Tag Archives: Chicken

Chicken Pot Pie

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It’s 5 o’clock and I’m staring the fridge, hoping for a revelation as to what to make for dinner.  I’ve got left over chicken thighs.  Every other protein source is froze solid.  So, I thought, what to do with you?  The kids can’t stand chicken salad.  So, I decided to make Chicken Pot Pie.  There were a variety of old recipes that involved the entire chicken being in the pot and covered with crust.  That seemed a little, um, rustic.

I remembered the pies of my childhood.  You know the ones in the box of the freezer section.  Crust, bits of chicken and random veggies with a creamy broth in a pie shape.  As a kid, these things are amazing.  As an adult, well, here’s the ingredients for Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie:

Ingredients (75):

Water, Flour Enriched (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1),Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Chicken Cooked (Chicken Meat Dark, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Carrageenan, Food Starch Modified, Sodium Phosphate, Spice(s) Extract) ,Carrot(s), Potato(es), Sodium Pyrophosphate, Shortening (Lard, Lard Hydrogenated,Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated) , Chicken Cooked Mechanically Separated, Food Starch Modified, Chicken Base (Wheat Flour Bleached Enriched [Barley Malted Flour,Potassium Bromate, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)] , Salt, Maltodextrin, Whey Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate, Garlic Powder, Soy Lecithin, Yeast Extract, Onion(s) Powder, Annatto, Spice(s), Turmeric Extract, Xanthan Gum) ,Contains 22% or less Peas, Chicken Fat, Dextrose, Flavor(s) Natural and Artificial Chicken(Salt, Chicken Powder, Chicken Fat, Yeast Extract Autolyzed, Water, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Sugar Invert, Chicken Broth, Onion(s) Powder, Flavor(s) Grill [Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated] , Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Tocopherols) , Salt, Dough Conditioner(s) (Sodium Aluminosilicate, Salt, Wheat Gluten Vital, Enzyme(s), Soy Protein Flour,Ammonium Sulfate, Fumaric Acid) , Caramel Color, Annatto for color retention

Oh my.

So, I gathered my ingredients on hand and transformed tired leftovers into something that used to be quite common place, but is now very exotic:  a chicken pot pie.  The kids were amazed at the transformation of such humdrum ingredients.  In going through the historic cookbooks, “pot pies” were rather common place.  I find them to be an efficient use of leftovers!! I’ll put measurements on here, but really, it’s all about what you have on hand.

Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

1/2 recipe Pie Crust, or a 9 inch pie crust

1/4 cup high heat tolerant cooking fat (lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil)
3 carrots, sliced thin
3 celery stalks, sliced thin
1 medium onion, small dice
1 8 ounce container of mushrooms, sliced
1-2 pounds cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and Pepper

1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

Place the cooking fat in a sauté pan over medium heat. When heated, add the carrots, celery, onion and mushroom. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and celery are soft (or the texture you like them), about 15-20 minutes.

Add the chicken, sage and thyme, cook until fragrant. Add the flour and cook for a bit until the raw flour taste is cooked out.

Add the heavy cream and cook. The sauce will thicken. You want the sauce to continue to thicken as it cooks, about 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Place the mixture in a oven proof pan (I used a large soufflé dish) and smooth the top.

Roll out the pie crust and drape over the top of the baking dish. Pinch the crust over the top of the dish to hold the crust firm.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together and brush on pie crust.

Cut a vent slit in the crust, and place the dish on a cookie sheet. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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Getting ready for the Barbecue Competition

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See my beautiful smoke ring!

Barbecue. Few things smell sweeter in the summer than fruity wood chips slowing giving up their flavor in plumes of smoke over low heat. The act of slow smoking renders rather unappealing and tough cuts of meat into tender, smokey nirvana. For those who have had ribs at a chain restaurant where you don’t smell smoke when you walk up to it, realize you have been cheated.

I bought my husband his first smoker as a birthday present one year. A Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, or “bullet”. This is a vertical water type smoker. Very budget friendly (compared to the thousands people can spend on other rigs), as well as beginner friendly. The concept is simple: heat on the bottom, water in the middle as a shield, meat on the top. Smoke from the heat rises to the top to flavor the meat and the meat is slow cooked over low temperatures (225-300 degrees fahrenheit depending on the meat) for a long time.

We smoked briskets, chicken, ribs, pork shoulder or Boston Butt. After our first homemade smoked ribs, we swore we would never eat barbecue out again. Tender with an authentic smoke flavor. You could actually see a smoke ring! The ribs weren’t drowning in sauce or desert dry.  The brisket wasn’t rubbery and, well, dry.  And the chicken wasn’t, you guessed it, dry.  Everything was just amazing.

There’s no one recipe for barbecue. There are no lists of ingredients that make or break a rub or sauce. It’s about the cooking process and letting the meat shine. These are really tough pieces of meat. They are from the hardest working areas of their respective animals. If you can conquer brisket and make it tender and moist, you can cook anything!

Some things I can pass along: if you are making ribs, take off the silverskin. It’s the tough membrane on the underside of the ribs. There are books that say that the low and slow cooking method will “dissolve” the membrane. You can try that approach, but if you’ve ever had ribs that are tough to pull off the bone, chances are the silver skin was left intact.

