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pollo marroquí

lemons perking up the kitchen

For a minute there, things were beginning to warm up in Connecticut. Last weekend, we went out to a lacrosse game and I actually got a sunburn on my face. Things were looking up. And then, just like that, the warm air retreated. But I find myself, in this situation, seeing the pantry staples in a new way. And while this recipe has a long list of ingredients, due to a riot of spices, the gist of it is quite short. Spices, onion, garlic, lemon, olives, chicken.

I named this Moroccan chicken, but in Spanish, because I imagine the dish as a cross between the two cultures. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, use crushed red pepper, and if you don’t have za’atar, add a pinch of thyme, and just a few sesame seeds. I personally wouldn’t add a speck more cinnamon than 1/4 teaspoon, but you may like cumin more than I do. The paprika should be Spanish, but of course Hungarian will do. And I did not use smoked, because I wanted all the spices to harmonize. I had pitted green olives—just make sure they’re the Spanish kind, and not stuffed. You want the oily, vegetal quality of the olives from Spain without the overly salty brine.

simmering away

Handling the lemons as described is important. The zest, in great big strips, simmers away for the whole cooking time. The flesh of the lemon is sectioned out, and added just at the end, with the olives. The zest permeates the dish with lemon flavor and the juicy bites of lemon segments are a welcome awakening at the table.

The smell of this in the kitchen is pure heaven. And it is a weeknight supper to die for. Just before I started the chicken, I put on a pot of brown basmati rice, replacing half the water with chicken stock. With a salad and a big platter of fruit (if you like), you have supper. In my imagination, at least, this might be a fun dinner for kids to help out with, ransacking the spice drawer, scavenging the jars with the most alluring names. Imagining how warm it is in the places from which the spices came, and what it might be like to sail there, balancing on the foretop with their toes, squinting to fend off the sun. Of course that’s just for the kids. Grown-ups, we don’t need our imagination to survive the final days of winter.

ready to serve

Pollo marroquí

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
  • 3/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 – 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • about 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock

1. Place a tiny bowl (such as a ramekin) and a small bowl (that will hold about 2 cups) on your work surface. Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest only from the entire lemon in thin strips. Place in the tiny bowl or ramekin. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, Aleppo or crushed red pepper, ginger, and za’atar to the tiny bowl and set it aside.

2. Now place the small bowl (that will hold up to 2 cups) near your work surface. Take the peeled lemon and, using a very sharp paring knife, slice off both ends to create a flat end. Turn the lemon onto one end and use the knife to remove the pith, following carefully along the curve of the lemon, exposing the juicy pulp. Flip to the other end to finish removing any remaining pith. Then section out wedges of lemon pulp by running the knife just inside the membranes, removing the slice of pulp only and placing it in the small bowl. Squeeze any juice remaining in the membranes into the bowl with the pulp. Add the olives to the lemon pulp, and set aside.

3. In a large, shallow casserole or saute pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add boneless, skinless thighs and move them carefully around the pan as you put them in, so that the chicken does not stick. Cook until light brown on one side, then carefully flip them over and cook the other side, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken with tongs and set nearby on a plate. Place sliced onion in the pan, still over medium heat, and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Saute for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and golden brown. Add the spices and zest in the tiny bowl to the pan. Stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, and add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and return the chicken plus any accumulated juices to the pan. Stir, and add the lid. Turn heat all the way down and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked and tender. Flip chicken pieces about halfway through cooking.

4. Remove the lid from the pan and remove the chicken to a clean plate. (I flip the lid onto its handle—my Le Creuset braiser has a flat knob—and rest the chicken there.) Cook pan juices for 5 to 10 minutes at medium-high to reduce and thicken them. Then stir in the contents of the other bowl: lemon pulp, juice, and olives. Reduce heat to a low simmer, return chicken to pan, and simmer at lowest heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve chicken on rice or couscous with a big scoop of sauce from the pan.

