Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

The last time I celebrated Earth Day was in college. And I use the word "celebrated" loosely, since I don't recall it being much fun. As far as I can remember (and the details are vague), some friends with a car were going to an Earth Day event at some other campus...Bard, maybe? They drove us there, and there was a lot of standing around outside in the hot sun, with tons of hippies milling about, and probably some terrible music, like a loud band or a drum circle or something. Was food involved? Maybe, I can't remember.

Anyway. This was the beginning and end of my entire lifelong observation of this holiday. And I'm still not sure how it is meant to be celebrated. If I cared more, I'd find out.

But Earth Day is a useful excuse to make my blog green and post a recipe that I like. It's a Rachael Ray recipe that I've made a bunch of times. It always turns out tasty (albeit simple and plain) and it's very easy to make. Her recipes often don't work out well...but this one does.

Rach calls it "Leek-y Chicken." Leeks are a fun and interesting vegetable. They look like giant scallions (sort of like how brussel sprouts look like tiny cabbages). They are easy to cook; the only hard part is making sure you rinse all the dirt off beforehand. I like their texture...when you bite into cooked leeks, they are firm yet pliable, almost slippery.

The chicken broth, raisins, and parsley aren't even truly necessary in this recipe, but they are nice additions if you happen to have them on hand or feel like making the extra effort:

1-1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden raisins (a couple of handfuls), chopped
1-1/2 cups plain couscous
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 2 turns of the pan
1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium leeks or 1 large leek
1 cup dry white wine (eyeball it—about a third of a bottle)
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about a handful)

Heat the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan. (Use a pan with a tight-fitting lid.) When the broth boils, add the raisins and the couscous. Take the saucepan off the heat. Stir the couscous and place the lid on the pan. Let stand.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add the chicken in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, trim the tough tops and root ends from the leeks. Cut the remaining white and tender green parts in half lengthwise, then cut the leeks into 1-inch half-moons. Place the leeks in a colander and run cold water over them. Separate the layers to release the dirt and grit. Rinse the leeks well, then drain.

Stir the leeks into the chicken and wilt for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook down by half, 3 to 4 minutes. The leeks should be tender, with some bright green color, and the chicken should be cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the parsley. Spoon a bed of couscous onto dinner plates and top with the chicken and leeks.


  1. Two observations: Leaks are squeaky when you bite into them, and: Oh *drove* to an Earth Day event? (shakes head sadly)

  2. I KNOW!! You are right--they ARE squeaky! I was thinking that, and I almost wrote it, but then I thought, "Can you really describe a texture as 'squeaky'?"

    But that's really how they are. I like them!

    ...about driving to an Earth Day event. Well, our hot-air balloon was in the shop.