Lemon chicken alfredo

April 27, 2010

Some dishes are renown for the hard work that goes into making them delicious. But there are plenty of dishes that are famously delicious simply thanks to their ingredients. Like Alfredo. So, do not be dismayed if you are on a gluten-free diet that you cannot open a jar of Alfredo sauce from the shelf and dump it on your (brown rice) pasta. This is not hard, and it’s better.

Alfredo sauce might be elementary, but good chicken is another story. Making boneless chicken that isn’t dried out and rubbery always presents a challenge. I have, thus, become a big fan of brining my chicken whenever I get the chance and cooking it “quickly” at high temperatures. This is not hard, either, but it does require some forethought. And it’s really not absolutely necessary, but I believe this extraordinary sauce deserves a worthy accompaniment.

Alfredo Sauce

  • zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half the lemon (reserve juice of other half for chicken)
  • 3 T salted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C grated Parmesan (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the cornstarch, the grated zest of 1 lemon and the minced garlic. Let the butter heat until foaming a bit, then add the cream. Simmer until the mixture has thickened, then stir in the Parmesan, sugar, nutmeg and juice of half a lemon. Take off the heat. Toss with brown rice pasta.

Chicken

  • 1 –  1 ½ lbs boneless chicken
  • ¼ C sugar
  • ¼ C salt
  • water to cover
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Fresh minced herbs, such as parsley and chives

In a large plastic resealable bag or a container with a cover, dissolve 1/4 C table salt and 1/4 C sugar in a couple cups of water. When it has dissolved, add the 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of boneless chicken breast and add more cold water, enough to completely submerge the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse thoroughly under running water. Pat the chicken dry and place in an oven pan. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with fresh ground black pepper and garlic powder. Place the chicken in an oven preheated to 500 degrees. Cook the chicken for around 20 minutes, (depending on the thickness) or until the chicken starts to brown a bit. After removing the chicken from the oven, squirt on the juice of half a lemon and let it rest, loosely tented with foil, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into slices and serve over pasta tossed with Alfredo sauce, reserving a bit of the sauce to spoon over the chicken. Garnish with fresh herbs.


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Roasted cranberry chicken

December 16, 2009

Perhaps you have a can of cranberry sauce in your cupboard, leftover from Thanksgiving, that you don’t know what to do with. This recipe is for you. The brining step is optional if you are trying to cut back on your sodium, don’t have time, or don’t like the taste of brined meat. If you do have the time and forethought, the brine will guarantee moist and flavorful chicken through and through. You might want to start at the lower end of the brining time your first time making the chicken, brining it longer the next time if you would have liked more flavor, as the 6 hours of brining might make the chicken too salty for some tastes. Serve the chicken and gravy with steamed brown rice and roasted butternut squash.

Brine:

  • ¼ C salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • a few long sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  • water
  • one gallon resealable plastic bag

Chicken:

  • 3 ½ to 4 lbs bone in chicken breasts with skin
  • 3 T softened, unsalted butter
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 T chopped ginger
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce (whole berry or jellied)

Fill the resealable plastic bag one third to half full of lukewarm water. Add the salt and sugar, swishing it around a bit to help it dissolve. Add the chicken breasts and rosemary and seal the bag. Place the bag in a in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours. Remove the chicken from the bag and rinse it thoroughly (or else the chicken will be too salty).

Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with some paper towels and place them into a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the finely grated zest of a lemon and of an orange with the butter. Separate the skin of each chicken breast from the meat with your fingers and rub the zest-butter mixture under the skin of each chicken breast. Sprinkle 1 T chopped ginger, the juice of a lemon, the juice of an orange and about 1 T balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the chicken at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the cranberry sauce in a bowl and mash it with a fork so that it is easier to spread over the chicken. Take the chicken out of the oven after 20 mintues and spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce over the chicken, putting  the remaining cranberry sauce in with the pan juices. Bake the chicken for another 20 to 30 minutes at 450 degrees, or until internal temps reach 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place the chicken breasts on a platter to rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Skim the fat off of the gravy in the pan. Serve the chicken and some brown rice with the gravy.

I have not found a gluten-free green enchilada sauce in a can yet. But I have found that many green salsas, made with very similar ingredients, are free of gluten. So pick up a jar of, say, Herdez salsa verde and treat yourself to some enchiladas.

