Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken Sauté Provençale Style

As I was looking back through the recipes I had posted in the last year I was amazed to find that I had not put this one up. It is absolutely one of my go-to recipes - just as appropriate for an important dinner with the boss as a quick weeknight meal - the epicurian equivalent of the perfect day to night outfit, as it were. This recipes embodies pretty much everything I love about cooking and reaffirms that good food does not have to be fussy or take hours, though those recipes have their place in my world as well.

This is good all year round. In the fall/winter I will pair it with green beans, rice and crusty bread for soaking up all the good sauce; in the spring/summer I will serve it with roasted asparagus and couscous for a lighter fare.

I originally found this recipe in one of my well-loved cookbooks, Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library "Healthy Cooking". The chicken dish is low in calorie (222 calories per serving) and high in flavor.

Couple of notes:
I would recommend using regular olive oil here. You want that olive flavor present and extra virgin just will not have enough presence. If it's all you have in the pantry, no sweat, but if you have a choice, use high test this time.

As always fresh herbs make a difference. I know this is my battle cry but with so many basic ones readily available now in the grocery store there really isn't a reason not to use them - it makes such a difference in the taste.

For the wine, cook with what you would drink with. If you don't want to have to open a bottle just to decant a 1/2 cup of wine or if you are an infrequent white wine drinker here is a tip. When you do drink white, save the last little bit of the bottle and pour it into an ice tray. Freeze the wine cubes and then pop them into a plastic freezer bag. Then when you need a touch of wine, you can put a couple of cubes in the recipe and you are good to go.

I always make extra sauce. It is delicious the next day poured over leftover rice or couscous and warmed quickly in the microwave.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Chicken Sauté Provençale

2 tablespoons good olive oil 
4 4-5 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about half an onion)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can chopped tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted, No-Salt Added Diced Tomatoes)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano ( substitute 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Parsley for garnish

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and warm.

When hot, add chicken, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, turning the chicken once, 2-3 minutes each side. Chicken should be lightly browned on the outside.

Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add tomatoes and oregano and return to boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover partially and cook 5-7 minutes. Sauce should have thickened and chicken have become opaque throughout when cut with a knife.

For party presentations, transfer chicken to a warmed platter. Spoon sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley and garnish with parsley sprigs. For a more casual meal, spoon starch (rice, couscous etc) on to plate and layer chicken on top. Spoon sauce over all and top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve at once.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Comfort Food Classics: Chicken Noodle Soup

As the weather finally gets colder and the days shorter I find myself making more comfort food. Chicken Noodle Soup is one of those recipes that I think people dismiss sometimes as too basic, but when made well can really taste simply delicious. I have played around with a recipe for years and even when my friend Paul asked me to resend a version I had sent him some time ago I wasn't sure if I could do that  - exactly - so this is where I am now. I can't really take any credit for the origins of this recipe. The base is a hybrid formed from the marriages of Williams-Sonoma and Barefoot Contessa recipes (not a bad coupling if I do say so myself). Over the years I have doctored and added elements that gave me the flavor I was looking for. Served with some crusty bread and a salad, this is the perfect quick weeknight meal.

Couple of notes: Fresh veggies and herbs are key here. It really does make a difference in the taste. If you can make your own stock that much the better but on a day to day basis I use Kitchen Basics, no salt added stock. I like to use half veggie stock, half chicken stocker for a richer flavor. When I am feeling horrible, especially if my nose if clogged I tend to like a lot of garlic, but if you are not a garlic lover, then just cut the amount to taste. If you are pressed for time a rotisserie chicken can easily be used. You may have to skim some fat off the soup before serving though.

This freezes pretty well, Just add some new stock to the frozen batch and reheat on the stove top. Enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken breast, bone-in, skin on
Olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 small cloves garlic, smashed then finely minced
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 oz egg noodles
6 cups stock
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, plus some for garnish
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Baste the chicken breast with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast, skin side up for 25-30 minutes until just pink on the inside. You want the chicken to be slightly undercooked. Remove from oven. Allow to cool then skin and remove the meat from bone, cutting up the meat into 1-inch cubes. (You should have about a 1/2 pound of meat.) Set aside.

Heat a large pot on the stove. When hot add a small amount of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Add in onions, celery and carrots and cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes. (Turn down the heat if veggies start to brown.) Once cooked, add garlic and cooked for another minute. Add the broth and bay leaf heat until slowly boiling. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the stock. Add noodles, remaining spices and cook about 8 minutes until noodles are almost done, then add reserve chicken, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 4 more minutes and then serve.