Thighs and Fries

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Not the most attractive picture but I love this dinner.  The blog, Dinner A Love Story cleverly named it Thighs and Fries, although as you can see, I usually make it with whole legs.  Bone-in thighs can be hard to find since we all love our boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Serve something green with this if you must, but do try it.

Thighs and Fries, adapted from Dinner, A Love Story

Ingredients:

  • Fries:
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 2 T. parmesan cheese
  • 1 t. garlic salt (I sometimes use Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 t. water (according to the original recipe, the water helps to make the fries crisp and fluffy)
  • Chicken:
  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 3 whole legs, separated
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable or grapeseed oil (grapeseed oil is good for high heat – this picture was taken before I discovered grapeseed oil.  Last time I made this dish – with grapeseed oil – the chicken was browner.)

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 475.

2) Cut your potatoes into wedges.  I cut the potato into quarters, lengthwise, and cut each quarter into 3 wedges, so I get 12 wedges from 3 potatoes.

3) Combine all other ingredients for potatoes in a bowl.  Add the potatoes and toss, coating the potatoes well.

4) Put the wedges on a foil-lined pan (I use non-stick foil, which is one of my favorite things in the world.)  I put the wedges skin-side down, point-side up, but I don’t know that it matters that much.

5) Bake until brown, about 40 minutes or so.  (the original recipe says 25 minutes, but my fries are never close to done in 25 minutes.)  Just keep them in until they are brown and a little crispy.  I usually take them out the same time I’m taking out the chicken.

6) When the fries are in the oven, start the chicken.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

7) Heat an oven-proof skillet until it’s very hot.  Add a little oil, and then add the chicken, skin-side down.  Cook on high heat for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 12 minutes, moving the chicken pieces around a little from time to time to make sure they are not sticking to the pan.

8) Transfer skillet to the oven and cook for 13 minutes.  Flip the chicken pieces and cook 5 more minutes, until skin gets crispy.

Enjoy.

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Chicken Meatballs and Quick Pepperonata

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Meatballs are fun food.  You need several meatball recipes in your repertoire.  These are chicken meatballs, with quick pepperonata on the side.  The mild taste of the chicken goes nicely with the sweet and vinegary flavor of the pepperonata.  And just so you can see exactly how “good enough” my dinners can be, here’s a picture when I took a little less care with forming my meatballs.  Ugly but still tasty!

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Chicken Meatballs with Quick Pepperonata, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • Meatballs:
  • 1 c. bread (about 2-3 slices)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 3 oz. pancetta (you can buy pre-chopped pancetta at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 2 T. tomato paste (The Good Enough Gourmet always buys tomato paste in a tube, to avoid waste.)
  • 3 T. parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Pepperonata:
  • 3 bell peppers (your choice of color)
  • 1 1/2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 T. capers and/or olives
  • 1 t. red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • a few shakes red chile pepper flakes
  • salt

Instructions:

1) Roast your peppers for the pepperonata first.  You can do this in several ways.  You can roast the peppers whole, which makes them easy to peel.  But in my experience, roasting peppers whole involves turning the peppers so they char evenly on all sides and then putting the peppers in a bag so the skin separates from the flesh.  Not hard, but too fussy for a weeknight when I’m also trying to make meatballs.  You can cut the peppers into strips, toss them with olive oil and roast the strips and put up with the skin.  I split the difference, cutting my peppers into four large, flattish pieces (just slice down from the top to the bottom on all four sides of the pepper), tossed the pieces with olive oil, put them skin side up on a foil-lined pan, and roasted them at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

2) Start the meatballs.  Tear the bread into small pieces and soak in the milk for a few minutes.  Preheat your oven to 400 (if you haven’t already, in step 1).

3) Chop your pancetta, or better yet, do what I usually do and buy pre-chopped pancetta at Trader Joes – 1 package is perfect for this recipe.  Chop your onion and garlic.  Chop parsley.

4) Heat a small pan and when hot, add the pancetta.  Cook for a couple of minutes until it renders its fat, and add the onion, garlic, and some salt and pepper.  Cook until onion softens.  Remove from heat and let cool a little.

5) In a large bowl, slightly beat the egg.  Add chicken, 1 T. tomato paste, parsley, bread (squeeze out the excess liquid and discard), pancetta/onion mixture, and salt and pepper.  Mix together.

6) Form meatballs and put on a foil lined pan.  I sometimes use my small ice cream scoop to form my meatballs.  Brilliant trick I read about!  HOWEVER, you have to wash the scoop scrupulously since you’re working with raw meat.  I might even consider buying a scoop just for meatballs to be on the safe side.  Also, ice cream scoop meatballs are not shaped very nicely.  My top picture is of meatballs formed by hand and the bottom is meatballs formed with the scoop.  But how much easier and neater the scoop makes the process!

7) Combine 1 T. tomato paste with a little olive oil and brush on the top of the meatballs.  It doesn’t stick very well, but do the best you can.  As you can probably tell, I skipped this step in the bottom picture and it wasn’t the end of the world.  The tomato paste topping does add extra flavor though.

8) Bake for 25 minutes.

9) For the pepperonata, combine the oil (1 T), vinegar, red pepper flakes, and capers and/or olives (the recipe calls for capers, but when I want to gild the lily, I buy a small assortment of olives from the Whole Foods olive bar – it makes the dish something to look forward to).  Peel the pepper pieces if you feel so compelled (I do), slice them into strips, and add them to the oil/vinegar mixture.  Add a little salt.

 

Sausage and Cheese One-Pot Pasta

IMG_1858  Pasta with spicy sausage and creamy cheese.  Made in one pot.  Hello dinner.

Sausage and Cheese One-Pot Pasta, adapted from Kevin and Amanda

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 lb sausage of your choice (uncooked or cooked, see note below)
  • 1 small onion
  • a few cloves garlic
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (w/diced chiles if you’d like)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 8 oz. pasta (see my note below)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or use Pepper Jack if you want it spicier)
  • 2 green onions

Instructions:

First, a note on proportions.  The proportions above are from the original recipe.  However, the Good Enough Gourmet does not use 8 oz. of pasta, leaving half a box or bag sitting in the pantry forgotten about for the rest of eternity.  Instead, I bought a 12 oz. bag of tricolor pasta at Trader Joe’s and increased the liquid (3 c. of broth or broth/water combination).  The rest of the proportions stayed the same.

1) Preheat your oven to broil.

2) If you’re using pre-cooked sausage, slice it into rounds and brown it.  If you’re using raw sausage, the easiest thing to do is to remove it from the casing and brown the meat.

3) Chop your onion and garlic and add them to the pan.  Cook until soft.

4) Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

5) Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese.  Sprinkle the other half on top of the pasta.  Put in oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

6) Top with chopped green onions.

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