Category Archives: Poultry Main Dishes

Bringing Back Summer…Grilled Turkey Tenderloins

Remember a short time ago when I was gushing about Fall coming to the Midwest? Well, this is the Midwest after all and seasons are relative. My last casserole adventure had barely been seen when the weather decided it wasn’t quite finished with Summer. For what seems like an eternity we have been plunged back into hot humid weather and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in the foreseeable future.

Here in the Midwest grills never really get put away. Oh, we may cover them, but we never seal them because we know that we might wake up to another summer day when we least expect it. So, I’d like to share a mostly grilled dinner that happened recently. The protein is Turkey Tenderloin. This has been a staple all summer long.

These come from Aldi. a grocery store chain that is re-inventing itself and the way people look at buying food. These stores have been a “no frills,” limited inventory, house brand, haven for people looking to save money. This year they began a multi-million dollar project of revamping their stores to expand their product line and tap into the shopping habits of more consumers. To illustrate this, everything on the plate came from Aldi; Organic Rainbow Baby Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, and Sweet Potatoes. Even the Memphis Barbecue Sauce that glazed the sweet potatoes was an Aldi find.

I didn’t set out to create an “All Aldi” dinner. It just happened and it is happening more often thanks to the fact that I can once again walk to my local Aldi (the above mentioned re-vamping caused the store to close for a month, yes, a month). They reopened brighter, bigger, and more grocery store like. The quality of their products has been improving over the last few years and this remodel is the final step to compete with, if not the “big boys,” at least the smaller more boutique chains that are expanding everywhere. Yes, they are a cousin of Trader Joe’s.

Now back to this End of Summer, Please! dinner. These tenderloins come marinated. I like the Cracked Pepper Flavor. There are two large tenderloins in each package, so there is plenty for dinner with leftovers for salads and sandwiches through the week. Just open the package, drain off the marinade and they are ready for the grill.

The sweet potatoes went on the grill, too. The wedges browned beautifully and were brushed with a bit of barbecue sauce for a little extra flavor.

The only part of the dinner that didn’t make it to the grill, the carrots and snap peas, roasted in the oven dressed, in a little brown sugar and olive oil. I am in love with Rainbow Carrots. Besides being lovely to look at, they are delicious to eat. Once I had to hunt for them, now I find them everywhere in every shape and size. From 2 pound bags of large carrots to bunches of baby carrots still sporting their ferny crowns, to these baby versions all peeled and pretty and waiting to be cooked.

I even attempted to grow them in my tiny garden this year. My pitiful harvest attested to the fact that “trash gardening” doesn’t work for everything. (magnified to show detail)

Roasting carrots is by far my favorite preparation technique. They only need a drizzle of olive oil and maybe a pinch of brown sugar and some salt and pepper. I like to keep additional seasoning to a minimum so that the sweetness of the carrots comes through. If I want to change things up I may add a little fresh thyme or some cumin, but I don’t often gild this lily.

They can roast by themselves or as in this case be joined by some onions and towards the end of roasting some snap peas. They go with everything color and taste wise.

Non- Recipe, Recipe:

Roasted Carrots

For one pound of carrots you need about one tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2  teaspoon brown sugar ( more is all right, too), salt and pepper to taste. Toss these together in a bowl. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, stirring once or twice. 

This is one dish that really doesn’t have a season. Carrots, rainbow or not, baby or big are available year around and are usually cheap. They will continue to grace the plates of many meals in the Kitchen of Love. Oh, and before I forget….

Fall, please come back. I miss you.

A Spatchcock Turkey Adventure

I know, the holidays are over.  Turkey Day is but a memory and holiday feasts are past. For many the thought of turkey has been put to rest for another year, but not in Mama D’s Kitchen. I was once again given a turkey at work and as the holidays played out I, didn’t have an opportunity to cook it, so the little fella sat in the freezer waiting for the time to be right to bring joy to the table.

That time came last weekend when a cold spell kept us indoors and something from the oven just seemed right. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of “spatchcocking” a turkey. It is somewhat of a trend these days and though it is not my style, I thought I’d take a brief ride on the bandwagon. Little did I know….

Spatchcocking is the act/art of removing the backbone from a fowl, breaking the breastbone and creating if not a poultry pancake, a relatively flat bird. This flat bird has the ability to brown on all skin surfaces and cook in record time. That is, once you have the backbone out. Poultry shears are the tool of choice to accomplish this. Alas, my poultry shears have disappeared. They were my mother’s, and as mothers will do, she created such fear that I might cut off a finger that I put them in a drawer or box somewhere to protect my digits from certain peril and thus lost track of them.

