Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Throwdown: Chicken Marsala Stew

David, left, and me during our Marsala Chicken Stew cook-off.

By Paul Briand

My son David and I had a kitchen throwdown last weekend.

Family was in town for my granddaughter Rylin’s christening, and I wanted to serve something that would appeal to the crowd we anticipated for dinner on Saturday night.

A little bit of research into my recipe collection led me to this Chicken Marsala Stew with Spring Vegetables, which I featured here on Eats@Home back in April 2010.

I needed to double the recipe, which, as listed feeds four. So I bought double the ingredients, and invited my son, who is quite accomplished in the kitchen (per his Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts), to cook one pot of the stew while I cooked the other..

The rules of the throwdown were pretty simple: We had to follow the recipe except for one ingredient that he or I could throw into the pot.

He chose Old Bay Seasoning.

I chose red pepper flakes.

David won.

There are some strong flavors in this stew, which I originally picked up from an Associated Press story. Unlike a normal stew, doesn’t really take that long to cook.

The Marsala wine needs to come through, as does the balsamic vinegar.

My use of red pepper flakes was meant to add a bit of a back bite to the dish, but not overpower the Marsala and vinegar. It didn’t quite work out that way, and it’s probably because I don’t think I used enough flake. The back bite was barely discernible.

The Old Bay, on the other hand, complemented the Marsala and vinegar.

The seasoning is best known as an important ingredient for crab cakes, but it can be used to help flavor all kinds of recipes from fish to chicken to potatoes. I use Old Bay sometimes when I make my own Sweet Potato Fries.

Both pots of stew were cleaned out, but David’s version was clearly the crowd favorite. As it was with me, too.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Potato Sausage Casserole

By Paul Briand

This recipe came about from an Internet search. We had some leftover sausage from a football game throwdown, I needed to use up the meat, and I was expecting a crowd for dinner.

The most appealing recipe that came up in my search was this Potato Sausage Casserole from

As per my normal suggestion, look for the low-sodium canned ingredients where you can, such as the cream of mushroom soup in this recipe. Low-fat cheese is also an option, though I find it doesn’t get as creamy when melted as the full-fat.

1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups sliced peeled potatoes
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Minced fresh parsley, optional

1. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink then drain and set aside;
2. Combine the soup, milk, onion, salt and pepper;
3. In a greased 2-quart baking dish, layer half of the potatoes, soup mixture and sausage. Repeat layers;
4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until potatoes are tender;
5. Sprinkle with cheese; bake, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes more minutes or until cheese is melted;
6. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano

By Paul Briand

One of my favorite iPhone apps is something called Flipboard, which enables me to literally flip through a variety of news and information.

And one source of information that I keyed into my Flipboard preferences is a Recipes category, which is where I stumbled across this recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano from Bon Appetit..

A couple of notes on this recipe: I didn’t use fresh oregano; I used what I had in my spice rack. Also, it seemed that the caramelization of the lemon rind added some bitterness to the dish, at least that was the sense that my wife and I had.

1 lemon
4 large or 8 small skin-on, boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 sprigs oregano
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.. Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper;
2. Coat a large room-temperature skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down;
3. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, and pouring off excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes;
4. Scatter half of lemon slices over chicken and half on bottom of skillet (the slices on top of the chicken will soften; those in the skillet will caramelize);
5. Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, 6-8 minutes;
6. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened lemon slices in the skillet.);
7. Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute;
8. Remove skillet from heat. Add wine; cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes;
9. Add broth; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes;
10. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired;
11. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

Click here for recipe card.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Spinach Dip in Filo Cups

By Paul Briand

My Spinach and Artichoke Dip is pretty popular among family and those who have made it themselves.

I've been making it for special occasions for years, but for this holiday season I wanted to try something different.

So instead of making a batch and just serving it with the usual Triscuits, I made a batch and used some to fill frozen prepared filo cups. I put dip into 45 cups.

The process of putting the warm dip into the cups immediately warmed the cups, but after a while they need to go into the oven to rewarm.

It was a great variation on a theme.

As listed in the dip recipe above;
Prepared filo cups, found in your grocer's freezer

1. Remove filo cups from their packaging to thaw;
2.. Make a batch of dip as described in the recipe above;
3. Take a gallon storage bag and use scissors to trim a corner of the bag to create the equivalent of a baker's icing bag;
4. Spoon a good amount of dip into the bag and squeeze a dollop to fill each of the cups;
5. Serve immediately; reheat in a warm oven on a cookie sheet as needed.
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