Category Archives: Chicken

Peaches on the Grill

I’ve really enjoyed the peaches that Dave and Laura brought me from Georgia and I’ve made it a point to make new things that I’ve never tried before.

While I am a little embarrassed to share with you that I modified a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow, I was pretty sure it was something my husband would enjoy eating.  It was published in the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Well, he did enjoy this recipe for dinner.  I think your family will, too.

Grilled Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce
Serves 4

Modified from Gwyneth Paltrow

2 peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly diced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo (for extra spice finely dice a chile, too)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 chicken breasts (boneless or bone-in okay – just cook different amount of time on grill)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Stir and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until peaches are very soft, maybe 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and let sauce cool.  Pour peach mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.

Place half the sauce in a bowl; add the chicken and turn to coat.  Let it marinate for about 20 minutes or you can cover and put in refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.  Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce.

Prepare your grill to medium high heat.  You may want to make sure grates are oiled with vegetable oil before starting so chicken won’t stick.  Grill chicken until browned and almost cooked through, for boneless breasts 4 – 5 minutes each side and for bone-in breasts 8 – 10 minutes.

Then, coat with sauce and grill for another 1 or 2 minutes per side.  Serve the chicken warm with remaining sauce on side.

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Ditch the Boring Chicken Recipes

Break out of your chicken rut.  This is an easy one-dish meal that is cool and refreshing for those hot summer nights.  Combine simply grilled chicken breasts with a bag of crunchy coleslaw mix and liven it up with a pleasantly spicy, sweet, and salty dressing.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Salad
Serves 4

Modified from Fine Cooking

3 – 4 green onions
1 jalapeno, chopped (seed, if you want less spice)
1 Tbsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
about 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pounded thin, 1/4 tp 1/2-inch thick)
kosher salt
10 oz package coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Coarsely chop green onions.

 With a mortar and pestle, pound the green onions, jalapeno, sugar, and about 1/8 tsp pepper until the onions are soft and liquid is released.

Transfer to a large serving bowl, and stir in vinegar and fish sauce.

Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through.  Probably about 2 minutes for each side.

Let the chicken cool and then shred with your fingers or slice into long thin strips.

Toss the coleslaw mix into the vinegar mixture.

Add the chicken, mint, and cilantro, and combine well.

Serve at room temperature.

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Green Goodness

I love avocados.  I could eat them just about every day.  In fact, when I lived in Texas, I very nearly did.  They were a tasty part of any meal.  The avocado tree is native to Mexico and while they are easily trucked into Texas, they are also cultivated there, too.  So, the fruit was pretty widely available to me and pretty cheap, as well.  Not so much here in Washington, DC.

I saw some Dominican avocados in the store today, and they looked a bit worse for wear from their long journey…

We start to see domestic avocados here in the Spring,and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival…

Salad with Grilled Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado
Makes 4 servings 

For Salad:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices bacon
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 large avocado, or 2 small avocados
2 to 3 green onions
1 bell pepper (any color)
10 oz. salad greens (variety is your preference)

First, you need to marinate the chicken.  I always use gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags for my marinades, but a large bowl covered with plastic wrap will work, too.  Combine chicken, garlic, salt and pepper, lime juice, and olive oil in plastic zip-top bag.

After sealing, use hands to distribute liquids and spices over chicken.  Keep in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Heat grill to medium high.  Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.  Grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

Remove from grill and let rest a few minutes.  Slice into strips and set aside.

You have some options for cooking the bacon…You can pull out your cast-iron skillet and cook the bacon over medium heat for 20 or 30 minutes until crisp.  Or, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and line a broiler pan with aluminum foil.

Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer and bake them for about 15 minutes or until crisp.

Cool and drain on paper towels.

Dice tomatoes, bell pepper, avocados, and green onions.

I like to prepare one large salad, but you may want to plate individual salads for each of your guests.

In a large serving bowl, add salad greens.  Toss with tomatoes, peppers, avocado, and onion.

Crumble cooked and cooled bacon on top.

Add grilled chicken.

Serve with dressing.

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended, or pour all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake until emulsified.

Tip for keeping your avocados green: Try rinsing or submerging the sliced fruit in cold water to prevent browning.  How does that work?  I’ve not seen a clear explanation, but some food scientists think that the cold water rinse removes phenolic compounds that cause browning.

