Tuesday, February 06, 2007

WHAT’S COOKIN’?

Since we bought the freezer I’ve been able to buy things in bulk, or when they’re on sale. Since I can’t seem to find chicken breasts with the bone in, and since pre-made chicken broth doesn’t exist here, I like to buy whole chickens and cut them up myself. I package up the breasts, usually 2 in a package, then legs and thighs get packaged up, and the backs and wings are saved to make chicken broth.

Zip lock bags, also not found in Italy, are one of my special treats from the states. These, along with Press ‘n’ Seal, make freezing everything so much easier. I had a one gallon zip lock bag with two sets of legs and thighs in it. Last week I got that bag of legs and thighs out of the freezer and used half
of them to make the bourbon chicken that I was less than pleased with.

Today I decided to use the rest of the legs and thighs to make the dish we call “Belinda’s Chicken”. This dish, like so many other Italian recipes, is cooked on the stove top. Years ago the average Italian kitchen had a cooktop and a fireplace, but not an oven. People used communal ovens for their bread, and I guess a lucky few had their own outdoor oven.

This dish has prunes in it. I had NEVER eaten prunes before I move to Italy. They just looked yucky, and they were for OLD PEOPLE! Prunes were, as far as I was concerned, something old people ate to help with their regularity, and quite frankly I had no use for them.

Fast forward to now….when I eat so many things that I never dreamed of eating before! Zucchini! Artichokes! And now, PRUNES! They’re actually sweet, and more like giant raisins (which I love), than something medicinal.

This recipe is so easily thrown together, and since it takes just over an hour to cook, you really can make it on very short notice.

BELINDA’S CHICKEN WITH PRUNES

6 chicken thighs
1/3 cup EVOO
4 cloves garlic
1 sm can green olives, pitted
1 sm jar capers
1 pack pitted prunes (12-15)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
3 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 TBSP brown sugar

Brown chicken in oil with garlic. Add everything else on top. Rotate occasionally. Cook for 1¼ hours on low heat on stove top.


What else to make for lunch? Well, I had one good sized eggplant (another new food for me!), and when I’d taken the chicken out of the freezer I’d also grabbed a bag of frozen tomatoes.

Of course you have to have a freezer with enough space, but popping the tomatoes into zip lock bags is sooo much easier than canning them! I freeze the tomatoes whole and with the skin on. When they thaw the skins just slip right off.

And so I had a bag of thawed tomatoes in the frig, and one large eggplant. I decided to make a simple tomato sauce and put it on slices of eggplant. A scattering of breadcrumbs would go on the top, a drizzle of olive oil, then I’d bake them in the oven

I put the thawed, skinned tomatoes into a sieve to drain off most of the water, and after sitting for a while I had a nice thick paste.
I added a bit of olive oil, a dash of oregano and some salt and pepper.

After cutting the eggplant into thick slices I set them into a WELL OILED baking tray and topped them with the tomato sauce. Breadcrumbs, oil, then into the oven at 350ºF for about 25 minutes.


Speaking of breadcrumbs…..the other day while watching an old Jamie Oliver cooking show (the Naked Chef I think), Jamie was making a dish that required fresh breadcrumbs. The other person in the kitchen, the person behind the camera I guess, asked if it would be okay to use breadcrumbs that had been frozen.

Jamie really got a laugh out of that!!! “Frozen breadcrumbs? Never heard of that!”, he told her. She explained that when she had bread left over, or bread that was about to go bad, she’d just put it into the freezer. Well of course she did! I do the same thing! It’s a great way to use bread before it goes bad! I have seen breadcrumbs in the grocery here, but it just seems silly to waste bread, so I make my own croutons and breadcrumbs. Guess Jamie lives in a different world (ya think???)

Well, that was lunch for today. Quick, definitely low carb, and VERY tasty. Art enjoyed it so much that we had the rest of it for dinner tonight! The chicken makes a wonderful light sauce, and Art suggested that rice, or even mashed potatoes would be a great way to make full use of this sauce.

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2 Comments :

At 2/06/2007 04:23:00 PM , Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Could you be specific about how much in weight or number of the prunes? I buy big bags of them, because I really like them, but I think the finished dish would be prunes decorated with chicken when it was done.
So where is the scone recipe?

 
At 2/06/2007 07:23:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

edited the recipe to recommend 12-15 prunes. Start with that and add or subtract depending on your taste.

As for the scone recipe, well... you said I'd post it if anyone asked, but no one has....until now. Look for it soon.

 

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