Archived entries for chicken/poultry

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I’ve been on a “sun dried” tomato kick, as I spoke about in my last post; by which I mean drying them in the oven instead of the days long process of leaving them out in the sun. By only slow roasting them for an hour or two, you can intensify the flavors but still keep the tomatoes juicy. They can create a great instant sauce by mixing with pesto and putting them on top of pasta, pizza or in calzones. I was having a friend come over for a nice lunch, so I decided to make a quick and delicious calzone with some baked chicken breast, pesto and tomatoes. Here’s my process:

Chicken Calzones with Sun Dried Tomatoes
makes 3-4 calzones; prep time: 60-90 min; bake time: 20 min


  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c. luke warm water
  • 1 tsp live active yeast (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil


  • 3-4 large plum tomatoes
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • Italian seasoning (or dried basil, rosemary, thyme)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. pesto of your choice
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep dough: Mix flour and salt.  Make a well in dry ingredients and pour water.  Place yeast in water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is disolved and looks puffy.  Add oil and honey.  Either by hand or using a dough hook on a mixer, gently begin to kneed the dough together.  Once dough is smooth, cover with a towel and place near or on top of your stove.  Let sit for an hour to rise.

Prep Tomatoes to slow roast:  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or quarters.  In a bowl, coat with olive oil, sprinkle generously with dried Italian herbs, salt and pepper.  Lay out on a baking tray and roast for about an hour.

Prep breaded chicken breast: Cut chicken in half through the width of the breast, like you would fillet a fish.  Cut slices in half, to make four pieces.   Mix dried bread crumbs with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper in one bowl.  In another bowl, place egg and lightly beat with a fork.  When tomatoes are done in oven, turn broiler on.  Take each chicken breast and coat in egg and dip in bread crumbs.  Place breaded breasts on a baking sheet and place under broiler for about 8-10 minutes for each side until breading is golden and chicken is cooked.  Keep an eye on them, so the bread crumbs don’t burn.

Assemble Calzones:  Preheat oven to 400.  Take your dough and separate into 3 or 4 balls.  Roll dough out into circles.  Dice your garlic cloves and place in a small dish.  Lightly cover with olive oil.  Brush garlic oil over middle of dough circles.  When chicken is done in broiler, remove and cut into thick slices.  Lay slices of chicken over garlic oil.  Brush 1-2 Tbs of pesto over chicken.  Lay oven dried tomatoes over chicken.  Cover well with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Using left over egg from Chicken breading process, brush egg yolk around edges of Calzone.  Fold close and pinch edges.  Brush tops of calzone with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and your choice of seasoning.

Bake Calzones: Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Eat up.  Yum!

A Quick Fancy: Roasted Cornish Hens

When your dinner plate comes complete with a whole roasted bird just for your eating pleasure, you can’t help but feel like the Queen of England (or King, depending on gender and preference of course).

Roasted Cornish Hens with potato au jus pictured here with a side of braised leeks.

The best thing about Cornish Hens are their size: small.  Everyone loves personalized portions, and because they are so small, they cook faster then their larger bird-brained cousins.  Cooking your hens over a bed of potatoes and onions adds flavoring and makes for a quick and delicious side as the potatoes roast in the au jus.  If you only have an hour or two, but still want to host your guests to a sumptuous royal feast, this dinner is for you.  And you don’t have to sell the family jewels, because this meal can be made for two for under $15.00.

Roasted Cornish Hens with Potato Au Jus
prep time: 15-30 minutes.  cook time: 45-60 minutes

  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 2 limes
  • 1 large onion
  • 4-5 potatoes sliced
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

If frozen, defrost poultry overnight in refrigerator.  Optional:  defrost the hens in a brine solution overnight.

The day of: preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice your potatoes.  Since we’re roasting these, you want them to be thick enough to hold their shape.  You can see I’ve cut mine in the pictures above to be about 1/4″ thick.  In your roaster, mix the potatoes and onions with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil, 1/2 tsp thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Lay the potatoes and onions out evenly.  Set aside to prep the hens.

Rinse the defrosted hens in cool water and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.  Lightly salt and pepper the cavity.