  • 1 yellow onion, halved and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • few shakes of garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 small can of diced green chilies
  • ½ C sour cream
  • couple handfuls of chopped cilantro
  • 3 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 10 corn tortillas (gluten free)
  • 1 16z jar of Herdez green salsa
  • coconut oil and olive oil

Halve a yellow onion and cut each half into quarters. Place the onion into the bottom of a pot along with a bay leaf. Place the boneless chicken breasts on top of the onion and cover with water. Add the salt, sugar and garlic powder, and bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces). Drain the chicken and onion in a colander in the sink, rinsing the chicken with water to remove any excess salt. Discard the bay leaf. Place the chicken and onion in a bowl and shred with two forks. Add the cumin, chopped green chilies, sour cream, cilantro, and 1 1/2 C of the shredded cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour 1/2 C of the salsa verde into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Pour a little olive oil and a little coconut oil (or the oil of your choice) into a large skillet, so that it covers the bottom of the skillet by about an 1/8 inch. Heat the oil until you see a few bubbles rise to the surface and then turn the heat down to low. You want the oil just hot enough to soften the tortillas, but not hot enough to fry them. Place a tortilla into the skillet with some tongs, a few seconds on each side until it softens. Place the softened tortilla into the baking dish and fill the center with some of the chicken mixture. Roll the sides of the tortilla over the filling and turn it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat the process with the rest of the tortillas. I usually have about 8 enchiladas across the length of the pan and 2 lying the other direction at the bottom of the pan. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining salsa verde and cheese.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is brown and the sauce is bubbly.

This might be about as easy and tasty as it gets. No measuring allowed on this one – just keep sprinkling and tasting until you are satisfied. I really enjoy adding spinach leaves to tomato based dishes right at the end of cooking so that they wilt but do not cook. This adds wonderful color and health to your food without altering the taste nearly at all! Really, I know that when most of us hear the word spinach we fixate on the smell that leaks out of a freshly opened can of spinach. But the taste of fresh, wilted spinach is worlds away from canned spinach and it is milder even than frozen spinach.

This recipe makes a couple of large servings, or more if there are no big eaters at the table. Serve the sauce over brown rice pasta, which is available very economically at Trader Joe’s (and it is also available at many other health food stores in different brands).

  • 1 14.5z can of diced tomatoes and their juices
  • good drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tsp or so of chopped garlic
  • few shakes of dried basil leaves
  • fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • handful of fresh, torn spinach leaves
  • few sprinkles of grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium sauce pan heat the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and pepper over medium high heat for 1 minute, adjusting the seasonings as needed. Place the chicken breast into the pan and cover, cooking for about 10 minutes until the chicken breast is cooked through. Turn off the heat and remove the chicken breast from the pan to a cutting board. Take a big handful of fresh spinach leaves, tear them into smaller pieces and stir them into the tomato sauce. Add a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese and check to see if the sauce needs any additional salt. Chop, slice, or shred the chicken and stir it back into the sauce. Serve the sauce over gluten-free pasta.

*For an extra treat, try sprinkling the warm pasta with a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese before you ladle on the sauce.

If you have an abundant source of fresh basil (either from your garden or nearby market), this is a great way to make use of it. Be creative with the salad ingredients if you like.

Salad:
• half of a 9z bag of spinach, shredded
• half of a small to medium head of napa cabbage, shredded
• 1 C loosely packed basil leaves, shredded
• leaves of 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
• 6 to 8z of bean sprouts
• couple handfuls of sunflower seeds

Dressing:
• ½ C natural peanut butter
• 1 C coconut milk
• juice of a small can of mandarin oranges (packed in natural juices)
• juice of 2 limes
• 2 T gluten-free soy sauce
• 2 T honey
• 1 T sesame oil
• 1 T chopped ginger
• 1 tsp chopped garlic
• ½ tsp chili garlic paste

• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Garnish:
• drained mandarin oranges
• slices of green apple

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing in a medium pan. Place chicken breasts in the pan with dressing, heat over medium heat until chicken breasts are cooked through and sauce is thickened, stirring every couple of minutes to ensure that the sauce does not burn (turn down the heat if necessary), about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and put chicken breasts in a medium bowl to cool.

Toss the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Shred the chicken breasts with two forks (once they are moderately cooled) and mix the chicken into the dressing in the pan. Toss warm dressing/chicken mixture with salad in the large bowl until thoroughly mixed.

Plate salad and garnish with mandarin oranges and green apple slices.