This is Donald Link’s Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives. It’s one of the most delicious things we’ve eaten in a while. Make sure you serve it with lots of crusty bread – you’ll want to mop up every last bit of the intensely savory sauce.
This week has been a doozy. We were able to take our very cooped-up kids out for a bit over the weekend, but the cold and snow came back with a vengeance Sunday night, and we’ve been fighting the bad weather blues ever since. My commutes have been long and frustrating, with truncated workdays and late returns home throwing us all off schedule, but the one thing we’ve been really grateful for is the promise of a good, hearty meal at the end of the day.
We were the lucky recipients of another delicious “meal train” dinner Monday night, and yesterday I put a new spin on an old favorite: Lemon Artichoke Chicken by our friend Liz. Liz’ original recipe is one of those wonderful dishes that is simple enough for a weeknight, but elegant enough for company. We usually love it served simply with salad and bread, but last night, craving something a little more rib-sticking, I decided to make a few modifications.
The first of them was unintentional, but a happy accident: instead of the skinless, boneless chicken breasts the recipe calls for, Mike had pulled some boned-out thighs from the freezer. They were thin enough that they didn’t need pounding, and in the end they lent a more robust flavor to the finished dish.
After browning the chicken well on both sides, I removed it from the pan and added some sliced crimini mushrooms I needed to use up, as well as a good amount of thyme. I deglazed the pan with the juice of a lemon, and a hefty splash of vermouth in place of the sherry since it was what we had on hand, then I added a can of drained white beans along with the artichoke hearts. I put the browned chicken right back into the pan with the beans, artichokes, mushrooms and sauce, added the panko-parmesan topping, drizzled on some olive oil and then put the whole thing into a hot oven. I ended up baking this for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees, until it was bubbly and browned on top.
While my variation of this dish isn’t going to win any beauty contests, it hit all the right notes, with its creamy beans, tender chicken and artichokes, the crunch of the panko and the brightness of lemon. The fact that it all came together in one pan was a bonus. Thank you, Liz, for your recipe and for the inspiration – it was a very good place to start.
Hey, it’s Dietsch. I haven’t posted here in a while, but I wanted to talk about something important: where we get our food.
More specifically, where we get our chicken. Chicken is important to us because it’s the meat we eat most often. It’s relatively lean, but as everyone knows, when it’s cooked and sourced well, it’s flavorful. Julian loves it. But, unfortunately, finding good quality but inexpensive chicken is surprisingly difficult.
Because we eat chicken so often, we want to make sure we’re eating good stuff. It doesn’t need to be organic, although that’s nice, but we certainly don’t want antibiotics or hormones in the meat. Free-range birds that eat grubs and grasses tend to taste better than birds raised indoors on a grain diet, but to find birds like that, you need farmer’s markets. And with a toddler, getting to the farmer’s market is harder now than it used to be. (We have one in the neighborhood; more on that later.)
One thing we’re adamant about, though: no Tyson, no Perdue, no Swift. None of the stuff you find at most major groceries. We’re building a boy here; we don’t want to flood him with chemicals.
Since moving back to Brooklyn in June, we’ve had to start over again on the task of researching our best food sources. In Providence, we had things nailed down pretty tightly. We knew who had our favorite chickens, for example (Pat’s Pastured), and we knew what our second and third choices were — which farmer’s market and grocery birds were reasonably good choices, if we couldn’t buy from Pat.
During our first stint in Brooklyn, things were also pretty set. I worked for a while near Union Square, so getting to the Greenmarket three times a week was pretty easy. I’d swing through in the morning or at lunch, cache my stash in the communal fridge, and haul it home at the end of the day. (Our favorite chickens in our swinging DINK days? Tamarack Hollow, Violet Hill, and Flying Pigs. It’s hard to say which of the three we liked best.)
This go-around, things have changed. I work from home now, writing and taking care of Julian. I’ve tried going into Union Square with him during the week, but to get him on the subway, I have to wear him in the carrier, and hauling 22 pounds of baby and Greenmarket goods home is pretty stressful.
We have a small Greenmarket on Cortelyou Road on Sundays. We get beautiful eggs from Knoll Krest Farm, but we haven’t asked them yet about chicken. (Years ago, we bought some stewing hens from their USQ stand and they were delicious, but I don’t know whether they sell young chickens, or just older laying hens for stewing.)
We make out okay in this neighborhood for grocery stores. I mean, we’re unlikely to ever see a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s here, and that’s okay with me, but we have a couple of C-Towns, a Met, and a Key Food. And also on Cortelyou, we have the Flatbush Food Co-op. Unlike the more famous Park Slope Food Co-op, you can shop at Flatbush without being a member.