Watch your temperature.  Just because it’s been sitting beautifully at 250 for 4 hours, doesn’t mean it will stay there.  If you run out of water in a vertical water smoker, your temperature can skyrocket without warning.   You don’t have to stare at it for hours, and you can buy fancy equipment that will email you when there’s a deviation.  I just prefer to keep a watchful eye on it.

Make your own rub and sauce. It’s fun. For Kansas City style sauce, it’s just ketchup (mostly), molasses (or brown sugar), mustard, vinegar, chili powder, cayenne (if you like heat), salt and pepper. Like more cumin flavor? Add it. Like it spicer? Change it. Smokier? Add smoked paprika. Really fun and if you mess up, add more ketchup. That almost always fixes anything. Plus, you won’t have MSG or high fructose corn syrup in your sauce, unless you want them there, of course.

If you ruin your meat, there’s no amount of sauce or rub that will make up for it.  Fortunately, it’s fairly difficult to completely mess it up.

We are doing our first competition in August, so we are practicing. Our neighbors are getting lots of barbecue and will be getting more. We have to practice Boston Butt, ribs, brisket and chicken.

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Yesterday was ribs and chicken. I’m partial to the chicken. Smoked chicken is really good and something very different than the usual baked/roasted/braised chicken I usually do. I do like ribs as well, but everyone has a favorite of something, right?

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So, if you want to join the really slow food movement, invest in a smoker. We’ve had a ton of fun with it and the neighbors definitely know when you are cooking!!  I’ll update everyone as we get closer to the competition!!

40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the main reasons I started this blog was to add some creativity to my cooking.  Day after day making and eating the same stuff was becoming tedious.  Old cookbooks give me great inspiration.   They don’t have 100s of ingredients using various and sundry appliances that I don’t have (or frankly, want).   If you google this recipe, you will see what modern chefs have done to it.   Some have made it ridiculously hard with lots of steps and expensive ingredients.  Frankly, it’s a travesty.  If you are tired of plain old chicken, give this recipe a try.  It’s easy, crazy good, and fairly cheap eats. If you are lucky and can eat carbs, this dish is made to have the cooked garlic smashed across some wonderful, crusty French bread. The bread can also be used to soak up the amazing sauce created by this dish.  If you are no carbing it, the smashed garlic is still wonderful to combine with the chicken.

Serve with a salad or steamed veggie and dinner is complete.

I’ve made this recipe to fit a 5 quart dutch oven.  The recipe is very scalable for other sizes. It’s adapted from James Beard’s 40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken recipe.
40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken

3 stalks of celery, rough chop
1 large onion, medium dice
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
7 chicken thighs (could be 6 or eight, whatever fits)
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (or however many you have)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place celery, onion, tarragon in the dutch oven. Top with the chicken thighs. Pour vermouth over thighs, then pour the oil. Season thighs to taste.

Tuck unwrapped garlic into every nook and cranny.

Cover the dutch oven and bake until the chicken is done, about 60 minutes.

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Maryland Fried Chicken

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Welcome to my first blog post!   I love history and cooking and marrying these two loves has led me to some interesting reads.  Namely, very old cookbooks.   Luckily, there is a wonderful program at Michigan State University that has put many old cookbooks online.  Reading them is a revelation.  Cookbooks served many purposes.  Not only were they collections of recipes, but also household cleaning and staff supervision.  Many authors of these historical cookbooks admonish young housewives to make sure they know how to execute the recipes and not be completely dependent on household servants, as you may not always be able to afford servants.

Now, I have no servants.  I’m on no quest like cooking every recipe from a particular cookbook.  What I would like to do is explore American cooking before it became corrupted by what I like to call the “Food Industrial Complex” or “Big Food”.    Processed and “convenience” food have handicapped our ability to feed ourselves wholesome food.   When I see a kid eat a homemade chocolate chip cookie and ask what brand it is, I am heartbroken.  People used to make waffles, bread and cookies. Sure, in our carb and gluten adverse world, these are fairly evil items.  But kids who don’t realize that cookies can be made miss out on the best cookies of all.  Nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie out of the oven.  Nothing.

So, where do I start?   Today, I write about a mystery for the ages.  The mystery goes by many aliases:  Maryland Fried Chicken, Chicken Maryland, Maryland Chicken, and Chicken a la Maryland.   I am from Maryland and whenever I traveled out of state and saw some version of this chicken dish on a menu I was perplexed.  Sure, who hasn’t heard of Kentucky Fried Chicken or Southern Fried Chicken?  My favorite fried chicken is from Popeye’s.  But fried chicken “a la Maryland”?  Usually anything tagged with “Maryland” as a descriptor meant it either had crab or the “Old Bay” seasonings in it.  Frankly, I am probably one of the few people from my home state to really not like “Old Bay”.  But, I digress.

