Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Parmesan

Even though this is a classic dish, much loved by seemingly everyone in the food industry,  I had never tasted Chicken Parm until last night.   Based on its appearance alone, never was I tempted to order it in restaurants.  Seeing plates of breaded chicken swimming in tomato sauce flying past our table did little to pique my interest in trying it.

The other day,  when a Chicken Parm recipe showed up in my news feed, I finally decided to see what all the fuss is about and actually took the time to read it.   As a bonus, the video included in the link made it look pretty easy to put together.  It seemed the perfect dish to serve to friends last night.

Be warned, it will take the full 1 hour and 40 minutes, but the sauce and breading can be done before hand.  So, if you want to spend time with your guests, instead of hiding behind your stove, make the sauce and bread the breasts in advance.  Then, about half an hour they arrive, preheat your oven, warm up that sauce and start frying the breasts.  You will be popping them into the oven just as your doorbell rings.  Let it bake while you enjoy appy’s with your friends.  Once it comes out of  the oven it can rest for up to half an hour before serving.

This recipe serves 6 with enough sauce for everyone.

And the moral to this story is not to judge a dish on its appearance alone.

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The Sauce

2 Tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

One 6 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

One 4-inch Parmesan rind (or 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan)

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

The Chicken Parmesan

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

6 medium chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons (plus more) canola oil

12 thin slices mozzarella

500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

 

Make the tomato sauce:

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, cook 5 minutes, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened,  about 8 to 10 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer,  stirring occasionally and breaking up whole tomatoes with back of spoon, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, discard the Parmesan rind and, using an immersion blender,  blend the sauce until mostly smooth but still retaining some texture.  (See Cooks Notes 1 )

Season with salt and pepper to taste.   (See Cooks Notes 2 )

 

Make the Chicken Parmesan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the panko bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano.

Place the flour on another plate and the beaten eggs in yet another shallow dish (like a pie plate).   Line up the 3 dishes next to each other in this order:

flour

eggs

panko/parmesan mixture.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. One by one,  dredge the chicken breasts in flour, followed by egg and then panko, making sure to completely coat each breast.  Press a little bit to be sure the coating sticks.  Place chicken breasts flat on a plate until ready to fry.  (See Cooks Notes 3 )

Preheat the oven to 375° and spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.   Cook the chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown, 5 – 6  minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan, nestling them into the tomato sauce. Spoon the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the middle of each breast.  DO NOT  completely cover all of the breasts with tomato sauce.  Put 2 slices of mozzarella over the sauce on each breast and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.

Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size.  If you have an oven-safe thermometer, now is a great time to use it.

Garnish with basil and serve over plain spaghetti tossed with a little olive oil.

Cooks Notes:

  1. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let mixture cool and puree in food processor or blender
  2.  Sauce can be made 3 days in advance, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.  Rewarm sauce before continuing.
  3. I breaded the breasts 2 hours in advance, covered loosely with plastic and refrigerated.  Maybe it will work if it sits even longer, but the breadcrumbs might get too soggy.  If anyone tries, let me know.

 

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Main Courses · Pork

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

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Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks, Asian Cucumber Salad, Grilled Yellow Pepper and Scallions with White Rice

 

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

1   2” piece ginger, peeled, sliced

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

1/4 cup sweet mirin (Japanese rice wine)

2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil, plus more for the grill

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pound pork shoulder steak (pork butt) about 1/2” thick

 

Toss everything but the pork in a blender and puree until smooth.

Put the steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour half of marinade over steak, coating all sides well.  Refrigerate, flipping bag every once in awhile, at least 2 hours; overnight is better.   Keep the remaining marinade in a small bowl, covered, in the refrigerator.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove pork from marinade and grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, and basting with reserved marinade.   If you have difficulty with flare-ups,  move pork to a cooler area away from direct heat.

Cook to desired doneness, about 12 – 15  minutes for well done.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice into quarters and serve.

DO AHEAD: Pork can be marinated 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

 

Main Courses · Pork

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

I  have never seen a chutney that actually looked nice.  Photographing this was a bit of a challenge.  The colour of this chutney isn’t all that exciting or appealing, but chutneys should be enjoyed for their flavour, not their good looks.   I used dark demerara sugar for this.   Maybe a light brown sugar would give it a nicer colour.  Really, though, once you taste it, you won’t care what colour it is.

 

Mango chutney with smoked pork chop and sauteed zucchini and peppers
Pork Chop with Mango Chutney

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

1 1/2  Tablespoons canola oil (divided)

1 small onion, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

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Mango Chutney

2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and    minced

1/4 small red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

1/4 cup water

2 cups diced mango (about 3 large)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2  1″ thick bone-in pork chops

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Add the onions and sweat them until soft.   Do not brown.  Once onions are soft and translucent, add the ginger, garlic and bell pepper and cook, stirring 1 to 2 minutes.   Add the curry powder and cardamom  (if using) and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.    Stir in the mango and  water and cook for another minute or 2, stirring to prevent sticking.