Not to fear (I thought), I had brand new kitchen shears and Papa D (complete with latex-free gloves) to take on the task. This would be quick and easy…not so much. Turkey bones are tough and the process feels a little like surgery gone terribly wrong. After a 30 minute wrestling match the backbone was out and off to the stock pot. Papa D cracked the breastbone with his gloved hands while standing on  a step stool for leverage (I’m  glad the online directions suggested that, and that I didn’t scoff at the suggestion). At last, the bird was laid out to meet its ultimate date with destiny.IMG_1080To make sure he would retain his innate moistness, I coated him with herb laced butter and olive oil, making sure that he was well lubed under the skin as well. Finally he was ready for the oven.IMG_1083An hour later he was beautifully golden and at the correct internal temperature. After a bit of a rest the bird was carved with the greatest of ease and became the star attraction of a wonderful meal. Will I do this again? Absolutely. Will I invest in poultry shears? Damn skippy.IMG_1100As with every turkey ever served there was an abundance of leftovers. There were sandwiches and salads and care packages to the children, and I still had enough left to create a casserole. I decided to make my version of Chicken Divan. This casserole from the 50’s features broccoli, and chicken in a creamy cheese laced sauce. I elaborated on the idea by switching the protein to turkey and adding mushrooms, garlic, and shallots to the sauce.IMG_1114Milk, turkey stock, and a touch of sherry were the liquid base of the sauce. Herbs de Provence and Dijon mustard bumped up the flavor and created a sauce that beautifully coated the broccoli and turkey.IMG_1121

A cheese laced panko crumb topping ensured that it would emerge from the oven golden and delicious. And it did.IMG_1126I made a casserole that served three generously. An odd number, I know, but it makes a lovely dinner for two and some lucky person gets a fabulous lunch the next day. If you have more mouths to feed, you can easily double this recipe.IMG_1129

Turkey Divan
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This is a rich and hearty casserole that works just as well with chicken.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Turkey Divan
Print Recipe
This is a rich and hearty casserole that works just as well with chicken.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Blanch and shock the broccoli: Cook the florets in boiling salted water for about 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well, pat dry, and place in a single layer in a baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.
  2. Layer the turkey on top of the broccoli.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the mushrooms. shallot, and garlic and cook stirring frequently until everything is soft and fragrant. This should take 5 - 7 minutes.
  4. Add the sherry to the pan and sprinkle the flour in as well. Whisk constantly to keep things smooth and allow to cook for 2 minutes. You will have a thick ball of stuff.
  5. Add the stock and milk a little at a time as you continue to whisk. The goal is to get all the liquid incorporated without creating lumps. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens, about 4 - 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and herbs. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Add about half of the grated Swiss cheese and stir until it melts Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and turkey.
  8. Combine the remaining Swiss Cheese with the Parmesan and panko crumbs. You can add a drizzle of olive oil if it seems too dry.
  9. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the casserole. Spray lightly with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 30 -35 minutes. The crust should be golden and everything else should be bubbly.
  10. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.
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The original Chicken Divan would make an equally delicious dish, and unless you have a whole turkey lying around just waiting to be given the ” spatchcock treatment”, it might be a more practical choice. (I bet it’s a whole lot easier, too.)

Inspired Supper: Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu-Italian Style

I absolutely love coming up with recipes. It’s so much fun to ponder, “What should I make for supper?” and then let my mind wander until the perfect blend of ingredients comes to mind. I must confess, however, sometimes my ideas are not always completely my own.

I like nothing better than to read a cookbook as if it was the hottest best seller. There are so many things to learn from the pages of any given culinary tome. Another source of inspiration comes from the myriad cooking magazines that are available. I make it a point to pick up two or three every month, choosing something different each time. The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of those magazines.

