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Feb 28, 2014 06:17 PM

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: From the Sea (175-204), Chicken, Duck, Goose (205-232), Beef, Pork and Lamb (233-260)

Greetings all!

Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:

From the Sea Pg. 175-204
Chicken, Duck, and Goose Pg. 205-232
From the Butcher: Beef, Pork, and Lamb Pg.233-260

Remember to review the thread in order to ensure you reply to the original post on any recipe you are reviewing to make sure all the comments are grouped together.

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  1. Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets Pg. 208

    I got a tiny bit of a headstart as I made this for dinner this past Thursday along with the Braised Tuscan Kale. There were only 3 of us for dinner so we went with a half recipe, which came together quite quickly and easily.

    Essentially you make an herb butter (chives and parsley in my case) which you then set aside while you pound, season, and flour your breasts. These then get pan fried a few minutes per side and then set aside. Meanwhile you reduce chicken broth by about two thirds and preheat the oven to 375. You then melt the herb butter (in the microwave in my case) and add it to some panko which gets pressed onto the breasts before they go into the oven for about 10 minutes until browned. Lastly, you whisk in the remaining butter piece by piece into the reduced stock and drizzle in a bit of lemon juice to finish your sauce. Once your breasts are ready you drizzle the sauce over and serve with lemon wedges on the side. The only detail I left out is that Ms. Lynch has you season at every step, how very chefy of her.

    The end result was good, not all that different from other preparations I've applied to fish and chicken in the past, but still very solid and flavourful. I did have to turn the broiler on for the last few minutes of cooking, but overall the timing for the cooking of these breasts was pretty spot on. The results were very juicy and nicely browned. As for the herb butter and the panko crust, it looked very nice coming out of the oven but I found it softened immediately once I had sauced it. Mind you, the sauce was very good so I might serve on the side next time to try and preserve the crust. Otherwise a very nice weekday dish. My only other suggestion is to make sure you are conservative with your salt as you are salting at several stages.

    A good start to the month for me.

    10 Replies
    1. re: delys77

      Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets, p.208

      I've now made this dish twice - the first time following the recipe pretty closely and heeding the advice from delys regarding the sauce. It will indeed soften the nice panko crust if too much is spooned over the chicken so I was judicious when drizzling it. On the other hand, the crust does benefit from a dressing (and all the lemon flavor comes from the sauce). So, the second time around I made the sauce a bit more lemony by decreasing the amount of stock and increasing the amount of lemon juice, and adding lemon zest. I also roasted cherry tomatoes and topped them with more lemon zest, spooning them over the finished chicken along with a small ladle of sauce (a bit of a deviation, but it worked well, and I love lemon!).

      As delys mentioned, the recipe is quick and easy to put together (the herb butter could be made ahead) and the cooking time given for the breasts was quite accurate as my chicken was very juicy as well. I used parsley, tarragon and chives for the herb butter, which was a nice combination.

      1. re: lesliej

        That sounds excellent Leslie, if it wasn't for my tomato hating husband I would likely follow suit. I will however make note of your upping the ante on the lemon as that also sounds like a good idea.

      2. re: delys77

        Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets, p. 208

        My husband loves breaded cutlets of any stripe, and I'm quite fond of them myself--if someone else is preparing them. To me, they are a royal pain to make. Ever armed with an ulterior motive, I promised him these one night recently in exchange for an onerous yard chore.

        Delys77 has already covered the process (and turned out a lovely plate) so I won't repeat.

        The cutlets were delicious; we especially loved the lemony sauce (although it seemed really thin). But I won't be doing these this way again as I found them slightly more a PITB than my/the usual method, and they did not brown well in the oven during the suggested time, except around the edges, and then there was the previously mentioned softening.

        I get better results frying pre-breaded cutlets in clarified butter (as my adopted Oma taught me): they're crunchy, brown, and I've never had trouble with burning of thin cutlets. (Of course, I've never tried doing very many at once.) I will do a variation on this sauce, adding the herbs to it, because we both agreed it kicked these up a notch.

        1. re: delys77

          Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets Pg. 208

          My turn! After reading your reports, I made a few modifications. Mr. SMT wanted our usual Chicken Forrestier, but he is flexible, and I didn't give him a choice.

          I added some lemon zest to the breadcrumbs which I had flavored with chives and thyme. Where is that parsley? Not in the crisper. I had to cut the whole breast into two. They were just too big for our frypans. I thinned them to about 1/4" thick.

          For the sauce, I used homemade, but not roasted, chicken stock. This was a lot of sauce!

