chicken

Panera

by Anne Maxfield on July 31, 2017

My Panera PaniniWhat is it about Panera?
If you think you’re going for good food–fuggedaboutit!
Ditto an Internet connection.
Seriously, why does anyone eat at Panera?
The food is terrible.
The service is thoughtless.
It’s drab, if not dirty.
And the promised wifi is more of a concept than a reality.
Could I be the only person in America that’s never had a good experience at Panera?
The first time we went, it was in Connecticut for breakfast. I don’t even remember what I had, but Frank ordered a bagel with lox and cream cheese and got something that was unlike any bagel he’d ever seen (and not in a good way).
More recently, I met my partner in HudsonValleyEATS.com in the one in Poughkeepsie near Adams. There were three people standing behind the counter. One man helping a customer, the other two chatting.
I waited.
When the man was finished, I went up and asked for an iced tea. “$2.91.” I handed him the money, he handed me an empty plastic cup.
“It’s down on the end.”
“Nice profit margin.”
Took a walk down to the end, found the iced tea, ice, lemon and sugar. Grabbed a lid and a straw, did all the work. Took a sip.
Not happy.

Yesterday, I got suckered into another Panera rendezvous, this time at a different Poughkeepsie location.
The place is crowded and none of the vacant tables have been wiped down. Ugh.
Grab some napkins, wipe down a table, get in line to order food (none of which sounded appealing, but I’m really hungry).
The guy behind the register has to look up the Frontega Chicken panini I asked about.
Smoked chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, onions, chipotle mayo, basil. This is from the photo on Panera’s site:
Sounded about as interesting as the others so I ordered it, “no onions,” and a cup for a drink (see, I’m learning).
The top photo is what I got.
A mud-grey plastic plate with cheese glued to a piece of corrugated paper, LOTS of onions and a couple pallid bits of chicken.
There were black stripes on the bread to make it look like it had been put in a panini press, but the corrugated paper made me think the panini press was more like a microwave…
Because I was hungry, I ate the half-sandwich, hating myself for putting this absolute junk in my mouth.
And the so-called wifi? The whole time I was trying to eat the sandwich, we could not pull up a single page from the web.
We left totally disgusted. The place was dirty. The food was inedible but I was starving. The iced tea once again needed a return trip for more ice, but I just dumped it.
Never again!
“Food as it should be.”
Please, let’s hope not!
If you are a Panera fan, please tell me what it is that you like about it. It won’t bring me back, but I am really curious.
Update: Found this in my bag afterwards:
Accidental Locavore Panera Check So sad that I missed my free treat…

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Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

by Anne Maxfield on March 2, 2017

I know that saying this recipe gives you the crispiest chicken skin ever is going to be controversial.

Wait until you try it!

The Accidental Locavore cooked this recipe for Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde from Food and Wine last week for dinner. Feeds 6-8.

You need a little time for it to marinate, so plan ahead.

Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 24 sage leaves
  • 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices
  • Strips of zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 fresh bay leaves (optional) 

Salsa Verde: 

  • 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the thighs and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small baking sheet or oven proof dish, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4“ pieces and set aside.

Leave the oven on.

In a mortar, or mini-chopper, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stir in the chopped lemon a little at a time, to taste.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet, big enough to put the chicken in a single layer (or do it in batches) over medium heat. Season the thighs evenly with salt; remove the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade and set aside. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. Cover it with another large pan or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the chicken with the reserved lemon zest, garlic and the bay leaves, if using. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the salsa verde and enjoy!

 

My verdict: As I said in the intro, we were shocked by how crispy the chicken skin was! I’m definitely going to try this the next time I make a roast chicken.

I used half the chicken (6 thighs), half the sage, garlic, butter and lemon zest but made the whole recipe for the marinade and salsa. Rosemary would work well under the chicken skin too.

I left out the parsley and the bay leaves and don’t think either of them was missed (not sure what would happen with dried bay leaves).  I also left out the thyme because I forgot to buy it – that would have been a nice addition. And I zested the lemon on my microplane rather than zesting it into strips.

In three months, all of these herbs will be growing in my garden, so this will definitely get made again (maybe on the grill).

Because the chicken was so good on its own, the salsa verde was a nice but unnecessary addition and might actually be better on some lamb or fish. I’d slice the lemons thinner next time and if I was doing it on the grill would definitely grill them.

 

 

 

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Cilantro Chutney

by Anne Maxfield on May 12, 2016

Accidental Locavore Cilantro ChutneyCilantro, love it or hate it? If you hate it, you can skip this post (or just read to the end for the quality of the writing).

One of the first recipes of many recipes the Accidental Locavore wanted to try from Made in India was chicken with a cilantro chutney. First up – the chutney. This makes about a pint jar:

  • 4 ounces cilantro (a medium-sized bunch – see photo)
  • 2 ounces peanuts, unsalted and unroasted
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2-3 serrano chiles, roughly chopped (seed and use more or less depending on your heat tolerance)

Accidental Locavore 4 Ounces CilantroWash and coarsely chop the cilantro, stems and leaves. Since you’re using the stems, make sure the cilantro is well washed. Add to a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until the mixture has a smooth consistency, like a pesto. Add some water if necessary to help the mixture blend. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients to your taste. Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Fish in Banana LeafMy verdict: I didn’t have many peanuts so ended up with half peanuts and half pine nuts, but there was still a taste of peanuts. I’m sure you could probably use almost any nut. This was really good and went well with the chicken. With the leftovers, I continued my freezer cook-down and wrapped some cod in banana leaves for dinner, which looked cool and tasted great! The banana leaves are from my freezer but parchment paper or aluminum foil (as long as it’s not going in the microwave) would also be fine.

Accidental Locavore Made In IndiaIf you like Indian food, this is a great cookbook! I thank my friend Rob for introducing it to me. I’ve made several recipes from it, starting with the roasted cauliflower and have many more marked to try. So far, nothing is hard or complicated and my basmati rice is hugely improved! Look for more recipes from this great book.

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Indian Inspired Green Beans

by Anne Maxfield on December 31, 2015

Accidental Locavore Indian Green Beans and ChickenSometimes you just need a different vegetable…the Accidental Locavore was looking for something green to go with the Indian chicken I was making. Usually I toss some broccoli with a lot of sliced garlic and curry powder and steam it, but just wasn’t in the mood. I saw some nice looking haricots verts (very skinny string beans) at the market and figured I could do something with them. Serves 4:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound string beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger (about a ½” piece)

Put the beans in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook until crisp-tender about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Accidental Locavore Onions for BeansPlace a large skillet over high heat, and add oil. When very hot, add mustard seeds, and cook until seeds begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add onion, and cook, stirring until it begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add ginger, and cook 1 minute more. Add the beans, and cook, stirring until hot. Season with salt to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Indian Green BeansMy verdict: A good (and easy) change from the broccoli. The onion gets nice and crispy and the ginger gives it a bit of spice. If you were really, really lazy you could just toss some of the canned fried onions (might there be some left from the Thanksgiving green bean casserole?). I was thinking that a little of the lemon curry powder that usually goes on the broccoli, might be a nice addition. If you were wondering what the difference between brown, black and yellow mustard seeds was, the black are the most pungent and expensive, while the brown and yellow will be milder. They also become nuttier rather than hotter when they’re fried (and its sort of fun to hear them pop).

 

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