Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Damn the weather is funky this week, it is hard to believe it is July. There has been so much rain, I feel like I am living in a rainforest. Where did the summer go? I know rain is good for my garden, fills our reservoirs, and calms the earth, but man this constant shower is dreary. Before the deluge, I planned on making more recipes from my grill, but sadly these plans got flooded out. Fortunately, I could easily change plans with a chicken skewer recipe that has all the charm of a grilled dinner without lighting a match, Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Seared chicken skewers are as easy to prepare as threading a needle. Ribbons of herb marinated chicken strips get skewered through rosemary stems then seared on a stove top grill pan or skillet. Once the chicken skewers get good and golden, they are popped in a hot oven to finish cooking in a wine bath. It may sound like a lot of steps, but the two-part cooking process goes by very quickly and effortlessly.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary Recipe.

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

La Cucina Italiana

I first discovered the idea of using rosemary stems as skewers several years ago in La Cucina Italiana magazine, the English version, (May 2013). If you wish to browse through this lovely magazine online, you will need your browser to translate the pages for you. This picturesque magazine is all about Italian cuisine and Italy, and I only have this one volume. Their chicken skewer recipe is part of a feature on cooking with fresh herbs. I spotted their Spiedini di Pollo Marinato alle Erbe recipe, (which means herb marinated chicken skewers) because it uses woody rosemary stems for the skewers. What a clever use of something one would normally throw out.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

We always have a lot of rosemary around our house because Joe makes a delicious sourdough olive rosemary bread for Rochambeau Farm Stand. Sometimes there is a lot of rosemary left over so I am always looking for recipes to use up any leftover sprigs. Fortunately, we buy our rosemary at a restaurant supply store and can get rosemary sprigs that are 10 to 12 inches long. These woody sprigs make the best skewers for grilling and a great substitute for bamboo skewers if you can get them.

Seared chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

I love cooking with fresh herbs and use them whenever I can. A simple scattering of fresh herbs like basil, tarragon or rosemary lifts any food from standard fare to interesting and uplifting.  This herb marinade is a good example of how using fresh herbs can make a big difference in flavor. It just wouldn’t taste the same if you made the marinade with dried herbs.

The only change I made is adding minced garlic to the marinade and Kosher salt to the chicken before adding the marinade. Adding the salt first gives the salt time to steep in the chicken meat. Boneless skinless chicken breasts need a lot of help developing flavor and I wanted the chicken to taste seasoned without being salty.

I thought the original recipe needed some more oomph, so I added a lot of garlic. What I then realized is this marinade is very similar to the marinade in my Lemon Herb Roast Chicken Recipe.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

A bonus using this marinade is there is no acid to turn the chicken breasts mushy. As a result, you can easily prepare the marinade and chicken in advance, then skewer and cook the chicken right before you plan on eating.

Another aspect I like about this recipe is the two stages for cooking the chicken. First, you sear the chicken skewers, which only takes about 2 minutes per side, then the skewers are roasted in a very hot oven with some white wine. This creates a moist chicken with a light tasting pan sauce. This pan sauce helps keep the chicken tender and adds another layer of flavor to your meal.

If you wish, and already have the grill going for another food, sear the chicken skewers on your grill, then finish cooking them in the oven as directed.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Is It Done Yet?

The most difficult part about this recipe is determining when the chicken is done. Everything else is very straightforward. Like chicken kebab, the chicken gets packed in on the skewer making it difficult to determine when it is done. It is important to check the pieces in the middle of the skewer where it is compact and thus need a longer time to cook. Getting a good look at the inside of the chicken is difficult therefore a good instant read thermometer is your best tool for the job. I love my Thermapen thermometer, but any fast and reliable instant-read thermometer will work.

Vegetable Side dishes for Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

These chicken skewers will pair well with many vegetables and sides. Here are just a few from my blog.

Asparagus and Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus with orange mayonnaise and Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise

Zucchini fritters and seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Zucchini Fritters

Marinated Zucchini and Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Marinated Zucchini

Grilled Vegetables with seared chicken skewers recipe.

Grilled Vegetables

Garden Pasta Salad with Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

Check out my new Recipe Index. It is now easier to look up a recipe on my blog by clicking on a category in the recipe index. It is easy to read on a laptop or desktop computer. Unfortunately, the index and categories get spread out when viewing from a mobile device like your phone. You can find my recipe index at the top menu on my home page. 

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe. Moist chicken skewers made with chicken marinated in a fresh herb marinade and threaded on woody rosemary stems.
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Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

Chicken skewers are marinated in a fresh herb and garlic marinade then threaded on woody rosemary stems. If you cannot get long and sturdy rosemary stems, use bamboo skewers instead. The two-part cooking process of first searing the chicken, then roasting the skewers in the oven produces tender chicken skewers with great fresh herb flavor. 

You can get long and woody rosemary sprigs at farmers markets, restaurant supply stores, or wholesale stores. 

Seared Chicken Skewers with rosemary is an easy family meal or great for entertaining. 

