Chicken Cacciatore

I’m running a bit late this morning – we’re trying to recover from a weekend of College Student At Home.  Let’s just say it’s going to be a few weekends before THAT happens again.

How did Bill Cosby put it?  Oh, yeah…BRAIN. DAMAGE.  And we simply can’t afford it – college is cheaper.

Seriously.

Anyhoo, today’s recipe is so very good that I’ve made it twice in as many weeks – and I don’t even care for Italian food all that much.  This dish is simply stunning, nor is it difficult to make.  And while it isn’t a quick recipe, it certainly takes much less time than many braises.

You can use a whole chicken, cut into pieces, if you prefer – I just used drumsticks and thighs because that was the first thing I grabbed out of the freezer.  I also used a jar of tomato sauce we’d recently canned, along with fresh tomatoes from our garden but a 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes would work well if you don’t want to peel, seed and chop them yourself.

This was excellent served over Japanese sweet potatoes mashed with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the same fresh herbs used in the cacciatore, but it would go equally well with regular mashed potatoes, rice, polenta or even pasta, if you’re so inclined.

Chicken Cacciatore. This rustic and satisfying dish is classic Italian cuisine at its finest.

Click image to enlarge

 

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium; add the peppers, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth, capers and herbs. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer; cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 418 calories, 18.8g total fat, 140.7mg cholesterol, 397.7mg sodium, 1100.4mg potassium, 21.6g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 11.3g sugar, 32g protein

 

Glazed Bacon Chicken

Weird name, I know.  I just couldn’t think of anything else to name it (Beloved was no help; when I asked him what I should call it, he said “Good.”).  At any rate, you’ll see my reasoning behind it in a minute.

I also know it’s horribly, horribly hot in a lot of places – I’m quite worried about Darling Daughter out in Vegas, where it’s supposed to reach 117 F today – so for those of you in those horribly, horribly hot places, save this recipe and tuck it away for a time when you can do something with your oven besides look at it.  As for us, it’s been rainy and reasonably cool – upper 70s, low 80s – and will remain so for at least the rest of this week.  This makes it hard to go swimming every afternoon (the one day we managed it we darn near froze our tookuses off), but it means I can turn on the oven and roast a bunch of chicken legs and thighs for dinner.

A bunch of sweet, spicy, delicious chicken legs and thighs.  It was a HUGE hit for dinner last night and I have a feeling there will be a couple of tussles over the leftovers today.

This is an extremely easy recipe, and it just couldn’t be tastier.  It’s also pretty low carb, because I used coconut sugar, which is mostly inulin (i.e. fiber) and is pretty low on the glycemic index.  It’s also good to note that it has appreciable amounts of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins, so I didn’t feel the least bit guilty in using an entire half cup in this recipe.  You can certainly sub another type of sugar if you can’t get any coconut sugar, such as evaporated cane juice, but the calorie and carbohydrate count will increase significantly.

So.  Coconut sugar, salt and cayenne.  Mix and sprinkle over the chicken pieces.  Drizzle with melted bacon fat and rub it all over the chicken until it forms a wet rub.  Bake.  A glaze will form that reminds you of candied bacon.  Eat.  Listen to your husband tell you how great it is.  Bask in the praise.

Glazed Bacon Chicken. Unbelievably easy and delicious, you'll never believe this sweet and spicy chicken is low carb.

Click on the image to enlarge

Glazed Bacon Chicken
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 8 chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)
  • 4 tablespoons bacon fat, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Place, skin side up, in a glass baking dish large enough to hold all of the pieces comfortably.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, salt and cayenne. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, coating them well. Drizzle the coated chicken with bacon fat, rubbing it into the skin.
  4. Bake the chicken for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 393 calories, 27.8g total fat, 112.4mg cholesterol, 461.4mg sodium, 269mg potassium, 7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 7g sugar, 26.4g protein

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad

We are awash in lettuces and strawberries right now.  I wish we’d thought to plant strawberries sooner; it’s just so great to go out in the back yard every day and pick anywhere from a pint to a quart of them (and that’s after the robins who live in our pussywillow tree raid the patch and feed them to their babies).  All of our lettuce is ready to begin to be harvested, as well, and we’re getting it every week from our CSA.

I hope everyone like salads, because that’s very likely all we’ll be eating over the next few weeks.

(I welcome any and all suggestions for creative uses of lettuce.)

And on that note, here is the first one – the result of the need to use lettuce, strawberries, and leftover grilled chicken.  Beloved’s a little persnickety about main course-type salads, claiming they don’t fill him up, so I was hesitant to just throw the chicken on a bed of greens and vegetables.  Besides, I’m a huge chicken salad fan, of the mayonnaise-based variety, so that seemed like the answer to our lunch-time predicament.

Since I intended to put strawberries and walnuts in the salad, I decided to use a slightly less sweet, slightly more tart version of my Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing to dress it, and it was really, really good, especially with the addition of the raw Vidalia onion to the mix.  The mint was a little too subtle; if you want to increase it to two tablespoons, I think it would work quite well.

All in all, this was really quite delicious.

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad. Chicken, walnuts and strawberries tossed in a creamy, slightly sweet and tangy dressing.

