I make a lot of things that never end up on this site, but there wasn’t even a question about this one.) The angle could be about bacon being the magic ingredient — a little goes a long way, especially with kids. It could be a “quick classic” — who doesn’t love a quick classic? It could be a five-ingredient dinner, i.e. “money in the bank” for working parents. The only problem was — it’s not a five ingredient dinner. But it was so easy and fast that I didn’t even realize that until I started writing the recipe. Suddenly I’m noticing that there was some flour in there for the dredge and that there was not only vinegar, but wine and also — I forgot — there was olive oil after the bacon fat got used up. When I described the recipe to my friend Todd on the train the other day it took about 10 seconds. (“Fry some chicken in a little bacon fat, then add shallots, wine and vinegar and toss in spinach until it’s slightly wilted.”) But when I wrote it out below, it suddenly seemed so much more involved. Trust me, though. It’s not. It’s quick and easy and even if there are eight ingredients in it (as opposed to the magic five), it’s likely you have all of them in your pantry or fridge right now.
Chicken with Spinach and Warm Bacon and Shallot Vinaigrette
2 slices thick-cut bacon
4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin (and halved if they are large and unwieldy)
3/4 cup flour, salted and peppered
olive oil, as necessary
1 small shallot, chopped (I know, that’s an onion up there, it’s all I had, so I used about 1/4 cup chopped onion)
2 tablespoons-ish vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar, but red wine or white wine would be fine, too)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 large bunch or bag of baby spinach
In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crispy. Remove, cool, and crumble.
Turn up heat slightly to medium-high. Dredge chicken breasts in flour, then add to bacon fat, frying on both sides until cooked through. Cook in batches, tenting finished chicken with foil on a separate plate. If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan before adding more chicken.
Once all chicken has cooked, add a bit more olive oil, then shallots and cook about one minute. Add vinegar and wine, whisking gently until warmed through. Add spinach and toss until it wilts slightly. (You do not want it to shrivel to nothing.) Toss in bacon crumbles.
Add warm spinach to four plates along with chicken, drizzling any sauce that remains in pan on top of each. Serve with rice or those cool par-baked Trader Joe’s dinner rolls that my children are officially addicted to.
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I was at a dinner party with two other couples last year when the host approached me discreetly in the living room. “Can you come here?” she whispered, motioning towards the kitchen. She led me to the oven, pulled out a roasting pan filled with eight split chicken breasts whose skin were all a nice caramel-ly brown. “They’re ready, right?” she asked. I always get nervous with thick chicken breasts, too, so I asked her how long they’d been in. “About an hour,” she told me. I had a feeling they weren’t done yet. “Can I touch one?” I asked. I poked one of them in the thickest part. It felt too soft. The rule for doneness with chicken, I told her, is that it should feel firm to the touch but not rock hard. “It needs more time.” Andy walked in and I pulled him over for his opinion. Along with his tight spiral and his general kindness towards humanity, gauging meat doneness is one of his greatest qualities. He poked the chicken once, and with a conviction I envied, declared, “Five more minutes.”
Five minutes later we were sitting down to a delicious, well-cooked herby chicken with market-fresh greens.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the same situation as my chicken-roasting host. Or I should say, how many times I used to be in that situation. It’s not that I’ve become so confident when face-to-face with, say, a lamb shoulder, or a $20/pound Christmas filet mignon or a bacon-spinach-stuffed ribeye, but I don’t stress about cooking meat to proper doneness nearly as much as I used to. Part of the reason for this — OK most of the reason for this — is that Andy is so preternaturally gifted with meat that it just makes sense to cede the floor to him when a Porterhouse or a flank steak is on the menu. But the other reason is that I’ve discovered a whole bunch of ways to prepare meaty main dishes that involve absolutely no stressing about doneness at all. These are the strategies I tend to fall back on when I’m having people over for dinner and there’s a 100% chance that I would be filling a sippy cup at the exact moment a meat thermometer would hit the point of no return.
