Posts Tagged Chicken

Roast Hen with Paprika, Apricot, and Mustard

It’s been a long time since I’ve roasted a Cornish Hen. There area few reasons for this: other meat, even boneless breast-and-rib meat, tends to be a bit cheaper by weight, pan-searing and smoking are quicker than roasting, and boneless meat is a lot more convenient for cutting up bite-sized and adding to a pasta dish or stir fry.

Mostly though, I got bored. When I roast Cornish Hens (or any other bird except duck) I do the same three things over and over again. Roasted plain with mustard powder and salt. Roasted with Guinness (okay, I’ll never get sick of this, but I buy beer maybe 6-7 times a year, so it’s not gonna happen often). Roasted with lemon, garlic, and honey. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but none of it really jumps out anymore and if there is anything I hate in the kitchen it’s feeling like I’m just making the same darn thing every week.


Too much time in a mass-producing kitchen only makes this worse. You try to get excited about cooking Cajun spiced fish after baking 1066 of them.

But I like roast chicken. It was just time to do it a bit differently. Good thing I had a copy of A Bird in the Oven hanging around. It’s one of those cookbooks I’ve had for a couple of years but inexplicably only ever use to make side dishes. This time I went looked at the chicken itself, ooh-ing at a few recipes and bookmarking others for possible dinner party use. I finally picked a recipe: roast chicken with saffron, ginger, and golden raisins.

Then, as usual, I changed pretty much everything.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

Ingredients (serves 2)


1 Cornish Hen

2 T butter at room temperature

6 dried apricots

1 T whole mustard

1 t mustard powder

1/4 t white pepper

1/2 t smoked paprika

1 t kosher salt

3/4 cup white wine


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spine out of the hen and cut through the breastbone, cutting it in half. Dry the hen well (better yet, dry cure it for a day or two in the fridge). Chop the apricots into about 1/4″ dice.


Combine the butter, diced apricots, and whole mustard in a small dish.


Squish together with a spoon until well combined.


Add the paprika and stir again.


Using your fingers and/or the back of a spoon, spread the butter mixture underneath the skin of your hen. This will feel gross. Persevere. Place the hens cut-side-down in a cast iron skillet or other oven safe dish and sprinkle the skins with the salt, mustard powder, and white pepper.


Roast 15 minutes at 400°F. Pop the skillet on the stove, reduce the heat to 350°F, and pour the wine over the chicken.


Return to the oven to roast another 25-30 minutes at 350°F. If you like crispy skin (and who doesn’t?) crank it up to broil for about two minutes at the end.


Let it rest just a couple of minutes to soak up a bit more of that wine before serving. Serve with spinach couscous and a plate of olives.


The apricot-mustard combination is definitely going to come out to play in future recipes. These are two of my favorite things but I never would have thought that combining them would work so well.


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Mustard Milanese

The Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Really good cookbooks present a problem for me, because once I get them I get so excited about everything that I can’t just choose a recipe and make it. Instead I declare that I want a four-course meal of everything in the book and then realize that even I can’t juggle that many burners at once. So I waffle about which recipe to make until 10PM and then it’s too late for proper dinner so we have plain pasta.


The SK cookbook is a really good cookbook. I try not to make too much fried food, but any recipe with mustard in it is completely irresistible to me, so out came the frying pan and oil. Then a week later, we made it again. It’s that good.

Ingredients (serves 2, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3/4 lb)

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg white

2 T mustard

salt and white pepper to taste

vegetable oil for frying


Place the chicken breast between two layers of saran wrap.


Fold a kitchen towel over the chicken.


Hulk out. No, really, just lay into it with a rolling pin or other blunt object that isn’t likely to break. You want smashed chicken breast no more than 1/4 inch thick.


Pour some oil into a frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. Mix the mustard, egg white, salt, and pepper in a dish and ready dishes for the flour and bread crumbs as well.


Dredge in flour, then mustard mixture, then bread crumbs. Fry about 3 minutes on the first side.


Fry another 2-3 minutes on the second side.


Serve with a salad with an extra-tart vinaigrette.


A bit of lemon juice at the end does improve this, but isn’t necessary if you always seem to be out of lemons. It also goes well with roasted artichokes and couscous.



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Chicken Liver Pate

So, odds are if you’re reading this you have at least one holiday party or New Year’s Eve party to go to. If you’re lucky, this means small, intimate dinner parties with family or friends, the kind where everyone brings a dessert or a bottle of something in spite of the host’s protests that there’s already too much food. It’s the end of the year, and we’re all breaking out recipes that we’d never make without the holiday excuse, because they’re fancy or time consuming or expensive to make.


Pâté is neither time-consuming nor expensive, but jaws will drop every single time you tell anyone you made it at home. It can be added unobtrusively to the appetizers present at most parties, or you can keep it to yourself and use it to round out a simple lunch of a cheese plate and salad.

