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Chicken 'n' Spinach

Jody Adams of Rialto in Boston is this week's Chef On A Shoestring.

Here is her menu:

Tomato & Parsley Salad With Mustard Vinaigrette
Roasted Chicken Thighs
With Brown Bay Butter Sauce And Fiery Garlicky Spinach
Roasted Pears with Spiced Syrup,
Walnut Phyllo Bundle and Vanilla Ice Cream

Tomato and Parsley Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A generous 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh curly parsley


  1. Whisk the mustard and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl to form an emulsion.
  2. Whisk in the olive oil in a thin steady stream until it is completely absorbed.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  5. Cut a small X in the base of each tomato. Try not to penetrate too deeply into the flesh.
  6. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water. Blanch until the skin around the X’s starts to peel back, about 10 seconds.
  7. Immediately drop the tomatoes into a pan of cold water to stop the cooking. At this point, the skins should slip off. Remove any recalcitrant peel with a sharp knife.
  8. Remove the stems and cut the tomatoes into round slices 1/2-inch thick.
  9. Arrange in overlapping rows on a platter. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Spoon the vinaigrette over the tomatoes and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Brown Bay Butter Sauce
Makes 4 entree servings

Chicken ingredients:
4 large bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 8 ounces each)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons minced lemon zest
8 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sauce ingredients:
2 cups homemade chicken stock or 4 cups high-quality low-sodium canned chicken broth reduced to 2 cups
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons rinsed capers (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Toss the chicken thighs in a large bowl with the shallots, thyme, tarragon, lemon zest, and 4 tablespoons vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Marinate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. Make the sauce first. Start by bringing the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan and letting it cook until there’s only 1/2 cup left. While the stock is reducing, melt the butter with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until it just turns brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Take care that it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Keep warm.
3. Blend the bay butter and reduced stock in a blender until they’re completely mixed. Add the lemon juice and capers and season with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
5. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Do not scrape off marinade. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan (preferably non-stick) heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the thighs, skin side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Flip the thighs and put the pan in the oven. Roast 20-25 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the thighs. The internal temperature of the thigh should read 155 degrees F.
7. If you prefer crispier skin, run the chicken under the broiler for a minute or two before serving.
8. Serve immediately with the warm sauce, white rice and sautéed greens.

Fiery Garlicky Spinach
Makes 4 side-dish servings

Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced paper-thin
1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook until the garlic is just golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside for later.
2. Increase the heat to high. Add spinach and season with salt and the hot red pepper flakes to taste. Cook until the spinach just wilts, stirring frequently. It will only take a minute or two so don’t take your eye off the pan or it will overcook.
3. Return the garlic to the pan and stir. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pears with Spiced Syrup, Walnut Phyllo Bundle and Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 4 servings

Spiced syrup ingredients
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 star anise or 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Phyllo bundle ingredients
2 ounces chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 ounce raisins
1 ounce chopped dates
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 sheets phyllo
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Roasted pear ingredients
2 ripe Bosc pears
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves cut into very thin strips

1. Combine all the syrup ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat. The syrup does not need to be kept warm.
2. Mix the walnuts, ginger, raisins, dates, honey and lemon juice together in the bowl of a food processor. Process 15 seconds to form a coarsely chopped sticky mixture.
3. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on the counter. Keep the others from drying out by covering them with plastic wrap. Brush the sheet with a thin layer of melted butter. Top with a second sheet. Brush the second sheet with a thin layer of melted butter. Repeat with the remaining two sheets. Cut the phyllo stacks into 4 rectangles.
4. Put a spoonful of the fruit and nut mixture in the center of each rectangle. Pull up the dough to form a bundle. Set the bundles on a parchment-lined baking pan. Refrigerate.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
6. Peel the pears and cut them in half. Toss the pears with the lemon juice and sugar.
7. Cut the butter into 4 pieces and place in the smallest roasting pan you have that will hold the pears comfortably, but without touching. (Don’t put the pears in it yet.)
8. Place the roasting pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 3 minutes. Don’t let it burn. Remove the pan from the oven.
9. Roll the pears around in the pan until they’re evenly coated with butter (reserve leftover lemon-sugar mixture). Arrange them cut-side down in the pan in a single layer without touching. Sprinkle with any remaining lemon-sugar.
10. Set the pan on the lowest rack in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip the pears and continue cooking until caramelized to a deep golden color (about another 20 minutes).
11. When you flip the pears, put the phyllo in the oven and cook 20-25 minutes.
12. Remove the pears from the pan. Remove the cores as soon as the pears are cool enough to handle, but keep the cored pears warm. Remove the phyllo from the oven when toasty and brown and keep warm.
13. Place 1 pear half on each plate. Add a scoop of ice cream and a phyllo bundle and drizzle with the syrup. Sprinkle with the mint and serve immediately.