Tag Archives: main course

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}While many of my food memories of my childhood in Texas revolve around Tex-Mex and barbecue, I also have a place in my heart for Lebanese food. My dad began going to a Lebanese restaurant called Hedary’s in the 1970s and, over time, got my mom, my sisters, and myself hooked on their mezze, lahem meshwi, and steaming hot pillows of fresh pita. And tabouleh. And the rice pudding. And the sodas that came in short, round glass bottles.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}For years, Hedary’s (“heh-dah-rees”) was our restaurant of choice for weekend dinners and special occasions alike, and as we grew up and moved away, a must-go whenever one (or all) of us came back to Fort Worth to visit. That is, until they closed the original location near my parents’ neighborhood a couple years back.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Our unanimous family-favorite Hedary’s entree was Frarej, a roast chicken dish made with tons of lemon and garlic and served with tender potatoes, tomatoes and onions. It somehow towed the line between light and bright and deeply comforting and was always the centerpiece of our extensive order.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej appears to be specific to the Hedary family—I’ve never seen it on any other Lebanese menu, the owners of my beloved Sahadi’s have never heard of it (nor have my Lebanese friends), and a quick internet search turns up only recipes by people like me who are trying to recapture the magic of this dish from a now-closed restaurant in a strip mall in Fort Worth, Texas.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}My older sister started making a version Frarej at home when she was in graduate school and has honed it over the years. She gave me her recipe when I wanted to impress a new boyfriend* a few years ago and since then, I have slowly made adjustments—not many though—until I achieved a Frarej I could make and eat any day of the week.

*I’m the sort of person who will try to seduce you with garlic. This is why I’m single. Although, to be fair, that boyfriend stuck around for a few years so…?Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Start by chopping (or pressing) 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic. Mix that with 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pour it all over a bunch of sliced Yukon gold potatoes and onion wedges.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Let that roast for 15 minutes at 500F (yes, 500F) before stirring in some tomato wedges and topping it all off with some bone-in skin-on chicken thighs that you’ve given the lightest coating of olive oil. Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Throw that back in a 500F oven (again, yes, that hot) and let it go for 45 minutes, occasionally spooning accumulated liquid over the chicken, but otherwise leaving it alone. You’ll know it’s ready when the chicken is gorgeous and golden and the potatoes are tender. Your kitchen should also smell ahhh-mazing. Lemony and garlicky and chickeny—amazing.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej will be good the day it’s made—what could possibly be bad about juicy roast chicken, lemony potatoes, sweet onions and tangy tomatoes?—but the leftovers are where it’s at. I turned down a dinner invitation a couple weeks ago just because I wanted to eat the Frarej leftovers* in my fridge. The vegetables absorb all the lemony, chickeny fattiness and are just so…effing…delicious.

*This is actually why I’m single.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}
inspired by Hedary’s Restaurant, adapted from E1’s recipe
makes 4-6 servings

2 small Spanish onions, sliced into 8 wedges each
1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in quarters
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil + more for coating chicken
8-10 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 pounds skin-on chicken thighs (about 6-8 thighs)
4 large or 5-6 small Roma tomatoes, sliced in quarters
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 500F.

Toss onions and potatoes together on a large rimmed sheet pan.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Stir together with a fork (it won’t emulsify). Pour mixture over potatoes and onions and toss together with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes.

