Chicken Piccata

Chicken Picatta

Last on our tour of schnitzel around the world is the Italian inspired chicken piccata. Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several Italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities.  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from.

One of the main reasons piccata is so popular though is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic Italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Traditionally, the chicken may only be dusted in flour before being lightly fried, but you can also lightly bread it as I have in the recipe here. It will give the chicken a little more substance, and by flavouring the breadcrumbs, give another layer of seasoning, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup margarine
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced*

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter into the oven to warm. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate, and season them with the garlic powder and lemon zest. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and pan-fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not over crowd the skillet, adding more oil as needed. Place the chicken onto the warmed platter in the oven.

When you are finished with all of the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook and stir the minced garlic and shallot in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and scrape up and dissolve any brown bits that may have become stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces by about a third, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers, and simmer again until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the margarine into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the margarine is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley, and remove the sauce from heat and set aside. Arrange the chicken on a serving plate and spoon the sauce over to serve.

Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

Chicken Katsu

So in our schnitzel tour around the world, how about a stop in the Far East? Katsu is one of Japan’s favourite Western-style foods. So, what is it? Simply, it’s a bread crumbed cut of meat, usually served with shredded cabbage and a thick, salty and sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce.

Now for a little bit of history… Pork katsuretsu (cutlet) was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s.

Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Emperor Meiji – in his bid for Japan to become a more modern country and lead the way in terms of development – encouraged Western influence. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken (torikatsu), fish and vegetables.

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 chicken breast fillets
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly whisked
olive oil spray
½ – ¾ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded to serve*
½ – ¾ cup red cabbage, shredded to serve*
¼ cup mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

For the tonkatsu sauce:
¾ cup tomato sauce
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce**
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ teaspoon ground allspice

* Click here to learn how to clean different types of cabbage.
** Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
To make the tonkatsu sauce:
Combine the tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and allspice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

To make the chicken:
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Transfer the breaded chicken to the lined tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Spray the top of the chicken with oil. Cook for the chicken for 6 minutes. Carefully flip the chicken and spray with oil. Cook the chicken for a further 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Thickly slice the chicken diagonally. Arrange the Chinese cabbage and red cabbage on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Drizzle the mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce over the chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

German-Style Chicken Schnitzel

German Chicken SchnitzelSo one of my favourite foods on this planet is schnitzel. I don’t know why. I just love it. It is so simple, and yet, so easy to mess up! It can be over fried and dried out, or burnt, or greasy… or, worse, undercooked! Salmonella poisoning anyone? What I also find interesting is that depending on where you’re from, you can vary it to match your local dining style. Did you know that pretty much every culture has some version of schnitzel? I thought this week I would show some of the ways a simple breaded chicken breast can be adapted and savoured all over the world!

Today, we’re going to start off with a traditional German-style chicken schnitzel. Most people have heard of wienerschnitzel. “Wiener” means Viennese (from Vienna) in German, not pork or veal as some people think (those words would be Schweinefleisch and Kalbfleisch). But while the Austrians may have perfected the wienerschnitzel, the origin of the schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) preferred his meat covered with sheets of gold. And of course, what the Kaiser does, the wealthy soon copied, but not everyone could afford to dine on gold. The solution? An alternative “yellow gold” coating of bread crumbs was used instead. And the rest they say, is delicious history!

Ingredients:
6 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thickness
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 ¾ cups breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley*
lemon wedges (for serving)

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick) with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in the oil to measure ½” deep and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 315°F (you want a moderate heat here because chicken breasts are so thin, they will cook quite quickly).

Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, dip into egg mixture, turning to coat evenly, then carefully coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken until it is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and season with salt. Top the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Mains!

So it was kinda hard to choose which mains to find recipes for. I actually googled, “Most Popular Restaurant Dishes” to see what would come up, and low and behold, I got a few of the beauties below. I did go for some Canadian flavour though, and threw in Swiss Chalet’s famous rotisserie chicken and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, not a kosher issue (other than, you know, the establishment itself not being kosher). I hope you all enjoy!


