Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cooking Lesson No. 1 -- Chicken and Potatoes

One of my goals this summer is to teach the two older boys how to cook -- learn some basic techniques and learn the language needed to cook from some basic recipes. Tonight was the first lesson. I'm teaching one at a time because, frankly, one in the kitchen is enough to try my patience. The oldest one helped me out tonight and he did a pretty good job. He did "wig out" a little with the raw chicken, but that may be an acquired skill.

We chose (I chose) a simple recipe from Lidia's Family Table, a really great cookbook filled with simple (and a few complicated) Italian recipes. I chose to make Lidia's Chicken and Potatoes, which allowed my student to learn how to clean and prepare chicken (even though he needs more practice), cut vegetables, fry food, handle food with tongs, and watch the time. It's a dish that is kind of hard to mess up, though, so it was a good starting point. It turned out wonderful and is a great recipe for a week night dinner, or even a company dinner. The flavor is mellow -- the rosemary and onion subtle, the potatoes caramelized, and it all melds together -- but delicious. The instructions look lengthy, but don't be put off -- even a beginner can handle it.

This is a budget meal, too, if you buy chicken on sale. I used leg quarters (requiring my student to cut the pieces apart) which you can often get for less than a dollar a pound -- just buy whatever is on sale. The rosemary can be a little pricey, if you don't grow it, but make sure you plan another meal with it, so you don't waste a bit.

To make this dish, you'll need a large skillet, with at least 3-inch sides, that has a lid.

My student, covering the pot.

Almost finished. The chicken looks a little pale here,
but when it was finished it all had a nice golden color.

Lidia's Chicken and Potatoes
6 servings

Printer version

2 1/2 pounds chicken legs or assorted bone-in pieces
1/2 c. canola oil (I used corn)
1/2 t. salt or more to taste
1 pound small red potatoes (no bigger than 2 inches across)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered lengthwise
(I used one large sweet onion and cut it into smaller wedges)
2 short branches rosemary

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels.
Trim off excess skin and fat.
Cut drumsticks from thighs, if necessary.
If using breast halves, cut in half crosswise.

Pour the canola oil into skillet and set over high heat.
Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 t. salt on all sides.
When the oil is very hot, lay the chicken pieces in it,
skin side down, an inch or so apart.
Don't crowd the pan; if necessary, fry in batches
(I did drums together first, then thighs).
Let the chicken pieces fry in place for several minutes, to brown the skin side,
then turn and continue frying until golden brown on all sides,
7 to 10 minutes more.
Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry potatoes.
Slice each one through the middle,
allowing for the largest amount of surface area.
Toss with olive oil and 1/4 t. salt.

When the chicken is out of the skillet, pour off the frying oil.
Return the skillet to medium heat and put in
all the potatoes, cut side down in a single layer.
With a spoon, scrape all of the olive oil out of the bowl and into the skillet;
drizzle a little more oil if the pan seems dry.
Cook the potatoes, without moving them, for about 4 minutes.
Then move them around the pan, cut side down,
until a brown crust forms, about 7 minutes.
Turn them over and continue to cook for a couple minutes.

Still over medium heat, add onion and rosemary to pan
(just leave rosemary on the branches), with the potatoes.
Return the chicken pieces to the pan
and pour in any juices that gathered in the bowl.
Raise the heat slightly and carefully move chicken and potatoes around the pan,
being careful not the break the potatoes.
Spread everything out evenly and cover.

Return the heat to medium and cook for 7 minutes,
shaking the pan occasionally, then uncover and move pieces around again.
Cover and cook another 7 minutes or so, shaking occasionally.

Move pieces around again and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes.
Now, uncover and cook for about 10 more minutes,
checking to see if chicken juices are running clear.
Taste a bit of potato to see if it needs salt, and season as needed.


1 comment:

Amanda said...

I just came across your blog from my friend Barb (SFO Mom), this looks great! I'm saving it to try :)