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chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Don’t stop cooking just because Thanksgiving is coming! My unscientific study of the week before Thanksgiving shows that restaurants seem more busy as Thanksgiving approaches, as though every home kitchen in the land is marshaling its resources for our all-American holiday. Surely, though, the pantries are well stocked with root vegetables, broth for making gravy, more than enough herbs to season a week’s worth of meals. And those of you who are traveling for the nation’s ritual meal must have plenty of odds and ends in the refrigerator that you should use up before leaving the house. Eggs can be can be made into tarts with stray bits of bacon or cheese or vegetables, or eaten on an open-faced sandwiched, or poached over roasted vegetables. Odds and ends of stale bread and vegetables can be made into a hearty ribollita, or any number of other soups.

As we were trying to clean out our own refrigerator before heading to Delaware for the holiday later this week, chicken pot pie seemed like an obvious candidate for a scavenger meal. After I pulled the third potato and second turnip out of the crisper drawer—not to mention that giant celery root—I realized that all the root vegetables I had couldn’t just go into the filling. There was only one appropriately frugal course of action in this puritanical season: a mashed topping like shepherd’s pie would have to replace my classic pot-pie-topper, a rye crust. If you have fewer items in your refrigerator, you could simply serve this as a hearty stew, stopping the preparation after the mixture simmers and just before the topping is added and it is popped into the oven. Or you could make the rye crust, or top it with biscuits instead.

You have probably already realized that this is a bonus leftovers recipe: replace the chicken breasts with leftover turkey meat and you have a great post-Thanksgiving meal. Just use your leftover mashed potatoes on top (maybe even leftover kale in the filling) and call it a day.  Everyone else will call you a genius!

Chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Serves 6

Topping:

  • 3 large, waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, quartered
  • 1 turnip, peeled quartered, and each quarter halved
  • 1 celery root, peeled and quartered, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon

Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bunch (8 to 10 large leaves) collards, lacinato kale, or kale, sliced into a chiffonade
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with a teaspoon or two of cold water, enough to make a pourable slurry
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Add potatoes, turnip, celery root, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Test celery root and potatoes with a sharp knife; it should be easy to slide the tip of the knife into the vegetables. If uncertain about doneness, remove a sample from the pan and taste. When vegetables are cooked, drain them and put them in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a food mill. Mash them with the paddle attachment of the mixer, or by grinding in the food mill. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

2. While vegetables simmer, preheat oven to 375 F. In a large stovetop-to-oven casserole or saute pan, warm olive oil, onion, carrots, and turnip over medium-high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and turnips may begin to turn a golden color. (Reduce heat if vegetables begin to brown.)  Add herbs, chicken, stir and then cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring only once, until chicken is turning brown. Then add kale and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

3. As this mixture simmers, pour in the flour slurry, stirring constantly to incorporate. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. Sprinkle with kosher salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.

4. Scoop mashed vegetables on top of chicken mixture, and spread to 1 to 2 inch thickness, leaving the edges uncovered. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until mashed topping just browns. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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chicken w glazed turnips

I feel there should be an annual celebration the week when turnips finally appear in the farmers’ market. To me, this is one of the great advantages of fall. Last week, when I saw the first ones at the Wednesday market, I was on my way from one meeting to another. I grabbed three gorgeous purple globes and popped them into my bag. They went to every meeting with me the rest of the afternoon, including a cocktail reception in the Beinecke Library. I must confess that I was quite distracted during the reception. All I could think was, “when was the last time that Gutenberg Bible across the room was within spitting distance of a bag full of turnips?” See, the turnip is the little black dress of the vegetable world, and perfectly at home in a building full of incunabula. And I’m sure they were just as popular in 15th century Germany as they are today. I always wondered about those ensembles advertised in J. Crew as “perfect for the transition from work to evening.” Now I know what they were talking about.

