NYC is a shit show on February 14. Restaurants book up weeks in advance and often adopt an unspectacular/overpriced prixe fixe menu for the night. Furthermore, at most NYC restaurants, you are sitting so close to the next table you can literally hear the food digesting in their stomachs. The weather is generally terrible, it’s impossible to get a cab, and (surprise, surprise) the L decides to stop running after 9pm. All this adds up to the least romantic night ever.
That’s why I suggest you stay in this Valentine’s. You can control the lighting, the music, the temperature, and most importantly, THE FOOD. The menu I’m sharing is perfect for any couple–whether you’re just starting out or have been together for years, this meal will feel special. It is easy enough for novice cooks and bakers to make, but its taste is anything but simple. It takes about 20 minutes of hands-on time, so then you can do *ahem* other things with your hands….(It is Valentine’s Day afterall…) OH! And it includes three types of alcohol.
Alcohol is great for Valentine’s Day because if you’re nervous it makes you more comfortable, if you’re bored it makes you amused, if you’re tired it revs your libido, and if you’re me it makes you pink-faced like a cherub.
Drunken Chicken (with asparagus and wild rice), Red Wine Molten Lava Cakes (with vanilla bean ice cream).
-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup flour
-2 tbsp butter
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium onion
-1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup golden raisins
-1 cup dry wine (sherry, vermouth, or whatever dry white wine you have idling in the fridge)
-2 tbsp bourbon (or more, if like me you’ve already finished a glass of the white wine and can’t be bothered to measure)
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put olive oil and butter in large skillet with deep sides and heat over medium-high heat.
3. Pat chicken dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
4. Dredge chicken in flour and place in skillet to brown on both sides.
5. Chop onion.
6. Remove browned chicken and place in a 8×8 baking dish (all I own is a 9×13, it works fine)
7. In same skillet, cook onion until translucent and turning brown
8. Add in the tomatoes (do NOT drain), spices, sugar, raisins, and alcohol
9. Stir, inhale, smile
10. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally
11. Pour over chicken
12. Sprinkle almonds over top of chicken
13. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes
14. If serving asparagus, trim ends and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and lie flat on a foil-covered baking sheet. Place in oven with chicken for the last 10 minutes.
15. If using lazy rice, microwave 90 seconds right after you take chicken and asparagus out of the oven.
16. Serve and enjoy.
-4 ounces best quality chocolate bar in your preferred intensity, roughly chopped (I used, and highly recommend, Ghirardelli 72% cacao bar)
-1 stick butter
-1 generous tbsp red wine (again, whatever you have on hand, I used a cabernet sauvignon blend)
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 cup confectioner’s sugar
-1 egg yolk
-6 tbsp flour
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ginger
-1/8 tsp cloves
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in large bowl 1 minute. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted.
3. Stir in wine, vanilla and sugar until well blended.
4. Stir in eggs and yolk.
5. Stir in flour and spices.
6. Pour batter evenly into 4 (6 oz) ramekins. (If you want to eat straight from the dish, pour batter straight in. If you want to turn out onto a plate or bowl, butter the ramekin first.)
7. Place on baking sheet and bake 13-15 minutes, until edges are set but center is still soft. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
8. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, then overturn onto plate, add ice cream, and indulge.
Thank you, Marti, for original drunken chicken recipe and (oddly enough) McCormick’s cinnamon for the original lava cake recipe.
More menus (for the culinary adventurous, lazy, man-pleasing, or woman-pleasing) on the way…