Chicken and Poultry

My Grilled Chicken Mentor

My mother is one of the most persistent and resourceful people that I know. Nowadays, when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. And, I’ve learned so much from her determination.

During my childhood, my mother went back to college and then to law school. We grew up eating cereal for dinner most nights and we were okay with that, because that was our reality. My mother had never taken algebra or writing classes before college and my father tutored her along the fourteen year path from Math 101 to LSAT’s until her graduation from Law School.

It all started years before when she appeared in court for a traffic violation. As she explained the position of her car and the related facts, the judge was visibly impressed. He asked what her line of work was. She replied, “I’m a Hebrew school teacher.” The judge then asked, “And, what does your husband do?” My mother answered, “He’s a rabbinic student.” The judge then gave her a life-altering piece of advice before waiving the ticket. He simply said, “When you are done pulling your husband through Rabbinic school, ask him to pull you through Law School. You have the underpinnings of a great lawyer.”

That judge’s understanding of law was infinitely better than his comprehension of the Torah lifestyle that my parents had chosen.    After all, Torah is a lifetime pursuit and my mother never stopped “pulling my father through Rabbinic school”.  But, my mother listened carefully to his encouraging words and put the wheels in motion.   Her own father had been studying in Law School before the Holocaust and never completed his education. His dream was that one of his children would carry on that legacy.  Until the judge’s comment, my mother had never imagined that she would be the child to fulfill her father’s dream.

Fourteen years of education pursuing that dream as a working mother of four lively children had its challenges. And, it was not the typical course for a kollel (Rabbinic student) wife, especially in those days.   There were many nights where we attended college and law school with my mother.  And, there were those snarky comments from those that just didn’t understand or agree with the dream.  But, with G-d’s help, we all persevered and celebrated when my mother passed the Ohio Bar on the first try, after those long and difficult years of study.

And, then we began worrying.  How would my mother, the perennial student, manage as a self-employed attorney?  The fourteen years began when I was in fourth grade and now I was newly married and living elsewhere.   How would my mother transition from the theoretical to the practical?  How would she find the practical expertise to help her clients?

And, the worries persisted for only a short while.  Because, my mother was vested in the transition from school to practice.  My mother was determined to become the expert in certain aspects of law and she lacked the practical know-how.  Law school had taught her so much of the theoretical, but there were gaping holes in her practical application of the law.  And, her persistence, creativity  and resourcefulness were up to this new challenge.

My mother found mentors.   And, not just any mentors.  She sought out the experts in Cleveland in the areas of law in which she needed help.

She called the top Cleveland lawyers in each area of law expertise.  She introduced herself, gave a brief description of her background and asked if they would be willing to do a good deed and mentor her.  When they asked how she had found them, she told them that they were well-known as the experts in that area of law and she would be honored to have them as her mentors.

Just about every one of these top-notch attorneys agreed to mentor my mother.  They were kind, helpful and attentive to her and she was most appreciative of their assistance.  When she felt that she knew enough to manage on her own, she sent each one of these lawyers a small gift with a handwritten thank you note in her large scrawl.

That is mentoring done right.

It had worked so well for my mother that I tried it on my best friend, Lori.  In our house, she is the grilled chicken guru.  I had a long way to go to preparing the perfect grilled chicken.  So, I called Lori before Purim  and asked if she would mentor me by helping me prepare the grilled chicken for our Purim seuda (feast) on our grill so that I could watch and learn.

I learned how to grill chicken properly.  Mostly, I learned that I would never be able to match Lori’s meticulousness.  She had a cutting board and special knife set up for slicing each piece of chicken down the middle and a stopwatch for timing everything perfectly.

There was one important take-away from our backyard mentoring session that I have been implementing.  I never leave the backyard while anything is on the grill.  Although I skip the cutting board and stopwatch, I watch the grill fastidiously, making sure to turn and remove everything in the right time.  There are occasions that will test the doneness of my grilled chicken by slicing the thickest one open to check that there is no pink in the middle.  I leave the perfection to Lori and I thank her because the mentoring paid off immeasurably.

grilled chicken.jpg

Now, for some grilling tips:

(1) Use a great marinade and marinate for at least a few hours or overnight.  The marinade will tenderize and flavor the chicken.