Pat chicken thighs dry. Rub them all over with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Remove onions and potatoes from the oven. Stir in tomato wedges. Carefully nestle chicken thighs over the top.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, spooning a little of the accumulated liquid over chicken every 15 minutes. It’s ready when chicken is golden and cooked through, and vegetables are tender and browning in places. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will get more and more delicious as time goes on.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesFor weeks, I have been eagerly waiting to share this recipe with you. I’d love to say that I feel this way with every single recipe in my archives, but that would be a lie. I only post recipes that I like and believe in, of course, but it’s rare that I get all kid-on-Christmas about one.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSo, what’s so special about this recipe? Well, for one, it’s a vegetarian main (or hearty side), and I can never have too many of those. And two, it’s for twice-baked potatoes that are filled with the flavors of my favorite hot, cheesy dip. Need I say more?!Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesThese Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes are so delicious, y’all. They’re soft and creamy on the inside and brown and crispy on the outside. Oh, and there’s melted cheese involved. And a serving of vegetables. Yesssss.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesIf, by chance, you’ve never heard of or eaten a twice-baked potato…well, I’m sorry that you’ve been deprived for so long. Luckily, you can remedy that today! Let me give you a quick rundown.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesAs their name states, twice-baked potatoes are potatoes that have been baked two times. The first time, they are rubbed down with oil and salt and baked until tender.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesNext the potato innards are scooped out, leaving behind four potato skin “boats.” The potato flesh is mashed with other ingredients to create a filling.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesTraditionally, those include sour cream, bacon, cheddar, and scallions, but this recipe deviates from the norm in favor of lemony sautéed spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, butter, cream cheese, and monterey jack cheese. YUM.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesThe filling is then spooned back into those potato skins, topped with more cheese, and baked a second time, until golden and a bit crispy ❤ Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesI prefer to serve Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes as a main, but they also work well alongside chicken or pork. However you serve these potatoes though, they’re guaranteed to leave you wishing you’d doubled the batch.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes
makes 4 servings

2 medium-large russet potatoes (about 1 pound total)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 13.5 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained
2 ounces full-fat cream cheese (1/4 brick)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scrub and dry potatoes. Prick each several times with a fork. Massage 1/2 teaspoon each olive oil and salt onto potato skins. Place on prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until I small knife meets no resistance when inserted. Let potatoes cool 7-10 minutes, or until they can be handled.

While potatoes are baking, prepare the filling ingredients. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add spinach by the handful, wilting it as you go so as not to overload the pan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. When all spinach has wilted, remove pan from heat. Squeeze in lemon juice and give another stir. Set aside.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut artichoke hearts into a 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

When you can handle the potatoes (they should still be very warm), remove them to a cutting board. Slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving behind the potato skin “boats.” Set the skins aside.

Make the filling. Place potato flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Use a potato masher (or two forks) to break up the large pieces. Add cream cheese, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper and continue to mash just until combined. Do not over-mash. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in spinach, artichokes, and 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack. Taste a small bite of filling and adjust seasoning as needed.

Place potato skins on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Divide filling mixture among skins (1/2-2/3 cup each); they will likely be heaping a bit. Top each with 2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for another 20-25 minutes at 400F, or until the cheese is browning in places. Let potatoes cool a few minutes before serving.

Twice-Baked Potatoes are best eaten the day they are made, but leftovers can be draped with a damp paper towel and reheated in the microwave, if desired. I’m sure they can also be reheated in a toaster oven or oven, although I have not tried it myself. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.Spinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked PotatoesSpinach-Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté

Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéLast Monday night, I took a picture of a dinner I had made at work that included this simple Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté, among other delicious things. I have received multiple requests for the recipe and, as it’s so dang easy, I am happy to oblige.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéThis quick, fresh one-pan meal is one of my summertime staples. It’s made with all sorts of great seasonal produce like corn and zucchini (duh), tomatoes, spinach, and fresh herbs. And shrimp. And a squeeze of lemon.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéIt’s my favorite meal this time of year.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéI measured all the ingredients out so I could write the recipe for you, but I usually just make this by feel—it’s that simple.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéThis dish is the sort of thing that works just as well for a weeknight meal as it does for a party. It can be scaled up and down without any fancy math—a relief after all the math I did last month.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéYou can adapt this recipe any way you please—take this and make it your own. Don’t care for shrimp? Swap in chicken (but, uh, cook that longer). Halve the amount of corn. Add more zucchini. Nix the tomatoes. Fold in fresh arugula instead of spinach. Use bacon grease instead of butter. Heck, you could even take this in a southwestern direction by adding jalapeño, black beans, cilantro, a dash of cumin and a squeeze of lime! Really, the possibilities are endless.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini SautéHowever you choose to make this…well, just make this.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté

Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté
makes 3-4 servings

2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound peeled, deveined raw shrimp (fresh or thawed frozen)
cloves garlic, minced
1-2 shallots, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
2 cups diced zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears of corn)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 packed cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
juice of 1/2 medium lemon

For serving:
chopped fresh parsley
sliced or torn fresh basil
lemon wedges

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, and swirl until the butter is melted and any foaming has subsided. Working in batches, cook shrimp about 2-3 minutes per side, until pink and tightly curled. Set aside.

