Archived entries for chicken

All the Garlic, All the Time: Garlic Chicken Risotto

“What’s for dinner?”

The way that you somehow know which food sounds good to eat at any given moment kind of astounds me. Do I want Italian tonight? Burritos? Maybe a banh mi? Or just an open box of Triscuits, a jar of Nutella, and a handful of Craisins? Sometimes I want something light and delicate and citrusy and green.

And then sometimes: sometimes I just want garlic.

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If this garlic-loving mood ever strikes you, I have the exact perfect thing: a gorgeously thick risotto with garlic two ways. It’s not delicate, it is not subtle; this pops you upside the head with flavor. Sharp pops of heat from the finely minced bits, and a soft, oozing unctuousness that tastes like nothing so much as sweet, mild honey, from the slow-cooked whole cloves. They are seriously magical, and you will probably wish that you had more than what the recipe calls for.

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I ended up skipping on the risotto-standard cheese finish — it was already easily rich enough, and I honestly kind of didn’t want the cheese to interfere with my garlicfest. The same restraint didn’t apply when it came time to consider the white truffle oil. (Sidenote: regardless of what unabashed berk Gordon Ramsay, et al. have to say on the matter, you can try to pry my white truffle oil out of my cold, dead hands…but chances are good I will reanimate as a zombie to prevent you. And then I will eat your brains. With white truffle oil on top.)

I will admit that I ate this on a pleasant solitary evening, curled up on my couch with a Doctor Who marathon, so i can’t speak to the state of one’s breath when all is said and done…so I’d probably suggest dishing this up DURING a date, to spread the garlicky wealth, instead of scarfing down a solitary bowl by yourself beforehand.
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Savory Summertime, Here At Last: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I know. I know! You thought it would never happen, didn’t you? You thought that we would be mired in rain and cold and terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days forever, didn’t you. Well, check this: miracle of miracles, the sun has decided to finally make a prolonged appearance in our skies! This has had a few immediate impacts on my life. One, after a weekend spent largely outside I no longer look like a fishbelly. And two: PIC. NIC. TIME. If you know me, you know what picnic time means! Buttermilk fried chicken!

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As so many good recipes do, this one comes to us straight from everyone’s favorite culinary scientist, Alton Brown. He’s kind of like the wacky uncle of the food world, and I bet he’d be a kick in the pants to hang out with. At any rate, his fried chicken sure is! An overnight soak in buttermilk is the extra-special secret, the reason why, no joke, every single person who ate a piece last weekend said some variation on, “My god, how did you make it so tender and moist?” followed immediately by a conversation about how nobody likes the word “moist.” But tender it is, and moist it is, and when you eat it you will even be willing to overlook profligate usage of that particular word.

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The other secret is the dousing of the buttermilk-soaked chicken with a little spice rub. It’s no secret blend of herbs and spices — salt, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne — but it makes it just a little spicy, just a little salty, and a whole lot awesome.

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I also like to take the opportunity to practice my butchering skills; I generally get whole chickens and carve them into their component pieces, but feel free to give yourself a headstart with pre-portioned bits. One thing I do recommend, because it is fun and also because it makes the resulting bits way easier to eat when you’re in a park, is to remove the bone from the thigh, if applicable.

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When you’re frying, you should be able to fit two of each (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) into the pan at the same time. Don’t be afraid to rotate them around a little as you near the end of the frying time — because they’re essentially folded in half, I find it particularly helpful to prop the thighs up on the open side to help seal them shut into delicious little packages of fried chickeny goodness. Ideally when you serve this, all of your friends will have also brought something to share so you shouldn’t have to worry about sides and all that. Just sit back, and enjoy the accolades. And the chicken. Enjoy that, too.

Do you have a favorite picnic recipe? Let us know in the comments!
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Invent-A-Soup Sunday: Spicy Chicken Avocado Soup

I’ll admit, new posts have been a bit thin on the ground around here lately; chalk it up to Shiv and I trying to slog our way through The Winter That Refuses To Die™. However, today managed to surprise me with some morning sunbeams through my window, at which point I rolled out of bed in a panic and flung myself outdoors in an effort to catch a ray or two before they disappeared again. I am pleased to report that I had a solid 20 minutes of bona fide basking, and in my newly re-energized state, I decided that tonight would be a good night to invent a soup!

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When it comes to cooking something that I have not planned for in advance, I usually have trouble. This is because of two things: 1) I never seem to have anything to eat in my house aside from condiments, and 2) I live in a weird area where decent groceries are nowhere nearby, and the last thing I feel like doing on a lazy Sunday is schlepping on a subway down to Whole Foods. So, impromptu cooking? Not the easiest prospect, even though Invent-A-Dish is one of my favorite games in the world. Undaunted, I took stock of what was in my cupboards (some spices, some chicken stock, a can of corn, and some frozen chicken breasts from a trip to Costco a month ago) and walked a block over to a place that, although it has no meat or bakery or whatever, does tend to at least have some very basic produce (onions, garlic, an avocado, a handful of limes, some random dairy). Long story short, after blocking the aisles for far too long trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, I came home with exactly what I needed to invent a spicy soup that absolutely made my night.

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I will be completely modest at this point and just say one thing: this soup absolutely blew me away with awesome. The end result does what my favorite foods all do — hits flavor notes all over the place. Spice from the cayenne and chili, a deeper warmth from the cinnamon and cloves, a little salty, creamy, hot, cool, a little crunch, a citrus bite. Added bonus: it’s gorgeous. It also is a great example of what’s amazing about soup; the recipe is, at best, a suggestion. Sure, in this case it’s a strong suggestion, because yummmz, but you can swap anything in or out as you like, and chances are, it’ll still be pretty damn tasty. Another great thing about soup is that I totally have enough to store away for tomorrow…and you know it’s always better the next day.

