Sunday, September 16, 2007

One-Pan Chicken

This is one of the easiest recipes I've come across. In a single ovenproof pan, you add all of your vegetables and chicken. I recommend using a traditional cast iron skillet. It's a great way to maintain its seasoning properties, and I think this recipe just looks attractive with it. I ate mine with rice, but you can also have it with dinner rolls. All you do is simply chop up your vegetables of choice, which is the only labor in this recipe. I added carrots, zucchinis, and potatoes, but you can add whatever you want. Baby tomatoes are a wonderful addition I've put in before. They become juicy and flavor the other vegetables. Liberally coat everything with extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. The oven does the rest. I know this is a really brief, border lining unhelpful guide, but it's just that simple. It's a Nigella recipe. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 45 minutes. That's it. I promise.

Tips: Don't use unevenly shaped vegetables such as broccolis or cauliflowers because they cook unevenly and burn quickly. If you do use vegetables like these, place the chicken on top to prevent burning and keeping the vegetables moist. I can't guarantee any promising results, though.

Steamed Artichokes

DISCLAIMER: When I categorize dishes "Vegetarian", I standardize it on the absence of poultry and meat such as chicken, duck, turkey, beef, or pork. I don't consider ingredients such as eggs which come from poultry or seafood vegetarian because I know many vegetarians who eat these ingredients without complaint.

Artichokes are one of those small joys in life. They're one of my favorite foods, and yet they're so simple and uncomplicated. Unfortunately, people seem intimidated about making artichokes. It does require a bit more preparation than other produce, but people spend hours cooking and baking. This is nothing! I'd like to see more people enjoying them. I know I took a long time until I prepared this myself because I didn't have a steamer rack, and as great as it would be to have one, it's not necessary. You can just as easily making flavorful artichokes without it. Here's a great recipe that calls for white wine, which I love in food, by Tyler Florence.

4 sprigs of parsley
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 lemons, cut in half
1/4 cup of white wine
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 whole artichokes

Put the parsley, garlic, bay leaves, lemons, wine, oil, and broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer. I suggest water for a more wine intensified taste unless you go for homemade chicken broth, which absorbs the flavor of the wine more readily. Season the liquid with salt and pepper. The fresher the pepper, the better the taste. In the meantime, prepare the artichokes.

Wash artichokes under cold water. Cut off the stems close to the base, and pull off the lower petals that are small and tough. Cut off the top inch of the artichoke and rub with half a lemon to preserve the green color, or you can soak the artichokes in acidulated water. Trim the thorny tips of the petals with kitchen shears or a knife. I personally find a superior knife a simpler task than scissors.

Place the artichokes in the steaming liquid, bottom up. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. The artichokes are done when a knife inserted into the base has no resistance.

To eat, pull of a leaf and scrape the meat off the tender end with your front teeth. Dip the ends of the leaves in lemon juice and melted butter if you'd like. When you reach the center of the cone of purple prickly leaves, remove it. This is the choke that protects the heart. Scrape away the fuzz covering the artichoke and enjoy. It's the meatiest, yummiest part of the artichokes, if you ask me. Steamed artichokes may be served hot or cold.