Food Network Magazine featured a Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe in its September issue. It was a classic recipe turned inside out and prepared on the grill. It was interesting enough to catch my eye. Once my eye was caught, my brain started thinking about how I could make it my own. It was easy to prepare and the ham and cheese wrapper was definitely open to interpretation. The question became, “Where should I go with this recipe?” The answer was quickly obvious. Why to Italy, of course. I kept the chicken breast and the grill leaving the other ingredients behind. Except, that is, the zucchini which is always a pleasant partner in any Italian caper. Prosciutto and provolone cheese became the wrapper. A few sage leaves came along to provide an earthy surprise.2015-09-20 18.58.24

I decided that boneless, skinless chicken breasts can always use a little help in the flavor department, so I marinated them in olive, oil, lemon juice, and some Italian herbs. A bit of onion and some garlic also joined the mix. Then the grill did its magic and when the chicken was almost done, I added the sage, cheese, and prosciutto, 2015-09-20 19.35.29The beautiful bundles returned to the grill for a few minutes to turn a lovely pale gold. I decided to top it with some of my pesto to round the final turn for a classically Italian dish.2015-09-20 19.46.00Then there was the matter of the zucchini. My grill isn’t very large and can only provide a friendly and hot haven for one thing at a time, so the zucchini roasted in the oven. It was paired with red and sweet onions a glug of  olive oil and some Italian herb blend.2015-09-20 18.51.15Towards the end of the cooking I added a sprinkle of finely grated Romano cheese and let it brown up under the broiler. A little roughly chopped parsley and it was ready.2015-09-20 19.38.26This was a very satisfying supper, not too heavy and bursting with flavor. Other than marinating the chicken, everything was ready in about  half an hour. Perfect for a weeknight, but great for a weekend meal after a busy day.2015-09-20 19.48.05

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu: Italian Style
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu: Italian Style
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in a zip top bag. Mix together the lemon juice, grated garlic, chopped onion, one teaspoon of the herb seasoning, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Pour into the bag with the chicken squeeze and turn the bag to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  2. Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a hot grill. Grill until lightly browned. Turn and grill until the second side matches the first.
  3. Remove the chicken from the grill and lay three sage leaves on each breast. Top with a slice of the cheese and wrap with the prosciutto. Return the chicken to the grill cheese side up and cook for a few minutes to melt the cheese and crisp up the prosciutto.
  4. While the chicken is grilling, combine the zucchini, onions and the remaining olive oil and herb blend in a baking dish. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
  5. Top the zucchini with the Romano cheese and broil until the cheese is golden. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
  6. Top each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Plate it up and serve.
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I’m happy that this recipe inspired me and happier that the inspiration turned into something delicious. The moral of this story is that any recipe worth “borrowing” is worth making your own. 

Smokey Grilled Chicken Thighs with Sage and Other Good Things

Chicken thighs are wonderful. Meaty, juicy and the perfect protein for the grill. While the boneless/skinless variety is everyone’s darling, the bone in/skin on version is not without its charms. The bone adds flavor and the skin, when carefully trimmed provides a nice little blanket of succulent juice.

These thighs come to the table like a little present. There’s a tasty surprise under the skin, herbs led by fresh sage leaves, garlic and olive oil. The grill provides a nice smokey flavor thanks to that skin and olive oil. In this case a small (very small) grill fire is a good thing. Where there is fire there will be smoke. Where there is smoke there will be flavor.

Figure on two thighs per person. My package had six and there were three of us eating so the equation worked. Just multiply and divide, or let the serving adjustment feature on this recipe do the thinking for you.

This went wonderfully with a Potato and Green Bean Salad the I will share with you soon. As the holiday weekend stretches before us, give this recipe a try. It’s perfect for an intimate gathering, but can easily adapt to feed a crowd.

Smokey Sage Grilled Chicken Thighs
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These little bundles of goodness make a wonderful dinner.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Smokey Sage Grilled Chicken Thighs
Print Recipe
These little bundles of goodness make a wonderful dinner.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix the garlic, herb blend, and olive oil together in a small bowl. Allow to sit for an hour or so before assembling the chicken thighs. This allows the herbs to soak up the olive oil and become almost a paste.
  2. Trim the chicken thighs of extra fat and skin. They should have a nice little cap of skin when you're finished.
  3. Carefully loosen the skin and gently pull it aside. Leave one edge of skin connected to the meat.
  4. Divide the garlic herb paste evenly between the thighs. Spread it ever so gently on the flesh of the thighs.
  5. Place two sage leaves on each f the thighs and carefully pull the skin back in place.
  6. Use kitchen twine to tie up the thighs. I did this like ribbon on a package; crossing the twine on top and knotting it on the bottom.
  7. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and place skin side up on a medium hot grill. Allow to cook 7 -9 minutes with the lid down until the bottom is nicely browned.
  8. Carefully turn the thighs skin side down. Close the lid and allow to cook for 5 minutes or so. Check the thighs at this point. Lifting the lid should cause a little fire. Blow it out and re-cover the grill. You've just set up your smoker.
  9. Let the chicken continue to cook/smoke for another 5 minutes or until they are cooked through (internal temperature should be 165 degrees).
  10. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut the strings and plate the chicken.
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Love, Mama D

