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French Onion Chicken Casserole

French Onion Chicken Casserole (31)

Photo Mar 15, 5 34 58 PM

If you ask me what my favorite soup is I’ll tell you it’s definitely French onion. This dish combines all the ingredients of French onion soup into a chicken casserole. This is my French Onion Chicken Casserole.

I wanted to make a few changes to the recipe, making the dish my own. The part of the French Onion Soup I love the most is the bread and the cheese. I think everyone would agree on the cheese, but the bread, people either love that component of the soup or they don’t. I love the way the toasted bread acts as a bed absorbing all the juices and becomes melt in your mouth delicious.

Let’s get started with the onions.

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French Onion Chicken Casserole (31)

French Onion Chicken Casserole (33)

Photo Mar 15, 5 34 58 PM

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, paring knife, toothpicks, 1 meat-safe cutting board

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of butter, unsalted and divided
4 large onions, halved and sliced thinly into half-moons
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, (optional)
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of white wine, or sherry
1 (10.5-ounce) can of beef consommè (substitute unsalted beef broth)
1 tablespoon of olive oil

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) of Gruyère cheese, freshly grated (substitute Mozzarella)
4 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish
1 package of pretoasted baguette slices or grilled and sliced Ciabatta bread (optional)

Note: If you can’t find pre-toasted baguette slices, it’s easy enough to make them yourself, and they should be made in advance of this dish.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 loaf of baguette, 1/4-inch slices (yields 16 slices)

Directions For Grilled Baguette:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

Directions For Caramelized Onions:
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add onions, granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and half the fresh thyme leaves. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes until soft.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, while stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and jammy, around 15 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup of the beef consommé when the pan gets too dry and continue stirring until onions are browned.

Pour in white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any of the bits sticking to the bottom. Allow the wine to reduce, cook for 1 minute until sauce thickens slightly.

Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, cook for 1 minute more. Turn the heat off and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Directions For Stuffing Chicken Breasts:
On a meat-safe board layout the six chicken breasts. Using a paring knife cut a slit into the side of the breast 3 inches long and 1/ 1/2 inches deep. Be sure not to cut all the way through. You just want to form a pocket for the stuffing. Do this to all the chicken breasts.

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the caramelized onions into each pocket.  Next, add as much of the shredded cheese as you’re able to fit inside the pocket. Do Not over stuff.  Seal with toothpicks.

In a small mixing bowl add garlic powder, dried rosemary, dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of  Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, whisk to combine. Using the seasoning mix, season both sides of each chicken breast.

In the same sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter with the olive oil. Cook the stuffed chicken breasts until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. The chicken will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the seared chicken breast to a large platter. Set aside.

Transfer the remaining caramelized onions to the greased baking dish spreading them out into one even layer.

With the pan still over medium-high heat, pour the remaining beef consommé into the sauté pan. *Deglaze the pan (using a wooden spoon, scrape all the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan). Reduce the heat and simmer until broth reduces by half. There should be about 1/2 cup of sauce in the pan.

Add 1/4 cup of the sauce to the prepared baking dish pouring it over the caramelized onions. This step is totally optional, if you choose, arrange the toasted baguette slices on top of the onions. The bread will soak up all the juices and act as a bed for the chicken.

Lay the stuffed chicken breasts on top of the slices of grilled baguette. Spoon the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce from the pan over each chicken breast. Top with the remaining thyme leaves. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.

Before serving, remove, and discard all toothpicks.

To Serve: Place one of the stuffed chicken breasts onto a serving plate along with some of the onions, grilled bread, and pan juices. Sprinkle the top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley. There you have it my French Onion Chicken Casserole.

*Deglaze: To dilute meat sediments in a pan and/or pot to make a gravy or sauce, typically using broth or wine.

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Curry Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

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Curry Chicken With Sweet Potatoes is one of my favorite dishes to serve to family and friends. Many times you’ll see curry chicken made with coconut milk. The coconut milk helps to balance the warm spices that go into the dish. I’m changing that up!  For my recipe, I’m using sweet potatoes to balance the bold flavors of the Garam Masala, Turmeric, and Curry powder.

I’m also serving my Curry Chicken With Sweet Potatoes over yellow rice with mixed veggies. I love the vibrant colors of this dish, and how the rice absorbs the delicious sauce. The unique flavors will let you experience what I call, “a roller coaster for your taste buds”.

My recipe for Yellow Rice With Mixed Vegetables can be found under either ” side dishes” or “vegetarian dishes”.