Chicken offerings at Flatbush include Eberly, Wise, Free Bird, and Bell & Evans. Eberly birds are raised by Amish and Mennonite farmers in Pennsylvania. Eberly is organic and offers its birds at least some access to the outdoors. (I probably don’t need to explain how loose the term “free range” is; it’s hard to know how much outdoor access a “free-range” bird really gets.) We’ve had Eberly’s chickens many times and are satisfied. Its turkey was the centerpiece of our beautiful Thanksgiving feast this year.
Wise is a kosher operation, but it’s also organic. As with Eberly, its birds have some outdoor access. The birds are raised by “a group of ten small family farms” in Pennsylvania. We’ve also been satisfied with Wise chicken.
Free Bird is another organic producer. Free Bird’s birds are cage-free, which I don’t think Eberly or Wise claim to do. Its birds are raised on farms in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. Free Bird would be my top choice at the Food Co-op, but Flatbush doesn’t always have it in stock. When it’s out, I go with Eberly or Wise.
Bell & Evans sells some birds that are organic and some that are not; it says its birds are free-range. Like the first three, its birds are raised in Pennsylvania. We like B&E birds, but Bell & Evans sells EVERYWHERE; I don’t feel like they need my custom.
Prices vary, but generally, these four options run about $3.99 to $4.99 a pound. I don’t mind paying a premium for quality meat, raised in relatively humane circumstances without a lot of crap added to it, but still, with a kid, that’s pricey.
Recently, though, I’ve started to realize there’s another option. We went into Chelsea Market a few times, after we moved back, and while there, we stocked up on meats from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. The Dickson’s site is pretty transparent about its sourcing, so I learned that their delicious chickens come from a distributor called Madani Halal in Queens. The birds are shipped live to Madani from Amish farms in — yes — Pennsylvania. They’re raised cage-free, without antibiotics, and on a purely vegetarian diet.
Now, Dickson’s birds are wonderful, as is all their stuff, but they’re also pricey: $5.00 a pound. At prices like that, even humble chicken ceases to be a weekly staple of your diet.
However, we live in an area of Brooklyn known as Little Pakistan, an area that has drawn Pakistani immigrants for generations. We have halal shops everywhere. Walk up or down Coney Island Avenue, anywhere south of Church Avenue, and you can’t miss them.
One shop, a bodega/butcher’s called Evergreen, is just around the corner from our apartment. At Evergreen, if you want jasmine rice, the smallest bag available is five pounds. If you have room to store a 30-pound bag, Evergreen can hook you up. Also, if you’re nuts about curries, this is the place for you; every curry spice and blend imaginable is for sale here. Fenugreek, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala — you can buy them all for a pittance.
Halal, if you don’t know, is the Muslim equivalent to kosher law. The strictures are quite similar. No blood, no pork. Animals must be treated humanely, and must be slaughtered in such a way as to minimize suffering. (Although the exact method of slaughter has prompted some controversy; the Wiki entry on halal has a summary.)
Halal meat, like kosher meat, generally carries a tag or a mark to indicate that it’s safe to eat for adherents of the respective religion. So thanks to this tag, I learned that Evergreen’s chickens come from Senat Poultry, in Paterson, New Jersey.
Well, they’re slaughtered in Paterson. The chickens themselves are raised on … wait for it, wait for it … Amish farms in Pennsylvania. They’re vegetarian-fed, free-roaming birds, raised without antibiotics or hormones.
To our palates, they’re just as good as anything we can get at the co-op, and they’re as good as the birds we were getting at Dickson’s. They’re not specifically organic, but that’s the only difference between Senat’s birds and those from Eberly, et al.
Oh, wait, there’s one other difference, and this one’s major.
Evergreen charges me 2 bucks a pound. Those, my friends, are mass-market grocery prices — what you’d pay for Tyson birds at C-Town.
We’ve had better birds from the farmer’s markets, sure. But a four-pounder from Evergreen costs me $8.00, whereas a bird from a Greenmarket vendor might cost me as much as $6.00 a pound, or $24. Is that bird three times as good? I cannot honestly say “Yes.”
So, let’s sum up.
Co-op birds — Eberly, Wise, Free Bird, B&E:
- Organic (mostly; some B&E birds aren’t)
- Free roaming
- Hormone and antibiotic free
- Vegetarian diet
- $3.99 to $4.99 a pound
- Free roaming
- Not organic, but hormone and antibiotic free
- Veggie diet
- $5.00 a pound
- Free roaming
- Not organic, but hormone and antibiotic free
- Veggie diet
- $2.00 a pound
Remember back in October when we decided to take on a little cooking project? Well, a lot has happened since then, but we’re back on track now, and well on our way to coming up with a great version of chicken and dumplings.
