Need something simple, yet elegant for dinner? This feta brined roast chicken is easy to make, but looks like something from a fancy restaurant. Brine the chicken, let it sit overnight, and then mix a few ingredients together and bake.
The brine helps infuse the chicken with flavor, and (as a bonus) keeps it from drying out. It works just like the brine for a turkey, except this will taste much better! Feta cheese is particularly effective as a brine since it is packed in water, so it’s already moist. Blending it together creates a smooth, creamy brine that penetrates the chicken, keeping it tender and moist, even under high heat. The finished chicken doesn’t have a strong feta taste, but it will be rich, tender, and delicious.
Once the chicken is brined, you create a quick and easy spice rub from lemon zest, pepper, and oregano, blend that together, and spread it all over the chicken. The feta cheese adds salty savor, the lemon a hint of tartness, and the oregano and spinach give the dish a fresh, bright flavor. The original dish called for arugula, but I’m not a fan, so I used spinach instead.
Taking the chicken out early before you cook it helps it dry out and allows the skin to become crisper when the chicken is roasted.
We tend to think of “fusion” foods as a new idea: Asian/Cuban, Mexican/Jewish and so on and so on. The truth is people have been mixing and matching cuisines ever since we started exploring (or on a less positive note, colonizing). The bright side is that exposure to new spices, flavorings, and cooking techniques can be a springboard for creative new dishes. Mulligatawny soup (which means pepper-water) is one such “fusion” food. It’s a mixture of Indian Tamil and British cooking. The Tamil cuisine brings the spiciness and the British added the meat.
This particular version of the recipe is adapted from Foodaholic. Her recipe uses red lentils (which I didn’t have). However I asked her and she said lots of recipes use rice instead. I had that, so rice it is!
I don’t have garlic paste, so I took a garlic clove and smashed it to smithereens. Just chop it up finely and then swipe the flat of a wide knife over it. Or, if you don’t mind a bit of extra cleanup, put it in a mini-chopper or a garlic press.
Finally, I used a chicken thigh, rather than chicken breast (which she uses because of picky kids). I think the chicken thigh has a better, richer flavor and I don’t have to worry about pleasing fussy eaters.
I did follow her lead in only using one pot. I can’t stand extra cleanup!
If you want the soup creamier and more elegant, remove part of it from the pan and puree the rest with a stick blender. If not, just cook it another 10 minutes for a more rustic texture.
This will make about three servings of soup. Eat one right away and save the rest in separate containers for another day.
I just learned to cook this Jewish chicken curry chitarnee recipe recently from an online cooking friend Azlin Bloor.It’s (to the best of her knowledge) a Sephardic Jewish recipe, but it doesn’t have the usual flavor or ingredients we tend to associate with “Jewish” cooking in America. Here “Jewish” cooking is usually Ashkenasi (from Eastern Europe). It tends to feature lots of noodles, brisket, and chicken soup.
Ashkenasi food is generally flavorful, but the spiciest ingredients are onions and garlic.Not too many chilis! And definitely no cardamom. But Jewish people are part of every continent’s and every country’s population.So, local recipes get adopted, and adapted (if needed) to make them conform to the dietary rules (for those that follow them). Pork gets replaced by chicken, oil is used with meat instead of butter, and so on. And voilà, some local Indian dish gets transformed into Jewish chicken curry chitarnee.
This recipe, for example, has a bit more snap than standard Ashkenaski fare. It’s not super-spicy though.There’s onion, garlic, ginger, mild chilis, and cardamom. The garlic, onion, and ginger get cooked down slowly so they become more sweet and mellow than sharp.The cardamom is aromatic and herbal rather than strong or spicy. Lots of fresh lemon juice and some white wine vinegar add a piquant tang.
Azlin suggested a variation on this recipe to make it vegetarian, by replacing the chicken with bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes.
I didn’t want to make it fully vegetarian (though you certainly can if you want).But, I thought, well why not just add potatoes to the chicken version. Then it’s a one pot dinner. That way, there’s no extra rice to make on the side and it will all cook in the same pot in the same amount of time. Fewer pots to clean is always a good thing!
