Sunday, 24 April 2011

Fall-Off-The-Bone Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fresh Linguine in a Creamy Low-Fat Tomato Sauce from Big Bowl of Love

Stop what you are doing and take a close look at the burnished glaze on those chicken thighs. I am telling you right now, this is the best chicken I have ever had. Big words, for someone who tests recipes for a living.

They are from Big Bowl of Love, a new family cookbook from Cristina Ferrare. I have to admit, I hadn't heard of Cristina before, although she has a huge following in the U.S. as a regular on Oprah and with her own cooking show on Oprah's channel OWN. In fact Cristina has had decades long success in the media, starting out as a fashion model. All of this managed to escape me - I was lured in by the title. Who wouldn't be attracted to a Big Bowl of Love?

The hardcover book is bright and attractive and laid out simply - filled with 150 recipes that are elegant and really quite simple to make. Cristina's emphasis is on good quality but not break-the-bank ingredients, that can be transformed with a minimum of fuss into a delicious and loving offering for family and friends.

Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love
Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes

Cristina Ferrare
Hardcover, 304 pages

Even if you are new to cooking, you will find that Big Bowl of Love is not intimidating at all. Cristina includes many cook-once-and-serve-twice meals for busy families, and a good little collection of Dressings, Sauces, and Salsas at the back of the book. She even includes a section on Pantry and Staple Items so that you will be prepared to cook up a big bowl of love for the ones that you love.

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen we whipped up the Fall-Off-The-Bone Roasted Chicken Thighs and served them with the Fresh Linguine in a Creamy Low-Fat Tomato Sauce. I was surprised at how long the thighs cooked for, but the results were nothing short of miraculous. So tender, and they really did melt in your mouth. The fresh pasta with the low-fat tomato sauce was a beautiful accompaniment - fresh, light and delicious. I love how the veggies are pulsed in the food processor first. Made them very easy to slip past my son who is still doubtful about vegetables. 
Give these recipes a try!

Fall-Off-The-Bone Roasted Chicken Thighs
6 Servings

I’m a dark-meat lover, and I love chicken thighs. These are roasted until the meat falls off the bone.
I usually double this recipe because I like to have plenty of leftover thigh meat; it makes great sandwiches, tacos, and taco salads and is delicious shredded in soup.
A vegetable couscous is lovely with this dish.

3 cups chicken stock, homemade (page 64), or store-bought organic chicken broth
12 chicken thighs, washed and dried
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fines herbes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Kosher salt
Cracked pepper

Make the chicken stock first.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place chicken thighs in a baking dish.

Combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, and olive oil, and pour over the chicken. Turn the thighs to coat evenly.

Sprinkle on the fines herbes and the fennel seeds; then sprinkle on several pinches of kosher salt and plenty of cracked pepper.

Cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and baste. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and stir to turn up any of the bits that have formed at the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste again with a bulb baster.

Continue to roast for 60 minutes more, basting every 15 minutes to keep the chicken supermoist. The thighs will turn a beautiful caramel colour. If you find that the bottom of the roasting pan is dry, add the rest of the chicken stock.

Cook’s Note
I always try to use fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage in all my cooking, but I like using dried fines herbes for this. You can find them in the spice aisle of your market. I like the fact that the herbs are tiny and can be baked right on the skin, giving the chicken and the pan juices a more intense flavour.

Fresh Linguine in a Creamy Low-Fat Tomato Sauce
6 to 8 Servings

A note before we start: Imported prosciutto is available in all grocery stores and is not hard to find. Always use the imported prosciutto; it is better in quality and taste than domestic.

There’s nothing like homemade fresh pasta, but who has the time to crank it out? I use fresh pasta that I buy at the local market for this recipe. It comes out light and delicate, which provides a nice balance for the sauce’s creamy consistency. Most markets carry fresh pasta in the refrigerated section. If you can’t find it, you can used boxed linguine; just make sure it’s made with semolina flour.

1 large white onion, quartered
2 scallions, quartered
1 carrot, cut into four pieces
1 celery rib, cut into four pieces
3 slices prosciutto, chopped coarsely
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in puree
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water
8 ounces fresh linguine
1 cup freshly cooked or frozen peas
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for garnish
½ cup chopped fresh basil

In a food processor, combine onion and scallions, and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside in a bowl. Pulse the carrot, celery, and prosciutto until finely chopped. Add the onions to the bowl.

Heat a saucepan until hot. Pour in the olive oil and heat through for 30 seconds. Quickly add the chopped vegetables. Sauté until the vegetables start to soften and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until the wine is almost evaporated and you can hear the vegetables start to sizzle. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar, and water. Mix well. Simmer on low heat, covered, with the lid slightly ajar, for 45 minutes.

Prepare 8 ounces of fresh linguine according to package directions. Five minutes before you are ready to drain the pastas, add the peas to the pasta water and cook with the pasta until the pasta is done.

Drain the pasta and peas and return them to the pot you boiled them in. Over medium heat, pour a couple of ladlefuls of sauce into the pasta and peas. Mix gently with tongs to coat the pasta. Add ½ cup of low-fat milk and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, and mix. Add the remaining milk and cheese. Mix gently.

Pour into a warm serving bowl (or plate individually), add the remainder of the sauce on top, and spoon on any peas that have fallen to the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle with most cheese and fresh basil.