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Savory Spicy Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

3 Aug

It is too hot for cooking, but the family’s gotta eat, so cook I must.

2015-07-31 11.40.23 slow cooker chickenSo I have employed the slow cooker; it makes for tasty and tender meals and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Here is my interpretation of Moroccan Chicken; it was a big success with everyone in the house (the spiciness is pretty mild, just enough to keep things interesting) and took almost no effort on my part!

2015-07-31 11.40.51 slow cooker chickenSlow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

1 large onion, peeled and sliced into rounds (1-2 Cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias (1/2 inch slices, about 1 Cup)

3 large scallions, cleaned and sliced into rounds

Your preferred poultry seasoning or salt and pepper

1 4-5 lb whole chicken, cut into large pieces, or bone-in chicken parts, skin removed

1 Tbs cumin powder

1 Tbs oregano, dry

1 tsp harissa paste

1 8oz can of tomato puree (or Latin style tomato sauce with green pepper)

¼ Cup dry red wine

1 Tbs garlic, chopped

1-2 sprigs thyme

2 15oz cans chick peas, drained

Lay onion, carrots and scallions on the bottom of a large slow cooker. Season chicken pieces thoroughly and add to pot. Whisk together cumin, oregano, harissa, tomato puree, wine, and garlic and pour over chicken. Add thyme and chick peas. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours, then finish on low for another hour or two. Serve with couscous or rice. May be frozen, but remove bones before freezing.


Juicy Herb-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

3 Jan

I love a simple roast bird for a sit-down family meal. It looks so special, but is so easy to do and the vegetables are cooked right alongside the bird (getting all that juicy seasoned chicken stock as the bird releases it) and can be plunked as is on the table if you don’t want to put it on a platter, which means less clean-up. This is the dinner that cooks itself while you are doing other things, encourages family to linger around the table, and keeps on giving way after the meal is over.

2014-12-25 14.08.49 roast chickenIf there is leftover meat, you can make wonderful chicken salad that tastes so much richer than your average cooked chicken from the deli (I like it with sliced black olives and bits of sundried tomato). The carcass makes great stock too, simmered with a dozen peppercorns, a carrot and a celery stalk, a peeled onion and unpeeled garlic cloves sliced in half.

Here then, is a pretty basic version that is aromatized with herbs, spiked with citrus, and cooked relatively slowly for juicy tenderness.  There are as many variations as you have herbs in your arsenal; this is what I was in the mood for, but you could certainly substitute whatever seasonings grab your fancy. We had this one for a small family Christmas Day meal! Scroll down for links to more roast chicken recipes. Continue reading

Melissa Clark Answers My Smoky Kitchen Question

4 Mar

These days if you have a question for a living chef, you can just post it to Twitter and next thing you know you’ve got your answer. So after a Splayed Roast Chicken technique that I learned from Melissa Clark’s most excellent videos in The New York Times resulted in phenomenal chicken perfectly cooked, but also a pretty smoky kitchen, I wanted to know whether she had encountered the same problem. This is the conversation, which results in me being told that I should probably clean my oven (which will probably result in me never using it again and just borrowing my parents’ much better one, as per my usual MO):

Natalia de Cuba@NataliadeCuba 

@goodappetite Loved Splayed Roast Chicken. Shared/linked on blog but what about smoky kitchen? see  via @NataliadeCuba

melissa clark@goodappetite Mar 3

@NataliadeCuba depends on how clean your oven is. Usually the high heat will actually help clean the oven, so it will smoke less next time

So, ask and ye shall receive…Thanks Melissa!

And here is the original post from the other day.

Splayed Roast Chicken

Moist and tender all around

Moist and tender all around

Splayed Roast Chicken (adapted from Melissa Clark)

2 Mar

I had a craving for a roast chicken and Stop & Shop had a sale on whole organic birds and it was a rare lazy Saturday with almost nothing on the schedule…so the stars aligned and I got to planning a proper weekend lunch for me and my boy. I have several terrific roast chicken recipes (see links below), but wanted to try something new and I seemed to remember that the New York Times’ Melissa Clark was roasting birds in a new way.