Not your usual "Ashkenasi" fare, this dish has onion, garlic, ginger, and cardamom. It's fragrant, and mellow, not spicy since the onions cook slowly. Easy to make too. Once everything is in the pot, you can leave it alone to cook.
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 pinch sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small piece (about 1/3 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, and cut into large chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 tsp cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
2 green cardamom pods
1 large chicken thigh
1 potato, cut up into chunks (you can peel it or scrub it and leave the peel on)
1 cup chopped tomatoes in puree
2 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (divided in half)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Start by heating the oil in a deep frying pan, or dutch oven on medium heat. Then add the onions and the sugar. Cook until the onions start to wilt and soften, about three minutes.
Now add the garlic, ginger, and the rest of the spices and cook that for half a minute.
Put the chicken in the pan and turn it over a few times so that it gets thoroughly coated with the spices and the onions. Cook it for a minute or two.
Add the potato pieces, tomatoes, vinegar and 1 1/4 tsp of the lemon juice. Bring the chicken mixture to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat, put a cover on the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes. The chicken and the potatoes should be soft and tender by then. Test with a knife to make sure it’s all cooked through.
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside on a cutting board. Add the remaining lemon juice and stir to combine it with the rest of the sauce. Remove the cardamom pods and serve.
Note: You might want to put the cardamom pods in a tea ball (or cheesecloth) to make it easier to fish them out when you're ready to serve.
Tools and Ingredients for Jewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee
Garam Masala is a blend of warm, aromatic spices that gives a great flavor punch to many recipes. It’s not spicy though. It’s made with nutmeg, coriander, cumin, cloves, and seven other spices. It’s great on eggs, chicken, or to make your own chai (spiced tea). You can also add it to desserts (think pumpkin spice with a bit more flair), or hot drinks.
I confess when I first heard of cardamom I thought it would be spicy and overpowering. It isn’t! Instead, it adds an aromatic, slightly minty, herbal flavor to your food. Put it in your coffee as a “sweetener” without sugar. Or add it to dessert recipes (I’m thinking it would be great in a pear tart). Or toss one or two pods in with your rice for a flavor boost.
This is technically supposed to be used for brewing tea. However, I find they’re great for cooking. Trying to fish out a bay leaf is a pain.
With the tea ball, instead of splashing through a pan of chicken, or a pot of soup to find a bay leaf, cardamom pods, or whole cloves you aren’t going to eat, put them in a tea ball, and drop that into the pan, and hook the end on the side of the pot. That way, the spices are easy to remove, and you don’t have to worry about biting down on a clove!
Coq au vin (or rooster in wine) is a classic French dish. It’s flavorful, it’s rich, and it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare. First, you season the chicken, let it sit overnight, then brown it, add vegetables, and braise it slowly. Authentic coq au vin also requires lots of pots, lardons, which are thick matchstick strips of bacon, glazed pearl onions, croutons, and finally toast points! It takes hours to prepare it properly. It’s wonderful, but it’s also a major undertaking, and highly impractical for a weekday dinner. In contrast, this stovetop coq au vin takes about half an hour to make. Much better!
I have adapted this recipe from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet Cookbook. Being French he called it “Poulet Sauté au Brouilly” (or chicken sautéed in Brouilly wine). I say stovetop coq au vin or chicken with red wine sauce and mushrooms works just fine.
And, once you finish a bit of chopping and browning, stovetop coq au vin mostly cooks itself. You don’t have to fuss with it, you don’t need to use half the pots in your kitchen, and you don’t have to clean them up either. This version only requires a single skillet.
When choosing the red wine, look for one that’s fruity and flavorful, but not too tannic. Wines such as Zinfandel, Brouilly, Beaujolais, or Merlot are fine (I used Merlot). On the other hand, a Cabernet Sauvignon would be overpowering.
I’ve been craving chicken shawarma ever since I first saw The Avengers movie (years ago!) Since I’m in NY, and the city wasn’t really broken like in the movie, I even looked up the place where the last scene was filmed (when they were all sitting around eating shawarma). But somehow, I never managed to get there. I was re-watching the movie again recently and had the same craving again. Then I thought, wait, I know how to cook! Why go out and schlep all the way to midtown when I can make homemade chicken shawarma instead?
