Posts Tagged Chicken

Chicken Enchiladas and Refried Beans

As promised, an easy weeknight dinner for leftover chicken. Although I recommend using poached pulled chicken, any leftover chicken can be pulled or chopped and used in this. If you’re not a fan of mixing chicken and cheese (or are a vegetarian), the refried beans I make as a side dish are a great topping instead. Just substitute some beans wherever I use chicken.

I don’t make rolled enchiladas like most people. I make them flat and crunchy, almost like a sandwich, because the first place I had enchiladas was Maria’s in Santa Fe (wow, their website is terrible), and I don’t like change. I like the crunch that these have, and not needing to use a pound of Velveeta cheese substitute to drown all the other flavors in them. And those flavors are simple: sharp cheese (I used cheddar, but a pepper jack would be lovely), sweet corn tortillas, tender flavorful chicken, sweet and burning chile, cool soothing sour cream. That’s it. You could top them with lettuce and/or tomato for a bit of extra crunch and the benefits of vegetables, but I don’t think it really needs it.

Ingredients (makes 4 enchiladas, serves about 2. Which is weird, because in the restaurant I can only eat one. Oh well.)

1/2 pound pulled or chopped cooked chicken

4 ounces shredded cheese

8 corn tortillas

1-2 T vegetable oil, for frying tortillas

Sour cream to serve

New Mexican red chile (or chile or salsa of your choice) to serve

Directions

Heat the oil in a small skillet over high heat and fry the tortillas, one at a time, until crispy.

Heat the oven to 350°F  and arrange half the crispy tortillas on a cookie sheet. Top each tortilla with a handful of pulled chicken and a big pinch of shredded cheese.

Top that with another tortilla and a bit more cheese, and pop the whole lot in the oven for five to seven minutes to get the cheese molten and delicious. I like to serve these with tortilla chips (yes, chips on the side of my tortilla-based meal. What?) topped with refried black beans, which are insanely easy to make.

Ingredients

1 can of plain black or pinto beans, drained

2 T butter

1 oz grated cheese, plus more to garnish

Directions

Drain the beans, then mash them. There is an easy way and a hard way to do this. The easy way is to pulse them in the food processor for about 20 seconds. The hard way is to smash them in the cooking pot with the back of a spoon. Since I actually like having some whole or only partly mashed beans in mine, and I didn’t want to wash all five parts of the food processor, I went with the spoon.

Add the beans and butter to a small saucepan and heat over high to melt the butter. Reduce the heat to low and stir the butter in.

Add the shredded cheese and mix that in as it melts. Scoop the mixture onto a pile of tortilla chips and serve alongside enchiladas or any other New Mexican dish.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of chile. It’s simple. It’s fast. It’s appreciated by Mr. B, and crunchy and delicious for me!

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Poaching and pulling chicken

Poaching and pulling chicken is really very simple, and very worth doing. I know boiled meat is generally pale and unappetizing, but the pulled chicken is so meltingly tender it can’t be resisted. Once you’ve made it, you have several meals’ worth of prepared meat that make weeknight cooking that much easier. I made enchiladas and chicken pot pie with this, and there are dozens of other dishes that would benefit from it as well. This recipe is adapted from Rosalea Murphy’s Pink Adobe Cookbook. Incidentally, if you’re ever looking for a nice place to get good New Mexican food in Santa Fe, the pink Adobe is definitely on my list. What won me over there isn’t traditional New Mexican (a whole baking potato deep fried. Holy Schnikies, that stuff is good.), but the real New Mexican food there is the sort of bold yet simple fare I couldn’t wait to try making at home. Anyway, on to the food.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken meat

about 3 cups chicken broth (or water, if your chicken has bones)

1 to 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 T mustard

salt, to taste

Most people would probably add onion and celery as well. Go for it, if you like. I was out of celery, and Mr. B and I don’t really eat onions, so we just use garlic a lot.

Directions

Fry garlic in a bit of olive oil until soft and stinky. Add broth (or water) and mustard and bring to a boil. Add carrots (and onion and celery) and chicken, turn down to a simmer, and cook about 40 minutes.

Turns out, you can't take a good picture through murky broth.

Turn off the heat and let the chicken and broth cool just enough that you won’t burn yourself. (Full disclosure: I burned myself. Oh, well.)

Put the chicken on a cutting board and pour the liquid through a strainer into a jar or something. Congrats, you’ve made (or improved upon store-bought) chicken broth! Now we pull chicken.

Just hold it in place with one fork and scrape on it with another as though you were trying to comb it. Strings of chicken will ensue. Continue until all the chicken is pulled.

Tomorrow, enchiladas!

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Goldfish Fried Chicken

This is probably my third favorite fried chicken. It’s Mr. B’s favorite of all time though, and I think it would be the favorite of most men and children for one simple reason.

It’s breaded with crushed goldfish crackers.

I have to admit, the cheddary crunch is pretty awesome, even though my grown-up married-lady side wants to snub it. As a bonus, it is pan-fried in just a few tablespoons of oil. I hate deep-frying. I hate the spattering mess and the huge pot of oil I just have to throw away and the feeling that I’ve just irretrievably clogged my arteries and the other mess on the counter. . . you get the idea. pan frying, however, is relatively tame. It only pretends to be healthier, though.

Ingredients (serves 2)

3/4 lb of chicken breast cut into chicken-finger type strips

one egg

3/4-1 cup of flour

1 cup of goldfish crackers. Or cheez-its, or whatever your cheesy vice is.

a few T of vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Crush the goldfish and beat the egg. Set out dredging dishes. You want one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the fishes.

Pour enough oil into your frying pan to cover the bottom. Heat to medium high. I decide it’s hot enough when a pinch of flour sizzles on contact with the oil. Dredge the cutlets in flour, then egg, then fishes and plop them into the hot pan.

Fry 3-5 minutes each side. The goldfish will brown nicely (perhaps a bit too much if you stand around fumbling with camera settings). Serve with steamed veggies and a few extra goldfish crackers and a biscuit. (Full disclosure: I did not make the biscuits. Popeye’s made them. And they were fantastic.)

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Smoked Cornish Hen–Indoors!

That’s right, I got a stovetop smoker. Where has this miraculous device been all my life? I just put a chicken in it, and went away, and when I came back I had a smoked chicken! I mean, yes, that’s what the thing is for, but I didn’t quite realize how amazing it would be.

Okay, I know this recipe is useless to anyone who doesn’t have this exact device, and I apologize. Actually, strike that. It’s less than $30 at Target. Why don’t you have one? Maybe because you’re not insane or obsessed with food. That’d be a good reason.

Smoked Cornish Hen (serves 2)

1 Cornish hen, cut in half and spine removed.

To Marinate

some miso paste

some mirin

some chicken broth (you can tell I measure marinades well, right?)

White pepper and a bit of citrus juice.

Marinate chicken for at least a couple of hours or overnight in all that other stuff. Or your favorite marinating brew. Mr. B. raves about Stubbs brand

Eew, raw chicken. Okay. Now we set up the exciting smoking device!

That’s only 1 1/2 T of wood chips right there. Then we put the drip tray and smoking rack in, with the chicken halves on top.

Eew, raw chicken! Sorry, I just don’t like touching it. Especially when it’s all slimy from fermented bean paste and the juices of its brethren. . .

I’m really not making this process seem appetizing, am I? Sorry again.

Put the smoker over your biggest and best burner over mediumish heat (I set mine to 6 out of 10) and close it almost all the way. Wait until you see the eensiest little curl of smoke come out of the crack (5 minutes or less) then slam that sucker shut. Smoke for about 30 minutes.

The most boring culinary action shot ever taken. Right here.

Meanwhile, who wants corn on the cob? Grab a couple of ears, shuck ‘em, and preheat the oven to 375°F while you decide how you want to season it. (My smoker’s small. I’ll smoke corn next time.)

Mr. B had lime juice, salt, and Hatch chile powder. I had plain old salt. Well, exciting Hawaiian volcano salt. Butter for both, of course. Wrap up the corn and put it in the oven. It’ll take about a half an hour too, so the chicken will finish around the same time.

Quick tip: to tell whose corn is whose before unwrapping it on the wrong plate, I just put our initials on the foil with a Sharpie.

When the half hour is up, test the chicken at the thigh to see if it’s 170°F (yes, 170°F. 180°F is overcooked, gosh darn it.) At this point, since I wanted the joy of crispy skin, I turned the oven on to broil, removed the smoker lid, salted them hens and let them crisp up for about 3 minutes. Then, we ate. Without even bothering to take pictures. Um, sorry about that. Not even a bitty little bite for the cats remained. Which is why you, too, should be smoking at home.

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Roast Cornish Hen

I don’t make roast chicken. A whole chicken is way too much food for two, and if you’re serving more people, someone doesn’t get a drumstick. That’s just sad. A Cornish hen, on the other hand, serves two perfectly, with no fighing over the good bits. Roasted in some broth with chunks of potato, it’s a perfect winter meal.

Roast Cornish Hen with Roasted Potatoes

1 Cornish game hen

1/2 C chicken broth (I used Swanson’s)

1 large russet potato

1 T butter

1/2 t mustard powder

Salt and pepper to taste. I don’t like pepper, so just salt for me!

If you turn your back for 30 seconds, there’s a possibility that the more evil of the creatures that you allow into your home might swoop in. And then pretend that they were doing nothing wrong when you catch them sniffing at your dinner. They are lying. Do not trust them.

First, preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut your Cornish hen in half. Kitchen shears do this more easily than a knife. I usually also cut out the spine, but you don’t have to.  Arrange them in your pan. I use a two quart oval gratin dish, but an 8 by 8 metal pan would work just as well. Chop the potato into bite size pieces, about 3/4 of an inch, and add them to the pan around your chicken. Pour the broth over it all. Salt and pepper everything to your specifications. Melt the butter and mix the mustard powder into it. Brush this mixture over your chicken, and you’re ready to go. Throw it in the oven for about 45 minutes (The skin should be nice and brown), and transfer to a plate.

That was easy. You could be done now. Or you could add some grated cheese to your potatoes, maybe a good sharp cheddar or maybe, if you’re crazy, some Cahill’s whiskey cheddar.

That is a cheddar cheese with actual whiskey in it. It adds a delightful finishing note to the flavor without being overpowering, and I just can’t get enough of it.

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