Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chicken tonight. Chicken delight!

Fresh thymeLooking over this blog, one would think I didn't care for fowl, but nothing could be further from the truth. You just have to be in the mood, I suppose, and after weeks and weeks of winter beef, pork and lamb, chicken caught my eye at the butcher's shop.

I went back and forth between a whole bird and cacciatore. I'd already done a hunter's casserole back in August, and the word counter on my PC wouldn't accept the term "roasted" one more time, so what do you do, what do you do?

I shop at Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Two butchers, two delis, an ample produce stand, a bakery, and housewares all under one sky-lit roof. While I mulled over a poultry dish, I wandered over to the produce stalls for some inspiration.

Beautiful, ripe lemons were on sale four for a dollar, and the rusty cogs in my tiny mind began to turn. Chicken. Lemons. Chicken. Lemons. Mike Kanelopoulos. Chickens. Lemons. Mike Kanelopoulos... Lemon & garlic chicken! The mind is a tricky thing. Well, mine is in any event. Mike is an old, old friend from my salad days and an incredible cook. He owned the first 12" All-Clad sauté pan I had ever seen, and I coveted it greatly. He was an early inspiration in finding my own culinary voice and his lemon & garlic chicken is a thing of wonder. Mine was gonna leave his in the dust.
Lemon & Garlic Chicken
  • 4 chicken drumsticks and thighs
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced
Seasoned chicken pieces
Three hours before cooking, season chicken on all sides with salt, freshly ground pepper and chopped thyme. Keep covered in refrigerator.
Brown chicken on both sides
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and brown chicken on both sides until golden (about 3 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to a plate, reduce heat under pan to medium, and sauté garlic briefly (30-45") to release oils. Add sherry vinegar and reduce liquid by one half. Add soy sauce, honey, lemon juice and water, stirring to combine.
Finish cooking chicken in thickening sauce
Return chicken to pan and toss to coat with sauce. Add lemon slices and continue to cook chicken and reduce the sauce for another 15 minutes. Turn chicken frequently to keep coated.
Broccoli rabe & garlicThe plate was gonna need something green. The Retail Market is in the heart of Little Italy, and what's more Italian than broccoli rabe? It added a fresh, slightly bitter contrast to the sweet, tart chicken.
Broccoli rabe
  • 2 lb broccoli rabe
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
Fresh broccoli rabe in salted boiling water
Steep trimmed broccoli rabe in plenty of salted boiling water until just tender (about 3 minutes), with plenty of snap left in the stalks.
Broccoli rabe cooling in ice bath
Halt the cooking process by transferring broccoli rabe to an ice bath. While broccoli cools, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook sliced garlic until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Sautéing broccoli rabe
Add well drained broccoli to pan and toss to coat in oil. Cook 3-5 minutes, until greens are heated through. Toss with salt and move to serving platter. Just look at that color, will ya!
Lemon & garlic chicken, broccoli rabe and roasted fingerling potatoesNew and improved lemon & garlic chicken
I had some nice fingerling potatoes and a little leftover red onion in the larder. I coated them with olive oil, tossed them with some salt and pepper and roasted them in a 350° oven for 45 minutes.
I hadn't talked to The Greek in months, but he got shots of this turbo-charged lemon & garlic chicken from my cell phone and had to listen to me gloat for a good 20 minutes afterwards. The gauntlet, as they say, has been thrown. I'll be bringing my A-game to our next encounter. I know he will.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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