Duxelles and Craisin Stuffed Chicken

Ever since I made a beef wellington for family and friends at Thanksgiving, I have been a major fan of making duxelles. Duxelles is a french term for basically rendering down a bunch of finely diced mushrooms into somewhat of a paste. If you have never made duxelles, it is a must. There is an aroma and a flavor that is out of this world.  These take a bit of time to make due to the fine dicing of a lot of mushrooms, but it is well worth the effort. My most recent visit to the grocery store yielded some very nice cremini mushrooms (baby portabella) that were on sale, and I immediately thought of makes the duxelle. The mushrooms work really well as a stuffing, and hence why I used them in the beef wellington, however I have also tucked spread them under the skin of cornish hens, which was also amazing.

Chicken rolls stuffed with mushrooms (Duxelles) and craisins

So this week has been rather hectic and quite stressful at work, and I wanted something comforting to make to help reduce the stress, while at the same time having a nice, presentable meal that both my wife and I could enjoy. I came up with the duxelles and craisin stuffed chicken breast. I made the duxelle the night before as I thought that chopping and dicing down a bunch of mushrooms would lift the spirit, and it did. This saved me some time as I could quickly pound out some chicken breasts, stuff them, and brown them in a saute pan. This is a really great weekday meal, that is somewhat fancy, but can be served in no time at all.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, and finely chopped or placed in a food processor (stems and all)
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • generous pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sherry wine
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of craisins
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • toothpicks
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream

Begin by getting a large saute pan out and bring it to a medium, to medium high heat. Add in the butter, and let it melt. Add in the chopped mushrooms, shallot, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring on occasion. After about 10 minutes or so, add in the sherry, and cook until the sherry evaporates. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

To a small skillet, add about 1 cup of water and bring it to a light boil. Add in the dried craisins,  and remove it from the heat. Let them hydrate for a few minutes before removing them with a slotted spoon. Add them to the duxelles, and stir.

Now the fun part. Get a large ziplock bag out. You have a couple of options here. You can take a chicken breast and slice through it horizontally, yielding two pieces, or you can take your knife, and open it up a bit. I cut mine, horizontally, yielding two pieces. Place one piece in the ziplock bag, and lay it flat in there. Take your meat mallet, and pound it lightly, from the center outwards, being careful not to go too thin.  You simply want to get it to about a quarter inch thick, just to tenderize it.  Repeat with the remaining breasts.

Now that you have all of the breasts flattened out, take one and add a heaping spoonful near the back of the breast. The goal is to roll these up into a log shape, sealing in the sides, and then take two or three toothpicks to secure the chicken from unfolding. Repeat the process.

Next get your your large saute pan out, or in my case, I used a large cast iron skillet. Add the oil, and bring this to a medium heat. Add in the secured chicken rolls and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown. This will take about 10-12 minutes as the chicken is pretty thin from being pounded out.

Remove them from the skillet and set on a plate to let it rest for a couple of minutes. During this time, get the skillet back on the stove on medium heat. Add in the white wine (careful as it might flame up), stirring the bottom to remove any of those great chicken bits, then stir in the cream. Turn off the heat. Remove the toothpicks from the chicken, and with a sharp knife, cut them into bite sized pieces for presentation. Plate, and drizzle the pan sauce over the chicken, and on the plate for a nice design.

This one is super easy, and allows you to try something new. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Killing two birds with one stone. Now that is the ticket to some good meals during a busy week. This past week I made some really fantastic cornish hens with a lot of mushrooms and a wine reduction that was just out of this world. As I thought I was going to make a pan sauce from the dripping with the handful of vegetables I had cut up for the base of the roasting pan, I decided to do something different with those vegetables. The cornish hens were something beautiful and I decided to make an herb orzo pasta dish to go with it rather than some garlic mashed potatoes, and sure, I could have used the ever so tender vegetables from the roasting pan, however I decided to hold off, and make a soup with them instead, and I am so glad that I did.

Roasted Vegetable Soup Recipe

After having the tender vegetables cooled off, I decided that it would be super easy just to throw them in a blender and make a soup. It was literally just that easy!

Lets get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ribs of celery, cleaned, and quartered
  • 1 large carrot, ends trimmed, and quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • generous pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, brought to a boil
  • Toasted baguette (optional)

So with your leftover roasted vegetables, toss them into a blender. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper, and puree. Pulse it down to the consistency of how you would like your soup. I leave mine with some ‘bits’ for some added texture. The flavor is so robust and delicious and is perfect for cold days (which we have been having in Wisconsin). Serve with a toasted baguette.

Chicken Tikka

Forget the tandoor, we pretty much don’t have access to one. The killer clay oven that gets really hot and cooks your chicken tikka or paranthas, chapati, or other wonderful bread. Forget about it. What you can remember however, is that we have access to really hot grills, whether it be gas or charcoal, and remember that we can achieve those really great Asian dishes right in our very own backyard. This backyard treat today is chicken tikka, bits of chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, and grilled to perfection. Sure, you could add a bit of food coloring to the marinade to make it more authentic, but, trust me on this one, you get some really great flavor, and color for that matter on this one. Perfect chicken on the grill, skewered, and perfect for that backyard barbecue.

Chicken Tikka

Ingredients:

  • wooden skewers soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • 3 large boneless chicken breasts, skin and fat removed and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • juice of two lemons
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • olive oil for brushing

Begin by adding everything but the oil into a ziplock bag, and mix really well. Massage the bag of chicken and spices until everything is nice and incorporated. Place in the refrigerator over night.

The following day, take your soaked skewers and lay 3 to 5 pieces of chicken onto the skewers. Repeat until the chicken is all done. Preheat your grill to a high heat. Brush each skewer with the olive oil.

Now here is a cool trick for all of you. Whenever you are using skewers on the grill, use some aluminum foil near the front of the grill, laying your skewers on the grill, however not the handles. This prevents the handle from burning which is always nice, not only for you but as to how you present them to your guests.

Lay the skewers on the grill, turning them every few minutes, until cooked. Serve these alone, or with onions and lemon wedges, alongside pita or a nice naan bread.

Long Lasting Scallions

Long Lasting ScallionsA few weeks back my cousin Mark quickly said that his wife Charmaigne was growing green onions. I thought that was cool in itself, but after some quick investigation, I found out that she was not necessarily growing green onions, but had bought a bundle of them from the store, and instead of storing them in the refrigerator, placed them on the counter in a cup of water.

I use green onions in a lot of my cooking, and have been disappointed when I want to use them in a dish, and pull them from the refrigerator only to mind them wilted, or quickly headed to the garbage. So a couple of days later I thought I would give this a try. I bought my bundle of green onions, and chopped the green part to be used in a marinade that I was using on some pork, and placed the ends of the green onions, the roots if you will, into a glass with water, having the water only go up to the white part of the green onions. I let this sit on the counter.

Roughly a couple of days later, the onions were growing! The green part of the onion was seriously growing. I began to change out the water every couple of days, but for the last several weeks, I have been snipping away at the same bundle of green onions. The flavor is still the same, they continue to grow, and I am still amazed.

If you are looking to save some money at the store, try this trick out. Thanks Mark and Charmaigne for the great tip.