Tag Archives: easy chicken

Mango-Orange Chicken Thighs

28 Jan

Life in the kitchen has become a lot easier, now that Leandro has graduated to grown-up food.

Until recently, right about 5 p.m. I was getting flustered into throwing something fast and easy (and heavy on the carbs/cheese) in front of my imperious, hungry and persistent child. While he was already eating, I’d throw together a basic and boring salad or just cut a slice of cheese for myself or eat his leftovers and never actually sit. I’d perch on my chair in short spurts, just long enough to tell him to put his butt on the chair, use his fork, don’t wipe your hands on your shirt…blah, blah, blah, nag, nag, nag. Who would want to have dinner with that? Not me. And not him either, really.

So the boy’s new-found love for beef, chicken, and fish means I can spend a bit more time playing around with something we will both eat (and can make enough for next day leftovers.) do a quick veggie side and get to sit together in peace to eat and chat about the day.

Those succcessful family dinners are the moments — fleeting, but fulfilling — that I actually feel like I have a handle on life, the universe and everything, or at least I am not such a mom failure after all!

And this easy and cheap chicken thigh recipe is pretty representative of our new direction in dinner. It’s not much more involved than pan frying a couple of chicken pieces, but the mango-orange juice and sriracha makes it a tiny bit special.

You can leave out the corn starch if you don’t have any, but it does give the surface of the chicken a nice texture, sort of the avian equivalent of pasta al dente. You could also use chicken strips from breast, but thighs are the cheaper parts of the bird, and I find them to be more flavorful!

Mango-Orange Chicken Thighs

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs flour

1.2 tsp cornstarch

¼-1/2 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1 egg

1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

½ Cup mango-orange juice (or orange juice or mango juice)

1-2 Tbs cilantro, chopped

1 tsp sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

Heat olive oil in a pan big enough to hold all at medium until fragrant.

In a bowl, mix, flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.  In another  bowl, lightly beat egg. Dip thighs in egg, then in flour mixture and coat.

Place chicken in pan and cook five to ten minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove thighs and set aside.

To the same pan, add onion and stir to coat. Add garlic and stir to coat. Cook for a minute or two to soften, then add mango juice and cook until thickened slightly, about five minutes. Stir in cilantro and sriracha. Salt to taste.

Return chicken to pan, coat in sauce and cook for another five minutes (or until chicken is fully cooked). Cook longer and slower, adding water, for a shredded result.

Serve with rice, noodles, or on top of salad. Or shred for quesadillas.


Pollo Borracho (Drunken Chicken)

15 Sep

Usually when I have several pounds of organic boneless chicken thighs from Costco, I make pollo guisado (Latin stewed chicken) and eat some now, freeze some for later in pint containers. Very convenient and beloved by all (must be the beer and wine that go into it?  https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/abuelitas-stew-comes-through-%C2%A1un-guiso/)

But I just didn’t feel like it. At. All. No, no, no.

So instead, I made about three pounds worth of Pollo Borracho or Drunken Chicken, so called because it incorporates whatever the local hooch is in your part of Latin America. In the following version, adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz (1992 Wiley Publishing),  the booze is white or light rum (I used Don Q Cristal, a Puerto Rican white rum, which is — by the way — the only acceptable rum for a Cuba Libre).

This recipe does take a long time to simmer, but the active part is very minimal and very basic. The texture is beautiful; it starts to shred of its own accord (I’m thinking quick black bean and chicken quesadillas…). Best of all, Leandro called me the best cook in the world after trying it (which means it is safe to pack the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow. Hurray!). I will experiment with freezing some for future reference!

Pollo Borracho

3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (you may use pretty much any chicken parts. Bone-in is fine, but do remove the skin)

¼-1/2 tsp salt

¼-1/2 tsp oregano

Black pepper to taste

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, peeled and sliced thick

1 bay leaf

¼ Cup dry white wine

¼ Cup light or white rum

¾ Cup pimiento-stuffed green olives (about 20) drained

Wash the chicken and pat dry, then season with salt, oregano and pepper. Heat olive oil at medium high (in a large skillet that can accommodate all the chicken and that you can cover) until fragrant and then brown the chicken thoroughly on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.

Lower the heat to medium low. Put onions and garlic in the skillet and sauté until wilted. Add bay leaf, wine, rum and olives. Stir to incorporate, then add chicken pieces, stir, cover and cook on low for 45 -60 minutes. If your skillet is oven-proof, you can cook it in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes instead. Remove the bay leaf and serve with white or yellow Latin rice.

NB: If you are more of a tequila person and want to get a bit more elaborate, try this Mexican recipe by my friend and inspiration, the peerless Zarela Martínez  http://www.zarela.com/2010/pollo-borracho-drunken-chicken/ It was one of the most-requested dishes at her eponymous Manhattan restaurant. It includes raisins and almonds!

Baked Chicken Tenders (with hint of curry option!)

19 May

The best defense is a good offense, even when it comes to protecting your family from encroaching fast-food predilections. So I keep trying to build a better, healthier, more attractive chicken tender that I can freeze and have on hand any time a drive-thru strikes me as a really good idea.

These chicken tenders are a variation on a Rachael Ray recipe — and you thought this was a Rachael-free zone, didn’t you? C’mon, the woman is everywhere! Even here. And certainly on all the search engines!

I like to think my version of chicken tenders has a bit more pizzazz, but we all have our vanities.

Bottom line: these are easy, freezeable and adaptable and they helped carry me through another semester of packed lunches for pre-K. My kid and his grandfather both loved the subtle curry flavor (which bodes well for our next Indian buffet lunch!). You can really season it however you like; the infrastructure of the recipe is very sound.

Baked Chicken Fingers with an optional hint of curry (freezeable!)

2 lbs chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness (do not pound thin, just even them out) and sliced, against the grain, into generous strips

Salt and pepper for seasoning chicken strips

2 cups flour

2-3 cups breadcrumbs, unseasoned

½ -1 tsp salt

2 Tbs dried parsley

2 -3 Tbs curry powder (optional; see herb options, below)

2-3 Tbs your choice dried oregano/basil/Italian herbs/French herbs (if you decide against the curry)

 3 eggs

¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Season the tenders with salt and black pepper. In a shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. In a third dish (shallow), place the breadcrumbs and season with salt, parsley and either the curry powder or the herb blend. Be generous with the herbs.

Dredge the chicken strips in the flour to coat. Shake off excess flour. Dip the strips in the egg to coat. Then coat with breadcrumbs. Place chicken strips on a baking sheet, or, ideally, a rack that lets them heat all around. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, turning once.

Once cooled, I pop them into freezer bags and take them out as needed for lunches and such, reheating at 325°F for ten minutes.

Abuelita’s Chicken Stew comes through: ¡Pollo Guisado!

17 Dec

(pronounced poh-yo gheesadoh)

We kind of stayed longer than expected at my neighbor’s across the street; it’s what happens when the kids are playing nicely together (meaning: not killing each other yet) and the cup of tea morphs into a glass of wine and the conversation gets spicy and grown-up. Then their pizza delivery arrives and my son of course wants and gets a slice too and her husband is about to get home for dinner and the pizza he is expecting is rapidly disappearing…

Fortunately, I had just made pollo guisado (chicken stew), so I grabbed a plastic thingy from my neighbor and ran across the street to my refrigerator and packed up enough for the two grown-ups, thus alleviating my mortification when the little man demanded – and got – a second slice. This is a no-brainer dish and uses chicken thighs – tasty and cheap! My neighbor specifically requested that I blog the recipe, so here it is.

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