Wednesday, October 27, 2010

stuffed chicken breast with mushroom pan sauce

Sorry the picture is blurry...I thought I had a better one.

This is my second attempt at the mushroom pan sauce and this time I got something really tasty!

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Mushroom Pan Sauce

4 boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp dried thyme, divided
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
canola oil for cooking

For this, I used my large cast-iron pan because it works very well for pan-frying and braising. You could use a large heavyweight standard or nonstick pan just as well. If using a cast-iron pan, make sure you preheat it on medium heat with a tablespoon of oil in it for about 8-10 minutes before you're ready to cook.

- In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 tsp of dried thyme, and black pepper.

- Make a horizontal slit in each piece of chicken, being careful not to cut all the way through.

- Stuff cheese mixture into the pocket of each chicken breast and press closed.

- Place chicken pieces into a preheated and oiled pan. Allow to sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

- Once both sides of the chicken pieces are browned, pull the chicken out and set it aside momentarily.

- Deglaze pan with white wine, being sure to scrape up brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

- Add beef broth, mushrooms, garlic, and remaining thyme. Add chicken back to pan, making sure to dump in any juices that have accumulated.

- Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken breast registers about 150 degrees. Carry-over heat will ensure the chicken cooks through the rest of the way.

- When chicken is done, remove from pan. If desired, add butter and allow to melt, stirring to thicken sauce a little. If you want to skip the butter, just spoon the sauce over the chicken when you serve it.

no-fry eggplant parmesan

Using small eggplants means you don't have to salt them first if you don't have the time / inclination. I skipped the salting and had no problems with bitterness at all.

No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan

4 - 5 SMALL eggplants ( I like the Japanese kind), peeled and sliced length-wise
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box of spaghetti, prepared as per directions
4 cups prepared spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan and oregano.
- Dip each piece of eggplant in the beaten egg and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Cook in 375 degree oven for approximately 5-7 minutes, then flip each piece and cook for another 5-7 minutes until golden brown on both sides and tender through.
- Remove baking sheet with eggplant from oven, but leave oven on.
- Spoon a layer of prepared spaghetti or marinara on the bottom of a 13X9 baking dish and shake dish around to coat.
- Layer into baking dish as follows: eggplant slices, mozzarella cheese, sauce, until you've used everything up, ending with a layer of cheese.
- Cook in a 375 degree oven until golden brown on top, about 10-12 minutes.
- Serve over prepared spaghetti with additional sauce, if desired.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

bangers and mash

Mmm, bangers...mmm, mash...mmm, onion gravy. What else do you honestly need to know?

Yummy. I used red potatoes this time, and didn't peel them, just mashed them with the skins on.

roasted chicken

Chickens were on sale, so I bought one and roasted 'er up:

I rubbed the skin with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. It baked at 450 for about an hour, total. It came out pretty good...nice crispy skin and moist meat:

Yes, that's boxed stuffing that I served it with. Stuffing is one of those things that I'm probably always going to be too lazy to make from scratch, and I'm ok with that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

pork chops with mushroom pan gravy

These boneless sirloin chops were on special and looked really nice, so I snapped them up with the intention of trying to replicate my Nana's mushroom pan gravy for them tonight. What I ended up with wasn't quite Nana's pan gravy, but it was pretty tasty all the same. I worked from my treasured copy of Mark Bittmann's "How To Cook Everything" to come up with this recipe. Bittmann has yet to lead me astray in over 10 years. He might not be too pleased with me using boxed stuffing, though...;)

Note: I used boneless pork chops, which take a little less time to cook. Bone-in chops will work great for this...just let them cook 3-5 minutes longer. Also, I used white button mushrooms because that's what I had, but this would also be good with some porcinis added to the mix.

Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy

4 pork chops
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper

Season chops generously with salt and pepper.

Put a large pan on medium heat and allow to heat for 2-3 minutes. Add olive oil, and just when the oil starts to show wisps of smoke, carefully place chops into the pan. Turn heat to high and allow chops to brown, moving around to get good color all over, 3-4 minutes tops. You're only browning, not cooking through yet!

Turn heat to medium, add wine and garlic. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes more, until wine is nearly evaporated, flipping chops once or twice. Add mushrooms, chicken stock and thyme. Turn heat to medium-low and cover. Allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes, until chops are cooked through (about 150 degrees - meat will feel firm to the touch). If the liquid in the pan looks to be dwindling, you can add more chicken stock, wine, or even water, a 1/4 cup at a time.

When chops are cooked through, remove meat from pan and turn heat up to medium-high. Add two tablespoons of butter and stir, allowing to melt. Sprinkle flour over the sauce - start with just one tablespoon, whisking until smooth. Allow to cook down for a minute or two, to desired thickness. If you want the sauce thicker, you can add more flour, or allow it to reduce further. I prefer to just let mine reduce because I like the flavor better.

Place chops on plates, spoon sauce over, and serve. I served mine with stuffing (from a box!! Oh noes!!) and steamed fresh green beans.

Monday, October 4, 2010

ginger beef and broccoli

I'm always amazed at how the taste of ginger can fit into so many recipes - sweet, savory, hot...ginger does it all. It's one of my favorite things.

Tonight's supper was a simple stir-fry that took me all of 20 minutes, start to finish...and that was with prepping on the fly and some futzing around (because I can never just cook...I always futz, too).

I found a really nice-looking steak at the store on sale, so I scarfed it up with stir-fry in mind immediately. I cut the excess fat off the meat, then thinly sliced it on the bias to keep it tender. I put it in a bowl with about half an inch of grated ginger root, three sliced cloves of garlic, and a couple tablespoons of both toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. I added a few good shakes of Tabasco, gave it a stir, and set it aside. I chopped up two crowns of broccoli, half a white onion, and six large button mushrooms. The veggies went into a hot pan with canola oil and were tossed till almost crisp-tender. I then pushed the veggies out to the edges of the pan and dumped in the meat and all the liquid with it. I tossed everything over high heat until the meat cooked through...just about 3 minutes. I garnished it with a little sliced green onion, because I was feeling artsy.

I realized after the fact that I forgot to put brown sugar in my meat marinade, but it was still really yummy without it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

herb-crusted pork roast

I used a loin roast for this, which had very little fat on it. I cut a pocket into it, then let it sit in a salt/sugar/water brine for a couple hours. While the roast was soaking, I prepared the root veggies for roasting. I used one medium rutabaga, four medium red potatoes, two large leeks, half a bag of baby carrots, and ten cloves of garlic. I chopped everything except the garlic into 1" pieces and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. This mixture went onto two heavy non-stick sheet pans and into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, then the pans were rotated and cooked for another 40 minutes.

For the roast, when it was done soaking I rinsed it thoroughly in cold water and patted it dry. I stuffed it with a mixture of fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Some of this mixture also got smeared on top of the roast. The roast was then topped with a mixture of a little Parmesan, olive oil, and fresh bread crumbs, along with salt and pepper, and a minced shallot. I cooked the roast at 350 degrees for a total of about 75 minutes, until it reached 150 degrees internally. I then tented the roast with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes while I steamed some fresh green beans. Once those were done, we were ready to eat!

I actually messed up the crust quite a lot. I misread the recipe and put about 4 times the Parmesan in it that I should have. It made it fairly salty, but still quite good. The brine kept the meat nicely moist through the long cooking, and the roasted root veggies came out nicely crisp and earthy-tasting. All in all, a really good Sunday dinner.