Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Family Style Chicken Madeira



I wanted to make something special for dinner.  Something to take away the "Blahhhhh, it's the middle of the work week, and it's cold and dreary."  I wanted it to seem like it was something you would be served at a really nice restaurant, but without the hassle or expense of going to one.  Can I get an "Amen" on that?

I decided on this Chicken Madeira.  Madeira is a fortified wine from Portugal.  It's made on the island of Madeira, a Portuguese property in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the Canary Islands. (See *Food Nerd Notes).  This is not to be confused with Marsala, which is a Sicialian wine.

Now come on, you know your interest is piqued....  criminis, artichoke hearts, a rich broth made of a reduction of broth and wine and herbs - oh MY!!!  And if you keep reading, I'll tell you how I worked a little magic on these chicken breasts to stretch your dollars!  (Because do you know what you would get charged for this meal in a restaurant?!)  And we are going to make this family style, where you can serve the whole thing in a big casserole.  No fuss.  Easy peasy.  It will look fancy, but definitely not hard!
Ingredients:   (for 6 servings)
chicken -
  • 1 pack of boneless chicken breasts
    • mine came 3-to-a-pack but this was 2.4 pounds (gasp!)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all purpose (AP) flour
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • a ball of fresh mozzarella
sauce -
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 8oz container crimini mushrooms
    • stems removed, sliced thick (about 3 cup)
  • 3 cups Madeira wine (medium dry)
    • I used Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 7.5 oz grilled, marinated artichoke hearts
    • drained and rough chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
garnish -
  • fresh parsley, chopped 
Step-by-Step:   
Trim the chicken of any fat.  Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise so that you have a top and a bottom. These chicken breasts were so huge, that they would have 1.  taken forever to cook., 2. represented way more than a normal portion.
Now we have just taken three chicken breasts and turned them into six!  And just look - they are still so big!  But cutting them in have in in this direction,  we've started breaking those protein fibers down, and we are going to further do do by pounding them... these are going to be very tender!
Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and gently but firmly pound them to 1/4" thickness.  Try your best to achieve a uniform thickness for the whole piece of meat.   This will help even out the cooking time for the meat so we won't have overcooked and undercooked parts on the same piece of meat.
Sprinkle each with kosher salt and black pepper.
kosher salt and black pepper
Prepare the flour with the fresh thyme leaves.  You can use dried thyme if you need to, but cut the amount by perhaps half.
1/3 cup AP flour


2 tsp fresh thyme
Dust each seasoned breast lightly with the flour on both sides.  This will help form a light crust; and will also help give us a dry surface so the meat will sear more easily.



Heat the butter and EVOO in a large heavy pan over medium high heat.  A black iron skillet would work well.  When hot, add the meat, without overcrowding the pan.  Cook only until a light golden color develops on each side (perhaps 3 - 4 minutes per side).  Removing to another dish as they brown.  Cover with foil while you make the sauce. 

2 Tbsp EVOO + 2 Tbsp butter


In the same pan, without cleaning it or wiping it out, add olive oil and sliced mushrooms.  Saute them for about 2 - 3 minutes. 
+ 1 Tbsp EVOO
1 container crimini mushrooms (about 3 cups)
Add the Madeira wine, the garlic, sprigs of thyme, artichoke hearts, beef stock, and pepper.   Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
3 cups medium dry Madeira wine
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 (7.5 oz ) jar grilled marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
2 cups beef broth
1/4 tsp black pepper
 Look at how beautiful and rich our broth has become!

Add the butter and simmer about 20 minutes or so until reduced to about half of original volume.  You are looking for the sauce to be a little thicker and it deeper in color.  
2 Tbsp butter
While your sauce is reducing, let's go ahead and finish off this chicken.  Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Insert a thermometer into one of the thickest pieces of chicken and set the alert to 160 degrees.  Place some slices of fresh mozzarella on top of each breast and pop them into the oven, uncovered.  Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees, but they will continue to rise in temp a bit when you pull them out, plus, you are going to pour the hot sauce over them. 
Remember - these are not fully cooked!
fresh mozzarella slices
Optional.  When you feel the sauce is just about right, add the heavy cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes.  I found that it just gave it a bit of body and richness.  Not necessarily enough to make it creamy.
1/2 cup heavy cream

Remove from the oven, remove thermometer, and serve family style by pouring the sauce over all of the breasts in the casserole dish, or plate individually. 