So, I set out to find the origins of Chicken Maryland.  Believe it or not, Chicken Maryland appears in many esteemed cookbooks.  Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, Fanny Farmer’s The Boston Cooking School Cook Book and James Beard’s American Cookery, all have a version or mention of Chicken Maryland.  I love Beard’s introduction to this apparently, unbeknownst to me, iconoclastic dish:

There are so many recipes for fried chicken, but none is as famous as Chicken Maryland.  Strange as it may seem, no two recipes have any similarity when you compare them.  Furthermore, there is no other American chicken recipe quite so internationally famous as Chicken a la Maryland.

How internationally famous?  Well, it was on the menu for the Titanic the day it sank.  Keep in mind, Farmer wrote her book in 1892, the Titanic sank in 1912, Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine was published in 1934 and Beard’s American Cookery in 1972.

Yet, as a native Marylander I have no idea what Chicken Maryland is.  I asked around and I am not alone.   How sad that an apparently once famous a dish is so forgotten.

After perusing several sources, it seems that Beard is correct, there are tons of versions.  Most, however, coalesce around a general idea.  The chicken is not deep fried, it’s pan fried, the steamed by putting a cover over the pan.  So, the chicken is both fried and steamed.  Now, there is general disagreement as to the frying oil (butter, clarified butter, and “drippings”) and the method of breading.  To further complicate matters, many of these recipes give a guide as to how to make it, but ingredient measures seem to be something the reader is presumed to know.

So, I attempted to resurrect Chicken Maryland or Chicken a la Maryland from the dustbin of history and I must confess, it’s pretty awesome.  Crispy and moist without being overly greasy.  Why this isn’t the preferred method of cooking over deep frying is really quite a mystery.

I like to cook a whole meal instead of just a recipe.  So, to accompany Chicken a la Maryland, I made kale and collard greens (recipe below).

Chicken a la Maryland

My biggest issue with fried chicken is the mess.  There’s leftover oil that I suppose I could strain and reserve for another use.  But that’s really high maintenance and frankly, I don’t make it that often to keep old grease sitting around.  Then there’s the oil splatter all over the stove.  Add to that my insecurity over whether the chicken is actually done, and, let’s just say fried chicken in our house is synonymous with “Popeye’s”.

Chicken a la Maryland answers every one of my issues with fried chicken.  First, there’s no oil and very little mess leftover.  The chicken pieces are also “done” with very little effort or clean up.

In order to avoid multiple, different cooking times, I bought chicken thighs.  They are cheap and stand up well to heat.   You could certainly use any other favorite part and have great results.

2 cups Buttermilk

6 chicken thighs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons water

2 cups bread crumbs (I used Panko style)

½ stick of butter (clarified butter may be easier to work with)

6 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

Place chicken thighs in buttermilk and soak for 2 hours.  Combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper on a large plate. Combine eggs and water in a wide, shallow bowl.  Place bread crumbs on a plate.

Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture, then egg mixture, then bread crumbs and set aside.

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Melt the butter in a 10 inch heavy cast iron skillet.  When bubbling, add chicken.  Depending on the size of your pan, the chicken may need to be broken up into separate batches.

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Brown both sides of the chicken.  Turn down heat to medium low.  With the chicken positioned skin side up, place a lid on the chicken and let steam for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the bottoms are not burning.

Remove the chicken. Add mushrooms to the pan and sauté until soft.   Add about 4 tablespoons of flour to create a roux.   Cook until the raw flour taste is removed, but not so much that the roux has darkened.  Add 1 cup of heavy cream to the pan and whisk.  If the cream gravy is too thick, thin with additional cream.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken with gravy and collard greens.

Notes

  • I think this recipe would be pretty adaptable to gluten free cooking.  Cornstarch could sub for the initial flour coating and used as a thickening agent for the gravy.  Gluten free bread crumbs are readily available as well for the coating.
  • I made this in both a cast iron fry pan and an all clad 4 quart sauté pan.  The cast iron pan yielded much better results.  The butter didn’t burn and neither did the chicken.  If you don’t have cast iron, definitely use clarified butter and be very mindful of the chicken while the pan is covered.  You may want to put the covered pan in the oven at 350° F for the 20 minutes, instead of keeping it on the stove.

Kale and Collard Greens

I wanted to highlight the chicken recipe on this post; however, I made the Kale and Collard Greens first, and as it was cooking, made the chicken.  The meal was all finished at the same time.

Collard Greens and Kale

¼ cup leftover bacon fat (or render 4-5 slices of bacon)

1 medium onion, sliced

2 stalks of celery, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

1 bay leaf

2 cups of water

2 cups of chicken broth

1 bunch of kale

1 bunch of collard greens

Salt and Pepper

In an 8 quart pan, heat bacon grease on medium heat.  When the grease is moderately hot, add onions and celery.  Sauté the vegetables until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft, reduce heat if necessary.

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Once the vegetables are sufficiently soft, reduce heat to low medium and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf.  Once the garlic and spices and incorporated, but before the garlic burns, add the water and stock and simmer.  While the liquid is simmering, remove the kale and collard leaves from their tough stems and rinse.   Add the greens to the liquid and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally to wilt the leaves.   Cook until leaves are tender, keeping watch on the liquid level.  Do not allow the water to completely evaporate, add more water during cooking if needed. Prior to serving, salt and pepper to taste.

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