Click image to enlarge

Creamy Strawberry Chicken Salad
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, such as Vidalia, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 6 cups loosely packed young, mild salad greens
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing until well-blended.
  2. In a larger bowl, toss together the chicken, onion, walnuts, mint and strawberries. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture, and toss again, until the chicken mixture is well coated. Taste; season as needed with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the salad greens between 3 chilled plates. Top each with 1/3 of the chicken salad and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 385 calories, 27.8g total fat, 75mg cholesterol, 115.4mg sodium, 477.9mg potassium, 14.5g carbohydrates, 3.4g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 20.9g protein

 

Jambalaya

Happy Monday, everyone.  If you’re a mom, I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day.  If you’re not, I hope you got to spend time with your mom (or the closest thing you have to one) to make her day special.  My day was just lovely, thanks to my wonderful husband and children.  I spent a lot of time relaxing, and when I wasn’t relaxing I was cooking.

Don’t judge; it’s what I wanted to be doing.

At any rate, this was not one of the things I cooked; this is what we had for dinner Saturday night.  I had shrimp in the freezer leftover from the Bang Bang Shrimp a couple of weeks ago, and had been thinking about how to use it.  It’s been pretty cool in this part of the country for the last few days, so something warm and comforting seemed to be in order.  Combine that with the fact that our local natural food store carries Applegate Farms Andouille Sausage (yeah, it’s made with chicken and turkey but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste great), and Jambalaya seemed like a wonderful idea.

And it was.  Even The Young One wolfed this down, and I have a feeling there’s going to be a battle for the leftovers today at lunch.  It was simply delicious, as well as easy – you see the list of ingredients is a bit long, but don’t let that deter you; the actual directions are pretty short.  And it all comes together quickly – once the ingredients are prepped, which is simply some dicing and chopping – the whole thing comes together in about half an hour.  Not bad for one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes.

Now, this has rice in it, but that’s simply because I think Jambalaya really needs it.  I’ve made this in the past with grated cauliflower and the flavors are there, but it’s just not the same – cauliflower doesn’t soak up the liquid, or the taste, the way rice does, and the texture simply isn’t right.  And since white rice is pretty inoffensive as grains go, I don’t see any harm in indulging in it occasionally (which we do once or twice a month).

You can make this with the cauliflower if you like:  omit the water, reduce the chicken stock to 3 cups and add 1 1/2 cups of grated cauliflower to the stew when you add the proteins, and just cook it for the 10 minutes specified.  It’s even quicker this way, and comes in at about 15 grams of carbohydrates – it will be Whole30, too.

Note:  Jambalaya should be made with Creole seasoning, but I cannot find it anywhere in my area so I use Cajun seasoning instead.  Use whichever you like, although it won’t be “authentic” with the Cajun stuff.

Jambalaya. Hearty, satisfying and deeply flavorful, this is soul food at its finest.

Jambalaya
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 6 oz Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the shrimp, chicken and Cajun seasoning; work the seasoning in well. Set aside.
  2. Heat the ghee in a small stock pot over medium heat and cook the onion, pepper and celery until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in the chicken broth, water and rice.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice is almost tender. Add the seasoned shrimp and chicken and the sausage; continue cooking, uncovered, until meat is done, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional Cajun seasoning, as needed, before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 409 calories, 15.9g total fat, 137.2mg cholesterol, 1158.3mg sodium, 564.5mg potassium, 37.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 27.3g protein

 

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks

Saturday night we hosted my Young Diabetic Friend for dinner.  It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last – he’s been my “unofficial kid” for years.

Since he’s been controlling his diabetes with exercise (he’s been attending the local Crossfit box four days a week for the last 10 months) and a Steve Cooksey type diet (mostly meats and healthy fats with very small amounts of low carb vegetables), it gave me a bit of a challenge.  What could I make that he could eat and we’d all enjoy that was very low carb?

Well, I’ll tell you:  deviled eggs, guacamole, Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs minus the glaze and these: Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks.

It was a remarkably satisfying dinner – even The Young One was scarfing down deviled eggs, something I’d never seen him do before – and reminded me of how we ate when we first changed our diet.  We were never hungry back then; indeed, it took me until mid-morning the following day to become hungry at all after this dinner.  It’s had me thinking I should ratchet up our fat intake again, if for no other reason than it will go a long way to controlling our hunger.  I’ve gotten too complacent with my white potatoes and peas lately.

These drumsticks were just wonderful and we absolutely demolished them – The Young One ate four.  (Plus some ribs.  And deviled eggs.)  They’re spicy from the chipotle chili powder, but not unduly so, and the coconut sugar helped balance the flavors, but you can leave it out if you prefer.  It’s pretty low carb as written; 3 grams of carbohydrates with a gram of fiber per serving and if you leave it out the carbohydrate counts will be negligible, although you’ll miss a little of the depth of flavor it imparts.

And did I mention easy?  Yes, easy.  Rub those legs up and throw ’em in the oven for 45 minutes.  You could also grill them if you prefer.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks. Juicy roast chicken legs coated with a spicy Mexican dry rub.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 10)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a small bowl. Rub the drumsticks with the spice mixture, covering each as completely as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Place the drumsticks in a single layer in a glass baking dish large enough to hold the chicken without the pieces touching. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  4. Allow to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 308 calories, 16g total fat, 147mg cholesterol, 733.9mg sodium, 421mg potassium, 3.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.6g sugar, 35.4g protein