Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

I had been craving tzatziki and decided to do a Mediterranean style chicken dinner. I’m calling it that instead of Greek as I don’t recall ever having couscous in Greece. This is a pretty quick cooking recipe (although the tzatziki and marinade will take a few hours). Actual cook time is around 20 minutes.

My recipe for tzatziki can be found HERE and you only need to make it a couple hours in advance for the flavors to come together. It will be stronger the next day, so don’t go too crazy on the garlic (unless you really hate vampires).

A few crumbles of feta cheese would have gone nicely with this dish, too.

Stuff any leftover meat in a pita with some more tomatoes, a little lettuce and another dollop of tzatziki. Definitely food for the gods!

Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mediterranean Marinade:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil

1 cup couscous
½ cup of Kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 recipe tzatziki

Slice the chicken into strips. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and place the marinade and chicken in a zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible when sealing the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Set in the fridge for up to 4 hours.

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Place the couscous in a medium boil and pour the water over. You can use broth here for more flavor but water is fine. Cover and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir fry the chicken until done, about 5 minutes per side.

Pit the olives and slice into quarters. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves. Fluff the couscous and stir in the olives and tomatoes.

Place a couple of spoonfuls of the couscous on each plate. Add four strips of chicken and a healthy dollop of tzatziki and serve.

Stuffed Focaccia

As readers of this blog know, I really like focaccia bread. I’ve got recipes HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. The difference here is I’m using sponge to start things off.

This is a stuffed focaccia with sausage, onions and peppers plus cheese because who doesn’t like all of those things? Especially together and with a yummy bread packaging. I can totally see making this again for a Super bowl or World Cup party.

Not only does the entire house smell wonderful from the yeasty bread baking but it tastes awesome. Meaty, with gooey cheese and such a delicious focaccia. Think of this like a cheesesteak muffuletta.

It works best if you have a springform pan as the sides could blow up if left on its own and it would be hard to get out of any other kind of pan. I used a 9 inch one but, if making for a crowd, go for a slightly larger one and make this thinner to eat as a snack instead of a meal.

Plan your time as this takes three rises, not counting the sponge time. That’s once during the dough cycle on the machine, once in a warm place to double and then the final before baking.

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Focaccia

Sponge:

½ teaspoon instant/active yeast
3/4 cup unbleached bread flour
½ cup warm water

Dough:

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon instant/active yeast
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
3 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Meat and Cheese Stuffing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of sausage (I used German Sausage removed from their casing)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, sliced very thin
1 bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cup Provolone (or any good melty cheese – mozzarella, monteray jack, cheddar) cheese, grated

Topping:

Coarse salt
fresh chopped rosemary
olive oil

For the Sponge: Whisk to combine yeast and flour. Add the water to and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least two hours and as long as overnight.

After the sponge has developed, place it in a bread machine. Add the water, olive oil, yeast, rosemary, flour and salt in the order suggested and set it for the dough cycle. Once the dough has risen in the machine, remove and place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

Prepare the stuffing while the dough rises, as you want it to come to room temperature before placing it in the dough.

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drain and remove from the pan. Wipe out the pan, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat. Melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 10-15 minutes or until golden. Add in the bell pepper and season with the salt and pepper and the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and then remove from the heat. Add the onions to the sausage and set aside. Do not refrigerate.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide in half. Lightly grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. Stretch half of the dough into a disc and place in the bottom of the pan. Press it out to the sides. Toss the sausage and onions with the cheese. Spoon the mixture into pan, leaving about a finger width border around the sides. Stretch the other piece of dough into a disc and place on top of stuffing. Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.

Just before baking, drizzle olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt. Add a sprinkling of fresh chopped rosemary. Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers, leaving indentations.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is deep golden brown. To serve, slice into wedges and eat like a sandwich.

This stuffed bread is great the next day, too. Simply place leftover on a pan in the oven at 375 and bake for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin

For New Year’s day, I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen so I did a quick rub and sear of a pork loin and then put it in the crock pot to cook away. The rub plus the honey mustard sauce makes for a delicious flavor over the low and slow cooked meat.

We served the pork with some cornbread dressing (recipe HERE) and roasted Brussel sprouts.

Any leftovers make for great sandwiches the next day.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin

1-3 lb pork loin

3 tablespoons Rustic Rub (see below)
1 tablespoon ground rosemary

¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Rinse pork loin and pat dry. Mix the Rustic Rub and Rosemary together with your fingers. Generously coat all sides with the dry rub mixture and massage into the meat. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat and, once the pan is good and hot, sear all sides of the pork loin. This will take about 4 minutes per side.

Whisk together honey, mustard, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

Place seared pork loin in the slow cooker fat side up over low heat. Pour the honey mustard sauce over the meat. Cover and let cook for 4-6 hours. Baste with the pan juices at 2 and 4 hours. Pork loin will register 145 degrees F when done.

Let rest 10 minutes while you cook up the Brussel sprouts. I use this recipe (minus the cumin).

My base pork rub is Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Rustic Rub:

8 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons cayenne
5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
6 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Yield: 2 1/4 cup

Meatloaf Stuffed Mushrooms

I found a pack of mushrooms on sale – they were larger than usual and had pretty deep caps so I knew they’d be good for stuffing. I’d also had a craving for meatloaf and decided to put it all together. I started with my basic meatloaf recipe, then stuffed the mushrooms and molded the remaining filling into a loaf.