(2) Clean your grill and spray with cooking spray before placing the chicken on the grill.

(3) Use your hot spots on the grill for the thickest pieces of chicken and cooler spots for the smallest pieces.

(4) Stay vigilant!  Do not leave your backyard until the chicken is ready.  Turn and remove pieces as they are ready.

(5) Make the grilled chicken yours by serving with torn fresh herbs, salsa or a homemade sauce.

Happy grilling!

Broccoli Encrusted Baked Chicken Cutlets: A Basic Lesson in Sharing

broccoli encrusted chicken cutlets.jpg

I am on a forever quest to produce great meals with minimal effort.  In that endeavor, I have found many shortcuts.  One of my favorites is to prepare one starter and use it in multiple recipes and in different ways.  I convince myself that it is just another form of sharing, true collaboration between recipes.   I vehemently deny that it has anything to do with laziness.

On the most basic level, I use this sharing shortcut for sauteed onions and/or garlic.  Sauteed vegetables add an important depth of flavor to most recipes but can be time-consuming.  Therefore, I saute one large batch and then split the sauteed batch between the soup, side dishes and main dish within the same menu.   Any leftover sauteed vegetables are then moved to a zipper bag and placed in the freezer for future sharing.

This recipe is the next step in batter-sharing.  This recipe began as the batter for my Broccoli Kugel.  I was planning to prepare Baked Chicken Cutlets later on in the day.  While I was pulsing the Broccoli Kugel batter in my food processor, I thought, “why not use this batter to coat the baked chicken cutlets?”  After all, the batter incorporated so many of the ingredients necessary for moist baked chicken.  And, the addition of broccoli would add a moist barrier to the chicken while adding a new color and flavor profile!

And, so I applied the batter-sharing concept to my broccoli batter.  In a moment of boldness, I split off  some of the kugel batter for the coating of these chicken cutlets.

Wow!  Sharing can be daring, and oh, so delicious!

SUPPLIES
food processor
parchment paper

INGREDIENTS
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded or cut thin
1 cup cooked or thawed frozen broccoli (see kosher notes)
1 sauteed onion or 1/4 cup French Fried Onions
1 egg, beaten or 1/2 cup of your favorite dressing
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
Spicy Mayo (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

Pulse French Fried Onions soft broccoli, egg, salt and pepper.

Coat the thin chicken breasts in broccoli mixture.

Place chicken on parchment on prepared baking sheet.  Optionally, drizzle with Spicy Mayo

Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

KOSHER NOTES
Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore broccoli requires a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing, unless purchased with a reputable kosher hashgacha (certification). Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of broccoli. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

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Passover Red Wine Chicken Marsala

 

pesach chicken marsala.JPG

This perfect for Pesach (Passover) recipe stars a red wine sauce and potato flour dredging for the chicken.   Although Marsala wine and flour are typically used in this recipe, I have adjusted the recipe to use red wine and Pesach gluten-free ingredients that pair so well with the flavors and themes of the Pesach seder experience.

Traditionally, we do not eat roasted meats at the seder, since the Karban Pesach (Passover sacrifice offering) was a roasted meat that was eaten at the time of the Holy Temple.  Since we no longer have the Holy Temple, it is customary not to eat roasted meat  on the evening of the seder.  This recipe is perfect for the seder.

We have a tradition of drinking four cups of wine at our Pesach (Passover) Seder.  After all, the majestic Seder venue commemorates our miraculous exodus from Egypt and the transformation of the Jewish nation from slavery to freedom.  What better drink than wine to celebrate freedom on a night replete with regal traditions?

We make a separate blessing on each of the four cups of wine at different parts of the seder.    The first cup of wine fills the role of kiddush (wine benediction) to sanctify the holiday of Pesach.   The second cup is associated with the lengthy telling of the story of the Exodus.  The third cup is associated with the Birkas Hamazon (Grace after Meals) and the fourth cup of wine is associated with the Hallel (songs of praise) that we sing toward the end of the seder.

Each of the four cups of wine symbolize one of the national exiles experienced by the Jewish nation and relate to one of the four expressions of redemption by G-d in the Exodus.

והוצאתי V’ho-tzaisi (and He took us out)
This expression of redemption symbolizes the Babylonian exile.

והצלתי  V’he-tzalti (and He saved us)
This expression of redemption symbolizes our oppression by Persia (further commemorated by Purim)

וגָּאלתי  V’ga-alti (and He redeemed us) This expression of redemption symbolizes our oppression by the Greeks (further commemorated by Chanukah)

ולקחתי  V’la-kachti (and He took us) This expression of redemption symbolizes the Roman exile.

This recipe tastes as good as the orginal and will wow your seder guests.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded thin
1/3 cup potato starch
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 packages mushrooms, sliced or 2 large cans mushrooms, drained
Juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup pareve milk (optional)

parsley (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Place 1/3 cup of potato starch in a pie dish or a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Coat each piece of chicken with potato starch mixture.

Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the coated chicken. Cook each piece of coated chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Work in batches, if necessary, making sure not to crowd the pan.

Slice mushrooms and cook for a few minutes in same pan, until mushrooms are soft and fragrant.

Add the wine and lemon juice, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon by stirring in any brown bits left over from the cooking of the coated chicken.   Cook until the mushroom sauce is reduced to half.

Lower the heat to medium and add the pareve milk.  With a wooden spoon, stir well until the sauce is well-combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the sauce until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until chicken is fragrant, soft, succulent and cooked through.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.  Optionally, garnish with chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

 

pesach chicken marsala on a plate

 

A Simple Chicken Soup Upgrade

upgraded chicken soup with rutabaga.jpg

I’ve been serving the same basic chicken soup recipe for more than thirty years. My family, even the “vegetarians” among them, look forward to chicken soup at the Friday night Shabbos dinner, rain or shine, winter or summer.

As far as changes over the years, they have been minimal.  I sometimes leave the vegetables whole and sometimes dice the vegetables.  When Kaitlyn visits, I add an extra onion and eliminate the celery.  When Michelle visits, I add extra zucchini.   Leah loves eating the dill sprigs that I remove from the soup before serving.   Aaron and Davida put no extra demands on the chicken soup and they enjoy the soup any way that it is served.

This winter I upgraded the chicken soup.  I added cubes of waxed turnip, also known as rutabaga.

I didn’t think that it was a big deal, until the first time I served the upgraded soup.

“What did you do differently to the soup?” asked Leah.  “Yeah” chimed in the rest of the family.

I braced myself.  After all, upgrading a thirty-year constant can be a big deal.

I need not have worried because they all loved the assertive flavor and color of the diced rutabaga.  It was just another distinctive character in the colorful combination of textures and flavors of my chicken soup.

And, that is perfectly fine.  The chicken soup is kind of like our family, our Shabbos table and our lives, a colorful blend of personalities.

INGREDIENTS

One pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast trimmings
1 white turnip, peeled and cubed
1 waxed turnip (rutabaga), well-peeled and cubed
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks celery (optional), scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
2 small onions (optional), peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons salt (more or less for taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1-2 sprigs dill (optional)
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch sections
water

DIRECTIONS

Peel and prepare vegetables. The rutabaga has a thick waxed coating, so peel carefully with a peeler or a paring knife, taking care to remove every bit of peel.

 

 

Place chicken and vegetables (except zucchini) in a large stock pot and fill 2/3 to the top with water. Bring soup to a rolling boil and then lower heat to medium and cook for one more hour.

Replace any water that has evaporated, making sure that the level of the soup broth is where it started before cooking. Add zucchini and increase flame to high.  Boil for 15-20 more minutes.

upgraded chicken soup with rutabaga

Enjoy!

Drunken Mushroom Lime Chicken

drunken mushroom lime chicken on plate.png

For the last thirty years, I have prepared my family-favorite One pot roast chicken for Friday night dinner.  There is something about roasted chicken and potatoes prepared alongside the chicken that really feels like a Shabbos dinner.

Or,  so I thought.

The last couple of weeks, I have been noticing that the Friday night chicken has not been touched.

Leah has been campaigning that we skip the main course on Friday night.  After all, we start our evening Shabbos meal with kiddush over wine.  We then enjoy challah with an assortment of dips.  We move on to chicken soup, still a family favorite.  And, Leah is absolutely right.  There  just is no room for the heavy  one pot roast chicken.