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp“Bonefish Grill” Bang Bang “Shrimp”

So with this recipe, the only real change is the obvious, using imitation “shrimp” instead of the real McCoy. Other than that, this recipe is pretty kosher friendly!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
2 cups buttermilk*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds imitation “shrimp”

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

* Don’t have buttermilk? Check out my cheat tips here.

Directions:
To make the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a small bowl and then set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and hot sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and set this aside as well.

In a large bowl, combine the panko, onion and garlic powders, basil, oregano, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dip a “shrimp” into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Working in batches, add the “shrimp” to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sweet chili sauce.


“Cheesecake Factory” Louisiana Chicken PastaCheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta

So with this recipe, there were quite a bit of changes needed, as there was a lot mixing of dairy and meat in this recipe. I think I’ve found a happy balance, omitting somethings, and substituting others. I hope you agree!

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup non-dairy milk

For the Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
¾ small red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups non-dairy creamer
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced*
1 (12 ounce) packages bow tie pasta
salt, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.

Directions:
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to the skillet, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the non-dairy creamer, as well as the chicken stock, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the basil, stirring to incorporate, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken.

For the chicken, pound the chicken breasts until they are very thin (the thinner the better). Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and flour. Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then in the milk and then back in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan set to medium-high heat, and fry the chicken until golden crisp and cooked through. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper-lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Once done, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce that has been reducing and toss the pasta to coat. To plate, dish up a healthy portion of the pasta, and top with a golden piece of chicken and the remaining basil.


PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps“P.F. Chang’s” Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s amazing about this recipe is that I didn’t need to change a thing! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water chestnuts, minced
2 cups mushroom, minced
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
12-15 iceberg lettuce leaves*

Special Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
⅜ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons hot water
1-2 tablespoons garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce:

Directions:
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.  Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

In a wok or large frying pan, bring the oil to a high heat. Sauté the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as small as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil (to the oil that was left over from cooking the chicken). Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the hot pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan, and sauté the mixture for a couple minutes then serve in the lettuce leaves with the special sauce.


“Swiss Chalet” Rotisserie ChickenSwiss Chalet Chicken and Dipping Sauce

As a Canadian, how can you not want just a bite of that beautifully, crispy, spinning rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken? Well, it turns out, making it kosher isn’t that hard! In fact, I didn’t have to change a thing! Keep in mind though, that unless you have a rotisserie feature on your oven/bbq, it will not come out exactly the same as the commercials.

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dehydrated tomato soup mix
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon dried savoury
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into a whole chicken. Place the chicken in the bag and let it marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Cook the chicken in a rotisserie oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.

“Swiss Chalet” Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups water
¼ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
6 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
In a saucepan, add the water, tomato juice and all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon juice, cornstarch, final 1 tablespoon water and vegetable oil. Using a whisk, stir the sauce thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water into a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the sauce. While still whisking, add the oil to the sauce. Continue to whisk the sauce while it cooks for a few more minutes and it will thicken up. This will make 3 cups of sauce.

Marinated Chicken in a Wine and Mushroom Cream Sauce with Kalamata Olives

Marinated Chicken in Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce

So we’re coming into the home stretch, sort of, of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Dinner, as we are now on the relevés course. This came after the mains, but before the roasts and the sweets, not to mention the side table that was out, y’know just in case you got hungry between courses. Can you imagine? I’m sorry your Majesty, but the 9 dishes you had presented up until now haven’t quite hit the mark, I’m going to go make myself a cold roast beef sandwich? I definitely would have gone all Queen of Hearts on the subject and shouted “Off with their head!” to the ungrateful lout!

