Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Persian Chicken with Carrots & Jeweled Rice

Rating 8/10

One of the things I like most about cooking from meal kits are the little things I learn that, despite cooking for the last 30 years of my life, I have not figured out on my own. Sometimes they are techniques, and sometimes they are simple recipes. This time, it was a bit of both. I have cooked rice before by sauteing an onion and then the raw rice before adding the water. But I was amazed at what adding just a stick of cinnamon does for rice. It really elevates it to another level. And simmering basmati rice for 10 minutes and then letting steam in its own heat for another 10, is a wonderful technique as well.

In all, this was another winning recipe by Plated. The chicken was good as were the carrots, and it all came well together. My picky 14-yo was happy.

I also loved how Plated sent me all the ingredients I needed, including the flour!

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, with a welcome back promo, or about $7.65 per person,  which was quite fair for the quality of the food and the convenience.


Meal Kit Hack: Coq au Vin with Bone-In Chicken & Mashed Potatoes

Rating: 7/10

I didn’t get any meal kits this week, so I decided to hack a Home Chef recipe for dinner. I wanted something with chicken, as I’m trying to eat less beef, and this one seemed simple enough. I love coq au vin (which I haven’t made in a while). and while, obviously, you can’t make coq au vin in an hour, I was willing to give this recipe for Coq au Vin with Bone-In Chicken & Mashed Potatoes a try.

Alas, once I started making it, I realized there wasn’t much to it: you make mashed potatoes, you sear and then bake the chicken, you sautee the mushrooms and pearl onions, you make the 2-two ingredient sauce and voila!

The results were good, but not great – though that may be because I actually used chicken breasts instead of the thighs I prefer and because I didn’t make enough sauce for the massive breasts I got (lord, that sounds dirty!).

The sauce, which was tasty enough, consisted of 2 tsp of chicken demi-glace dissolved in 5 oz of red wine. I used beef demi-glace, as I didn’t have the regular kind.

I also didn’t use pearl onions because Safeway failed to deliver them to me.

In all, I spent $20 to make this meal, which actually fed 3 of us with leftovers (those were really big chicken breasts) – so about 1/3 less of what the meal kit would have cost.

I also went out of my way to look for “antibiotic-free” chicken, only to find out that California passed a law to ban the use of growth-promotion antibiotics in chickens. Antibiotics can only be used if a veterinarian prescribes them to cure a specific ailment. So it would seem that any “antibotic-free” designation on chicken raised in CA is just for advertising purposes. I had wanted to see if antibiotic-free chicken tasted better than regular chicken, and obviously I found out it didn’t.

I did find out, though, that searing the chicken skin-side-down for a couple of minutes and then baking it at 400F, leaves you with a very nice crispy chicken skin.


Refrigerated Meal Review: Heat.Eat.Done Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta

Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta Review

Last week I found this refrigerated tray meal for Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta at Grocery Outlet, and decided to give it a try. I love chicken marsala. At $5 for what is really a portion for one person (unless you are eating something else), it’s not exactly cheap for a pre-made, refrigerated meal, specially when bought at a bargain store, but I figured it was worth a try. Unfortunately, that was all that it was worth.

The chicken in the dish was incredibly dry. Now, this is very unusual for microwavable meals, but somehow Heat.Eat.Done managed it. The sauce also didn’t actually taste of Marsala wine – it lacked the sweetness of the wine -, and it was too liquidy and tasteless. I would not buy it again.


Meal Kit Reviews: Home Chef’s Parisian Bistro Bone-In Chicken with dauphinoise potatoes and Vichy carrots

Rating: 9/10

The key to  making this dish of chicken with dauphinoise potatoes and Vichy carrots  is to not overcook the chicken.  Seriously.  The plate I served first was great.  The chicken skin was incredibly crispy (it’s nice to finally learn the secret of making crispy chicken!), the chicken itself was moist (I tend to prefer dark meat exactly because breasts are often too dry) and the sauce was just delicious.  I only really got to eat my daughter’s leftovers, but I couldn’t help moaning while eating them.

I reserved the second serving for my husband, who was walking the dog while my very hungry daughter ate.  I left the chicken breast in the oven (turned off and with the door open), where it dried up and I was reminded of why I hate white meat.  My husband, who likes chicken breast, wasn’t impressed either.  Once I ate his leftovers, I understood why.  So, if you make this kit, make sure to not overcook the chicken and not leave it in the oven to remain warm.

I also really enjoyed the dauphinoise potatoes – and there were enough for the three of us plus leftovers -, but they didn’t keep well.  The next day they lacked in flavor.  But hey, you are not going to eat them the next day.

Finally, everyone enjoyed the carrots (I didn’t try them as I don’t like carrots).

All in all, this was a much better meal than you would expect.  However, it was also more laborious than the other two I got that week, and it took far longer to prepare.

Now, for the secret of having super-crispy oven-baked chicken: first preheat oven to 400F.  Then saute the chicken breasts on olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Then place on a baking sheet and put in an oven for 24-28 minutes.

