If you grow herbs in a garden or window box, you know late spring is their moment. No other season finds herbs quite so succulent and sweet, or free of the vegetal notes that develop with the heat and stress of summer. A June pesto can be a near religious experience.
But our recipe today focusses on tarragon, an herb that gets less attention than it deserves. While less adaptable than say basil or cilantro, it has the benefit of standing up beautifully to heat, conveying a subtle yet distinct note of anise to sauces and braises.
Our tarragon chicken recipe complements the distinct flavor of tarragon with lemon zest and a splash of cream, creating a sauce that lightly envelopes the chicken and can be spooned over mashed potatoes or daubed with crusty French bread. Give it a try before the season lets out, and let us know what you think.
Chicken TagineOnce you're in the groove, cooking delicious food isn't that hard. Fry up some onions or garlic or both, sear some decent meat, and you're well on your way, with or without a recipe. The difficulty is that, without an occasional infusion of new recipes or key ingredients, the flavors emerging from your kitchen tend to converge. Everything tastes great, but also kinda the same. Our taste buds, like the rest of us, need an occasional vacation, not so much to rest as to experience the world anew and hit the reset button.
That's where this week's recipe comes in. While easy to make, this classic Moroccan braise features a transporting combination of two key ingredients, olives and preserved lemons. The latter are typically purchased jarred and swimming in a bright, zesty brine spiked with black caraway seeds. Finding them might take some leg work, but they're worth it. Their flavor is recognizably lemony, but also transformed, almost like a candied orange peel, only in reverse, with salt instead of sugar.
Tagines are typically cooked in cone-topped terra cotta dishes that can withstand direct heat as well as oven baking. If you have one, great. If not, browning the chicken in a good skillet and finishing the dish in grandma's casserole will work almost as well.
So no excuses – go find those lemons!
Lemongrass ChickenToday's theme: what a difference a new ingredient makes. Our home dinner menu is pretty diverse, but it still hits the occasional rut, especially now, when it's less often leavened by a visit to the kitchen of friends and restaurants. Cracking open a cookbook is one antidote. Another: introducing a fresh key ingredient to your tried and true arsenal of flavor. That's our approach today, with this super-easy, super-quick lemongrass chicken.
Lemongrass, a tropical herb used extensively in southeast Asian cuisine, has a powerful aroma of citrus fruit, but with little of its acidity, and unlike lemon, it keeps much more of its brightness after cooking. In this recipe, the lemongrass infuses the chicken via a long marinade, while adding crunch in the final cooking. You'll be hard pressed to find a recipe that delivers more flavor and easy novelty in the 20 minutes it takes to whip this up.
Chicken AdoboFilipino food has yet to hit it big in the U.S. the way, say, Chinese, Thai, or Japanese food has. When it does, chicken adobo may be the breakout dish. It's bold, intense, easy to love, and like nothing else you've ever tasted. The recipe's secret weapon is a simple one: conviction. The key flavoring agents – soy sauce, white vinegar, garlic – can't get more common. The trick is to use them like you mean it: a whole head of garlic and almost a cup each of soy sauce and white vinegar. That's more than most cooks use in a week's worth of dinners.
The result is magical, a concentrated flavor potion in which individual ingredients announce themselves clearly yet combine into a whole that's both more and distinct from the sum of the parts. We love, love, love this dish.
One word of caution. The sauce is on the salty side. So don't add any salt to the accompanying rice. The sodium level will be just right when you ladle the adobo sauce on top.
Chipotle Chicken Wings
A big game deserves big flavor, and boy, do these wings have it. Smoky, spicy, vinegary, and slightly sweet, they pack more excitement and intensity than many a Super Bowl. The key ingredient, as the title suggests, is chipotle chile, specifically the canned kind that comes enrobed in adobo sauce. It's intensely flavorful and quite spicy, but also nicely rounded once combined with other ingredients. If you've never cooked with it, let this be the opportunity.
Chipotle in adobo is available in most groceries (usually under the La Morena brand), and you probably already have the other ingredients you need, apart from the wings. I can almost guarantee these little suckers will be the best chicken wings you've ever tasted, at home or anywhere else.
Chicken CacciatoreIt's getting to the end of the week. A cold wind blows through a mostly empty refrigerator. The pantry looks Soviet, the prospects for a home cooked dinner, dim. But you don't give up. You seek. And then you find them, a package or two of chicken in your freezer, a can of tomatoes back of the cupboard, a few tablespoons of wine at bottle's bottom. And for this night's meal, that's almost all you will need. But don't let the simplicity of the ingredient list or the preparation fool you. Chicken cacciatore is a beloved classic for its flavor more than its simplicity, and while it can benefit from additional vegetables such as carrots and peppers, they're not necessary and can be omitted without embarrassment. Now sound the horn and let the hunt for the side dish begin!
Kung Pao ChickenFrywall Fridays has returned! After a brief hiatus to spruce up our test kitchen (can you believe the reno ran late?! Who ever heard of contractors missing a deadline?!), we're back with a bang. Or rather a pao.
Kung Pao Chicken is a staple of Chinese restaurants in America, but don't be fooled. It's the real deal that traces back to China. The heat in the dish comes from fiery dried red chiles and the singular, mentholated bite of Sichuan peppercorns. Throw in some soy sauce for saltiness, a hint of honey for sweetness, and black vinegar and rice wine for sourness, and you have a balanced and aromatic dish that's done in under 30 minutes. But how spicy is it? Well, you decide. Use five chiles for relatively mild, ten chiles for relatively painful, fifteen chiles for call the relatives, I'm dying.
Ima's Chicken with Sauerkraut and CabbageYair's mother came to visit and showed us how to make her original Hungarian-inspired chicken dish. Crispy, browned chicken thighssimmer and stew with fresh cabbage and pungent sauerkraut. Dinner is served.
Chicken Pad ThaiPad Thai is the national dish of Thailand and a favorite at Thai restaurants everywhere. Like most Thai dishes, Pad Thai is all about the balance of contrasting flavors: sweet, sour, savory, and funky–or whichever adjective you prefer for the singular punch of fish sauce that gives this dish its signature pungency. Though the list of ingredients here is rather long, the technique isn't difficult, and it's customizable to suit your tastes. Our version here is made with chicken, but don't be shy about substituting in shrimp, beef, or tofu. We love making it at home because we can control how much oil and sugar go into the recipe. And, of course, because we love to cook!
Chicken Fried Rice
Chinese fried rice is a brilliant way to transform leftover rice and a few fresh ingredients into something delectable. This recipe provides a basic blueprint with lots of opportunity to customize based on your tastes and what you have in the fridge. Whether or not you have a wok, you'll want to use a Frywall so you can stir and mix without making a mess.
Hunter's Chicken (Chicken Chasseur)Mushrooms are to early fall what tomatoes are to summer, and few dishes put mushrooms on more fulsome display than poulet chasseur – hunter’s chicken. Fungi give body and depth to this rich braise, but retain their own bite-size integrity. We used shiitake this time around, but you can use crimini, porcini, maitake, or any other fleshy mushroom. The recipe’s other key is pan-sautéing the chicken on high heat. This splatters a ton, so you definitely want to deploy your Frywall.