An All-In-One Dish for Early Fall

Cornmeal Coated Chicken_sundaycasseroles_ 5

Photo by Susie Cushner

Each year when late spring rolls around, I pack up my heavy winter clothes, and replace them with warm weather gear.The same type of seasonal exchange happens in my kitchen. The minute the thermometer starts to climb, I put away recipes for robust dishes and turn to lighter fare.

After a short heat wave, this week began with cooler days, and made me start thinking of heartier cooking. I knew right where to look for inspiration and pulled out my Sunday Casseroles, a book (published last fall) of warming, all-in-one dishes. Within minutes I spotted a perfect main course for early fall — Cornmeal-Coated Chicken with Ancho Chiles, Beans, and Corn. Continue reading

A Rustic Fall Stew of Chicken and Chanterelles

Fall Ragu of Chicken and Chanterelles 1  3648x2736After a spell of unseasonably warm weather, it’s turned cold, damp, and overcast in western New England. But rather than bemoan the change outdoors, I use it as an impetus to spend time in my kitchen cooking warming, comforting dishes, like a rustic ragù of chicken with chanterelle mushrooms.

Here is a stew that will take about 45 minutes to prep, but then needs only to simmer Skillet photo Fall Ragu of Chicken and Chanterelles  1824x1368 gently on the stove top about an hour. For this hearty dish, I season chicken thighs with herbes de Provence, coarse salt, and freshly ground pepper before browning them. Onions, carrots, and brown mushrooms are sautéed next and combined with garlic, bay leaves, and tomatoes. Then the chicken and the vegetables are simmered in stock and wine until the poultry is fork tender.

What really gives this dish its star power, though, is some dried chanterelle mushrooms. After being soaked in hot water until reconstituted, the mushrooms (along with their flavorful soaking liquid) are added to the stew, providing a meaty, autumn taste to the humble chicken and vegetable mélange. Continue reading

A Great All-In-One Dish for Busy Weeknights

Chicken with Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Spinach 2Everyone does it! We pick up the phone and call for take-out when our lives are so rushed there’s no way we can get homemade food on the table. I confess that I have the neighborhood pizza place and the near-by Mexican restaurant on speed dial for weeknight emergencies. The truth is, though, that I’m never thrilled with these quick fixes. I’d much rather be pulling something fresh from my fridge to heat up — something like Chicken with Tomatoes, Chick Peas, and Spinach, a new dish I created recently.

Here is a recipe that wins on more than one front. It’s simple to prepare, calls for easily found ingredients, and holds up well when made a couple of days ahead. Oh, and did I mention that it’s healthy and inexpensive too! You simply season chicken thighs (with or without the skin, your choice) with basil and oregano, then brown them along with chopped carrots, onions, and celery. Next, the thighs and vegetables are simmered in stock, tomatoes, and wine about 45 minutes until tender. Finally, you stir in chickpeas and baby spinach and cook only minutes more. Continue reading

Riding Out the Storm with a French Classic—Cassoulet

Cassoulet Rapide 1By Wednesday last week everyone in our small New England town was talking about the big storm! The first I heard of it was at my ophthalmologist’s office where the nurses were all abuzz about the weekend weather forecast. I didn’t pay much attention since predictions here are so often incorrect, but as the day went on, and one television weather reporter after another promised that the upcoming event was going to be historic, I got nervous. Like most of Amherst it seems, I trekked to the market to stock up on food.

On the way there, I decided that I’d try a new recipe—a short version of cassoulet, that classic casserole of beans, sausages, meats, and poultry celebrated in southwestern France. Typically, cassoulet takes several days to make. The beans are prepared at one session, the duck, meats, and sausages at others. I had a recipe, however, for a quick version that my friend, Jacques Ableman, had shared with me when I was in Amsterdam recently. Continue reading

Midnight–No Make That Midday and Lunch–in Paris!

I rarely entertain at lunch, but last week in Paris, I planned a midday get together for three friends. The guests—all thoughtful women who lead busy lives in France’s capital—rearranged their schedules to come for a tasting meal to help fine-tune a recipe for my new book, Sunday Casseroles, due out next year.

Baked chicken with fennel and tomatoes was the centerpiece of our menu. Prepared with humble chicken thighs, magically transformed into a delicious, fork-tender entrée as they slowly bake in a casserole with assertive vegetables, this main course was an instant hit with mes amies.

I sautéed herb-seasoned thighs, combined them with carrots, fennel, onions, and tomatoes, then simmered everything in stock, wine, and orange juice. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients (all of which are easy to find in your local supermarket), because once this dish is assembled, it is placed in the oven for more than an hour of unattended baking. Another bonus is that this casserole can be prepared two days ahead, and it improves in flavor with time! Continue reading