Category Archives: Poultry

chicken (or turkey) pot pies, part 2

Originally, I intended to post a delicious recipe from the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, but Thanksgiving is around the corner and, even though I work on the holiday each year, I thought it might be helpful to give you a couple of ideas for leftovers.

I understand making family recipes.  I really do.  You may want to continue a tradition with your family or evoke a memory from your childhood.  Sometimes, though, a recipe cries out for a do-over.  That is the case with this green bean casserole recipe that I wrote about last year.  Made with fresh green beans, mushrooms and onions…oh my goodness, Alton Brown’s recipe is totally worth foregoing the cream of mushroom soup forever!

I prefer to make these pot pies with turkey (specifically, smoked turkey), but since I won’t have holiday leftovers, I decided to spend a recent cold, rainy-turned-to-hail day in the kitchen making these with chicken breast.  I’m not going to lie, they are labor intensive.  Lots of peeling and chopping.  So as long as I’m at it, I double the recipe and make four 9-inch pies to freeze.

I decided to re-post this recipe because I’ve tweaked it a bit…and you can, too.

Don’t have fresh Rosemary?  don’t worry about it.

Prefer white potatoes over sweet potatoes?  So do my kids…interchange them.  Or leave potatoes out altogether.

Also…surprise!  I buy the pie crust from Trader Joe’s pre-made.  That’s right…pre-packaged pie crusts.  There’s enough work involved here, so go easy on yourself.  Buy pie crusts.

You’ll be glad on one of those wintry, snowy nights when you can pull these out of the freezer, brush a little egg yolk on the crust and bake yourself a hearty dinner of aromatic chicken with broth and vegetables.

chicken or turkey pot pies (makes two 9-inch pies)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or you can substitute 1 pound, more or less, of cooked turkey)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 large sweet or russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 cups low fat milk

1 10-ounce package frozen peas (when I double the recipe, I don’t double the peas…it’s a husband thing)

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary

2 9-inch store-bought pie crusts

1 box puff pastry sheets, thawed

4 9-inch disposable pie pans (double them up for strength)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Poach your chicken:  place chicken, if using instead of cooked turkey, in a large stockpot and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cook potatoes:  add potatoes to a medium saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.

While chicken is cooling, heat olive oil in the same pan you cooked the chicken.  Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook, until they begin to soften, stirring often, about 6-8 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, while continuing to stir, for another minute.  Add chicken stock and cook until some of the stock evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Shred the chicken and stir into the vegetable/stock mixture.  Stir in the peas, thyme, rosemary, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper.  Gently fold in the potatoes last.  Taste.  Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Lay one pie crust in each of your doubled pie tins and shape the crust to the pan, trimming the crust slightly if necessary, allowing it to slightly hang over the edge of the pan as it will shrink during baking.

Divide your filling between the prepared pans.  Place one piece of the thawed puff pastry over each pie, pushing down slightly around the edges to form a seal (I like to leave some puff pastry to hang over the edge).  It may be necessary to, again, trim the puff pastry a bit because it is rectangular.  Cut 3 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

If baking immediately, brush top crust with one egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water.  Place in preheated oven and bake until crust is golden, about 35-40 minutes.

If freezing, place in freezer until frozen, about 4-5 hours.  Remove and wrap tightly with aluminum foil before returning to the freezer.  Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

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tequila mustard glazed grilled chicken skewers

I don’t post many recipes including meat (or, in this case, poultry), but the wonderful weather here on the east coast finds me preparing dinner outside most evenings.

…a cold bottle of beer in one hand, the condensation dripping  from my fingers.

…a really long barbecue turner or pair of tongs in the other hand.

…1 little summer music-some Vampire Weekend or Alabama Shakes?

Continue reading

ancho chicken tacos

“Mexican food is best when made at home.”

A friend recently spoke these words of wisdom to me.  While I can say with fair certainty that when we refer to a cuisine as “Mexican”, we really mean “Tex-Mex”, the idea that comes to mind is still the same-cheesy and saucy.

Hey, I love a good pitcher of margaritas or “live” guacamole at happy hour as much as the next person, but when it comes to all of the fat-laden entrees that come after that…I’ll pass for something a bit lighter, fresher, and crunchier.

ancho chicken tacos

 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small strips (you can substitute chicken breast tenders)

3/4 tsp ancho chile powder

1 glove garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp red pepper

1/8 tsp lime zest

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp non-fat milk

1/2 avocado, peeled and diced

2 cups packaged fresh slaw mix (angel hair, if possible)

1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onions

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

8 (6-inch) tortillas-I used whole wheat

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with chile powder, salt, red pepper and cumin.  Add chicken to heated skillet along with mashed garlic; cook until done-about 4 minutes-tossing frequently.  Remove chicken from pan.

Combine lime zest, 1 Tbsp lime juice, yogurt, milk, and avocado in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.

Combine remaining 1 Tbsp lime juice, slaw, onions, cilantro, olive oil and salt;  toss to coat slaw thoroughly.

Heat tortillas according to package directions  (I like to toss them on the gas stove top burner for a few seconds).  Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas and top with about 1 Tbsp avocado cream and 1/4 cup slaw mixture.

chicken noodle soup

I knew it would happen eventually.  The cold weather has finally arrived.  Until now I maintained a falsely- based optimism.  Hope, you could call it, in the midst of the almost 60-degree days we’ve been experiencing. Inwardly I’ve even secretly thought “It’s January.  Maybe winter will just skirt around us and the next thing we know-POUF!  It will be spring.”

That’s called denial, right?

