chicken recipe

My own personal chicken-based rebellion

NOTE:  This post is not sponsored. I just got curious and I had a coupon for this product.

I’ve been feeling a little rebellious, lately. Sassy, if you will. If you’re into astrology, you might have some logical explanation for why a Virgo who thrives on order has literally decided to thrust herself into Let’s Just See What Happens-land this year, but from my end, it just feels like it’s not the time to play it safe. Even when I cook, I’ve been throwing caution to the wind. I’m usually not good at things not coming out the way I want them to in the kitchen, so this is kind of a big step for me, this being okay with not being sure thing.

But, here we are.

I’ll admit, this chicken recipe was somewhat of a calculated risk, in that, I sort of knew that if the product was what I thought it was, it would probably not be awful. However, when I saw a coupon for a free package of Bush’s “Hummus Made Easy” product on the local grocery store app, I will also admit to not really reading the package before I grabbed it and threw it in my cart. I got a general sense that if you put the contents of the packet into a food processor with a can of chickpeas, you’d end up with something resembling hummus.

You guys, I didn’t want hummus. I’m a little sick of hummus right now. I thought about hummus and it just made me kind of sleepy.

But it was free! And I already took it home! So….. I literally thought about nothing but the fact that I didn’t want to make hummus with this stuff for like, a week. Every time my brain tried to go into “screen saver mode,” it would jump back to this free package of hummus mix that was sitting in the cupboard. Waiting.

I’m taking a really long time to tell this story. Sorry, I got a little stream of consciousness there.

Anyhoots, someone at work used the word “marinate” when talking about thinking about something for awhile before making a decision, and then it hit me. Yes! I’ll use it as a marinade. Because I’d been marinating on this whole, “what to do with the free hummus stuff” thing so long, I feel like it was sort of meant, you know what I mean? I finally read the ingredients and discovered that the list was really straightforward. Nothing to be creeped out about at all: Water, tahini, olive oil, garlic, salt, lemon juice, sugar, and a little citric acid.

My FoodKeepr app told me I had some veggies in the fridge that were about to not be edible anymore, so I gathered those up, along with a package of chicken thighs, and set about turning this stuff into actual food. Not hummus.

Equipment:
Cutting board
Knife
Gallon sized zip top bag
Baking dish/Casserole dish type thing

Ingredients:
1 package of Bush’s Hummus Made Easy, Classic Flavor*
4-6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
2 cups (ish) large diced red potatoes
1 cup (ish) white button mushrooms (or whatever kind you have handy), sliced or cut into quarters
4-5 stalks green onion, peeled and trimmed, but otherwise left whole
Pan spray
salt & pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray your casserole dish with a little pan spray, and set aside.
2. Season both sides of each chicken thigh with a little salt and pepper. Add the whole package of Hummus Made Easy to the plastic bag, then toss the chicken thighs in. Seal it up and give it a good roll around, then stick it in the fridge to marinate while you prep your veggies, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Dice your potatoes and mushrooms, and trim/clean the green onions. Add the veggies to the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and give them all a toss so they make friends with each other.
4. Arrange the marinated chicken thighs on top of the veggies, then drizzle the whatever is left of the marinade over everything.
5. Cover the chicken and veggies with foil and pop into the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. If you want the thighs to brown a little, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

I served this with some farro, but it would work with plain old rice, or even couscous. Bear in mind, these are the veggies I had to use up, but if you have a different combo, go for it. Or, if you want to use a different protein, that’s cool, too. I think the Southwest version would be especially tasty with some pork chops, sweet potatoes, chunked up white onion and large diced pasilla or ancho chili peppers.


On the tasty scale, I give this one a solid nine, only because I didn’t get the foil off the chicken in time and the skin wasn’t as brown and crispy as I like. But that marinade really brought so much flavor to the party without having to add a lot of anything else, and it mingled with the chicken and veggie juices in a really lovely way. On the difficulty/effort scale, this recipe comes out at around maybe a four. You can have it on the table in, I’d say, an hour and 15 minutes, at the most, which makes it great for week nights, especially if you’re a meal prepper and have some of the work done ahead of time. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think!

