Gratuitous Blood Orange Picture
Tis the season for wonderful citrus. My whole family has been, as my friend Shani would put it, on a serious Clementine bender. We just can’t seem to get enough of those sweet little orange bundles of yum. I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into my obsession for pink grapefuit, and just yesterday I snagged a hoard of gorgeous, jewel-like blood oranges at my favorite produce store. Then there are the bags (bags!) of meyer lemons that my mom has been bringing by from her prolific front yard harvest (along with the occasional lemon meringue pie — keep ’em coming, mom!). I think my whole family is in heaven right now.
The sight of a pile of juicy meyer lemons in my refrigerator jogged my memory about a recipe that I haven’t made since my husband and I were dating. “Chicken with Roasted Lemon & Rosemary Sauce” from Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country. I can vividly recall the night we cooked this in his minimally equipped, bachelor kitchen by the light of a fluorescent bulb. I believe we also made our own pasta that night, and drank copious amounts of wine — we were probably listening to Green Day. Isn’t it amazing how a certain recipe or taste can bring you right back to such a specific time and place? Roasted meyer lemons = hubby’s bachelor apartment; steamed fish and wintermelon soup = my childhood kitchen table, Hungarian goulash = my first collage apartment.
So with fond memories of our breezy single days, we uncorked some wine and enjoyed this easy, delicious dish all over again — this time around our family table. I’m not quite sure why we waited so long to reprise this one, but I’m glad we did.
Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic
(adapted from “The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country“, by Michael Chiarello)
- 2 Bone-In, Skin-On Split Chicken Breasts
- 3 Meyer Lemons (or substitute regular lemons as in the original recipe), cut in half, drizzled in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled for 5-7 minutes until tops are very lightly charred
- 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary, Leaves Finely Minced
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- Several Sprigs of Parsley, Leaves Finely Minced
- ** 10-12 Small New Potatoes, Steamed Until Tender and Sliced in Half ** (optional)
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the broth in a pan on a back burner to let it reduce while you start cooking everything else.
- Season chicken with salt an pepper. Heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove and add 1 Tbl of olive oil. Sear chicken in the hot skillet until golden brown on all sides. [At this point, the original recipe calls for you to remove the chicken, crisp the steamed potatoes in the pan, then return the chicken skin side up back to the pan on top of the potatoes].
- Baste the chicken with a little of the pan juices and turn the pieces are skin side up. Then move the skillet into the oven until chicken is cooked through. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should reach 165 degrees. Remove chicken to a platter and cover it loosely with foil to keep it warm while you finish the sauce. (Keep a pot holder over the skillet handle so you don’t accidentally grab it while it is still hot. I speak from experience here!)
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan then add the garlic and minced rosemary and saute until the garlic is lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and if they or the garlic start to get too dark, quickly add some broth and stir.
- Squeeze the roasted, cooled lemons into the pan through a fine mesh sieve. Add 3/4 cup of the warm, reduced broth (you should have some left over) and let the sauce simmer for several minutes to let it thicken to a saucy consistency. If you remember, add in the juices that have collected on the platter with the chicken as well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You can add additional chicken broth to balance the flavor if needed (or a little hot water).
- When the sauce is to your liking, drizzle it over the chicken and sprinkle with minced parsley.
You might also like these citrus-y posts: Pink Grapefruit Granita; Sweet Lemon Thyme Crisps; Bar Jules Lamb with Preserved Lemons; Pickling Project: Preserved Lemons; Keeping Lemons Fresh and Other Tasty Tidbits
There are some recipes that really get you salivating, like this beauty I found in the “Genius Recipes” section of the website Food 52 which comes courtesy of former Gourmet magazine Food Editor, Ian Knauer. Rosemary, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar reduced to a sweet-tangy, syrupy glaze is something I might be halfway tempted to drink all on its own if I thought I could get away with it, but chicken drumettes (or pork ribs as the original recipe calls for) are probably a more civilized vehicle. I don’t see why you couldn’t try using this glaze on vegetables, say a portobello mushroom or a thick slab of zucchini. I could see that being very tasty indeed. Needless to say I was a hero to my family for making this. Husband, preschooler and baby… they all loved it as much as I did.
Click here to check out the original recipe and browse some of Food 52’s other “Genius Recipes” (Brown Butter Tart Crust, Waffles of Insane Greatness or Le Bernadin’s Crispy Skinned Fish, anyone?) But before you click on over there, here are my notes for making this dish weeknight dinner-friendly. You could also use the same marinade-then-roast-then-broil technique and change the flavor profile (think chili, lime and honey), with inspiration from Simran’s “Icky Sticky Chicken Wings” recipe.
Sticky Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes (based on a recipe for ribs from Ian Knauer)
In the morning, the day before: Marinate your drumettes.
- The marinade is pantry-friendly: equal parts minced rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (Tablespoon of each ought to do it) and enough water to loosen things up a little. Salt and pepper, dash of cayenne if you like. I know Simran would spice this up with some dried chiles.
- Toss the drumettes well in the marinade, place in a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Night before: Roast the drumettes and make the glaze.
- Ian Knauer uses a hot oven to roast the ribs (425 degrees). I roasted my drumettes at 425 for about 30-35 minutes, then removed them to a plate to cool.
- Deglaze the roasting pan with more balsamic, water and brown sugar (I used 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part sugar, for about 1 1/4 cups of liquid). Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the baking dish. I then transferred the glaze to a sauce pan to reduce and placed the cooled drumettes back into the roasting pan, covered them with foil and returned them to the refrigerator.