I really enjoy Ms. Clark’s recipes and short videos. Her techniques tend to be very simple and unfussy and I have gotten many good ideas from her work. I would like to do something similar for Latin and Puerto Rican cooking…who’s in?

Cutting the skin to release the legs (photo by Leandro de Cuba)

Cutting the skin to release the legs (photo by Leandro de Cuba)

A quick Google search got me to her video on splayed chicken and I was inspired! PLEASE NOTE: I had a big issue with my oven smoking, but the end result was so amazing that me and the boy agreed it was worth doing again, even though I had to shut him in the bathroom with the fan on and the window open and my eyes streaming and opening more windows to the frigid temperatures outside.



Mind you, I rarely use my tiny apartment stove because it sucks — uneven cooking, imprecise temperature settings, no indication of when you’ve reached the temperature that you want, just awful – and I head down to use my parents’ whenever I want to roast or bake or broil anything that doesn’t fit in my fancy toaster oven.

Into the skillet. Raw whole chicken always looks vaguely sordid to me. I popped this one right into the oven before it got to me...

Into the skillet. Raw whole chicken always looks vaguely sordid to me. I popped this one right into the oven before it got to me…

So it may very well have been a function of unmentionable stuff burning toxic something that I don’t really want to think about, but I had to lower the heat a bit towards the end which helped somewhat and the child kept himself busy in the bathroom until the air had cleared out the windows. I don’t know why the smoke alarm didn’t go off, which is also worrying…I will be writing to Ms. Clark to ask her if this has ever happened to her and will keep you posted on her response. Continue reading

Garlicky Ginger Chicken in a Skillet

10 Feb

It’s been a relatively lazy weekend, by which I mean relative to the insanity that is modern American family life: two days of catechism, basketball, LEGO class, church, and a movie. Even a visit to the barber! Plus catching up on laundry, cleaning, and of course, making meals and then washing up after them. (is it any wonder that I slept through a significant portion of the LEGO movie today? At the premium 3-D price, no less.)

Steamy in the skillet

Steamy in the skillet

But nevermind all that; I turned in my latest story for edible Long Island during the week and I don’t have any immediate deadlines for journalism or for my academic life – all grants and travel request forms and registrations and contracts have been taken care of. My grading is up-to-date and my lessons are prepped for the week (fellow educators will immediately understand how nice that feels).

So there was time to read with my son, make hot cocoa, watch some of the Winter Olympics together (the biathlon is so far my favorite), to catch up with some dear friends on the phone late into the night, read a bit for myself, simply stare into space. It was somewhat disconcerting.

A lighter view

A lighter view

None of which has much to do with this easy new dish that I put together this evening. It was a half hour in the making: the chicken and veg were done almost exactly when the rice was ready. It has a bit of Asian seasoning, which is a nice change-up from our mostly Latin and Italian flavors. You can spice it up a bit more; just watch the salt if you are using prepared sauces or don’t have low sodium soy sauce! Continue reading

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas: The Heat is On!

25 Jan

I first saw this gorgeous chicken recipe recipe in Bon Appetit magazine on an otherwise uneventful doctor’s visit. I considered walking out with the magazine or tearing out the page or even asking one of the attending staff if they would make me a photocopy, but settled on copying down the basics of what I needed to remember.

Browning the drumsticks in a cast iron skillet

Browning the drumsticks in a cast iron skillet

Then I promptly forgot where I had written it down.

But the recipe stayed on my mind — it was a haunting blend of everyday easy, basic ingredients I knew I had around or could get in any supermarket, and a sultry North African vibe. Plus chickpeas. I love chickpeas.

So I hunted the recipe down in a Google search and took the chicken out to thaw.

