04/21/14

Low Fat Lemon & Garlic Grilled Chicken Thighs

Chicken. I have a freezer full of the stuff. It is perfect for when I am trying to watch my calorie intake. It can get a bit samey though so I am always looking for ways to keep the same old bits of chicken taste interesting without letting them anywhere near a deep fryer.

lemon and garlic chicken

Chicken breasts have their virtues but I more of a dark meat kind of a gal. Chicken thighs have a succulence to them, even with their skin removed,that is more pleasing to my taste buds.

Plus, they are pretty inexpensive and frequently on sale. Which was the case when I picked up these chicken thighs.  Healthy and budget-friendly? Perfect!

lemon and garlic chicken ingredients

As bland as chicken parts can be, they can also be thought of as a great blank canvas that can be coaxed to take on a bunch of different flavors.

Once I had the chicken thighs in my cart, I put my on my thinking cap to decide what I wanted to do with them. Eventually, I decided on a Mediterranean sort of vibe.

Lemons and garlic were the base for the chicken thigh recipe that was brewing in my head. Originally, I wanted to put a bit of fresh oregano into the mix but my supermarket didn’t have any. They did, however, have marjoram. Whilst not exactly the same taste, the two are fairly interchangeable. I put some in the basket and headed home to put together the chicken thighs in time to serve to Chris that night.

It really was a super easy recipe. I just put all of the non-chicken ingredients into a dish to create a marinade. Then, I pulled the skin off of the chicken thighs coated them in the marinade. Then, they went into the fridge for an hour to soak up some of that lemony and garlic yumminess.

chicken thighs marinade

After that hour, it just put the chicken thighs on the grill for a few minutes on each side. I used a cast iron grill pan. I love that thing. I am not sure my landlady does though because this was one of those comical after the fact moments where I was able to tell when it was time to take them off the grill pan by when my smoke detector went off.

Not because anything was burnt but because the ventilation in my apartment’s kitchen stinks.  The sort of steam that comes off that grill pan when it is up high was enough to send me scrambling to find a broom so that I could reach the off button of the smoke detector.

chicken thighs cooking

After they came off the grill pan, I put the chicken thighs into a roaster pan and then into the oven for another 15 minutes or so to get them cooked through.

grilled chicken thighs

These chicken thighs were packed with so much flavor that I had to stop myself from picking at them before it was time to take them to the table. The garlic had my taste buds tingling and then that citrus came in with a refreshing zing. So good and healthy too!

I served them some sauteed spinach and some mashed potatoes to form a killer low fat chicken thighs meal.

I put together a video to prove that it really is that easy. Next time, I will hold the camera the right way around. LOL.

 

Low Fat Lemon & Garlic Grilled Chicken Thighs

Lemon and garlic chicken thighs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of two small lemons
Zest of one small lemon
2 cloves garlic,minced (I use a zester)
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or oregano
6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and marjoram or oregano in a dish large enough to hold all of the chicken thighs. You could probably do it in a big Ziploc bag, I just didn’t think far enough ahead to have one in the house.

Once everything is combined, put the chicken thighs in the dish and coat with the marinade. With that done, put the dish into the fridge for at least an hour. To make your work night meals as easy as possible, you could put them together in the morning and have them ready to cook when you get home.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 475 and put a grill pan onto the heat. You could use a cast iron skillet if you don’t have a grill pan. You just won’t get those nifty grill marks.

Put the thighs on the hot grill pan, the marinade will act as all the oil you need. Cook them for about 7 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken thighs to a roasting pan and put the pan into the preheated oven.  Cook for another 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Rest for five minutes and then serve.

02/18/14

Asian-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

Living alone and cooking for one has made me less excited to be in the kitchen.  Partially because there is less variation in what I cook each night. Often, I end up eating a dish several times in a week because the portions a recipe yield were far too much for just me.

On Sunday, I roasted a chicken for myself and Chris. If I do say so myself, it was delicious but it was also a whole chicken for just two people. After he had gone, it didn’t make sense for me to be cooking other types of meat when I had nearly a whole cooked chicken in the fridge.

There were only so many times that I could bare warming it up and eating the exact same meal for yet another night. Those are the nights when I resort to muse cooking.

Some years ago, I stumbled across a website that put  the name ‘muse cooking’ to something I think that most people do. We look what is around and rather than follow an exact recipe we put throw a bit of this and a bit of that into a pot and hope for the best.

I wonder sometimes if less experienced cooks are frightened away by formal recipes. The way they are composed looks as if everything has to be done an exact way or there will be no hope for the dish.

That may be true with the science of baking but in with the art of cooking, if you have the basic techniques down, there is room for experimentation.  Things are bit less intimidating when you know it is okay to make some mistakes.

Tonight, I took a look at what I had in my fridge and pantry and let my cooking muse speak to me.

Asian chicken soup ingredients

Apart from the left over chicken, I had chicken stock, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar in the cupboard. In the fridge,I found garlic, fresh ginger, mushrooms and a small head of Napa cabbage. I also had some frozen noodles that I had picked up from a trip to a nearby Asian supermarket.