Take your limes and remove a tsp of zest from each and set zest aside. Using a skewer or fork, puncture a few holes in the lime throughout.  Stuff lime into the cavity of the hen along with a few slices of onion.  Rub salt and pepper on the outside skin of your birds.

To finish the bird, you can truss the hens with string in traditional fashion.  However, I have a bunch of bamboo skewers left over from our wedding bar, so I’ve just been using these to skewer the birds together.  First I skewer the cavity shut.  Then above that, I skewer the left leg and then through the Pope’s Nose and then through the right drum stick.  Finally I pull the two wings above the bird and skewer them together as well.  Easy!  Finish the birds off with the lime zest sprinkled on the skin.

Set hens over the potatoes in your roaster.   Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes.  At 30-40 minutes, I like to brush on a bit of fruit jam or syrup to act as a quick glaze and give the hens a nice color.  Remove hens from oven when a meat thermometer inserted near the thigh reads about 150-160 degrees and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.

While your hens are roasting you can finish your dinner off with a quick side like the braised leeks pictured above or steamed broccoli.

This is easy and delicious.  Perfect for special occasions.  I made this for Ira’s birthday and we both ate like kings!

Questions From the Readers: Can You Save Chicken Drippings?

Breakfast fried in chicken drippings.

Andrea, I just roasted my first chicken and I have a pan full of drippings. Can I save them for future use? What can I use them for? Can I freeze them? -Katie

Awesome! I love chicken grease! Its almost the best part of the chicken. Your question was well timed in that, although I didn’t roast a chicken this weekend, I did need to finish up some chicken thighs we were BBQing in the oven when it started to rain on us friday night. Boo hoo about the rain, but we ended up with a small pan of chicken drippings which I used Saturday morning to make us a decadent and delicious breakfast!

Using the chicken grease in my cast iron pan, I first fried up a pan of potatoes to golden crispy deliciousness. Then I threw in some eggs and fried them up in the same grease. This grease puts the chicken back in the egg. (hmm that sounds sort of weird, but its true!) The whole house smelled deliciously chickeny and we had a breakfast which will definitely put meat on your bones.

Now in answer to your question, if you don’t plan on using the drippings to make a gravy, I would still save them for sure. This stuff looks and tastes like liquid gold. Besides using the grease for frying up deliciousness, its also a great way to punch up a quick soup or sauce if you don’t have time to make a chicken stock. Depending on the amount of grease, you may want to separate the two so you don’t make your soup or sauce too fatty.

In terms of saving it, you can definitely freeze the drippings in a jar or Tupperware container until you need to use it. I prefer glass since I can easily throw it into the microwave to quickly defrost it when I want to use it. Some people like to separate the grease from the drippings when freezing, but again, depending on what you want to use it for, you may not need to.

Delicious pan fried breakfast in chicken drippings

In short, Chicken drippings are great to use in soups, sauces, stocks or for pan frying and can be frozen to keep for future use.

  • separate the grease from the juice if you plan to use the juice in a quick soup or sauce.
  • don’t waste time separating the grease for stocks because you’ll have to skim grease from your bones off the surface anyway.
  • use separated chicken grease for pan frying or deep frying (if you collect enough!)

Forkable Tips: The Best Method for Defrosting Chicken Breast

Duck Boobylicious: Broiled Duck Breasts with Fig Miso Glaze

For a holiday meal deserving a special treat, there’s nothing like duck boobs! Ha ha ha. I mean, ahem, duck breasts, of which I had 2 plump specimens in my freezer saved for such an occasion. They had actually been in the freezer for a bit too long and I was starting to worry they might be going bad. Cooking them up gave me a fancy meal free of any guilt of letting such a delicacy die the slow death of freezer burn.

Our Easter dinner of broiled duck breasts sided with rosemary roasted potatoes and lemon steamed broccoli.

I’ve never had good luck preparing duck before, usually overcooking it into duck leather. At $11.99 a lb, I wanted to make sure my duck turned out! When thinking about the preparation options, I decided to brine the breasts to help the meat retain as much juice as possible. A quick hot cooking method like broiling or sauteing is a good way to sear the outside of the meat and seal the juices in. Broiling with a glaze would infuse rich flavors as well as give a sweet caramelized exterior. I had my method; I just needed my ingredients.