I  thought Melissa Clark’s article about roasting chicken thighs with whatever for supper last week was smart advice. I frequently turn to my skillet, rather than the oven. But I think the method below would work just as well for: cubed potatoes, butternut squash, rutabagas, broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes. Just for starters. Usually we don’t have boneless, skinless breasts, but that happened to be what I had this week. I was afraid the dish would not be very flavorful, but it was just the opposite. The chicken browned very nicely and left a great fond in the pan, which really enriched the turnips and turned them a delightful deep caramel color. Anyway, I think pork chops and chicken thighs would also be nice here. In fact, I plan on trying the pork chops next.

Until then, dear reader, I give you: the humble turnip. She walks with kings, nor lacks the common touch.

Chicken w glazed turnips

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large purple-top turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey

1. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on both sides of chicken breasts. In a large nonstick skillet or saute pan (that has a tight-fitting lid), warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until each side is deeply browned. Then add the lid to the pan and turn heat to medium-low, cooking with the lid on for about 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 170 F. Set chicken aside on a plate and cover with foil. There may be a good bit of brown fond in the pan from the chicken. This is good.

2. Add garlic and butter to skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add diced turnips and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until turnips are dark brown and beginning to caramelize. Add thyme, broth, and honey to the pan and replace the lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, until turnips are cooked through. About halfway through this cooking time, remove lid and thoroughly stir and redistribute turnips.

3. When turnips are tender and cooked, return breasts and any accumulated juices to the pan. Heat together for 5 minutes. Serve each person some chicken and turnips piping hot, perhaps with brown rice cooked in chicken broth.

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chicken pot pie with beans + kale

I will file this post under the heading “old dogs: new tricks.” For whatever reason—probably because it was one of the first things I made for supper when I was a kid—I love to make chicken pot pies. And I always make them exactly the same way. This way. And they are delicious.

The other night, however, I didn’t feel like dealing with potatoes, and while I had chicken thighs ready to go, I also had a bag of kale and some Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo that I had cooked a few nights earlier. They were tucked away in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator, awaiting their true calling.Which I found for them when I plucked Heirloom Beans, the wonderful cookbook from the founder of Rancho Gordo, off my cookbook shelf and leafed through to find this recipe. It’s a pot pie that uses beans and kale along with chicken thighs. The original calls for a frozen puff pastry crust, which you should definitely use if you have one kicking around. I happened to have some of my rye pastry crust, which works beautifully for pot pies, so that is what I used.

It is hard to describe how good the sauce is that forms around the chicken and vegetables in this delectable pie. It defies reason. Instead of being thickened with a bit of flour, like my usual pot pie, some of the beans are pureed with their cooking liquid and added to the mirepoix-wine-broth mixture in which the chicken is originally simmered. It is so good. (It was really hard not to put 15 or 16 letter o’s after “so” in that sentence.) In fact, if you don’t have or don’t feel like making the pot pie, I would heartily recommend that you simply make this recipe up to the point of the final simmer before the crust is added. Simply eat this as a stew, with some bread or biscuits on the side.

There is quite a bit of prep involved with this, especially if you make your own crust. After you wash and chop everything, while chicken is having its initial simmer, you need to blanch the kale and also puree part of the beans. However, this is also one of those dishes you can partially prep the night before. You could even finish cooking the stew, cool the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight, and simply bring it back to a simmer and then add the crust the next day . If you wanted a midway approach, you could blanch the kale, prep the crust, and of course cook the beans in advance. You could also used a canned cranberry bean with its liquid, I think, quite successfully. In any case, don’t miss out on this hearty and healthy pot pie. I don’t think I’ll be making the old version again any time soon.

Chicken pot pie with beans + kale

Adapted from Heirloom Beans by Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington

  • Half recipe of this rye crust, rolled out on parchment to fit over the dish you are using, and held in the refrigerator until needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, scrubbed, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bunches (about 6 ounces) of kale, washed, trimmed, chopped
  • 2.5 cups cooked cranberry beans or Good Mother Stallard beans plus cooking liquid
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Select a heavy casserole pan with a lid that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. Or, select a saute pan for preparing the filling, and plan to dump it into a large pie plate later to be topped with crust and baked.

