roasted chili chicken thighs with lemon

Chicken thighs are a one-meat-fits-all staple in my kitchen, especially boneless skinless ones. They cook quickly and play friendly with the flavor spectrum of my pantry  — fresh and dried herbs, fragrant spices, canned tomatoes and coconut milk, and ingredients that live in the fridge, like mustard and hot sauce.

They’re a lot like chicken breasts that way, but thighs deliver much more chicken-ness and don’t become dry and boring after cooking.

Even though I cook dinner almost every day of the week, I’m not always great at planning out every single meal in advance. Many days I find myself putting things together on the fly, sometimes with a depleted fridge. That’s why I rely on the tried-and-true combo of lemon, olive and red chili, elemental but also essential in some way to just about everything I cook.

This chicken recipe cooks in one pan, on top of the stove for a few minutes then finished under the broiler, creating a savory pan sauce to pour over the meat and a simple side, like wilted greens and some grilled crusty bread. The sliced lemons add lots of tang and juice, but I sometimes add halved cherry tomatoes instead — they collapse and give up their own sweet tomato liquid as they roast under the broiler — perfect to serve as a one-bowl dinner with pasta.

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Muhammarra – Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread

Among my arsenal of “secret” ingredients is pomegranate molasses, a Middle Eastern condiment that’s made by boiling pomegranate juice until it becomes thick and syrupy. It has an intriguing, sweet-tart taste and deep, dark treacly consistency.

I saw this recipe for muhammara in the very first issue of Saveur magazine, 16 years ago (!). It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I first made it but I guess that makes the recipe a true classic in my file.

The premiere issue of Saveur – Summer 1994

The recipe that oringinally appeared in the magazine came from Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, and it’s turned into something I make instead of the ubiquitous hummus when I want to serve a snack or appetizer.

Muhammarra – Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread

Yield: makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 2 slices rustic bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (found in ethnic, specialty & some grocery stores)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Place peppers, bread, garlic and walnuts in a food processor workbowl and process for about 1 minute, scraping down sides once.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth, another minute or two. Taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice if needed.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/03/muhammarra-roasted-red-pepper-and-walnut-spread/