Depending on how big each chicken breast is, there is enough chicken for 4 people with hearty appetites or 6 to 8 people served with two other side dishes. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken, chicken skewers
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time 3 hours
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb. (1 k -1.5 k) boneless skinless chicken breast -4 breasts
  • 1 tsp (3 g) Kosher salt

Herb marinade

  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 heaping TB (10 g) heaping Tablespoons minced rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon (1 g) thyme lemon thyme if you can get it
  • 1 TB (1.5 g) minced parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) 70 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for searing the chicken

Final touches

  • 8 - 10 bamboo skewers or long woody rosemary stems
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or dry vermouth Like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

Instructions

  1. Press on the chicken breast so they have an even thickness. You do not have to pound them out, just even them out a little. Slice each breast lengthwise into  ¼ inch (.5 cm) slices. Add the chicken ribbons to a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding them and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Using clean hands, mix the chicken with the salt until it is evenly incorporated. Thoroughly wash your hands and the bowl of chicken aside.  

Prepare the herb marinade

  1. In a small bowl add the minced garlic, minced rosemary, thyme, minced parsley, lemon zest, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Remember to wash your hands after you mix the chicken before you touch anything else. 

  2. Add the herb marinade to the chicken and toss with your hands until the chicken strips are evenly covered in the herb marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hrs.

Cook the Chicken

  1. If you are using rosemary stems, cut the end to make a pointed tip for easy threading. Soak the bamboo skewers or woody rosemary stems in water for 30 minutes. Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator to rest on the counter and come up to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F / 230°C / Gas Mark 8. Slide the oven rack in the middle position. 

  3. Thread each skewer with the chicken slices. You can roll up each slice and spear it on the skewers, or weave each slice of chicken, over and under the skewer creating a ribbon of chicken. Squish the threaded chicken to make room for another slice. Depending on the length of each skewer, you can fit 3 to 4 slices of chicken on each skewer. Be careful not to pack the chicken in too tightly. 

  4. Heat a grill pan or a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the grill pan is good and hot, add the chicken skewers to the pan. Only add enough skewers to not crowd the pan, about 3-4 skewers. Sear the chicken until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear the other side, about 2 minutes more. 

  5. Place the seared chicken skewers in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer without overcrowding, but small enough so the liquid won’t dry out when cooked. See Note. 

  6. Continue to sear the remaining skewers in batches until all the chicken is seared. 

  7. Add the white wine or dry vermouth to the baking dish holding the chicken skewers. Add more if the wine does not cover the bottom of the pan.

  8. Place the chicken in the oven and roast until done, about 10 minutes. Start checking the chicken at around 8 minutes. A good instant read thermometer is your best tool here for determining if the chicken is done. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F / 74° C. Once done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.

  9. Serve hot with pan juices with grilled asparagus or zucchini. 

Recipe Notes

The original recipe calls for a 9" x 13" (23 x 33 cm)  baking dish. That is a little too small to fit 8 skewers without overlapping. Often, I needed to nestle each skewer around the dish with some laying vertical and others horizontal at the top and bottom of the dish. Trim each skewer to help them fit easily in the pan. Other times I used a larger baking dish 15" x 10.5" (38 x 27 cm) which is a tad too big. When I use a bigger baking dish I add more wine to make sure the liquid covers the bottom of the pan, so it does not dry out in the oven. 

 

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe. Moist chicken skewers made with chicken marinated in a fresh herb marinade and threaded on woody rosemary stems.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

What to Feed the Groomsmen? Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

I have the pleasure of providing lunch for my son Evan, and his 8 groomsmen this weekend. Visualizing the amount of food required for a group of hungry men brought me back to Evan’s high school and college days when I had to feed Evan and his friends after a swim meet. Swimmers require a lot of calories on any given day, and the amount of food they eat is phenomenal. Fortunately, the groomsmen do not have the same appetite as Evan’s teammates had. Yet in the back of my mind the question remained, what to feed the groomsmen? I went around and around about what food to order and finally came up with the idea of doing it myself and make sandwiches with grilled chicken and grilled flank steak.

Of course, it would be easier to order sandwiches from the venue, but the cost for sandwiches was equivalent to a 5 course meal. Additionally, the wedding venue is a resort in a rural area and there is no other place nearby to order food. Making the lunch myself, is the next best option. Fortunately, the venue is just over an hour away from home and I will have a full kitchen in my suite. These perks allow me to feel confident that I can cook everything at home and keep the food fresh once I am at the resort.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Lunch Menu

Even though it may seem like I am feeding an army, Evan gave me direction to keep the food simple without a lot of munchies with dips, salsas, and desserts. His concern is if there is a lot of food to munch on after they are all dressed, someone, himself included, will spill or drip on their clean and pressed white shirt or their new suit. I totally get that, and I do not want any spills on my gown either. Even at 28 years old spills happen, and white shirts and fancy new suits are an easy target. So, the menu is simple, make your own sandwiches with grilled chicken or grilled flank steak, lettuce, tomato, avocado and condiments on sourdough bread. On the side, only chips. No dip. No salsas. No dessert.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe,

It may sound sparse, but I know the sandwiches will fill them up and keep the groom and groomsmen satiated well past the wedding ceremony. Everyone appreciates having a nice lunch, but the focus on Saturday afternoon is not the food, it is the bride, the groom and getting ready for their upcoming wedding.

