Crock-Pot Tuscan Garlic Chicken with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

January 13th, 2019

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Even though we are not feeling the numbing cold of the North, this hearty slow cooker chicken dish hits all of the comfort notes associated with cold weather.  So for a short while I will indulge my fantasies of snow and enjoy this flavor-filled dish. We have been in Florida for two weeks.  So far the weather has been lovely.  I have enjoyed the local New Smyrna Beach farmers’ market and being able to walk to town for a quick bite at the local restaurants.
IMG_8844  When I saw this recipe on-line for this Tuscan chicken dish, it brought back memories of our trip to Italy.  Part of the beauty of Tuscan recipes is the simplicity of the ingredient.  Simple chicken thighs are paired with a creamy Parmesan sauce and enhanced with lots of garlic, Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach.

Tuscany Countryside

The rolling hills of Tuscany produce wines, garden fresh vegetables, cheeses and pasture raised poultry.

Tuscany-Kitchen

We were fortunate to find a lovely villa in the Tuscan countryside.  I have fond memories of cooking in this kitchen.

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The crock-pot in my Florida rental house is old and smaller than what I have at home.  But it was just big enough for four chicken thighs to bubble away in the creamy sauce.  On a January day, I was warmed by both this hearty chicken dish and by memories of the Tuscan countryside.  Recipe came from eatwell 101.

CROCK-POT TUSCAN GARLIC CHICKEN WITH SPINACH AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

6 -8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
2 cups Spinach (chopped, packed)

Heat oil or butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute, until fragrant.

Add the cream and chicken broth.  Bring to a gentle simmer, then set heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, place the chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker.  Season lightly with Italian seasoning, crushed red chili pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper.  Top with sun-dried tomatoes.

When the cream sauce is ready, lower the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, little by little until smooth.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

Pour the cream sauce evenly over the chicken thighs in the slow cooker.  Try to get as much sauce as possible on top of the chicken and less on the bottom.

Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6-8 hours on LOW.  When cooking time is over, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and set aside.

Turn the slow cooker on HIGH, if it sin’t already.  Add the chopped spinach and stir for a few minutes, until the spinach wilts.

Return the chicken to the slow cooker, and spoon the liquid, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on top, or just pour them over the chicken when serving.

Printable Recipe

Beef and Bacon Stew

December 19th, 2018

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With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts turn to warming comfort food.  I would even consider this Beef and Bacon Stew a worthy meal for Christmas Eve or Day.  It has been a challenging week.  We were hit by a freak snowstorm that normally would not occur in North Carolina.  Five days without power tested our coping capacity.

Snow in 2018

It was a test of our capacity to get along without things we all take for granted.  We stayed warm because our home is well insulated and  we have a gas fireplace and a wood burning fireplace.  We stayed well fed because we have a gas stove and oven, plus the grill grate in the fireplace.  We stayed hydrated with jugs of water and other drinks.  The only thing missing was a shower.  That’s why we have friends.  Thank you to Ron and Jackie for a much needed clean up and a delicious dinner.  But next year we are getting a whole house generator.  Weather in our area seems to have taken a more violent and unpredictable bent.

 

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David is actually responsible for this delicious stew.  Over the years he has been cooking more of our meals with creativity and elan.  While I was finishing my wonderful new book in the series from Louis Penny, Kingdom of the Blindhe was chopping and assembling this flavorful dish.  It did require a new ingredient.  Miso Paste.  I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section near the cellophane boxed lettuces.  Do not leave it out as it adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce.

Chistmas silliness

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I couldn’t resist including this outtake of our Christmas card photo shoot.

BEEF AND BACON STEW (BON APPETIT)

1 Bottle of dry red wine
1 2 1/2 boneless beef chuck roast
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. bacon
3 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
8 coves garlic
4 large sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
Crusty bread (for serving)

Complete recipe here.

Chateaubriand for Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2018

Chateaubriand

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a departure from the usual.  Our Son Michael loves to grill and decided to attempt a whole tenderloin cooked over indirect heat and then seared over the direct coals.  The inspiration came from Meathead Goldwyn in his iconic grilling book Meathead; The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.  The beef was outstanding.  Served with mashed potatoes and an updated green bean casserole, we never even missed a turkey.

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A whole tenderloin requires a breakdown to get to  a symmetrical log from the center.  The tenderloin tips are cut from each end.  The chain along the side needs to be trimmed away and the silverskin removed.  The trimmings can be used as a few filet mignon steaks, stew meat, and/or ground with some of the fat into upscale hamburgers.

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You will need to fold over the tapered end and tie it with string to ensure even cooking.  Once the chateaubriand is ready, dry brine it in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.  The dry brine is just kosher salt.  Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat all over the cylinder.  After the allotted time is up, remove the beef from the refrigerator and season it with a seasoning rub.

