Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

I had big plans the week to cook some elaborate dinners before the holidays. But then life got in the way with jury duty mixed in with an unexpected loss. Those plans for the elaborate coq au vin on Sunday? Not happening. That night instead turned into bagel and lox (luckily we just returned from Canada with Montreal bagels). I needed to do something for dinner on Monday though and this seemed simple enough.

Over the past two years, we've rarely eaten chicken because as an adult it hasn't been my favourite meat and our meat CSA rarely gave us chicken. But now our CSA is changing their system, so it's harder to add extra meats to our standard box, so I'm starting to find myself picking up chicken again on those weeks when the butcher doesn't have pork cheeks to tempt me. This dish isn't really about the chicken (although we had some excellent chicken oysters and skin last night!), but the sauce is so rich for such a short period of time. The mix of sweet currants and salty olives with rich rosemary flavor is perfect. The original calls for chicken thighs, but I was saving those to give the coq au vin a later shot, so I went with breast with good results.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken (from The Herbal Kitchen)

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
kosher salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced from root to top
1 1/2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup chopped pitted green olives
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and sear 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm platter.
2. Adjust heat to medium-low. Add onion and rosemary to the skillet and cook until limp, 3 minutes.
3. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to deglaze.
4. Stir in lemon zest, currants, olives, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and browned chicken. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
5. Uncover and increase heat to high. Stir in lemon juice and cook until sauce reduces to coat meat with a glaze, 2 - 3 minutes. Serve.

Pork with Onions, Vinegar, and Coconut Milk (Vindaloo)

After getting back from Canada, I was in a cooking malaise. Everything was just kind of okay. Nothing outstanding, nothing bad. This dish was a happy surprise and break from that trend. It's not terribly spicy for a vindaloo, but the tangy vinegar and caramelized red onions add a wonderful depth of flavor. The original below is written for tender pork loin chops. I used pork stew meat and let them simmer in a whole can of coconut milk for 2 hours. I've been cooking a lot with cheeks lately and if you can find them to use here in place of stew meat, I think they'd give a wonderful contrast to the tangy vinegar.

One year ago: Curry Pork Pies
Two years ago: Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Three years ago: Pickled Cabbage
Four years ago: Spicy Red Beef Curry
Five years ago: Egg Drop

Pork with Onions, Vinegar, and Coconut Milk (Vindaloo) (from 600 Curries)

1/4 cup cider vinegar or malt vinegar
1 tbsp coarsely chopped ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 large garlic cloves
2 small red onions: 1 coarsely chopped, 1 finely chopped
2 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
2 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, stems removed
1 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless pork loin chops, cut into strips 1" wide and 1/4" thick (or use cubed stew meat and see header notes)
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 can if using a tougher cut)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Pour vinegar into a blender jar and add ginger, cumin seeds, garlic, coarsely chopped red onion, dried chiles, and fresh chiles. Puree until smooth. Fold in salt and turmeric.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add finely chopped onion and stir-fry until light honey brown, 5 - 10 minutes.
3. Stir in vinegar paste and cook uncovered until vinegar evaporates and paste is slightly dry, 3 - 5 minutes.
4. Add pork strips and cook until meat is seared, 2 minutes.
5. Pour in coconut milk and stir to deglaze.
6. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until sauce thickens and pork is tender, 7 - 10 minutes for pork loin chops or 2 hours for a tougher cut).
7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.