Chicken Breasts Diable {AMFT}

If I’m ever tormented by a devil, I want it to be a French one. With a name like chicken breasts diable, I expected a firy dish with a spicy kick. In fact, I was afraid that I might have to tone it down a bit for the kids.

So I had to laugh when I read the recipe (on page 217 of Around My French Table) and realized that the “fire” in the dish came from Dijon mustard, and only 3 tablespoons for 4 servings, at that. In addition to the chicken breasts and Dijon, the recipe called for butter, olive oil, shallot, garlic, white wine, cream, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

This was a simple dish that came together quickly. My chicken breasts were quite thick, and even though I pounded them a bit, they took longer to cook than the recipe called for. After browning the chicken on both sides, I put them in a baking dish and slid them into the oven while I made the sauce in the pan. Then I poured the sauce over the chicken and finished baking it in the oven.

I served the chicken with Garlicky Crumb-coated Broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes.

This was an amazing dish. Spicy (not hot) and very flavorful. Even my Dad, who doesn’t like spicy food, loved it.

Maybe he was French in a previous life.

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Coconut Lemongrass Braised Chicken {FFwD}

I hadn’t originally planned to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, coconut lemongrass braised pork, for the simple reason that I don’t eat pork. The rest of my family eats it, so I thought about making it for them. But the thought of cooking two meals in the summer heat  made me change my mind about that. Nonetheless, I decided to take a quick look at the recipe to see if it seemed like something I might make for the girls another time. That’s when I read in the headnote that Dorie sometimes makes this recipe with chicken instead of pork.

So, I was back in business.

The only ingredients I didn’t already have in the pantry for this recipe were lemongrass and coconut milk, so after a quick trip to the store, I was set to begin.

I began by browning the chicken in a large skillet. I had a whole fryer in the fridge, so I cut it up and used it in this recipe. The next time I make it, I’d like to try it with cubed pieces of boneless breast or thighs, or a combination of the two.

As the pieces browned, I transferred them to an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Once all the chicken was in the Dutch oven, I added the spices — turmeric, curry powder, cardamom seeds, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, lemon zest, lemongrass, salt, and pepper — and cooked until the spices became very fragrant.

I added the coconut milk, water, and, in a departure from the recipe, potatoes, carrots, and onions.

After bringing the pot to a boil, I covered it, then slid it in the oven. I braised the chicken at 300°F for about 50 minutes, until the chicken was done and the vegetables were tender.

I started cooking late the evening I made this, and we ended up eating something else for dinner while the chicken was in the oven. My younger daughter and I decided to split a small serving of the chicken just to try it out.

Note to self: don't photograph yellow food on a green dish

 We both liked the dish a lot. The lemongrass and coconut flavors lent a mild sweetness to the dish, and the curry and other spices were fragrant but not overpowering.

I froze the rest of the chicken and vegetables and served them the following week over egg noodles. As the chicken reheated, it started falling off the bone, so I picked it all off and shredded the chicken, which is what made me think it would be good to make with boneless chicken the next time.

This is a dish I will make again, using my alterations — boneless chicken pieces instead of pork, adding the vegetables before putting the pot in the oven, and braising for a bit longer than the recipe for the pork. And knowing that it reheats well, I’ll probably make a larger recipe next time so we can get several meals from it.

Empanadas {Bake!}

We owe last night’s dinner — or at least the inspiration for it — to my friend, Marthe Teunis. No, she didn’t fly to Ohio from The Netherlands to cook for us (but how cool would that have been?). But she did choose empanadas from Bake! for our next group baking recipe.

For some reason this recipe took me forever to get around to making. I bought the ingredients, put them away, got them back out, and on and on. I made the puff pastry with Nick’s amazingly simple and delicious recipe (also in Bake! — you really should get this book) two weeks ago and put it in the freezer when I realized I wasn’t going to get around to making the empanadas that weekend. Then last week I made the chicken picadillo filling and again ended up putting it in the freezer as the timing didn’t work out.

I got both the pastry and filling out of the freezer this past weekend, thinking I would make the empanadas on Sunday. I finally got around to baking them for dinner last night (Monday). Fortunately, with the filling and puff pastry done, it was really just a matter of assembling everything. Of course, I couldn’t make things too easy, so I decided to make a few different empanadas. I had some Portobello mushrooms and canned chicken, so I made a sherry-mushroom-chicken filling. And I had a can of apple pie filling for caramel apple empanadas.

The dough rolled out beautifully, and the empanadas came together quickly. I made the two savory varieties first and then threw together the apple empanadas while the first batch was in the oven.