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups, which is more than anyone needs)


about 1 1/4 pounds chicken livers

2 T butter

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup wine or brandy

1/4 cup whipping cream

2 T apricot jam

1/2 t salt

1/4 t white pepper

mustard seeds to taste


Melt butter over medium-high heat.


Mince or press garlic and cook until translucent.


Add the chicken livers. Cook briefly–not more than 2-3 minutes per side.


You still want to see some pink when you chop the livers with your spatula.


Scoop the livers into the bowl of a food processor or blender.


Clean your pan and add the wine or brandy to it.


Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by about 1/2. It is okay to estimate this.


Add the reduced wine, whipping cream, salt, spices, and jam to the bowl of the food processor.


Puree until smooth and creamy. This takes about 1 minute.


Scoop into ramekins or old mustard jars or whatever dish you plan to serve it out of.


It needs to chill before serving. Once it is cool, pour enough clarified butter to cover the surface over the top and return to the refrigerator. This serves the dual purpose of adding delicious fat and keeping the pâté from drying or discoloring.


Serve with salad, crackers, crudités, fruit, or a cheese plate.


Watch everyone marvel at your culinary genius, even though you and I both know it wasn’t hard at all.

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Curried Chicken and Potatoes

I seem to have developed an addiction to garam masala. It’s good in curries, on cooked greens, even sprinkled over popcorn. The fact that I’d never even tried Indian food until a few months ago seems to be no deterrent at all to now trying a new Indian recipe every week or two. It’s delightful; how did I go almost twenty-seven years without tasting the cuisine of an entire sub-continent?

Last week Mr. B and I were both sick, in need of comfort food, but also in the mood for something new and different. A curry of chicken and potatoes, spooned over warm naan, fit the bill perfectly.

I adapted this recipe rather heavily from e-curry (a blog I can’t seem to stop reading), replacing tomato sauce with one made from carrots among other things.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the marinade:

6 T Greek yogurt

3 T lime juice

1 T turmeric

1 T chile powder (less if you don’t want it too hot. Hatch pepper is pretty mild, though)

1 t mustard powder

1 t salt

1- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs or breasts

For the curry:

3 T vegetable or olive oil

1 potato

2 t garam masala

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

marinated chicken

1/2 cup carrot sauce (substitute tomato sauce if you like)

2-3 hot chiles

1 T brown sugar

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup lime juice

1 cup peas (optional)


Combine all marinade ingredients (except the chicken) in a zip top bag.

Mush them together and add the chicken. Marinate at least an hour. Overnight is better.

Cut the potato into large chunks (about 12). Heat the 3 T oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the potatoes.

Sprinkle the potatoes with turmeric and garam masala and salt.

Crank the heat down to medium-low and add the chicken and its marinade.

Add the carrot sauce* (or tomato, if using)

Add the broth and stir well. Split the chiles lengthwise and add them as well.

Stir in the brown sugar.

Cover the pot and lower the heat to a bare simmer. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lid and Stir in the lime juice. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the sauce is the desired consistency. Add peas directly if you like. Mr. B does not care for peas  so I cooked them separately and stirred them into my portion.

Serve with warm naan or over rice.

This is good, hot, just-spicy-enough comfort food. For a little more kick, add a few dried pequin peppers before simmering, or a dash of very hot sauce.

* I’ve made carrot sauce here before, but (1) frankly I’m embarrassed at how this blog used to look (not that it’s all that much better now…) and (2) that sauce is bay-leaved and parmesaned and otherwise Italian influenced, so here’s a more basic straight-up carrot sauce.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped

2 T olive oil or butter

2 t salt

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water

1/2 cup white wine


Heat the oil or butter in a pot over medium-high heat and add the carrots. Sprinkle with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the carrots caramelize.

Add the broth or water an simmer, covered, about 15 minutes

Remove the lid and add the wine.

Continue cooking to reduce the liquid by about half.

Turn the now-soft carrots and liquid into a sauce using an immersion blender, a blender, a food processor, or a potato ricer and patience.

Add any flavors you like, serve over pasta or use to replace tomato sauce in any recipe.

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Butter Chicken (sort of)

For years I’ve scoffed whenever someone described meat with the term “melt-in-your-mouth”. It’s meat, people. It’s tough and resistant and you have to tear it apart with your teeth like a predator. That’s even part of the appeal!

This chicken? It melts in your mouth. Like butter. It just dissolves, like popcorn in a glass of milk.  A yogurt marinade followed by a long, slow simmer apparently causes some sort of chemical witchery (that’s a technical term, folks) to occur. It is completely amazing.

Now, all that said, butter chicken is apparently supposed to have tomatoes in it. Even the few recipes I found without tomatoes had almonds, which I have no objection to but don’t usually keep in the house.  To call this recipe a departure from the norm is therefore perhaps too charitable.