Avocados are not just delicious…they are also beneficial to your health.

  1. Healthy Eyes – Avocados have more carotenoid lutein than any other fruit.  This antioxident protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.
  2. Lower Cholesterol – Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance that has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  3. Lower Blood Pressure – Avocados are a great source of potassium, which contributes to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.  Avocados contain even more potassium containing than bananas!
  4. Great Source of Vitamin E – Avocados are the greatest fruit source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.
  5. Skin Moisturizer – Avocado butter and oil, two deep-conditioning emollients, will soften skin, eliminate dry patches, and restore your skin’s elasticity.  High in vitamins A, C, and E, avocado oil conditions skin without leaving behind an oily residue.

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Happy New Year, Rabbits!

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.  It began on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012.  Chinese New Year starts at the second full moon after the Winter Solstice, not January 1.

The Rabbit is considered a lucky sign.  According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is believed that to gain the greatest benefit from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.  So, think mellow thoughts and take advantage of this time to cook at home more.

In honor of the Chinese New Year, I made Longevity Noodles with Chicken, Garlic, and Ginger.  They are called longevity noodles because their long length represents longevity and noodles like these are typically served at all occasions that relate to long life.  I was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so I thought it was a good idea to make a simple, but lucky dinner.  

Longevity Noodles with Chicken, Garlic, and Ginger
Serves 2 to 3

12 – 16 oz thin fresh noodles (I used lo mein)
2 tsp sesame oil
12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs) cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp finely shredded ginger
1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp soy sauce
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp pepper oil, optional
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat and cook noodles until just done, less than 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  

Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool, then shake well to remove water.  Return noodles to pot, add sesame oil, and toss.

Put diced chicken in medium bowl and add ginger, 1 tsp rice wine, cornstarch, 1 tsp soy sauce, and salt and pepper.  Mix gently to combine.

You don’t want much liquid in your stir fry initially, so in a separate bowl combine remaining 1 Tbsp of rice wine and 1 Tbsp soy sauce.

Heat work over high heat until a bead of water evaporates almost on contact.  Swirl in 1 Tbsp peanut oil and 1 tsp pepper oil.  Add chicken, spreading in a single layer to maximize contact with heated surface of wok.  Let it cook undisturbed for about a minute, until chicken begins to sear.

Stir-fry chicken, tossing in the wok, for about 2 more minutes or until just done.  Remove the chicken to a clean bowl.  

Add cabbage, mushrooms, and garlic, and stir-fry just a minute or so until wilting, but not cooked.  Empty the vegetables into the bowl holding the chicken.

Reheat wok, swirl in remaining 1 Tbsp peanut oil and 1 tsp pepper oil, and add noodles.  Stir-fry only about 30 seconds, moving constantly to heat through.  

Swirl the soy sauce-rice wine mixture and add to wok along with chicken-vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle with a dash or two of salt and stir-fry another 2 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are heated through.

Serve immediately.


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Recipe in a Pickle Jar

My husband and I go through jars of pickles like crazy.  After seeing some online posts of pickle brined dishes, I decided to not just dump out the juice next time we finished a jar of pickles.  The recipes I found used different techniques – braising, baking, frying, etc…Chicken seemed like the best choice for brining, and I thought breading and frying would taste too much like Chick-fil-a, plus I wasn’t in the mood for a braised dish.  So, baked chicken was the winner, and I thought searing it in advance would create a more appealing color.

Well, my husband and I are glad we gave this a try.  It created a very juicy, succulent chicken dish with a distinctive flavor.  If you do not like pickles, you will not like this chicken.  And, this may be obvious, but I feel it should be said – only use the pickle juice of pickles you like.

Pickle Brined Chicken
Serves 2

2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 jar of pickle juice (Claussen Hearty Garlic Dill is our fav)
2 Tbsp olive oil

I left the skin on the chicken breasts, thinking it might lead to crispy bits later.  You do as you prefer.  Drop the chicken in a zip-top plastic bag, pour in the jar of pickle juice to cover, and seal the bag.  I placed the sealed bag in a bowl to keep upright in the refrigerator and prevent leakage.  You could also try double-bagging.  Be warned: most of those zip-top bags are not leak-proof.

