Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break Cooking

I'm in California on Spring Break this week visiting me parents; sad to miss experimenting with Renee on Tuesday night, but quite happy to be cooked for by my mother!  And this family visit has me thinking of all of the many generations of passing down and reinventing that I'm a part of.  So I'm pulling out a recipe I tried after a recent visit to my grandmother.

Last weekend I visited my 86-year-old grandmother who lives and cooks independently in Brooklyn. The population in her building has shifted dramatically since I was a child, but when the elevator door opens on the 16th floor, the hallway still smells of that perfect blend of sautéed onions, garlic, and simmering tomatoes that is, for me, the essence of Italian. And of course, being fed large amounts of delicious food is a necessary component. She would joke that she’s lazy, but I really do attribute to experience the fact that my grandma Rose’s scrumptious specialties are perfectly simple and easy to prepare. This one was such a hit with my son, who loves to eat chicken “with the bone sticking out,” that I made it myself tonight, with a little variation to use up mushrooms that had been around just long enough.

Grandma Rose’s Chicken

Serves 4

4 drumsticks or 2 whole chicken legs

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 cup sliced mushrooms (baby bell or crimini)

1 cup chicken broth or stock

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a pressure cooker or a pot that can go in the oven, heat 1 T olive oil and sauté the onion until it begins to soften (5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their water (about five minutes). Remove the onions and mushrooms and set aside. Add 1 T olive oil and brown the chicken. Return the onions and mushrooms and add the chicken broth.

If you are using a pressure cooker: lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. You can use fast or slow release methods. Check for salt and pepper before serving.

If you are not using a pressure cooker, cover and put in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Check for salt and pepper before serving.

Serve with rice over which you ladle the extra sauce. My grandmother also served this with snap peas, which she buys frozen. It had never occurred to me that one might freeze whole snap peas. They were delicious, a perfect side for this dish, and I’m going to grow and freeze some this summer.

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