Creole Chicken and Rice

I recently did a Latin American chicken and rice dish (see recipe here) and now I’m going to do a Louisiana Creole version. This one has the Louisiana holy trinity of onion, green bell pepper and celery with a different set of seasonings and long grain rice instead of the short grain of the arroz con pollo.

It had the right amount of heat from the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for my palate but you can always put a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who need more.

I make my own Creole seasoning (see recipe here) as I can more closely monitor the salt content.

Chicken cut off the bone and stirred into the rice for serving

This is a very tasty and comforting meal in a pot. My taste testers, Charlotte and Thomas, both enjoyed seconds and we all were members of the clean plate club.

Creole Chicken and Rice

Marinade:

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Chicken and Rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or 4 skinless breasts with rib bones
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 cup long-grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl or zip top bag. Add chicken and turn to coat. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown chicken about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to plate and lower heat to medium low. Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Place in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning and stir.

Add rice and stir to toast for 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, give it a stir, and bring to a simmer. Nestle chicken on top of the rice (pour in any of the juices that are left on the plate as well). Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice and chicken is done. During this time, cut the chicken off the bones and stir it into the rice for the final moments of cooking.

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Arroz con Pollo

It’s been a hectic week of meetings, errands and driving long distances in the pouring rain. I craved some comfort food and decided to go with arroz con pollo or chicken and rice. There are a number of ways to do this Latin American dish – I have recipes for Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban versions but I’m descended from colonists, so I just took the things I liked from many different recipes.

I’m doing this particular version as I didn’t have any homemade chicken stock on hand. Normally, I would brown/cook the chicken in the Dutch oven about 8-10 minutes per side to start and then remove it to pick it from the bones. Don’t worry if it is a little pink, as it will continue cooking with the rice. Then, I would sauté the onions in the butter and would follow the rest of the directions as written from that point. You need 4 cups broth for this recipe and the seasonings I’ve put in add a ton of flavor to the chicken but feel free to use any good, low salt chicken broth.

Don’t skip rinsing the rice – trust me, it is important. It has a coating of starch that, if left on will make the dish very sticky and gummy. Additionally, by toasting the rice before adding the liquid, it should leave the final result nice and fluffy.

I used Goya Sazón. It is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. You could make your own blend (see a recipe here) if you want to avoid the monosodium glutamate (MSG) but the Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (on the package written as con Culantro y Achiote) adds a nice flavor and pretty color to this dish. 1 tablespoon is equivalent to 3 of the individual packets.

I served the arroz con pollo with tortillas and sliced avocados.

Arroz con Pollo

1 whole chicken cut into 6-8 pieces
2 medium onions, 1 quartered and the other diced
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
1 diced green bell pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 – 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained

Place the chicken in a large pot of Dutch oven with six cups of water. In a blender, add the quartered onion, celery, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Blend on high speed until pureed and then pour into the pot with the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.

Remove chicken from the pot and pour the liquid through a strainer to remove the solids. Once the chicken cools enough to handle, remove skin and bones and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Measure out 4 cups of chicken broth.

Return pot to the stove and melt the butter. Add diced onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until rice begin to toast, about 2 minutes.

Pour in chicken broth and stir in the bell pepper, can of tomatoes (with the juice) and reserved chicken. Bring to a low boil. Cook, covered, until the rice has absorbed the liquid, 25 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the pimentos and let stand off the heat for 10 minutes before serving. Scrape the bottom of the pot when portioning out, as the crunchy, caramelized rice has fabulous flavor.

Garlicky Baked Chicken with Potatoes

I really like the combination of chicken and potatoes and this recipe adds in enough butter and garlic to make a gal swoon. For an additional flavor, I used some of the Penzey’s Florida Pepper that I received free in my last order. It is pepper with citrus notes of lemon and orange. Of course, you can use lemon pepper or plain black pepper in its place.

The potatoes come out nice and creamy. Any leftovers potatoes go terrific in a frittata, too!

Garlicky Baked Chicken with Potatoes

4 lb chicken

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or just black pepper)

1 stick butter, melted
2 lbs russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 rounds

Cut off the wings, backbone and rib meat and store for later use in stock. Cut off off the thighs and divide the breast in half to have 4 large pieces of chicken.

Make the marinade by stirring all the ingredients together. It will form a loose paste. Rub it all over the chicken and then place the chicken in a zip top bag with any remaining marinade. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour and as long as 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the rounds of potato along the bottom and sides of a casserole dish. Place the chicken with its marinade into the dish, skin side up, and pour the melted butter over everything.

Bake for 1 hour, basting occasionally. Check the internal temperature and continue to cook until the thighs reach 165 degrees F, about 15 to 30 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Lemon Sage Roast Chicken

I was able to get a lot of sage for a little money and have been going wild with recipes. This is one of the few chicken recipes that I didn’t brine but I did marinade it overnight, so there is plenty of flavor and it didn’t dry out.

I served this with roasted Brussel sprouts and baked sweet potatoes.

Lemon Sage Roast Chicken

3-5 lb whole chicken
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/2 cup sage leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic

Spatchcock the chicken by cutting out the backbone. Finely chop lemon zest, sage leaves and garlic. Smush together with the salt. You can use a food processor to get everything good and chopped. Mix with the olive oil and lemon juice. Place in a zip top bag with chicken and place in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.