*It also comes in a Southwest flavor, and a roasted red pepper flavor, and I’m sure those would be just lovely, as well.

Pesto Change-o

Like a lot of folks who are trying to eat a little healthier but rarely feel truly satisfied at the end of a meal that doesn’t contain a little meat, chicken has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s easy to work with, pretty affordable, and neutral enough in flavor that it goes with almost anything else you can put next to it. But, if you’ve found yourself leaning kinda hard on poultry to do the heavy lifting, you might be running out of ideas. That’s pretty much where I was when I started pondering ways to liven up the party.

I think I might have stumbled upon a good one, you guys. These chicken roll ups are packed with flavor, but portion controlled, and still hold the door wide open for very nearly any vegetable or starch you want to pair with them.  They’ve got just enough creamy and cheesy, thanks to goat cheese; a little bite of salty from black olives; some sweetness from the roasted red pepper; and the herbaciously savory goodness of pesto. It’s a perfect little package of yum.

Equipment:
Knife and cutting board
Medium mixing bowl
Spoon for mixing
Can opener
Measuring spoons
Large sheet pan
Tongs
OPTIONAL: Tooth picks

Ingredients:
1 package thinly sliced chicken breasts (mine had six pieces in it, which is what this recipe is based on)
Salt & Pepper
1 3.5 oz container of goat cheese crumbles
1 large roasted red pepper, small dice (You can either buy a whole jar of them and use the rest for a salad or something, or, if you want to just buy one fresh red pepper and roast it yourself, you can find directions here.)
2.5 tablespoons pre-made pesto
1.5 tablespoons chopped black olives
3 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh parsley
6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan (slightly more than 1/3 of a cup)
Pan spray

Preheat your oven to 325°.

In the mixing bowl, combine the goat cheese, diced red pepper, pesto, chopped olives, and chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spray your sheet pan with pan spray. Season both sides of each piece of chicken breast with salt and pepper, then lay them out flat, big end towards you, on the sheet pan. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the big end of each piece of chicken, then roll them up, tucking the chicken around the filling as you go.  If you want to use a toothpick to make sure they stay rolled up, go for it. Mine held together without them, though.

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Pop the chicken roll-ups into the oven for 20 minutes, or until they’re just cooked through. Top each roll-up with one tablespoon of the shredded Parmesan, then put them back into the oven just until the cheese melts. Let them rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.

I had one for lunch with about 3 ounces of cooked farro, and I was pleasantly full. For a dinner sized portion, you could do two with a starch and a veg. As you probably figured out, this recipe makes six, but doubling the recipe is a cinch if you have more mouths to feed or want to make sure there are lots of leftovers. Also, if you wanted to add a little more color to the plate, take the remaining roasted red peppers and puree them up in the blender with a little water or stock and a pinch of salt for a nice bright sauce to drizzle over the chicken.

Enjoy!

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Arroz by any other name…

Ever come across one of those recipes that, by name alone, sound pretty uninteresting, but then you make it and are kinda blown away?  For me, it’s Arroz con Pollo. I mean, let’s break that down– it’s chicken and rice, right? How much fun can that be?

Turns out, a lot of fun, and a ton of flavor. Someone should really come up with a better name for it, because while it might be a staple for lots of Latin American households, I doubt I ever would have made it if I hadn’t been assigned to do it in class. Now that I know, though, you can be sure it’ll be something I make pretty regularly.

Every Latin American country has a version of this. The one we made (at least according to the book) is a Puerto Rican variation, and it’s kind of similar to a paella. Don’t be scared away by the number of ingredients! I don’t think any of them should be very hard to find, and can pretty easily be substituted with whatever similar ingredient you can find.

