Chicken with Apples, Pears and Camembert Mashed Potatoes

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Guys, this is a good one. First, whoever thought of putting triple cream cheese in mashed potatoes is a genius. Why I’ve never done this before is really beyond me, since I’ve eaten my weight in Brie many a time. But somehow this is the first time it has crossed my palate, and I’m a happy camper about it.

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Top this mashed potato dreaminess with a really awesome chicken dish, topped with warm pear and apple and you’ve got a killer meal. The fruit adds such a nice warmth and sweetness to the savory in the chicken and potatoes. It’s a Rachael Ray recipe and I’ll definitely be making this again.

TW’s Tips

  • I had some Brie that I substituted for the Camembert — worked great. Really any triple cream cheese will work.
  • Of course the chicken always takes longer to cook than these recipes say. Give it some extra time to make sure it’s cooked through.
  • Serve with a green vegetable — I picked asparagus.

Enjoy!

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Chicken with Apples, Pears and Camembert Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as yukon gold, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 gala, honey crisp or golden delicious apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 bosc pear, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 1/3 pound ripe camembert cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 10 – 12 chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Directions

In a deep pot, add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, salt the water and cook the potatoes until tender, 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden, 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple, pear and nutmeg; season with salt. Stir in the lemon juice for 3 minutes, then stir in the honey for 1 minute.
Mash the potatoes with the milk and cheese; season with salt and pepper. Slice the chicken breasts on an angle, arrange alongside the potatoes and top with the fruit. In a small bowl, combine the chives, thyme and lemon peel; sprinkle over the chicken and potatoes.

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The Most Amazing Fried Chicken

 

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I’ve been a bit of a disaster in the kitchen lately. Last weekend I had a trifecta — my glass blender exploded, breaking into two pieces and spraying hot tomatillo sauce all over my kitchen; I left the oven on all night long (oops); and a defrosting bag of cranberries left a huge red cranberry stain on my granite countertops (managed to get it out, thank you, Google).

However, this fried chicken was far from a disaster. Oh no. No disaster here.

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I admit I was a little intimidated. I’ve never cooked fried chicken before, and a lot can go wrong when you heat a big vat of oil to high temperatures. But the challenge was on. I followed a Tyler Florence recipe from his “The Ultimate” cookbook. You marinate the chicken in lemon juice while the oil heats, but otherwise the recipe is pretty simple. It’s your basic flour and egg wash combination. But wow does this make a juicy, delicious chicken. It was perhaps the most flavorful chicken I’ve ever had, inside an amazing, crispy crust that I was licking off my fingers.

One great secret — crisping up a combination of herbs and garlic in the oil while it warms up. Rosemary, thyme, sage…then you reserve it and sprinkle that crispy flavor over the chicken when it’s done. So good. With a squeeze of lemon for some acid, alongside some rich mashed potatoes, I was in home-cooking heaven.

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Trust me, make this chicken. I reheated it the day after in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes — not quite as crispy as the day before, but still quite delicious.

TW’s Tips

  • This probably goes without saying, but you must use a skin-on chicken. Non-negotiable.
  • You can save money by buying a whole chicken and breaking it down yourself. It’s actually not that bad if you have a good knife. Google it. I’ve found a quartered chicken at my local grocery store and that’s even easier — you don’t have to deal with the back, etc.
  • I found it hard to find peanut oil, so I used canola. Vegetable would work as well. I also bought a deep fry thermometer, which was worth it.
  • The mashed potatoes call for a ricer to mash them, but I used an immersion blender. An electric mixer or potato masher would work just as well.
  • The broccoli is excellent, but next time I’m going to try to roast it the whole time instead of pre-boiling it.

The Ultimate Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2 lb.) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 gallon peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 big fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1/4 bunch of fresh sage
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/2 head of garlic, smashed, husk still attached
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

 Directions

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Put them in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them, turning the chicken so that the lemon gets all through it. Let it marinate while you heat the oil.

Pour the peanut oil into a large pasta pot. Add the herbs and garlic and heat over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees on one of those clip-on deep-fry thermometers. The herbs and garlic will perfume the oil with their flavor as the oil comes up to temperature.

Meanwhile, put the flour in a large, shallow platter and hit it with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a large, shallow bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of water and whisk it all together with a fork.

