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Entries in Chicken (40)

Tuesday
Apr052011

Roast Chicken and Farro Risotto

*Post by Angela.

This is another of our budget meals. Whole chickens are gloriously inexpensive, running anywhere from $5-$8 dollars, and there are a zillion different ways to prepare them. I'd been hearing about Zuni Cafe's famous roast chicken for years, and given that it requires just 4 ingredients, it was the perfect time for me to try to recreate it at home. I also took the opportunity to use up the farro that had been sitting in my cabinets for...well, too long. I had fallen in love with farro risotto at Perilla Restaurant in New York (the establishment of Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle), but had never quite gotten around to making it on my own. It didn't take too long to find this recipe from Food & Wine. With the addition of some simply roasted asparagus, this comforting homey meal made both Mark and I incredibly happy.

 

 

List of ingredients for the chicken:
  • 1 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Warning: this chicken recipe is a little time-consuming, but it yields some pretty great crispy skin. Three days before I wanted to serve the chicken, I took it out, removed the fat lumps from the inside of the chicken (GROSS), rinsed it and patted it dry. I made sure to dry the inside, too. Once the chicken was dry, I slid my finger underneath the skin over each of the chicken breasts, and underneath the skin over the thickest part of each of the thighs. Then I slid a sprig of rosemary into each of the 4 pockets I made.

 

 

I seasoned the chicken really, really well with salt and pepper (including a sprinkle or two on the inside), then covered it and put it in the fridge to chill for awhile.

 

 

About a day before Chicken Dinner Day, I removed the cover and patted the chicken dry again (the salt will pull more moisture out of the chicken). The day of dinner, I preheated the oven to 475, and heated a pan big enough to hold the chicken over medium heat. I patted the chicken dry once more, then placed it, breast-side up, in the pan and put the whole thing in the oven for 30 minutes.

 

 

I turned the chicken over, roasted for another 20 minutes, then in the last 10 minutes, I turned it back over to crisp the skin over the breasts. Then I took the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

 

 

While the chicken was roasting, I made the farro risotto.

List of ingredients for the risotto:
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups farro (10 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and ground black pepper

First I heated the olive oil over medium heat and added the onions and cooked about 6-8 minutes, until they were softened. I added the farro and cooked an additional minute, making sure that all the grains were covered with oil.

 

 

I added the wine and cooked it about 2 more minutes, until the wine was absorbed. I then added the broth, about a 1/2 cup, and cooked until the liquid was absorbed, then continued the process until all the broth was gone and the farro was tender (with just a little bite still left), about 25 minutes. I stirred in the cream, cheese, and butter, cooked an additional 5 minutes, then seasoned the risotto with salt and pepper.

Oh, and I roasted some asparagus, too (coated the spears with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and threw it in with the chicken for the last 15 minutes of cooking). We served it with a little  melted miso butter from the other night.

 

 

The chicken was very good, with a great salty, crispy skin, and surprisingly moist meat, although I don't know if I think it beats the Contessa's recipe, which has the added bonus of being easier. The best thing on the plate was definitely the farro risotto, though, which I prefer to the classic arborio rice version, because the farro has this wonderful nuttiness is somehow much more filling and satisfying. And obviously, asparagus is always fantastic. Given that we already had the farro at home, I think this meal came out to under $20 for both of us. Another budget meal success!

 

Friday
Mar042011

The Chicken Lady

*Post by Mark.

Do one thing and do it well. That seems to be the mantra for The Chicken Lady who makes a pretty mean chicken, no matter which way she's serving it. Fried chicken, chicken pot pie, Thai chicken - you name it. If it's got chicken in the title, she does it and does it well.

 

 

The brick and mortar location, merely a front for her catering business, can be found in a tiny space in a San Vicente shopping plaza. Inside, the floral embellishments are heavy-handed, giving off a vibe that would fit somewhere between a mortuary and a psychic's parlor if not for all the pictures of celebrities adorning the wall. Gathered here are pictures of an impressive list of celebrity clients, including what appears to be the entire cast of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. And that brings us back to the matter of what's coming out of the kitchen: the Chicken Lady's pride and joy, which has so evidently endeared her to half of Hollywood. 

