Category Archives: chicken

Champagne: Chic or Chicken?

Champagne chicken sauce recipeOne man’s champagne diet.

Now that the yearly New Years service is over, it’s safe to admit.  I don’t like champagne.

That will probably get my ticket yanked with a segment of the liquor industry, the high-stepping party crew and modern romance food aficionados, but there it is.  Sure, I raised my glass and drank with everybody else.  But, it’s kind of like clapping for the neighbor’s child’s recital.  Not to be confused with actual enjoyment.

Is champagne really the right New Year’s drink in the first place?  For a hearty sendoff of one year and the fingers-crossed hopes for a new one?  Seems to me the occasion deserves a draft Guinness, or a shot of  Bushmills, a decent merlot or the like.  A touch of bitterness, followed by a moment of impossible-to-ignore fullness of flavor, and a real loosening of expectations.

Champagne?

I  first got suspicious when I learned champagne was actually a  wine mistake.  Centuries ago in France champagne grapes were harvested so late, winter cold would sometimes stop the wine fermenting, only to restart in the spring. This caused the yeast to go nuts and produce more gas than usual.  Bottles exploded, the wine fizzed, that kind of mess.  Until one day, as they were dumping another ruined batch, some prince or another wandered in, tasted the stuff, and offered to pay good money.  They couldn’t unload it fast enough.

Now, I’ve got nothing against the champagne industry, who’ve carried on this lucrative tradition, or folks who enjoy bubbly white wines.  I’ll just suggest my favorite way to dispose of this French mistake and its domestic cousins is over shrimp, salad, or as below, to sauce a chicken.  It’s a delicious way to dress food, one pan, man-simple cooking.  And what were you planning to do with all the half-empties anyway?

You’ll need:

Large cast iron or other heavy skillet (big enough to hold the chicken), baking dish (to keep chicken warm)

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 – 1/2 bottle of champagne
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon

How To Make:

  1. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet, and when it starts to foam, add the garlic.
  3. Add the rest of the butter and heat for one minute at medium heat.
  4. Add the chicken skin side down and brown it, then turn it over, about 5  minutes for each side
  5. Add the champagne to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken broth and tarragon, and cook another 15 minutes.
  7. Take the chicken out, place in a baking pan, cover and keep warm (in the oven, set to its lowest temperature would work).
  8. Add the cream to the pan, raise the heat medium high to bring the liquid to a gentle boil, and stirring, let the sauce reduce in volume by about one half. This can take 15 minutes or more, depending on how much liquid you have at this stage.
  9. Return the chicken to the sauce, coat it well and serve, pouring the extra sauce over the chicken.
Some folks like to spice this dish up with red or cayenne pepper, add sautéed mushrooms, some shallot or onion, that’s up to you.  Great with rice.
Best of the New Year to you.
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Worst Gifts for Men Who Cook I Forgot

Last minute gifts we’d rather not get.

Santa’s helper has spoken to dad about the last please don’t get me this present for Christmas list and cleared up a few things, such as, why we’ve never been found in the kitchen dressed in a colorful apron.  And, do not see this in our future.

Since the last set apparently came as quite a surprise, a few more gift ideas have come to mind I thought I’d better share.   Not that we don’t like Santa’s gift ideas.  We do.  We have an entire shelf in the closet set aside as a showcase from previous years.

Let’s just say, if you see these wonderful items for men who cook, please, just leave them for somebody else.

1. Any Guy Fieri DVD I’m sure he’s an inspiration to many.  He’s an energetic guy, and all over Food Network, so he must be popular. There’s just something about him and food …. How can I put this?  I think my appetite has an allergy.  To him.

2.  Reusable Shopping Bags It’s not about being green.  It’s about getting out of the car, walking across the parking lot, around the store, going through the checkout, and back across the lot, holding one of these.  And not being exactly sure what message I’m sending.

3. Fine Food Magazines Sure, these are great for ideas, helpful tips, and fun reading. Right up to the moment the youngsters hold it up to their plate and want to know why daddy’s food doesn’t look anything like the one in the picture.

4. Food Dehydrator I’m sure there are plenty of dinner recipes that call for dried zucchini, bananas, and chicken.  And, they must be way better than using fresh.  Otherwise, why would anyone go to all the trouble of slicing up good food just to dry it out?

