Bone-In Chicken

May 8, 2013

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time, the chicken sold in supermarkets had bones in it. Seriously. No one knew what “bscb” meant, let alone bought any. Chicken came mostly in packages of leg-thigh quarters; bone-in breast halves; “cut up chicken,” which was an entire fryer cut into six pieces (with giblets and neck thrown in); and whole.

I started missing bone-in chicken when I pawed through my freezer recently and unearthed  a lot of boneless breasts and a couple of whole fryers. Then later at the grocery store I became downright nostalgic when I compared the price of boneless breasts to  bone-in chicken thighs, which were on special. I grabbed a package of thighs, determined to return to my chicken roots.

Later I tried to remember what I used to do with bone-in chicken parts. Mmmm. I made paella. I sauced them up for cacciatore. I made a version of chicken paprikas (I actually thought I had invented it until I came across a recipe).  And in one glorious spate of French cooking, I made a gazillion kinds of fricassee.

I started pulling ingredients from the fridge. I had smoky chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Hey, I had the makings of a kick-butt stuffing. Of course, to stuff the chicken thighs I would have to – uh – bone them.

OK, I was back to boneless chicken. Before I give you the recipe for this spicy (and economical) chicken fricassee, though, let me go on record as a fan of bone-in chicken. Chicken cooked on the bone simply has more flavor than boneless chicken. So buy some, save some money and treat your taste buds well.

My chipotle-stuffed chicken thighs simmered in wine isn’t too shabby, either. After cooking the little bundles I cut each one into slices and fanned them on plates to show off the stuffing spirals. I had made too much stuffing, which turned out to be a good thing, because I used the extra to thicken the sauce. Yum.

If you’re new to boning chicken, don’t be intimidated. It’s pretty easy if you think of the process as scraping the meat from the bones. Stand each skinned thigh on end, resting on one end of the bone. Then scrape the meat from the bone, starting at the top and working around the bone evenly until you hit bottom. And remember rule number 1: Always angle the knife edge toward  the bone, not toward the meat.



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  • 10 chicken thighs
  • 1/3 box frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Skin the chicken thighs and de-bone them by cutting each one lengthwise, then cutting the chicken from the bones. To do this, start at one end and scrape the meat from the bone  in 1-inch increments all the way around, angling the edge of the knife toward the bone. Always cut toward the bone, not the meat. When boned, one side of the chicken piece will be thicker than the other. Butterfly the thick portion by slicing from the center to within ¼ inch from the edge of that part, then open the flap so it is flat.

Drain and squeeze  spinach. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep skillet  and sauté onions until soft. Scrape into a small bowl. Stir in spinach, salt and pepper, chipotle peppers and bread crumbs. Add egg and mix well.

Place chicken pieces on a work surface, cut sides up. Mound a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing mixture on one side of a thigh and roll up to encase the filling. Tie with kitchen twine and secure each end, if necessary, with toothpicks. Continue with remaining thighs. You will have some filling left over.

Heat the large skillet again and add  2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the chicken rolls on all sides over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to  medium-low. Add wine and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring in remaining  stuffing mixture after  30 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan, cut and discard twine, and cut each chicken roll into 3 or 4 slices. Fan 2  rolls on each plate and top with some of the cooking sauce. Makes 5 servings.


Readers have wondered what happened to local food blogger Tom Noe, who hasn’t posted on his restaurant blog, Exploring Food My Way, in months. He sent this explanation: “I am actually doing well. Life’s priorities have shifted over the last year and sadly, the thing I had to cut was writing for the blog. I can assure you, however, I am still out there seeking great meals in the Akron area. I’m just now photo-documenting them on my Flickr page instead . At some point, I may pick up my blogger’s pen and start up again.”

If he does, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, another local food-lover has remodeled and renamed her blog. Cuyahoga  Falls cook Kathy Carano has transformed Carano’s Cucina into the edgier  Carano’s Punk Rock Cucina with pink and black hound’s-tooth graphics, a zebra-patterned photo backdrop, and an interesting grab bag of subject matter. In recent posts she has reviewed Sweet Basil Pizza in Westlake and Original Steaks and Hoagies in Twinsburg and Ravenna, provided a recipe for couscous with ramps, and shared a pictorial on making caramelized onions.

Kathy’s blog tagline sums up her blog philosophy: “I cook. I bake. I eat out. And listen to great music while doing it. Then I write about it.”

The link is


Tasting all those cupcakes sounded like fun, but along about the 30th cupcake my enthusiasm fizzled. I and the other judges kept going, though, ultimately working our way through 59 cupcakes at the Cupcake Camp Akron last Saturday.The fund-raiser for Boy Scout Troop 334 was a rousing success, though, and I found new reasons to say, “What the heck was THAT??!” Here are the five of the most unusual cupcakes we tasted:

1.    Garlic and White Chocolate
2.    Apple with Sauerkraut-Flavored Icing
3.    Chocolate-Chili Pepper
4.    Grapefruit
5.    Pancake and Bacon


From Dona Bowman:
No fair with the teasing. How about running the cranberry tart recipe again for those of us who don’t have it?

Dear Dona: I got at least a dozen emails about omitting the filling recipe. It didn’t occur to me to run a cranberry tart recipe in May; I figured the crust recipe would be enough. I figured wrong. Here it is:


1 9 or 10-inch tart shell (recipe follows)

  • 6 cups cranberries 
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter 
  • 1 1/4 cups bread flour 

Make and cool tart shell.

For filling: Combine cranberries with 3/4 cup of the sugar and the salt and toss to coat berries. Spoon into 
prebaked tart shell, mounding slightly in center.

For crumb topping: Cut butter into 1-inch cubes. Using paddle attachment on electric mixer, mix butter, flour and remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar at medium-low speed just until mixture forms large clumps that crumble when pinched.

Do not over mix. Spoon crumb topping over berries. Do not press topping into fruit. 

Bake tart at 375 degrees until topping is golden brown and fruit bubbles 
around edges, about 40 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Tart shell 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold 
1 tsp. sugar 
1/8 tsp. kosher salt 
3/4 cup flour 
3 tbsp. whipping cream 

Cut butter into 1-inch cubes. Place in mixer bowl with sugar, kosher salt 
and flour. Using paddle attachment, blend at low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add whipping cream and mix until dough comes together. 

On a slightly floured surface roll dough into a 13-inch circle. Fold into 
quarters and lift into a 10- or 9-inch tart pan (a pan with straight rather than angled sides). Unfold circle carefully and settle into pan, being sure dough 
reaches into corners.

Gently press dough against sides of pan. 

Fold overlapping dough into pan just to where sides and bottom meet, to 
form double-thick sides. Gently press dough against sides of pan, being 
careful not to press against bottom. (If it’s too thin where sides meet bottom, 
dough will split during baking.) Trim off extra dough by running a rolling pin 
around top edge. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. 

Line tart shell with heavy foil, covering edges as well as bottom. With a 
fork pierce holes all over bottom of shell, through both foil and dough. Hold fork straight down so tines do not tear large holes in dough. Bake at 400 
degrees until inside of shell looks pale but no longer raw (lift foil and 
look), 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking until shell is golden brown and has pulled away from sides of pan, about 15 minutes more. Cool.


From Susan B.:
I found an older cookbook on making tamales in an second-hand store. All of the recipes start with corn husks, which I can’t find in any store. Also, what is achiote? Can I leave it out?

Dear Susan: Corn husks are sold in packages in Mexican food stores. They are soaked in hot water to make them pliable before filling. I’ve seen chefs use aluminum foil as a substitute, but I recommend you search out the corn husks, because they help flavor the tamale.

Achiote, also called “annatto,” comes in various forms (oil, powder, paste) and is used mostly to give a lovely yellow hue to foods like rice. In many recipes you could omit it without serious damage, but since you’ll be at a Mexican store for the corn husks, why not pick some up?

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