Pull chicken from refrigerator about an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a cast iron skillet in the oven. Remove chicken from marinade and set in the hot skillet, breast side up. Press down on the breastbone to get it to lay flat. Roast for 20 minutes. Baste with pan juices. Continue to roast and baste after another twenty minutes. Drop heat to 325 degrees F and continue to cook until done (internal temperature should be 165 degrees F in the thighs) about 30 minutes more.

Let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Grilled Chicken for Remembrance and Courage

As we close out 2018, I’ve been thinking back about the past year. It has been quite a yeasty time – personally, politically, environmentally and even culinarily. We’ve lost some powerful voices but have also seen many new champions step up to answer the challenges facing us.

In the spirit of endings and new beginnings, I decided to make a grilled chicken recipe to celebrate the art of constructive remembering and helping gird our loins to face another year. As the flower folks tell us: rosemary for remembrance and thyme for courage.

So, my New Year’s wish is for you to have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far.

Rosemary Thyme Gilled Chicken

8 bone in chicken thighs

4 black tea bags (I used Lemon Lift)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make 1 quart of strong tea by steeping tea bags for 15 minutes. Add in salt, brown sugar and peppercorns and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved. Add in 1 quart of ice and stir until all the ice has melted. Pour over the chicken and brine the chicken overnight in the fridge.

Rinse the chicken and store in the fridge until an hour before you set up your grill.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the rosemary, butter, thyme, garlic, zest, and salt and pepper, until combined well. Use your hands to smear the butter mixture all over the brined chicken. Melt the remaining butter.

Over a grill set for indirect cooking, place the chicken skin side down. Cook for 15 minutes before flipping the chicken so the skin is up. Baste the chicken with the butter mixture. Continue grilling for 45 minutes more or until it registers 170 degrees F. Baste after 30 minutes and again as you pull the meat off the grill.

 

Satsuma Brined and Grilled Lemon Sage Chicken

I have a serious amount of satsuma juice from my Dad’s tree, so I used a quart of it for a brine for the thighs from a 10lb bag of leg quarters. Of course, you can easily substitute orange juice or, if doing pork, switch to apple juice if you aren’t lucky enough to have satsuma juice at the ready.

The satsuma adds a brightness to the brine without adding too much acid plus the lemon goes really well with sage and chicken.

Satsuma Brined and Grilled Chicken

Brine:
1 quart water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 quart satsuma or orange juice
1 quart ice

Lemon Sage Wet Rub:

2 lemons, 1 of them zested
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring the water, salt, brown sugar and peppercorns to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat. Add in the satsuma (or orange) juice and ice cubes. Stir to melt the ice. Once the brine has cooled, add the meat and refrigerate. Brine for 12-24 hours.

Remove the chicken from the brine the morning before grilling and rinse it off. Place it uncovered in the fridge to dry the skin out a little.

About an hour before prepping the grill, pull out the chicken and let it sit on the counter. Set up the grill for indirect cooking with coals on two sides and some hickory chunks soaking.

To prepare the wet rub – combine the lemon zest and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Mince them together. Add the salt and chopped sage leaves and use the side of the knife to work the herbs into the garlic to make a paste. Place the paste in a bowl with the juice from one of the lemons and the pepper and olive oil. Whisk to combine. Rub over the chicken thighs.

Once the coals are ready, place the thighs skin side down on the center of the grate. After 10 minutes, flip them over and place thin slices from the remaining lemon on top. Continue to cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until done. Chicken thighs are at a safe temperature when they reach 165 degrees F. Because of the brining, you can let them go all the way to 170 degrees F without drying them out.

For serving, squeeze the lemon slice over the thigh for a bright hit of lemon.

 

Taking Chicken Kiev South

What’s not to like about the herbed buttery taste of Chicken Kiev? Some may consider the dish old fashioned but I dream sometimes of those hidden pockets of melted, herbed butter that spurt as you cut into it.

It is all good to dream but I knew it could be better if I grilled it instead of coating it in breadcrumbs and baking it. And, of course, everything tastes better with bacon. Here is this southerner’s take on the classic dish.

I did make a few without the bacon and, with judicious handling (and double the toothpicks), the butter pocket stayed intact until they reached the table. Even where the butter had leaked out a bit, the herbs had been left behind, so the chicken still tasted awesome.

8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
16 slices of bacon

In a food processor, mix the butter, tarragon, garlic and lemon. Place on a plastic sheet and form into a roll. Place in the freezer for a couple hours to chill.

Take the chicken thighs lightly salt and pepper both sides. Slice the herbed butter and place 2 tablespoons of butter inside each thigh. Close it up to envelop the butter inside and place on top of two pieces of bacon laid crosswise. Use the bacon to seal the chicken closed and secure with baker’s twine or toothpicks. Refrigerate while you prepare the grill.

Set up your grill for indirect cooking. Lay down a drip pan to contain any blowouts. I used a hickory chunk for smoke. Place the thighs on the grill, open side up and cook for fifteen minutes. Melt any leftover herbed butter and baste the thighs before rotating the chicken thighs one quarter turn, making sure to keep the open end up. Continue cooking, basting and rotating until meat is done, about 45 minutes to an hour. Safe temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F.

Remove twine and toothpicks and serve with any leftover basting liquid.

Any bacon that didn’t crisp, save and crisp in the microwave. Freeze in a zip top bag and crumble over salad or baked potato for the best bacon bits ever.