Despite my low energy level following a week long battle with a respiratory virus, I had the cooking urge this weekend. Saturday found me dreaming of golden brown crispy skin on a succulent roasted chicken so off to the store I went. I was disappointed that my neighborhood store was out of roasters but didn’t have the heart to face the weekend crowd at Central Market so I settled on a good sized frying chicken instead. Even though the market was out of roasters, they had plenty of fryers on the heavy side at 5lbs and change. For sides, I picked up some ready made organic green chile and cilantro polenta and decided to try a spinach stuffed tomato idea that had been floating around my head for a while.
At home, I washed and patted the chicken dry before salt and peppering the cavity and oiling the skin with EVOO before seasoning it liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon pepper. I sliced half a shallot and inserted it along with tiny pats of butter under the skin of the breast. For the cavity, I sliced up a key lime, the remainder of the shallot, a bit of carrot and a few strips of bell pepper. I mixed the veggies with the same seasonings that went on the exterior of the bird and added a small bit of butter before shoving it all inside. The chicken went into the oven to roast at 475º for 20 minutes before lowering the heat to 375º for an additional hour.
By the time my boyfriend made it home from his noon spin class our meal was minutes away from ready. The roast chicken looked food magazine beautiful when I pulled it out of the oven. I plated up slices of the juicy breast along with a drumstick and wing, a stuffed tomato and several cheese topped sliced of polenta and realized that although the cooking time for the chicken was long enough for me to catch a nap, I hadn’t and now desperately wished I had. The food was delicious, even as tired as I was. The spinach and tomato cups were a perfect side dish with the richness of the greens tempered by the simplicity of the tomato. The polenta was good, too, but I think I prefer other flavors to the green chile. After a week of illness suppressed appetite, it’s no shocker that I cleaned my plate. And then took a three hour nap.
Here is my recipe for spinach stuffed tomatoes. Feel free to tinker with it and make it your own. I’m thinking that you could make it truly decadent by mixing some goat cheese in with the cooled spinach as well as topping the cups with it.
Spinach Stuffed Tomato Cups
9 oz bag pre-washed spinach
2 large beefsteak tomatoes or four large Roma tomatoes
2 slices turkey bacon
2 Tb. Chopped shallot (can sub red onion)
½ tsp. butter
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
shredded parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325º. If using beefsteak tomatoes, cut a thin slice at base to make a level surface for tomato to sit upright and slice off top stem side to form a flat top “cup”. Using a spoon or carefully with a paring knife, remove tomato meat from middle and reserve. You’ll want a nice hollowed out cup. For Romas, you’ll slice them lengthwise and hollow out. Turn tomato cups upside down on a paper towel to drain. Chop tomato meat and set aside. In a large frying pan, fry bacon until very crisp. Cool, then crumble. Add butter and shallot to pan and cook slowly until shallot carmelizes. Add the chopped tomato, crumbled bacon and spinach and cook until the greens are wilted, seasoning with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat. Lightly salt and pepper the insides of the tomatoes before filling with the spinach mixture and placing into a baking dish. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes.
I used some leftover chicken in a breakfast dish on Sunday. I’d made a tasty green chile, chicken, cilantro and avocado omelette a few weeks prior but I didn’t feel up to a labor intensive meal. Easy enough. I sautéed some onion and mixed in shredded chicken, chunks of avocado and sliced roasted jalapeño pepper before scrambling the goods with eggs. A pinch or two of shredded cheese topped things out. We had refried beans, sliced seasoned avocado and more of that good turkey bacon along with the scrambled version of my omelette. Sunday afternoon found me back in the kitchen stirring a simmering pot of my version of beef & venison chili made velvety smooth with beer, ancho chili powder and dark chocolate. Comfort foods, all of them. What did you eat this weekend?