          To serve, I put some of the sauce on the bottom of the plate which did spread as I expected. I then added the roasted mushrooms, used the rest of the sauce to "dress" the orchiette, and then the chicken propped up to the side with the crispy side up.

          I got a crispy chicken, with a nicely sauced dinner. Salad was served on a separate plate.

          I liked this prep and can imagine pulling it out when I am feeding a full table. Just being able to prep the chicken in advance is enticing.

            1. re: delys77

              Your notes were essential to my dinner. Thanks!

              1. re: smtucker

                Great, I'm glad I could be of help. That's the best part of COTM.

            2. re: smtucker

              The three pieces of chicken leftover from last night's dinner went into the toaster oven,resting on the rack to rewarm. Pulled out some homemade rolls, slathered them with pesto and topped with some bibb lettuce. When the chicken was warm, they were added and a sandwich was born.

              A very good sandwich at that!

              Forgot to mention last night that in the future, I would add some grated garlic to the breadcrumbs and more garlic to the sauce. The whole dish just screamed "I need some garlic."

                1. re: smtucker

                  Oh yes, garlic - that would have been a great addition!

            3. Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Thyme

              I didn't get pictures - by the time it was ready I was starving!

              I followed the recipe for the beef and it was succulent and tasty. I wasn't quite on the same page as the Red Wine Sauce because I didn't have any shallots or onions, so I just omitted them. It was still really tasty.

              Instead of standard potatoes and spinach to accompany the beef, I made a mushroom and garlic couscous. The Red Wine Sauce was excellent with this as well.

              3 Replies
              1. re: malleechick

                Mushroom and garlic couscous, sounds like a nice pairing.

                1. re: delys77

                  ... and easy AS! I fried the garlic and mushrooms in butter until they were soft and then added the couscous. Poured in the right volume of water and waited two minutes. There was a little run off juice from the resting beef, so I poured that in as well. So I had a touch of the thyme in with the mushrooms. I love it when something ad hoc turns out to be just the right thing.

              2. So, I'm on a roll ... and want to do the Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes

                But ... a question for someone from 'down under' ... what is 'panko'??

                Is that breadcrumbs?

                5 Replies
                1. re: malleechick

                  Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs that are very light in texture and super crisp when used as topping or coating and baked or fried/sautéed. You should be able to find them in a well-stocked market in AU or NZ, I'd think, though they may be with Japanese or Asian foods rather than where dry breadcrumbs are kept. If you can't find them, fine dry breadcrumbs would be the best sub.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Thank you ... that's what I thought, but also thought I should check up before I do anything silly.

                  2. re: malleechick

                    Panko is/are Japanese breadcrumbs. They are neutral in taste, but become very crunchy when fried.

                    1. re: malleechick

                      I have my eye on this as well malleechick! I cheated and had my butcher grind the chicken for me. Unfortunately time got away from me today so I froze the chicken and will make this next weekend. Can't wait to read your review!

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        I should always remind myself that I don't always share other people's raves. That said, I enjoyed the dish, but not as much as some reviewers.
                        I chopped the chicken mince up by hand (I wanted that sort of job so I could continue to listen to an audio book) so it wasn't finely minced. I found that the meatballs were a little dry.
                        I liked the creme fraiche / sour cream in the bechamel sauce - and will probably do that again some time.
                        And by the time I got to assemble it all, I was OVER the fiddling so I used sheets of lasagne and baked it in my normal lasgane dish.
                        Hubby quite liked it too. He saw all that jus on the plate and 'drank' it straight away ... and I scolded him for doing it in the worng order. He thought that it was escaped juice from the baking!

                    2. Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples, Celery, and Spiced Walnuts, Pg. 249

                      This recipe actually has 5 separate but simple components. We only cooked the chops and the celery and parsley salad, more like a gremolata. The other 3/5 are caramelized apples, spiced walnuts, and pureed turnip. The chops start out on the stove top then are moved into the oven to finish. For the celery and parsley only 2 small stalks thinly sliced with a few leaves as well, and chopped parsley dressed with S & P & EVOO w lemon juice.

                      The 2 components complimented each other deliciously. The thick bone-in chops were tender and juicy. Two of my favorite words. The timing for stove top and oven was perfect and I'll continue to use that method from now on. The simple but flavorful celery and parsley salad spiked with lemon juice was perfect with the chops. This was a quick meal that's very good for a weeknight.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        Hey there Gio, did you bribe your chops?