 

 

And that may be the lone downside of The Chicken Lady. Her comfort food is in such demand that we have to share her. While she's meeting the catering demands of movie productions and A-List clientele (see client list below), the Chicken Lady storefront is only open for lunch during weekdays. But if you're able to squeeze in a Chicken Lady lunch break, you likely won't find yourself disappointed. 

 

 

Chicken dishes are each served with a salad and a side - a relative steal for under nine bucks.  My crew, eager to try a number of dishes, decided to go tapas style. First up were the Chicken Tenders (below). A cornerstone of comfort food if there ever was one and the Lady does not disappoint. Did someone say comfort food? The Mac n' Cheese was also top notch, made with an interest blend of cheeses. When I asked her point blank what the secret ingredient was, The Chicken Lady merely smiled. The magician never reveals her secrets.

 

 

Our least favorite, if we had to pick a least favorite, were the Mesquite Lime Tenders (below) along with a side of french fries. Still great, but not much is going to compare to those classic Chicken Tenders and Mac n' Cheese. One thing that the Chicken Lady does pride herself on is the healthful nature of her food. It's certainly a tricky balancing act providing such savory comforts without getting actors and actresses fat at the craft services table.

 

 

I thought the Chicken Tenders couldn't be topped, until I tried the Chicken Thai Sticks (below). These sweet and sticky tenders were glazed with The Chicken Lady's 'Sexy Sauce' (don't look at me, I'm literally reading this off the menu). This particular entree came with a side of baked beans. They were just about as delicious as baked beans can be.

 

 

Depending on the day, you're likely to be surprised by a special of some sort. Our beginning-of-the-week-doldrums were cast aside by the mention of Sweet Mondays. We all got one of these tasty cheese pies for free (with the purchase of our entrees). It was yet another one of those secrets that the Lady was tight-lipped about. 

 

 

The Chicken Lady has been filling Los Angeles area stomachs for over fifteen years and there's a reason she's still around. If the sweets aren't your thing, head in on Thursdays for Chicken Pot Pie. Or Fridays for Baby Back Ribs. 

The Chicken Lady on Urbanspoon

Monday
Feb072011

Honey Dijon Wings

*Post by Angela.

For the Super Bowl this year, we were happy to be hosting Mark's parents. After three nights of touring LA eateries, I think everyone was a little dined out and looking forward to eating a relaxed meal at home. Mark and I made a couple of snacks to munch on throughout the game (beer brats and salad), and I whipped up a batch of my favorite Brussels sprouts recipe. But the main attraction was my first attempt at making Korean-style fried chicken, which I fell in love with at Kyochon. In consideration of Mark's mom and dad (who are not the heat-addicts that we are), I decided to forgo the spice and instead went with this recipe for honey dijon wings. For the chicken itself, I took some tips from The Ravenous Couple. Not only was the whole double-frying process surprisingly incident-free*, but the result was so good, that Mark's mom asked for the recipe at the end of the evening. Talk about gratifying!

 

 

 List of ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 3 lbs chicken wings
  • 1 cup extra fine flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • A whole mess of canola oil (enough to be 3 inches deep in your frying pot)

First, I put together the sauce, melting the butter over low heat in the pan, adding the honey and mustards, and whisking until the ingredients were thoroughly combined. I poured the completed sauce into a big bowl to await the wings.

 

 

Next, I moved on to the chicken. I sifted together the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper into a big bowl. I found this Wondra after about 20 minutes of scouring the baking aisle - there was only one cannister left, and it was hidden behind the regular flour. I don't know why the Ralph's on 3rd Street is trying to thwart me, but it FAILED. I bet this would still work with regular flour, but the skin wouldn't be quite as crisp.

 

 

I patted the chicken very dry and tossed the wings in flour mixture. It's important to make sure that you really dry your wings well, otherwise, the flour mixture may get all clumpy and thick - you just want a light dusting on the wings.

