Monday, October 11, 2010

Tuscan Style Chicken

So almost anyone who cooks, or at least has a TV, knows of Rachel Ray.  I watch her show every once in a while, but rarely do I make the meals she makes.  Last weekend, though, as I was reading through her cookbook, I found 2 recipes I thought sounded so good that I had to try immediately!  Last Sunday, I made Zuppa Osso Bucco.  This Sunday, I made Tuscan Style Chicken with Rosemary!

Tuscan Style Chicken with Rosemary

* 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins
* 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
* 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
* 2 tbs white wine vinegar
* 2 tbs butter
* 2 shallots, chopped
* 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
* 2 tbs all purpose flour
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 2 cups beef broth

I love love love rosemary!  I never really liked it until I made a rack of lamb with rosemary for Valentine's Day one year.  Since then, I've been hooked!  I saw the rosemary in this recipe and knew I had to try it. 

So to make this dish, I first seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large saucepan, I added the olive oil and heated on medium heat.  I added in the crushed garlic and let it start to soften up a bit.  Then, I started adding the chicken to the pan to let it brown. It doesn't matter if the chicken doesn't get cooked all the way through, because you will finish cooking it at the end. I had to work in different batches, because my saucepan isn't all that big (it's on my Christmas/Birthday wish list!).

Typically, I let the chicken get more brown than this, but Curt was really hungry, so I was trying to hurry along the process!  Once all the chicken was browned, I set it all on a separate dish to rest while I prepared the rest of the dish. 

To the pan, I added in the white wine vinegar.  Like I had mentioned in a previous post, this deglazes the pan, so it separates all those yummy little browned bits from the pan, so the flavors can incorporate into the sauce and give it a delicious flavor!  You have to stir the pan a bit and make sure everything has "unstuck" from the pan.  Also, you have to let it "cook off."  Although I'm not 100% sure what this means, I just let it cook until it reduced a bit and it didn't smell like a punch of vinegar to the face when you try to sniff it.

After the vinegar had evaporated a bit, I added in the butter and let it melt a bit.  Next, in went the chopped shallots and rosemary.  Shallots are delicious! They are like a mix between a clove of garlic and onion... and they are a pretty purple color.  The flavor is nice and delicate and absolutely fantastic!  I let the shallots soften and cook down for about 2-3 minutes.

After the shallots had softened a bit, I added in the flour and let it cook a bit.  You have to "cook" the flour which sounds weird, but it's an important step. If you don't cook it, the dish will have that raw flour taste which could make for an interesting sauce.  Next, I added in the wine.  Because the flour is a thickener, the wine started thickening up the sauce.  It was a consistency of almost like a milkshake.  I started to get a bit worried because I didn't want it to burn.   You have to constantly stir the whole thing so that the mixture doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan and burn... so stir stir stir!

Next, I added in the beef broth.  This helped to thin out the mixture a bit more so it represented more of a gravy rather than mashed potatoes!  You have to bring the whole mixture to a boil and whisk the whole time so that everything can really combine.

At this point, I started to get nervous.  I tasted the "sauce" and it didn't taste good.  It tasted kinda sour and weird.  I had a problem like this with another Italian style dish I made that was a disaster: Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs. I was afraid that I had screwed something up and that I was going to have half cooked chicken and nothing else to show my grumbly tummy husband. 

I decided to stick to the recipe (as much as I usually did) and just hope for the best.  The sauce was a nice consistency and it was well mixted, so I added the browned chicken back to the pan.  I let it sit in the sauce for a few minutes to finish cooking and pick up some of the flavors.

The chicken finished cooking in the little hot tub mixture of beef broth and wine, etc... I let it cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, I started making some orzo pasta and green beans to go with lunch.

Luckily, the dish turned out to be really yummy!   I ended up liking it a lot, as a matter of fact.  I don't think I put in as much rosemary as I should have, I used technically 3 sprigs when it called for 6, but the sprigs were HUGE!  Next time I'll add in more and cut it up more finely.

I served the chicken and the sauce over the orzo pasta and with a side of green beans.  The chicken was cooked perfectly.  I think that letting them sit in the liquid to finish cooking really helped it to remain moist.  The chicken was so tender and had a lot of flavor!

So, score 2 out of 2 for Rachel Ray!  This dish will definitely need to be added to my normal routine of cooking! I was nervous there for a minute when it didn't taste too good, but I'm really glad that I stuck through and finished the dish, because it was GREAT!   There weren't many leftovers!

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