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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs

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This has to be one of my favorite chicken dishes ever! Chef Michael Chiarello inspired me to make this recipe after seeing him do it on television. The name sounds really fancy, but the dish is not hard to make.

There are a few steps that need to be followed and none of them are hard to do.  I would have like to used fresh figs, as he did, but they weren’t in season at the time. I used dried figs and reconstituted them. I’ll tell you how I did this in a minute.

I’m starting with the spice rub for the chicken.

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To make the spice rub for the chicken was to take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder. Then I poured the spices into a bowl. Next, add ground white pepper to the bowl and combine. That’s the spice rub

For the chicken, Have your butcher remove the bone from four skin-on chicken breasts. Season both sides of the chicken with Kosher salt first. Then I sprinkled a good amount of the spice rub on both sides, carefully, under the skin as well.

In a large pan, preheated on medium-high heat, carefully add olive oil. Place the chicken, in the pan, skin side down. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook another 4 minutes. Transfer the pan right into a preheated 350-degree F. oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.

Once the chicken comes out of the oven, transfer the chicken onto a large plate. Cover the chicken with foil to stay warm. Start on the sauce.

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Take Concord grapes, place them into a large plastic zip-lock bag, and with your hands, crush all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes are crushed,  place a large bowl underneath a fine mesh sieve. Pour the grapes and their juice into the sieve allowing the juices fall into the bowl, (I used my hands to crush any grapes I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible). This process takes about 15 minutes and yields 2 cups of grape juice.

In a large saucepot add 4 cups of organic apple juice. To that add the dried figs along with a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Give a quick stir, turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the figs up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let this simmer for 30 minutes. This allows the figs to reconstitute and plump up.

Using a slotted spoon, fish all the figs out of the poaching liquid and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, remove all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.

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Getting back to the chicken, I have the sautèpan with the chicken dripping still in the bottom. On medium-high heat, add the finely diced red onion (1 whole dice shallot would be fine too), to the hot pan. Sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkled Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Next, add two sprigs of fresh rosemary. This will add depth of flavor to the sauce.

As the pan is bubbling,  pour in the fresh grape juice and unsalted chicken broth. With the heat still on medium-high, allow the sauce to come up to a bubble then reduce the heat to low simmering for another 5-7 minutes. Remove rosemary sprigs.

Next, add the quartered reconstituted figs to the grape reduction. Swirl the pan around letting the figs swim and absorb all that flavor. Season with a light sprinkling of Kosher salt. Turn the heat off.

This amazing sauce with figs is ready to be poured into the bottom of a large deep serving dish. Lay the seared chicken on top. Spoon the sauce along with the figs over the chicken.

I like to serve this Tuscan chicken with a simple arugula salad,  dressed with a lemon vinaigrette and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Also, a side of sautéed lemon pepper seasoned asparagus and a garnish of concord grapes.

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 45-50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: large sautèpan, saucepot, large deep-sided serving platter

Ingredients:
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon Fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Reconstituting Dried Frigs:
4 cups organic apple juice
1 package dried black mission figs
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs:
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 a finely diced red onion ( 1 whole diced shallot)
Reconstituted  black mission figs, stems removed and quartered, yields about 2 heaping cups (if available, 2 pints of fresh black mission figs, stems removed, quartered)
6 pints of concord grapes (reserve some for garnish) yields 2 cups of juice
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt to taste
Note: If fresh Concord grapes are not available, substitute 2 cups Welch’s Concord grape juice.

Sides:
1 package of arugula
1 pound fresh asparagus
Parmigiano-Reggiano, garnish for salad

Directions:
For the chicken, Have your butcher remove the bone from four skin-on chicken breasts.

Start out by making the spice rub for the chicken. To make the spice rub for the chicken was to take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder. Then I poured the spices into a bowl. Next, add ground white pepper to the bowl, stir to combine. That’s the spice rub.

Season both sides of the chicken with Kosher salt first. Then I sprinkled a good amount of the spice rub on both sides, carefully, under the skin as well.

Once the chicken breasts are seasoned, start poaching the figs in the poaching liquid.

In a large saucepot start with organic apple juice. Add the dried figs along with granulated sugar. Give a quick stir, turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the figs up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes. This allows the figs to reconstitute and plump up.

Using a slotted spoon, fish all the figs out of the poaching liquid and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, remove all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.

Note: It’s a good idea to do this step in advance if possible.
Take Concord grapes, place them into a large plastic zip-lock bag, and with your hands, crush all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes are crushed,  place a large bowl underneath a fine mesh sieve. Pour the grapes and their juice into the sieve allowing the juices fall into the bowl, (I used my hands to crush any grapes I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible). This process takes about 15 minutes and yields 2 cups of grape juice.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Start dicing the onion for the sauce.

In a large pan, preheated on medium-high heat, carefully add olive oil. Place the chicken, in the pan, skin side down. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook another 4 minutes. Transfer the pan right into a preheated 350-degree F. oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.

While the chicken is in the oven, the figs should be ready to come out of the poaching liquid. Let the figs cool for about 5 minutes then remove the stems and cut them into quarters.

When the chicken comes out of the oven, place them onto a plate and cover with foil. Use the same sautèpan to make the grape reduction. Be Careful because the handle of the pan is very hot.

On medium-high heat, add in the 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and the diced onions to the chicken dripping that is still in the pan. Sautè until translucent. Add in the grape juice and unsalted chicken broth. Once it comes up to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 5-7 minutes and then add quartered reconstituted figs. Finally, a light sprinkling of Kosher salt.