If you’re making this for a party, use more than a single pack of mushrooms. You’ll get a smaller meatloaf but the stuffed mushrooms are worth the sacrifice.

I was out of diced tomatoes but I had a blister pack of cherry tomatoes and, after a spin in a food processor, they were perfect in the dish.

You can add the cheese after 30 minutes for a prettier presentation but I like it when it is a little crunchy, so I put it on before sliding the baking tray in the oven.

Meatloaf Stuffed Mushrooms

3/4 cup milk
2-3 slices stale bread (at least 1 1/2 cups worth when torn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces cheddar or pepper jack cheese, grated
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, chopped in a food processor
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces large stuffing mushrooms

Make a panade by soaking the torn pieces of bread in the milk for ten minutes.

Combine panade with all the rest of the ingredients (reserving a small handful of cheese to top the mushrooms) together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands.

Clean mushrooms and remove stem. Coat with olive oil and place on rimmed baking sheet large enough for the mushrooms and the rest of the meat loaf. Fill each mushroom with 1-2 tablespoons of meatloaf filling. Sprinkle additional cheese on top.

Form a loaf from the remaining filling and bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes (or until the loaf reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees). The mushrooms should be done at an hour but the meatloaf may take 75 to 90 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Pork Loin with Apples and Onions

I’m cooking out of the freezer and fridge as my house is about to be fumigated for termites, so in searching around the crisper drawers, I found several slightly bruised Granny Smith apples and medium onion. Instead of sweet applesauce to go with a pork loin I found, I decided to do an apple and onion accompaniment.

Slicing the onions thin allows them to become sweetly caramelized in a fairly short cooking time. They are a perfect way to tone down the sour apples without adding sugar. Michelle thought a sprinkle of pepper would be a good taste and I think she’s right, so I added pepper to the to taste seasonings.

Pork Loin with Apple and Onions

1 – 3 lb pork loin
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Granny Smith apples, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Make a marinade by mixing together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, lime juice, Creole seasoning and rosemary. Put loin in zip top bag and pour marinade over pork. Seal and marinate for at least an hour and as long as 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Discard marinade. Brown all side of pork in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Place pork in roasting pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until meat thermometer registers 140 degrees F.

Deglaze the skillet with with 1 cup of water. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the apples to the pan and cook over medium heat until apples soften and onions are golden and all the water has steamed away. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook until apples are fork tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove loin from oven when done and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Spoon apple and onion mixture over top.

 

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

I wanted some comfort food, so I decided to make a pot pie for dinner. My version includes chicken and onions and mushrooms and seasonings but none of those pesky peas, confounded carrots or other vexing vegetables. My version, in other words, is awesome.

I used large portobello mushrooms, sliced but most any mushroom would do. Make sure they are in bite sized pieces.

For this recipe, I’m using a Pillsbury Pie Crust for the topping. It is easy to thaw and unroll and tastes great.

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 cup low salt chicken stock
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 roll of pie dough
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Dice the chicken breast into bite-sized cubes. Stir them with the Worcestershire sauce and then toss with the cornmeal to coat. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add in some oil. Turn the heat down to medium and sear the diced chicken until browned on all sides. Remove the seared chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add in the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have reduced in size and given up their liquid. Remove from the skillet to a bowl.

Melt butter and stir the flour in the skillet over medium heat. Cook the roux for 5 minutes to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked away. Stir in the pepper, salt and sage. Pour in the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the sour cream. Return the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and stir to coat with the pan sauce. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture has thickened. Turn off the heat.

The pie crust should be about the size of your pan. If not, roll it out until it is just a little bigger than the pan, then place it over the filling, using a wooden spoon or scraper to push the edges down into the sides. Cut slices in the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the chicken juices are bubbling and overflowing.

Let the chicken mushroom pot pie rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Yummy!

Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

I’ve jumped on the Aleppo pepper bandwagon with both feet. It is a less hot and almost fruity pepper that has a slow build of heat. It makes a great marinade for chicken (and, I’ve heard, for vegetables). I like that I get flavor without burning myself.

It was a rainy afternoon but that didn’t stop me from getting out and grilling. The chicken was tender and juicy and the mild spiciness of the marinade/sauce made our mouths happy. Heck, Michelle wants me to make more sauce for her to use on chicken tenders.

If you don’t have Aleppo pepper (and you really, really should get some), substitute crushed red pepper flakes and sweet paprika. Combine 4 teaspoons of each in the bowl with 4 tablespoons warm water as the first step.

Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup honey
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

4 bone in chicken breasts (or leg quarters)

In a large bowl combine 3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper with 2 tablespoons warm water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes for the water to be absorbed.

After the pepper has soaked, place remaining ingredients except the chicken in the bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade in a small container and refrigerate. Add the chicken to the large bowl (or pour the contents in a zip top bag) and thoroughly coat. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Set the grill for indirect cooking.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Arrange the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill with the thickest part nearest the coals. Grill for 30-45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the largest piece registers 160° -165 degrees F.

Drizzle the chicken with the reserved marinade and serve.

I served the chicken with couscous.