The jar of fig paste on left was sealed with a layer of wax. How old timey!

Whenever I go on a food shopping adventure, I always like to treat myself to one or two exotic treats like the Duck Breasts I got on a visit to Mitsuwa. Easter dinner is a perfect excuse to go whole hog so I pulled out all my fancy ingredients. For the brine I needed an acidic base which immediately put me to mind of the persimmon vinegar I got on my last visit to Chicago Foods. The fig paste from Al Khayam would provide a rich tart base for the glaze. On to the prep.

Broiled Duck Breasts with a Fig Miso Glaze
approx. 1 hour of total cook and prep time with 3-4 hours for brine

  • 2 4 oz. duck breasts


  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar


  • 1/2 c. fig paste
  • 2 tsp miso
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs persimmon vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1/4 tsp brown sugar

Duck in the brine.

Similar to red wine vinegar, the persimmon vinegar had a very deep tart flavor, so I mixed some orange juice with the brine to sweeten the flavors. I let the duck soak submerged in the brine for 3-4 hours in the fridge.

On left, the breasts after the brine, patted dry with salt and pepper. On right, the breasts on a makeshift rack after the first 4 minutes under the broiler.

I’d never made duck breasts alone before, so I wasn’t sure the proper time broiling. I did a quick google search and just clicked on the appropriate first recipe I saw which could give me a rough idea of times. The recipe states:

  1. Pat duck breasts dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Remove rack of a broiler pan, then add 1 cup water to broiler pan and replace rack. Preheat broiler with pan 5 to 6 inches from heat.
  3. Broil duck breasts, skin sides down, 4 minutes
  4. Turn over and broil until thermometer inserted horizontally into center of a breast registers 130°F (see cooks’ note, below), 8 to 10 minutes more for medium-rare.

The info given for the temp the breast should read on the thermometer was very helpful. To insert my glaze into the recipe above, I proceeded with steps 1-3 and added the glaze to the top of the breasts after flipping over and placed the back in the oven to finish broiling for the last 8 minutes.

Though my duck breasts were half the size as the ones listed in that particular recipe, by following the first steps along with the temp guide lines, I was able to make sure my Duck breasts were plump, juicy and delicious.

The rich fatty meat was complimented by the deep sweet and tart flavor of the fig mixed with the vinegar and miso with an extra little kickass taste of wasabi. Sided with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli with lemon and black caraway. The quack was loud but our bite wasn’t vicious and that dinner I was cookin was duck boobylicious!

What Do You Do With Pierna De Pollo? I Dunno. Enchiladas?

I found it at the bottom of my freezer, all red and wrapped up in cellophane but I don’t remember buying it: a package of pierna de pollo. To preface, I don’t speak Spanish well. Once in Ecuador when trying to ask the bus driver to turn down the loud music, I actually asked if he could make the big music more tranquil. Using my same genius at language, I assumed “pierna” had something to do with the red seasoning rub coating the chicken. (Yes, I do know “pollo”).

Browning the chicken to prepare for braising.

I was thinking I could quickly saute the meat for fajitas but after defrosting, I realized I had a bunch of chicken hind quarters which where oddly sliced in half long ways. With lots of bones to deal with, I wasn’t going to be able to quickly saute anything. I scrapped my quick plan and decided to braise the chicken in a bottle of white wine left over from a party.

An hour or so later, I had a pot of braised chicken legs in a greasy wine broth, but not exactly sure where I was going from here. I figured whatever the “pierna” seasoning was, had also cooked into the broth, so it was too good to dump. It would have to be part of the dish. I was thinking a soup maybe, but after a long winter I am SO F**ing SICK of soup I can’t take it anymore. Next in my mind: make a sauce for enchiladas. So I did. Here’s how.

Chicken Enchiladas with Wine Sauce

  • 2lbs chicken, browned
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 large onion cut into 1″ slices
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • hot sauce
  • 1 green pepper sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 8 oz. bag
  • 1 package corn tortillas

After braising the chicken and onion in wine (about an 60-90 minutes at 350 degrees), strip the meat from the bones. My meat was not as moist and tender as I would’ve liked so I cut it into smaller chunks to make it easier to eat.