Because the menu is limited, and for a special occasion, I wanted to provide sandwiches made with real meats, not processed cold cuts. Garlic and herb marinated, grilled chicken and steak make delicious sandwiches that are not the usual fare. Especially when they are made on Evan’s favorite bread, Joe’s Dough sourdough batard. Between my husband’s homemade sourdough bread and my marinated and grilled meats, both of us contribute to the meal that gives the groom and groomsmen something special to eat, even though it’s only a sandwich.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Grilled Chicken

The marinade is a basic one, with lots of garlic and dried herbs, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Chicken, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, get mushy if they marinate for too long so I keep that time period for a maximum of four hours. First, I pound the chicken flat then season both sides with Kosher salt. Then make the marinade. Once the chicken is coated in the marinade, it then rests on the counter for 30 minutes. Marinating the chicken at room temperature gives the seasoning a jump-start to penetrate the meat because the chicken absorbs the marinade faster when warm then when cold. After 30 minutes, I place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate until 30 minutes before it is time to grill the chicken.

I have no qualms about letting my chicken rest on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes because I have air conditioning and it is not too hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning and it is hotter than hot, be wise and place the chicken in the refrigerator once it is coated in the marinade.

For even cooking I recommend pounding the chicken breasts with a meat mallet to an even thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap protects the chicken meat and prevents the chicken from sticking to the surface of your counter. Also, the chicken breast gets a nice flat surface to build a sandwich on.

Depending on the size of each chicken breast, cut the chicken breast in half on a diagonal. This way you get two pieces of chicken that will easily fit on the sandwich bread. Plus, you get enough for two grilled chicken sandwiches from one breast.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Mix it up

Making a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and avocado gives the option of making a grilled chicken salad instead of a sandwich. For people who eat a Paleo, or no carb diet, you can provide your guests with the food they eat without you having to make an extra dish.

Make the grilled chicken with either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. The photographs in the post, picture the sandwiches and grilled chicken made with grilled chicken thighs.

For vegetarian diets bring some extra cheese like mozzarella, or Munster cheese to make a cheese sandwich with the same vegetables used for the grilled chicken sandwiches. Or, make a salad with cheese. The cheese will also pair well with the grilled chicken and steak.

For vegan diets, grill some tofu or tempeh.

If the weather turns bad, sear the chicken on the stove using a grill pan, then finish the cooking in the oven. Add some chicken stock or white wine to the baking dish with the chicken to keep it moist and make pan juices. This makes a delicious grilled chicken dinner.

Make one of these salads with leftover grilled chicken,  Chicken Salad with Yogurt Avocado Dressing, or Chicken Salad with Orange Saffron Dressing

More sandwich recipes in my post, Easy Picnic Ideas for the Summer.

Make a sandwich with Sherry Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

 

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Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade

An easy grilled chicken recipe with a classic marinade of garlic and dried herbs. This recipe it easily prepared with boneless-skinless chicken breasts or thighs and makes delicious sandwiches.  

Depending on the size of the chicken thighs or breasts you can get 5 to 6 sandwiches. I had a 2 lb (1 k) package of chicken thighs that totaled 5 chicken thighs. A decent serving size per sandwich is 4 oz (125 g) of meat. American chicken breasts are large and range anywhere between 7 - 9 oz (200 - 250 g). 

See Notes for directions for stove top grilling method. 

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword grilled chicken, grilled chicken sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time 3 hours
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 5 sandwiches
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (1 K) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken stock optional

Instructions

Prepare the Chicken

  1. If you are using chicken breasts, pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet between two pieces of plastic wrap, until you get an even thickness. About a half-inch (1 cm) thick is ideal, but you do not what the chicken beasts to get torn apart. Place in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken. 

  2. Sprinkle kosher salt over the chicken thighs or breasts on both sides. Let the chicken rest in a baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken on the counter while you prepare the marinade. 

Make the Marinade

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, Dijon mustard, vinegar, onion flakes, oregano, basil, rosemary, and Worcestershire  sauce until thoroughly mixed together. Add the olive oil and mix until well incorporated. 

  2. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn the thighs or breast over to cover both sides of the chicken. Cover the chicken in the baking dish and rest on the counter for 30 minutes. 
  3. After 30 minutes place the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate for a couple of hours. 
  4. 30 minutes before grilling take the chicken out of the refrigerator and rest on the counter. 

Prepare the Grill

  1. 20 minutes before grilling, prepare the grill according to your specifications. 
  2. When the coals are ready, push them over to one side to create two areas, one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat.  Oil the grill. 

Grill the Chicken

  1. When the grill is hot, place the chicken top side down on the grill over the coals. Grill for two minutes then rotate the chicken 45° and grill for 2 more minutes. Turn the chicken over on the other side and repeat the same grilling process.

  2. Transfer the chicken to the side of the grill with indirect heat and cook until the chicken is done, internal temperature 165°F / 74°C  .

  3. Remove from the grill and rest for 15 minutes. 
  4. Serve as is or make into sandwiches. 

Recipe Notes

To make the chicken with a stove top grill.

Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5.  Position the rack in the middle position. Place a grill pan on the stove and turn the heat to high. Just before the pan starts to smoke, spray the pay with cooking spray. Turn the heat down to medium high and sear the chicken as directed using an outdoor grill, for two minutes then rotate at a 45° angle and grill two minutes more. Turn the chicken over to the other side and grill for two minutes. You may need to cook the chicken in batches.

Transfer the chicken to a baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Pour the chicken stock in the pan and bake the chicken until done. The juices from the chicken run clear when pierced with a fork and the internal temperature is 165°F / 74°C. Start checking for doneness after 10 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your chicken and if they are thighs or breasts, it could take from 10-25 minutes.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade. An easy grilled chicken recipe with a simple marinade. Marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts for delicious sandwiches. Or serve for a grilled chicken dinner.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken

Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken with recipe.

Coating chicken thighs with spices and sesame seeds adds a unique flavor to an otherwise ordinary weeknight chicken dinner. This recipe for baked sesame chicken should not be confused with the sesame chicken you find in Chinese restaurants. There is no breading, the chicken is baked not fried and the flavor is very different. Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken is made with boneless chicken thighs, with a generous coating of toasted sesame seeds flavored with spices and ingredients traditionally found in Middle Eastern foods, like cumin, coriander and pomegranate molasses.

Middle Eastern food is often seasoned with a mixture of fresh herbs and spices creating one complex and unique flavor out of many ingredients. At first glance of a typical ingredients list one would wonder how will all the spices and herbs taste together? It would seem like there is too much flavoring going on and the ingredients would compete. Yet, Middle Eastern food is the master of mixing all these spices and herbs in just the right way to create one harmonious flavor out of many.

Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken with recipe.

Baked Sesame Chicken

When I started developing this recipe for baked sesame chicken, I loaded it up with a lot of different spices and ingredients that I love in Middle Eastern foods. Yet, after my first batch I decided to keep the flavor profile of baked sesame chicken on the subtle side. What stood out to me is the combination of the toasty notes of sesame seeds and the sweet and tangy flavor of pomegranate molasses and wanted to make sure these flavors stood out. It took a lot of will power to resist my temptation to add saffron to the marinade, but I do believe it would work nicely here.

Chicken benefits from some marinade, especially when the skins and bones are not there to add extra flavor. However, you do need to be careful and not marinade chicken for too long when there is a lot of acid. Chicken, especially boneless breasts, turns mealy if it sits in a marinade for too many hours. In this recipe, the amount of time marinating is kept at a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature seasoned with Kosher salt, then an hour in the refrigerator coated in the sesame marinade. There is not a lot of acid in the marinade, so the chicken thighs can take a longer marinade if you wish, but not overnight.

Like the yogurt dressing, the roasted vegetables are more like a condiment for the baked sesame chicken as opposed to a vegetable side dish. The concentrated and bright flavors of roasted fennel and grape tomatoes help the nutty and subtle sweetness stand out. The yogurt dressing is optional, but I think the vegetables roasting in the oven with the chicken is an integral flavor for the meal.

To Grill or Not to Grill

This time of year, it is tempting to want to grill these chicken thighs. The days are longer, warmer and bright, and I just want to spend to whole time outside. However, I have good reason to bake sesame chicken and not grill it.  Sesame seeds burn easily when seared over the hot coals.  Unlike chicken meat, the charred sesame seeds turn very bitter and unpleasant. Therefore, this is not a recipe that effortlessly transitions from roasting to grilling.

Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken with recipe.

Specialty Ingredients for Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken

There are a couple of specialty items in the recipe, Aleppo Pepper and Pomegranate Molasses. both ingredients are available at specialties markets. You can find both at Middle Eastern food stores like Sahardis in Brooklyn or online. If you are interested you can make pomegranate molasses using this recipe from Alton Brown. Personally, I have not had a lot of luck making it, so I buy it.

Pomegranate molasses has a unique flavor of tart, sweet and caramelized pomegranate syrup and there is not a good substitute.

If you cannot find Aleppo pepper, you can substitute it with most varieties of chili peppers.

Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken with recipe.

Sesame Seed Love

I love just about anything with the toasty nuttiness of sesame seeds and sprinkle them on bread, in salads, stirred into rice as in Crunchy Jasmine Rice, sprinkled over a stir fry in Sesame Shrimp with Spinach, or as a featured flavor like in Cold Sesame Noodles. Even though they are seeds, I get the same warm nutty flavor I love.

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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are staple dinner items in many households, especially mine. They are easy to prepare and do not take a lot of time to cook. We eat them so often, it is nice to have a variety of marinades for chicken to change things up a bit. Baked Sesame Chicken is a great alternative to a breaded cutlet creating a meal with a unique flavor profile. The combination of the nutty sesame seeds and the sweet and bitter components of the pomegranate molasses, orange zest and honey, compliment the roasted chicken and vegetables for a unique tasting chicken dinner.

Roast thinly sliced fennel and grape tomatoes to brighten up the nutty chicken. The yogurt dressing is optional and adds a tangy contrast to the roasted chicken.

Serve with a green salad made with arugula, orange segments and avocado slices with a citrus vinaigrette.