1. Put Away the Meat Thermometer and Braise. Large hunks of meat become much more friendly when you braise them. This basically means you are cooking a loin or a shoulder in liquid in the oven or on the stovetop for a few hours at a low temperature. Beyond the fact that this technique makes it impossible to overcook or undercook, it magically transforms cheap cuts of meat into melty tenderness and is almost always just the thing for a warm-your-bones winter meal. See: Marcella’s Milk-braised Pork Loin; Braised Short Ribs; Pork Ragu; Baked Chicken with Mascarpone. (That last one is less braising than submerging, but it’s equally effective and takes much less time.)
2. Think Small. It’s much easier to gauge the doneness of small pieces of meat and fish than it is to make the call on larger pieces. Just think — if you’re not sure, you can break open a small piece of chicken in a stir-fry to check for the telltale shiny pink and the dish won’t be any worse for the wear. You can’t really do this with a whole roast chicken without releasing the trapped juices that make a perfectly roasted chicken so tasty. See: Chicken with Broccoli; Pan-seared Scallops; Beef with Broccoli.
3. Hack! One of the reasons I fell in love with salmon salad was because after a fillet was roasted or grilled you had to shred it into pieces and toss it with the vegetables and vinaigrette. This meant that if you weren’t sure the salmon was cooked to proper doneness you could definitely take a peak in the middle with a knife or a fork or a pick axe — and if it wasn’t ready, just send it back for another few. Who cares what the thing looked like if you were going to eventually hack it all up, right? See: Salmon Salad.
4. Make Clams. Every time I prepare Andy’s clams — which, as you can gather by the name, is not that often — I am amazed at how easy they are. This meal is a bonanza for people who fret about whether something has cooked through or not. Think about how beautifully unequivocal it is that clams, when cooked properly, will open up their shells to tell you that they are done. It’s like they have little mouths. I’m done! Take me out! Eat me! To me this is as much of a miracle of nature as the Blue Footed Booby. See: Spaghetti and Clams; Steamed Little Necks (more…)
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Tags:cooking meat properly·how to cook meat·how to tell when meat is cooked
I’ve been so good. Seriously. On Friday I took one last bite of an oatmeal-brownie-butterscotch sundae (true story) and vowed That’s it. That was the last piece of junk that was going down the hatch until…when? That’s always the question, isn’t it? Does it speak to my pathological optimism or my deep-seeded denial that every year I vow to tweak my dietary habits — not the kind that involve a piece of homemade apple pie with the family; the really bad kind that involve shaking the kids’ carseat to unleash the last few nickels I need in order to uncoil the Milky Way Midnight from the vending machine. And every year, I come up short. As in, after few short days, I am right back to my I-hate-myself habits. I mean, how is it that I am already a little less excited by the whole-grain-packed cookbook that arrived on my doorstep today, which I one-clicked in a fit of steely resolve only five days ago. I was going to do it this time! I really really was! (Charlie Duhigg! Where are you when I need you?) This is not to say I have given up…entirely. All of this is merely an attempt to stay one step ahead of my worst self. This year, I’m embracing her instead of pretending she doesn’t exist — keeping my enemy close and all that. In the meantime, my best self has been enjoying some majorly healthy dinners — like this incredibly flavorful shredded salad with chicken that was spiked with a clean Asian-ish vinaigrette. I thought your pathologically optimistic selves might appreciate too. At least for the next few days. (more…)
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Tags:asian chicken salad·charlie duhigg·new years resolution dinner·power of habit
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog as long as I have, and never told you about one of my greatest talents. (No, not my proclivity for cocktails.) Last night as I made dinner, it occurred to me that I have a remarkable ability to convince myself that whatever I’m making for my family is healthy — even on nights when I am forced to go upstairs to change my T-shirt that has been splattered with the canola oil I used to fry the deliciously crispy skillet potatoes you see above.
Because the potatoes are from my favorite organic vendor at the farmer’s market. And they are technically vegetables. And they are sitting next to a pile of kale. (Remember the Kale Effect? Which is related to Andy’s Broccoli Rule?) And plus, we were having a college friend over for dinner, and when a guest is at the table, the decision to fry the potatoes (instead of roast them) and the decision to use an extra pat or two of butter in the pan-sauce for the chicken (chicken = not red meat) is a no-brainer. Extra fat doesn’t officially register in the arteries when you are cooking for someone else. I can’t believe you didn’t know that.