I got my first week of Home Chef at a discount, so I paid only about $8 for this meal.  Regular price would be $20 – which is a better deal than other home meal kits.

Chicken Demi-Glace Sauce

  • 2 tsp chicken-demi glace
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 large shallot, minced

On a saute pan, simmer ingredients together until the sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.  Serve.

 

 


Meal Kit Hacks: HelloFresh Oven-Baked Apricot Chicken Legs with Roasted Potato Wedges and Lemony Broccoli

Rating: 6.5/10

I was inspired to make this recipe for Oven-Baked Apricot Chicken Legs with Roasted Potato Wedges and Lemony Broccoli by actually seeing a similar Plated meal kit on Safeway delivery.  While I’ve been cooking for many years, the idea of using jam as a glaze or sauce for meats is actually very new to me.  I tried it recently in the HelloFresh Pork Chops with Cherry meal kit and I was both impressed and intrigued.

I figured I’d try the  HelloFresh version in order to get a more thorough view at the offerings from this company before moving on to the next.

All in all, this meal was perfectly fine but not particularly exciting.  I did use orange jam instead of apricot, as I prefer that flavor myself, but that’s the only change I made from the kit.  The chicken was pretty good, it was perfectly cooked and moist and I liked the flavor of the skin.  However, it was not spectacular – a home meal, rather than a restaurant quality one.  The potatoes were good but not remarkable, and the lemony broccoli was not a great hit for the family.  Still, they ate it.  In all, it was a perfectly all right family meal which I don’t think I’d make again.

I made a bit more chicken and potatoes that the 2-person recipe called for so I’d have enough for 3 people (one doesn’t eat broccoli so I didn’t increase that amount).  In all, I spent $18.50 out of pocket for this meal for three, instead of the $20-$24 this would have cost me from HelloFresh, though I saved a bit by not having to buy potatoes as I already had them at home.

HelloFresh Ingredients My Ingredients Cost
32 oz chicken legs 3 lbs organic chicken thighs and drumsticks $9
1 tsp paprika 1 tsp paprika $1 for jar
24 oz Yukon Gold Potatoes 3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes pantry
1 Tbsp fry seasoning* 1 Tbsp Homemade fry seasoning pantry
1 lemon 1 lemon $2.50 for bag of lemons
2 oz Apricot jam 4 oz orange jam pantry
2 tsp Dijon mustard 4 tsp Dijon mustard $5 for jar
16 oz broccoli florets 1 lb broccoli $1
1 tsp chili flakes forgot to use pantry

If you’d like to subscribe to HelloFresh use this link to save $40 off your first box, and I’ll get a $30 credit – which I probably won’t use as I’ll be unsubscribing form HelloFresh shortly to try a different company.


Foster Farm Recall Throws Light on Private Brands that Use Their Chickens

foster-farmsFoster Farms is the most ubiquitous brand of fresh(ish?) chicken in California. Go to a supermarket and your chicken choices tend to be Foster Farms, the store’s brand or some organic chicken brand you don’t know much about.  As it turns out, many of those privately branded chickens also come from Foster Farms. This came to light this week when Foster Farms issued a recall for chicken that had been found to have salmonella.  That chicken was sold in March, so it’s unlikely anyone has any left in their freezers.

The private brands that are really Foster Farms chicken  (but often sold at lower prices) are:

  • FoodMaxx (parts)
  • Kroger (friers & parts)
  • Safeway Eating Right (boneless chicken breasts & thighs)
  • Safeway Farms (chicken parts)
  • Savemart (drumsticks & thighs)
  • Sunland
  • Val Best

 


Chicken Genoa

I was thinking of cooking Genoese cuisine as part of my International food project, but I finally decided to get to it when I do Liguria.  However, I was in need of an easy recipe using boneless, skinless chicken thighs and this recipe for Chicken Genoa looked delicious.  Of course, I don’t really know if it is from Genoa, and I did change it a bit (used thighs instead of breasts, sherry instead of wine and fresh mushrooms instead of canned ones), but the results were wonderful. As in seriously addictive, will crave it sort of wonderful.

Perhaps the best part about the dish is just how perfectly moist the chicken thighs are.  I don’t think I’ve had better boneless thighs.  So please, follow the cooking method to the letter.

It also microwaves wonderfully

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sherry or white wine
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • olive oil
  • 8-12 oz Mozarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Ready a 9″x 13″ glass baking dish or equivalent.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a frying pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing, for a minute or two.  Add the sherry, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium.  Cook until soft and wine is absorbed, stirring occasionally, around 5 minutes.  Let cool

Meanwhile, remove any surplus fat from the chicken thighs.  Mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese.  Coat the chicken thighs with the egg and then with the bread crumbs.