This meal is also delicious made with skin on and bone in chicken thighs. Or, any part of the chicken with or without the skin and bones.   

Course Dinner, Main Entree
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 1.85 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 5
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp dried oregano
  • A few grounds of white pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 TB dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest from half an orange and orange slices
  • 3 TB toasted sesame seeds
  • Sesame chicken

Marinated sesame chicken thighs

  • 1 fennel bulb with fronds about 13 oz (380 g)
  • 8 oz 2331 g grape tomatoes
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 orange slices

Yogurt Sauce:

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or crème fraiche
  • ½ clove pressed garlic green germ removed
  • Pinch of Aleppo pepper flakes or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • If it is too thick thin it out with a squeeze of lemon juice or milk. Adding a little at a time until you get the right consistency for easy drizzling.

Instructions

Make the marinade

  1. Place the chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the chicken thighs and pat them dry on both sides. Sprinkle Kosher salt over both sides of the chicken and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl large enough to hold all the chicken thighs. After the 30 minutes rest, add the seasoned chicken thighs to the marinade and toss around with your hands to get the chicken pieces well coated with the sesame seeds and marinade. 

  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken for one hour or more. 

  4. 20 minutes before you want to bake the chicken, turn the oven on to 400°F (200°C / Gas Mark 6) and place the rack in the middle position. 

Putting it all together

  1. Cut off the stalk and fronds of the fennel bulb, then cut the bulb in quarters. Slice the bulb quarters into thin pieces less than a quarter of an inch (.5 cm) thick. Add the sliced fennel to a large mixing bowl. Add the grape tomatoes, the extra virgin olive oil, some fennel fronds, a pinch of Kosher salt and a couple grounds of black pepper. Toss to evenly coat the vegetables with olive oil. 

  2. Arrange the chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the fennel and grape tomatoes and arrange around the chicken. Slide in the orange slices near the chicken.
  3. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a fork, about 165°F (74°C).

  4. While the chicken is cooking, mix in a small bowl the yogurt, pressed garlic Aleppo pepper and lemon juice. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and a couple of grounds of fresh black pepper. Taste and correct seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let it rest on the counter until ready to serve.

  5. Serve hot drizzled with yogurt sauce and a tossed salad of arugula and fresh herbs, avocado and orange segments.
Middle Eastern Style Baked Sesame Chicken with recipe.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Taste of Mexico: Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

The more I cook with tomatillos, the more I love them. Their tangy and grassy flavor pairs perfectly with green chili peppers making them a foundation for salsa verde or green sauce in Mexican cuisine. Like tomatoes, but not related, tomatillos taste great either fresh like in a raw salsa verde, or roasted and cooked. In this recipe, it is the tomatillo sauce that sets these chicken enchiladas apart.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas with Verde Sauce

Simply put, I love this tomatillo sauce which I adapted from Rick Bayless, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce from More Mexican Everyday. As the title of the recipe link says, “It is a recipe to know by heart.” Once you get comfortable making tomatillo sauce you will want to make it repeatedly. Just like Poblano Chili Cream Sauce, it is easily adapted for recipes with eggs, cheese, or any grilled fish and meats.

Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is one of my favorite Mexican foods. Red chili sauces may have a more complex flavor, but I love the fresh and bright taste of fresh chilies when I cook with them. Fresh chilies make everything more invigorating and upbeat. I never feel heavy when I eat a meal prepared with a verde sauce, unless, of course, I loaded it up with extra cheese and sour cream. Normally I add avocado to all my Mexican inspired food, but the roasted tomatillo sauce is so satisfying, I do not miss the avocado.

Making chicken enchiladas is a great way to use up left over chicken as well. A rotisserie chicken from the store is also perfect for chicken enchiladas. You only need a shy 3 cups (750 ml) of shredded chicken to fill these enchiladas. Using precooked chicken frees up your time to make the tomatillo sauce and it is worth it. Sure, you could make a verde sauce from jarred salsa verde, but the taste won’t be as bright or have that personal touch of homemade food.

Additionally, you can fill enchiladas with just about anything that goes well with the sauce. You can easily substitute the chicken with shredded pork, cheese, fish, legumes, or other vegetables.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas Variations

I adapted Rick Bayless’s chicken enchiladas recipe by adding more herbs and spices to the sauce. In addition, I mixed together sautéed onions and poblano peppers with the chicken filling. Originally, I set out to make chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce filled with shredded chicken and poblano rajas, but I pared down my original idea to reduce some of the prep work. Also, Rick Bayless recommends garnishing the enchiladas with raw onion slices. I do not enjoy eating raw onions, so I roasted onion slices and garnished the enchiladas with them instead.

For this recipe I recommend charring and peeling the skins off the poblano pepper. Charring the poblano pepper and removing the blistered skin adds a smoky flavor to the pepper and enchiladas. You can roast the poblano pepper when you roast the vegetables for the tomatillo sauce, but unlike the serrano chilies, it should be peeled, and seeds removed before you chop them up for the chicken filling. Peeling off the skin is not necessary, but it is a nice touch. If you are pressed for time, do not roast the poblano pepper, instead chop it up without peeling it, and sauté the pepper and onions together until soft but not browned.