The original recipe calls for one whole 2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken cut up, but you could lower the total cost of the dish by just using chicken thighs and/or legs. I’m a fan of dark meat for dishes like this anyway, so when I make it again, that’s probably what I’ll do. You could also substitute with a chicken sausage, if you wanted to go that route. The steps would be the same, regardless, so don’t be afraid to apply a little imagination to this recipe.

This recipe serves 4 generously.

Equipment:
Large skillet
Knife & cutting board
Measuring cups & spoons
1 gallon sized freezer bag
Tongs
Mise en place containers
Pot for making the annatto oil (If you choose to make it. I’ll list that recipe separately.)
Container or large plate for holding the chicken
Blender or food processor to make the sofrito (I’ll list that recipe separately, too.)

Ingredients:
8 pieces of chicken
1/2 C longaniza or linguiza or just plain old ham, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 C bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 1/2 C chicken stock
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 T Red wine vinegar
2 T Annatto Oil*
1 C white onion, 3/4 inch dice
1 C red bell pepper, 3/4 inch dice
2 T green sofrito**
1/2 C tomato sauce
1 C banana peppers, 3/4 inch dice
2 C long grain rice
2 T capers, rinsed

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Directions:
Wash the chicken and pat it dry. Mix together the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and vinegar in the freezer bag. Place the chicken pieces in the bag and zip it closed, then toss the chicken around in the bag to thoroughly coat it with the marinade. Let it stand for 30-45 minutes.

While you’re waiting, if all the rest of your prep is done, feel free to watch that episode of Scandal that’s been sitting in your Hulu queue since last week, or ponder the meaning of life, or research how to cut your own bangs. Maybe lock yourself in the bathroom with the new Ikea catalog. Or just sit there and stare into space. This is your time.

After the chicken soaks in its little flavor spa for awhile, brown it in the annatto oil, then set it aside.

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In the same skillet, brown the ham/longaniza and bacon. Drain off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat.

Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper, sofrito, tomato sauce, and banana peppers. Stir it all to combine and let it cook for about 2-3 more minutes.

Add the capers as well as the rice and stir it to get all the grains coated really well in the sauce, cooking for about 2 minutes.

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Add the chicken pieces back to the skillet, along with the chicken stock, and salt to taste. Bring it all to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook it for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the chicken is tender.

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For those of you who are more intimately familiar with a Crock Pot, I’m sure this recipe could be adapted for slower cooking. If you are one of those people, and you figure it out, let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to update this recipe with your slow cooker directions.

Imagine tucking into a plate of this deliciousness on a cold day.  Aside from some pretty basic chopping and dicing, this recipe comes together without a lot of fuss. There’s so much more to it than the name implies, and the results are so full of flavor and color!

*Annatto Oil:

NOTE: If you can’t find/don’t feel like hunting down Achiote seeds, feel free to just use regular vegetable oil, or another flavored oil that would fit the flavor profile of the dish. The seeds give the oil a bright red color, which then colors the chicken as its cooked, but it’s by no means absolutely critical to the overall flavor of the dish, in my opinion.

Ingredients:
1 C vegetable oil
1/2 C Achiote seeds

Heat the oil over a low heat, add the seeds. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until the oil is brightly colored. Cool the oil, then strain out the seeds. The unused portion can be stored in the fridge.

**Green Sofrito:
This is a super easy puree made of aromatics that can be used to flavor just about any vegetable based sauce or soup. You’ll make more than you need, but freeze the rest in ice cube trays, transfer the sofrito cubes to a freezer bag, and throw one or two into all those yummy stews and soups you’ll be making this winter.

Ingredients:
2 medium green bell peppers or cubanelle peppers, seeded
2 medium onions, peeled and rough chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch of cilantro leaves
Water, as needed

Throw everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a paste. You can add some water a little at a time if the mixture needs to be loosened up a bit to combine, but remember, you’re not making soup! It should be a loose paste.