Next make the sauce. I separated half of the broth out to use to make a side dish of rice. With the remaining broth, heat until just boiling and stir in tomato paste which will help temper the tart wine flavor with its sweetness. Remove 1/2 cup or so of the wine broth and stir in the corn starch quickly so it doesn’t chunk up. Mix the milky liquid back into the broth stirring to avoid lumps. As liquid gently boils it will begin to thicken into a nice sauce, about 5 minutes or so. Add hot sauce to taste.

Saute green and red pepper over medium heat until softened about 5 minutes or so.

Assemble the enchiladas by stuffing the tortillas with the braised chicken, sauted peppers, and a bit of cheddar cheese (1 cup or half the bag).

Stuff the tortillas tight into an oven safe pan. Pour the sauce over the tortillas and bake for 20 minutes at 350. Sprinkle the remaining half of cheese on top and place back into the oven for a couple minutes until the cheese is nice and melted.

Chicken Enchiladas served with white rice cooked in wine broth with coconut milk and black pepper.

This was a weird take on enchiladas as the sauce was more tart then spicy, but they were just as satisfying. I really liked the cheddar with the wine sauce. Alcohol and cheese, who would have thunk?

I kept wondering what was in the “pierna” seasoning? Well, thanks to the internet, I realize the red rub was probably some adobo seasoning because pierna de pollo directly translates to “chicken leg”. Ha ha. I guess I should have paid more attention in Spanish class. Oh well you know what happens when you “ass-u-me”.

2 Secrets For The Best Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

I got home from work to find a sick Ira swaddled in layers of blankets begging for chicken soup. A hot bowl of soup can make all the difference when you’re sick so I knew I couldn’t refuse, even though my favorite guilty pleasure was going to start in 20 minutes.

Did I miss my show. No! I was able to get this started before showtime and finish up during the commercial breaks. Amazing? Not really, I just know the tricks.

My top two tips for a quick hearty soup:

  1. Awesome Chicken Stock:

    A nice potent chicken stock is really easy to make and so much better then anything you can buy. You can make soup with canned broth, but it won’t taste as good. We’re not cooking this soup for very long, so if the stock/broth is weak, the soup is going to be bleh. Stock is easy to make ahead and freeze. I always keep some on hand. Microwave it for 5 minutes to defrost and bam, you’ve got broth that’s basically good to go.

  2. Spaetzle Noodles:

    Where would chicken noodle soup be without the noodles? Spaetzle noodles are the best secret for an awesome chicken soup. They can be bought dehydrated at the store, and cook into rich luscious noodles. They are soo hearty, they’ll help put some pep in your sickie’s step right after eating!

Want my quick chicken soup recipe from scratch? OK. Here it is.

The Best Quick Chicken Soup
prep time: 10-15 minutes cook time: 15-25 minutes

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 chicken breast chopped into 1″ chunks
  • ~ 1 cup loosely packed dried spaetzle noodles
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of lemon juice

Saute onions, carrot and celery in 1 Tbs of olive oil until onions are translucent.

In a medium soup pot, brown chicken over medium heat. Add sauted onions, carrot, and celery. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Allow to simmer for ~15 minutes.

Add spaetzle noodles and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until spaetzle is soft and cooked through.

Season to taste. Add 1/8 tsp of pepper is probably good. I never salt my chicken stock when I make it. This recipe probably needs 1-2 tsp. Start with a little bit and taste. Keep adding until you’ve got enough. With salt, its good to start slow. You can always add more, but its difficult to remove too much. If you do over salt, just add water to dilute. I like to throw in just a splash of fresh lemon juice for a bit of kick. Plus, vitamin C is always good for the sickie.

Eat and feel better.

Left Over Remix: BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapenos

Its a creative challenge sometimes to look at a bunch of left over ingredients and think how I can make them over into something new and exciting. Looking in the refrigerator, I had a bunch of bags of left over garnish materials from Chili night; there was chopped jalapeno slices, half a red onion, a bag of shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

While I was thinking of what I could use them for, my eyes glanced on a bottle of BBQ sauce I’ve been trying to get rid of. With the little scrap of chicken breast I knew was lurking in my freezer, one of Ira’s favorite pizza’s came into my mind. Using my pizza dough short cut, I had a left over dinner on the table about an hour later.

BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapeno

  • Jalapeno slices
  • red onion sliced
  • cooked chicken breast
  • cilantro, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • shredded cheese

I quickly prepared my pizza dough and got it in the oven to rise.

Meanwhile, I gave the Jalapenos a quick saute in olive oil with some cumin seed to add a bit of flavor and cut down on the spicy heat of the peppers. If you like spicy food, you can skip this step, but I have to admit, I am a bit of a wiener when it comes to spicy peppers. What can I say, I am a gringo.

I also gave the chicken a quick saute to cook through, about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Before putting into the pan, I quickly cut up about a 1/4 of a chicken breast I had defrosted and mixed with the juice of 1 lime and 1 tsp of cumin.

Once the dough was ready, I spread out the BBQ sauce on the dough. BBQ sauce is easy to make if you don’t have any ready made in the fridge.

This is a quick mid week dinner not a BBQ competition in Kentucky, so Sweet Baby Rays or a BBQ sauce made with ketchup works just fine.

Layering the rest of the ingredients on the pizza, it was ready for the oven. 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Eat up and enjoy not letting ingredients rot in your refrigerator. Barack Obama is proud of you.

White Chicken Chili with Coconut and Lime

Though I’ve heard of white chicken chili, I’d never had it before. It sounded like a good alternative to the tomato based kinds, so I decided to concoct something along these lines for my Chili Night. White chicken chili made me think of tom kha soup, a spicy Thai soup with a coconut lime broth. So instead of researching other recipes to find out what most people considered White Chicken Chili to be, I decided to Americanize tom kah into Tex-Mex. Here’s what I came up with.

White Chicken Chili

  • 1 large chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced into wedges
  • 4-5 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder (depending on taste)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can white beans
  • 3/4 c. frozen corn
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinate sliced chicken breast in 1/8 – 1/4 c. fresh squeezed lime juice (2-4 Tbs). Sprinkle with salt, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably 2-3.

In a large bowl mix peppers with onions, 1-2 Tbs olive oil and 2 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (not too much) and 1/4 tsp pepper.

On burner, heat cast iron grill over high heat until smoking. Grill vegetables until charred and onions are clear. Remove from heat and set aside.

Grill chicken until just cooked, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place frozen corn on a baking sheet under broiler until charred.

In a soup pot, place chicken with quart of chicken stock, 1 cup of uncooked rice, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until rice is cooked, approx. 30 minutes.

Add coconut milk, white beans, grilled vegetables and corn. Add 1/4 c. fresh squeezed lime juice and 1 Tbs honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Many guests commented that although they were initially drawn to the lamb chili, the chicken was their favorite. Light and tart, the creamy coconut flavor compliments the acidic lime and a sweetness is brought out of grilled vegetables from the salty chicken base. The white beans and rice qualify this dish for official chili status.

Busy Week, Quick Dinner. Chicken Salad Sandwhich.

I feel so tired right now. On weeks when I have events, I am always very busy planning and prepping. The idea of coming home and cooking dinner is too much. Tonight, I decided to do something quick and easy: chicken salad sandwiches.

I made chicken stock this weekend for my white chicken chili. I usually use chicken bones and scraps for my stock, but I had some chicken thighs which had been frozen for a bit too long I needed to use up. When making stock, most of the flavor in the meat has been infused into the stock leaving bland stringy chicken, which works great for chicken salad because the dressing and filling helps cover the bland chicken taste. Its quick, easy and nummy.

Chicken Salad

  • 2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/8 c. spicy mustard
  • 1/8 c. honey mustard
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil chopped or 1 Tbs dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs lime juice

Mix all the ingredients together and bam! Chicken salad done. I like to mix mine in a food processor, but if you like yours super chunky, you can just whip it up in a bowl.

Slap that salad on a bun with Swiss cheese, side with some kettle chips. I like salt and vinegar.

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