The sauce carries some heat which I enjoy, but I realize not everyone does. If you are making the enchiladas for your family, or for people who do not like spicy food, substitute the Serrano peppers with half of a poblano pepper and roast it along with the tomatillos. You will need to peel off the skin before you purée the roasted vegetables. The sauce will taste bright from the poblano chili pepper, but the heat level will be significantly reduced.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Vegetarian Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

For vegetarian enchiladas, make the filling with 1½ cups (375 ml) of good melting cheese like Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese. Sauté a whole onion with a whole poblano pepper, cool slightly then mix with the grated cheese.  Assemble the enchiladas as directed in the recipe. Black beans, kidney beans or white navy beans are a nice addition with the cheese and vegetables as well.  Some cooked fish like tilapia, mahi mahi, or cod will taste great as a filling for enchiladas with  the onions and poblano peppers. However, do not add cheese to fish enchiladas, or for the garnish.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe

Pointers for Success

Mise en Place – Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. This will help with the timing for making the sauce and assemble the enchiladas.

  • Gather all ingredients and place the spices near your stove
  • Slice and chop the onions then organize in three piles as you need them at three different stages. To save some time, roast the onion slices for the garnish along with the onions for the tomatillo sauce. When they are done, make sure you separate half an onion’s worth of the onion slices before you add the remaining sliced onions to the tomatillo sauce.
  • Shred the chicken
  • Grate the cheese
  • Chop the cilantro
  • Place the tortillas in a microwave safe plastic bag and set aside until needed.
  • Pull out your baking dish or dishes, and set aside.

Assemble the enchiladas when all the ingredients are still hot from the stove. This cuts back on the cooking time and helps keep the enchiladas from falling apart. The longer the tortillas cook in the sauce the soggier they get.

Use the best quality tortillas you can buy. If possible buy tortillas from a tortilleria or Mexican market.

Microwave the tortillas when you are ready to assemble the enchiladas.

Microwave the tortillas in a plastic bag leaving an opening for some of the steam to escape. My tortillas got soggy after being heated in the microwave and sat in a sealed and steamy plastic bag. Rich Bayless recommends microwaving on high for one minute, but I think it was too long. You may need to experiment with the amount of time you need to heat the tortillas up.

Assemble the enchiladas a minute after you heat the tortillas. Any later and the tortillas will get soggy.

For a Cinco de Mayo dinner celebration serve chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo sauce with a green salad, Double Coconut Pie and Classic Margaritas.

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Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken enchiladas have such a bright and invigorating taste when paired with a verde sauce. Roasted tomatillos, serrano peppers, onion and garlic set the stage for the enchilada sauce. The tomatillo sauce is adapted from Rick Bayless, More Mexican Everyday, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce. 

There are some specialty ingredients in this recipe. You can find tomatillos at well stocked grocery stores, Asian produce markets, or Mexican markets. The dried spices like epazote and Mexican oregano you can find at Mexican markets or on line. Epazote has a unique flavor that cannot be matched. If you cannot find epazote, add one bay leaf to the sauce then remove it before you assemble the enchiladas. 

Bake the enchiladas in one large baking dish or individual dishes large enough to hold 2 enchiladas. 

Best eaten right out of the oven. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 5
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 lb. tomatillos
  • 4-5 garlic cloves peel intact
  • 2 serrano chilies or half a poblano pepper for a mild sauce
  • 1 white onion sliced across the equator in ½ in thick rings
  • ¾ tsp Kosher Salt

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 poblano chili pepper charred, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 white onion divided
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
  • 1 ½ cup (375 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp dried crumbled epazote
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Shy 3 cups shredded chicken
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese grated
  • ½ cup (125 ml) Crème fraiche

Instructions

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  1. Turn the boiler up high and place the oven rack at the top position.  

    Take the poblano pepper in the chicken filling section and slice it in half lengthwise then remove the seeds. Arrange the halves on a rimmed sheet pan then add the peeled tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic cloves, and slice onions rings for the sauce in an even layer. If you want to save some time arrange the onions slices for the garnish (half an onion) on the baking sheet with the onion for the tomatillo sauce. 

  2. Slide the sheet pan under the broiler and roast the vegetables until they get nice and charred. Check after 4 minutes and continue if the vegetables need more charring. Each vegetable will brown at different speeds, so you will have to adjust the timing for each one. Once they get browned turn them over and brown the other side. This can take from 8 -15 minutes. If the onions need more time than the other vegetables, remove the browned vegetables and place the tomatillos in the bowl of a blender or food processor and chilies and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Pour off any juices in the pan into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Set aside and continue to brown the onions if needed. Remove when done.

  3. Place the poblano chili halves in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it steam for 15 minutes.

  4. When the Serrano chilies and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin from the garlic cloves and place the roasted garlic in the bowl with the tomatillos.

  5. Cut off the stem of the serrano chilies and slice down the middle. Remove some of the seeds and pith if you want to turn down the heat., or leave them be. Add the serrano peppers to the tomatillos and blend, or process, the vegetables until smooth. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml). 