2. Warm olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add chicken thighs and brown first on one side, then flip to the second side until it is also browned. Remove thighs to a plate or platter and add onion, carrot, and celery to the pan. Saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft and a dark brown fond is forming on the bottom of the pan, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and caramelize it a bit on the bottom of the pan, and then add the wine. Using a wooden spoon or other utensil that won’t scratch your pan, scrape the fond up into the wine quite aggressively, blending it into the sauce. Let the wine bubble away almost completely.

3. Return the chicken to the pot, with the thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until thighs are cooked through.

4. While the chicken is simmering, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the kale and blanch it for about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain it and rinse under cold water. Squeeze all the water from the kale, so that it form a dry, compact ball. Set aside.

5. Measure out 1 cup of the beans plus enough liquid to come just beneath the top layer of beans in the 1 cup measure. Pour the 1 cup of beans plus liquid into the blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, and puree until completely smooth. Return this mixture to the additional 1.5 cups of whole beans and set aside.

6. Preheat oven to 425 F. When chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, add the dry kale, beans and puree to the pot. Stir well and simmer for another 15 minutes, without the lid, to allow the flavors to blend. Taste carefully and season with salt and pepper.

7. Remove pan from heat. Take the rye crust rolled out on parchment and invert it over the pan. Peel parchment from the back of pastry. Fold over any edges that hang over and crimp them roughly. Cut slits into the pastry and pop into the hot oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until pastry is browning, crisp and flaky. Let the pot pie rest for 15 minutes before serving.

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roast chicken with lemons, rosemary + garlic

I suppose it says something about me when I say that I started making this chicken because the recipe sternly warned that the chicken might explode while cooking. My first version of this chicken was a strict rendition of Marcella Hazan’s “Roast Chicken with Lemons,” from Essentials of Italian Cooking. You pierce two lemons all over, stick them in the chicken and truss it. Marcella warns not to truss it too tight (something I assure you I am not talented enough to actually pull off), or pressure could build up inside the chicken as the lemons heat up, causing it to burst.

The result of this experiment was a wonderful chicken, delicious and moist and perfectly seasoned. It emerged from the oven without incident. However, the next recipe in the book is “Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Garlic,” and it sounded good, too. But I didn’t want to give up the wonderful basting effect the lemons had on the bird. (Apparently, though they may cause the bird to burst at any moment, they emit moisture throughout cooking just like basting would.) So I combined the two recipes, and haven’t looked back. When it comes to “trussing” the chicken, I use two skewers, weaving the sharp end like a needle through the flaps of skin at the neck and rear of the chicken. This trusses it up nicely but without the trouble of using a trussing needle and butcher’s twine. I think you could also successfully stitch it up with sturdy toothpicks. Just don’t do too good a job of it or it might explode. Or so I like to think.

Roast chicken with lemons, rosemary + garlic

Adapted from Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Italian Cooking

  • 1 roasting chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 2 small lemons, pierced about 20-25 times with a toothpick or fork
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 left whole, the other two stripped of their needles
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and remove giblets if present. Salt and pepper the chicken inside and out.

2. Place whole sprig of rosemary, all of the garlic and both lemons inside the chicken’s cavity. Using a trussing needle and twine, or sturdy toothpicks or skewers, stitch the chicken’s two openings closed. Be careful! Don’t truss it too tightly or the chicken may explode while cooking. Or so I am told.

3. Rub the needles from the other two sprigs of rosemary on the outside of the chicken. Place in a baking pan breast side down. Place in oven.

4. Cook for 35 minutes, remove, and carefully flip chicken with the breast side up. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

5. Without opening the oven, increase temperature to 400 F. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until internal temperature of the coldest part of the chicken breast has reached 180 F.

