Where Do You Shop? [golden lemon chicken]

Does anyone else shop regularly at more than one grocery store?  More than two?  What about five?

golden lemon olive chicken with couscous.

Here’s my list:

  • The Giant near work – It’s a chain grocery store.  It has everything.
  • The Safeway near my house – It’s small, but it sells booze!  Bonus, it’s walkable.
  • The Safeway near my nail salon, CVS, and a frozen yogurt place I don’t even like that much but in which I always stop anyway – It’s more convenient sometimes when I’m out running other errands.
  • The Whole Foods near work – It’s good for a quick trip in and out.
  • The other Whole Foods near work – It’s good for random ingredients and food you can’t get anywhere else.
  • The Trader Joes where I HATE PARKING SO MUCH – It’s Trader Joe’s.
  • The Trader Joes near my parents’ house in Pennsylvania where there is ample parking – It’s also Trader Joe’s.  With easier parking!
  • Wagshals – It’s the place where I know the butcher, and can get great cuts of meat.  Also truffle butter.
  • The neighborhood farmers’ market – Because who doesn’t dream of just getting everything at the farmers’ market?

Does that seem a little excessive to anyone else?  I can’t think of a single store I’d scrap, though.  Each brings something important to the table, quite literally.

golden lemon olive chicken with couscous.

I made golden lemon-olive chicken the other night for no reason at all except that when I searched make-ahead meals, this was one of the first, non-casserole stops on the internet (please note–I have absolutely nothing against casseroles). That’s a risky move, especially considering I have gobs of cookbooks and meticulously-curated Pinterest boards at my disposal.  But I felt like I’d seen all those before, and I wanted something different.  I was preparing food for company and I had zero desire to do any work the day they were coming.  So I prepped everything the day before, and simply cranked up the stove to reheat everything when my guests arrived.

Golden lemon-olive chicken (which I served sans olives when I realized that the store in which I shopped, Wagshals, didn’t have the right kind, plus I was serving dinner to someone who isn’t supposed to be eating a lot of salt anyway) blew me away.  It’s close enough to our usual fare to satisfy us, but enough of a departure that it felt like an exciting night.

To make golden lemon chicken, you will need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 medium onions peeled, each cut into 6 wedges, root end intact
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 T butter
  • 4 Meyer lemons or organic lemons, 2 sliced, 1 zested and juiced, plus 1 juiced (I used regular lemons)
  • 1 generous pinch saffron (if you’re fancy and you keep saffron around–I don’t)
  • 3 T all purpose flour
  • 1 quart (4 C) chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. shredded chicken (Get some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cover them with salt and pepper and schmear about a tablespoon of olive oil on them.  Bake them in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, until juices run clear.  Set aside to cool and shred.)
Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bay leaves and garlic and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes, then cover the pan and sweat the onions for3 to 4 minutes more.Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-high sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Slice 2 lemons and gently brown the slices, in 2 batches. As they brown, add them to the pan with the onions. Add 3 more tablespoons butter to the pan and let it melt, then add saffron threads and the zest of l lemon to the melted butter and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, cook for a minute more, then whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Season the sauce with turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and let thicken for a couple of minutes. Stir in the juice of remaining 2 lemons and reduce the heat to low. Add the chicken and sauce to the onions and gently stir to combine. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal or, cover the pan to warm the chicken through and combine flavors.

Preppy Ladies

I got two cookbooks recently.  Cookbooks from a ladies club in Alexandria, Virginia.  Something along the lines of this.  Wooden Nickels was itching to flip through it so I passed it over to her with a warning, “All you’re going to see are recipes for chicken casseroles with cans of cream of mushroom, a cup of sour cream and a cup of mayonnaise.”  She looked at me doubtfully (commonplace in our lives), and went on her way.

When Wooden Nickels returned with said cookbooks, she admitted the accuracy of my statement.  Yes!  She never does that!

Preps love to cook.  They love to cook casseroles.  They love to cook casseroles with a host of fattening dairy-esque products!  And I made one recently.  It was a beautiful thing.

marsala chicken casserole

Casseroles get a bad rap, and I will gladly lead the charge of the Casserole Advocacy Club (CAC?  Can we make that a thing?) and argue that casseroles deserve a spot, often the starring place, on the dinner table.  This one is no exception.  It’s that great chicken marsala, with a side of rice that you didn’t have time to prepare on the spot.  You can prep this whenever you have the time, tuck it in the fridge, and greet it on an evening when all you want to do is throw something in the oven and call it dinner.

To make Marsala Chicken and Mushroom casserole, you will need:

  • 2 C shredded, cooked, chicken breast
  • 2 T butter
  • 10 – 16 oz sliced mushrooms (white or cremini)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 T flour
  • 1/2 C marsala, or other white, wine
  • 1/2 C cream
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C long grain rice (uncooked)
  • 2 C water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Melt butter in large skillet.  Add mushrooms and cook till softened, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in flour and stir till incorporated into mushrooms and butter, about 1 minute.  Add wine and scrape brown bits off bottom of pan.  Stir in cream.  Let those simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in water.

Pour rice in casserole dish.  Top with chicken.  Pour mushroom cream sauce on top.    Cover dish tightly with foil and cook for 35 minutes.

At this point, Ray Ray suggests topping with 2 T Parmesan cheese and, and baking, uncovered, 5 more minutes.  2 T of Parmesan over a 9 x 13 casserole is kid stuff.  I dumped a whole bunch over my first dinner serving with no shame.  Do the same!

cheesed up