Swirl the figs around in the grape reduction so they absorb that grape flavor for another minute and then turn the heat off.

To Serve: Use a deep-sided serving platter and pour the grape reduction with figs in the bottom of the platter. Lay the pan seared chicken on top. Spoon a little of the sauce and figs over the chicken.

I like to serve this Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs with a simple arugula salad,  dressed with a lemon vinaigrette and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Also, a side of sautéed lemon pepper asparagus and a garnish of concord grapes.

Lemon Pepper Asparagus

Homemade Vinaigrette Recipes- Lemon, Balsamic, And Cilantro Lime

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1-8 ounce jelly jar with lid
4 tablespoon or 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice ( usually 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil E.V.O.O.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients into the jelly jar. Place the lid on tightly and shake.

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Home-Style Goulash

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I can remember having this dish growing up. I’m not sure if HomeStyle Goulash is what my mom called it but, it was an easy dish for her to pull together after putting in a full day’s work. Being a single parent who worked full-time, making a good home cooked meal was very important to her. I’ve updated her version by making a few significant changes. This is my version of a Hungarian Home-Style Goulash.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven, 6-quart stockpot, colander

Ingredients:
2-pounds of lean ground sirloin
1-pound box (16-ounce) Barilla Cavatappi
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Poblano peppers seeded and diced
1-pint Cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 10.5-ounce can beef consomme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 14.5-ounce can low sodium diced tomatoes, with juice
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Heaping 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

Directions:
In a Dutch oven on medium-high heat add olive oil, ground cinnamon, Hungarian paprika, tomato paste, and dried oregano. Let the spices *bloom and release their oils and flavors.

Next, add diced onion, minced garlic, diced poblano peppers, and crimini mushrooms. Sauté and stir for 7 to 10 minutes allowing the vegetable to soften, release their water, and get some nice color. Add Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Pour in the beef consomme, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bits of the bottom of the pot, that’s flavor!

Let the beef consomme completely reduce until all the liquid has evaporated and the flavors have concentrated, 7 to 10 minutes, then add the ground sirloin breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon.

Once the ground sirloin is broken up add garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Continue to stir allowing the meat to release its liquid the start to brown, around 15 minutes.

Moving forward add can of diced tomatoes, the crushed tomatoes, and brown sugar. Turn the heat down to medium and stir to combine. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.

In a large stockpot of boiling salted water add the Cavatappi (a short cork-screw shaped pasta). Cook pasta for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente, drain well.  Add the pasta to the meat sauce, stir to combine. Turn the heat to off.

The last step is to add the cheese. Add the Mozzarella cheese, again, stir to combine. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley.

*Bloom: To become more apparent, as in flavor or aroma. Good oil is a base from which delectable flavors bloom.

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Coq Au Vin

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To be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to be able to travel to France, but I can dream right?. If I did get the opportunity it would be during my favorite season, Autumn. I thought how can I get to experience a taste of Paris then it came to me, Coq au vin, chicken cooked in red wine. It’s a comforting dish that’s perfect when you want something that has all the elements of great French cuisine.

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Whenever you’re cooking something for a long time all the flavors tend to get slightly dull. People way smarter than I figured out how to bring braised dishes back to life, make them pop! They top braised dishes right before serving with what’s called a *Gremolata.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Yields:  2 to 4 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, large mixing bowl

Ingredients:
6 to 8 bacon slices, cut into lardons
4 chickens breasts, bone-in, skin on, cut in half
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium-size onion, small dice
1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1-pint Cremini mushrooms, quartered
8 baby Yukon gold potatoes halved
1 cup unsalted chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon

Ingredients For Gremolata:
1 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of Kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Preheat a Dutch oven on medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes until hot. Add the *lardons. When the fat begins to melt reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. As more fat gathers in the pot reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, flip the *lardons and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove any crisp lardons onto a plate lined with paper towel and move any lardon that needs additional time to the center of the pot to continue cooking until the remaining lardons are all crisp.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. In a large mixing bowl add the all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper, whisk to combine. When the bacon is all removed, turn the heat back to medium, dredge the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour, shake off excess flour, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for around 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon (lardons) and continue to brown the remaining pieces, Set aside.

To the pot add olive oil, onions, carrots,  Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Put the bacon (lardons) and chicken back into the pot. Add the wine, chicken broth, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, mushrooms, and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place into the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165-degrees F. and the potatoes are fork tender.

Whenever you’re making a stew or braising some type of meat where it needs to cook for a long time, all the flavors tend to get slightly dull. People much smarter than me figured out how to bring braised dishes back to life, make them pop! They top braised dishes, right before serving, with a *Gremolata.

Directions For The *Gremolata:
Start with lemon zest, garlic, flat-leaf Italian parsley, Kosher salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Place all the ingredients on a cutting board and chop them up together as finely as possible. Place into a bowl. Spoon on top of the finished dish. This way you can stir it in right before you eat. *Gremolata brings all the flavors back to life from any long cooking process.

To Serve:
Ladle the Coq Au Vin into a porcelain serving bowl with a dollop of that amazing Gremolata on top. Alongside, a good loaf of crusty French bread for dipping. You must give this dish a try, it’s so delicious.

*Lardons, also called lardoon or larding, are small 1/4″ strips of fatty bacon used in a wide variety of cuisines.

*Gremolata or Gremonlada is a chopped herb condiment classically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. It’s a traditional accompaniment to many braised dishes., Gremolata is also used as a garnish.

 

 

 

 

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