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve as you wish. 
Pictured here, I served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.  But you know this would be just amazing over a bed of linguini as well!!!  

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

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Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Mongolian Beef

Greek Tortellini Chicken Salad

Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole

One Pot Skillet Lasagna

Roast Chicken and Mushroom Cannelloni

Cajun Crawfish Bread

*Food Nerd Notes.
The earliest examples of Madeira were unfortified and had the habit of spoiling at sea. However, following the example of Port, a small amount of distilled alcohol made from cane sugar was added to stabilize the wine by boosting the alcohol content.  The intense heat and constant movement of the ships had a transforming effect on the wine, as discovered by Madeira producers when one shipment was returned to the island after a long trip. The customer was found to prefer the taste of this style of wine, and Madeira labeled as vinho da roda (wines that have made a round trip) became very popular. Madeira producers found that aging the wine on long sea voyages was very costly, so began to develop methods on the island to produce the same aged and heated style. They began storing the wines on trestles at the winery or in special rooms known as estufas, where the heat of island sun would age the wine. Since then, Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine up to temperatures as high as 60 °C (140 °F) for an extended period of time and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation. Because of this unique process, Madeira is a very robust wine that can be quite long lived even after being opened, similar to Port.  Much of the characteristic flavour of Madeira is due to this practice, which hastens the mellowing of the wine and also tends to check secondary fermentation in as much as it is, in effect, a mild kind of pasturization.  The resulting wine has a color similar to a tawny port wine.
The 18th century was the "golden age" for Madeira. The wine's popularity extended from the American colonies and Brazil in the New World to Great Britain, Russia, and Northern Africa.  The American colonies, in particular, were enthusiastic customers, consuming as much as a quarter of all wine produced on the island each year.  Madeira was an important wine in the history of the United States of America. No wine-quality grapes could be grown among the 13 colonies, so imports were needed, with a great focus on Madeira.  Madeira was a favorite of  Thomas Jefferson, and it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence.  George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams are also said to have appreciated the qualities of Madeira.

Written Method: 
Trim the chicken of any fat.  Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise so that you have a top and a bottom. These chicken breasts were so huge, that they would have 1.  taken forever to cook., 2. represented way more than a normal portion.  Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and gently but firmly pound them to 1/4" thickness.  Try your best to achieve a uniform thickness for the whole piece of meat. Sprinkle each with kosher salt and black pepper.  Prepare the flour with the fresh thyme leaves.  You can use dried thyme if you need to, but cut the amount by perhaps half.  Dust each seasoned breast lightly with the flour on both sides.  This will help form a light crust; and will also help give us a dry serface so the meat will sear more easily.

Heat the butter and EVOO in a large heavy pan over medium high heat.  A black iron skillet would work well.  When hot, add the meat, without overcrowding the pan.  Cook only until a light golden color develops on each side (perhaps 3 - 4 minutes per side).  Removing to another dish as they brown.  Cover with foil while you make the sauce. 

In the same pan, without cleaning it or wiping it out, add olive oil and sliced mushrooms.  Saute them for about 2 - 3 minutes. Add the Madeira wine, the garlic, beef stock, artichoke hearts, sprigs of thyme, and pepper.   Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Add the butter and simmer about 20 minutes or so until reduced to about half of original volume.  You are looking for the sauce to be a little thicker and it deeper in color.   When you feel the sauce is just about right, add the heavy cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes.  I found that it just gave it a bit of body and richness.  Not necessarily enough to make it creamy.  While your sauce is reducing, let's go ahead and finish off this chicken.  Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Insert a thermometer into one of the thickest pieces of chicken and set the alert to 160 degrees.  Place some slices of fresh mozzarella on top of each breast and pop them into the oven, uncovered.  Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees, but they will continue to rise in temp a bit when you pull them out, plus, you are going to pour the hot sauce over them. 

