Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken in Red Wine

I was gone all day today, and stopped by the supermarket to buy 2 roasting chickens.  My plan was to roast 2 chickens, which would provide plenty of leftover cooked chicken that I could make one or two more dinners with.  Perhaps a chicken pot pie on Sunday night.  Tonight's dinner was supposed to be really quick and easy.  But alas!  When I went to preheat my oven, the electronic buttons to input the desired temperature would not work!  I could not turn the oven on!  What was I to do?!  In a panic, I called my husband at work.  He is a mechanical engineer and very good at figuring out how to make things work.  He said that if it was mechanical, he might be able to fix it, but as it is electronic, he could do nothing to help me except buy a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work.  But I already had purchased this chicken, so I wanted to figure out something to do with it on the stove.  I chopped an onion, 2 carrots, and 2 celery stalks--the basis of almost anything.  I started to saute them in a dutch oven.  Then I added a pressed garlic clove.  Meanwhile, I had butchered the chicken, remembering the Saturday Night Live spoof of Julia Child spurting blood all over her kitchen.  Luckily, I did not cut myself.  I also did not know how to butcher a chicken.  I scooped out the neck and innards and put them in a ziplock bag, along with the wings, to save them for another day.  I cut off the drumsticks and then basically cut the chicken in two halves:  the back and the front.  I am sure that if you read a cookbook or find a chef's blog on the internet you will find a better and more professional way to do it, but as I said, I did not know what I was doing and just wanted to get dinner cooking as quickly as I could.  I sprinkled salt and pepper on the chicken and then browned the pieces on medium high heat.  I used Applewood Smoked sea salt, because someone gave me a sea salt sampler for Christmas and I am having lots of fun experimenting.  I added some herbs to the pot, some red wine that I had open on the counter (a Bordeaux), and braised it for an hour.  About halfway through, I added mushrooms that I had chopped fine.  This is my trick for adding mushrooms, because my kids protest if they find mushrooms in their food.  I love mushrooms, so if I chop them fine and stir them into the sauce, my kids don't realize they are eating mushrooms and they don't complain!  This recipe is kind of similar to the slow cooker chicken recipe I posted last week, so I hope you will forgive me for repeating a good thing (using Bordeaux to cook chicken).

About chicken:  Ideally, I would only buy local chicken from local farmers.  It is not that easy to find, though I know there are some farms around here.  So once in a while, I do that, but more often, I buy chicken at the supermarket or a local independently owned food store that carries it.  I do try to buy organic if possible, or else chicken that is raised on a small family farm, preferably local.  The chicken is likely to be healthier and it is better for the environment if the food does not have to travel a long distance from farm to table (less of a carbon footprint).  I am finding more and more that supermarkets are offering these options in their butcher department.  If yours does not, perhaps you should suggest it.
Serves 5-6

5 lb. roasting chicken, cut into pieces
sea salt (Applewood smoked, if you have it)
fresh ground pepper
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into "coins"
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups red wine (only use stuff you like to drink)
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
2 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS water

Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat.  Saute onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery are transparent.  Add garlic, stir, then raise heat to medium high and brown chicken, pushing vegetables to sides of pan.  When chicken is brown on all sides, add herbs and wine.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for a half hour.  Add mushrooms.  Stir cornstarch and water together in small bowl, then add to pan.  Cook another half hour.

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