Category Archives: Poultry

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

(or What to do with all that Chicken Stock – Part 1)

As a follow up to Singing The Praises Of Chicken Stock I wanted to post a series of recipes that use chicken stock (or broth) in various ways. At the risk of repeating myself, stock is a valuable ingredient in healthful cooking and a means of boosting the flavor in what otherwise might be a boring and uninteresting dish. My recipes will always call for stock because I like the flavor but you may certainly substitute broth if you like.

Second only to the chicken stock, the mushrooms create a lot of flavor in this recipe. To coax as much flavor as possible from them I start cooking the mushrooms in a hot, hot pan. Because of the high water content in mushrooms, they create a lot of liquid in the pan as they cook. With the pan very hot, this excess water cooks away quickly leaving the mushrooms to brown. On a lower temperature the mushroom would steam instead of browning…that’s not what I want in this recipe!

I know I have mentioned Seeds Of Change quinoa & whole grain brown rice in a previous post. I can’t recommend this product enough; if you come across it at Costco or otherwise please do give it a try. I use it here because it is convenient, healthy, and the spices blend perfectly with the other ingredients. Other starch suggestions for this recipe would be brown rice, couscous, or even orzo. Check for seasonings if you use a mix, I needed no additional salt with the quinoa.

This one is rich enough that the only side I served it with was a nice green salad and was plenty for two with leftovers.

Casserole of Chicken, Quinoa, & Brown Rice with Mushrooms

1 – Large Boneless Chicken Breast Half (about 12 oz.), halved lengthwise from the top and sliced very thin (as for a stir fry)
8 oz – Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 – Small Onion, chopped
2 – Celery branches, sliced (leaves add flavor…use them too!)
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
2 Sprigs – Fresh Thyme, left whole
2 Cups – Chicken Stock
2 Cups – Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice, pre-cooked
2 Tbsp – Unbleached Flour
Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
About 1/4 Cup – Panko Breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large (12”) skillet over medium high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, carefully add the mushrooms and cook them stirring constantly much as you would a stir fry. When the mushrooms begin to release their liquid slow down a little on the stirring but keep them spread out so the liquid will evaporate quickly.

As the mushrooms dry and begin to brown, stir in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the onions soften. (Note: The mushrooms should be getting nice and brown by now. Don’t worry if some of the vegetables stick a little bit…they will loosen when you add the stock.)

When the onions become tender and translucent stir in the chicken, separating the slices and blending them carefully into the mixture. Continue cooking and stirring gently for another 5 minutes then Stir in one tablespoon of the flour until well mixed. Stir in the second tablespoon of flour and cook, stirring gently, for one minute more. Stir in one cup of stock and cook until some thickening begins. Stir in the other cup of stock and cook until bubbling and thickened.

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard, then stir in the quinoa and gently mix until thoroughly incorporated. Pour all into a 9X9 casserole, sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs to cover evenly on top. Bake 25 minutes, allow a few minutes to rest and enjoy!

Randy

Singing the praises of Chicken Stock

Singing the praises of Chicken Stock

As I populate my blog with more and more recipes you will notice that chicken stock will show up in the ingredients over and over again. Indeed, I use chicken stock in a ton of different ways and find it to be an invaluable ingredient especially in healthful cooking. Aside from the obvious soups, risottos, and sauces I use chicken stock in place of water nearly every time I cook rice or couscous. Adding a little chicken stock to simmered beans adds body and richness, especially if you are going to make a puree. And, don’t forget those veggies either! A little stock boosts the flavor of blanched then sautéed vegetables nearly as well as a pat of butter and with much less fat.

Inasmuch as I tout the glories of chicken stock, I cannot emphasize enough how much better it tastes if you take the time to make your own! While I will at times use a canned chicken “broth”, there is simply nothing better than homemade. I say “broth” because I have yet to find a commercial stock that comes even close to the goodness of homemade. If I must used canned broth, I nearly always go with my favorite, Swanson’s Certified Organic Chicken Broth . For flavor, sodium level, and value, most others pale in comparison.