We’ve tried three different versions so far, each of which had things we loved and things we found lacking. Mike kicked off the cooking with Elise’s version from Simply Recipes. We thought the stew had great flavor, but the dumplings were a little denser than we wanted (possibly because we didn’t have cake flour on hand, so we used AP flour instead).
Next we tried Martha’s version, which had lighter dumplings, but a less-flavorful stew. We thought maybe we’d just take Elise’s stew and Martha’s dumplings for a third version, but after looking at a few more recipes, I decided to go in a different direction, putting together my own version of the dish.
I used six bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2.5 lbs. worth), salting them well and browning the skins in butter before putting them in the oven to finish cooking through. I then took a couple of leeks, a few peeled carrots, and a couple of celery stalks, chopped them small, and softened them in the rendered fat, then sprinkled a bit of Wondra on them and stirred it through to coat the vegetables. I let that cook for a few minutes, then added about 6 cups of our rich homemade chicken stock and several sprigs of fresh thyme.
For the dumplings, I took a page from this recipe, which originally comes from America’s Test Kitchen. I loved the idea of buttermilk in the dumplings, but without an immediate use for a yolk, didn’t want to sacrifice an egg to the cause. I also liked the idea of adding a bit of Dijon mustard to the dumplings, a la Thomas Keller. So I ended up combining two cups of AP flour with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in one bowl, and a tablespoon of Dijon, 4 tablespoons of melted butter, and 3/4 cups of buttermilk in another bowl. When I combined the wet and dry ingredients, I found the mixture to be a bit too dry, so I added another 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Finally, since I had a huge pile of herbs for the stew in front of me, I figured I’d add some to the dumpling dough as well – about a third of a cup or so of chopped fresh parsley and chives.
When the chicken was cooked through, I shredded the meat off the bones (we snacked on the crispy skin) and added it to the stew. I plopped in some frozen peas, adjusted the seasoning, then brought the heat up and began dropping spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture in. I popped the lid back on the pot to let the dumplings cook through, then served our chicken and dumplings with the rest of my chopped fresh herbs on top.
We would have liked the stew to be a bit thicker and creamier, but the flavor was great, and these dumplings were the best yet, light and fluffy and delicately tangy from the buttermilk and mustard. While we’ve got a few more chicken and dumpling recipes we want to try during the remainder of the month, I think we’re very close to finding our winner.
This weekend, we made our first return visit to the big Saturday Greenmarket in Union Square since we moved back to New York. With Julian strapped into his carrier, we wove our way through the crowds, sidestepping little dogs and granny carts, selecting meats and produce for the week ahead. I wasn’t sure how our little guy would do surrounded by so many sights and sounds and people, but he seemed to really love the bustling market, smiling and babbling at anyone who met his eye.
We visited many of our old favorites, picking up Rocambole garlic and scapes from Keith’s Farm, shell peas and broccoli rabe from Migliorelli, baby back ribs and sweet Italian sausage from Flying Pigs, Cherry Lane tomatoes, Elk Trails bison, and ground mutton from 3-Corner Field Farm. But we were eager to try out some new-to-us vendors as well, and rounded out our market haul with a big, beautiful ribeye and a fresh whole chicken from Grazin’ Angus Acres.
We treated both meats simply, searing the ribeye that night and serving it sliced alongside a crunchy wedge salad (minus the bacon, but with plenty of blue cheese studding a creamy homemade buttermilk dressing), and prepping the bird brick chicken-style.
These two meals couldn’t have been simpler, more flavorful, or more satisfying, and while we are really looking forward to revisiting the familiar flavors of foods from our old favorite farms, we’re happy to have added a new one to the list.
I had no idea, as we planned our meals for this week, that last night’s dinner would turn into such a big fun celebration. We’ve spent most of our time planning for and looking forward to today, our fifth wedding anniversary, and the meal we’ll share tonight, as well as making plans to continue the celebration over the weekend. We’ll have other things to celebrate then, too – my parents‘ 40th (!) anniversary, and my niece‘s second birthday, so much joy packed into a few short days.
But boy did I get a surprise yesterday thanks to the folks at food52 – they chose my Hunters’-Style Chicken as a Wildcard winner, to appear in the second food52 cookbook alongside Amy‘s amazing Short Rib Ragu and countless other mouthwatering dishes. It’s always a rush to have a recipe chosen as a finalist or an Editor’s Pick in a competition, but to have my dish deemed worthy of inclusion in the book just on its own is really something special. I’m incredibly humbled, and so thankful, and it was such a fun coincidence that I had already planned to make this dish last night.