6. Remove from oven and serve immediately, or let the bird rest for up to one hour. It will stay nice and warm.

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chicken braised with shallots + mustard

Let’s hear it for simple weeknight suppers. Anything that I can cook in 25 minutes and serve with a simple salad is tops in my book, at least Monday through Thursday. There is nothing fancy about this recipe, and it is made with pantry staples. If you have different herbs in your pantry, switch things up. When I make dishes like this one, I often deglaze the pan with wine and then add chicken stock. But when I made this last week, I didn’t feel like tangling with opening a bottle of white wine. I deglazed the pan with the stock only, so to bring some acidity to balance the dish, I added a bit of grainy mustard to the pan. And we have a winner. Fewer ingredients, totally simple idea. (If you have a bit of wine you’re looking to get rid of, add a cup of it, deglaze the pan, cooking most of it off, and then add the stock.) Look at this gorgeous fond!

If you don’t know this recipe from Alton Brown for baking your brown rice, stop the presses! When I get home and need rice to go with supper, I pop this into the oven first, and forget about it. You can chop, prep, slice, saute, deglaze and simmer on the stovetop, and an hour later, without having lifted a finger, you will have perfect rice, every time. I use a Le Creuset enameled cast-iron pan to make this, but Alton suggests a 9 x 9-inch baking dish wrapped tightly in foil. Either way, this is great stuff. In total, nothing earth-shattering here, but I hope this makes for a nice supper for you after a hard day’s work. Make a quick salad, and if you open a bottle of wine, have a glass and enjoy your meal.

Chicken braised with shallots + mustard

  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 huge shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 cup chicken stock

1. In a large braising pan or covered saute pan (large enough to hold all the thighs in a single layer), melt butter and oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot, add thighs and brown very well on both sides. Remove thighs to a plate.

2. Add shallots, garlic, aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper, and thyme to pan. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are cooked and a nice brown fond has formed on the bottom of the pan. (Don’t let it burn!) Add grainy mustard and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Use a spatula or turner to scrape every bit of the fond into the liquid.

3. When the bottom of pan is totally clean, add thighs back to the pan and cover it. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn thighs, cover pan, and cook 5 minutes more, or until thighs are fully cooked. Serve thighs on rice, spooning pan sauce over.

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chicken pot pie with rye pastry lid

Earlier in the week I posted this spinach ricotta tart recipe and noted that I’d give another recipe this week that would help you use the other half of the rye pastry you have to make for the tart. At the time, I must confess, I wasn’t sure what the second recipe would be. Typically, when I make chicken pot pie, which is quite a lot—it uses ingredients on hand and leftover chicken, what could be better—I make my favorite biscuit recipe and roll it out for the topping. This makes a topping much thicker than a pie crust and a bit thinner than a typical biscuit. I love the combination. There’s a chance, though, that this rye pastry will supplant my beloved biscuit topping.

I honestly can’t remember when I started making pot pies. Perhaps the first recipe I used was in my mother’s 1950s edition of the Better Homes & Gardens Children’s Cookbook? Over time, I developed my own methodology, which I think is probably a typical pot-pie routine, but who knows? You can use (and I often do) leftover roast or poached chicken to your liking. This week I just happened not to have any kicking around, so I poached the chicken while I prepped the vegetables. I always use celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peas, but you could also include turnips or other root vegetables. I have often replaced the potato with whatever I had around: rutabaga, turnips, parsnips.

You start by making a basic stew, by sauteing the vegetables in butter and then adding a bit of flour to thicken things up later. You want the vegetables to be mostly cooked, but not completely cooked, by the time you put the whole thing in the oven to bake the pastry. This takes a little practice, and over time you  know just what to do. I did time myself (probably for the first time ever) when making this, and my timing is reflected below. The thing is, the time you want to cook everything totally depends on how big the pieces of potato and carrot are—they’re the rate-limiting factors here when it comes to cooking time.

When the stew is mostly done but the vegetables are not soft, you add the peas and chicken, pop the pastry on top, and put the whole business in the oven. Frankly, the hardest part of making this is resisting the urge to eat the pot pie right when in comes out of the oven. But don’t do it! It will burn your tongue. If you can just hang on 10 minutes, you can eat the whole thing.