Add vinegar, sugar, and cranberries to pot.   Stir to combine, increase heat to medium and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is gone, but mixture is still “sloppy”.   Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and allow to cool several minutes.

Meanwhile,  heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon canola oil over medium high heat in frying pan.  Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add to pan and sear both sides, then reduce heat to low, partially cover and continue cooking until done.  (a thermometer inserted into centre of the chop should read 160F).    Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes to complete the cooking process.  (temp should rise to 170F while meat is resting).

Plate, spoon chutney over top and serve alongside brown rice and fresh veggies.

COOKS NOTES – I used a mild yellow curry powder, but a hotter curry might be nice in here too.

 

 

 

Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Pho at Home

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I love this soup and it is on my ‘Must Eat’ list whenever I am back in Canada.  Where we live, Pho can difficult to find.  There are 2 restaurants we know of that serve it, and strangely both only offer it on Thursday nights.  The one closest to us closes for the summer.   So we make our own.

This recipe includes instructions for making your own beef broth, from scratch, but no one will judge you if you skip that part and open a couple of boxes of store-bought low sodium beef broth (See cooks notes below).  Toss in some of last nights roast beef or leftover steak, or pork or shredded deli chicken for that matter, and your hungry family will still be awestruck by your amazing cooking abilities.

This recipe serves 4 comfortably.

Pho at Home

2  kilos beef soup bones

1/2 kilo stewing beef or beef shank (leg)

1 – 3  Tbs canola oil

1 large onion, quartered

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

5 scallions, white and green parts separated; white parts smashed, green part sliced and set aside

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 jalepeno, stem removed, halved lengthwise

5 whole star anise

1   5″ stick cinnamon, whole

2 1/2  litres water

1/4 cup soya sauce

200 gms dried rice noodles

Basil leaves, bean sprouts or shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, chopped peanuts, hoisin and Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce and those green onion tops you sliced earlier as accompaniments.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium high heat, then, working in batches, brown the bones and beef shanks, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer browned meat to platter, adding additional oil if needed, as you go.

Once all the beef and bones are browned, cook onion, ginger, white parts of scallions, garlic and jalepeno in same pot over medium heat stirring once in awhile, until onions are soft and beginning to brown.  Add cinnamon, star anise and cook, stirring 1 minute longer.

Add browned beef, bones and any accumulated juices back into the pot, along with the water and soya sauce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender but not  quite falling off the bone.

Using tongs, remove meat and bones from broth.  Set aside to cool a bit.  Line a fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard solids, skim off fat.   (do ahead:  cool broth to room temperature, then refrigerate up to 3 days.  Fat will be easier to skim off of the chilled broth, too)

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut meat off of bones and  into half inch slices and return to broth.  Reheat broth and taste for seasoning.  You will probably want to add a bit of salt here.   Discard bones.

Divide noodles between bowls, ladle broth and meat over top.

Serve hot, with any combination of accompaniments listed above.

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COOKS NOTES:  If you are not into making your own stock, simmer 2 litres of low sodium beef stock or broth with white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic jalepeno, cinnamon stick, star anise and soy sauce for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain the scallions and spices out.  Add some leftover cooked meat, and voila!  Cook the noodles and add your accompaniments.  Dinner on the table in less than 40 minutes!!

Click here for the original version.

 

 

Beef · Main Courses

!Chimichangas!

You may have noticed that I haven’t published many Mexican recipes.  The simple truth is why cook it when I can get authentic Mexican any night of the week within a 10 minute drive from my doorstep?

One thing I have not seen here though, is a Chimichanga.  Maybe it isn’t really Mexican?    I don’t really care.   It is fun to make and even more fun to eat.   The photo shows  just one chimichanga on our plates, along with a lot of shredded lettuce and tomatoes.  The truth is, we both went back for seconds so this recipe will serve 2.  You will have ground beef and beans left over, so you could have a couple of friends over or you can make a extra to re-heat later or use the leftovers in tacos or quesadillas the next day.

Don’t be discouraged by the amount of instruction.   Basically, you are putting cooked meat on a tortilla rolling it up and frying it.    Just be careful with the frying part, that oil is HOT.  And of course, never leave heating oil unattended on your stove.

Special Equipment required:  A deep fryer or large deep sided frying pan and a deep fry thermometer

 

CHIMICHANGAS with AVOCADO SAUCE

Avocado Sauce

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 bunch cilantro, leaves & tender stems, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sour cream, well stirred

1/4 cup milk  (maybe more depending on thickness of sauce)

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in  blender and blend until smooth.  You may need to add more milk, depending on the size of your avocado and how thick your sour cream is.  Just keep blending until you have a spoonable, but not runny, sauce.   Set aside.  (you can make this several hours ahead, just be sure to cover and refrigerate).

The Filling

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

1 lb ground beef

pinch of  ground thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in frying pan,  over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until onion is translucent and beginning to soften.  Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute.  Add ground beef, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until meat is cooked through.  Stir often to breaking up those bits of beef as it browns.   This should take about 7 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.  Let cool a few minutes.

