Tag Archives: family meals

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

Quickie Meatloaf Dressed Up with a Salty-Sweet Glaze

17 Dec

Anxious times call for simple home-cooking with a big dollop of comfort.

I had my first taste of meatloaf in the third grade at a friend’s house in the apartment block we lived in in Queens, NY. Having grown up until then on mostly Latin-Caribbean food — except for pizza and bagels and Thanksgiving turkey; I did say Queens, NY, didn’t I? — meatloaf was a revelation to me. I ran upstairs in excitement and demanded that it become a regular on our table, and it did, albeit with different seasonings and sauces.

Glorious glaze for a simple meatloaf

Glorious glaze for a simple meatloaf

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Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken (Third Bird from Hardscrabble pastured chicken project!)

26 Sep

Trisha Hardgrove’s pastured chicken project at Restoration Farm is a complete success as far as we in the de Cuba Romero household are concerned. These birds are so beautiful to work with, so wonderfully textured, so flavorful, that they almost cook themselves. Going back to conventional factory-raised chicken is pretty much out of the question now, but even organic supermarket chicken cannot compare.

Having said that, we can all use a little enhancement to highlight our best features, and this simple roasting recipe, inspired by The Barefoot Contessa, is just the thing. The result was a juicy, tender bird and juicy, tender vegetables, infused with — but not overwhelmed by — lemon, thyme and garlic.

The original recipe called for the bird to be slathered with butter, but here we prefer olive oil. Mind you, we did NOT get a crispy skin, which may be what you are looking for. In that case, substitute same amount of melted butter. She also uses a fennel bulb where we use celery – again, just personal preference. This was a meal my dad, Pedro, and I did together – it is thanks to him that we were fearless with the salt. You really do want that much. We did not, however, put any additional salt on the vegetables and they didn’t need it. You can always finish them with salt at table.

The amount of thyme may seem a lot, but it really flavors the chicken and the vegetables. I am fortunate to have a bumper crop of French thyme in my container herb garden, so it was no problem for us. If you are buying at the store, you will want the equivalent of two fat fistfuls of sprigs for the whole recipe.

Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 4-5 lb roasting chicken

2 Tbs kosher salt, plus 1 tsp

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus several pinches

1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs

1 lemon, rinsed and sliced in half

1 head of garlic, unpeeled, but root end sliced off as much as you can. Slice the head in half, crosswise (through the cloves)

2 Tbs olive oil

1-1.5 cups onion, sliced thick (yellow, red or a mix of the two is fine)

2 Cups carrots, chopped into 1.5”chunks

1 Cup chopped celery

1-2 Cups additional chopped roasting vegetables of your choice – potatoes, turnips, parsnips, fennel for example

2 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out, remove excess fat and pin feathers and pat dry.

Use the 2 Tbs salt and 1 Tbs pepper to salt and pepper the inside of the bird, then stuff the cavity with the thyme, lemon and garlic.

Brush the outside of the chicken with 2 Tbs olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings under the body. Place the onions, carrots and celery in the roasting pan and toss with the remaining olive oil and 20 sprigs of thyme. Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the vegetables.

Roast the chicken for 1.5 hours (to an internal temperature of 165° or until the juices run clear when you stick a knife between leg and thigh and the joints move freely in the sockets). Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan, arrange on a platter and let rest under a loose foil cover for 20 minutes before serving.

In the spirit of efficacy and energy-efficiency, we simultaneously roasted beets for a future salad and oven-fried potatoes (recipe to come). For the beets, simply cut off beet greens to an inch above the beet, wash and dry, wrap loosely in foil and stick in the oven with the bird. The beets will be done when the chicken is done. You can easily peel them and serve them with the chicken, or save them for something else in the next day or two.

Spag bog? Spag bol? Spaghetti Bolognese!

22 Jun

My dear Kate over in England thought I had made a spelling error when we were chatting via Facebook and I wrote “spag bog” as I was cooking this dish this week. I thought the same when she wrote “spag bol”. Turns out we are both correct in our not-quite-right-ness. According to The Times (UK), it has been called both bog and bol in England since the 1970s when Spaghetti Bolognese arrived in that country. The Times opines that the Brits were afraid to attempt to spell or pronounce it, so they shortened it to something more manageable for the English-speaking tongue.

Spag bog by any name would be a great pasta sauce. Basically a ground beef (mince, if we are sticking to U.K. parlance) and tomato sauce, there are probably almost as many versions as there are folks who make it. Marcella Hazan, a fantastic cookbook writer and teacher of Italian cookery, does a classic version that involves milk and suggests 5-6 hours of simmering. I used to make her version, when I was young and childless and didn’t need any sleep, but these days? Well, as you’ll see, this recipe is pared down to basics. Continue reading

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