I don’t care. It’s one of the best new things I’ve made in years.

This recipe is adapted from the Bollywood Cookbook, which is generally just a charming read, for recipes and otherwise.

Ingredients (serves ~2)

For the marinade:

1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt

1 T garam masala

1-2 t chile flakes

1-2 t ginger

2 t salt (I used a chipotle-lime salt, because why not?)

1/2 to 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

For cooking:

2 cups chicken broth

garlic, to taste

juice of 1 lime

3 T turmeric

1 T garam masala

2 T butter

4 T cream or yogurt


Combine the marinade ingredients (except the chicken) in a zip-top bag and knead it  to mix.

Add the chicken to the bag.

Knead again to evenly coat the chicken. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, melt 2 T of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cast-iron is my preference, but not necessary.

Brown the butter. You don’t have to, but it’s oh so good.

Add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later.

Brown the chicken.

Sprinkle the chicken with the turmeric, lime juice, and garam masala.

Add the chicken broth and garlic. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a bare simmer and let it cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade and stir.

Add the remaining 2 T butter, allow it to melt, and stir again. Cook another 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with naan and saag paneer.

Words do not do this dish justice.

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Teriyaki Chicken

I am the person you’re embarrassed to be seen with in a sushi restaurant. See, I don’t eat shellfish, the idea of cold fish wrapped in seaweed makes me gag, and I’m not even a fan of sake. So when we go out for Japanese food, I have teriyaki or tempura and Mr. B tries to pretend he doesn’t know me while he orders eight types of fish I can’t even recognize on sight.

Chicken, on the other hand, has a wider appeal. This chicken is perfect, with orange and soy and even a bit of sake to round out the sauce.

Ingredients (serves 2)

3/4 lb chicken parts

flour, for dredging

2-3 T oil for frying

3 T soy sauce

3 T sake

Juice of 1/2 of an orange (Satsuma or Clementine, not Navel)

1 T sugar

1 head of broccoli


Dredge the chicken pieces in flour.

Cook in heated oil in a wok for 1-2 minutes a side.

Set the chicken aside and drain the oil. Combine the soy sauce, sake, sugar, and orange juice in the wok. Stir to dissolve the sugar and heat over medium heat.

Add the chicken and flip to coat once the sauce begins to simmer.

Cut the broccoli into florets and toss in with the chicken.

Cover for about 5 minutes to steam the broccoli.

Toss everything in the sauce one last time before serving. Serve with rice and fried lotus root.

This is incredibly quick to make; even when juggling three hot pots and pans and a camera, everything was finished and plated in fifteen minutes. I like the addition of orange to the sauce, because our favorite Japanese restaurant adds a whole orange on the side of their teriyaki and the best bites are the ones the orange has oozed into. It’s tangy and delicious.

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Artichoke Pesto

Pesto has been in short supply in our apartment this summer, since the heat has so thoroughly stunted the growth of basil that we haven’t been able to save up enough for a pesto. I kept looking back at the pea pesto  posted on Smitten Kitchen back in June, but Mr. B hates peas. He hates them like a four-year-old boy, making faces and stomping his feet if I even talk about putting peas in something he has to eat, too.

We both love artichokes, though. And if pureed artichokes can be used to fill pierogis, I couldn’t see why they wouldn’t make a perfectly good pesto.

I was right. It’s creamy and rich, but still fresh and light as a pesto should be.

Ingredients (serves 2)

8 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

1/4 pound asparagus

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1-2 cloves garlic

2 T lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil, plus a few teaspoons for cooking the vegetables

salt and pepper to taste

6 oz. dry pasta

2 chicken breasts

a few basil leaves

2 T butter, oil, or schmaltz


Heat a splash of olive oil and the 2 T of lemon juice over high heat.

Add the artichokes.

Sauté the artichokes until they are well browned.

Set aside the artichokes and add the asparagus to the pan.

Sauté the asparagus as well. Also the garlic, if your garlic has not been stolen by a squirrel.

Put the artichokes, asparagus, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil.

Process until it forms a smooth paste.

Add the parmesan, salt, and pepper and process it again.

Set the pesto aside. Heat some oil or butter or schmaltz over medium-high heat in a grill pan.

Add the chicken and some basil leaves to the pan.

Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes a side until it’s fully cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the heat and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

Drain the pasta and top it with the pesto.

Stir in the pesto.

Divide the pasta among your plates and top with the basil chicken.

Serve immediately. The pesto might be easier to stir into the pasta if you thin it out with a bit of pasta water, but I never remember to reserve any and it was delightful without alteration. We had a bit of pesto leftover and spread it over some toasted French bread for lunch the next day. If you like artichokes, this pesto is a must.



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