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Cilantro

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, 1 (6-quart) saucepot

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds, skinless-boneless chicken breasts, 3-inch cubes
1/4 cup of vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon, per batch, for browning chicken
1 1/2 cups of onions, large dice
1 cup of celery, large dice
3 1/2 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (3 medium-size potatoes diced into 3-inch cubes)
1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
2 tablespoons of ground garam masala
2 tablespoons of ground curry
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 cups of chicken stock, unsalted (amount of liquid may vary slightly)
cilantro for garnish

Directions:
Place the 3-inch cubed boneless-skinless breast in a large bowl. Add vegetable oil, Tumeric, Garam Masala, ground Curry powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Toss all the ingredients together and place in the frig, covered with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, start prepping the vegetables for the dish. Mince the garlic cloves, cut the celery and onions into large dice. Next, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 3-inch pieces, relative in size to the cubed chicken.

If you are choosing to make the yellow rice with vegetables, start cooking the rice while the chicken is marinating.

In a heavy bottom pot, on medium-high heat, add in vegetable oil (1 tablespoon, per batch, for browning chicken) and marinated chicken in a single layer. Brown off all sides of the cubed chicken. This may need to be done in two batches (a little more vegetable oil may be needed for browning the second batch) and will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and a set on a plate.

After chicken is all browned off, (still on medium-high heat, if needed add a tablespoon of vegetable oil) toss in the diced onions and celery, stirring and scraping the bits off the bottom of the pot. Saute the vegetables until just soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in minced garlic and diced sweet potatoes. Stir all the ingredients together. Next, add back in the browned chicken.

For the liquid add in just enough chicken stock to come up to the chicken. The chicken should not be completely submerged.

Note: the potatoes and vegetables will release water as they cook.

Let everything come up to a bubble, reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are tender.

To serve, spoon some rice into a serving a porcelain bowl. Ladle the Curry Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and its sauce over the top. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Yellow Rice

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Sweet Chili Fire Chicken

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How about making “take out” at home? I’m saying “why not”! Sometimes grabbing fast food once and a while is sometimes a necessity. Making delicious Chinese “take-out” dishes at home is even better. A few simple ingredients with a heavy bottom pot can make this dish a reality. This is my version of Sweet Chili Fire Chicken.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, candy thermometer, spider, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red bell peppers, julienned
2 1/2 cups of canned pineapple chunks, drained
2 bottles of Thai sweet chili sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of snow peas, very thinly sliced on the bias
3 tablespoons of chives, finely minced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

For The Chicken:
2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced into 1 1/2-inch size cubes
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 cups of cornstarch
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:
Prep all the veggies first, having them on stand-by.  Using a meat cutting board, dice up all the chicken, tossing them into a bowl along with the salt and pepper.  Using tongs, make sure the salt and pepper are distributed evenly on the chicken. Grab the largest bowl you have or a large Tupperware container, making it easier to coat the diced chicken pieces. Next, add the flour and toss so that all the pieces are coated.

Preheat Vegetable oil to 360-degrees F.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy bottom pot, like a Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, and using a candy thermometer, have the oil temperature reach 360-degrees F. The oil will take a little while to reach the perfect temperature for frying. Move on to sautéing the vegetables.

Add olive oil to the sauté pan. Over medium-high heat, add the veggies and minced garlic. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, cook until just soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks just to warm through. Turn the heat off.

Transfer the sautéed veggies and pineapple, from the sauté pan, to a large deep-sided skillet. This will be necessary for accommodating all the ingredients. Set the skillet to the back of the stove before starting the frying process.

In one large mixing bowl have the beaten eggs, in another large mixing bowl have the cornstarch. In small batches, dip the diced chicken into the eggs and then into the cornstarch shaking off any excess cornstarch. Place the finished coated chicken pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Check the temperature of the oil. Once the oil is ready, add the battered chicken in small batches, about 5 to 6  at a time, into the pot. Continue dipping the chicken into the egg mixture and then into the cornstarch. Cook around 2 minutes per side or until golden and crispy. Remove from the oil, then transfer them onto a sheet pan lined with a paper towel. Repeat this process until all the chicken pieces are cooked.

Place the skillet over medium heat. Add in all the crispy golden pieces of chicken to the veggie and pineapple mixture. Pour in the bottles of the Thai sweet chili sauce and toss to combine. Simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once everything is hot, turn the heat off. Garnish with minced chives.

Serve immediately.

I like to serve my Sweet Chili Fire Chicken over a bed of Basmati rice.

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