March 11, 2015

Simple Homemade Chicken Salad

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A long time ago I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and she was making chicken salad. You know, preparing for one of her fabulous picnic lunches at the beach with her guy friends or playing bridge with the boys, drinking champagne cocktails and eating homemade blinis with smoked salmon… I want to be her. Who wouldn’t love her life? Anyway, she was making chicken salad and had this genius method to make the chicken. Whole bone-in chicken breasts, rubbed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven on a sheet pan. Perfect every time. I stole that method for my chicken salad here.

I’ve seen many chicken salad recipes that call for poaching the chicken. I just can’t deal with the chicken simmering in water thing. Smelly, but happy memories of the apartment building my great-grandmother lived in has me scarred. For some reason it always smelled like boiled chicken. Is that a Jewish thing, boiling chickens? Oy Gevalt!

I also don’t always love the rotisserie chickens pre-made from the grocery store, though I know they can be a great shortcut. So this is my solution… successful every time, from scratch, super simple chicken salad. You can make chicken this way to toss in salads, like a cobb salad or chicken Caesar salad, or for any other recipe that calls for cooked chicken breast.

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INGREDIENTS

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2lbs)
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup light mayo (please use Hellman’s)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

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  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan skin side up. Loosen the skin gently on each breast and tuck a small sprig of thyme under the skin.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over each one and sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on each breast. Using your hands, rub it evenly all over the chicken.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the oven on the center rack and roast for about 35-40 minutes depending on how big your chicken breasts are. I use a meat thermometer and check them at 30 minutes. They are done when they reach 165 degrees.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the sheet pan from the oven and set it aside allowing the chicken to cool completely.
  6. When they have cooled, remove the meat from each chicken breast, discarding the bones and skin. Cut the meat into large bite sized pieces.
  7. In a large bowl, place the cubed chicken with the mayo, chopped parsley and Dijon mustard. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper.

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Enjoy!

February 17, 2015

Roasted Asparagus & Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Shallots & Goat Cheese

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Aluminum foil is a brilliant product, but I recently noticed I was covering everything with foil. Not the furniture or anything nuts like that, but pretty much anything that was going in the oven was getting a sheet of aluminum foil. I could do a commercial about how easy clean-up is if you use aluminum foil. Then it occurred to me that all I was doing was expanding my carbon foot print and that it takes minimal elbow grease to clean the pan in the first place. So now I am going through a serious aluminum foil detox. I’m trying to embrace the naked sheet pan. Food actually roasts much nicer and as long as you use a smidge of olive oil (or other fat), it won’t stick.

The same holds true for your cookware, by the way. With the exception of a couple of fry pans for your eggs, you don’t really need non-stick cookware. Stainless cleans up great and if you have a bit of stubborn stuck on food, invest in a can of Bar Keeper’s Friend. It’s amazing! Gets any pan clean.

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One night I was trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of vegetables in the refrigerator and this salad is what I came up with. Of course, I grabbed a sheet pan and the aluminum foil to roast the veggies. You can see I took these pictures before my aluminum foil intervention. I made the salad again the other night, no foil and everything turned out fine… I was fine, the pan was fine… I’m going to be fine.

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I’m completely obsessed with this salad. Maybe it’s the combination of the crispy bits of pancetta with the creamy goat cheese? Maybe it’s the shallots with the sweetness of the fig balsamic? Who knows! All I can tell you is that it’s just good! And like all my other recipes, I don’t know how to make normal portions of anything, so feel free to cut it in half.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4oz. pancetta, diced very small
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 4oz goat cheese, sliced*
  • About 8oz green beans (a bunch)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6oz baby arugula
  • 3 tbsp fig balsamic*
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper

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  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the asparagus and green beans and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan (no foil needed). Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables and roast in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes until they are crisp tender, you still want a little crunch. Give the pan a shake about halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Preheat a small skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the diced pancetta. You don’t need any oil in the pan. Once the pancetta becomes nice and crispy, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Set the pancetta aside.
  4. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the pancetta fat from the skillet and sauté the shallots until they become lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. To make the dressing, combine the 2 balsamic vinegars with the rosemary, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Set aside.
  6. Put it all together… lay the arugula on a large platter. Layer the green beans and asparagus on the arugula. Nestle the slices of goat cheese and sprinkle the crispy pancetta bits and the shallots over the platter and drizzle the dressing over everything.

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That’s it! So delicious and it looks so beautiful.

Enjoy!

* You can buy goat cheese in a 4oz log at most grocery stores. I use unflavored dental floss to slice it. It works perfectly. Just make sure the cheese is very cold. If you try to slice it with a knife it will stick and fall apart. 

* If you can’t find fig balsamic, you can use all regular balsamic vinegar. I’ve found fig balsamic at Wegmans and other specialty grocery stores. It does make a big difference to the flavor of the salad. You could also whisk a little honey in with regular balsamic if you can’t find fig.

 

 

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