 

 

I poured the oil into a big pot with very high sides (to prevent painful splattering) heated it to 350 degrees and fried the chicken for the first time, about 5 minutes per batch, making sure not to crowd too much chicken in at once. As each batch finished, I removed it from the oil and placed it on a paper-towel lined baking sheet.

 

 

Then I started the whole process over again - I made sure the oil came back up to 350 degrees (the temperature of the oil was lowered while frying the first time through), fried the wings again for about 7 minutes per batch, and laid them on paper towels for the excess oil to drain.

 

 

Once all the chicken was fried, I tossed the wings in the sauce, making sure that every centimeter of the meat was covered in the sticky, sweet sauce. I never thought I'd be able to make fried chicken with such shatteringly crisp skin, but there you go. And the sauce was definitely a crowd-pleaser - sweet, but not too sweet, with a tangy little kick. I'm definitely going to be making Korean-style wings again for the next event we host (but probably a spicy version). 

*Incident-free, that is, until the clean-up phase, where I proceeded to dump hot oil all over my chest. Luckily, the oil had started to cool a little already, so I walked away without lasting injury, but OUCH. Ironically, the mishap occurred because the high sides of the pot I used (to prevent painful splattering, remember?) made it difficult to pour the oil into a container to dispose of it...

 

Tuesday
Feb012011

Chicken Tikka Masala

*Post by Angela.

I'm in the beginnings of a crush phase with Indian food, a phase that started with my trip to Saffron. After grabbing dinner at Gate of India in West Hollywood the other night, I decided to forget about my not-entirely-successful attempt to make Indian food at home and give it another try with this recipe for one of the most common Indian dishes, chicken tikka masala. Because I was making dinner for guests and also hoping to have leftovers, I tripled the chicken and marinade and quadrupled the sauce, and I gotta say, it was a good call. We've been eatin' good ever since.

 

 

List of ingredients for the marinade:
  • 4 1/2 lbs chicken, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups plain yogurt
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tsp cumin
  • 6 tsp cayenne
  • 6 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger, about as thick around as your thumb

If you can believe it, I actually had all the spices, including garam masala (which figures into the sauce, down below). I'm not sure exactly why I bought it, but in any event, I was very pleased.

 

 

First, I mixed together the cumin, cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon, and salt together in a little bowl. If a recipe contains a mix of spices, I generally like to mix just those spices together before adding them to any wet ingredients so that the spices are well distributed throughout whatever it is I'm making.

 

 

I prepped the rest of ingredients for the marinade, which included chopping up a whole mess of ginger and squeezing the lemons, then mixing the yogurt, ginger, and lemon juice together with the spice mix.

 

 

I tossed the chicken pieces in the marinade, covered it and stuck it in the fridge for 3 hours. After watching a couple of back episodes of Conan, I moved onto the sauce.

 

 

List of ingredients for the sauce:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 jalepenos, seeded and diced (pith removed)
  • 8 tsp coriander
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 29-oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 4 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

First, I melted the butter over medium heat, then sauteed the jalepeno and garlic for just a minute or two.  Then I tossed in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala and salt.

 

 

I added the tomato sauce and tomato paste, gave it a good mix, then simmered the sauce on low heat for about 15 minutes.

 

 

While the sauce was simmering, I took the chicken out of the fridge, shook off the marinade and cooked it in the grill pan.

 

 

I added the cream to the sauce, simmered an additional 5-7 minutes, then added the chicken.

 

 

 

I simmered an additional 5 minutes, and that was it! I served the chicken tikka masala over white rice, and topped it with some chopped cilantro. I'm not sure that it would pass muster with an Indian food expert, but everyone at the table thought it was pretty delicious. Next up? I want to try my hand at saag paneer, I just have to figure out where to get the paneer.

 

Wednesday
Jan262011

Kyochon

*Post by Angela.

Friends, among the many flaws that I possess, I also have an addiction problem. Now, I don't chase the dragon, nor am I a sketch monster. I don't play the ponies, and while I do enjoy the occasional poker or craps game, extricating me from a casino is never a problem. No, no, my dealers go by names like Living Social, Groupon, Blackboard Eats, and Class Coup. It's gotten so there's a high level of anticipation every morning when I open my email account to see the deals of the day, and at any given moment, I've got something like 3 or 4 coupons in my trusty shoulder bag. I love any and all deals. I have also recently developed an addiction to fried chicken.

