Chicken and Spinach Burritos

It’s perfect weather for roasting a chicken and one of the best things about cooking a whole bird is the leftovers.

I look at cooked chicken as fast food. I can knock out a meal in a few minutes with minimal effort. Throw it in pasta with some vegetables; add some cauliflower, curry and cooked rice for a quick Indian meal and of course you can always make soup, especially if you made stock from your roasted bird. And as with most leftovers, you can throw it into a burrito.

Chicken and Spinach Burritos
This is a good dish to make when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s quick and healthy. You can add whatever you have on hand. Add a can of black beans if you want to stretch your dollar a bit more.

Ingredients

2-3 cups of cooked chicken
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
3 generous handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chopped jalapeno (optional)
3 ounces of cream cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoon salsa
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 Whole-grain flour tortilla
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Heat olive oil in large skillet.
  • Wrap tortillas in foil and place in a 350° oven to heat for 10 minutes.
  • Add onions, garlic, jalapeno and chicken to skillet. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes.
  • Mix in chili powder, salsa, yogurt and cream cheese. Cook until cheese has melted and sauce has thickened.
  • Add spinach. Cook on low just until spinach starts to wilt.
  • Remove from heat, add cilantro.
  • Spoon about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla; roll tightly and place seam-side down.
  • Top with salsa and plain yogurt or sour cream. Serve with a salad.

Serves 4

May Y’all: Chicken Gumbo

This is my husband’s recipe.

Ingredients
2 pounds of chicken thighs (skin on/off and boneless choices are up to you)
2 pounds andouille or hot smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup oil (either use the drippings from the sausage or add olive oil)
1 stick of butter
1 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
4 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Filé powder (dried sassafras) to taste
Cooked rice (enough for 12 servings)

Method

  • In a large heavy gauge pot, brown the sausage, drain off most of the drippings and reserve. Keep a little in the pan for the chicken. Set sausage aside.
  • In same pot, over medium-high heat, brown chicken thighs for 7 to 8 minutes each side. Set aside.
  • For your roux, heat the oil and butter until melted and then slowly add flour. Stir constantly over medium heat, until the roux reaches a dark brown color (this may take 20 to 30 minutes). If it burns even slightly, throw it out and start over again.
  • Add the vegetables and stir quickly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the stock, vinegar, seasonings, chicken (you can either add the chicken thighs whole, or cut them into pieces) and sausage. Simmer for about an hour. Try not to let the gumbo boil, or the roux might break (separate) and nobody wants a broken roux.
  • Add the chopped scallions and heat for 5 minutes.
  • Serve over rice in large shallow bowls.
  • Sprinkle filé powder in each bowl.

Accompany with crusty French bread.

Serves 12.

Chicken Stock

Making stock is something I do all the time. If I’m chopping a bunch of vegetables, the unused ends go in a stock pot. If I have shrimp shells, I throw them in a pot with water and make shrimp stock. I feel like I’m throwing away good money if I don’t make stock out of the leftover pieces and parts of whatever I’m cooking.

The great thing about making your own stock is that you know exactly what is in it and can customize it to your taste. I don’t like thyme, so my stock never has to have it! Plus meat stock has a healthy dose of minerals. If you want to read about the health benefits of stock, check out Sally Fallon’s Broth is Beautiful article on WestonAPrice.org.

If you are short for time, put your stock-making ingredients in the freezer and make it later.

Ingredients
chicken carcass from a roasted chicken

Method
-Once the chicken has cooled, pick the meat off the bone, save the meat for another dish.
-Add all the unused chicken parts (bones, skin, etc) to a large stock part and cover with water.
– 2 tablespoons vinegar
-Add peppercorns, herbs, garlic, vegetable ends, or whatever you have around.  You don’t really need to add anything, but it will enhance the flavor.
-Heat over medium uncovered for at least an hour. I often leave mine on for several hours if I have time.
-Strain stock, discard everything but the liquid.
-Once the stock has cooled, divide into 1-2 cup portions. I pour the stock into freezer bags and freeze. You can also pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for quick inclusion into dishes.

Chicken Gravy

chickenGravyIt would be a shame to have all the good drippings from a chicken and not make gravy.
-Using your roasting pan, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from pan.
-Place pan across two burners and heat the drippings gently on the stove top for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. (Note: if you used a glass or ceramic dish to roast the chicken, transfer the drippings to a pot. Glass will likely break if heated directly on a stove-top burner).
-Add 2 tablespoon of flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Use a fork to smooth out the lumps.
-Stir in two cups of water or milk and simmer, stir until thickened.
-Season with salt and pepper.

Sesame Ginger Chicken with Roasted Radishes on Radish Greens

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Excerpts from my column in the Register Star and Daily Mail:
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I love a good spicy raw radish, but I only think of them as just nice crunchy additions to my salad. Turns out, I had a very myopic view of radishes. Not only are there endless salad variations for the brightly colored globes, but you can also cook them. To be frank, cooking a radish never crossed my mind. I just didn’t think it was done. Thank goodness for the Internet to broaden my culinary horizons.

Radishes are a member of the cruciferous family, which includes health-star siblings like cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Radishes are a good source of vitamin C, they are high in antioxidants, high in dietary fiber, and low in calories. Radish greens pack even more vitamin C than the globes. Radishes are purported to be beneficial for respiratory problems, digestive disorders, asthma, bronchitis and liver and gallbladder troubles. All of that in a pretty pink little package.

Our radishes are still growing. I have pulled a few very tasty gumball-sized ones. The radishes at the farmer’s market give ours something to which to aspire. They are beautiful indeed. So I grabbed several bunches and decided to experiment.

Sesame Ginger Chicken with Roasted Radishes on Radish Greens
I like this recipe because it satisfies my frugal nature by using all the parts of the radish. In fact, the radish greens in this dish are my favorite part.

Ingredients
4-6 pieces of chicken, skin on (plan on 3 ounces per person)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sake (optional)
1/4 sesame seeds
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 bunches of radishes (with greens)
Dash of Cayenne pepper

(Serves 2-4)

Method
-Rinse chicken pieces in water and pat dry.
-Mix soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, ginger, garlic, sake, lime, rice vinegar and water. Set aside 1/4 cup and pour the rest over the chicken. Let marinate for 20 minutes (or longer if you have the time).
-Preheat oven to 400°F.
-Wash radishes and radish greens well. Remove greens and set aside.
-Cut radish globes into fourths and toss in the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade until coated.
-Brush the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil.
– Arrange chicken pieces skin-side up in roasting pan. Pour marinade over chicken.
– Add radishes around the chicken.
-Cook for 30 minutes at 400°F. Then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for 15-20 minutes more until juices run clear or until the internal temperature reads 170° F.
-Remove and chicken and radishes from the roasting pan and set aside leaving the liquid in the pan.
-Toss the washed radish greens in the pan.
-Return pan to oven for 3-4 more minutes or until the greens are wilted.

To serve, place the greens on a plate, top with the chicken and radishes. Drizzle the pan drippings over everything. Coconut rice from last week’s column will go nicely with this dish.