Chicken pot pie with rye pastry lid

  • rye pastry for lid, recipe here (this makes twice what you’ll need for this dish
  • 1 whole chicken breast with bone and skin, split (2 half breasts, often sold as “split breasts”)
  • 1/2 onion (6 ounces) finely chopped
  • 8 carrots (9 ounces), peeled, trimmed,  chopped into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
  • 2 stalks of celery, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato (15 ounces), scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • about 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • minced flat-leaf Italian parsley, for serving (optional)

1. First, make the pastry according to the instructions and place in the refrigerator.

2. In a pan large enough to submerge the chicken breasts, place chicken breasts and cover by 1 inch with water. Place over high heat and simmer until internal temperature of breasts is 180 F, about 30 minutes. Remove breasts from water and allow to cool. While breasts are simmering, prepare your vegetables. You can place the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and potato all in one bowl to simplify your prep.

3. In an ovenproof casserole that you can use on the stovetop, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add a bit more butter if the pan becomes dry. Add thyme, stir. Then sprinkle the tablespoon of flour over the top of the vegetables finely, and stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, to take away the raw taste of the flour.

4. Add about a 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan, coating vegetables well and incorporating the flour into the stock. Then add the rest of the stock until you have a fairly liquid consistency. (This could take anywhere from 2 to 3 cups of stock. Keep in mind you still have to add the cooked chicken and peas, so at this point you want it to be fairly stew-like.)

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes more at low temperature. While this is simmering, preheat the oven to 400 F. Then roll out the pastry lid just to the size of the top of your dish, on a well-floured surface. I find rolling it on a sheet of parchment makes transfer to the pan easy later on. Then, remove skin and bones from the cooked chicken, and tear it into bite-sized pieces. When these tasks are finished, taste a bit of the stew in the pot. If the potatoes are nearly cooked, add the chicken and peas, and return to a simmer.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and place the pastry lid on top of the pan. Pop the pan into the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Allow the pot pie to sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with the parsley, if using, and then serve.

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chicken-liver crostini

Oh, chicken livers. Be still my heart. We have bought our chickens from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm at CitySeed’s Wooster Square market for a while. And for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out where the chickens’ livers go. They are totally absent from the array of meats and cheeses offered by Sankow. A few weeks ago at the market, one of the farm’s employees told me as I was digging through a freezer of chicken, “those are the livers in there.” I had to look twice, but then I looked up and asked, “how many do you have?” She replied there were the two packages in the case, which were each about a pound and a quarter. I said I would take both. She had a twinkle in her eye as she said that they had been putting the livers in the dog food mixture (oh, how it hurts me just to write that) but she had convinced the owners to save these out to sell. To mere humans! Heaven forfend.

I had recently been at the holiday party of an Italian friend living in New Haven and doing research. An amazing cook, Laura had prepared a multitude of dishes from all over Italy. While I have had chicken livers prepared many ways, I was most enchanted by her chicken-liver crostini, which had an incredible depth of flavor, served just warm, on crusty bread. I immediately found all the recipes I could for this Florentine classic, and finally settled, mostly, on this version from Food and Wine. Many recipes call for garlic, or tomato paste, or both, which would add new dimensions to the livers. But I think for those of us who really love chicken livers, this version with the deeply browned onions is best. It doesn’t meddle too much with the wonderful flavor of great chicken livers. I did borrow the idea of sweet vermouth from another recipe—Food and Wine originally called for cognac, which perhaps you should try. But the sweet vermouth adds a faint sweetness and herbal character that I think blends nicely with the sage here.

There is no doubt these are rich—and you may want to halve the recipe when you make this unless you are having a very large party. But if you think you hate chicken livers, this recipe may convert you. And if not, then at least please refrain from feeding the livers to your dog!

