Thursday, October 14, 2010

And Then That Rooster Came In Our Yard!

Oh my goodness, I have eaten so much chicken lately I feel like I'm going to start clucking any minute now!! Don't get me wrong, I love chicken-- but it's getting hard to think up new and exciting things to do with it. It's been on sale a lot lately, and I guess I stocked up more than I realized!

Every time I open the freezer and see still MORE chicken, I think about the old song we used to sing at summer camp. You probably know it too!

We had a chicken, no eggs she laid,
We had a chicken, no eggs she laid.
And I said, "Honey, we're losin' money,
'cause that chicken, no eggs she laid."

And then that rooster came in our yard
And caught that chicken right off her guard!
And we have EGGS now, just like we used to!
Ever since that rooster came in our yard.

Each verse gets more ludicrous, from the cow who gave no milk (and we have EGGNOG, just like we used to...) to the gum tree that gave no gum (and we have CHICKLETS just like we used to...) to the Chinese acrobat who did no tricks (and we have EGGROLLS just like we used to...), thanks to that er, helpful rooster!

I kinda wish that rooster would stay out of my freezer! And take the spirit of Herbert "A Chicken in Every Pot" Hoover with him!

To counteract the "I've Got WAY Too Much Chicken Blues,"

I made an oldie but a goodie from my ancient Cheap Eats cookbook, by the women who used to bring you "30 Minute Meals" in Bon Appetit, Brooke Dojny and Melanie Barnard. (Maybe they still do. My subscription lapsed ages ago.) Rachael Ray probably wasn't even born yet! Well, maybe she was, as I do recall that DS was in his high chair when I acquired this book.

I am rather fond of this little cookbook, which is subtitled "Simple, Sumptuous Meals For Four You Can Make for Under $10." That loud clunk you heard just now was probably Coupon Mom, fainting, since she makes meals for her family of 4 for under $3!! The fun thing about the cookbook is that it's organized by the season of the year and gives complete menus with recipes that are appropriate for the time of the year. Presumably this is because fresh, local and seasonal food would be less expensive. Since dreaming up side dishes is always such a bore, I love the menu feature!

To break out of my chicken rut a bit, I made this simple but unusual recipe from Cheap Eats: Chicken With Garlic Vinegar Sauce. (Shhhhh!! Don't tell anyone, but it's from the Spring section of the book.) DS, who is as fond of intense flavor as I am, loves this recipe. And why not? He was born in the year of (you guessed it!) The rooster!

Despite its humdrum name, this dish is a real change of pace. It's hard to believe something so delicious could come from such simple ingredients. The authors state that "This is an easy-to-make but absolutely stunning dinner for family or special guests. The chicken and the potatoes are inspired by the gutsy, delicious food served in romantic French Bistros."
To me, this dish has a vaguely Spanish flavor. It certainly is gutsy!

The other suggested dishes on the menu include Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, Steamed Asparagus, and Lemon Custard Mousse. I prefer this dish served over a neutral-flavored grain like rice because the sauce is so wonderful you need something to sop it up with! Alas, no asparagus or lemon mousse for us. I served the chicken on a bed of whole grain white rice (?? that's what the label said!) with the frozen veggie du jour.

I forgot to take pictures, but it's no great loss since like many stews, this is not a particularly photo-worthy dish.

Chicken With Garlic Vinegar Sauce
from Cheap Eats

Serves 4

2 1/2-3 lbs. cut-up chicken parts (see note)

1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used more, of course!)
1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
1/2 t. dried rosemary
3 T red wine vinegar (see note)
1 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes (good luck finding THAT nowadays! I made do with my 14 oz. can)

1. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and saute over medium-high heat, turning, for about 10 minutes, or until browned all over. Use tongs to remove the chicken to a plate. Pour off all but 1 T of drippings.
2. Add the garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the skillet and cook over low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. (Indeed. it can burn slap up quicker than you would think!) Add the vinegar and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking up large chunks of tomatoes with the back of a spoon. (Hallelujah for canned diced tomatoes!)
3. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up, also add any juices that have accumulated on the plate (see note). Partially cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer 5-8 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through with no trace of pink near the bone, and the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Spoon off any excess fat that may have risen to the surface. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

That's all there is to it!

Here are my notes:

1. I used split breasts for this recipe, but boneless, skinless chicken also works quite well. If you use skinless chicken, the dish is a tad less flavorful, but you won't have to worry about draining or skimming off any excess fat. (It would also make Dr. Oz happier.)
2. I had run out of red wine vinegar, so I used 1 T balsamic vinegar and 2 T white wine vinegar. You could experiment with different kinds of vinegar to see what you prefer. This combination was quite delicious.
3. I also am apparently out of stewed tomatoes, so I used plain diced tomatoes. I added 1 t. of brown sugar to the skillet to compensate.
4. I am sure I don't need to tell you this, but since I would hate for anyone to get food poisoning, I'm going to anyway. Make sure you thoroughly wash the plate the chicken was on in plenty of hot soapy water before using it again-- to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination with other foods. Both the prevalence and virulence of food-borne pathogens is just scary these days!

Er, uh, Bon appetit!

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