Golden brown and waiting for the spicy bed

Golden brown and waiting for the spicy bed

Continue reading

Slow Cooker Caribbean-Style: Chipotle-Lime Jerk Chicken

26 Jul

I acquired a slow cooker with credit card points about a year ago. In my tiny space, it is rather a big deal to bring in a bulky piece of equipment that you have no place for. So you’d think I’d make it work for its slice of my kitchen shelves.

Vinny in the kitchen (this may be him making the ceviche and not the chicken, but nevermind)

Vinny in the kitchen (this may be him making the ceviche and not the chicken, but nevermind)

But perversely enough, no. I’ve been intimidated by it! I love it for softening beans, but have hesitated to truly play with it in that way we hesitate when confronted with a new way to do habitual things. You wouldn’t think, since I do so much cooking and experimenting, but surprise…I too can be loathe to embrace a new (for me) technology when my customary ways have been working out so well!

Remember to put veggies on the bottom, then meat, then sauce

Remember to put veggies on the bottom, then meat, then sauce

So I was very glad to be tossed right into slow cooking by my friends Vinny and Carolyn Macchirole with whom we stayed for several days in Long Island’s North Fork recently (Leandro happily at sweaty, buggy, scrape-y, muddy, swimmy Peconic Dunes summer camp from 9-5, everyday for a week, oh heaven for both of us). We’d been planning a Caribbean Night cooking extravaganza (more recipes to come) and Vinny was in charge of the jerk chicken. He came up with a recipe for slow-cooked chipotle-lime chicken that he felt could be easily altered to our purposes. And he was right,

Continue reading

Grilled Cornish Game Hens: Three Marinades for a Crowd or for One

26 Dec

Ah the illusions of youth!

Rock Cornish Game Hens were such a fancy thing to eat when I was little. They were so cute and golden when they came out of the oven; a half a bird each for me and my brother, and one each for our parents, basted in a peach sauce that was lovely and sweet. (Keep reading for Puerto Rican, Greek and Mesquite marinades!)

These little birds, almost invariably sold frozen into hand-held cannonballs, seemed to me to be an exotic species (don’t laugh, those of you from Cornwall) and having been an eager reader of all things Annie Oakley and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and other tough girl survivor books in the days before Katniss Everdeen and I imagined that these little birds were hunted by young folks with charming accents, roaming the plains of Cornwall (do you even have plains in Cornwall?) in home-made clothes, with rifles or intriguing traps or somesuch.

Itty bitty

Itty bitty

Continue reading

Chicken Breasts in Spicy Creole Sauce (Pechuga de pollo en salsa entomatada)

2 Dec

Today’s post will be very straightforward and workman-like, as today I have to finish up a magazine article and my parents are having their annual holiday cocktail for a group of friends, so we will be busy all day! It suits, however, because for all the vibrant color and flavor of the result, this is one of our everyday, workman-like meals. Continue reading

Sopa de pollo y fideos (pre-Sandy Chicken Noodle Soup)

4 Nov

Thanks to all those who sent messages of support before, during and after the storm. You are reading the words of someone who feels incredibly blessed; aside from losing power for a few days and a big branch down in the backyard, we came through pretty well. I was even able to attend a teaching conference in Albany (the capital of NYS) which was not affected by the storm, and present successfully with my colleagues from Thursday to Saturday; we were among the few who made it from downstate.

Big tree down in the backyard

Please lend a thought or prayer to the many who have lost lives, or homes, or peace of mind, who are still without power as the temperature drops, or don’t have clean water  or food to eat.

I go back to teaching tomorrow. We already know of one student in our program who lost his life. I am praying for him and his family, as well as hoping that none of our other students were so fatally affected.  I have only heard from three out of my nineteen students and am very anxious for their well-being. We’ll now see how we can help. Our students are immigrants and international students; certainly we will have to help the boy’s family raise the funds to send his body home. Continue reading

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