Chicken-liver crostini

Adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed of veins and sinews, patted very dry
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly dried sage, or 8 to 10 fresh leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 anchovy fillet, minced
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet vermouth
  • thin rounds of bread cut from a baguette or another similar loaf

1. Toast bread on a baking sheet at 350 F. After first side is toasted (about 5 minutes) flip rounds over to toast the other side, for a total of 10 – 15 minutes. Set aside on serving tray. While toasts are toasting, prep ingredients and measure everything so that you’re ready to make the livers next.

2. In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the white onion, sage, and rosemary, and cook about five minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the anchovy and capers, and sprinkle the mixture with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute for about 8 more minutes, until onion is pale golden and beginning to brown. Scrape mixture into a bowl and set it aside.

3. Pour the rest of the olive oil into the skillet and turn heat near high. When oil is about to smoke, pour in chicken livers and arrange in a single layer. Be very careful, and use a spatter screen! Cook for two to three minutes on the first side, until brown with dark brown spots, then flip livers and cook for one to two minutes more. Stir in the onion mixture. Pour vermouth over and light it with a match. (Careful.) Cook and stir until flames subside.

4. Scrape mixture into the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the blade. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly. Then, pulse on and off, scraping sides after every few pulses, until a chunky pate emerges. Taste again and adjust the salt and pepper.

5. Put a healthy dollop of the livers on each round of bread, and serve.

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chicken broth

There are so many ways to make chicken broth. At home, we always took the carcass of a roast chicken plus anything that was scrapped after supper and submerged it in boiling water with a half an onion, some carrots, and some celery. This simmered for a long time and we used it for broth. I always made broth that way, but lately have adopted this method, which loosely resembles what I’ve read in many other cookbooks.

It’s true that there is no substitute for the rich color and flavor of the broth when you use raw chicken. Some people use wings and legs and toss everything, which you can do. I use a whole chicken, which I cut up into eight pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast pieces). Sadly I do not have a large stock pot that holds the whole chicken, so I divide it between two large soup pots and divide all the aromatics evenly between the two pots. If you have odds and ends of vegetable scraps (turnip peelings, parsnip ends, chard stems, onion peelings) you can quite happily throw them in with the rest of the ingredients and enrich your stock.

The key is to start with decently hot pans and render all the fat from the chicken before you add water. This creates a marvelous fond on the bottom of the pan and gives you a good amount of chicken fat for sauteeing your vegetables before you add the water. I do not skim the fat off of my chicken broth. It tastes so good, and I cannot believe that it can be bad for you! (This is obviously my totally uninformed opinion, but there you have it.) I tend to freeze this in small (1 cup or smaller) containers, as I use a little chicken broth in virtually everything—from pasta sauces to pot pies to fricassees. If you have a freezer full of good chicken broth, it makes it much easier to make supper our of what is in your fridge.

Chicken broth

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up (about 4 lbs) or 4 lbs thighs and wings
  • 1 onion, cut into eighths
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1- or 2-inch lengths
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1- or 2-inch lengths
  • 2 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 or so stalks of thyme
  • a large handful of parsley stems
  • salt, to taste
  • about 8 quarts of water

1. If you have a very large (12 quart or larger) stockpot, use it. If not, use two 4- or 6-quart soup pots. (If you are using two pots, for the rest of the recipe, divide all ingredients evenly between the two pots.)

2. Place chicken parts, with the side with the most skin down on the bottom of the stock pot. (Divide one of each chicken part between your two pans.) Turn heat to medium or medium-high—enough to render the fat and fry and crisp the skin to a golden brown. (If the heat is too low, the chicken will steam instead of crisp.) This takes at least 10 minutes. Flip chicken to the other side. Brown the second side. At any point if the chicken fat begins to smoke, turn the heat down a bit.

3. Place onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the pan. Make sure the vegetables come in contact with the bottom of the pan as much as possible. Let the vegetables caramelize. Stir occasionally, and try to loosen bits of chicken and skin that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.

