THE WASHINGTON POST – If you’re like me, you may find yourself craving dishes from your favourite restaurants these days. I moved to Washington last mid-December, so I have not had much of a chance to build a roster of must-haves from restaurants here.
Instead, during these stay-at-home days, I find myself longing for dishes from my hometown of New Orleans: Bevi Seafood’s roast beef po-boy, Heard Dat Kitchen’s fried chicken with mac and cheese, Brigtsen’s gumbo or, oh man, R&O’s perfectly fried Gulf shrimp platter.
Each of those is difficult for me to truly replicate – most of my favourite restaurant dishes are. It can be tough to get the right ingredients, especially now, and I often do not have the specific recipe, skills or tools required.
But recently a reader’s simple question sparked a craving for a specific dish, and I nailed it: Mosca’s Chicken a la Grande.
The reader shared what she thought was a cooking challenge: She swore she had ordered one head of garlic from a grocery delivery service, but she got 10. What should she do?
As I read through those garlic recipes, suddenly all I wanted to eat was Mosca’s simple platter of pan-fried chicken seasoned with tonnes of garlic and a generous amount of herbs.
If you have ever been to Mosca’s on US 90, just out of New Orleans, you will know why garlicky dishes sparked the craving. Step inside the family-owned restaurant, housed in a nondescript white building on a lonely stretch of highway, and the first thing you smell is simmering garlic.
Inside, the walls are lined with Mosca family photos and the tables are laden with platters of Italian favorites, such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken cacciatore as well as house specialties like Oysters Mosca and Shrimp Mosca.
The restaurant features a few recipes on its website, but I, opted to dig out my copy of Kit Wohl’s New Orleans Classic Celebrations because I remembered it included Mary Jo Mosca’s version of Chicken a la Grande.
This dish is quick and easy to prepare in one skillet, but it fills your kitchen with deliciously pungent smells and delivers big flavour.
Chicken pieces are generously seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-fried in olive oil until golden brown.
Then, in go 10 cloves of smashed garlic and one tablespoon each of dried rosemary and oregano. The whole thing is covered and simmered until the chicken is tender. That is it.
When the spices hit the oil and chicken pieces, the scent that filled my kitchen told me the dish would be on the money. And, it was.
So simple. So sublime.
I made a side dish of crisp-tender green beans to go with it. If you are in a hurry, make the beans in a separate skillet while the chicken is browning, as directed below.
If you have time, finish the chicken, remove the pieces and almost all the spicy oil and keep it warm.
Then, cook your green beans in that same seasoned skillet for a one-skillet supper of more flavourful beans and easier cleanup.
MOSCA’S CHICKEN A LA GRANDE
Active: 35 minutes | Total: 50 minutes
Any mix of chicken pieces works for this recipe. You can buy a three-pound chicken and cut it up, but if the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half to ensure even cooking. You can substitute lemon juice for the apple cider vinegar, and other herbs, such as thyme, would work in place of the oregano or rosemary.
Storage Notes: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
For the chicken
Three pounds chicken pieces, dark and light meat
One tablespoon kosher salt
One tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Half cup extra-virgin olive oil
Six to 10 cloves garlic, peeled and pounded to near paste or grated
One tablespoon dried rosemary, or three tablespoons fresh rosemary
One tablespoon dried oregano, or three tablespoons fresh oregano
For the beans
Three teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
One pound green beans, defrosted if frozen
Quarter cup water or vegetable broth
Two cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
Two tablespoon vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the chicken: Generously season the chicken all over with the salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the chicken pieces and fry, turning the pieces as needed, until generously browned, about 25 minutes. If chicken is getting too brown, lower the heat to medium. Once the chicken is brown, remove skillet from heat and add the garlic, rosemary and oregano to the skillet, and stir to evenly coat the chicken pieces.
Return to low heat, cover and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and the chicken is tender, about 15 minutes.
Make the green beans: While chicken is browning, in another large skillet over medium-high heat, heat two teaspoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the green beans and cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, about five minutes.
Add the water or broth, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender about three minutes.
Push the beans to the side of the skillet.
Add the remaining one teaspoon oil and the garlic and cook, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir the garlic into the beans. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
If not serving green beans right away, transfer them from the hot skillet to a platter to stop the cooking. Cover lightly and keep warm until serving.
Transfer the chicken, with its pan juices, to a platter and serve warm.
Calories: 729; Total Fat: 43g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Cholesterol: 250mg; Sodium: 1510mg; Carbohydrates: 13g; Dietary Fibre: 4g; Sugars: 4g; Protein: 72g.