Archives for posts with tag: chicken

When I got home Sunday afternoon from a weekend getaway with a bunch of singers and musicians I found my mother putting polyurethane on the kitchen cabinets. Oh dear. I do not like to be around chemicals of any description, particularly in food environments (What my mother does is up to her, and pretty much always has been). I knew she planned to work on the cabinets while I was away: what I didn’t know was what we could possibly eat for dinner since I wasn’t going to spend any time I didn’t have to in the kitchen.

Fortunately, Mom reminded me, she had put some chicken in a marinade on Friday morning. We could have that with baked potatoes and a quick spinach salad. I nuked a couple of red potatoes in the microwave for four minutes and then set them and a pan of chicken in a 325 degree oven. Forty-five minutes later dinner was ready and I was only in the kitchen for about ten minutes.

Painting of main ingredients for chicken marinade.

Fleeing Chicken. 8″ x 8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

Mom has made this marinade since I was a child. It has just five ingredients: soy sauce, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, canned crushed pineapple and a little vegetable oil. Because it uses canned, bottled, dried and frozen ingredients you can make this any time of the year. Warning: Even if you live in the tropics, please do not attempt to make this marinade with fresh pineapple. Why? Because the enzymes in fresh pineapple will eat into the meat protein — if you leave it in a few hours the meat will look shrunken and chewed. If you leave it in overnight your chicken will turn into an unsightly mush. How do I know this? Because I used fresh pineapple once and only once in this recipe.

Nowadays we use skinless chicken — either it comes that way from the store or we skin it ourselves — but in my youth we used to leave the skin on. You can prepare it either way. This time we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. but we have made it with thighs, drumsticks, bone-in half breasts. We like to leave the chicken in the marinade for three days so that the meat absorbs plenty of moisture and flavor. You can cook it after a day or two if you want.

If you can get fresh chicken, it will taste better and have a softer texture than chicken that has been frozen, but frozen chicken will work fine as long as it has a chance to thaw and absorb marinade.

When we make this, we open a 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple. We use half of it (10 ounces) for the marinade and freeze the other half to use in a future batch. Mom says it’s important to taste the pineapple for sweetness — if it isn’t sweet, she recommends adding a little brown sugar. Place the pineapple in a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce  (I like tamari; Madge uses regular soy). You can use lite or low-sodium soy if you need to. Add crushed or minced fresh garlic — we used six small cloves in the last batch — but you can pretty much add garlic to taste. Ditto with ginger: we keep ginger root in the freezer and either grate it with a microplane or slice it into coins — we probably used about 1 Tbsp. Add 2-3 Tbsp neutral-tasting vegetable oil — I like peanut oil with Asian flavors. Mom uses corn oil. You can skimp on oil if you want to — the oil helps skinless cuts brown and keeps the chicken from sticking to the pan when you cook it. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least eight hours and up to three days. If you think of it, turn the chicken a few times. Cook chicken in a preheated 325 oven for forty-five minutes or until done. We cook ours on foil on a broiler pan.

One batch of marinade is enough for about two pounds of chicken. If you need to double it, use the whole can of pineapple and double each of the other ingredients. You can also use this to marinate tofu. I would recommend pressing the liquid out of the tofu first before putting it in the marinade.

Once you have cooked this flavorful chicken (or tofu) it is delicious hot or cold. It can be sliced into salads or used in sandwiches. You could even use it in a cold noodle salad with peanut dressing.

Versatile Blogger Award: I would like to mention that three bloggers have kindly nominated The Kale Chronicles for the Versatile Blog Award. To learn more about the award and the women who have awarded it to me, please go visit them at eatinglocalinthelou.blogspot.com/ , gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/a-monstrous-post/and susartandfood.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/versatile-blogger-award/. Elizabeth at Eating Local in the Lou shares my passion for eating local, seasonal foods and Susie tells wonderful stories before she presents each recipe.It is always a thrill to receive a blogging award and I thank these ladies kindly for reading The Kale Chronicles and for thinking of me. Because I previously received this award, here is a link to the award post where you may read seven things about me.

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painting shows bowl of chicken-coconut soup with Asian condiments

Chicken-Coconut Soup. 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick.

The weather swings from mackerel skies to overcast, from sun to rain. The farm box remains remarkably constant in content: spring onions, leeks, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, tangerines. Today we got cilantro and asparagus as well. My mother has been under the weather for days, following a diet of toast, toast and toast. What can I possibly make for dinner?

I settle on an old favorite, a spin on Thai chicken-coconut soup with plenty of winter vegetables: carrots, cabbage, spinach and leeks.

I begin by making coconut milk. I measure two cups of unsweetened coconut into the blender while I heat 2 and 1/2 cups of skim milk on the stove. (The richness of the milk does not matter: we are using it to extract the coconut flavor from the coconut — I’ve used everything from whole milk to skim and water in a pinch). Blend the warmed milk and the dry coconut for a minute or two and then strain out the coconut. Throw that same coconut back in the blender with two cups of warm water and make a second batch, straining the coconut out. Now you may throw the coconut meat out, or compost it: all of the flavor has gone into the bowl of thick and thin coconut milk.

I heat two pints of homemade chicken stock on the stove and add the coconut milk and most of a boned and skinned chicken that we roasted earlier in the week. I add 1 Tbsp. fish sauce and the juice of one lime and about 1/2 tsp of chili paste with garlic. I let the meat simmer in the broth while I cut up two root ends of lemongrass and slice about 1 Tbsp of frozen fresh ginger into thick coins. Leaving the lemongrass and ginger large means we will be able to spot them in the soup. I add a bowl of leek rings that I cleaned and cut a couple of days ago.

Mom slices carrots into irregular pieces — like making carrot sticks — and washes spinach leaves. I wash and chop the roots of today’s cilantro and add them to the simmering pot. I slice cabbage thinly.

Then we go upstairs and watch an episode of “The Rockford Files.”

When we return to the kitchen, Mom turns up the pot to high and adds the carrots. In three minutes the carrots are almost cooked and I turn the burner down to medium and add the cabbage. Oops. I have underestimated the volume of the soup, so instead of cooking spinach in the soup we put spinach leaves in our bowls and ladle the hot soup on top of them, turning off the soup pot. I garnish my bowl with fresh cilantro. There is plenty of soup for future meals: we will reheat it and add fresh spinach and cilantro to our bowls again.

Food Notes: As you can see, this is not a precise recipe. The basics include a blend of chicken broth and coconut milk and the classic Thai seasonings of ginger or galangal, lemongrass, fish sauce, and chilies. You can vary the amounts of fish sauce, lime juice, chili paste, lemongrass and ginger to taste. If you like your soup sweet, you can add brown sugar. You can make it with canned coconut milk, either regular or light, which is what I do when I am not out of canned coconut milk. Tonight’s version was mild, rather than spicy, to accommodate Mom’s indisposition, but you can amp it up with loads of chili paste or fresh chilies. You can make it traditional Thai style with no vegetables at all. You can add rice noodles or rice. You can use leeks, spring onions, or scallions. You can include sweet potatoes or broccoli, as long as you do not cook them too long in the soup. If you like crunchy broccoli, you might want to put it in your bowl and pour the soup over it like we did with the spinach: by the time you get to the bottom of your bowl the broccoli will be nicely cooked. This is a nice soup to eat when you have a cold or when you are trying to tempt someone with a low appetite: packing it full of vegetables adds vitamins and minerals to the broth.

Painting Notes: The quickest of paintings to meet a deadline.