Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Filtering by Tag: chicken

A Better Chicken Dinner Part 1: Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Cranberry Chutney, Savory Onions, & Jus

Prep Time: 40 min    Cook Time:  20 min    Serves:  2

Chicken is the workhorse of the american dinner menu.  A go to. A staple.  Chicken is a fantastic and versatile protein but it often suffers from an image problem as a boring, bland and unimaginative dish.   With the A Better Chicken Dinner series, I  hope to change that perception with a dose of creativity and basic technique.  Because the weather has turned colder, this dish has plenty of big hearty flavors and indulgent textures.   This would go well with some hearty mashed potatoes or some oven roasted root vegetables to play off the sweetness of the chutney and onions.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium sauce pot, pour 28 oz of chicken stock and set over medium heat to reduce.  Reserve the remaining half cup of stock.  

Remove the top and bottom of the onion and give it a medium dice.  Put a saute pan over med-low heat and add the tbs of vegetable oil and onions, salting liberally.  Allow the onions to cook down slowly as you finish the rest of your preparation, occasionally returning to the pan and deglazing with the remaining chicken stock as the onions stick to the pan.  Cook until tender and translucent.

For the chutney, cook shallots in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes, then pulse in a food processor to achieve desired texture.

Season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.  Place a large saute pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil.  Make sure the oil and pan are sufficiently heated to make sure the chicken doesn't stick to the pan (look for slight wisps of smoke coming off the pan).  Place the pan in a preheated oven, turning after 5 minutes.  Remove chicken from oven after 10 minutes or once internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove chicken from pan and reserve pan with drippings. 

Return to the reducing stock. Pour stock into the reserved chicken pan and use a wooden spoon to incorporate any drippings and continue to reduce over medium high heat until stock has thickened and will coat a spoon. Add the butter to the stock and reduce heat to keep to the sauce from breaking.  Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste, 





  • 2 (6 oz) chicken breast filet
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 (32 oz) carton unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tbs coarse chopped parsley (for garnish)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 5 shallots (6 oz), coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • /2 tsp black pepper

Red Chile Braised Chicken Soft Tacos, with Pickled Red Onion & Grilled Corn Salad

Prep Time: 20 min    Cook Time: 2 hours    Serves: 4

Truly excellent tacos are one of the things that my wife and I miss most since leaving Los Angeles.  The hunt for the little hole-in-the-wall, family owned establishments that were so often the purveyors of said excellent tacos has yielded little fruit in my native nutmeg state.  Though flush with a truly staggering amount of world class pizza joints, the taco has eluded the culinary taste makers in Connecticut since forever.  So, as is so often necessary when pursuing your passions, I took matters in my own hands. 

Mexican food done properly requires a fair amount of coaxing of flavors and patience to develop the richness and complexity native to the cuisine.  This recipe takes about two hours to put together, but after your first bite you will know it was time well spent.  

Technique for this dish is fairly simple, requiring attention mostly during the searing of the chicken and sautéing the garlic and onion.  Proper heat and fat in the pan should ensure a good sear and excellent caramelization on the chicken; helping to develop the rich flavor required for this dish.


Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Heat a large pan with the 2 tbls oil over med-high heat.  It is important that there is enough oil in the pan in order to effectively sear the chicken.  While the pan is warming, liberally season both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, red pepper, paprika, and chili powder.  When the oil shimmers the pan is hot enough for the chicken.  Sear the chicken on each side, remove from pan and hold to the side.  

Add the chopped garlic and onion, stirring with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Saute over medium heat util the mixture is browned and the onion starts to turn translucent.  Poor in chicken stock to    de-glaze the pan.  Allow the stock to come up to a simmer before adding the chile sauce, and then the reserved chicken breast, making sure they are almost completely submerged in the sauce.  Cover the pan and place in preheated oven, and set a timer for two hours.



  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 2 8 oz cans red chile sauce 
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika 
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 package corn tortillas

Grilled Corn Salad

  • 2 ears large yellow sweet corn; un-shucked
  • 1 16 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbl fresh lime juice
  • 6 oz jalapeno peppers; thinly sliced rings
  • 10 oz crumbled cotija or goat cheese

Pickled Red Onions

Red Chile Sauce

Red Chile Sauce

  • 1 lage red onion; sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 jalepeno pepper
  • 4 oz cilantro; whole stem and leaf
  • 3 oz coriander seeds
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

While the chicken is cooking, warm your grill for the corn.  By leaving the outer leaves on and placing the corn on the upper warming rack, you can slowly steam it.  This technique ensures the corn is fully cooked while also allowing for a final char on the grill.   Simply place the corn on the upper rack in the grill and progressively peel off the leaves as they char.  Once all the leaves are off, char the corn directly on the grill over high heat.  Remove the corn and using a chef's knife, slice the kernels off and reserve in a medium sized bowl.  Drain the black beans in a colander and add to the corn.  Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper and hold to the side.

For the pickled red onions, chop off the ends and cut in half, slicing the onion into thin half moons.  Place the onions in a large mason jar along with the whole cilantro, half jalapeno, and coriander seeds and hold to the side.  Pour the vinegar and lime juice in a small pot, adding the salt and sugar and heat over medium/low heat until the salt and sugar dissolve.  Pour the vinegar into the jar with the onions and allow them to sit for thirty mins before using.

To assemble, warm the tortillas either in the oven or in a skillet with a small amount of oil. Add the chicken and corn salad, topping with the cotija or goat cheese and garnishing with the jalapeno rings and pickled onions.

Recipe by David Ferguson