Pearl Couscous w/ Chicken Thighs

Often, when we think of chicken meals, rice comes to mind as an accompaniment. Couscous can be used as a fluffy grain alternative to rice and, because the flavors of each are subtle, swapping them won’t throw your entire recipe off course. Both rice and couscous take on the flavors of the seasonings you add, and neither needs much to shine.

While rice is a grain and couscous are a type of pasta, you can buy whole-grain versions of both. Couscous’s flexibility has made it a favorite ingredient in kitchens worldwide. This tiny pasta can be used as a side dish, as a part of an entrée, or added to soups and salads to boost texture. Its mild flavor makes it ideal for combining with seasonings ranging from sweet to spicy, and it can be used to recreate dishes from any cuisine.

Couscous is a pale, delicate grain that North Africans have served for centuries with a meat or vegetable stew on top.

Although it is made from wheat, couscous is the North African equivalent of rice, and it could be called a second cousin of German spaetzle, although it does not contain egg and the granules are much smaller.

Steamed in a manner similar to rice, couscous takes about 10 minutes to prepare. Delicious when served hot, it is equally good at room temperature.

Today, I’m preparing a sheet pan meal with roast veggies and chicken thighs and serving them with a couscous accompaniment. Should be good!

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Pearl Couscous w/ Chicken Thighs
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Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a plastic bag place Italian dressing. Add carrots, onions, zucchini, mushrooms & garlic. Shake well to marinate (do them separately if you wish). Place on a foil lined baking sheet & roast until tender. Marinate cherry tomatoes in a bit of dressing & add to the pan for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Chicken Thighs
  1. In a small dish combine all chicken seasonings. In a plastic bag, place chicken & 2 Tbsp olive oil. Shake well to cover thighs with oil then add spice mixture & shake well again.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Add chicken thighs & roast in oven at the same time as veggies are cooking.
Couscous
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high until just shimmering. Add the pearl couscous & toss around to toast until golden brown.
  2. Boil water & add it to the toasted pearl couscous. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover & cook for about 14 minutes or until couscous is tender. Remove from heat.
Serving
  1. On a serving plate, place the couscous & vegetables. Top with chicken thighs & drizzle juice from roast chicken over all. Serve.

1770 House Meatloaf w/ Garlic Sauce

The other day I came across a recipe for meatloaf that certainly seemed like something ‘special’. Years ago, every family had a meatloaf recipe that was so dearly loved, it achieved iconic status. Today, I’m not so sure that is the case anymore. Nevertheless, this recipe was called ‘1770 House Meatloaf’ which made me curious as to what the history was behind it. Most every review raved about it being pure comfort food and much more than just meatloaf.

From my research on this meatloaf I found that the 1770 House is an East Hampton Inn and Restaurant famous for this dish. East Hampton Village on Long Island, New York is a beautiful village. It’s been that way for years with a glorious pond right as you come into town where swans swim in summer and skaters take to the ice in winter.

The 1770 House has welcomed guests with hospitality and comfort, a tradition that continues to attract guests from around the world to the intimate Inn, steps from the heart of East Hampton Village. The venerable home, today a boutique hotel and restaurant, seamlessly integrates historic elegance with luxurious, modern amenities and first-class dining.

This glorious colonial house has two restaurants—a more formal fine dining room on the ground level and, down a flight of stairs, a cozy ‘tavern’ with its roaring fireplace and comfort food menu.  And always, on this seasonally changing menu, there is Chef Kevin Penner’s remarkable meatloaf with its even more remarkable garlic sauce.  

This familiar dish is simple enough that it can be prepared as a weekday meal, but that has been elevated by adding a few key ingredients. The celery and thyme infuse the mix with intense flavor, and the garlic sauce works perfectly. The outcome is a delicious dish with moist texture: not your average meatloaf.

So there you have it …. meatloaf with first-class dining status!

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1770 House Meatloaf w/ Garlic Sauce
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Ingredients
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Ingredients
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Instructions
Meatloaf
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion & celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Place the beef, veal, pork, parsley, thyme, chives, eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a large mixing bowl. Put the panko in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the panko is finely ground.
  4. Add the onion mixture & the panko to the meat mixture. With clean hands, gently toss the mixture together, making sure it's combined but not compacted.
  5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Pat the meat into a flat rectangle and then press the sides in until it forms a cylinder down the middle of the pan (this will ensure no air pockets). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155 F. to 160 F. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot with the Garlic Sauce.
Garlic Sauce
  1. Combine the oil & garlic in a small saucepan & bring to a boil. Lower the heat & simmer for 10 -15 minutes, until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.
  2. Combine the chicken stock, butter & cooked garlic in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat & cook at a full boil for 35 - 40 minutes, until slightly thickened. Mash the garlic with a fork, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper & taste for seasonings. Spoon the warm sauce over the meatloaf.
Recipe Notes
  • Since there are just two of us, I made the full recipe then divided the mixture into 3 portions. I baked all 3 & used one for our supper meal today,  froze the second one for a future meal & with the third, I sliced it for 'meatloaf' sandwiches. Doesn't get better than that!

Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy

Tender, juicy roasted chicken leg quarters are easy to prepare and delicious. The leg quarter is made up of the thigh, drumstick and part of the back of the chicken. It’s named a quarter because it consists of about a quarter of the whole bird. The dark meat takes well to roasting and yields moist and flavorful chicken.

Asiago has long been a favorite cheese of Brion & I. It is a brilliant cheese to bake into bread for a cheesy treat or grate over soft pretzels before baking. It also works particularly well with chicken dishes.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

This is a very simple recipe but has an amazing flavor and is well worth trying, especially if your an Asiago lover.

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Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon, blot on paper towel & set aside. Add the seasoned chicken & brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside.
  2. Add onion, mushrooms & garlic to saucepan; sauté until tender crisp & lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the thyme & flour; cook for a minute.
  4. Add the broth & deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spoon while the broth is sizzling.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix asiago cheese into the sauce & season with salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Add the chicken, cover with a lid or foil & roast for 15 minutes. Alternately, you can turn heat down to a medium-low & simmer on top the stove for 15 minutes.
  7. Add crumbled bacon to sauce after roasting. Serve.