Speaking of off with their head, a chicken definitely lost theirs in the preparation of today’s recipe. “Les Poulets à la Financière” or “Chicken Garnished with Cocks’ Combs, Cocks’ Kidneys, Dumplings, Sweetbreads, Mushrooms, Olives and Truffles” was a pretty complex dish as you can tell by a partial recipe that I was able to find from the era:

Poulets à la Financière

I think the modern recipe below for chicken with mushrooms and olives might not only be easier, but will also be slightly more palatable! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 chicken leg quarters or 6 breasts (or whatever cuts your family likes)
olive oil (to brown chicken)

Marinade:
6 sprigs of fresh sage*
6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 ½ cups dry white wine
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives (roughly chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
6 sage leaves roughly chopped*
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3 cups of non-dairy creamer
3 pounds of crimini mushrooms (sliced)
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Season the chicken with dried sage, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in a covered container or large freezer bag with the wine, garlic, fresh sage and chopped olives. Marinate the chicken overnight, or longer, but no longer than 48 hours.

When you are ready to cook chicken, take the chicken out and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Bringing the chicken to room temperature will help the chicken to cook evenly. While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 375°F.

After the chicken has sat out for 15 minutes, put a little olive oil in a cast iron pan or other any oven safe pan you have. On your stove top heat the pan up on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, and evenly brown the chicken on both sides. Once you have browned the chicken, remove the chicken from the pan.

Now add the wine to the pan, deglazing it (removing all the delicious pieces of marinade from the bottom of the pan). Immediately after you add the wine, add the non-dairy creamer, mushrooms, sage, and garlic. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, giving the mushrooms a chance to absorb the sauce.

Then, add your chicken back in to the pan, along with the olives and taste for to see if salt or pepper is needed. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Chicken & Mushroom Puff Pastry Stacks

Chicken & Mushroom Puff Stacks

On to the mains! Part of the entree course of Queen Victoria’s meal was Les Petits Vol-au-vents à la Béchamel or Vol-au-Vents with White Sauce. Vol-au-Vents are French for “windblown”, to describe its lightness of a small hollow case of puff pastry. Vols-au-vent are typically made by cutting two circles in rolled out puff pastry, cutting a hole in one of them, then stacking the ring-shaped piece on top of the disc-shaped piece. This pastry is usually found filled with savory ingredients, but can also have a sweet filling. I came across a recipe that would have been served at the Queen’s table. Les Petits Vol-au-vents à la Béchamel

Now, when reading this, remember, this is just for the pastry, not the sauce or filling! I think I’m better off buying the premade pastry shells from the grocery store! Please enjoy the recipe below, which would make a lovely appetizer for any meal. If you wish to have this as a main dish, just upsize the portions by adding more chicken, mushrooms, etc.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ cups mushrooms, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 chicken breasts or 4-5 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, diced
1-2 tablespoons chicken soup mix
1 cup non-dairy creamer
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme*
salt and pepper, to taste
6 puff pastry shells

* Click here to learn how to clean fresh thyme.

Directions:

In a large skillet, over medium- high heat add the olive oil and bring up to temperature. Once hot, add the onions and mushrooms, and allow to them to cook for about 5-7 minutes, so that the onions become translucent and the mushrooms begin to cook. Add the celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken and toss to mix it with the vegetables. If you need to add a little more oil, you can. Let the chicken cook, so that it begins to brown, tossing every so often so that all the pieces get cooked. Once the pieces all look at least a little bit browned, add the non-dairy creamer, chicken soup mix, and thyme. If it is too thick, you can add some water to thin it out.

Reduce the temperature and let the dish cook until the sauce has thickened up a bit and the chicken is fully cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve on in the pastry shells.

Easy Barbecue Chicken

BBQ ChickenI got this recipe from a family friend and neighbour, Stella Katz, and it is quite the winner! Easy and delicious, you’ll make it over and over again! This recipe will feed 4-6 people.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, divided (you could also use breasts, or what ever cut your family prefers)
8 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped*
2+ cloves of garlic, minced (depends how garlicky you want it)
1 ½ lemons, juiced
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
3-4 tablespoons honey

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Instructions:

Combine ingredients together in a extra large zip-loc bag to create a marinade. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, and let marinate for up to 24 hours. To cook, grill chicken on a BBQ or indoor grill, until the juices run clear. This dish can also be baked in a 350 degree oven, for 30 to 45 minutes.

Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.