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I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe. However, I thought it looked rather delicious and I went ahead and arranged the chicken in my favorite copper pot and took this photo. Then right back to the table with dinner.

Most days in the kitchen, it’s just walking in and cooking. No recipes to follow, no precise measurements, just good clean cooking. Recipes are great as guidelines, but the fun part of cooking is adjusting, tasting and enjoying what comes to mind. Its excitement, a balancing act and I don’t think trying has ever hurt an impromptu meal.

 

We all find a particular style of cooking, preferring one method over the others. Braising is my top choice for cooking at home. Anything that has to do with infusing subtle flavors interests me. Fresh herbs, dried herbs, bundles, sachets and stocks all have a pleasant impact when braising.

 

Just about anything can be braised and any combinations can be tried, but the end result is always the same…tender.

 

So there you have it! Life is busy, braise with desire.

 

 

Braised Chicken w/ Chilies & Tomato Recipe [Serves 4]

 

4 chicken legs

2 Tablespoons sunflower oil -or- olive oil

 

½ medium onion, diced

1 large poblano pepper, diced

2 whole cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 large garlic cloves, peeled & minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

¼ – ½ cup chicken stock

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

2-4 Tablespoons crème fraîche [optional enrichment]

1 cup cilantro leaves

 

1. Heat oil in a braising pan or large pot on low.

2. Place chicken in pan and lightly brown chicken on all sides.* Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Sauté onions and poblanos with cloves until tender.

4. Add garlic and spices and continue to cook for a few moments.

5. Add stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

6. Return chicken to the pan and cover, simmer for 45 minutes or until tender.

7. Stir in crème fraîche and serve with cilantro.

 

*note: I prefer to gently sear chicken for braising as it keeps the chicken from falling apart towards the end. Then I remove the skin and discard. For a deeper flavor, brown the chicken well on all sides and continue with the recipe. Serve with potatoes or rice.

 

January is coming to a close, which means another month closer to spring. The anticipation for spring’s arrival gets me a little excited, ok… really excited about playing in the garden and ready to fill the growing spaces with new life. This year I plan on finally setting aside some space for a good size herb garden, filling it with all of those wonderful fresh flavors, and giving these darlings some good open ground, where the roots can grow deep and sprawl to their delight.

 

Living in a bigger city, it can be hard to find adequate space to have such a restful place to be, but surely enough room to have herbs. While living in a more rural community years ago, there was plenty of room to have a garden which back then I did not think to enjoy gardening as much. It wasn’t until I had a place of my own that the interest took me by surprise. Even then, I have always loved to get into the dirt and seeing what becomes of it. 

For now, I will just need to be patient, very patient indeed [it's only January] until spring finally arrives and be ready to savor the first fresh farmer’s market produce. In the meantime, thinking how to best enjoy what we still have at the market which lead me to today’s recipes.

 

A game hen, which is perfect for two, glazed up to a mahogany finish with a mélange of vegetables.

 

I love so much working with vegetables and this recipe mixes them up, quickly blanches them and finishes them in a garlicky sauté perfectly. Besides it helps us get more of those healthful foods into our tummies.

 

Mahogany Glazed Game Hen Recipe [Serves 2]

 

4 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

4 Tablespoons tamari, low sodium

2 Tablespoons French brandy [optional]

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 large garlic clove, peeled & sliced

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

1 game hen, brought to room temp. [Approximately 1 hour]

[Some twine to truss the bird.]

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Truss your bird and set aside in an oven-able pan.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, cook for five minutes.

3. Strain glaze into a bowl and brush the bird.

4. Bake for 20 minutes and repeat with more glaze  every 15-20 minutes.

5. Once the bird gets its last glaze, finish cooking in the oven one last time. Discard glaze.

 

Different sizes of birds cook differently so here this game hen took approximately 50 minutes to bake. The juice should run clear when poked with a knife into the thickest part of the bird. No more glaze should be put on the bird as this has raw chicken stuff in it so discard.

 

Vegetables Mélange Recipe [Serves 4]

 

5 cups mix of vegetables

[Such as: carrots, green beans, broccoli raab, Brussels’s sprouts]

3 Tablspoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced

Sea Salt & fresh black pepper to taste

 

blanching the vegetables:

 

1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch one kind of vegetable at a time until just tender.

2. Place immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3. Drain and dry vegetables on paper towels.

 

finishing the vegetables:

 

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan and add garlic.

2. Once garlic turns lightly golden add the vegetables.

3. Cook for a few minutes to reheat and season with salt and pepper.

 

This is a basic recipe that you can adjust and add a few things to suit your taste. It is particularly delicious with prosciutto and toasted pine nuts. Add a few chilies and there you have a beautiful mélange of vegetables.

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