- Reducing the glaze until it’s the consistency of maple syrup is critical and it does take a while (maybe 20-25 minutes). It’s got to be thick enough to coat and stick to the chicken. Let the glaze bubble away, stirring occasionally until it has thickened. Pour it into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate it.
Dinner time: You can get this deliciousness on the table in hurry with minimum of fuss.
- Preheat your broiler, liberally brush the glaze on the chicken and broil for 5-8 minutes turning a few times and brushing on more glaze until the chicken is heated through and the glaze is caramelized.
Cauliflower is a tough vegetable to like. I wasn’t a huge fan myself until I discovered simple roasted cauliflower, as in the recipe below, or cauliflower and potatoes roasted with some spices (cumin, coriander & chilli powder). I have Ria “more interested” in cauliflower since I told her that it is a flower that you can eat. She’s is not fully convinced but I keep trying to talk it up. For now, I mash the cauliflower below with some rice and yogurt and serve the chicken cut up in bite size pieces on top and she’ll gobble it up after school when she is starving. It’s pretty amazing how finickiness goes down the hungrier they are! I am not into “hiding” vegetables but sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do!
I am also looking forward to trying Cauliflower Cheese by Food-4-Tots – it looks delicious and I think mixed with some macaroni it could be a kiddie hit.
Chicken with Cauliflower (adapted from Everyday Food)
I modified the recipe slightly by sprinkling some cumin powder and a pinch of chllli flakes on the cauliflower before adding it to the pan. Also, if you like “crunchier” cauliflower don’t salt it till the cooking it done. The salt draws out the water and makes the cauliflower mushy. Which if you are mashing it for the kids is not a terrible thing.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (6 to 8 ounces each)
- 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into large florets
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Season chicken with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Place cauliflower around chicken, turning to coat in pan juices; season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in parsley, vinegar, and capers (if using).
Have you ever had one of those ultimate meals — one your mind wanders back to, even years later? Tortellini in brodo at a little restaurant in Bologna (I can’t even remember the name of the place!) ranks in there as one of the best things I have ever eaten. A few humble tortellini swimming around in some broth — but somehow impossibly delicious. Tim says his grandmother’s cousin Alina used to whip up homemade tortellini for lunch whenever they came to visit her in Lucca, Italy. I regret that I never had the chance to sample them. You can’t get much better than homecooking from an Italian nonna!
So, peeking into my refrigerator the other day and seeing a half of a package of gyoza wrappers and a few pieces of prosciutto, I got the inspiration to take a try at tortellini. It’s really not too hard but it does take some time, so better saved for when you’re not rushed to get dinner on the table. You can do some of it in advance (the broth, the filling) and it’s a nice way to use up extra roasted meat you might have on hand. This definitely falls into the category of something extra special to cook for people you love! Most kids love simple, uncomplicated food, so this should be a big hit.
This will make 100+ tortellini. You can freeze the extra tortellini on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and transfer to a freezer safe container once they are frozen.
- 1/2 pound chicken (breast or thigh, your choice)
- 1 small onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- Several slices proscuitto and/or mortadella
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk
- ~100 Fresh pasta squares (wonton wrapper will do)
Extra Chicken-y Broth
I got a little inspiration in the broth department from Charlie Trotter’s “Egg Drop Soup with Ginger-Braised Chicken” recipe from the “Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home” cookbook. He makes a super flavorful broth by simmering chicken in stock and using the resulting braising liquid for the final dish.
- In a hot pan, sear the chicken for a few minutes on both sides until golden.
- Roughly chop 1 small onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk and add to the pan, cooking 5-10 minutes until caramelized.
- Add 2 quarts chicken stock and simmer 30 minutes or so or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken.
- Put the stock through a strainer and skim off the fat. Or to make things easier make the stock the day before, strain and refrigerate, removing the fat after it has cooled.
- Remove skin/bones from the cooked chicken and finely mince. (BTW: In lieu of or in addition to the chicken, you could substitute any combination of cooked meats you might have on hand… a good opportunity to use up leftovers)
- Add a few slices of minced prosciutto and/or mortadella, one egg yolk, and a cup or so of grated parmesan cheese, and just a teeny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. You could add well-drained ricotta or whatever herbs or seasonings you desire. Mix until well combined. Since all but the egg yolk is cooked, definitely taste and adjust the seasonings — you could even mix in the egg yolk after tasting if you’re concerned about it.
- Fill each pasta square with a tsp of filling. Lightly wet the edges and fold in half to form a triangle. Press to seal making sure there are no air pockets. With the triangle point facing up, bring the 2 bottom corners together around your finger and pinch to seal. Gently fold back the triangle point (the one that was facing up). Place on a kitchen towel without letting the tortellini touch. I used circular gyoza wrapers just because I had them and it worked out fine. Homemade pasta if you really have some time on your hands, would be phenomenal, of course.
- Here’s a video if you want a quick little video tutorial on folding tortellini.
- Heat the broth. If you want you can throw in a handful of peas and some steamed, diced carrots (I know, not traditional, but I’m always trying to get more vegetables on the table).
- Cook the tortellini in well-salted water for 8-10 minutes.
- Spoon the cooked tortellini into bowls and ladle the broth (with the optional vegetables) over. Add some grated parmesan cheese on top.