A Quartet of After-the-Seder Chicken Ideas
While a lot of energy and planning goes into Seder repasts, there are still multiple meals remaining in the eight-day holiday. Here are some flavorful possibilities to explore during Passover and beyond.
By Jayne Cohen
Photo by James Peterson
Since Americans are now eating more chicken than beef for the first time in 100 years, chances are that even if the bird was not on your Seder menu, you'll be serving it at least once during Passover week. Many of your regular tried-and-true recipes conform just fine to the restrictions of Passover, but to shake up the same-old, same-old, here are some ideas to try for the rest of the holiday.
Chicken Milanese with Tart Salad Topping
This is a variation on the Italian classic usually made with veal. Dip chicken cutlets (pounded, if necessary, so they are of even thickness) into beaten eggs, then dredge in seasoned matzoh meal. For a gluten-free variation, use seasoned ground almonds mixed with a little potato starch. Sauté over moderate heat in olive oil until the chicken is just cooked through and golden on both sides. Toss a salad (I like chopped tomatoes and red onions here along with tart greens like baby arugula or watercress) in a well-seasoned lemony vinaigrette. Top each cutlet with some of the salad just before serving and garnish with lemon quarters. This dish not only combines meat-and-green salad-side rolled into one, but the salad also keeps the chicken beautifully moist, obviating the need for a sauce.
Baked Nutty Thighs
Lightly pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs until thin and of even thickness. Smear generously with extra virgin olive oil mixed with grated garlic or with oniony poultry schmaltz. Coarsely grind lightly toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, or almonds and season them with salt and pepper. Then coat the chicken on both sides with the nuts. Or massage the chicken with coconut oil that has been seasoned with ground ginger, cinnamon, and if you'd like, a bit of chile pepper, and crust it with seasoned ground pecans. Bake at 350°F until the chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Accompany with lime or orange wedges.
Butterflied Roast Chicken with Garlicky Matzoh Brei
In this combination dish, the savory chicken juices beautifully flavor a starchy side. Butterflied chicken cooks up juicier and more quickly than a whole, uncut bird. You can have your butcher do the butterflying, but it's easy enough to do it yourself. Put the chicken breast-side-down on a cutting board and then use a kitchen shears to cut along each side of the backbone. Discard the backbone or save with other chicken scraps to make soup. Turn the bird over, open it up, and press down firmly on the breast bone to flatten out the carcass.
Rub your preferred seasoning and some oil all over the chicken, including under the chicken skin. If I have schmaltz left from Seder cooking, I might use that, seasoned simply with smoked paprika, lemon zest, and plenty of garlic mashed well to a smooth paste with salt and pepper. Let the chicken sit for about 40 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°F and get everything else ready (or even better, season earlier in the day or the night before).
Start a matzoh brei to be fried while the chicken roasts. Moisten the matzohs with cold salted broth instead of water. Drain the matzohs and combine them with beaten eggs. I generally use about one egg for each matzoh board. Gently sauté lots of chopped garlic or shallots in olive oil or schmaltz until golden; don't allow the garlic to brown or it will be bitter. Stir about half of the sautéed garlic into the matzoh-egg mixture, and reserve the rest to garnish the cooked dish.
Line a shallow roasting pan with parchment. Arrange the chicken in the pan either on a rack or over a layer of sliced lemons. Roast the chicken, skin-side-up for 45 minutes or so, until juices are clear and thigh temperature registers 165°F.
About 5 to 10 minutes before the chicken is ready, fry the matzoh brei in either olive oil or schmaltz, and season it well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange the cooked matzoh brei on a serving platter and sprinkle with the reserved sautéed garlic. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh chives, parsley, or other herbs. Griebenes, if you are lucky enough to have any on hand, are a luscious addition.
Place the just-cooked chicken on top of the matzoh brei, and let the chicken rest before serving, its savory juices mingling with the matzoh brei. You can also make this with leftover cooked matzoh farfel, kugel, or stuffing. Put the farfel in a well-greased roasting pan large enough to accommodate the chicken. If the farfel is dry, sprinkle with a little broth and brush with olive oil or schmaltz. Place the seasoned uncooked chicken on top and bake in an oven preheated to 350-375°F until the chicken tests done and the farfel or stuffing is fully heated through.
Sephardi-Style Minas and Other Casseroles
Cut leftover chicken into thin slices or small chunks and season to taste. Spoon the chicken between layers of matzoh (moistened preferably in broth), and include ingredients such as sautéed onions, spinach, eggplant, and well-flavored mashed potatoes. For extra pizzazz, fold in ingredients like chopped olives, capers, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, fresh herbs, or sun-dried tomatoes. Moisten everything with broth or light tomato sauce, if needed, and brush generously with good olive oil. Bake until everything is heated through. For a vegetarian mina, check out Eggplant Mina.
Jayne Cohen writes and lectures extensively on Jewish cuisine and culture. Her most recent book, Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations (John Wiley), was named a 2009 finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award.
Read Jayne’s articles The Well-Traveled Chicken and Secrets of Seder-Worthy Chicken.