Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken: Down-Home Casual or Uptown?

Whether you prefer upscale gourmet type meals or humble casseroles, I cooked chicken your way this week! I didn't actually mean to make chicken dinners two nights in a row, but things got out of whack when we ate out or ate lunch so late we didn't want dinner. So, the chicken with roasted garlic and lemon stuffing came right on the heels of a chicken casserole. No one complained.

Crunchy Chicken Casserole
1 lb. chicken, diced and cooked through
1 c. mayonnaise
3 stalks diced celery
2/3 c. dry breadcrumbs
16 oz. sliced water chestnuts, drained & rinsed
1/2 c. sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything but 1/3 c. breadcrumbs together. Put in a 2-quart baking dish and top with remaining breadcrumbs. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
I served this with the best mac & cheese I've ever had. I may have posted the recipe before, but I'll put it here so you don't have to go hunting for it:
Mac & Cheese for Lazy People
1 lb. macaroni
4 tbsp. flour
2 c. milk
4 c. shredded extra-sharp cheddar
Cook macaroni. Sprinkle with flour & stir to coat. Add milk and cook on low heat until slightly thickened. Gradually add the cheese and cook, stirring, until melted and creamy. Serves 8. I always make a bunch so I have leftovers.
I actually did include a veggie with this dinner, a beautiful head of cauliflower I picked up from the Amish folks at the farmer's market, cooked up wth a creamy lemon coating.
Lemony Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. chicken broth
Salt & pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Steam the cauliflower to the consistency you prefer...we like ours not so smushy. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the flour and stir until smooth and lightly browned. Gradually add the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and season with salt & pepper. Add lemon juice. Add cauliflower and heat through, stirring to coat with the sauce.
Wednesday night, I went a little fancier with an adaptation of an Anne Kearney recipe, probably changes she would abhor, but agreeable to my recent bone-phobia. Yes, I have been finding bones alarming, particularly on chicken. I know all the criticisms and reservations about skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but that's what I used and they turned out juicy and flavorful. I highly recommend getting free-range chicken that hasn't been shot up with hormones. You should be able to get it at a farmer's market or perhaps even in your local grocery. By all means sub chicken on the bone, with skin, if you have no such phobia. The recipe as I made it is nothing like the one I pulled from McCall's in February of 2001. If you want her original recipe, you may be able to dig through the McCall's archives and find it as "Peristyle Lemon Chicken." Here is what I made:
Chicken with Roasted Garlic & Lemon Stuffing
1 head of garlic, roasted
3 1/2 tbsp. butter, softened
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. coarse, fresh breadcrumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A smattering of chopped parsley
4 chicken breasts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mash the garlic. Add 1 1/2 tbsp. butter, s&p, breadcrumbs, lemon juice & zest & parsley. Season the chicken. Heat remaining butter in a skillet. Brown the chicken in the butter. Divide stuffing among chicken breasts, nestling it into the meat. Bake 13 minutes. Serves 4.
I made mashed potatoes to go with this, using some buttermilk I'd picked up for banana bread in place of regular milk and Paula Deen's House Seasoning instead of just salt and pepper. I also served a romaine salad with an easy lemon dill vinaigrette---mix juice of half a lemon with 1/2 tsp. dill, 1/2 tsp. House Seasoning and 1/4 c. olive oil and you're done!

No comments: