Panko Covered Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Legs

Recently, a friend asked for ideas on what to do with panko, a type of breadcrumb used in Japanese cuisine. Panko has become increasingly popular throughout the years, working its way from specialty stores and into local supermarkets and grocery stores. It’s larger than traditional breadcrumbs and has a crispier, airier texture. After passing it several times in her neighborhood supermarket, my friend decided to buy it and give it a try. She called me a few days later, unable to come up with a creative way to use it. I promptly gave her the recipe for crispy, panko covered rosemary-garlic drumsticks. These juicy, crispy legs don’t disappoint.

The legs are my absolute favorite part of a chicken. Even as a little girl, I had a preference for dark meat. I find it to be so much juicier and flavorful than the rest of the chicken. White meat cooks a lot quicker and can dry out if overcooked by even a few minutes. I usually substitute chicken thighs or drumsticks for most recipes that call for shredded breast. Chicken legs are inexpensive, which means you can get a lot more for your money. In this economy, it’s always a great thing when you can stretch a buck. Drumsticks and thighs can range anywhere from $1.29 to $1.99 a pound, depending on where you shop. If you buy the entire quarter leg and cut them yourself, you can pay as little as 99 cents a pound. These definitely qualify as cheap eats!

Panko Covered Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Legs

Adapted from Tyler Florence

What You’ll Need:

10 chicken drumsticks
3 cups panko bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a baking sheet in the oven while you preheat it. In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and rosemary with a bit of olive oil. In a shallow dish, mix the panko with the garlic, rosemary and olive oil mixture. Add salt and pepper, to taste. In a second shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper.  Place the flour in a third dish and season with salt and pepper. Take each chicken leg and dredge in flour, then the egg wash, then coat in the panko mixture. Lay the chicken on a tray while you finish the rest.

Remember that empty baking sheet you placed in the oven? Well, remove it  and brush some olive oil onto the hot surface. Carefully place the chicken legs onto the tray, making sure they are not crowded together. The drumsticks will sizzle when they come into contact with the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday ~ September 26th

Happy Monday! Here’s this week’s menu plan:

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Hearty Beef Stew, Side Salad, French Bread
Wednesday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon, Garlic Bread
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Turkey Stuffed Green Peppers, Side Salad
Saturday: Going to The Big E! Hopefully we’ll be blessed with great weather.
Sunday: Heading to the in-laws for my FIL’s birthday celebration!

What’s on your menu for this week?

Menu Plan Monday ~ September 19th

Another busy weekend just flew on by. I swear, all I did was blink and Monday appeared. September is such a busy month for my family, with lots of birthdays and our wedding anniversary to celebrate.

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Leftover Indian food from John’s birthday
Tuesday: Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce, Crusty French Bread, Side Salad
Wednesday: Roasted Chicken, Sofrito Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Chicken Enchiladas
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Our Wedding Anniversary! Out to dinner!

What’s on your menu for this week?

Menu Plan Monday ~ September 12th

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, tweeted and posted kind birthday wishes on my Facebook page yesterday. For the past few weeks, the thought of turning 30 was getting to me a bit. Being flooded with love from friends and family definitely brought a smile to my face!

This past weekend was a busy one, filled with a trip to Norwalk’s Oyster Festival, several outings with friends and family, lots of food and even a trip to the movies! I was thoroughly exhausted and spaced on my menu plan yesterday. Lazy, I know! Better late than never, right?

Here’s this week’s menu:

Monday: My 30th Birthday! No cooking for me!
Tuesday: Indian-style Meatballs with Garlic Naan (froze some extra last week)
Wednesday: Pasta Primavera, Side Salad
Thursday: Homemade Pizza (haven’t decided what kind)
Friday: Fried Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Honey Biscuits
Saturday: Bistec Empanizado (Breaded Steak), Yellow Rice, Black Beans
Sunday: The Hubby’s Birthday! Probably going out for Indian food!

What’s on your menu for this week?

Double Cut Pork Chops Smothered in Chipotle Mushroom Sauce

For my husband and I, the sight of double cut pork chops smothered in mushroom sauce always brings a smile to our faces. This month will mark our sixth wedding anniversary, and in November, we’ll have made 11 years together. Eons ago, when John and I had first begun to date, we tried hard to surprise one another with thoughtful gifts and memorable eating experiences. One Valentine’s Day, we drove down to SoHo for dinner. I had scoured the internet for a great Cuban restaurant in New York City and my research led me to Cafe Habana. Not only were the reviews promising, but upon further reading, I learned Cafe Habana was a fusion of Cuban and Mexican cuisine. This little fact caught my attention immediately. John is Mexican and I’m half Cuban. I took it as a sign that we were meant to eat there.