Add remaining tablespoons of butter and olive oil to the pan, and swirl until butter is melted. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and starting to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add diced zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in corn and cook for another minute or two. Stir in halved grape tomatoes, salt and pepper. Fold in half the chopped fresh spinach leaves, followed by the other half. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the juice of half a lemon.

Divide sautéed vegetables among four shallow bowls and top each with 1/4 of the shrimp. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley and basil over the top of each bowl and serve with lemon wedges.

Sauté is best the day it is made, but may be refrigerated for up to three days. I like to reheat the vegetables by themselves and then stir in the shrimp cold, so as not to overcook them.Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Sauté

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsIt has come to my attention that a shocking amount of my friends and acquaintances have never attempted to roast a chicken. In fact, some have admitted to being terrified of the process. Not intimidated. Terrified.

Y’all, that’s sort of ridiculous. If you fall into this category, let me be the one to tell you that roast chicken is one of the easiest things in the world to make.

It’s chicken, not rocket science.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsHere’s everything you’ll need to make a quality roast chicken: salt and pepper, olive oil, garlic, rosemary (or thyme), a lemon, a lot of onions, and a whole chicken.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsFirst things first—slice up the onions and layer them in the pan. You want at least two layers of thick onion slices.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsDry off your chicken with paper towels and lay it on that bed of onions. You want it breast-side up, meaning that the neck and tail will be down. Grease the inside and outside of your bird with olive oil and give it a good massage with salt and pepper.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsTuck the wingtips under the breast. This helps the chicken to cook more as a cohesive unit and keeps the wings from drying out. They may move as they cook—that’s okay.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsStuff the lemon, garlic, and rosemary (or thyme) in the cavity, and slide the chicken into a 475F oven. Yes, 475F. This initial burst of high heat helps the skin turn golden. As the cooking time moves on, the heat will be turned down to 450F and finally 400F. This keeps the chicken from burning or drying out throughout the long roasting time.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsWhen you finally remove the chicken from the oven, it’ll be golden and beautiful. When I roast chickens, I nearly always get comments on how aesthetically pleasing they look.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsBut who cares about looks—it’s all about flavor! And this chicken has plenty of it. The skin is crispy, the meat is moist, and everything is well seasoned.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsAnd that’s to say nothing of the soft roasted onions that are coated in rendered chicken fat (aka schmaltz). Seriously, if you’ve never tasted a sweet onion that’s been cooked in chicken fat, you’ve been deprived.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsBetter make up for lost time.Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions
makes one 5 pound chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 pounds sweet onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2-2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 5-5.5 pound raw whole chicken, giblets removed
1 lemon, sliced in half equatorially
1 small-medium head of garlic, sliced in half equatorially
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 10 sprigs fresh thyme

***Make sure your oven is fairly clean before starting. The high heat in this recipe can cause smoke if there is any significant grime on the walls or floor of your oven.***

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 475F.

Grease the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish (or other large high-sided pan) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Top with layers of onion slices. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together salt and pepper.

Use paper towels to blot chicken to remove excess moisture—make sure to do this inside the cavity, too. Place chicken, breast-side up, on the bed of onions.

Coat chicken inside-and-out with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Massage salt and pepper onto chicken, including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic, and rosemary (or thyme).

Put pan in the oven. Roast for 90 minutes, reducing the heat to 450F at the 30 minute mark and 400F at the 60 minute mark.

Chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) reads 165F. Juices should run clear.

Remove chicken from oven and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Uncover pan. Lift chicken and pour any excess liquid from the cavity. Place chicken on a cutting board and remove lemon halves, garlic, and thyme/rosemary. Carve chicken (here’s a tutorial).

Use tongs or a wooden spoon to stir onions together with rendered chicken fat (aka schmaltz). Serve chicken and onions together, spooning schmaltz over the top as desired.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions