Tuscan Chicken Stew


Skip straight to recipe here

So, once upon a time, I used to sing, “Someday my nerd will come.”

Now, I just want a dishwasher.

I have a dishwashing machine, but this is what I do to it.

There’s a reason they tell you not to substitute regular dish washing liquid. #bobbybradymoment

Clearly I need help.

When I was discussing the perfect man with some coworkers a while back, I told them I had pared down all the hopes and dreams of my youth to this very short list –

1. Not disfigured

2. Doesn’t mind doing the dishes

3. Would be willing to walk the dogs from time to time

I was told not to hold out for number two.

Also –

You need to be at least this tall to ride the ride.

What do you think, readers?

Ok, kidding aside, you know those times at work when even though you love it you feel like you’re carrying far more than your fair share of the workload and it makes you grumpy and kind of want to punch everyone in the face just a little bit?

And you know you don’t have time for more people in your life just at the moment, but there’s that little insistent lovelorn part of you that still kinda wants someone to share your I-want-to-punch-everyone-in-the-face urges with so they can bear hug you and hand you a small glass of bourbon?

That’s when you need this stew.

Tuscan Chicken Stew

(adapted from a recipe at TCB)

First, I hope you keep bacon fat around.  Do you keep bacon fat around? Good.  I knew there was a reason we’re friends. Start with that.

Bacon fat
Chicken (whole cut up or just thighs)
1 medium carrot, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 stalk celery, medium dice
2 tsp italian seasoning
1 pinch fennel seed
1 pinch dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 splash of red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of kale, chiffonade (I know, I normally don’t like kale either, but trust me on this one.  Ok, fine, use spinach if you want, but you’re missing out)
1 15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Before we get started, quick aside. Look at how much a whole chicken costs per pound!

So much cheaper to just break down your own.

There are plenty of youtube videos to show you how to break one down.  This one from Serious Eats is ok and mercifully short. It’s not how I would do it (why didn’t he take off the wing tip?? What about if people want boneless breasts?), but it’s alright.

Also, when you break down your own chickens, you get the bones for stock. If you have lots of bones, you can make traditional white stock. Or you could roast lots of bones and make roasted chicken stock.  If you freeze it, you can keep it around for months.

Then you can just hack of what you need –

 $3.00 a quart?? No thank you.

Ahem anyway.

Heat large pan to medium high heat.

Add bacon fat.

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear chicken, skin side down first, until deeply browned.  Flip and repeat.

Remove to a rack so as not to wash off your sear when the chicken drips.

Turn heat down to medium low and add carrots, onion, and celery with a pinch of salt.  Cook until lightly caramelized.

I’ve made the ugly pictures smaller. It’s my new thing.

Add cabbage and a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes.

Add spices, tomato paste, and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Deglaze with white wine.

I probably used 2 cups. I like wine.

Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, red wine vinegar and bay leaf.

Yes, this is a different pan. I figured out about half-way through, I was going to need a bigger boat. D’oh!                 p.s. yes you can add the chicken stock frozen

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Add a pinch more salt and pepper.  Add chicken thighs and legs back in and cook for 20 minutes.

Add chicken breasts in and cook another 15-20.  Taste for seasoning.  Adjust.

Add beans and kale.

Cook until they are just warmed through.

You can also take the chicken off the bone and shred it before adding it back to the stew.

Freezes beautifully.

Advertisements

Egg Drop Soup (and Chinatown)


I know I’ve been away again.

I was attempting to have a social life.

How do you think it went?

I exaggerate this much, maybe.

But so anyway, won’t make that mistake again.

I decided I needed some chicken soup… for my face.

Egg Drop Soup

5 cups chicken stock
vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp of ground ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
2 cloves garlic
splash o’ soy sauce
splash o’ rice wine vinegar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
scallions for garnish
sesame oil for finishing

First, let’s have a talk, ok?  Maybe you already know this, but guess how many times you have to buy scallions?  Once.

Just keep them in a jar of water and they will regrow

Heat high sided pot to medium-low.  Add oil.  Add garlic and ginger and toast for 30 seconds to bloom the flavor. You could mince fresh ginger (about a 1/2-1 tablespoon worth), but I don’t keep any around. Deglaze with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.  Add chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning.  If it needs salt, throw a splash more soy sauce in there.  While stirring continuously, stream in eggs.  Garnish with scallions.

This soup was the end to my afternoon spent in Chinatown.

Entire stores devoted to dehydrated sea creatures you couldn’t pay me to eat! Guess how it smelled in here? Just guess.

what would you even do with this??

Favorite fortune from fortune cookies (yeah I’m that white)

You are your wisest counselor

Oh fortune cookie, you don’t know me at all.  

Eggplant Involtini


So, the bakery can no longer bear the entirety of the blame for my fatigue.  Which seems bottomless.  Like some sort of pit or something.  I make this face all the time now.

This can’t be good for my forehead.

Artist’s rendition of the other tired face I make. Just for variety.

I couldn’t figure it out.  It’s only been a problem recently.

I’ve been napping like it’s a part-time job.

I’ve been trying to remember to take my iron pill and generally up my iron intake.  Hell, I ran over and bit a passing cow right on the…ok, no I didn’t do that.  But I would!  Ok, I wouldn’t do that.  But I would absolutely scarf down pretty much any piece of cooked cow bits you want to give me.

Then stop being so damn delicious.

In related news, cows, your cuteness is not an adequate deterrent. Perhaps learn to meow? No, wait don’t. I just creeped myself out.

But so anyway, I couldn’t figure it out. Until I did something radical.  I ate when I woke up, then again just before my shift. Then I ate again on shift. Granted, it was between doing 10 other things, but I did manage to eat something resembling a meal. From there, I extrapolated some rather shocking information.

Eating is important.

This is going to blow your mind – eating gives you energy.  If you stop doing it on a regular basis because you’re “too busy”, you run out of energy.

So now, I’m kind of like this –

And I’ve been making a concerted effort to make food and consume it a good 2-3 times a day.  This will surely benefit us all.  Me, with delicious, delicious food, and not having to sleep more hours a day than a giant armadillo.

Giant Armadillo

Look it up, people.

You, with the potential for your own delicious, delicious food.

The farmer’s markets are flooded with eggplant right now, so why not make some-

Eggplant Involtini

1 eggplant
olive oil
2 cups fresh ricotta – double this recipe
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
breadcrumbs (optional)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
Marinara I or Marinara II or your own version

First cut the eggplant into thin slices.  Preheat a grill pan to high (or an oven to 400).  Brush the eggplant slices with oil

and then grill/roast them until they are just tender.

Mix ricotta, egg, parmesan, and basil together.  Breadcrumbs can add a little more flavor and texture, but they aren’t necessary.

Lay out a strip of eggplant.  Scoop a small heap of the cheese mixture in and roll up like a crepe.

Place in a dish lined with a little bit of marinara sauce.

Don’t be like me. Cut these into half-sized strips before you roll, so that you can… you know.. fit them in your mouth.

Once all the eggplants are in the pan, cover with more sauce and the mozarella cheese.  Sprinkle with parmesan. Now’s the time to sprinkle a few more breadcrumbs on if you’re using them. Set oven to broil and broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.

Remember that only you can stop crushing hunger-based fatigue.  Don’t let eating get away from you. Repeat after me –

I am the boss of eating!

We can all learn a little something from this one.

Morita Mole


Few people seem to know that we are engaged in a secret war.  A war against hot sheet pans.  I took the bullet on this one for you.

You’re welcome.

I know what you’re saying.  Isn’t it just you that’s in a war with hot sheet pans?

You think that hot sheet pan wouldn’t have completely-out-of-nowhere launched itself at you had you been in same position?

You need me on that wall!

Anyway, I’m not sure why I keep displaying my kitchen scars to you.  What are you going to say? “Wow, way to get hurt, lady.  You sure can battle inanimate objects like a champ.”  How would that be helpful?  I guess I’m just looking for your pity.  And some advice as to what to do when people think I ritually branded the lesbian symbol into my arm.

No, Bourbon. The ladies have better sense than to hitch their wagon to this crazy star. Also, I’m not your mom.

I do feel like a dog “mom” sometimes, but I prefer the term “guardian”.  I’m not willing to cross over into mom territory. I mean, I don’t care what anyone says, I am not sending them to college.  Degrees just aren’t worth what they used to be.  They can get a job, learn a trade, decide from there.  We’re working on housecleaning professional.  And by working on, I mean I let them lick the finished dinner plates sometimes and also strap little sponges to their paws and order them to walk around the kitchen.  Ok, I only do one of those things.

So, chicken!  What in the hell to do with it.

Here’s one option –

Morita Mole

Morita chile paste
1 small onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of lard (or bacon fat, or veg oil, or whatever)
1 can of whole peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
tablespoon of crema (optional)

Remember all those morita chiles you had leftover from making oxtail soup?

Ok, let’s make a paste out of those.

Normally I would toast the chiles first, but these already have such a nice smoky flavor I didn’t bother.  Just cut them open and get out the seeds.

Chuck them in some boiling water, turn off the heat, and let them soak for 15 minutes.

While that is happening, chop some onions and garlic, the base of all good things, and preheat a pan to low.

Add fat to pan.  Add onions and a pinch of salt.  Sweat onions for a couple minutes and then add garlic for 30 seconds to open up the flavor.  Add tomatoes with juice, crushing with a spatula or with your fingers as you add them.

Don’t worry too much about them, you’re going to blend them anyway. Add another pinch of salt. Simmer.

While it’s simmering, put chiles in blender

and add a little of the water you boiled them in. Puree until smooth.

How many chiles you ask? At least six. But you can do more if you’d like to keep the paste around for other reasons. Spice up some guacamole, maybe?

Once the sauce has simmered for five minutes, add some of the puree to taste and another pinch of salt.   Taste for seasoning. Transfer to the blender you didn’t bother to clean out because you knew you were going to blend the sauce and puree until smooth.

Return to pan.

Now you could add whatever cooked meat you like to this sauce – pork, beef, goat.  I had chicken laying around, so I shredded that and put it into the sauce with a tablespoon of crema to smooth the heat of the chiles.

Stir and let simmer another couple of minutes.  Turn off heat and walk away for five minutes to get the flavors to infuse into the meat.  The pan will keep everything warm.

You could eat this just as a stew or on some rice, but I chose to sprinkle it with queso fresco and then eat it on tortillas with cilantro.

Oatmeal Stout Float and Strawberry Basil Lemonade with Grown Up Watermelon Ice Cubes


Summer’s almost over, and I’ve barely gotten my drink on with you, readers!  What’s wrong with me?  Wait, hold that thought. Get a pen.  Great, so just go ahead and make a list, and we can review it when we’re drunk enough, when I will likely find it funny.  The sobbing shame cycle won’t start until the hangover sets in. You’ll be long gone by then.

Or you could wait until Festivus for the airing of grievances, like a normal person.

I know what you’re saying.  Should you really be drinking unsupervised, Jaime?  Didn’t you just get ganged up on by a sink and a slippery floor, and get yourself miserably trounced, while absolutely sober?  Perhaps. But I got a very nice Rorschach test out of it.

 

But, you insist, weren’t you also the one who broke her wrist at a wedding while dancing, if you can call it that?

Um, you must be confusing me with someone else…How terribly mortifying that must have been for whoever it is that you’re thinking of.

Even this is better than my dancing.

Never get me drunk enough to agree to dance because there isn’t enough liquor in the world to make you forget it afterwards.

But even so!  Even so, for you, reader, I am going to risk the possibility of becoming a danger to myself to share with you my favorite new drinks that are perfect for the last month of summer.

Aperitif

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
(with Grown Up Watermelon Ice Cubes)

Vodka Watermelon Ice Cubes:
1 watermelon
1 bottle of vodka
Funnel

Cut a hole into the watermelon (don’t throw out the piece).

Insert funnel.  Pour vodka in to the top of the funnel.

Allow the vodka to soak into the flesh of the watermelon. You will have to do this in several installments.  You can also make several holes to get the vodka to more evenly distribute.

Once vodka has soaked in, plug up the hole(s) and refrigerate overnight.

Marvin the Depressed Robot

Mavis the Drunken Watermelon of Questionable Morals

Related?  You decide.

Ok, moving on.  Grab your drinking materials onto you.

1 cup sugar
Fresh basil, several “stalks”
3-4 Strawberries (per drink)
1 ounce lemon juice (per drink)
Seltzer water (regular water is fine)

In a pot with high sides, add sugar and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Once it’s at a boil, remove from heat and add basil.

Let basil infuse for an hour.

Now, you have basil simple syrup.

Slice the strawberries and add them to glass. Or ball jar.

You guys know how I feel about drinking lemonade out of ball jars. Absurdly positive.

Muddle strawberries. Don’t have a muddler?  Me either.  I just used the back of a wooden spoon.

Smash!

Me smash good.

(Food processor smashes even better…)

Then add 2 ounces of basil syrup and 1 ounce of lemon juice.  Add 4-5 ounces of seltzer water.  Stir.

Cube up watermelon (you can pop the cubes in the freezer if you want the drink to be extra cold) and add as ice cubes. Be careful.  They don’t taste boozy, but they are really, really boozy.

In related news – dogs love watermelon.

So, apparently, do chickens.

(these are my friend Dana’s chickens.  I want to steal them.  A lot. Dana, if you ever find your chickens missing I promise it was the coyotes. No need to come to my apartment.  Repeat, do not check my apartment.)

p.s. – I didn’t feed my dogs the boozy watermelon, though that arguably would have been fun.  I bought two.

Digestif

Oatmeal Stout Float

Oatmeal Stout (your favorite brand)
Vanilla Ice cream (recipe follows, but you can just buy it)

Vanilla Ice Cream:

This ice cream is serious. There is no milk in this ice cream.  If you want something a little less rich and fattening, use all half and half.

1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Combine half and half and cream in a high sided pot

and heat on medium until just steaming.

Meanwhile mix egg yolks and sugar together.

Once cream mixture is steaming, temper into egg mixture in a slow steady stream so you don’t cook your eggs.  Return to pot and cook on medium, whisking continuously, until it just coats the back of a spoon (or if you want to be more accurate, until it reaches a temperature of 170). Do NOT boil.

Swirl in vanilla so it looks cool for the picture.

Stir to combine. Pour into pan to increase surface area. More surface area = faster cooling = ice cream in my mouth sooner = yay. Cover pan with plastic wrap.  Chill until completely cool.

Process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Freeze until hard.

Don’t even pretend that you don’t eat ice cream right out of the machine’s container.

No shame!

Ok, a little shame.

Pour beer into glass.  Once it’s settled, add a scoop of ice cream (which will kick the carbonation back up in the most delicious way.)

You need to have this and then come right back.

Now, see how much I like you?

You’re welcome.

Hash


So, when I was googling to find out if what I was about to make could be called a hash, google jumped straight to the scandalous conclusion that I was talking about hashish.  I had to actually type in “hash food” to get it to stop giving me drug pages.  What must google think of me?

No, Google, THIS kind of hash.

Everything’s on the up and up around here.  No nefarious activities happening in this neck of the woods.  Nothing to see here.  We don’t want any trouble. *Innocent whistling*  *Staring benignly and with clearly no ill-intent into the distance*

Ok, they’re gone.  Let’s start some trouble!

Too early?  Ok, let’s just eat some legal hash then.

But you owe me some trouble.

Bacon Hash with Zucchini and Spinach

per serving

2 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
1 small onion, medium dice
1 small potato, small dice
1/2 small zucchini, small dice
handful of spinach, torn or chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste
teaspoon fresh thyme if you have it makes the dish

Start medium-large pan on medium, and while still cold, throw in the bacon lardons.  Cook until crispy and remove.  Meanwhile prep other ingredients.

Add more fat to the pan if needed and toss in onions with small pinch of salt.  Remember, the bacon fat is already salty.

Cook until translucent and add potatoes with a healthy pinch of salt.  Be sure not to overcrowd the pan.  Once you get a good sear on one side,

stir and let cook for another minute or two, then add zucchini.

Once zucchini is seared and softened, turn off heat.  Return bacon to the pan and add spinach.

Use residual heat to wilt spinach, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle in thyme.

Then, because you’re a growing person and you need your protein, fry an egg and put it on top of your hash.

Take a picture of egg yolk running into hash because pictures of running egg yolks never get old.

Never.

Feel smug because you’re having vegetables for breakfast (with your egg, bacon, and fried potatoes.  Ahem.)

Block out the guilt of the egg, bacon, and fried potatoes by feeding a piece to your dogs and saying, “At least I didn’t eat the whole thing.” and return to vegetable-consumption smugness.

Maxwell Polish – a twist


So this technique is particularly good if you have kids. Because what kid doesn’t like twisty things?

Because it’s twisted!
And blackened.
Like my soul.

I don’t have kids, but I’m a woman-child, so it works.  Being an alarmingly overgrown child is part of the reason I don’t imagine I will ever have children.  Because someone has to be the adult in the situation, and it’s not going to be me.

“Mom, can you help me with my homework?”

“But I don’t waaaant to. *stamps feet*  Just do it the best you can on the bus before school.” (Yes, this is where most of my homework got done and look how I turned out.  Fine.  Right?  Right? I’m fine, right? I take your silence to mean that I’m fine.  Right?)

Anyway, lack of desire to pass on what I have come to consider a surely-hereditary-immaturity (though neither of my parents possess this trait.  Has to start somewhere.  I am the mutation), this lack of desire is but one of many undesirable things I have noticed about myself lately.