                        1. re: delys77

                          She bribed them with apples! :-)

                          1. re: delys77

                            I'm guessing you meant to type "brine". No, the chops went from wrapper to skillet w/o brining just seasoned w S & P right before cooking.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Ha ha yes you inferred correctly, my bad on the typo

                          2. re: Gio

                            Sounds wonderful Gio. I have this tabbed as well. Glad to hear it was a hit. I can imagine the lemon really finishing this perfectly.

                          3. Cornish Game Hen Cacciatore P. 218
                            I didn't have Cornish hens but had nice organic chicken sitting in the fridge without a purpose. So, I made half of this cacciatore using chicken legs. I followed recipe exactly but made one mistake - measured wine and chicken stock into one cup and instead of reducing wine first, adding stock and reducing it, I poured combined wine and stock and reduced. No matter, the resulting dish is superb - perfectly cooked chicken, slightly spicy and not soupy at all which is always my beef with braises. I didn't make polenta and had cacciatore on its own but will make polenta tomorrow to have with leftovers.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: herby

                              That sounds great herby! I'm not a big fan of small birds so your chicken sounds perfect to me. I'll have to add this to my list.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Curious to hear your opinion, BC :) I think legs or just thighs (I do prefer legs) are much better in this dish than breasts.

                                1. re: herby

                                  Only because I'm not a big fan of the cartilage in the legs, but I'd go with bone-in thighs herby. I agree, breasts are a bit bland and don't lend themselves well to a dish like this...IMHO.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    For me, cacciatore has to have bones :) But whatever works, right?

                                    1. re: herby

                                      I agree herby. The bones add flavour.

                              2. re: herby

                                This is on my list so I'm happy to read your report. G doesn't like Cornish hens and I have 4 fat thighs in the freezer. (that doesn't sound right) Not reducing the wine and stock separately will save some time so I'll note that ASAP. Thanks Herby!

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I know what you mean - good and plumb but not fatty :) I reduced wine-stock somewhat and then put chicken back in and cooked till done uncovered all the way.

                                2. re: herby

                                  Cornish Game Hen Cacciatore, Pg. 218

                                  We made the Cacciatore last night for Sunday dinner and it was absolutely one of the best caacciatores I've ever eaten. This in spite of the fact Chef Lynch omits most of the traditional ingredients like mushrooms, carrot, celery, olives, capers that Batali, Bastianich, and Hazan use. She manages to create a complex dish that is evocative of Old School Italian country food.

                                  I did make a few adjustments, such as using only 3/4 cup of stock, 4 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, boxed Pomi tomatoes, and instead of using a fresh red bell pepper I used 1/2 cup of TJ's frozen tri-color sliced peppers. I find I can digest these better than fresh so from now on I'll be doing that.

                                  The key to this dish I think is in reducing the sauce to concentrate those wonderful flavors. While this was cooking the aromas from the kitchen reminded me of my childhood when grandmothers and aunts cooked Sunday dinner and the rest of us waited not so patiently until we were called to the table.

                                  Baked polenta was served as suggested: polenta in the middle of a flat-rimmed bowl, sauce on top, chicken on top of that, with minced parsley sprinkled over all. A tossed salad was all we needed to finish. I enthusiastically recommend this recipe!

                                  1. re: herby

                                    Cornish Game Hen (Chicken) Cacciatore Pg. 218

                                    My turn for this lovely dish last night. I was drawn to it because my spouse isn't a huge fan of cacciatore, but this recipe looked different enough that it might please us both. I believe his aversion stems from his grandmother's version that often had soggy chicken skin and bad olives. Since this version would consist of neither of those I thought it might be able to convert him.

                                    As mentioned by Gio, many of the usual suspects are omitted from this rendition. Essentially we have onions, peppers, chiles, tomatoes, garlic, wine, and stock. This recipe however is much more than the sum of its parts. The sauce cooks down to a luscious jammy consistency which is just packed with flavour. Also, in my case I used it to sauce the chicken, vs my usual experience for cacciatore where the chicken is usually swimming in sauce. This allowed my braised chicken to retain more of its lovely texture and crispy skin, while still offering plenty of sauce to enjoy.

                                    As evidenced in the title I used chicken thighs and I went with about 2.5 lbs (7 thighs). I did cook them partially covered for about 20-25 minutes and they were just right after spending a minute of so under the broiler to re-crisp the skin. I served with celery root and potato puree (not a fan of polenta).

                                    I will definitely be making this again.

                                    1. re: delys77

                                      I'm one of those who has never been a fan of cacciatore--I guess I've never had a really good one--but all these reports have me re-thinking my prejudice.