Sunday, January 12, 2014

Braised Chicken with Garlic-Ginger Broccoli and Lemon Rice or No Chicken-in-a-Box Tonight


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The number of chickens-in-a-box (think wine in a box, but these are also often called rotisserie chickens) I see in shopping carts makes me sad.  It can't mean people don't know how to roast a chicken, can it?  A little oil, some salt and pepper, stick it in the oven or even in the slow cooker.  No.  Mostly,  I think it's the time factor, fatigue, or simplicity.  Maybe the inability to think any more that day.  The chicken-in-a-box is often cheaper, too.  That just shouldn't be so.

I don't think it's laziness.  The folks I see with a chicken-in-a-box do not appear to be lazy people.  They're running by the grocery on the way home from work or gunning it at top speed through Costco at 5:30 to pick up coffee and printer paper for the office, all the while wondering what's for dinner.  Sometimes an elderly couple who find it just peachy to eat off a chicken for a couple days that someone else cooked.  I get that.  It's not like I've never done it while Dave's been on a trip and I had a really lot of other things to do.
I think, if you amazoned it, you would probably discover an entire book on what to do with a chicken-in-a-box.  (I know there's one on Twinkies.)  Wait; I'll check.  Beat. Beat. Ok, I looked.  There are, in fact a few books like that, but here's what appears to be the most recent.    I might enjoy the gig of writing such a book, but I would be happier writing a book about  just what to do with leftover chicken.  If you made it yourself, I mean. Because the book could be on-going; it might never end.  Soups, casseroles, panini, pasta dishes, omelets, salads….  You see.  Chicken, I heard on tv, has recently surpassed beef as the United States' favorite protein.

People who absolutely don't want to cook --sick to death of it or unable -- just buy take-out, frozen dinners, milk, cereal, eggs, bread, and coffee.   But sometimes, sometimes… the person who buys this chicken is someone who doesn't know how to cook, never learned, but might like to.   Or the person who just cooks for themselves and buys one because it feels too hard or wasteful to cook for one.  (It often is.)  

The jury is out about whether or not chicken-in-a-box is a healthy or money-saving meal.  It seems to depend on where you live, the quality of your market's prepared food department, and perhaps the distance you live from Costco.  I think they're often puny.  I like a nice, plump chicken and I don't want the legs so done that the meat crunches.  

This post isn't about roasting a chicken; you can find that information lots of places and you can even find it on this blog.

This is about a small pan of chicken pieces you

-brown with spices, onions and garlic, in a pan on top of the stove.
- Next, you pour wine and broth over everything and then cover it all up.
-Last, and most happily, there's an easy visit to the oven until the chicken is done---or, more simply

 -- braised chicken.  (Braising is the process whereby a cook browns food at a high temperature, adds liquid that often contains acid like wine or tomatoes, and cooks the dish slowly either in the oven or on the stovetop.)  While all that happens, you make a small pot of rice; you make a pan of braised -yes, braised- broccoli. You're ready for dinner.  If you'd like to make more, double the recipes; they all work fine with larger quantities.  Or just make more rice and broccoli and take that for lunches.

The recipe for the chicken is incredibly flexible.  This is more a method than a recipe per se and, hence, ingredients are interchangeable and amounts are adjustable to your tastes.   If some of the flavors don't appeal (or you don't have dry mustard, for instance, as I often didn't when I lived in Germany), you can use just salt and pepper or maybe basil and oregano--moving from spices to dry herbs.  Have no broth?  Use water or even chopped tomatoes-especially if you used basil and oregano. (You then might leave out the fresh ginger in the broccoli.)  Wine all gone?  Use some wine vinegar--perhaps a little less than the wine amount.  Make the meal your own.  I promise this will taste better than chicken-in-a-box.  I made this one night when it appeared there weren't too awfully many choices in the refrigerator.  I was pleasantly surprised by what graced the table out of a few odds and ends.

Try this -- or something similar:

braised chicken with garlic-ginger broccoli and lemon rice
 2 servings      

Start with the chicken.  You'll then have time to make both the broccoli and the rice while the chicken is in the oven.
INGREDIENTS:  For the chicken:  3 pieces of chicken (freeze other pieces if you bought a whole, cut-up chicken), olive oil or butter, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ground ginger, white wine, and chicken stock or water, fresh parsley. For the broccoli:  1- 2 crowns of broccoli cut into florets (about 2 cups), minced garlic and fresh ginger.   For the rice:  1/2 cup white rice, salt and pepper, and grated lemon rind.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pat dry 3 chicken pieces with paper towels.

Sprinkle the chicken (breast, thigh, leg, for instance) liberally with salt and pepper --say 1/4 teaspoon each) and then with a mixture of dry mustard and ground ginger --say another 1/4 teaspoon each.

Heat a medium, deep skillet (10-inch) over medium-high heat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (use butter if you prefer) and add chicken and one medium, sliced onion. Let brown for several minutes on one side; turn and brown the other side, stirring onions.  Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook another minute.

Pour in 1/4 cup white wine and stir well to bring up any browned bits at bottom.  Let cook a minute or two to reduce wine.  Pour in 1 cup or so chicken stock (water will do if you have no stock)-- or until the pieces of chicken are about 2/3 covered in liquid.  Cover and place pan in the oven.*  Let cook until chicken is done through (165 degrees F) -- 35 minutes or so.

To serve:  Spoon some sauce over each piece of chicken and then sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped, fresh parsley. Serve hot with lemon rice and garlic-ginger broccoli -- or a vegetable or salad of your choosing.

*If your skillet has no lid, as many don't,  use a double-thickness of aluminum foil instead and seal well and tightly around the edges of the pan.


Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of canola or peanut oil, 1/2 teaspoon each minced garlic and minced or grated fresh ginger, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add 2 cups broccoli florets, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for several minutes or until broccoli is browned on both sides, adding a little more oil if needed.  Lower heat and stir in 1/4 cup white wine.  Cover and cook until broccoli is tender or done to your liking. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold. (Wine should be absorbed by the time the broccoli is cooked.)


Bring 1 cup water, 1/2 cup white rice,  and a pinch each of salt and pepper to boil in a small (1-quart) saucepan.  Cover, lower heat to a low simmer, and cook for 12-13 minutes or until rice is tender.  (If you live at altitude, it could take longer and might require more water.) Stir in 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind and serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.  If you have a little parsley leftover from the chicken, garnish the rice with a teaspoon or two of that.  A bit of chopped fresh thyme would also be wonderful.

If you liked this, you might also like the most favorite post on the blog (click on title):

Baby Kale and Spinach with a Roasted Chicken Breast 

Have fun while you take good care of yourself cooking,

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