Last night was a little more buttery than I’m used to, but I will say that as a general rule, I am a firm believer that there needs to be at least a hint of hedonism on the dinner plate — whether it’s crumbled feta in the salad, sour cream on the baked potatoes, or bacon in the brussels sprouts. Because if every meal is boiled kale with quinoa and flax, I have to ask: Where is the joy in life? (more…)
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Tags:Chicken recipes for kids·crispy skillet potatoes·easy chicken dinner·fried potatoes·skillet meals
I wish I could say that the inspiration for this meal came from a stroll through my farmer’s market — from those gorgeous bunches of lacinato kale and bushels of Romano beans; from the juicy blackberries and rosy, plump apricots and white nectarines; from the summer spinach that seems to coo: Come hither! Slather me in olive oil and toss me around a little! (more…)
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Tags:chopped salad·creative salads·Healthy dinners for kids·summer chopped salads·summer salads
I’m going to start this story with a personal note to my Women’s Studies professor from college: Please do not continue reading. OK are we good? Are we alone now? Because I’m about to venture into some serious damsel-in-distress territory here.
I can’t grill.
From May through September, I depend on Andy – my totally evolved, equality-minded husband – to be my dinner hero. I know I’m not alone – I know that this scenario plays out in backyards across the country and that the Weber remains a shady, unknowable realm to even my most kitchen-savvy women friends. But come on, this is 2011. How is this OK?
I know what you’re thinking – how exactly is it a bad thing that for four months out of the year, someone else is responsible for feeding Phoebe, Abby and me? (And feeding us well, I might add.) I can only respond with this anecdote: Remember last year how I miraculously arranged my work schedule so I could take a two-week beach vacation? The girls and I headed out for the first week, then Andy joined us for week two. Fun, right? I thought so too until Night One, when I found myself setting the oven to 425° to prepare Abby’s favorite baked drumsticks. This is not the way to cook in the summer. On vacation. In South Carolina. In August. (more…)
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Tags:bon appetit providers·fourth of july grilled chicken·how to grill 101·juicy grilled chicken·yogurt marinated chicken recipe
The first time I had “asparagus ketchup” I was sitting at a sidewalk table at Bar Pitti in the Village with my Time For Dinner co-authors Alanna and Pilar, and our editor, Lia. We had split a bottle of 2006 Toscana Castello di Ama rose, the name of which I remember only because I emailed myself a photo of the label so I’d be able to track it down later. It was that special.
Then again, just about anything seems special to me when I’m having it at Bar Pitti – and not just because the place is a New York institution. When I worked at Real Simple a thousand years ago I was one of five editors who had babies within a few months of each other, and at least once or twice a summer we’d make a point to take the subway out of midtown, out of our tightly packed worlds of meetings (and pumping) and deadlines (and pumping) to grab some polpettine and a glass of wine at Bar Pitti. One glass usually became two and sometimes more, and before we knew it, the afternoon was shot (as was the breast milk), and writing the “50 Gifts Under $50″ story was just going to have to wait til tomorrow. Since we were all new moms, we’d hit on the usual topics – how long is too long to share a bed with the baby, how you know when it’s teething and when it’s worse, whatever Caitlin Flanagan was making people mad about…But I think what I loved most about these lunches was that it felt so good to be irresponsible for a few hours. There was not a whole lot of wiggle room in our schedules, so a midday glass of wine downtown was about as wild as things were going to get. For me, at least. In the next few years the five of us went our separate ways — some to different jobs, some to different coasts — but I’ve channeled the vibe of our lunches every time I’ve eaten at Bar Pitti since. Because of those moms, everything tastes good to me there. Every occasion seems sweeter than it probably is.