So imagine my excitement the other day when I discovered that the Groupon deal of the day was for Kyochon, a place we had already planned to go with our frequent LA food guide Christina. I immediately snagged two of the $7-for-$15 coupons, as did Christina, and made plans to meet for a fried chicken feast.

Kyochon got its start in Korea twenty years ago, and has expanded its Korean-fried chicken empire across the world, with a branch conveniently located at 6th and Serrano in Koreatown, just blocks from my office. We had heard tell of Kyochon's infamous "hot and sweet" wings, and my spice muscles were flexing in anticipation.

 

 

We walked into the modern-ishly decorated chain on a Tuesday night, and it appeared as though the Groupon deal had been a little too successful - the few tables that weren't occupied went uncleared for upwards of 10 minutes, and the staff looked really frazzled. After about 25 minutes, we were seated and our orders were taken (be warned, the menu might list beer, but they don't actually serve any at the Koreatown location). Despite the chaos, we weren't deterred from our quest - we would put up with a lot more to sample what Jonathan Gold called "the best fried chicken in Los Angeles." That being said, any future trips we make will probably be during non-peak hours or for take-out.

First to arrive was our order of pickled radish (below, right). Great start - everyone at our table really liked the sweet, tart and crunchy side order, and it would serve an important purpose once we got into the spicier stage of our meal.

 

 

We also decided to get a couple of orders of the bi-bim-bap rice ball (below) - you may ask why we were messing around ordering anything that wasn't fried chicken, but when you have $60 dollars to spend at a fast food joint, you gotta spread that out and order a lot of different things. The rice ball was interesting and nice enough - the slightly sweet sticky rice and vegetable shell protects a chicken-y center - but I didn't like it enough to cede precious stomach space for it.  

 

 

No, I was saving room for the main attraction(s). The bulk of our table was soon taken up by heaping plates of Kyochon's signature wings, both soy garlic (below, left) and hot and sweet (below, right). Both were pretty darned amazing. The key is that the wings are unbreaded (just a thin coating of flour) and double-fried, yielding exactly the kind of shatteringly crisp skin and moist, juciy meat of which fried chicken aficionados dream. The hot and sweet wings were as advertised - gooey, spicy and on the verge of overwhelmingly sweet. The heat is not the kind that has you gasping for breath - at least, not for me - but the kind that burns so good on your lips and your tongue (and later, in your stomach). Both the spice and the sweetness of the wings limited the number I could consume, so I turned my attention to the soy garlic wings. These are not at all sweet or gooey, but full of salty, garlicky goodness, and were probably my favorite of the night.

 

 

While we were tearing through heaps of wings, we nibbled on an order of the Sal Sal chicken salad (below), a bowl of greens with fried chicken strips covered with breadcrumbs and puffed rice. Again, decent enough, but after trying the flavor explosion that was the wings, the chicken tenders topping the salad could've benefited from some dressing or dipping sauce. They seemed a little bland and dry.

 

 

Our final chicken selection was an order of the honey wings (below). Here, you get the gooey sweetness of the hot and sweet wings, without the hot. If possible, the skin on the honey wings was even crisper than the other versions. Again, after a couple of wings, I got a little overwhelmed by the sweetness, but the ones I did manage to eat were phenomen-tastic.

 

 

And with that, a new addiction was born. I think about Kyochon wings day and night now, but I'm scared to go back - I'm fairly certain I ate my weight in fried chicken, and any additional trips will guarantee that that number will increase drastically (hell, I'm pretty sure I gained 5 pounds just from the one visit). While Kyochon's offerings are a bit pricier than you might find at a KFC (without a Groupon, an order of 20 wings will run you $15.99), it's still cheaper than other addictions and four times as rewarding.

 

KyoChon Chicken on Urbanspoon

Kyochon Chicken in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

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