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Queen me: Fake Coronation Chicken

Though not generally a big proponent of monarchy as a governmental system, I have to admit: I have a real soft spot for Queen Elizabeth II. I’m not really sure why. It might be the hats, or the corgis, or the fact that her family calls her “Lilibet;” frankly, it might just be the fact that she has lived in places called “Windlesham” and “GwardamanÄ¡ia.” It certainly doesn’t hurt that she is inadvertently responsible for one of my favorite sandwich fillings of all time, Coronation chicken.

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Concocted in honor of Lilibet’s ascension to the throne in 1953, Coronation chicken is, simply put, a curried chicken salad. And it is glorious–tangy and spicy and sweet and… I can seriously eat this stuff with a spoon. Given that it’s 80% mayonnaise, however, I try to avoid doing so on a regular basis. Or, at least, I did until I decided to take a crack at it myself–I wanted to see if I could create a reasonable facsimile using my favorite ingredient (greek yogurt) as a substitute.

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Short answer, I couldn’t. What I made is not really a doppelganger for real Coronation chicken…but it is *really* flippin’ good in its Otherness. I find that I really like the tangy bite that the yogurt brings to the table, and I absolutely *LOVE* that I can now eat it in vast quantities with relative impunity.

Because let me tell you–I have grand plans to do so. Though I will not be sharing it with the corgi in my life; I wonder what HRH would say about that.

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Thai Coconut Noodle Soup with Panko-Crusted Chicken

It is a lucky man indeed who can count cooks of both Shiv’s and Swiss’s caliber among their friends. Not only does keeping them around mean one gets to eat the food they make (which, let me just tell you, is spectacular indeed), if one is very lucky, one gets the chance to cook alongside them. Shiv and I have quite a bit of experience working in the same kitchen — it turns out that adding Swiss to the party was like adding a few new steps to a very familiar dance. The three of us spun around each other all afternoon in a manner that would be best described as balletic. I had tremendous fun, and would like to offer an official Thank You to both of them for inviting me to help out with their scheme. Their tasty, tasty scheme.

For my part in the Coconut Dinner Party, I was tasked with whipping up the main course, a solid and surprisingly hearty Thai dish, which would be bracketed on either side by the others’ more ethereal creations. In the best Thai style, this soup fuses Salty, Spicy, and Sour for some serious multi-layered flavor. It starts with a backbone of gorgeous aromatics, gets some heat from both chili and red curry, a salty fish sauce tang, and the zip of freshly-squeezed lime. Coconut milk serves to round off the harsh edges, and you’re left with a savory, creamy broth that would be delicious on its own — but we gilded the lily with the textural additions of some silky noodles and the crunch of panko-crusted chicken.

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You can probably use any kind of chicken in this — or for that matter, seared tuna, thinly-sliced beef, tofu if you’re so inclined — but we opted for the dark meat of chicken thigh. The flavor tends to be much richer than a standard chicken breast, I think that it’s a little more tender, and the oily unctuousness both blended well with the coconut milk and provided a good counterpoint to the crackle of the panko. Bonus: you might also get a chance to debone the thighs yourself, which I personally found very satisfying.

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The soup ended up being a two-stage affair, with the broth leisurely constructed early on in the afternoon, and a brief dash at the end to cook the chicken, plate, and garnish all at once. Also, can we please have a cheer for non-superfluous garnishes? The cilantro and scallion tossed on top as the bowls are headed tableside add a perfect breath of green, and wilt deliciously into the rest of the soup as you eat.

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The following recipe is modified from a Jean-Georges base, courtesy of starchefs.com, with our own little fillips here and there.

Thai Coconut Noodle Soup with Panko-Crusted Chicken

First part:
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chili, chopped (use whatever heat level you like)
1 knob of ginger, chopped
1 tsp galangal
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into smaller sticks and smashed (I used the back of my knife for the smashing bit, and would highly recommend tying these up in cheesecloth for removal later.)
1 tsp red Thai curry paste
4 cups chicken broth

Second part:
1/2 package rice vermicelli noodles
2 cups coconut milk
12 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
Fish sauce (nam pla) to taste
2 Tbsp (or thereabouts) lime juice
4 chicken thighs
1 egg
Panko bread crumbs
Cilantro, chopped
Scallions, sliced

  1. Sweat the onion, garlic, chili, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and curry paste in oil (I used a nice green olive oil plus a pat of butter, although strictly speaking I should have opted for peanut) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until everything gets soft and melty.
  2. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour.
  3. You can hold the soup at this point until you’re getting ready to serve — I had it on the back burner for an hour or two — or just go ahead with the next step right away if you like.
  4. Beat the egg, and dip the chicken thighs into it, followed by a coating of the panko crumbs.
  5. Another dollop of oil in a sturdy skillet on high heat. Lay down the chicken, and cook through — about five minutes per side. I always give myself a little extra time in case they need a few more minutes.
  6. Bring the soup back to a simmer if you’ve dropped it to a back burner. Drop in the noodles — they don’t need more than a minute or two. Be sure to add these before the coconut milk — the noodles suck up a lot of liquid, and you’ll want to replenish with the coconut after the noodles have done their thing.
  7. Add the shiitakes and the coconut milk. Sprinkle in the fish sauce — a few drops will do, but add to taste. Same with the lime juice: start with a tablespoon or two, add a little more if you don’t taste that bright thread of citrus backing up the cream of the coconut.
  8. Simmer for another minute, and dish up into four bowls.
  9. Slice the chicken into strips and lay on top of the lovely pillow your noodles have created. Toss a light handful of scallions and cilantro on top, and serve.


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