Let the chicken brine for at least 6 hours, but I think about 12 – 24 hours is best.

Pull the chicken out and pat dry.  Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.  Then, sear the chicken breasts.  I cooked them on medium high heat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.  Let it develop a nice browned color on each side.

Then, turn off the heat, and put the chicken still in the skillet in a 350 degree F preheated oven.  Bake it for about 30 minutes.

Once it was done, I pulled it out and covered it with foil to let it rest, but not let it get cold.

After about 10 minutes it was ready to serve.  Mmmm…juicy and flavorful, and so easy.


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Garlicky Goodness

My mother came for a visit this weekend and while she was in town my brother requested she make one of his favorite dishes – Garlicky Chicken.  Think breaded chicken pieces, pasta, and a butter sauce loaded with garlic…This is not a diet dish.

This is a dish that Mom created for us when we were kids and it was a hit from the start.  It was no different this time.  If you love garlic, you are gonna love this.

Garlicky Chicken
Serves 6 to 8

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
4 to 5 cups of breadcrumbs
5 cloves of garlic or more to taste
olive oil
1 lb spaghetti
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Slice chicken into small pieces.  Be careful not to make the pieces too thick because it will take them longer to cook through and the outside breading will get too dark.

Beat eggs, and mix with water.  Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture.  (You may need to add one more egg and a bit more water for your batch.  Have the eggs on hand.)  Then, dredge in breadcrumbs.  Again, you may need to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs to ensure adequate breading for your chicken.  NOTE:  My brother likes to season the breadcrumbs and my mom does not.  You decide for yourself.  That is the joy of being a grown-up.

Melt butter in large skillet with olive oil and garlic.  Notice I didn’t provide measurements.  It depends on how large your skillet is, how long you are cooking the chicken, and your personal taste.  You want to make sure the bottom is generously covered and you need to decide if you want more butter than olive oil or vice versa.  Add the garlic after the butter is melted or it will burn.  Brown chicken in garlic seasoned oil and butter.

Set aside on paper towels to drain.  Before you are finished with all the chicken pieces, start cooking pasta according to directions on package.

Once you brown all chicken, add a bit more butter, garlic, and olive oil to skillet.  Before you start, you may want to remove the skillet from the heat and wipe it clean if there is a lot of breading debris in the bottom of the pan.  If you leave it in there, the breading crumbs will turn black and it make your dish look unappetizing.  Heat this long enough to melt butter and slightly brown the garlic.

Heap cooked and drained pasta on a large platter.  Spoon half of the butter, olive oil, and garlic mixture over the pasta.  Add the chicken pieces then drizzle with remaining butter mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Thanks, Mom!


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The Whole Enchilada

We had quite a bit of smoked chicken remaining from this weekend, and have enjoyed eating leftovers.  We both agreed that chicken enchiladas would be especially nice to make.  Back in Texas, my frequent enchilada order is chicken enchiladas with green sauce, but I’d never made it at home.  I thought it was about time.

I did a little research in my cookbooks and online, but I was not totally satisfied by the recipes we found.  So I decided to just create our own recipe using tomatillos and jalapenos for the green sauce.  Several recipes suggested boiling the tomatillos for the sauce, but I thought roasting would create a better flavor.

What are tomatillos?  Tomatillos are related to tomatoes and in the nightshade family.  It is a fruit surrounded by a husk with a tart flavor.  They are not the same as green or unripe tomatoes.

Here’s what we did…

Smoked Chicken Enchilada with Verde (Green) Sauce
Makes 14 enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs of tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled and sliced into large pieces
1 – 3 jalapenos (your preference)
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of smoked chicken, picked in small pieces
1 1/2 cups sour cream
14 corn tortillas
1 Tbsp canola oil
at least 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

First, you need to roast the tomatillos, onions, and jalapenos for the sauce.  Place whole tomatillos, whole jalapenos, whole garlic cloves, and roughly chopped onions on a baking sheet.

Drizzle very lightly with olive oil and place in preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 12 minutes.

Transfer roasted fruit and veggies to a food processor, after chopping off the stems of the jalapenos.  Add cumin, salt, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined, but still chunky.

Put a generous portion of the green sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with sides.  You will use another generous portion to put on the top of the rolled enchiladas.

Now heat 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft and carmelized.