5.  The Sensor Fresh Now, just because some of us aren’t afraid of a little meat that’s lost its pink color, and don’t want to waste otherwise perfectly good food and have to make an extra trip to the store, doesn’t mean we have to resort to this.  90 bucks for a device that sniffs ground beef and tells me it’s too old to eat?  And when have I ever served food so old it made anyone sick?  And not just because nobody would touch it.

There’s some perfectly good ideas at Last Minute Gift List For Men Who Cook over at http://www.dadsinthekitchen.com.

Quick: What’s for Dinner?

Here’s a pretty easy and delicious all-in-one chicken recipe, for when you’re facing the hungry horde.

I’m sure I’m not the only dad with sharks for kids.  No matter where they are, as soon as they sense food, they come circling.  I step in the door and there’s a rustle and movement from the back of the house.  I notice bits of snacks and wrappers around the floor and sofa, evidence they’ve been feeding, like fish scales in the water after a frenzy.   And before my keys hit the table, they’ve gathered around my legs and want to know: what’s for dinner?

Dad knows this is a trick question.  The correct answer is, ‘What did your mom say we’re having?’  If she’s got something planned, no sense getting in the way.

‘We’re hungry now.’  ‘She said to ask you.’  ‘What’s for dinner?’ ‘Are we gonna get pizza?’

Another trick question.  They know that’s what I’m thinking.  The twins are reaching for the phone.

‘No,’ I say,’ I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.’  Pizza cheese and dough more than once a month is an experiment we don’t want the results to.

So I end up rooting in the fridge and cupboards.  That’s the toughest part about kitchen duty.  Having to come up with ideas for meals all the time without doing repeats every three days.  Some easy recipe, without a lot of work or time. And something the kids will eat.

Here’s a dish everybody inhales, and it goes together pretty simply.

You’ll need: a 13 x 9 x 2 pyrex dish, and a cast iron fry pan.  Set the oven to 350 F  / 178 C.

Ingredients:

  • 8 or so chicken thighs
  • onion soup in the box
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked is best)
  • 2 shakes majoram
  • 2 shakes pepper
  • 2 cups water

How To:

  1. Start with the fry pan.  Chop the onion into large bits, set the skillet over medium heat, add butter.  Cook and stir til the onion starts to get transparent, then take the onion out and put aside.
  2. Now, you can skip this next step if you want, but I like to crisp the chicken skin, and think it’s worth it.  Add olive oil to the fry pan, turn up the heat to 7 or 8 (out of ten) and when it starts to sizzle a bit, put the chicken thighs in skin side down.  We’re just going to brown off the chicken so the skin gets a bit crispy, which takes four or five minutes.  Check by lifting each piece – you want to see nice golden brown crispy, not limp skin.  Keep it going longer if needed. Remember, we’re not cooking the chicken, just browning the skin.

    This is how they'll look.

  3. When browned, turn off the heat, remove the chicken.  Add 1/2 cup water to the pan. This will loosen and let you scrape up the cooked bits left in the pan.  Keep this for later.
  4. Take the pyrex dish and put in 1 and 1/2 cups of water and two cups of cranberry juice.  Add one half packet of onion dip to that and mix it in – if you like it strong, add more, but it’s pretty salty, so the whole packet is probably too much.  I usually also add a couple good shakes of paprika (smoked paprika is the best), a couple shakes of marjoram.
  5. Now add two cups of rice to the liquid, mix it in, then spread it evenly.
  6. Next, put the chicken thighs, skin up, on top of the rice, around the pan.  Add the onions in around the chicken on top of the rice.  Now, pour the water from the fry pan over the chicken and onion.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for an hour.  If you check and the chicken isn’t done through (no pink) or the rice isn’t done, pop it back in for 15 – 20 mins more.

This is one of those dishes you can add things to each time you make it (mushrooms, white wine, etc) but it’s a savory / sweet pleasure the way it is.  The rice absorbs the chicken and onion flavors with the cranberry, the chicken falls off the bone, and everything stays moist.

A funny apron for men cooking for children, " If we were having Pizza, I wouldn't be wearing this Apron"

Dad's Apron Shop

This recipe works for kids because it’s one of the “Real Food Groups“, which you can check for more ideas.