Whiskey Herb Marinated Chicken

whiskeychicken1Since my Simon & Garfunkel garden runneth over, I have been on the lookout for ways to use my fresh herbs in various dishes. The parsley, rosemary, and basil have all been receiving a considerable amount of cooking action, but the sage and thyme….are a bit neglected. Lucky for me, I found a recipe that banks on lots of fresh, beautiful thyme–and it has whiskey! Even better.

Whiskey marinated chicken=juicy, flavorful.

whiskeychicken4Seriously though, we have a sage BUSH at this point. And I’m not a big meat eater. Hopefully we’ll be able to utilize it in the next couple months with lots of butternut squash and pumpkin, but–everyone has an open invitation to come over and snip away for all their fresh sage needs.

whiskeychicken3And if you know of any vegetarian or pescatarian recipes utilizing sage or thyme, please let me know!

Whiskey Herb Marinated Chicken

Adapted from The Irish Spirit

1/2 cup whiskey
3/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts

Combine whiskey, oil, garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary, cayenne, ginger, salt and pepper to taste in a sealable jar and shake to blend. Place the
chicken in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, most easily done overnight.
Preheat a gas or stovetop grill to medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill, flipping over after 6-8 minutes. Brush once with the marinade after turning.

Savory Apple-Whiskey Sauce

FYI: I’m already in St. Patrick’s Day preparation mode (when am I not?). The whiskey is out.

This apple whiskey sauce is super simple, and can be used to dress up any kind of meat. The cookbook I used to adapt the recipe from calls for Irish bacon. And then cooking the sauce in the bacon fat….you meat lovers can try that. I already had some chicken cooked up, so I used that instead.

Peel, core, and dice some apples.

I had to get an additional apple, because SOMEONE who was SUPPOSED to be helping decided to swipe one instead.

For some reason (having to do with uber-cuteness) I couldn’t stay mad at him…

Saute those apples until they are golden brown. Add some stock and cream-and whiskey of course. And it gets all delicious. Mildly sweet, whiskey soaked delicious.

Savory Apple-Whiskey Sauce

Adapted from The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland

3 apples (I used granny smith)

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup liquid-taken from whatever meat you are cooking, chicken stock is great, even water works fine

2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey

3 tablespoons of heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Peel, core, and slice up your apples. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the apples about 5 minutes, until they become golden. Add the 1/4 cup of liquid, the whiskey, cream, and oregano. Bring to a boil and stir the mixture continuously for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the meat of your choice.

Sweet Spirit: Bourboned Raisin Bread Pudding

I have a confession to make.

I only had bread pudding for the first time ever a couple weeks ago. I know, I know! It wasn’t given to me as a child, and the idea never made sense to me. But let me tell you-now I get it. How could you not take something as amazing and versatile as bread and turn it into something even more amazing? Sugary amazing? Spiritly amazing…? And by spirit, I mean bourbon. Our neighbor had a hurricane party and gave me the BEST introduction to bread pudding there could be.

Originally my intentions were to make an Irish whiskey bread pudding. But there was a brand new bottle of Beam begging to be used! I did some more digging on the interwebs and came up with my own rendition using other things I had on hand.

My suggestion? Take the best bread pudding recipe that you know of and add these amazing bourbon-soaked raisins to it. How happy are these raisins in their bourbon bath?!

Take your favorite bread pudding sauce and add bourbon to it. How could you go wrong? The leftover sauce also might be good on some homemade vanilla ice cream and grilled nectarines…

Bourboned-Raisin Bread Pudding

adapted from RecipeGirl, and Simply Recipes

1/4 cup bourbon

3/4 cup raisins

12 oz. can evaporated milk

2 cups milk (I used whole)

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 baguette, cut into chunks

4 Tablespoons butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup bourbon

Combine bourbons and raisin. Let them sit and get immensely happy while you get everything else ready.

In a large bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and spices. Gently mix in the bread and let it sit.

Preheat oven to 350 and place a few tablespoons of butter in a 9×13 pan. Place pan in the oven and let the butter melt.

Once butter is melted, pour the bread mixture into the pan. Sprinkle some additional sugar and spices on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in sugar and egg. Keep stirring until the sugar melts and the sauce becomes smooth and creamy. Add bourbon–careful, it can bubble!

Spoon sauce over bread pudding and enjoy the bourbon punch those raisins pack!

Gorgonzola stuffed chicken with whiskey soaked mushroom cream sauce

Garlic and mushrooms soaked in whiskey and cream would be enough to make a delicious chicken dish. But combine that with a bite of warm, melted blue cheese in the center? It takes the dish to a whole new level of awesomeness.

I have a fantastic cookbook called The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland. There is a whole section devoted to Irish whiskey! You can bet I will be cooking my way through the entire thing!  In it I came across a recipe for Chicken Cashel Blue: essentially your typical chicken marsala–except replace that marsala wine with some Irish whiskey. Then there is the added bonus of some Cashel blue cheese stuffed inside.

I have to confess, I don’t like stuffing chicken. It’s a process. It takes time. You need lots of dishes. I hate dealing with toothpicks. My stuffing always melts out. I worry that the chicken won’t cook all the way through (valid worries from previous experience!). But this recipe combined some of my favorite things-it sounded too delicious to pass up!

The cookbook instructed me to refrigerate the chicken for 15 minutes after coating it in breadcrumbs. I’m so happy to have learned this! It definitely helped set the coating; the breadcrumbs adhered well and came out nice and crispy. So many of my coated chicken attempts have come out soggy with only half the bread crumbs remaining. Lesson learned! I adapted the recipe for my own tastes and tailored it around what I had on hand. It’s a new keeper!

Gorgonzola stuffed chicken with whiskey soaked mushroom cream sauce

Adapted from The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland

4 boneless chicken breast halves, 4 to 5 ounces each

4 ounces of a blue cheese (to be honest, I just sprinkled on an amount that looked good)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg beaten with (optional) 1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup bread crumbs

olive oil to coat the pans

2 cloves of garlic (at least!)

6 ounces white mushrooms, chopped or pre-sliced

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Make a horizontal incision in each chicken breast to form a pocket, or horizontally cut the chicken and open it up-like a butterfly effect. Distribute the cheese evenly among the chicken. If you butterflied, fold the chicken back over. (You could use toothpicks to seal, but I was lazy and did not and it turned out great.)

Put the flour in one shallow dish, the egg wash in another, and the bread crumbs in a third. Lightly dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, dip in the egg wash, and then cover with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a large heatproof skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes while preparing the sauce.

In another skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the whiskey and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Stir in the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until smooth.

Pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken. Consume. Delight.

Irish Cupcakes

Chocolate stout cupcakes with a chocolate whiskey ganache filling and Irish cream frosting.

My father once referred to Guinness as “heaven in a glass.” If that comparison is true, then these cupcakes are some celestial kingdom not yet known to mortal man.

I came across this recipe WAY too long ago on smitten kitchen. [WARNING: if you click over to smitten kitchen you may get lost there. For hours. I won’t blame you.] I think the discovery came from an internet search after an enthusiastic and exasperated discussion about how absolutely delicious Irish carbombs are, and how unfortunate it is that the amazing flavor combination can not be savored because you’re chugging it down before curdling commences. Such a fleeting tasty moment! I needed to recreate it somehow. This is a fantastic alternative, although much more time consuming-it’s well worth it!

I made the cupcakes at night, and then filled and frosted them in the morning. It felt pretty sinful sampling whiskey and Irish cream spiked confections at 8am, but it was the only time I had to finish the desserts! The cake is wonderful by itself-it is definitely a chocolate stout cake recipe that I will return to for possibilities other than these particular cupcakes. The Guinness flavor is there but perfectly subtle. I used light sour cream instead of full fat and it didn’t seem to affect the cake negatively, which turned out nice and moist. An apple corer was the perfect tool for making a well in the center for the ganache filling and it was so easy to fill them with a piping bag. (Except for when I squeezed and a burst of ganache came out of the top of the bag. Oops!) I didn’t measure my Jameson, but next time I know I will add more. Also, I only had semi-sweet chocolate while the filling calls for bittersweet.  I bet bittersweet would meld even better with the flavors of the whiskey and beer, but there is no such thing as too sweet for me, so it wasn’t a problem. I halved the recipe so I would only make 12 cupcakes (what was I thinking?!), but didn’t halve the frosting. Good decision. As a frosting novice (frosting-maker novice.  I am no novice to consuming my share of such deliciousness), I got worried because I kept having to stop my mixer to scrape the butter off. At some point I figured out that the mixer needed to be on a higher setting-the faster pace worked much better! Of course, I used the traditional Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s combo because we almost always have them on hand-but I’m sure other brands would work just as well!

Don’t make the same mistake as I did and sit on this recipe for a year. Make these immediately!

Ok. Now you can click over to smitten kitchen, because there really is no reason for me to repeat perfection. Now go and enjoy some Irish Cupcakes!