An explosion of creativity occurred in my sister’s upscale kitchen this month: my siblings and I collaborated over one of my recipes during a trip home for my mother’s 93rd birthday. Our three strong cooking minds worked together to perfect a dish I created years ago.
Nearly a decade has passed since I helped a friend every Monday, for she was bogged down in her professional responsibilities. Aromatic ailments filled pots and pans, as I prepared her family’s nourishment for each upcoming week.
This particular friend had been to cooking school in Italy; her excellent input and feed-back sharpened my skills, while I was helping her family. At her home, I created this recipe for tomato/feta chicken, which my siblings Maureen and Paul helped perfect recently.
One thing I learned from my friend was to add the garlic at the close of the sautéing process; she said this keeps it from burning. I was adding it before this, as I was cooking the meat. My friend’s ingenious tongue could taste the burnt garlic; thus, she suggested that I add it at the very end, which is how I had cooked with this herb since.
However, my siblings suggested that adding it early on allows for more flavor. My brother explained the proper process: when you add garlic, while sautéing, cook only until you can smell it; then, immediately add the liquid for the sauce, to keep it from burning.
My sister employs an even more advanced method: she roasts lots of whole peeled cloves on a cookie sheet, in a preheated 300 degree oven, for at least an hour (or until golden brown). She stores this in the refrigerator, adding about three tablespoons per four-serving dish, while the dish is cooking-only cook briefly, however, if dish is dry.
After tasting our finished work, I am sold on cooking this herb longer, employing these safe ways. The following recipe reflects this new directive; here the fresh garlic is cooked for a lengthy time in the wet tomatoes.
There was another point I learned from my siblings’ expertise. Both urged me not to bother with washing pieces of cut meat; it is only necessary to clean the inside of the carcasses of fowl, where blood has collected. This has made cooking easier for me.
This tomato/feta chicken recipe is exceptionally good; enjoy it!
Tomato/Feta Chicken Yields: 4-6 servings. Total prep time: 1 1/4 hr.
1 med/lg yellow onion, halved and cut in even 1/8″ slices
5 tsp oil (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)
8 chicken tenderloins, thawed in water (The frozen ones at Trader Joe’s are all natural and a good price.)
Salt and pepper to taste (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped (These must be ripe; organic is best.)
3/4 tsp dried oregano (Organic is available at Trader’s; it is of excellent quality and very inexpensive.)
1 tsp dried basil
3-5 lg cloves of garlic, chopped fine (2 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader’s is a much easier prep.)
1-16 oz package frozen broccoli florettes (An inexpensive, organic variety is available at Trader’s.)
4 oz feta cheese (This is best, when purchased in an 8-oz block, rather than the pre-crumbled version, which has been treated.)
Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice)
- Take frozen broccoli out of freezer; it cooks better when partially thawed. (Better yet, leave it in the refrigerator over night.)
- If chicken tenderloins are frozen, you may thaw them in warm water. Pat dry with paper towel.
In a large heavy-bottom frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil over med/low heat. Add onion and caramelize, cook slowly until dark brown. Note: do not crowd onions in pan, or they will sweat and it takes longer to caramelize them. Stir every few minutes for about the first 30 minutes; then, stir every minute afterwards, as onions begin to stick to pan and browning process accelerates; see photo. (For more details on caramelizing, see Caramelized Onions and Carrots-2017/06/19.) Meanwhile go to next step.
- Chop tomatoes and garlic; set each aside separately.
- Heat remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil in another large skillet. Salt and pepper tenderloins generously; place chicken in hot oil, sautéing over medium heat quickly. Cut tenderloins with spatula, as cooking, to check for doneness (should be slightly pink in center as they will cook more later). As pieces are done, place in a bowl, saving juices in pan. May add onions to this bowl, when they are done.
- Add tomatoes to hot pan in which you cooked the chicken; simmer over med/low heat for 10 minutes. Add dried herbs and garlic; cook down to a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When onions, chicken, and tomatoes are cooked, may set all aside and finish recipe just before serving, if desired.
- When you are ready to serve, add thawed broccoli to pan of tomatoes and simmer over medium heat; cook until vegetables are tender and hot.
- Distribute chicken and onions in tomato sauce/broccoli; heat mixture. Stir in feta, crumbling it with your fingers; adjust seasonings. Cook briefly, so feta doesn’t completely melt.
- Serve over rice; top with shaved Parmesan cheese.