Simple Chicken Cassoulet

I would consider this dish a lighter version of traditional cassoulet, and a simpler one. You won’t spend hours browning and braising, or making a confit. It’s also a really pretty dish to serve at a dinner party.

Simple Chicken Cassoulet – 4 servings
4 chicken leg quarters
2 cloves garlic, mincedDSCN1117
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dry thyme
8 baby carrots, halved lengthwise
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon dry tarragon
3 slices bacon, chopped
15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 tomatoes, chopped
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Using a mortar and pestle, pound 1 teaspoon thyme, garlic and salt. Rub chicken quarters with mixture, place skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh register 165 degrees F.

While the chicken is baking, sweat the carrots and shallots in the olive oil in a saute pan over low-medium heat until they start to color. Add the chopped bacon, and cook until lightly browned. Add the herbs, garlic, tomatoes and beans, then pour the stock over. Simmer for 30 minutes, until an inch of the stock remains. Mix the butter and flour, then add to bean mixture to thicken.

Divide bean mixture into 4 bowls, and top with chicken skin side up.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

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Turkey Meatloaf

I know! You are probably like great, meatloaf…moving onto the next blogger. STOP! Meatloaf was a new concept for me when I moved to the US, my parents are Mediterranean and we basically didn’t eat anything but that sort of food. So when John told me he missed having meatloaf every once in a while, I knew I had to do something – and I hated meatloaf. It was a dry loaf of meat, covered in ketchup – well no way was I going to let that happen in this household again.

I create a base that I add to ground turkey – I’ve also done it with a 50/50 mix of ground pork and beef. When John had it for the first time, he loved it, it didn’t need to be covered in extra ketchup, and it makes excellent moist sandwiches for lunch.

Turkey Meatloaf – 4-6 servings
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 lbs ground turkey breast
1 slice of bread, ground
1 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium sautepan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well, allow to cook for a few more minutes until thickened. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through.

Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich with pickles and mayo.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Free-Style Paella

I call this paella free-style, because it contains a mixture of meat and seafood. This is so much fun to make, and makes a wonderful centerpiece to any dinner party – when I tell my friends we’re having paella, they ask if they can come early to watch, so I have my mise en place, and it’s a party in the kitchen with lots of wine and pintxos.

For the seafood component, we used shrimp and clams because they looked best – you can use mussels if you like, just make sure to soak, clean and de-beard them. To clean the clams, combine 1/4 cup of coarse salt per quart of water, and soak for about half an hour.

I lent my paella pan to another friend, and couldn’t get it back in time, but I use all-clad copper core pans, so heat is evenly distributed – if you don’t have a paella pan, just make sure you have a large enough pan that distributes heat evenly.

Free-Style Paella
– 6-8 servings
1/2 teaspoon threads saffron, crushed
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces
10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 1⁄4″-thick coins
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 dried bay leavesDSCN1104
3 medium tomatoes, minced
1 small onion, minced
7 cups chicken broth
2 1⁄2 cups Bomba or Valencia rice
1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
3 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
10 clams, cleaned
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Put the saffron and 1⁄4 cup of hot water in a small bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Season the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 16″–18″ paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, shrimp, chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving the chicken and chorizo in the pan. Add the paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatDSCN1107oes, and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often until the onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add the reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in the rice, distributing it evenly with a spoon, and add the artichokes and peppers. Cook, without stirring, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved shrimp, peas, and nestle in the clams hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until clams have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, about 5–10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, go family-style and place the pan in the center of the table, or on large platter.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!