Clearly things were pointing in the direction of Asian but I wasn’t up for a stir fry. Partially because I pretty much suck at cooking a stir fry. I’m not sure why but I came to terms with it several years back.

I decided to make a quick Asian-inspired chicken noodle soup. Soups such as that are quick and easy to throw together and adaptable for whatever vegetables you have laying around.

The noodles that I used tonight only take five minutes from frozen in boiling water. So, they were particularly perfect for a quick Asian soup. Don’t feel boxed in by any particular type of noodle. Anything that will cook up in the liquid and not have to be drained will work. I’ve used rice noodles before and they have worked great.

Here is my non-recipe for my Asian-inspired chicken noodle soup.  Consider it as a starting point for your own cooking muse.

Asian-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

Asian inspired chicken noodle soup

Ingredients:

Chicken stock
Soy Sauce
Rice Wine Vinegar
Fresh finger, minced
Garlic, minced
Mushrooms, sliced
Left over chicken, shredded
Nappa cabbage, chopped thinly
Asian noodles

Directions:

Put chicken stock into a pot with a few glugs of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Bring the mixture to a  boil and throw in the fresh ginger, garlic and the sliced mushrooms.

Simmer for five minutes and then put in the leftover chicken and cabbage. Continue to simmer for a few more minutes before putting the noodle into the pot. Cook for the time dictated on the package. Once the noodles are done, the soup is ready to serve.

01/21/14

Citrus and Sage Roast Chicken

Several weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine shared a link to one of those things you should do before you die lists. This list in particular was focused on foods you should eat before your time is up. Alongside a list of exotic dishes and goodies from famous restaurants was a listing for a roast chicken that you made in your own oven.

For a moment, it struck me as sad that knowing how to roast a chicken has now moved into the realm of the exotic. Then, I found myself wondering when had been the last time that I had put in the effort to roast my own chicken. Passing scorn isn’t particularly legitimate if I am just as guilty of not routinely putting my own basic cooking skills into practice.

Whole roasting chickens do feel harder to obtain these days. Most of the fresh chicken available in the supermarkets has already been chopped up to sell in parts. It makes me wonder if the scarcity of whole chickens is to better sell the store’s own rotisserie chickens or if the convenience of those chickens has caused the lack of demand.

As it happens, roasting chickens were on sale at Ralphs this week. I’m fairly sure that had to do with Foster Farms running a damage control exercise after their recent bad publicity. Whatever the reason, I picked up two sizable roaster chickens for just over $7. One went into the freezer and the other I kept out with the idea of forcing myself to practice my chicken roasting skills.

I found a pack of fresh sage in the produce department that had been marked down for a quick sale. Sage pairs well with poultry.  I figured it could be the starting point for an idea for my planned roast chicken recipe. In the end, I went for a citrus theme and lemon, garlic, sage and butter mix that was put under the skin of the chicken. Allowing the fresh flavors of the mixture to soak into the chicken as it roasts.

For ages now, I have had a bottle of blood orange olive oil sitting in my cupboard. Seriously, it has been moved to two different apartments and barely been used. Since I was going the citrus path, I decided to use it as the olive oil I used on the chicken skin. It turned out great but a lemon infused oil would have worked well too. As would just a normal olive oil. The lemons bring enough flavor to stand on their own.

citrus and sage roast chicken

Next to the actual tasting, the best part of roasting a chicken has to be the aroma.  Over the hour and a bit that the chicken roasted, my stomach began to rumble as a result of the garlicky lemon scent that was filling my small apartment.

Luckily, the roast chicken didn’t just smell good. The flavors had worked their magic to produce depth of flavor that was evident throughout the whole chicken. As good as the citrus flavors tasted fresh out of the oven, they tasted even brighter the next day when I used leftover cold chicken to make a chicken salad.

For sure I am wheeling this citrus and sage roast chicken recipe out on one of Chris’s next visits. I’m pretty certain he’ll enjoy it and if there is anything more satisfying than cooking your own food then it is cooking a good meal for the people you love.

Citrus and Sage Roast Chicken

citrus and sage roast chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole roasting chicken, mine was about five pounds in weight
1/2 cup softened butter
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 cup fresh sage,finely chopped
1 medium sized garlic clove, minced
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Removed the giblets from the chicken and then rinse off both the inside and outside of the bird. Pat it dry and put into a roasting tin.

Combine the butter, lemon zest and juice,sage,garlic and salt and pepper. Smush it all together until well combined. You can use a fork or get stuck in with your fingers. If you do use your fingers, you may wish to consider gloves because that lemon juice and salt will make a mission of finding even the slightest cuts you may have on your fingers.

Carefully separate the breast skin from the meat of the chicken. Fill the gaps between the two with the butter mixture, taking care not to break the skin. Place the remains of the juiced lemon into the cavity of the chicken.

Finish up by rubbing the olive oil over the surface of the bird and placing in the oven.

Cook until the chicken is properly cooked through and the skin is crispy and golden. In the case of my bird, that took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.