So, I decided to change things up a bit for this Shabbos and prepare a lighter chicken dish.

It starts with boneless chicken breasts, a lighter option than whole roast chicken.  It uses wine and lime juice for the perfect balance of flavor and freshness.  Oh, and it is smothered with lots and lots of mushrooms.  It is fragrant and moist with loads of flavor and texture.

Now, the only question is…Will we skip the main course this Friday night?

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded thin
dusting of flour (I used whole wheat flour)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
2 packages mushrooms, sliced or 2 large cans mushrooms, drained
Juice of half a lime or 2 tablespoons lime juice
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup soy or almond milk

DIRECTIONS

Place 1/4 cup of flour in a pie dish or a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Coat each piece of chicken with flour.

Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the flour-coated chicken. Cook each piece of coated chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Work in batches, setting cooked chicken aside wrapped in foil to keep warm until the rest of the coated chicken has been cooked.

Once all the chicken has been cooked, remove from pan.  Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, until mushrooms are soft and fragrant.

Add the wine and juice of half a lime, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon by stirring in any brown bits left over from the cooking of the coated chicken.   Cook until the mushroom sauce is reduced to half.

Lower the heat to medium and add the pareve milk.  With a wooden spoon, stir well until the sauce is well-combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the sauce until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until chicken is fragrant, soft, succulent and cooked through.

drunken mushroom chicken

Lemon Zinger Chicken

Sometimes the best flavors are simple ones.  Lemon.  Garlic.  Chicken.   Tea.

Delicious food is simple food with no compromises in freshness, flavor, moistness and taste.

Today, I prepared chicken that was tangy, flavorful and succulent.  It took very little effort.  It used natural ingredients.  And its simplicity and taste made everyone take notice.

intense lemon chicken

INGREDIENTS

chicken parts

Lemon zinger tea

fresh lemon

minced or granulated garlic
paprika
cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

In a cup or measuring cup, add a lemon zinger tea bag to  1 cup of hot water, steeping tea well to create concentrated flavor.

Place chicken pieces in pan and pour tea over chicken.   Rinse whole lemons well and squeeze fresh lemon over chicken.  Generously sprinkle chicken with seasonings.

Tuck squeezed lemon in between chicken pieces.  Cover tightly with foil and cook at 400 degrees F for two hours.

Pastrami Sandwich Chicken Rolls

pastrami sandwich chicken

 

Last night, we had deli for dinner.

Pastrami. Rye bread. Mustard. Deli pickles. Cole Slaw. The whole deli shebang.

Every once in a while, we just need a deli fix. And, last night was it.

It was so delicious.  And, maybe, just maybe, I wanted a bit more deli in my life.

This morning, I looked at the thin cut chicken breasts that I bought for Shabbos and thought, “How about deli sandwich chicken rolls for Friday night dinner?”.

Here it is!

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds thin-cut chicken cutlets

deli or dijon mustard
mayonnaise

stuffing

2 cups of rye bread, cut into large cubes
1 large onion, diced and sauteed with 4 minced garlic cloves
8 ounces of pastrami, sliced or diced thin
salt and pepper to taste

stuffing
1/2 cup cornflake or bread crumbs
1 cup crushed french fried onions
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

On a plate or pie dish, combine mustard and mayonnaise.

Saute onion and garlic until just starting to brown. Soften bread by soaking in water and then squeezing out extra water. In a separate plate or pie dish, combine rye bread, pastrami, sauteed onion and garlic and seasonings to form stuffing mixture.

On a third plate or pie dish, combine crumbs and seasonings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.

Open each chicken cutlet and fill with a golf-size clump of stuffing. Using a silicone brush, brush each stuffed cutlet with mustard/mayo mixture and then coat generously with crumbs/french fried onions. Place seam side down on lined baking sheet. Leave a bit of space in between chicken cutlet rolls, taking care not to crowd the cutlets.

Lightly drizzle olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, cutting largest stuffed chicken roll open to ascertain that chicken is no longer pink on the inside.

Pesach Pesto Stuffed Chicken

Stuffed chicken is the perfect way to prepare a main dish and side dish all in one.  I find that it is a main dish that can be served hot or at room temperature and makes for great leftovers.