So, instead of going out, I went to the Internet and found a NY Times recipe. This dish is traditionally made on a spit or a rotisserie, but who has a roasting spit in their home? Not me, and certainly not in my tiny kitchen. The oven works just fine. If you want, you can roast the chicken first, and then fry it in a pan to make it crispier. I prefer my chicken moist and tender, so I skipped that step.
You make this dish in two stages. First marinate the chicken, make the yogurt sauce, and let both sit in the fridge. It’s best if it sits overnight, but allow at least an hour so that the flavors have time to blend together.
I put the chicken and the marinade ingredients in a plastic zip lock bag, shook it all up, and rubbed the sauce into the meat. One less bowl to clean! The yogurt sauce went into a small ramekin.
There are hundreds of different ways to make the sauce: with za’atar or sumac, with dill, mint, basil, mostly mayo, yogurt/mayo, and on and on and on. I’ve listed several different variations, just pick the one that suits your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand.
I could use za’atar and sumac, but I left them out of the instructions since they are a bit exotic in the US and I try to stick to ingredients that are readily accessible. The lemon zest, salt, and pepper that are in the recipe are a decent substitute for the sumac. You can combine thyme, sesame seeds, sumac (or lemon pepper), plus salt and make your own za’atar substitute.
If you like, combine the dry ingredients for the marinade together and keep them in a spice jar. Then, you just have to add fresh lemon juice and you’re ready to cook.
Serve this with a Greek salad, rice, olives, feta, or even (gasp) French fries. Fried or roasted eggplant would be great too.
These little ramekins are super-handy in the kitchen. I use them for dips, sauces, mixing up a quick salad dressing, nuts, slices of lemon to squeeze on fish, and olives. Use one for the olives, and another to hold the pits (works for cherries too). Or, you can even use them for spare change.
If you want try try actual za’atar, make sure to look carefully at the ingredients. Some of them have wheat (?!?) in them, and others are just thyme (which is the English translation). You want a mixture of sesame seeds, thyme, oregano or marjoram, and sumac. This one delivers what it should. Use it for the yogurt sauce, add it to roasted vegetables or fish, or sprinkle it into olive oil and serve with pita bread.
Sumac adds a pop of bright red color, as well as a citrusy, lemon flavor to food. It’s great with hummus, over fish, mixed in salads, or on potatoes. There’s no additives, salt, or other fillers in this jar, just sumac.
If you’re hungry, chicken thighs are a great answer to the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” You can get this chicken and mushroom skillet recipe from walk in the door from work to ready to eat in about half an hour.
And, it only requires one pot! Less clean up is a good thing, in my book. You don’t have to marinate the chicken, or leave it overnight, or fuss with it. Pan fry the chicken, slice the mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and let it simmer.
There’s no separate gravy to prepare either. It creates its own sauce right in the pan.
The funny thing is, I “invented” (or thought I’d invented) this recipe one night from ingredients I had lying around. It turns out that it’s nearly identical to a recipe in one of Jacques Pépin’s cookbooks. I don’t pretend to be his equal, but if you’re going to “borrow” an idea from someone, start at the top!
Although, I will say that his recipe requires two pots and mine only needs one. Yes, I do count the washing up necessary to make something (it makes a difference when you don’t have a dishwasher).
Serve the chicken with rice or crusty bread to sop up the sauce. The vegetables in the photo were just some frozen mixed vegetables that I microwaved with salt and lemon pepper.
A quick one pot chicken dish with mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
1 chicken thigh, bone-in
salt and pepper
1-2 T olive oil
2 tsp flour
1/3 C chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
2-3 sliced mushrooms (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 C chicken broth (plus one or 2 T if needed)
pinch dried thyme
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium heat.
Put the chicken in the pan and cook five minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook another five minutes.
Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Sprinkle everything with the flour and stir to distribute it evenly.
Pour the chicken broth into the pan and sprinkle the thyme over the chicken and vegetables.
Cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set it on a plate. Stir the remaining vegetables and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom. If it's too dry, add another tablespoon or two of chicken broth. This should deglaze the pan and create a sauce. Cook for another few minutes until the sauce thickens.
Pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken.
Chicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe Substitutions and Variations
stir a splash of dry white wine into the sauce (or use the wine instead of the chicken broth)
add 1/3 cup of frozen broccoli to the mushroom mixture
Two of my friends have been raving about this chicken chili verde recipe for years. I finally decided to try it myself, and they were right.
Ideally, this should be made with Hatch chiles. Unfortunately, while New York is a wonderland of food, fresh Hatch chiles are a bit scarce. So, I had to make do with the canned variety. If you can get them fresh, by all means use them! Instead of regular canned tomatoes, I used tomatoes mixed with green chiles.
There are no beans, just chicken, peppers, a few spices, and chicken broth. It’s not too spicy, and easy to put together. The hardest part is waiting for it to simmer!
Amazon only sells this single can to Prime members (or if you have access to their fresh service), but if you do, then go for it. They’ve got the Hatch chiles too, but you have to buy an awful lot of them at once!
The beauty of this Indian royal chicken cooked in yogurt recipe is that it’s delicious and can be made fairly quickly.You can just serve it with naan or make some rice to help soak up the sauce.I have adapted this from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, which is a great guide for making Indian meals that don’t require a lot of fuss. Plus, she wisely sticks to ingredients that are fairly easy to find outside of India. Her recipe is for four people, my version is dinner for one person.
I made a few other minor changes as well. The original recipe calls for both dried and fresh coriander.I don’t generally have fresh coriander (and if I did, it would spoil), so I used a bit more dried instead.
Make sure to remove all of the whole spices before serving. You don’t want to crunch down on a clove or a cardamom pod!
She calls for slivered almonds, but all I had was ground almonds, so I used that. I am a big believer in using what you have and not buying special ingredients for a single purpose. You can substitute slivered, or blanched if that’s easier. You might even use whole ones, or throw them in the mini-chopper to chop them up.
There’s also a fun bit of chemistry here.When you add the raisins to the hot pan, they plump up and temporarily revert back to grapes!
Indian royal chicken cooked in yogurt is ready in about half an hour and requires very little fussing. Nothing to chop, or mince. Just mix up the yogurt, brown the chicken, add a few spices, raisins, and almonds to the pan, and let the whole thing simmer. Easy.
Put the yogurt in a small bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Since Greek yogurt is thick, you may have to add a teaspoon or two of water to thin it a bit. Mix that all up until it’s smooth and set it aside while you season the chicken and start on the rest of the recipe.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper
Turn the heat on a burner to medium-high. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamon pods and the bay leaf. Stir that together. Add the chicken thigh and brown it on both sides for about 2-3 minutes per side.
Once it’s brown, remove the chicken and place it in a separate small bowl or dish.
Now add the almonds and raisins to the pan and give them a quick stir. Keep an eye on the mixture because the almonds will turn brown quickly and the raisins will magically transform back into grapes. Once they do, add the chicken back to the pan.
Add some of the pan juices to the yogurt mixture and stir it around (this will keep the sauce from "breaking"). Then add the yogurt mixture to the pan.
Stir to combine everything. Increase the heat and bring the chicken/yogurt mixture to a simmer (not quite boiling). Cover, turn the the heat down to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir again after another 10 minutes (twenty minutes total).
Take the cover off, increase the heat slightly, and cook down the sauce until it thickens. Remove the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, and bay leaf) and discard them before serving.
Update: do get the cardamom pods if you can. They are definitely worth the trouble.
Substitutions and Variations for Indian Royal Chicken Cooked in Yogurt
try it with ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil, sliced onions, and ginger paste (full recipe here)
Fight the cold weather (and winter germs) with some curried chicken soup. If you’re sick, the hot soup and the spiciness of the curry will help cut through the congestion and make you feel better! If you’re healthy, you can enjoy the full flavor!
This soup is pretty low maintenance, there’s not a lot of active work involved. Just chop the veggies, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and let it simmer. And, for soup, it’s ready fairly quickly. It only takes a little over an hour to cook. I’ve been fighting a lingering cough, so I needed soup. Specifically soup with curry or something spicy to cut through the congestion and fight those germs! So I turned to the Silver Palate cookbook and made curried chicken soup. I think it’s working.
The original recipe says to use peas and defrost them first. I didn’t have any peas handy, so I used broccoli instead. Also, in this case, I don’t think that defrosting first is really necessary. Frozen veggies cook fairly quickly, unless they’re all stuck together in the box.