I’m sure we’ll be raising many a glass over the next few days, and you can be sure that as we toast to all of the things we’re grateful for in our lives, we’ll be thinking of all of you and this incredible community we’ve become a part of.
I’ve been working on my perfect chicken cutlet recipe for what seems like ages, inspired by our many Bay Area friends-who-feel-like-family and their delicious tales of Bakesale Betty sandwiches. So I was a little tickled when, in the midst of much discussion and tweeting about a certain salad Anita (and I, despite never having tasted the original myself) fell hard for during her (and Cam’s) recent Boston visit, Anita deemed my cutlet “drool-worthy.”
I’ll probably continue to tweak this because, well, that’s what I do, but I was extremely happy with how these cutlets came out, and I think I’m finally ready to share my recipe with you.
Wishing you all a safe and joyful holiday – may you get everything you hope for and more.
Crispy Chicken Cutlets
2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts, tenders removed, breasts pounded to an even thickness
grapeseed or other neutral oil for frying
for the brine:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
for the dredge:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Colmans mustard powder
for the batter:
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
Combine the ingredients for the brine in a lidded container or zip-top plastic bag, stirring or shaking to combine. Add the chicken to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Remove the chicken in its brine from the refrigerator about half an hour before cooking and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the dredge and the batter in separate individual containers. Remove the chicken from the brine, shaking off excess, then dip the chicken pieces in the dredge, making sure they are evenly coated. Dip the chicken pieces in the batter, shaking off excess, then dip them once more in the dredge before setting aside on a plate or platter. (They’ll look pretty shaggy, but you’ll get nice crisp layers of crust on the chicken once it’s cooked.)
Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used our cast iron skillet) and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces to the hot oil and cook until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees, flipping the pieces once (I find that using an offset spatula to do the actual flipping, with a pair of tongs to guide, works well – you can gently flip the pieces while keeping the crust intact). When the chicken is cooked, you can finish each piece with a sprinkle of flaky salt or chopped fresh parsley.
If you’re scaling up the recipe to serve more people, you can place the cooked chicken pieces on a rack set over a baking sheet and hold them in a low oven until you are ready to serve.
Things have been quiet in this little corner of the Internet, but there has been plenty of cooking happening in our kitchen. I’ve skewed pretty heavily toward comfort food dinners of late, despite, or perhaps because of, my long workdays and the fact that a stubborn bug I thought I’d conquered has come back with a vengeance. The dishes that appeal to me these days are the culinary equivalent of a big chunky sweater, a fleece blanket, a roaring fire sending forth the earthy aroma of woodsmoke, something to force the chill from my bones and warm me to my toes. Braises and stews, creamy starchy sides, our enameled cast iron cookware has gotten a workout.
I wrote up a spin on Mario Batali’s “cacciatore” ages ago, and with a Pat’s Pastured Poulet Rouge in our fridge, one of many goodies we brought home from Saturday’s Wintertime Farmers’ Market, I decided a do-over was in order. There’s a bit of prep involved at the start, breaking down the bird, browning it in batches, soaking dried mushrooms and sautéing fresh, building layers of flavor in your pot, but once everything is in the oven with its parchment cap in place, you can kick back with a Negroni and enjoy the aromas wafting your way. Served over a creamy parmesan polenta, this is comfort food of the highest order.
You can get my recipe at food52.
Last night saw the triumphant return of one of my favorite summer salads. We really are entering the very best time of the year for people who love to eat.
31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!
I love remixing leftovers, so when planning out my first week of No-Sweat Recipes, I decided to schedule this Vietnamese Chicken Salad to take advantage of the leftover roast chicken from Tuesday night’s Chicken Tonnato.
This is exactly the kind of recipe I love – fairly free-form, easily adaptable to individual taste, and far, far more than the sum of its parts. This salad was a real celebration of the bounty of our farmers’ markets, as everything but the lime juice and fish sauce came from either the Hope Street market at Lippitt Park, or from the Boston Public Market in Dewey Square.
I opted to skip the coleslaw mix and shred some locally grown cabbage and carrots I had on hand instead, and I added scallions and slivers of fresh chile pepper to the mix as well. This was easily the most delicious thing we’ve eaten during this project so far, the sassy dressing playing off the crunchy vegetables and bits of moist chicken. I served our salad on a bed of soft butter lettuce leaves which I ended up using to scoop up bites of the salad, and I tossed the leftovers with softened cellophane noodles for a future lunch. Mike said he’d happily eat this once a week for as long as the ingredients are in season, and I’m right there with him. Great stuff, and it couldn’t be easier to put together.
Get the recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Salad