Chicken Enchiladas

  1. Pre heat the oven to 400 °F (200°C / Gas Mark 5) with the oven rack set in the middle position.

  2. Heat a 10-inch (25.5 cm) skillet with 2 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cups (500 ml) roasted tomatillo purée to the skillet and simmer until it slightly thickens. Add the chicken stock and Mexican oregano, epazote, ground coriander, and Kosher salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Simmer the sauce on low,  stirring occasionally until ready to assemble the enchiladas.

  3. Meanwhile, remove the poblano halves from the bowl and peel off the skin. Quickly rinse under cold water to remove stubborn skin. Chop the poblano into ½ inch pieces.

  4. If you have not done so already, slice the onion in half across the equator, slice one half into rings and set aside. Chop the remaining half in ½ inch pieces.

  5. In another skillet heat up 2 TB of vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the shredded chicken and ½ cup chicken stock. Stir to mix. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the chicken is warm. Add about 2 TB of chopped cilantro and stir to mix.

  6. Heat up the tortillas. Place the tortillas in a zip lock bag and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sue the bag is not closed all the way. Remove the tortillas from the microwave and let the tortillas rest in the plastic bag for a minute.

Assemble the enchiladas.

  1. Set aside a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan. Place a tortilla on a work surface and add 2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla to cover the chicken filling. Place the rolled-up tortilla in the baking dish. Continue to fill and roll up the tortillas. You should have enough chicken filling for 10 enchiladas. It will be a tight fit in the baking dish. If you have a small baking dish, perfect for two enchiladas, add the last two enchiladas to a separate dish, otherwise fit the last two enchiladas to one side of the row of enchiladas.

  2. Completely cover the enchiladas with the tomatillo sauce and sprinkle grated cheese down the middle of the enchiladas.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. If you haven’t roasted the onions for garnish already, heat up a skillet until almost smoking. Add the onion slices, intact, to the skillet and dry roast the onions until browned. After a couple of minutes check to see if the onions have browned, then turn over to brown the other side. When done, remove from the skillet.

  5. Serve immediately with crème fraiche and garnish with the browned onions and cilantro.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

We eat a lot of chicken so to break up a pattern of eating the same thing every time chicken is on the menu, I look for recipes with lots of flavor and ease of preparation. Several years ago I came across David Lebovitz recipe for Chicken Lady Chicken in his cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. After reading his description, I knew it was going to be one of the first recipes to try out for myself. In the recipe, David marinates a spatchcock chicken in harissa, wine, mustard, garlic, soy sauce and honey overnight then browns the chicken in a skillet before baking it in the oven. It is delicious and one of my favorite recipes from his book.

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli, recipe.

Sometimes, I forget to plan ahead for an overnight marinate and often need to adjust the recipe and marinate for an hour or less. Marinating a whole chicken for less than an hour is not worth the effort, so I found it best to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  As a result of my inability to plan ahead, sriracha chicken was born. I use the same marinade from Chicken Lady Chicken, or a slight variation thereof, with boneless chicken thighs and bake them in the oven. What I get is golden chicken thighs with the bright sriracha flavor and lots of pan juices. For today’s purpose, I made a whole meal out of Sriracha chicken by adding sweet potatoes, broccoli, shallots and garlic cloves for an easy weeknight chicken dinner.

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli, recipe.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

I am particularly fond of making meals that cook together in the oven. With just some initial prep work, I am free to relax while the oven does all the work. My favorite combination is marinated chicken with potatoes and shallots. The marinade and juices from the chicken infuses with the potatoes and shallots making them silky and full of flavor. Any type of wax potato will work, but sweet potatoes add a whole other flavor component which compliments the layer of heat from the sriracha chicken.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

For more roast chicken dinner recipes check out: Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken and Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken.

This winter I have grown especially fond of oven roasted broccoli. The broccoli spears get nice and browned adding a slightly charred and caramelized flavor. This winter is just too cold, and the toasted notes of roasted vegetables warms me up. I especially like roasting whole garlic cloves protected in its peel with the broccoli. Roasted garlic softens and becomes wonderfully sweet. It does not burn and taste bitter like it would if you roasted the broccoli with minced garlic. The key to perfectly roasted garlic with vegetables or meats is use medium-sized garlic cloves. If they are too big, the garlic cloves won’t finish roasting at the same time as the broccoli, sweet potatoes or chicken.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

Helpful Tips for making Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Combining all the ingredients in one pan just made sense to me. All that goodness roasting together in the oven is hard to resist. Unfortunately, they do not all fit on one sheet pan like I planned. Spreading them out between 2 pans is the best option.