4. When vegetables have just started to turn brown, add the rest of the ingredients, and sprinkle with salt. Pour in water, up to within about an inch of the rim of the pan. This should be about 8 quarts in total. Bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape loose all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

5. When the pot reaches a simmer, set it so it is just perking, with only two or three bubbles slowly breaking the surface every few seconds. Let it perk for four or five hours, skimming the scum from the surface at first. During this process, replenish the water periodically. (I keep a kettle at boiling to pour already boiling water into the stock to keep it cooking.) At the end you want the water to be an inch or so below where you started.

6. Taste the broth and adjust the salt. The broth should be palatable but not taste salty. When finished, strain chicken from the stock. Pour stock through a strainer into a fresh pan if you are going to use it right away. If you are freezing it, strain into small containers and cool before freezing.

Note: The cooked chicken is delicious pulled apart warm, on bread, with a little grainy mustard or anything else you have in the kitchen. (Chopped gherkins, mayonnaise or aioli, what have you.)

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chicken, mushroom, potato, tomato + artichoke fricassee

I’m not going to lie. When I started a food blog it was in the hope that I would more often be able to publicly use words like tian and fricassee. And here we are, both featured in posts within one week of each other. Luckily everyone around me knows I am a total food geek. True story: as a meeting started last week, my boss was saying he liked a panna cotta that had recently been served to him, and then said he really didn’t know what made it different than a flan or a creme brulee…and then everyone in the room kind of looked at me and I proudly declaimed the major features of each dessert. This is as close as I get in adulthood to the thrill of winning the spelling bee, so I’ll take it.

Back to this fricassee. (By the way, apparently this word is just based on the French verb fricasser, which means, well, to make a dish as below, or “to fricassee,” and my dictionary offers no further explanation of its roots. People with greater knowledge than I, please weigh in.) I want to stress that I made this out of some odds and ends in my refrigerator (leftover mushrooms from another dish, a few odd potatoes, and some yellow cherry tomatoes from another dish), and you can too. There is no reason why you couldn’t use other items you have to hand, or, more likely, leave out some of the ones I used. But the result here was delicious, so I reproduce it for you faithfully in case you want the original dish.

The idea here is to dredge the chicken in flour, brown it thoroughly in some butter, set it to the side, make a sauce with stock and white wine, and then throw the vegetables in with the chicken to finish cooking in the oven, though I think the stove top would work, too, at a simmer. The potatoes will take the longest to cook, so they need to be well submerged in the liquid. It is a fairly simple one-dish meal if you pace yourself properly.

Chicken, mushroom, potato, tomato + artichoke fricassee

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you could use other parts or a whole chicken even, with some modifications to the instructions below)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 14-ounce can artichokes packed in water, drained thoroughly
  • 6 very small red-skinned potatoes, quartered or smaller wedges, to speed cooking
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • minced fresh parsley to finish the dish

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Select a large, ovenproof casserole or saucier with a lid. Place it on a medium-high burner and melt the butter until it sizzles, but is not smoking. On a plate mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Pat chicken thighs dry and dredge through the flour, putting each immediately in the now-sizzling butter. Brown very thoroughly on one side (this took 5 – 6 minutes for me), and flip chicken carefully. Cook second side until thoroughly brown, about 4 – 5 more minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside (I use the upside-down lid to save dishes.)

2. In the pan, add the mushrooms and shallots and saute until mushrooms are soft. Add garlic and stir until you smell the garlic. Add tomatoes and stir. Increase heat to high and add wine and stock. Using a wooden or plastic tool, scrape the bottom of the pan assiduously to release every bit of fond (brown bits stuck to bottom of pan, in French) into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for a minute or two until reduced a bit and looking thicker.

3. Add artichokes, potatoes and thyme to the pan and return chicken to the pan. Using your spatula, attempt to submerge chicken and potatoes, in particular, into the sauce. Put the lid on the pan and return it to a quick simmer.

4. Place the pan in the oven and braise for 30 minutes. Removing pan from oven, test to see if potatoes are done. If not, return pan to oven for 15 more minutes. When potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve each person some vegetables and sauce, as well as a chicken thigh.

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