Remove from the oven and serve family style by pouring the sauce over all of the breasts in the casserole dish, or plate individually. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve as you wish.  Pictured here, I served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.  But you know this would be just amazing over a bed of linguini as well!!! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chocolate Mint Brownies

I was sitting in the car line one day waiting to pick up Lovely Lily from pre-K and I found a calendar that my old realtor had sent me that had.... wait for it.... a recipe on every page!  How cool! I knew I liked her for a reason!  Anyway, this was one of the recipes, which comes from www.bettycrocker.com.   You all know I'm not a huge sweets fan, so these really don't appeal to me, but I figured that the kids might get a kick out of it.  Essentially, you have a deluxe chocolate brownie, covered by a layer of lightly minted frosting, all topped off by a layer of semisweet chocolate ganache.  

This may be the sort of thing to cut into small squares (they are very rich) to take a party in the spring with the nice light green color.
Ingredients:    

Brownie Base
  • 1 box of your favorite deluxe brownies plus the oil, water, and egg called for on the brownie box.  
Filling
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp mint extract
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 -3 drops green food coloring
Topping
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • white almond bark candy coating
Bake your brownies according to the directions on your brownie box.  Then allow them to cool completely.  
Notes.  Make sure you grease the bottom of the dish first with nonstick cooking spray.  I would also advise that you use parchment paper to make a "sling" in the bottom of the dish so that you can completely lift out the brownies when they are done.  Notice how I DIDN'T do that this time?  Yep.  Learn from me that it's easier when you DO make one.  (Check out how I did this on the German Chocolate Brownies recipe).

Filling.  In a mixing bowl, beat filling ingredients on medium until smooth.  Spread over cooled brownies.  Refrigerate until set.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar + 3 Tbsp softened butter
 3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream + 1/8 tsp mint extract (you don't want to overdo the mint!)
2-3 drops of green food coloring
Spread it all around.  Note - It's not a necessity that you take the brownies out of the dish to do all this.  You can leave them in the pan if you find it easier.  With the parchment sling, though, they should just lift right out.
Topping.  In a saucepan, heat topping ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.  Cool 10 minutes.  Pour over filing.  Spread to cover.  Refrigerate uncovered until set.  Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature; cut into bars or small squares.  Store covered in refrigerator. 

1/3 cup butter + 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips + 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Tip - I put my brownies and filling in the freezer for a while to make sure my ganache wouldn't "melt" the filling when I added it.
Now go stick the whole thing back in the refrigerator for a while to firm up. Don't be in a hurry.
Here you go.  Find someone with a real sweet tooth for these.   Oh - almost forgot... for the drizzle at the top, I rummaged through the pantry and found some white almond bark candy.  Melted it in the microwave and drizzled it with a fork over the top, just to dress it up a bit.  That stuff is much easier to work with than "real" chocolate.  :)
I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  Real recipes that won't give you cavities just by looking at them!  LOL!!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Order the MenuMusings Cookbook!

Here are some bonus recipes for you.
Tomato Basil Chicken

Crock Pot Pork Chops

Carrot Souffle - Just like at Piccadilly!

Chicken Molcajete

Creole Red Snapper

Beefy Crunch Wrap Supremes

Baked Brie with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Thyme

Lily's Maple Bacon Green Beans with Slivered Almonds
Written Method:
Brownies.  Bake your brownies according to the directions on your brownie box.  Then allow them to cool completely.  
Notes.  Make sure you grease the bottom of the dish first with nonstick cooking spray.  I would also advise that you use parchment paper to make a "sling" in the bottom of the dish so that you can completely lift out the brownies when they are done.  (Check out how I did this on the German Chocolate Brownies recipe)

Filling.  In a mixing bowl, beat filling ingredients on medium until smooth.  Spread over cooled brownies.  Refrigerate until set.

Topping.  In a saucepan, heat topping ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.  Cool 10 minutes.  Pour over filing.  Spread to cover.  Refrigerate uncovered until set.  Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature; cut into bars or small squares.  Store covered in refrigerator. 

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