I developed this stuffed chicken recipe in honor of Rachel.  Last week, after the big snowstorm, I offered to prepare a few Shabbos foods for Rachel’s family.  Rachel placed a request for me to prepare grilled pesto chicken.  I had prepared pesto grilled chicken for Rachel in the past and it has become one of her favorites.   I had already marinated the chicken for the grill and was ready to go outside to grill the chicken, when I realized that it just wasn’t possible to grill.

The snow was too high and the grill was entombed in layers and layers of ice.  So, I had to rethink the grilled pesto chicken idea.  And, I did.   I prepared some sauteed vegetables for stuffing and baked the pesto chicken in the oven, instead.

And, I’m hoping that this new recipe will become one of Rachel’s favorites, too. The fact that her mom asked if it will be on this blog sounded promising.

Necessity really is the mother of invention.  I hope you will love this recipe.  It is simple enough and doesn’t require going out to an ice-encased grill.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 package chicken cutlets

basil pesto
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup basil leaves
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

stuffing
1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic minced or garlic powder
1-2 cups shredded cabbage and carrots
potato starch (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

french fried onions (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

In food processor fitted with an s-blade or in a blender, pulse pesto ingredients until smooth. Reserve half of the pesto for later and reserve a bit for serving, taking care not to reuse pesto that has been in contact with the raw chicken.

In a zipper bag, marinate chicken with pesto marinade for at least one hour.

Saute onion and garlic until just starting to brown.  Add cabbage and carrots until wilted and fragrant. Optionally, dust with potato starch to absorb the moisture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.

Open each chicken cutlet and fill with a golf-size clump of stuffing.  Roll chicken cutlet around stuffing and place seam side down on lined baking sheet.  Leave a bit of space in between chicken cutlet rolls taking care not to crowd the cutlets.

Using a silicone brush, brush each stuffed cutlet with some of the reserved pesto. Optionally, press some french fried onions on top.

Lightly drizzle olive oil or spray with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes, cutting largest stuffed chicken roll open to ascertain that chicken is no longer pink on the inside.  If pink, bake for a few minutes longer.

Honey Mustard Gooey Baked Chicken

gooey-honey-mustard-chicken

There is something about gooey chicken that just feels satisfying, especially on these harsh cold wintry days.  The best part of this recipe is that it is a one pot meal.  The chicken, potatoes and zucchini cook all together and impart delicious flavors.  The end result is a very flavorful meal of chicken and vegetables that is falling off the bone and deliciously crispy and gooey, all at the same time.

This recipe is actually another version of Simply Reliable One Pan Roast Chicken Dinner that I frequently prepare for Friday night Shabbos dinner.  I like to prepare this recipe in  a Pyrex baking dish just big enough that I can lay out the chicken parts in a single layer over the potatoes.  That way, the maximum surface area of the chicken is exposed to the sauce, yielding a well-coated gooey chicken.  I most often use chicken cut into tenths: 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks and each chicken breast cut in half. This allows the chicken parts to cook more evenly and to be coated with the sauce so that every piece has delicious flavor and texture.

I added sriracha as an optional ingredient, since not everyone tolerates and enjoys the spiciness of hot sauce.  This recipe is delicious either way: with or without the sriracha.  The heat is up to you!

 

INGREDIENTS

chicken cut into tenths

2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large wedges

2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sriracha (optional)
scant drizzle of soy sauce

generous drizzle of honey or agave syrup

1-2 zucchini, cut into large chunks
3-4 cloves garlic or garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

Scrub and cut potatoes into wedges.  Place in bottom of baking pan.  Place chicken on top of potatoes.  Carefully pour juice over chicken and potatoes.  Tuck  zucchini chunks among the chicken and potatoes.  Drizzle mustard, honey, and optionally sriracha over the chicken.  To spread evenly, you can use a brush to coat every part of the chicken.  Sprinkle garlic on top of chicken and vegetables.

Tightly cover with heavy duty foil.

Bake in preheated 400 degrees F oven for two hours.

VARIATIONS 

Add carrots to the vegetable medley for additional flavor and color.

Add fresh or powdered ginger to this recipe for an unexpected zesty flavor.

To add extra crispiness, uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.