Undesirable things I have noticed about myself lately

(the mercifully short list):

1. Riding my bike is allowing me an outlet for the remaining vestiges of a pathetic sense of superiority.  My brain sounds something like this – “Oh, hey there, autovehicular driver, did you need this bike lane?  I mean, I know pressing that tiny pedal in your climate-controlled car that will transport you magically from point a to point b in a gliding miracle of modern science must be taxing for you.  Don’t mind me out here, exposed to the elements, getting myself from point a to point b by expending actual manual effort.  I’m just fine.  Really.  Allow me to slam into these parked cars so you can reach your destination 3 seconds faster.  Really, you’re doing me a favor.  I can feel my character growing as we speak.” I mean, really, Jaime.  You’re riding a bike.  You didn’t win a prize for securing world peace or anything. Douchebaggery abounds.  That bandwagon is chock full. Best to stay put right where you are, on your bike.

2. I need caffeine.  I need it.  I abstained for about 10 days, and I lived through it.  If you call that living.  And the second it was back in my life, I internally danced a jig of joy, and there were maybe seraphim with heralding trumpets, and ok, there was a brief scene in my head of me and coffee running across a field towards each other, arms out-flung.  And I never want to live a caffeineless existence ever, ever again.  I am dependent on caffeine, psychologically, and that, frankly, sucks.

3. I am officially impervious to romantic love.  I have a love force field around me.  Like people are all, “Here.  Here is this dozen snow white kittens in a basket woven from the fluffiest cumulus clouds that have inexplicably managed to learn to sing lilting ballads about rainbows and sunshine over and over without ever getting annoying even on road trips and that’s how I feel at you.  Here, have this.” And my response is “Boing.  I send back to you a unicorn.  But not the mythical, majestic creature you were expecting in return, more of a stabby one-horned wilderbeest that will launch itself at your face with its stabby one horn while it donkey kicks your chest until your heart leaks pitifully out onto the filthy, filthy ground and it’s not even sorry.” Okay.  Me and the unicorn are both very sorry.  But also stabby.  It’s kind of like this.

It’s like this, except when it’s not like this. Then, it’s even worse.

p.s. – Also, strike that. Reverse it.  Reader, he’s just not that into me. At all.  Hey there, Spinsterhood.  You’re looking… inevitable.

4. My flip flop tan is making my toes look dirty instead of tan.

5. Also, I have the artistic sense of a damaged koala bear.  That explains this.

But ok, so here’s what you need. Per sausage.

1 polish sausage (hot dogs twist just as well)
1 onion
1 tablespoon Dijon
1 tablespoon sour cream (trust me)
A few leaves of spinach, wilted and chiffonade(d)
sport peppers, if desired (I used pickled banana peppers)
a skewer

First skewer your polish (or hot dog) through the center, and with a knife, cut in a spiral all the way to the skewer.  I first saw this technique on Chowhound, but it doesn’t take a minute and five seconds to learn.  It takes 1 sec with this picture.

But Chowhound dude is right, this method does increase caramelization area, and maximum caramelization is a cause I can get behind. There’s a device that can do this.  But do the amount of hot dogs you consume necessitate a special gadget?  In related news, there are support groups for that.

Heat your grill pan to ripping hot and put your dog and onions on.  Add a pinch of salt to the onions, and cook until charred to your liking. Then, while still hot, lay them on spinach to wilt it a little.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, cut your pepper as small as you want it and then mix together the dijon and the crema.  This makes it easier to spread and makes it less dijony.  Well what suffix would you use?  Dijon-esque? Dijonish?  Dijon-forward, I guess, would be the “proper” term. Anyway. Don’t succumb to the whiles of yellow mustard.  It’s like the “Poochie” of the  mustard world.  Totally in your face. To the max. Getting “biz-zay”, consistently and thoroughly. But Dijon, Dijon pretentiously rolls up in a Royce asking if you have any Grey Poupon.  Also in your face, but classy.

Dijon is all, “Flaunt my yellow? How ‘new yellow’. I’m ‘old yellow’.”  On a side note.. Old yellow, come back yellow, best doggone dog (topper) in the West…

Take out the hot dog buns you made

Except your scale was out of batteries, and you said to yourself, I can eyeball this, and in fact, I’m going to make them a tad bigger this time (oh, the hubris). So then you have hot dog buns the size of small land masses, and you have to cut them in half or eat a blinding amount of sausage. Mmmmm… sausage blindness.

Then top your dog with the fixings and eat it. Then, the next day, make another one so that you are only moderately embarrassed by your lack of photography skills on your blog.

Then eat the whole honking second one. With your face. Because you have to be prepared to suffer for your (lack of) art.