It took about 45 minutes to make the trip from White Plains to lower Manhattan. Armed with MapQuest directions, I played co-pilot while John navigated the car through the city. When we finally found our way to the corner of Prince and Elizabeth streets, John was the first to spot Cafe Habana. My jaw nearly dropped. The place was a hole in the wall. Literally. Bohemians were spilling out the door of this un-spectacular, teeny restaurant. I remember groaning and slumping down into my seat. Despite my protests, John parked the car and we made our way down the block. I suggested we find somewhere else to eat, somewhere that looked a little more substantial, but John convinced me to at least peer through the window. We stood on the sidewalk, watching the restaurant patrons. It was like observing sardines in a can. Tables were crammed together and people were practically sitting on one another’s laps. Next to me, I heard a gasp. I looked over at John, who was staring through the window with wide eyes. “It’s my corn!” he said. I followed his gaze. Inside, a couple were sharing a plate of corn on the cob. When a look of confusion passed over my face, John explained that in Mexico, street vendors sell corn on the cob, or elotes, with crema, cotija cheese, chili powder and lime. “We have to eat here,” he said firmly. So, we did.

Even after all these years, I can still remember our first meal at Cafe Habana. It was the first of many. We shared a plate of grilled corn, which was every bit as delicious as John promised it would be. We each ordered the same entree, Chuleta de Puerco a la Pimenta, which turned out to be grilled, double-cut pork chops in a mushroom and chipotle au poivre sauce. Putting it mildly, this pork chop blew our mind. The pork was juicy and flavorful, cooked perfectly. The sauce had just the right amount of spice to cut through the creaminess. It was heaven.

It’s been five years since we made the move from New York to Connecticut. I love the quiet and calmness of living on the Connecticut countryside. If there’s one thing I miss, one thing, it’s Cafe Habana. After that Valentine’s Day so many years ago, Cafe Habana became “our” spot. John and I shared our secret place with few and far between. Somehow, bringing other people there made it less special. Once, after finding out some friends of ours had eaten there, we admitted to being a bit envious. Silly, right?

Since trekking to SoHo is no longer an option for us, especially with a three year old, I decided to attempt to recreate “the” pork chop. After a bit of experimentation and tweaking, I was finally thrilled with the results. For a true Cafe Habana experience at home, serve with frozen mango margaritas, tostones con mojo, rice and beans. Prepare to die and float to heaven.

Double-Cut Pork Chops Smothered in Chipotle Mushroom Sauce

What You’ll Need:

4 pork chops, 1-inch thick, bone-in
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
parsley, for garnish

Put the flour in a shallow pan, add the salt and pepper, then mix with a fork. Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, then dredge them in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess.

Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and coat with olive oil. Fry the pork chops for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the pork chops from the pan and set to the side. Add more oil to the pan, if needed. Toss the sliced mushrooms to the pan and saute for 10 minutes. Sprinkle some of the seasoned flour into the pan and cook for one minute. Add the chipotle peppers and chicken stock. Let the liquid cook for 5 minutes, allowing it to reduce and thicken slightly. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon black pepper into the sauce, more if you like it very peppery. Add the heavy cream and return the pork chops to the pan. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pork chops are cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve and enjoy.

Menu Plan Monday ~ September 5th

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. After today, our favorite lakeside beach will be closed till next year. No more building sand castles or refreshing dips in Candlewood Lake. In our little town, school is already in session. In a few weeks, the leaves will begin to change color and fall to the ground, lining the streets with breathtaking shades of fiery reds, brilliant yellows and glowing oranges. Although I’m sad to see summer slowly come to an end, I’m excited about the season ahead. With fall comes hot cider, warm apple pie and hearty stews. I can’t wait to curl up on the sofa with my boys, armed with a fleece throw and a mug of hot chocolate. Over the next month, as the temperature begins to cool, I’ll start to bring back some of my favorite fall recipes and try out some new ones. Goodbye, summer. Until we meet again.

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Dinner at The Cheesecake Factory
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Rosemary Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Vegetables
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Indian Meatballs (Kofta), Naan, Kale and Mango Salad
Saturday: Norwalk Oyster Festival
Sunday: Out to Dinner with the Family

What’s on your menu this week?