Temperatures in the upper teens and wind gusts upward of 25 mph make me want to slip into pajamas, throw a few logs on the fire, and curl up on the sofa with a steaming bowl of this chicken noodle soup

One of the reasons I especially like this recipe is that it’s a one-pot affair.  The stock is made as part of the process while poaching the chicken.  Orecchiette works nicely  because the shape deliciously cups and cradles the stock and bits of vegetables.

The last time I made this soup,  I reheated  it for my son the next day with some warm crusty bread and he exclaimed “This is the BEST lunch I’ve had in a long time!”

Isn’t that reason enough to make a pot?

chicken noodle soup

1 whole chicken ( 3 1/2 to 4 pounds-don’t be tempted to go bigger.  It won’t fit in your stockpot)

4 medium carrots, cut into pieces

3 celery stalks, cut into pieces

1 large onion, chopped

bundle of thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

1 14.5 ounce can northern or other beans, rinsed

17 ounces of orecchiette or other type of pasta

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place chicken in a 10 or 12 quart stockpot (be sure to remove parts from inside of chicken first).  Add onion, celery, and carrots.  Cover chicken and vegetables with water by a couple of inches (approximately 12 cups).  Add bay leaf and thyme bundle.  Season with salt and pepper.  Be generous-approximately 2 tsp salt and one tsp pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, approximately 45 minutes.  Skim fat and foam from top of stock as the chicken cooks.

When chicken is cooked, carefully remove from pot to a cutting board.  Remove  and discard skin.  Shred chicken as you remove it from the bone.  Remove bay leaf and thyme and return shredded chicken to the pot.  Add lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  While soup is simmering, add pasta and cook until al dente (tender, but firm).  Add beans.  Taste it.  Does it need salt and pepper? Season to taste.

pot pie

Did you miss me last week?  Don’t think I was being lazy, or even out partying it up…no, I’ve been a bit under the weather.  It’s great when you’ve prepared for times such as these by making a few freezer meals to fall back on (it beats always having eggs, pancakes or grilled cheese in a pinch).

This recipe is adapted from my daughter’s recipe.  Usually it’s made with poached chicken breast, but I happened to have a delicious fully cooked smoked turkey breast on hand.  Also, you can change up the vegetables depending on what you have on hand.  Got wild Mushrooms?  Then use them.  Parsnips?  Lovely.  I need to be mindful about what I add, lest it get picked out and pushed to the side of someone’s plate.

The bottom crust is homemade from my favorite Martha Stewart recipe for pate brisee, but you can use any crust recipe.

pot pie (makes 2 pies)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 onions, chopped

4 carrots, diced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 cups whole milk

10 ounces frozen peas

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 9-inch pie crusts, rolled out and placed in pans

1 box puff pastry

sea salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees (if planning to bake immediately).

 Poach chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool and then shred.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 6-8 minutes (don’t let them darken).  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and continue to cook while stirring for 1 minute.

Add chicken stock and cook about 1-2 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Transfer equal parts to prepared pie pans.

Lay the puff pastry on top, pressing around edges to seal.  Flute crust, if desired. If cooking immediately, cut several vents in the crust.  Place pot pies on baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30-35 minutes.

If freezing, wrap tightly with foil or double plastic wrap.

maple-glazed cornish game hens

Still recovering from a string of cooking mishaps.

It started with the apple tart oven fire incident (honest-this is the last time I’ll bring that up) and it seemingly hasn’t let up.  A couple of examples:

Taking a trip to the local Honeybaked Ham store to buy a fully cooked smoked turkey breast, only to take it out on Halloween day to make smoky white chili and realizing it had a brown sugary coating on it just like their trademark ham.  Really, when I tried it it tasted more like ham than turkey.  Before you say “why would you NOT think it would taste like that coming from that particular store?”  let me tell you that a business acquaintance of my husband’s sent us a smoked turkey from the Honeybaked Ham Company last year for Christmas and, while I initially was skeptical, it turned out to be a darn fine juicy bird (without the trademark sugar coating) and resulted in some fabulous pot pies stored away for wintry nights.  Last minute poached chicken was a stand in for the chili.

Then there was the day I slightly overbaked granola, setting the usual fear of the smoke alarm going off into motion.

It really wasn’t burnt.  Okay, maybe bits of it were.  My husband still loved it.  He loves all things crunchy, slightly burnt or not.

This called for a simple, no fail dinner.  Some simple comfort food I couldn’t mess up.  Cornish game hens look pretty impressive simply roasted.  My son was delighted to have his own tiny succulent bird on his plate.

I prepared these on a rare day in October when the temperatures were freezing and all manner of precipitation was falling from the sky.  It’s very unusual for it to snow here before January and it was a welcome day for staying in pajamas, building a fire in the fireplace, and watching movies.

This would be good with any sort of root vegetable such as potatoes or parsnips.  I happened to have carrots and turnips from the farm box.

maple roasted cornish game hens

2-3 Cornish game hens

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp ground cumin

3 teaspoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme

1-1/2 pounds root vegetables:  Onion, carrot, turnips, parsnips, potatoes-cut into bite size chunks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Using kitchen twine, tie hen legs together and tuck wings underneath.  Place hens on a shallow rimed baking sheet.  Rub with 1 tsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mix maple syrup with cumin in a small bowl until well blended.  Season syrup mixture with salt and pepper.

Brush hens with maple syrup mixture.  Toss vegetables with 2 tsp olive oil, garlic, and thyme.   Scatter on baking sheet around hens.

Roast in oven until golden brown and thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh measures 165 degrees, approximately 105-115 minutes.  Remove from oven twice during roasting and baste with remaining maple syrup mixture.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.