Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chef Joe: Braising Chicken

Our friend Joe is like a chef.  He's not a real chef.  He just loves to cook and whips up really tasty food.  I'll certainly take it...whenever he is free and wants to cook for us!
He never uses recipes.  It's cool to watch but it sucks when I try to below is my best attempt to give you the recipe as many of you have asked how it was cooked.
Onward...tonight's menu was as follows...

braised chicken + tomatoes with pesto roasted sweet potatoes and garlic sauteed spinach

Try to take note of the braising technique that this recipe requires.  It's when we sear our meat and finish it off in a hot oven to bring out all of the juices under a super crispy skin.  Delicious.
Serves 4
Prep your ingredients:
1 package of chicken thighs and/or legs (6-8 pcs)
Salt and Pepper
Cherry tomatoes - washed and left whole (you could also use diced tomatoes from a can - drained)
Mushrooms - 1 package washed and sliced
Onions - diced (a handful - see picture below)
Garlic - minced (2-3 cloves)
Parsley - chopped (a handful)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Now read through the entire recipe before moving on...

braised chicken and tomatoes 
Start by heating your oven to 400.
Your goal here is to get the chicken to caramelize.  Take a large saute pan (with deep sides) and add your EVOO (3 turns of the pan).  Heat over medium-high.  Salt and Pepper your chicken and add to the hot pan.  Let the chicken get a good sizzle on it.  It will be ready to turn after approx. 8-10 minutes.  If the chicken sticks to the pan when you go to turn, it is not ready to be flipped.  Watch it so it doesn't burn.  Cook for another 10 minutes after flipped and then transfer to a cookie sheet. 
Put the chicken into the oven for no longer then 12 minutes.  Meanwhile add the onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan.  Top off with a couple turns of the EVOO.  Stir the veggies and add a couple of good pinches of Kosher salt and small pinch of pepper.  Let the veggies cook down for about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock.  Stir and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken back into the pan nestling between all of the veggies.  Let simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes COVERED.  Add parsley for a gorgeous pop of color and serve HOT.
pesto roasted sweet potatoes
Add 1/4 cup EVOO to the potatoes and toss liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 for 15 minutes or until they have browned.  
Meanwhile, make your pesto by combining the following ingredients in a food processor or blender:  
Basil (large handful)
Parmesan (2 palm fulls)
Pine nuts (2 palm fulls - toasted)
Sweet Potatoes (2, small, sliced into discs)
Blend until combined and then stream in a 1/4 cup of EVOO to make a nice chunky paste.  Add salt to taste.  
Remove the potatoes out of the oven and plate.  Top with the pesto before serving.

garlic sauteed spinach
2 Cloves Garlic - minced
1 small onion - diced
1 bag pre-washed spinach (baby is fine!)
Heat, on medium, a large skillet with EVOO turning twice around the pan.  Add the garlic and onions and saute until translucent about 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and saute until it has wilted down.  Add salt and pepper to taste.