Heat a thick layer of olive oil in a frying pan over high heat.  Add the chicken thighs and brown on both sides, about a minute per side. You may need to do this in batches.  Place the chicken thighs in the baking dish, careful to not overlap. Use more than one dish if necessary.  Top with the mozarella cheese (use as much as you like), and then with the sauteed mushrooms.

Cook for 30 minutes.

 


Chicken Canzanese

This is another winner from Epicurious.com.  It’s delicious beyond words and as easy a dinner as it gets – though you need close to 2 hours to get it ready.  The recipe is pretty similar to a couple of others in my repertoire, but this one took less work. It apparently originates in the Abruzzo region of Italy, though clearly there are variations of the same dish in other regions.

I adapted the recipe from the original substituting bacon for the prosciutto.   Use less bacon, turkey bacon or ham to make it healthier.   I also made a mistake and added additional whole garlic cloves rather than the cloves it asked for.   I’m glad I did, as I don’t think cloves would have added much to the dish, while garlic certainly did.

Making it a day in advance pays, the leftovers were to die for.

Chicken Canzanese

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Kosher or coarse salt
  • 4 to 5 lbs chicken pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced lengthwise
  • 9 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sage leaves, whole
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, whole
  • 1 dried red pepper, seeded
  • 18 peppercorns, crushed
  • 6 oz meaty bacon, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • water
Instructions
Dissolve kosher salt in 1 cup of warm water in a large bowl.  Add the chicken pieces and cover with cold water.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
Remove chicken pieces from the brine and pat try.  Place a wide saute pan or similar on the stove over medium heat. Put the chicken pieces, all in one layer.  Top with the garlic, sage, rosemary springs, red pepper and peppercorns.  Sprinkle bacon uniformly on the chicken.  Add white wine.
Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to very low and simmer until the chicken is done, about 35 minutes for white meat and 45 minutes for dark.  Add water to the pot if the liquid starts drying out.
Remove chicken pieces and bacon onto a bowl and cover to keep warm.  Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the sage and bay leaves, the rosemary sprigs and the garlic.  Bring sauce to a quick boil and reduce to a syrupy consistency.  Serve.

Wing Fiesta

Wings Fiesta is a local chain which serves, well, chicken wings.  They also have ribs, chicken tenders and fries, but their emphasis is on wings.  We went to the one on West Juana in downtown San Leandro.  They’d left a menu with “buy one, get one free coupons” and I figured that made it worth a try.  It was worth a try, but not really a repeat visit.

Wing Fiesta serves both “jumbo wings,” regular fried or baked bone-in wings, and “boneless wings”.  You can chose from a variety of sauces to accompany them.  The regular wings ($5 for 6) were pretty good, they had a crispy breading and were well seasoned.  The boneless wings ($4 for 7), however, were horrible – they tasted like frozen/microwaved chicken pieces.  It was hard to eat them, even with the sauce.  We tried the teriyaki and honey BBQ sauces, and they tasted pretty generic.

We didn’t try any of the sides, I asked if we could get a french fry to see if we liked them but they wouldn’t even give us one.  That wasn’t the only problem with the service, it was incredibly slow – I think it must have taken over half an hour to get our very simple order.  That said, all the staff are young and new so that may improve.

The one thing that might make it worth a visit is their $1 beers (with food purchase).  I’m not a big beer drinker, but for those who are, you can’t get a better deal in town.

Wing Fiesta
160 W. Juana Ave.
San Leandro, Ca
510-357-1099
http://www.wingfiesta.com/
M-F 5-11 PM
Sa-Su 11 AM – 11 PM

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Chain Restaurant Reviews

 


Roast Chicken with Mustard Vinaigrette

This is fairly easy recipe that I chose because I have TONS of fresh rosemary & sage growing next to my house (though nothing else). It was quite good and Mika proclaimed it very loudly to be the BEST CHICKEN EVER. I thought it was good, not amazing, but I’ll defer to her opinion 🙂 The recipe, as usual, comes from epicurious.com

Roast Chicken with Mustard Vinaigrette

    For the vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt or more
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pepper

For the chicken

  • 1 5-6 lb chicken
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 fresh rosemary springs
  • 2 fresh sage sprigs
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped

Make the marinade by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly, until it emulsifies. Season with additional salt & pepper if needed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Pat the chicken dry. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the shallot and rosemary & sage spring inside the cavity.

Loosen the skin on top of the breast and thighs and spread 2 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette under the skin. Tie the legs of the chicken together and tuck the wings under its body. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Brush 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Pat chicken dry. Season cavity with salt and pepper. Place shallot, 2 rosemary sprigs and 2 sage sprigs in cavity. Slide hand between chicken skin and meat over breast to form pockets. Spread 2 tablespoons vinaigrette under skin over breast meat. Tie legs together to hold shape; tuck wings under body. Place chicken in roasting pan. Brush 2 tablespoons vinaigrette over chicken. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Cook until the chicken achieves an internal temperature of 165°F and the juices run clear, about 1 h our. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Marga’s Best Recipes