The savory empanadas were both delicious. I started with the mushroom and chicken version and was pretty sure it would be my favorite. Then I tasted Nick’s version, and it was amazing! The filling was mildly spicy and blended perfectly with the buttery, flaky crust.

The caramel apple empanadas were good, too, but not as good as the savory versions. I probably should have baked them a bit longer or at a slightly higher temperature. The taste was fine, but they weren’t as crispy as I would have liked.

Nonetheless, I am sold on Nick’s version of empanadas. The puff pastry is perfect, and the filling possibilities are almost endless. I definitely want to try the ground beef version in the book. And I could see keeping extra filling in the freezer for an easy weeknight dinner.

Some of my Twitter friends made these, too. Check out these posts by Abby, Andrea, and Kayte.

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (FFwD)

This week’s entry for French Fridays with Dorie is a new favorite around my house. Who doesn’t love a delicious roast chicken? And this one comes with a few special treats for the chef.

The recipe says to start with a thick slice of bread. Because I was so looking forward to this, I used really big slice of bread.

After rubbing the inside of the pot with oil, I put the slice of bread in the bottom of the pan.

I rubbed the chicken inside and out with oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then stuffed the chicken with fresh herbs, garlic, half an onion, and the chicken liver.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: chicken liver? Why would you put that in there? Well, reader, because it’s one of the chef’s treats. You may think you don’t like chicken liver, but until you’ve tried it roasted this way, you really don’t know.

I placed the chicken in the pan on top of the bread (the other treat for the cook), then placed additional herbs, garlic, and onion around the chicken in the pot.

I roasted the chicken in a 450°F oven for 90 minutes, until the skin was browned and crisp.

The chicken was sizzling and smelled amazing when it came out of the oven. I let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then removed it from the pot to a cutting board. I discarded the herbs, onion, and garlic, then went for the bread.

I think I added a bit too much oil to the pan, as the bread was very greasy on the top, while the bottom was crisp and stuck to the bottom of the pan. I scraped the bread from the pan with a spatula, then tentatively tried a bite. Oh, me. Oh, my. How do I describe this bread? It was toasty, crisp, spongy, greasy. And tasted like a little bit of heaven. I ate several more bites of the bread, then I remembered the liver.

Now, I’m not squeamish when it comes to eating animal parts. I get a taste for beef liver about once a year, and giblet gravy is a regular feature on our Thanksgiving table. Oh, and did I mention that I love pâté? So, eating the chicken liver was not a stretch for me, although I would never have thought of roasting it in the bird and then smearing it on bread. I spread a healthy layer on a chunk of the roasted bread and took a bite. It was so good, I thought I might cry. I quickly ate the rest of the bread and liver before anyone caught me and asked for a bite.

After my selfish bread and liver indulgence, I sliced the chicken and served it for dinner with fresh bread and green beans. We all agreed that it was among the best roast chicken we had ever had.

This recipe is one that I will make again, especially as long as I can keep the bread and liver to myself.

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup {FFwD}

The third recipe Dorie Greenspan chose for the French Fridays with Dorie group seems like an odd recipe to find in a French cookbook — Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. However, as Dorie explains, France has colonial ties to Vietnam, and Vietnamese restaurants are common throughout France. So, it should not come as a surprise that some Vietnamese dishes have found their way into French kitchens.

This recipe is a combination of two traditional Vietnamese soups: pho ga and la sa ga. I’ve never had either of these soups, but this recipe does remind me of one of my favorite dishes — Thai chicken coconut soup.

The recipe begins with a bouquet garni tied up with star anise, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, and cilantro stems. This is added to a pot with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, red chiles, chicken broth, and coconut milk. This mixture is seasoned with fish sauce, brown sugar, and salt, then brought to a boil.

Once the broth boiled, I lowered it to a simmer and added the chicken breasts. I covered the pot and poached the chicken for about 15 minutes.

After the chicken was cooked, I removed it from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes before shredding it by hand. While the chicken was cooling, I cooked and drained the noodles.

I then returned the broth to a boil and added the chicken and noodles to the pot. When everything was heated through, I stirred in cilantro and lime juice, adjusted the seasonings, and served the soup for dinner with a salad.

I topped my bowl with a few splashes of chili oil. I had omitted the red chiles from the recipe at the beginning, as I was serving the soup for dinner and my daughters don’t like things that are too spicy.

This soup was delicious. Spicy, slightly sweet from the coconut milk, and full of flavor. As noted above, it reminded me of Thai chicken coconut soup, which I order almost every time we get Thai food.

Even though there were quite a few ingredients in this recipe, it was really simple to assemble, and it was ready to serve in about 30 minutes, making it a perfect light dinner for any night of the week.