When the oil reached 350, skim off the herbs and garlic with a slotted spoon; reserve. Roll the chicken pieces around in the flour until well coated. Shake off the excess, then dunk them in the egg wash. Carefully drop the chicken into the hot oil (you can cook it all at the same time) and cook for about 20 minutes, turning it with tongs every now and then to keep the color even. The chicken is done when the skin is crisp and golden brown and the chicken floats at the surface of the oil.. Keep an eye on the temperature and adjust the heat to keep the temperature as even as possible.

When the chicken is done, take a big skimmer and remove all of it from the pot, shaking off as much oil as you can, and lay it on a tea towel or brown paper bag to soak up the oil. Sprinkle all over with more salt and a dusting of cracked black pepper. Scatter the reserved herbs and garlic over the top. Serve hot, with big lemon wedges.

Velvety Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Drizzle olive oil, optional

Directions

Warm the cream with the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts; set aside.

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the warm cream and butter mixture until the cream is absorbed and the mixture is smooth. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and finish them off by stirring in 1/4 cup olive oil.

Parmesan Lemon Roasted Broccoli

  • 3 heads broccoli (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim about 1 inch off the ends of the broccoli stalks and cut the broccoli lengthwise into spears. Arrange the broccoli on a nonstick cookie sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and season with a little bit of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and bake until the cheese melt and forms a crisp shell over the broccoli, about 10 minutes. Lift the broccoli out onto a platter with a spatula and drizzle with fresh lemon.

Turkey Meatloaf, Parmesan Smashed Potatoes and Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Christmas is the perfect time for some comfort food, so I just had to share this amazing turkey meatloaf recipe from Barefoot Contessa. I paired it with Parmesan smashed potatoes and my absolute favorite broccoli recipe ever — chili-garlic roasted broccoli — from Rachael Ray. It was home-cooked heaven on a plate.

Let’s start with the meatloaf. I was never a meatloaf eater until recently. My parents never made it — maybe because it had a bit of a 70s TV dinner bad rap. But this version is moist, full of flavor and so tender it practically falls apart. Who would think that could be possible with ground turkey?

Barefoot Contessa’s recipe below makes a massive meatloaf. Five pounds of turkey? Umm, yeah. I cut it in half, and it was still a ton of food. I still had to cook it for about an hour and a quarter to cook it all the way through. It’s also important to note that this is one of the few recipes including ketchup that I am willing to eat. I *hate* ketchup — but I think cooking it for so long must tone it down, because it’s actually quite good on top of this meatloaf!

On to the potatoes. First things first — they’re not low fat. We’re talking heavy cream, sour cream, butter, cheese…but all of that makes these some pretty incredible potatoes. When you start mixing in the warmed up cream mixture, you’re going to think you’re making the potatoes too watery, but don’t worry — the potatoes soak up all that goodness in no time, making some of the fluffiest, creamiest potatoes I’ve ever had.

And finally — my favorite broccoli.

Roasting the broccoli in the oven adds so much flavor — it’s nutty and sweet, and the garlic and chili powder add some zip. I could literally eat this as a main course, it’s so good. I will never again boil or steam broccoli! The only problem I encountered was that cooking it to go with the meatloaf was tough because it needs a much higher temp than the meatloaf, so you can’t put them in the oven at the same time. I’d recommend cooking the meatloaf first, then letting it rest under foil while you do the broccoli. You really need the high heat to make the broccoli work, otherwise, I’d just say put it in for a little longer. But the high heat crisps up the florets and caramelizes the broccoli — yum!

I hope you enjoy this meal… and Merry Christmas!

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 5 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup ketchup

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red new potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 pound unsalted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt in a 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until completely tender. Drain.

In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter. Put the potatoes into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix the potatoes for a few seconds on low speed, to break them up. Slowly add the hot cream and butter to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed (the last quarter of the cream should be folded in by hand). Fold in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, the remaining salt, and pepper; taste for seasoning and serve immediately. If the potatoes are too thick, add more hot cream and butter.

Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended:Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick Grill Mates)
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into thin, long spears

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl and add the broccoli spears. Toss to coat broccoli evenly then transfer to a large nonstick baking sheet. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and stalks are tender, 17 to 20 minutes.