BEEF RUB
2 Tablespoons ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

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Set up the grill in a two-zone configuration and get the indirect zone up to about 225 degrees F.  Place the meat in the indirect-heat zone.  It will cook slowly for about 45 minutes.  Check temperature with a meat thermometer.

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When the meat reaches 110 degrees F, move it to direct heat to sear.  Leave the lid open and roll the roast a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so.  When it reaches 130 degrees F in the center, move it to a cutting board.  Cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes or so.

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Slice into at least 1 inch steaks and serve.  Serves 6 to 8 easily.

Parsnip Soup

Earlier in the day Kristen made a delicious Parsnip and apple soup with smoked almonds and scallions.  I don’t have the recipe but anything you add to it is enhanced by using an immersion blender to meld it all together.  Here is a similar recipe.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

One of the most colorful dishes on our table was this fabulous Kale, roasted quinoa, purple sweet potato and apple salad.  It was such a seasonal delight that I would love to serve this every Autumn and Thanksgiving.  Kristen is so creative.  Remind me to get the recipe.  Will try to blog about this again or maybe Kristen will put it on her blog, Menubility.

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I made a Bourbon Pumpkin Pie from this recipe.  I add a Streusal Topping.  Recipe follows.

STREUSAL TOPPING

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool and sprinkle over cooked and cooled pie.  You will have extra for other purposes.

FAMILY CHRISTMAS 2018

We took some time over Thanksgiving to have photos taken for our Christmas cards.  We are lucky to have Christobal of Azul Photography as a family friend.  Let the Christmas Season begin.

Chicken Saltimbocca

May 23rd, 2018

Chicken Saltimbocca

In my previous post I mentioned the beautiful large sage leaves in my herb containers.  Some of the leaves were large enough to almost cover the tops of my chicken breasts.  They are hard to see in the above photo, but were a perfect layer to the prosciutto wrapped chicken breasts.  Saltimbocca is an Italian dish that is most often made with veal.  But it is easily adapted to thin chicken breasts.

Chicken Saltimbocca

The chicken saltimbocca makes an impressive company meal.  The lemony sauce adds moisture and a bright flavor to counterbalance the earthy sage and the salty prosciutto.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to everyone.  Thinking of my Dad who was a Marine hero on Guadalcanal Island during World War II.

Dad

Never forgotten.

CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA

  • 4 (4 oz.) chicken cutlets
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 4 to 8 fresh sage leaves, depending on size
  • 4 very thinly slices of prosciutto.  I bought a 3 oz pkg. in the Deli
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (juice of approx.1 large lemon)
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 4 lemon wedges (optional)
  1. Sprinkle salt on each chicken cutlet evenly. Place sage leaves on top of each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet with prosciutto slices to keep sage leaves in place.
  2. In a small bowl combine chicken broth, lemon juice and ½ tsp cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Over medium heat heat a large skillet. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Place chicken in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and place on a platter (keep warm).
  4. Re-whisk cornstarch mixture and add to remaining 1 Tsp. oil in a pan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened (approx. 1 min.) stirring constantly. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges ,if desired.

Printable Recipe

Country Captain

April 7th, 2018

Country Captain

This wonderful chicken casserole has been in my wheel house for a long time.  I first blogged about it here.  This version came from Sam Sifton at the New York Times.  I love the addition of lots of tomatoes. But the basics of the dish are still here: chicken,curry, dried fruit, almonds, and bacon.  It is perfect for a crowd.

Country Captain

The port of Charleston saw many products from the Orient in the 18th and 19th century.  Curry powder was one of them and this dish became popular with hostesses all over the south.  FDR was very fond of Country Captain and had it served to him often in Warm Springs, Georgia.  It is best served over rice.

Country Captain

We are back in beautiful Lake Lure enjoying our home and especially my kitchen, although David was the one responsible for this delicious meal.  So glad that he loves to cook as much as I do.

COUNTRY CAPTAIN

1/4 cup flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbls butter
3 pounds chicken pieces (We used thighs and legs)
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsps celery, diced
1 Tbls minced garlic
2 Tbls curry powder
3 Tbls dried cranberries or currants
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes and their juices
3 Tbls slivered almonds, toasted
Cooked white rice

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the thyme in a bowl.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, and fry, in batches if needed, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the bacon and fry until crispy.  Transfer to a plate.  Once cool, crumble and set aside.

Add the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, curry powder and 1 tablespoon of the cranberries or currants to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken snugly in one layer.  Arrange the chicken on top.  Pour the remaining sauce over and around the chicken.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 15 minutes more.

Top with the crumbled bacon, remaining cranberries or currants and slivered almonds.  Serve with cooked rice and any condiments you wish.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.