Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Herb Roasted Chicken with Shallots & Garlic

I just wrapped up a big work project that kept me out of the kitchen for a bit. With my deadline behind me, I needed some time to nest.

A roasted chicken always does the trick for a family dinner, but this time I wanted to change things up a little. I turned to my trusty 365 Ways to Cook Chicken cookbook for ideas.

This recipe is tweaked a bit, and I bet it would work with a turkey, too, if you need some Thanksgiving inspiration (hint, hint.)

Don't be put off by the large number of shallots called for in this recipe. They are quite mellow after roasting and they give the chicken such amazing flavor.

Mangia! Mangia!

Herb Roasted Chicken with Shallots & Garlic

5-6 pound whole chicken
Kosher salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup softened butter or 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus more for decoration
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus more for decoration
6 sprigs of fresh oregano, plus more for decoration
10-12 fresh sage leaves
16 shallots, peeled
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup white wine, such as chardonnay

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pat inside and outside of chicken dry with paper towels. Discard. Place chicken in a shallow roasting pan.

Rub half of the softened butter or half of the olive oil between skin and chicken breast, being careful not to pull the skin apart. Stuff some sprigs of the herbs (about 3 on each side of the bird) under the skin.

Season inside cavity with salt and pepper. Pour in lemon juice. Stuff with some of the herbs.

Rub remaining butter or oil on the outside of chicken, covering the entire bird. Season with salt and pepper.

Put pan in oven and roast chicken for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and arrange peeled shallots and unpeeled garlic cloves around chicken. Top with remaining herbs. Pour wine over shallots.

Roast for another 45 minutes or until thigh juices run clear.

Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Carve chicken. Place on platter. Arrange shallots around meat. Gently press garlic out of skins and arrange on the serving platter with the chicken. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Shout-Out — Prep Freeze Cook

When life gets busy, I often joke that I need a personal assistant — or a wife.

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone do the laundry and cook a few meals when us busy moms get even busier?

I haven't been cooking much lately, but I have been able to put some yummy meals on the table thanks to a local shop called Prep Freeze Cook. This gem of a store lets you purchase pre-made, frozen meals that you can pop in the oven or the crockpot whenever you need them.

When my boys were little and I was working full-time in Cincinnati, I frequented a similar outlet called Dream Dinners.

The beauty of these meal preparation shops is that you can add your own special touch to each entree. And when you find a dish the whole family loves, you've got a new recipe to add to your rotation.

I love the chance to try out new meals that I might not normally make at home. It's a great way to get my brain working on new recipes to test in my own kitchen.

So I thought I'd share a few of the Prep Freeze Cook meals my family likes.

Do you frequent a meal assistant shop or use one of the many online offerings? I'd love to learn about some of your favorites, too.

Mangia! Mangia!

Zuppa Toscana: This Italian soup features sausage and beans for a hearty, flavorful meal. Pair it with some crusty bread and dinner is served.

Taco Casserole: This is almost like a zesty, thick chili. We added shredded cheddar cheese and sliced green onions on top.

Chicken Chili: This white chili is so delicious. All we added was some fresh ground black pepper and cilantro.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs: These tangy meatballs were a big hit with my boys, one of whom choose to stuff them into a hot dog bun instead of eating them over rice.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Slow Cooker Fish Tacos

I love fish tacos and on a recent 80-degree November day (gotta love Fall in Charlotte!) they seemed like an excellent idea for dinner Chez George. I'd bookmarked California-Style Fish Tacos in my America's Test Kitchen Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution and followed it nearly to a T. And what the halibut?! They were gooood!


Slow Cooker Fish Tacos
Based largely upon America's Test Kitchen Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution
Yields 12 tacos

4 limes (1 1/2 sliced 1/4 inch thick, plus 3 tablespoons juice and lime wedges for serving)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobe sauce (just the liquid part)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (can be fresh or frozen; if frozen, thaw ahead of time)
1/2 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced (use slicer setting on food processor) or buy a bag of already slice cabbage. (You want 4 cups.)
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 garlic cloves minced
12 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas, warmed (I prefer corn.)

Fold sheet of aluminum foil into a large sling that covers the bottom of your slow cooker across the long width of your slow cooker. You want there to be extra foil at the ends to grab when it comes time to remove the fish. Arrange lime slices in single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add water (about 1/2 cup) until it is level with the lime slices.

Microwave 2 teaspoons oil, 2 teaspoons chipotle juice, coriander, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until fragrant, about 30 seconds and let cool slightly. Lightly dab halibut with paper towel to remove excess water, especially if thawed from frozen. Rub one side of each fillet with spice mixture and then place (spiced side up) on top of lime slices. Cook on low for 1 to 2 hours. You will know when the halibut is done, because it flakes when a prodded with a paring knife and the internal temperature registers 140 degrees. (I could tell by just looking and prodding; didn't need to use a meat thermometer.)

While fish is cooking, combine cabbage, 1/4 cup cilantro, scallions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, remaining 1 teaspoon oil  and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

And in separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream garlic, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

Gently lift foil sling from slow cooker and transfer place on cutting board. Lift fish fillets from the limes. Cut each fillet into 3 equal pieces. Spread sauce evenly onto warm tortillas, top with fish and cabbage and serve with lime wedges.

If your crew can't eat 12 tacos at dinner, just know that that this dish holds up for leftovers.