Sunday, September 30, 2018

Pollo al Forno Con Limone - Chicken Baked with Lemon

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This is a great chicken dish for entertaining friends and family-it's easy, lemony and the pre-salting technique with  an aromatic salt guarantees a rich and flavorful dish. With garlic, lemon zest, fresh rosemary leaves, pepper and bay leaf added to a base of kosher salt, the aromatic salt will keep for about three months in the refrigerator. Sprinkle it on almost any savory foods to enhance the flavors. 

While researching aromatic salts, I found a great article on pre-salting versus brining which really resonated with me. I often brine my turkey for our Thanksgiving meal, but it takes at least 3 days or more and takes up so much space in my refrigerator. The method of pre-salting takes less time and the results are the same, if not better. A minimum of 6 hours is recommended, but preferably 1-4 days in advance of cooking. It is well known that meat or poultry  shouldn't be salted right before you put it in the oven as the salting will draw the juices out of it and make it tough. But if salted beforehand, the opposite occurs. This recipe from Italian Country Cooking, The Secrets of Cucina Provera suggests seasoning the chicken with the aromatic salt at least 2 hours or overnight, refrigerating in the interim. If pressed for time, go with the 2 hours, if not, try overnight.

Aromatic Salt 

1 cup Kosher or coarse salt (not table salt)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh bay leaf

Place the coarse salt in the container of a food processor, finely chop 2 of the garlic cloves and reserve the 3rd one along with the fresh bay leaf. Place the chopped garlic, the lemon zest, the rosemary and the black pepper in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse just until the salt is slightly ground. Place the mixture is an airtight jar, bury the 3rd garlic clove and the bay leaf in the salt mixture and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 3 months.

Chicken Baked with Lemon
Serves 4-6
For the Baked Chicken

6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
1 lemon, thinly sliced, plus 1 lemon squeezed (See Note)
1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water

Season chicken with the aromatic salt, arrange on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hour minimum or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place the sliced lemon in an ovenproof dish. (See Note) Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the oil, then the chicken, skin side down. Brown well on both sides, about 6 minutes. Arrange the chicken over the lemon slices in the dish, skin side up.

Add the lemon juice with the water to the pan the chicken was browned in and boil until reduced to a coating consistency, scraping up brown bits, about 4 minutes. Pour over the chicken. Place in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and the juices run clear. Place on platter, cover loosely with foil and let stand 5 minutes to allow juices to retreat back into the chicken thighs.

Note-I found that cooking the chicken laid on top of the lemon slices rendered a bitter sauce. Try zesting both the lemons, using the juice of both in making the sauce. Then when the chicken is done, sprinkle the zest over the tops of the chicken thighs.
This recipe comes from Italian Country Cooking-The Secrets of Cucina Provera and is my contribution to Menu Lib-e-ro as a second course-meat dish adding to the building collections of courses, an idea by Marta and acted upon by Aiu with contributions by a host of Italian bloggers and myself, the lone Anglo American blogger. The second meat course host is Teresa from Crumpets and Co. Her slow cooker Italian Beef Casserole served with mash potatoes is awesome!

More posts with recipes from Italian Country Cooking:

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Sour Cream Sauce

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Salmon and cucumbers have a classic affinity-throw some dill in the mix and you have a harmonious dish that is mouthwatering, especially if the salmon is grilled and the cucumbers and dill are combined with sour cream to make a delicious cooling salad. 

This Scandinavian inspired dish can be a light lunch or a main course with perhaps a rice or pasta side dish. For a colorful summer meal, serve this gazpacho. The cucumber salad can be made a few hours ahead and the salmon takes minutes to grill.  The salting and draining of the cucumber is crucial as the salad will become watery otherwise.

Grilled Salmon Fillets with Cucumber-Dill Salad
Serves 4

For the Salad

2 large cucumbers, scored, seeds scraped out and thinly sliced
1/4 medium red onion thinly sliced
5-6 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Salmon
4- 5- 6 ounce salmon fillets
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand over a bowl for 30-45 minutes until several tablespoons of juice has drained. Pat cucumbers dry and place in a medium bowl. Add the red onion, saving a few slices for garnish, the sour cream, vinegar, dill and pepper to taste. Toss lightly to coat. Refrigerate while you prepare the salmon.

About a half hour before serving, heat gas grill on high for 10-15 minutes. Clean the grill grate, then using tongs to wipe an olive oil soaked paper towel over the grill rack to prevent sticking. Careful not to set the paper towel on fire. Close the lid and return to the high temperature.

Using the olive oil, brush both sides of the salmon liberally, then season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3 minutes a side, until just opaque. Serve hot or warm. Plate the salmon and spoon the cucumber sauce alongside the salmon.

From a favorite book byPam Anderson, a second recipe for Menu-Lib-e-ro, 

Carla Emilia is host for second course fish dish from Menu Lib-e-ro, when completed with be a compilation of various courses to mix and match. A brilliant idea from my Italian blogger friends Marta (great idea) and fulfilled by Aiu.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Gulf Frittlary Butterfly . . . . . #gulffrittlarybutterfly #butterfly #zinnia #passionbutterfly #canon5dmarkiii #canonlens70200mm #bokeh_photography #textures #skidawayisland

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Gazpacho is like a vegetable garden in a bowl. Chocked full of tomatoes, red or green peppers, cucumbers, jalapeños, onions and garlic, this cold soup can be garnished the homemade garlic croutons and cilantro as in the top image or strands of spiralized cucumbers. It's a perfect make ahead vegetarian first course and would be fabulous with grilled dishes.

A soup of ancient origins, gazpacho began as a soup with bread, olive oil, water and garlic brought to Spain and Portugal by the Romans. It is a humble soup and was the main stay of peasants  and shepherds in Roman times. In the Andalusia, there are many variations and is enjoyed in the summer as a refreshing cold soup. Tomatoes were added to the gazpacho around the 19th century and became an international version. Source

Today, gazpacho can be made with almost any fruit or vegetable making it one of the most colorful soups. This recipe from  Pam Anderson's Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, not only has the requisite tomato variation, but three-one with pineapple, one with mango and a watermelon one. 

This variation of gazpacho uses tinned petite diced tomatoes which unlike fresh tomatoes are unaffected by refrigeration. My only substitution to the original recipe is a jar of mild salsa for one of the tins of tomatoes. 
Year Round Classic Gazpacho

2 tins (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup water
1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and diced small
1 small red, yellow or green pepper, cored, seeded and diced small
1 small onion, about 1/2 cup, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced- used culinary gloves to avoid getting the jalapeño juice on fingers
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, basil or cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine first three ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The soup keeps well for a few days.

Pineapple Gazpacho
Make as directed, but substitute 2 cups fresh pineapple, diced small and 2 cups pineapple juice for eat tomatoes and water. Substitute 3 tablespoons lime juice for the sherry vinegar. For color, a red pepper is nice.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Make as directed, but substitute 2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced and 2 cups orange juice for the tomatoes and water. Substitute 3 tablespoons lime juice for the sherry vinegar.

Mango Gazpacho
Make as directed, but substitute 2 cups fresh mango, diced small and 2 cups orange juice for the tomatoes and water. Substitute 3 tablespoons lime juice for the sherry vinegar. For color, a red pepper is nice.

The host for this edition of  Menu Lib (e) ro  is Sabrina, English translation. Thanks to Marta and Aiu for bringing this collections of menus together.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 
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