Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicken Week Part 1~ Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs

I've been working a lot lately and our sense of culinary adventure at home has been suffering... Sure I whipped up some shrimp and grits the other day, pretty tasty even though the grits were way too firm.  But overall, its been a steady diet of crackers, chips and whatever else we can grab to sustain ourselves (and fatten ourselves up) So Jessica woke up this morning and headed out to the neighborhood grocery where apparently, there was a big sale on chicken.  She returned with a whole chicken, chicken thighs and chicken tenders (not pre-breaded processed crap, just the cuts of chicken called the tender).  Chicken has to be one of the most versatile proteins there is. Just thinking about all the different cuts and things you can do with this humble, inexpensive ingredient gets my creative juices flowing and makes me hungry.  Hence the theme for our new blog series was born, Chicken Week.

I've mentioned before that my brother and his wife just had a child and for those of us with kids we all know what that is like.  You can read a book about how to be a parent but only being one will truly enlighten you as to how completely, albeit wonderfully, overwhelming it is.  So we decided to make them dinner at their place.  Autumn, the new baby is having some digestive issues and Liza has decided to stay off all dairy items.  Luckily chicken is her favorite protein so we set out to plan a menu that accommodated her tastes.  Fortunately one of Jessica's signature dishes, Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs fit the bill perfectly.  We served it with spaghetti in a classic bordelaise sauce and green beans with bacon.  It was a very comforting family style but intensely flavorful and balanced plate of food.  Recipes for all three components, courtesy of Jessica, are below.  This should serve a family of 4.

Before I start on the recipes, I would like to add that overall, chicken is usually not my protein of choice.  That is because too often when someone uses it in a dish they take off the two parts that give chicken its flavor, the bone and the skin.  Please do not do this... THE BONES AND SKIN ARE WHAT GIVE CHICKEN FLAVOR!!!

Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs

10 bone in , skin on chicken thighs
     cayenne pepper
1/4c olive oil
2 heads(YES, the WHOLE head) of garlic smashed
3 lemons, quartered
1c dry white wine

Season both sides of room temperature chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Heat a very large, oven safe pan over very high heat.  I like to use my huge cast iron Le Creuset for this.  Whatever pan you use it must have a lid.  After the pan is hot, add the olive oil.  Heat the oil until very hot.  Add the chicken, skin side down and cook approximately 5 minutes per side, until seared.  Add all of the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the wine and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemons.  Cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  At the end of the hour, remove the lid and baste the chicken with the juices and return to oven for 30 more minutes, basting every 10 minutes.

Green Beans With Bacon

2lbs fresh whole green beans, ends trimmed
1/2lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.  Add the green beans and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice and cold water.  This is called "shocking" and will help the beans maintain their vibrant green color.
Meanwhile add the bacon pieces to a large, cold skillet.  Cook over medium low heat until browned and cooked through.  Add the green beans, salt and pepper and toss for a couple of minutes, until the green beans are crisp tender.

Spaghetti With Bordelaise Sauce

1/4c olive oil
1/4c chopped green onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp of assorted dried italian herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme
salt and pepper
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c chopped parsley
1c fresh grated parm

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain.
In a medium sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook,  until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add the wine, herbs, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the butter and parsley and cook for 2  more minutes.
Return the drained pasta to the pan Add the sauce and toss well to coat. Sprinkle well with the Parmesan.

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