  • Roast the sriracha chicken, sweet potatoes and shallots on the larger pan, while the broccoli and the garlic roast on a smaller one. You could divide the ingredients strewn together between two medium same size pans. Yet, I like keeping the chicken thighs all on one pan to produce the most amount of pan juices as possible.
  • For silky potatoes, roast the potatoes with the marinated chicken and remaining marinade along with the shallots. On another pan, roast the broccoli and garlic cloves.
  • If you prefer crispy potatoes, roast them separately and add the garlic, shallots and broccoli to the pan with the chicken. You may need more olive oil for the sweet potatoes if you do.
  • It is important to make sure you have the right size pan. If the pan is too large, the pan juices will dry up. Too small and the chicken will steam and get a mushy texture.
  • For boneless and skinless chicken, thighs work better than breasts. Use this marinade for boneless chicken breasts, pounded about a half-inch thick and marinate the chicken for less than an hour. Grill the chicken breasts over medium high heat.
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Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

This recipe is easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner and fancy enough to serve for a dinner party. Chicken thighs marinate in a sriracha marinade for at least an hour then roast in the oven with sweet potatoes and broccoli. You can easily adjust the level of heat from the sriracha by using more or less sriracha depending on how you like it. Feel free to substitute the sriracha with harissa. Roasted garlic tastes so good with the broccoli. Make sure each garlic clove is not too big, otherwise it will not finish roasting when the broccoli and chicken are done. Each person can squeeze out the garlic from the peel on their own plate. The sriracha marinade is slightly adapted from David Lebovitz My Paris Kitchen, "Chicken Lady Chicken recipe This recipe is best eaten immediately and hot. Any leftovers are easily warmed in a microwave oven for a couple of minutes.
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 -6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs- about 2.5 lbs (1 kg 154 g)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt divided
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 TB extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB dry white wine
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha or harissa more, or less depending on how spicy you like your food
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1-2 TBS minced fresh tarragon more for garnish
  • About 1 lb 476 g sweet potatoes, about 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • About two heads of broccoli 1 lb 5 oz (673 g)
  • 4 - 6 medium size garlic cloves peel on
  • 6 5 ½ oz / 161 g small shallots, peeled and separated
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare the marinade

  1. Trim off extra fat from the chicken thighs and place in a large non-reactive mixing bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and toss the chicken around with your clean hands to spread the salt evenly over the chicken thighs. Clean your hands and set the bowl of chicken aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, sriracha, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and minced tarragon. Whisk until the honey is completely dissolved and the marinade is evenly combined.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and use your clean hands to mix the chicken to get an even coating over each thigh. Clean your hands and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. If you are cooking the chicken right away, let the chicken marinate on the counter for no more than an hour. Otherwise, refrigerate the chicken. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to roast it.

Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Place two oven racks in the two middle slots in the oven, making sure there is enough space between each rack for two sheet pans with all the ingredients to fit between.
  2. Trim each head of broccoli by cutting off part of each stem. Use a vegetable peeler to gently peel off the outer layer of the broccoli stem and remove any leaves, (see note). Cut up the broccoli into spears, making sure they are even in size. Add to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters, lengthwise. Cut each potato wedge into pieces about 1 ½ inches (3.5 cm) in size. Add to bowl with the broccoli spears.
  4. If any of the shallots look too fat, slice them in half lengthwise. Add the shallots and garlic cloves to the bowl. Add the remaining extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt with several rounds of black pepper and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. I mixed everything together in one bowl to save on cleaning up two mixing bowls. If you prefer, keep the broccoli and garlic separate from the sweet potatoes and shallots. They will eventually go on different sheet pans.

Putting it all together

  1. When you are ready to roast your dinner, spread out the chicken thighs over one large rimmed sheet pan large enough to accommodate the chicken thighs, the marinade, sweet potatoes and shallots. Spread out the sweet potatoes and shallots between and around the chicken thighs. You want enough space for air to circulate around the chicken and potatoes, but not too big to dry up all the juices. The area of my sheet pan for the chicken was approximately 11.5 x 16 inches (29 x 40 cm).
  2. Spread the broccoli and garlic cloves over a small sheet pan approximately 8.5 x 11.5 inches (21.5 x 29 cm).
  3. Place each sheet pan on its' own rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes switch the two sheet pans, from top to bottom and front to back for even roasting. Continue to bake for 20 more minutes.
  5. Check the chicken thighs for doneness. Pierce the biggest thigh with a fork, if you feel some resistance the chicken it is not done. Also, the juices from the chicken will run clear when the chicken is done. If the juices are cloudy or pink, the chicken needs more time to cook. The internal temperature of properly cooked chicken is 165°F/ 74°C. The potatoes and broccoli are done when they feel soft through the middle when pierced with a fork. If the broccoli is finished cooking before the chicken, remove it from the oven and keep warm.
  6. When the chicken is done, turn on the broiler and remove the broccoli if you have not done so already. Baste the chicken with any pan juices and broil the chicken for a couple of minutes to brown the edges of the chicken to your likeness.
  7. When the meal is done roasting, arrange the chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli, garlic, and shallots on one serving platter then pour any pan juices over the chicken. Place on the dining table. Or arrange the food on a plate for individual servings. Make sure to include any accumulated juices from the chicken, a garlic clove and shallot on each plate. Each person can squeeze the garlic out of its peel and spread it on the broccoli or potatoes. Garnish with fresh tarragon.
  8. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Use most of the plant: Broccoli stems are very sweet. You can cut the removed stems into wedges and add to the broccoli spears. Cut the stem in quarters lengthwise to make a wedge. The very end of each stem is woody, so cut off that section and discard.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli. A chicken dinner recipe.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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