Making this soup is much easier (and less messy) if you have a stick blender. Just put the blender in the soup, press the button, and puree it. Otherwise, you’ll need to strain it, put the solids in a standing blender or food processor and then add some cooking liquid. Full instructions are in the recipe.
If you have the hand blender, this soup requires very little effort. Cut up the vegetables, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and just let it cook.
I’ve cut the original recipe in half, so it makes 2-3 servings instead of 4-6. Eat one right away and freeze (or save) the rest for another day.
A slightly spicy curried chicken soup with carrots.
3 T unsalted butter
1 cup (about one medium) onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 T curry powder
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 chicken thighs (bone-in)
1/4 C long grain white rice
1/2 C half-and-half*
5 ounces (about 2/3 C) frozen broccoli
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, carrots, and the curry powder. Stir that around to combine everything.
Next, reduce the heat to a low flame (or temperature setting). Let the vegetables and curry cook on low for about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every once in a while so it doesn't stick and cooks evenly.
Add the stock, chicken, and the rice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer (it should bubble occasionally). Let it cook for about 25 minutes until the rice and the chicken are cooked.
Carefully remove the chicken (use tongs) and set it aside. Let it rest for 10 minutes until it's cool enough to handle. Once you can touch it, cut it up into small pieces and keep it separate on the cutting board for now.
If you have a hand blender, stick it in the pot and puree the soup. If not, strain the soup into a bowl and put the solids into a blender or food processor with about one cup of liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more cooking liquid if necessary. Then put everything back in the pot.
Add the half-and half to the pot (if using), along with the diced chicken. Discard the bones, or save them for stock. Add the broccoli (or peas) and heat the soup for 15 minutes until the vegetebles are cooked.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*It's supposed to be creamy chicken curry soup. I forgot to add the cream. It was delicious without it. You can also add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.
Caprese salad meets the classic grilled cheese sandwich with a bit of roast chicken added. Perfect when you’re in a hurry and want something to eat fast! This chicken caprese salad sandwich feels rich and decadent, but you don’t need to invest a lot of time or effort to make it. You don’t really even have to measure much of anything.
The market had some beautiful Campari tomatoes on sale, right next to the fresh mozzarella. I couldn’t resist. So, I put that together with some basil, leftover roast chicken, and a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread. Voila! The chicken caprese salad panini sandwich.
I started with leftover roast chicken, so I didn’t need to make the chicken. If you already have cooked chicken, just pop it into the sandwich. Some leftover rotisserie chicken would work nicely. All you have to do now is grill the bread, melt the cheese, and add the tomatoes and basil.
If not, see the substitutions and variations section below for ideas on how to cook the chicken.
The bread does tend to slurp up the olive oil, but really it’s worth it! The sandwich gets golden brown, and the cheese is gooey and melty. It’s your favorite childhood grilled cheese sandwich for grownups!
Do use the fresh mozzarella if you can get it. It’s far more flavorful (and I think it melts better) than the pre-packaged kind.
Turn a caprese salad into a full lunch with some chicken and grilled bread.
2 T olive oil
2 slices ciabatta bread (or a small baguette, you want something crusty)
1/4 C shredded cooked chicken
1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
1 Campari tomato (or half a small beefsteak tomato), sliced
2-4 basil leaves
Heat the oil in a small frying pan
Add the two slices of bread, side by side.
Let the bread cook until it turns golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).
Add the cooked chicken and the mozzarella cheese. Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one, to make a sandwich. If you like freshly cooked tomato, add it with the cheese. If not, slide it in after you remove the sandwich from the pan.
Cover the pan and let the sandwich cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese melts.
Add the tomato (if you haven't already) and the basil.
Substitutions and Variations for Chicken Caprese Panini Sandwich
Saute some mushrooms (do that first) and add them to the sandwich at the end.
Start with fresh chicken breasts (season with salt/pepper/balsamic vinegar/olive oil) then gently cook in olive oil
Or, season the chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook that in a bit of olive oil
Add some avocado
Get an extra serving of veggies and put in a few spinach leaves
Or, try cooking it in the broiler instead (less oil needed)