Add finely chopped garlic and cook for about 1 more minute.  Now, add chicken and cook until warm and stir until well-blended.  Take off heat, and let cool slightly.  Then, fold sour cream into chicken mixture.

Turn oven down to 375 degrees F.

Now, to get the corn tortillas ready and begin assembly of enchiladas…Lightly heat the canola oil in a cast iron skillet.  Place each corn tortilla in the just warmed oil and make sure both sides are lightly coated in oil.  Then drain over a cooling rack or on paper towels.  You want the oil to soften the tortillas and make them pliable, but not make them soggy with oil.

Once a tortilla is prepped, you want to put about 2 Tbsp of chicken filling in the center (more if your tortillas are larger) and roll it up like a thick cigar.

Place each rolled tortilla in a baking dish with the green sauce on the bottom, seam side down.  My husband recommends rolling against the grain of the tortilla to help them hold together better.  You can kinda see the lines/grain of the tortillas in this picture.

They should fit together snugly.  We got 14 enchiladas in the baking dish.

Once your dish is full, lightly cover with green sauce and shredded cheese.  If you have leftover green sauce, it makes a delicious salsa with tortilla chips.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until bubbly.  You can garnish with more sour cream and even cilantro, if you like.

We served with refried beans and spanish rice, as you would expect in a Tex-Mex restaurant.


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What A Smokin’ Holiday

I must have been a good girl this year because as an early birthday present my husband gave me a smoker.  Yeah, you read that right…a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker to smoke meat and other goodies.

For our inaugural smoked meat feast, we decided to smoke some chicken.  Since folks had Monday off from work, we thought it would be a good day to share.  We invited my brother and his girlfriend, Kate and our friends Dave and Wendy to join us.

Smoked Chicken
Serves 8 to 12

3 whole fryer chickens (3 to 4 lbs each)
48 oz Goya brand mojo criollo
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup canola oil

Between 6 and 8 hours before dinner, split the chickens and get them ready for the marinade.  To split a chicken – lay the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.  Using heavy-duty kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut down both sides of backbone.  Flip the chicken over, so the cut section is down.  With your hands, push against the breast to crack it open.  Use the kitchen shears or knife to cut through the breast and finish splitting the chicken.  You also want to break up the leg joint.  Grip the thigh firmly, then bend or twist the legs on each half until you hear or feel the break at the joint between the leg and the thigh.

Now you are ready to marinate the chicken halves.  Use one-gallon zip-top plastic bags or glass dishes to marinate the chicken, no metal containers.  Place chicken in the preferred container, shake the marinade bottles well, and then pour over chicken.  Put it in the refrigerator covered for 4 to 6 hours, turning once or twice to distribute the marinade.

Two hours before dinner, start a fire in your smoker.  We used a chimney starter to help get it going and used a mix of lump hardwood charcoal and mesquite wood chunks.

While you are waiting for the charcoal in your starter to engage, pat the chicken dry and brush with 1/2 cup oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

When the lit charcoal and wood are ready for cooking, arrange the chicken on the grate.  Place the chicken halves in a circle, breast-side in, on the grate, as close to the middle as possible without crowding.  We put two halves of chicken on the bottom grate and four halves on the top grate.  Put on the lid.  The top and bottom vents of the cooker should both be open, but adjust them by closing slightly if the temperature gets too hot.  You want to shoot for 250 to 275 degrees F.  It was hot enough outside that it impacted the heat of our cooker so much we needed to adjust the vents.

Arranging the chicken on the grate with the breast away from the hottest zone on the grate to protect the breast meat from drying out and help the meat cook more evenly.  On the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, the perimeter of the grate is hotter because heat flows around the water pan and up the sides.  Hence, breast side in.  Leave the lid on for 1 1/2 hours.  No peeking or you will slow down the cooking.

One and one-half hours into the cook, open the lid and puncture the thickest part of the breast with a fork.  If the juice running out the chicken is clear, it is done.  If the juice is still pinkish, leave the chicken on the cooker and replace the lid and fork-test the chicken every 10 to 15 minutes until the juices run clear.  The chickens on the top were done in one and a half hours and the bottom chicken was done about 15 minutes later.

As a guide to the joys of our new smoker, we’ve been using the cookbook, Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbeque in 5 Easy Lessons.  It includes the above recipe.


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