Weekly Winner: A Unique Twist on Fried Chicken — Sandy Chicken?

Alex's ChickenMaybe winter has lasted a bit too long here in Chicago, or maybe I just need a vacation and my thoughts are turning to the beach.  Whatever the reason, there were two times during the preparation and eating of this week’s Weekly Winner that I thought of sand.  And while usually sand is not a good thing in a food recipe, trust me – here, it is.

So, the recipe is Breaded Chicken with Mustard and Dry Sherry, and it comes from my newest obsession cookbook – “Old-School Comfort Food” by Alex Guarnaschelli.  I have always loved her food and her approach to food and while this is the first recipe I made from the book, I am anxious to work my way through each and every delicious recipe.

The first time sand came into mind was when I was breading the chicken.  Rolling the chicken pieces around in the super fine, store-bought bread crumbs (per her recommendation) that had been mixed with melted butter felt just like playing in warm, damp sand.  The second time was taking my first bite.  The wonderful breading on the chicken was, well… it was sandy.  But like I said, in a good way.  Buttery, tasty, crispy sand.  Trust me, you’ll agree…. just try it.

Breaded Chicken with Mustard and Dry Sherry

Serves 4


½ cup soy sauce

½ cup dry sherry

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1 T Tabasco sauce

2 T Dijon mustard

¼ cup canola oil

1 (3.5 – 4 lb) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces:  each breast half split into 2 even pieces with the wings still attached, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs.

1-1/2 cups plain dried bread crumbs

5 T unsalted butter, melted

Kosher salt

Lemon wedges


  1.  Marinate the chicken:  In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard and canola oil.  With the exception of the wings, remove the skin from the chicken.  Submerge all the chicken pieces in the marinade so that each piece is coated on all sides.  Put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the chicken and add a heavy weight, such as a small plate, to ensure the chicken is submerged in the marinade.  Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. Cook the chicken:  In the medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and butter.  Season with a few large pinches of salt.  Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, allowing any excess liquid to drip off.  Roll chicken in the bread crumbs.  Take care to bread all sides of each piece.  Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet with a fitted rack.  Bake until the pieces are cooked through (internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees F) and the bread crumbs are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the broiler
  5. Put the chicken under the broiler for a minute or two, watching, to further brown the bread crumbs.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Weekly Winner: Stunning Simplicity

salmonLet’s be perfectly clear here — unless you are talking about linguine and clams, in general, I am not a fan of mixing pasta with fish.  Or at least I wasn’t.  Until Friday.  That’s when I made this incredibly easy, elegant dish that had absolutely no right to be as good, or as flavorful as it was!  There simply wasn’t enough ingredients to justify how good this dish was.

This week’s Weekly Winner comes from Real Simple Magazine and it is Buttery Pasta with Salmon and Leeks.  It doesn’t even really feel right to call this a “recipe”, but whatever you want to call it — it’s delicious.

Buttery Pasta with Salmon and Leeks

Serves 4


3/4 pound spaghetti
1 pound skinless salmon fillet
kosher salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, sliced
chives, chopped


Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, season salmon with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook in 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes per side; remove and flake.

Add the leeks to the skillet and cook until tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

Toss the spaghetti with the salmon, leeks, remaining butter, and chives.

Weekly Winner – An Odd Little Chicken Dish

There is something oddly alluring about this dish.  The flavors aren’t assertive…it doesn’t blow you away.  Yet there is a unique combination of flavors that I really haven’t figured out yet.  But I like it.  I think it’s the olives.  I’ve never had Castelvetrano olives before (I generally favor black olives of the Kalamata type) but these were almost smokey in flavor.  The sauce on this dish is amazing, it thickens up nicely and coats everything and really, that might be the trick.  Who doesn’t like a good sauce, right?

Meyer Lemon ChickenDo me a favor.  Try this dish and let me know why you think it’s so good.  I’m still not sure, but it is.  The dish is Meyer Lemon Chicken, and the recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.

Meyer Lemon Chicken

Serves 6


2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves, halved crosswise

2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound small red potatoes, quartered

1 Meyer lemon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and seeded

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 cup unsalted chicken stock, divided

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 ounces pitted Castelvetrano olives

2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; coat with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan, skin side down; cook 6 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crisp. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°.

3. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Discard pan drippings (do not wipe pan clean). Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potatoes to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook potatoes 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove potatoes from pan. Add lemon slices to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Remove lemon from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and chopped fresh thyme; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

4. Return potatoes and lemon slices to pan. Add 2/3 cup stock, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 2 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine remaining 1/3 cup stock and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture and olives to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice and butter, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat; sprinkle with parsley.


Weekly Winner: Noodles so nice, they named them twice

It seems simply impossible to me that this dish has not yet been featured in my Weekly Winner posts.  I have been making this dish for six years and it is one of my all-time favorite dinners. How is it possible that this has not made the cut before now?  I literally sat down and went through each Weekly Winner post just to make sure, and nope…not there. So, without further adieu, I give you Dan Dan Noodles with Pickled Cucumbers.

DanDan noodlesI am a sucker for a good peanut sauce, and this one is spectacular.  Just the right amount of heat, tang, and sweetness.  My husband adores anything pickled — jalepenos, onions, giardiniera you name it.  Generally neither one of us is a fan of ground turkey.  It just always seems incredibly bland and insipid.  But it works here.  I think the greatest testament to this recipe is that, in the six years I’ve been making it, I haven’t changed a thing!  The recipe is from Cuisine at Home Magazine.  Make room in your regular recipe rotation…you’re gonna need it!

Dan Dan Noodles with Pickled Cucumbers

Serves 4

For the Cucumbers:
2 cups cucumbers, julienned
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste
For the Noodles and Sauce:
1/2 pound long-life noodles or dry spaghetti
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs chunky peanut butter
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
3 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbs garlic, minced
12 ounces ground turkey breast

Garnish and serve with:
Chopped fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced scallions
Pickled cucumbers

1. Combine all ingredients for the cucumbers in a bowl; cover and chill
until ready to serve.

2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain; keep warm.

3. Whisk sherry, broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce,
and sesame oil together in a bowl; set aside.

4. Stir-fry bell pepper, ginger, and garlic in peanut oil in a large skillet
over medium-high heat, 30 seconds. Add turkey in large chunks and reduce
heat to medium. cook until it begins to brown, 3 minutes. Turn meat over and
brown on other side.

5. Stir in prepared peanut sauce and break up the turkey. Simmer until
turkey is cooked through and sauce thickens, 4-5 minutes. Serve meat sauce
over the cooked noodles.

6. Garnish with cilantro and scallions; serve with cucumbers.