The second time I had asparagus ketchup was decidedly less romantic. It was last week, when I debuted it at my family table. Of course, “asparagus ketchup” is not what they called it at Bar Pitti. (This is what happens when babies move on from breast milk — you start sucking all the sentiment out of your favorite dishes if it means your kids might be more likely to take a bite.) Bar Pitti just called it cold asparagus sauce and poured it over a chilled pounded chicken breast like a glaze on a cake. It could not have been a more refreshing summer meal. When Alanna asked the waiter how the sauce was made we couldn’t believe it was just mustard, olive oil, and asparagus. Depending on the mood you’re in, we later found out, you could add water or broth to turn it into soup. (more…)
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Tags:Chicken recipes for kids·chicken with asparagus sauce·cold chicken dinner·summer chicken recipe
Every time I make this roasted chicken with barbecue sauce I say to myself: Why don’t I do this meal on those nights I reach for the box mac & cheese or frozen pizza? It’s fresher and healthier than most things you’ll pull out of a box (Don’t worry, I still love you Trader Joe), but more to the point, it’s just as easy. In fact, I kind of can’t believe I didn’t include it in the six-week Dinner Doula plan I wrote up for parents who are paralyzed by the idea of cooking homemade food for their kids. If I had a do-over, this recipe would be Dinner Number One. Look how simple it is:
1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove drumsticks (or thighs) from package and place in a foil-lined roasting pan.
2) Add a little salt and pepper and brush a thin layer of barbecue sauce on each. (If you are a beginner, I realize the likelihood of having a stash of homemade sauce lying around is slim; don’t worry, just use your favorite bottled kind.)
3) Every 10 minutes or so, flip and brush on another thin layer of sauce. After 30 minutes, they are done. That’s it.
I haven’t tuned in to the 2011 season of Food Revolution, but last year I remember Jamie Oliver served a chicken like this along with a shredded salad to tempt the West Virginia school kids away from the nuggets and fries. Sadly, hardly any of the kids were convinced, but I sure was. For a year I’ve wanted to make a salad that looked like that one. I guess technically you might call it a slaw. Whatever you call it, it rocked. (more…)
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Tags:Chicken recipes for kids·easy chicken dinner·easy dinner recipes·easy weeknight dinner·slaw with mint yogurt dressing
I’m guessing most of you out there don’t regularly get emails from friends with the subject line: “Pretzel Chicken.” And I’m also guessing that if you did, your heart wouldn’t jump when it showed up in your inbox. But that was the somewhat sad state of affairs last week when my friend Jodi sent me the email, saying she was going to debut the dish for Shabbat dinner, a ritual with her husband and six-year-old daughter that she is trying to make more regular. The launch of the ritual, of course, warmed my heart, but what really grabbed me was the recipe. It was the famous City Bakery pretzel chicken that I have been lunching on for the past five years. It’s all mustardy and zesty and dredged in crushed sourdough pretzels — I don’t think I’ve ever taken a bite of it without announcing to whatever poor soul is sitting across from me I must replicate this at home. The kids will freak! (more…)
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Tags:Chicken recipes for kids·city bakery pretzel chicken·easy chicken dinner·healthy chicken dinner
I had the world’s greatest assignment for the June issue of Bon Appetit. I can’t tell you all the details because it hasn’t hit newsstands yet, but it involves summer and it involves rules and it involves cooking. I was putting the story together in the middle of February — during one of those stretches of bean-soup-making snow days — so I’m warning you in advance that you may pick up a strong undertone of dreaminess. (Does anything seem more romantic than summer cooking and al fresco dining when you are sitting in your kitchen wearing Uggs?) Anyway, today I want to talk about one particular nugget of dinner wisdom in the story. It went like this: “Always grill twice as much protein as you need. You’ll never regret having leftover chicken or steak when dinner rolls around the next night.” You know I’ve never met an advance-planning strategy I didn’t love, so that stuck with me all the way to the first night of grilling — a rainy April night when we actually had no business grilling, we were just so sick of the cold spring and just really really wanted grilling season to be…NOW. And so we christened the patio with our grilled chicken for people who hate grilled chicken (coming soon: a knock-out variation on it) and, of course, made twice as much. And on Day Two had all the makings of a delicious, healthy two-minute dinner.
Abby’s version of the dinner: Most likely the first Mediterranean platter in the history of the world served with Trader Joe’s Soyaki.
Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Plate
Place 4 whole wheat pocketless pita rounds on four separate plates. (Or tear pitas into pieces if you don’t think your kid wants the fully assembled sandwich.) Spread a generous layer of hummus (I like original creamy — none of that jalapeno or sundried tomato business) on each plate. Top with leftover pieces grilled chicken (about 3-4 pieces, sliced should be enough; or some shreds of storebought rotisserie if you didn’t grill last night), crumbled feta, salted cucumber (chopped), a little fresh thyme or oregano, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly ground pepper.
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