Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken with Dilled Orzo, by sharon

October 19, 2009

I made this over a month ago for my anniversary dinner, and it was such a hit that I decided to make it again. Originally found in a copy of EveryDay Food, I (as per usual) tweaked it more to my taste.  That means more garlic and more lemon!

Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken with Dilled Orzo

Ingredients:
1 chicken, cut into 10 pieces
3 lemons, quartered
8-10 cloves of garlic, smashed
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup dried orzo
1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  If you’ve purchased a chicken already cut into pieces, you’re almost done. Using a large, sharp knife, cut each chicken breast in half horizontally. This makes all the pieces almost equal size, which is what allows them to cook quickly and evenly.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss chicken, lemon and garlic cloves with a teaspoon (I used a little more) of olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Arrange skin side up.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pan. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive and dried dill.

Serve chicken pieces arranged over the orzo.  I highly suggest you drizzle some of the pan juices over everything as well.

While the chicken was cooking, I made roasted carrots underneath. Easy peasy: chop some carrots. Toss them on a rimmed baking sheet with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and ground thyme. Roast at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, shaking once or twice while cooking.

chicken

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Creamy Tomato Soup

October 18, 2009

Soup

I love a good tomato soup.  And even though I’ll still crack open a can of Campbell’s and be happy enough, I much prefer a heartier version. In fact, Le Madeline’s sells some in a jar that is pretty good. But you know, that can get expensive. Especially as often as I want soup.

Now that my blender is all fixed, I thought now would be the perfect time to give this a shot. And this recipe from Martha Stewart (shut up) seemed like a winner.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic (I used 4 because I like garlic)
2 14-ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes (I got the kind with basil in it, since my store didn’t have fresh basil)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 heavy cream

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring constantly, until translucent about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and their juices and the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer tomato mixture to blender (put a towel over the lid) and puree until smooth.

Return soup to a clean pot and set over low heat. Whisk in cream and heat through.  I tasted it at this point and added some more salt and pepper, along with a dash of ground thyme. It needed more salt than I expected, but the cream probably had something to do with that.

If you have some leftover and you want to reheat it, do NOT do it in a microwave. This will break the cream and it will be really gross. Heat gently over low or medium low.

I made a grilled cheese sandwich to go with this and it was fantastic!!


Cheater Pulled Pork, by sharon

October 15, 2009

You know what? One might think that as much as I love barbecue, my living in Texas would make me a really happy, satisfied person. But it doesn’t.  I just don’t like Texas barbecue that much. It’s too smoky, too dependant on beef and brisket and . . . well it’s not my cup of tea (or bottle of sauce, as it were).  And speaking of sauce, I don’t like Texas sauce.

Which I suppose means that I prefer Georgia or Carolina barbecue.  Maybe. What I like is my dad’s barbecue and I don’t have a clue what regional affiliation he might be going for. He’s from Florida, there’s just no telling.

Anyway, the purpose of this is to say that even though I live where I live, I don’t get to eat the kind of barbecue I like. And what I really like, more than anything, is pulled pork. And that is reallly hard to find in super beef-eating Texas.

So it seems obvious that I should make it myself. However, I don’t have a grill and the smoker I was given is sitting at Molly’s house because my porch is way too tiny for something like that. What’s a girl to do?

The answer? CHEAT like it’s going out of style and use a Crock Pot.

I looked around online for how to do it and found a few different answers. But the basic answer seemed to be to rub the meat with some spices, let it sit for 2-3 days in the fridge, put it in the Crock Pot for 10 hours, shred, eat. Well, okay. I can do that.

I called my dad for a few pointers. After he was done laughing at me for trying to do something like this without wood chips and/or a fire, he told me two very important things:
1) Throw in a little liquid smoke or you’ll be sorry
2) The meat has to reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees or it won’t shred properly.

So I went to the store and found a 6-pound, bone-in pork butt. I was looking for a boneless pork butt or a pork shoulder, but that’s all the store at the front of my neighborhood had. It’s pork, I figured it would be fine.

I threw together what looked like some good spices: a little brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne. I mixed all that in a bowl and then rubbed it into the meat. Then I wrapped the meat securely in plastic wrap (like 3 times around), and let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 days. I could have let it sit another day, but I was getting a little impatient, honestly.

I woke up early one morning and dug out my Crock Pot. I poured 1/4 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of liquid smoke into the bottom of the liner, set the meat inside, turned it on low, and popped the lid on. And then I went right back to bed.

Some time later, I wondered if the pork was done. It hadn’t been 10 hours, but I was curious anyway. So I got my handy meat therometer (the kind with a cord that plugs into an alarm/sensor, I love it so much) and poked the meat. Voila! It was just over 200 degrees!

I took the meat out to cool and contemplated the juices and liquid left behind. I threw them out, but only because I intended to toss the meat with sauce when I reheated it. If I hadn’t, I would have cooled and skimmed the liquid to keep around for moistening the meat.

Once the meat was cool enough to handle, I grabbed my giant cutting board and started pulling hunks off of the . . . bigger hunk. I shredded all the meat with two forks, discarding any fat, and threw it all back into the (cleaned) Crock Pot liner.

Shredded and Waiting for Sauce

Then I grabbed a bowl and mixed a couple of barbecue sauces I had on hand. One was a vinegary sauce, the other was a dark, sweet concoction that almosted tasted like candy. I played around until I got the balance I liked, and poured it over the meat in the Crock Pot. That went back on low while I made my potato salad to go with it.

And it was gooooood. The gf came home from work and pretty much lost her mind at the smell that was wafting through the apartment. We made Pulled Pork sandwiches and ate potato salad and watched stupid tv. And I finally got my barbecue!

sandwich macro