 

Weeknight Wonderland- Orange Sesame Chicken Tenders

Some weeknights feel like dinner can’t get on the table fast enough. Other nights, a little delay of reinforcement can be a good thing, as long as it doesn’t take too long. It doesn’t matter which you choose, as long as you can get some of the prep done ahead of time. That’s where marinating comes in.

Marinades don’t always mean that something is going on the grill, in fact, this chicken bakes in the oven after an overnight soak in a citrusy and spicy marinade. It doesn’t go in the oven naked either. It is generously coated in crunchy toasted panko bread crumbs and sesame seeds. Sesame oil, sriracha, and soy sauce give this marinade a distinctly Asian flavor. Fresh orange juice and zest along with orange marmalade give it a citrus zing. Garlic makes it yummy and a little chicken stock helps you not miss the oil.

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The recipe makes a lot of marinade, but it is going to do double duty, marinating the chicken and creating a wonderful glaze for the finished tenders. The do-ahead/time-saving feature here is that you can marinate the chicken for 24 hours. Make the whole batch of marinade and pour half of it over the chicken. It can relax in the fridge overnight along with the reserved marinade (in a separate covered container, of course). The longer marinating time lets the flavors really permeate the chicken.

About 30 minutes before show time, remove the tenders from their marinade and let them drain on a rack. Lightly toast the panko crumbs and sesame seeds in a dry pan then pour them in a shallow bowl. Clean and dry the rack and place it in a foil lined baking sheet. spray it lightly with cooking spray. Coat each tender with the crumb mixture and place on  the rack.

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These will take about 20 minutes or less in the oven. While they bake, you can reduce the reserved marinade. This will take about the same amount of time that the tenders do. Isn’t that convenient?

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Sesame Orange Chicken Tenders
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Sesame Orange Chicken Tenders
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the first six ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to mix things up completely.
  2. Put the chicken tenders into a zip-top bag. Add half of the marinade mixture and seal the bag. Put the chicken and the jar with the remaining marinade in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for up to 24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to prepare the chicken, remove the tenders from the marinade and allow to drain briefly on a wire rack. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. In a small dry fry pan over medium heat toast the panko and sesame seeds tossing often until the crumbs are light golden and the sesame seeds begin to become fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Roll the tenders in the crumb mixture pressing the crumbs in to create a nice thick coat.
  6. Wash and dry the rack you drained the chicken on and put it on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Spray it all lightly with the cooking spray.
  7. Place the coated tenders on the rack leaving plenty of space in between. Bake for 15- 20 minutes. The chicken should be golden brown and feel firm. While the chicken bakes, cook the remaining marinade.
  8. In a small fry pan, heat the remaining marinade over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer,thicken and reduce for about 15 - 20 minutes. If the glaze seems too thick add a little more stock. Continue to cook as necessary until the glaze is the consistency you like.
  9. Remove the tenders from the oven when they are ready . Transfer to serving or individual plates and drizzle with the glaze. Serve with sides of your choice.
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Choose sides that are quick as well. A precooked rice pouch that you can add your own special touches to and a vegetable that stir fries quickly keep time within the 30 minute range. Another time saver is to have ingredients do double ( and even triple) duty. I sliced the whole bunch of green onions; the tops went in the rice, and the bottoms joined the broccolini. The carton of stock just stayed on the counter so I could add it to the veggies and the glaze as needed. It also served as the cooking liquid for my rice.

I opted for home cooked brown rice which added an extra 15 minutes or so to my prep time but it was the passive kind; the stove did the work. A little sesame oil and chicken stock perked up the flavor of the rice. I stir fried the broccolini with a little garlic and ginger that played very nicely  with the onions. Start to finish it took less than 15 minutes.

The combination of flavors and textures was amazing. The best part is that it was super easy and with a few do-ahead steps, quick to fix. It was a satisfying dinner that will appear again in Mama D’s Kitchen. Give it a try in your kitchen.