So what is the difference between stock and broth? To put it simply, stock utilizes more bones than meat in its preparation and nearly always involves browning of the ingredients before simmering.  Broth on the other hand uses more meat than bones and generally involves no browning of the ingredients before simmering. Stock is typically cooked longer than broth and usually contains less salt. While the two are entirely interchangeable, stock is essentially a richer more flavorful version of broth which is why it is preferred in sauce-making while broth is used more often in soups. Because I always seek to maximize flavor in my cooking, I nearly always use stock.

What is my secret to a good pot of chicken stock? Store-bought Rotisserie Chicken no less!

Out of habit, I freeze all of our chicken scraps stashed in a zip lock bag and when I have enough saved up, I make stock. While I have long browned my chicken parts before making stock, when I started buying Rotisserie Chickens from Costco for quick dinners on busy nights, I noticed an immediate improvement in the richness of my stock. Maybe it is the browning the rotisserie imparts on these chickens or maybe it is the marinade they use. Whatever the case the difference is remarkable enough that before I make a pot of stock I always wait until at least half of my stash of ingredients is from these chickens. To add additional flavor I also freeze any fresh herbs or vegetables (IE: onions, garlic cloves, apples, etc…) that were originally cooked with a home cooked chicken. Brown these right along with your chicken and you would be amazed how much flavor they can bring to the party!

When I make a batch of chicken stock, for convenience alone, I keep a quart or so in the fridge for up to a week. The rest I freeze in usable batches of 2 cup and ½ cup measures. For the former I pour two cups of cooled stock into a 1 quart Zip Lock Freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, seal and stack them in the freezer. For an approximate ½ cup portion I pour the cooled stock evenly into a silicone muffin pan, cover loosely with stretch wrap, and freeze. The next day I pop the frozen portions out and store them neatly in another Zip Lock Freezer Bag. An ice tray does the same trick for even smaller portions but I don’t usually bother. I am a big stickler for fresh foods and perhaps it is because I go through it so fast but I really haven’t noticed a difference between fresh or frozen homemade stock.

Please remember, for the sake of food safety it is always best to refrigerate or freeze your stock as soon as it comes close to room temperature. To hasten cooling you can:

  • Pour the hot stock in to smaller and/or flatter containers to cool.
  • Set your stock pot into a sink or tub of ice water or even cold water, refreshing the water a time or two as it gets warm.
  • Freeze water a day or two ahead of time in a sanitized an empty ½ gallon milk container. Gently place the frozen container into your stock.
  • Fill a gallon sized Zip Lock Bag with ice cubes. Gently lower this into your “warm”stock.

Google “food safety” if you have any doubts and always use care in your handling of any food.

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 – One gallon Zip Lock Bag stuffed full of chicken necks, wing tips, and carcasses, thawed.
1 – Large yellow onion, sliced very thin
3 – Branches celery including leaves, chopped
2 – Large carrots, chopped
2 – Large garlic cloves, crushed
12 – Black peppercorns
1 – Tablespoon kosher salt
4 – Springs fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp dried)
1 – Bay leaf
Olive Oil spray or mist
Fresh water to cover all by 1 inch.
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with an olive oil spray or mist. Cut or chop chicken into manageable sized pieces and spread evenly on cookie sheet. Mist lightly with olive oil spray or mist then season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in upper third of oven and cook 20 minutes undisturbed. Carefully remove and cool for safe handling. (Note: If chicken pieces do not show substantial browning, bake 8 to 10 minutes more before continuing.)

Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large stock pot with a spray of olive oil and cook the remaining ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, to release flavor.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, add all of it including any collected juices, to the stock pot. Carefully swirl a small amount of fresh water in the cookie sheet to dissolve any browned bits and add this to the stock pot. Pour in enough fresh water to cover all ingredients by about 1 inch. Increase heat to high and monitor closely until nearly boiling, skimming off any excess foam. When the liquid reaches a near mild boil reduce the heat to simmer and cook 3 to 4 hours checking from time to time to keep from reaching a full boil.

After 3 – 4 hours remove the stock pot from heat and allow to cool somewhat before straining. When the stock has cooled enough to handle, using a slotted spoon, remove the largest solids to a colander or sieve set in a bowl to capture any draining stock. When most of the solids have been removed, strain remaining stock through cheesecloth or a sanitized dish cloth to clarify. Skim any remaining fat as it accumulates at the surface and/or remove any fat accumulations after the stock had been refrigerated.

Enjoy!

Randy

Penne with Italian Sausage, Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, & Herbs

For a weeknight dinner that is super easy to prepare try this Penne with Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, and Herbs. Want to mix things up a bit? Replace the sausage with bite sized cubes of cooked chicken or turkey breast, use whole grape tomatoes instead of chopped, or add capers and chopped green & black olives for a real Mediterranean twist. This pasta is great served with salad and a hunk of crusty whole wheat baguette and makes more than enough for lunches the next day.

Penne with Italian Sausage, Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, & Herbs

2 pounds tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped
1 16 ounce package Chicken or Turkey Sweet Italian Sausage, sliced diagonally, browned well, and drained
1 cup green onions, green and white parts diagonally sliced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon, chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 13.5 ounce box Whole Grain Penne pasta

Mix first 8 ingredients in a large pasta bowl. Set mixture aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and gently toss to coat. Add Olive Oil, Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and gently toss.

Italian Sausage Turkey Meatloaf

This recipe is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Turkey Meatloaf recipe, which you will find at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/turkey-meatloaf-recipe/index.html. Her recipe is one of my favorite turkey meatloaf recipes and makes enough for a crowd! The version below cuts down on the size by half and boosts the flavor by adding an Italian flair. Believe it or not I originally came up with this version because the turkey italian sausages at Publix were nearly $2.00 a pound cheaper than the packaged ground turkey.

In this recipe I can’t stress enough to “Coat the Meat Loaf very generously all over with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and Italian spices”! This really does boost the flavor and forms such a great crust that I am tempted to nibble all the way around the outside of my leftover meatloaf sandwiches just like when I was a kid.

Italian Sausage Turkey Meatloaf

1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 Tbsp. low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 package ground turkey (About 1.25 Lbs.)
1 package sweet Italian turkey sausage (About 1.25 Lbs.)
¾ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 large egg and 2 large egg whites, beaten
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Italian spices

½ cup ketchup
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 splash Louisiana hot pepper sauce
1 splash apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a sauté pan, over medium low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf until the onions are translucent (but not brown) approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire, broth, and tomato paste and stir until mixed well. Simmer until just heated through then remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Line a sheet pan with foil then set a foil wrapped cooling rack on the cookie sheet. Using a toothpick or a skewer poke drain holes in the foil on the cooling rack. These should be spaced roughly one drain hole every inch or so.

When the onion mixture has cooled somewhat, combine the ground turkey, Italian sausage (removed from casings), bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Gently fold the mixture until well mixed and shape into a loaf on the prepared cooling rack. Coat the Meat Loaf very generously all over with kosher salt, ground black pepper, and Italian spices (I used a store bought grinder with a mixture of Italian Spices including garlic, red pepper, and rosemary.)

Place the meat loaf in the oven and bake for one hour. (Note: If you place a pan of hot water on the shelf below the meat loaf this will keep your loaf from splitting.) Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, coriander, hot pepper sauce, and vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir until well mixed and heated through. When meat loaf has cooked one hour, carefully remove it from the oven and coat evenly with the ketchup glaze. Return the meat loaf to the oven and bake 30 minutes more.

Allow the meat loaf to rest 15 minutes before slicing.