Chimichangas 

4   8″ flour tortillas

1   15 oz can refried beans

diced tomatoes

2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (or any mild flavoured cheese will work just fine)

2 – 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Heat refried beans gently in saucepan.  This makes it easier to spread them on the tortillas.  Warm the tortillas on low heat in the microwave a few seconds to soften.  This will avoid tearing during assembly.  Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm.

Putting it All Together

The general idea here is to use the middle portion of the tortilla for the fillings.   You want a rough rectangle more or less in the centre of the tortilla, with at least a 1″ border on both sides.

Lay 1 warmed tortilla on the counter in front of you.  With the back of a spoon, spread 1/8 of the beans across the centre, leaving a 1″ border on both sides.   Place 1/8 of the beef on top of the beans, staying, more or less,  within the rectangle you created with the beans.  Top ground beef with a small amount of grated cheese and a sprinkle of diced tomatoes.

Fold sides towards the centre, and over the mound you have created.  Hold sides gently in place with your fingers, then using your thumbs, flip the bottom up and over the filling.  Gently press everything into place so that it is all firmly packed, and roll the burrito away from you, stopping with the seam side down!  Set aside, seam side down and proceed with the next one until all burritos are filled.   If you find you are having difficulty rolling the burritos, use less filling.   Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Once all your burritos are stuffed,  Preheat oven to 150F and place a cookie sheet with a rack inside of it in the oven.  Heat 1″ of oil in a large deep sided (at least 4″) frying pan to 350F.  Using a spatula, carefully lower burrito, SEAM SIDE DOWN into the hot oil.  You can fry 2 at a time.

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Cook until bottoms are golden (2 – 3 minutes) then use tongs or spatula to gently roll them to cook the other side -about 1 minute longer.    Carefully remove from oil and place on prepared cookie sheet to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining burritos.

Serve with Avocado Salsa, shredded lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, more diced tomatoes, rice or even more refried beans.

Accompaniments

shredded iceberg lettuce

sliced radishes

sliced cucumbers

pickled hot peppers

 

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Pork

Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Meat on a stick.  What’s not to like?  Bonus points for you all if you make your own pita bread to go with this.

Serves 4

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Pork Souvlaki

2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 red peppers, each cut into 1′ slices

2 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients,  EXCEPT for pork and red pepper, in small bowl, mix well to combine.  Place cubed pork in ziplock bag and pour contents of bowl over pork in bag.  Massage bag to work marinade through the meat, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.  (don’t forget to put the bag in a bowl incase it springs a leak)

Assembly:  Toss red pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Thread pork and red pepper cubes onto skewers.  Cook in a grill pan or bbq about 10 minutes, until cooked thru.  Cooking time will vary, depending on how hot your pan/bbq is.

Serve with Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Tzatziki Sauce

1   6″ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed

1 cup greek yogurt (whole milk)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grate cucumber and place in strainer.  Toss with a pinch of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as possible from cucumbers and add them to the yogurt mixture.  Mix well and serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  1.  If using wooden skewers, soak 30 minutes before using.
  2. The first time I made this, I cut the pepper in half and grilled them separately.  Putting them on the skewers makes more sense.
  3. Tzatziki Sauce can be made 1 day ahead.

 

 

 

 

Pork

Jerk Back Ribs

I recently found an article containing “11 rib recipes that we must make” this summer.   Really???  Who can resist such temptation!?  Certainly no one in this household.

11 recipes all so wonderful that my life could possibly be less than complete until I have tried each and every one?    Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be missing out on anything, especially when it is food related.

I sent Kevin to our local Sams Club for a gross of back ribs, which we separated into several weekly servings to prepare for this grand adventure.    After reading the list, we decided there were actually some we could live without trying and narrowed it down to 5.  Co-incidentally, the same number of portions we got from that enormous package of ribs.

This one happened to be first on the list.    Of course, there are a couple of tweaks to suit our tastes and what I had in the house: amber rum instead of dark, regular allspice instead of Authentic Jamaican, onions for scallions (they looked terrible at the market last week, and Habeneros for Scotch Bonnet (and fewer!), but basically, the recipe was made as written.   Click here for the link to the original recipe.

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Jerk Back Ribs

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons amber rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 habanero peppers, stems removed

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

4 racks baby back ribs

Put all ingredients except for ribs in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Place ribs in ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Gently massage bag to be sure the ribs inside are well coated with marinade.   (See Cooks Note)  Place bag in bowl large enough to catch any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a sheet pan with foil and a baking rack.  Discard marinade left in bag. Place ribs on rack on tip of the foil, cover with more foil and seal securely.  Roast at 325F until tender,  2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove top foil and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pour all pan drippings into a sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Brush half of the reduced sauce over cooling ribs.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Grill ribs, flipping and basting often with remaining pan drippings until slightly charred and heated thru – 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  •  It is best if you do not touch the marinade with your hands.  If you want to massage the marinade into each individual rack, wear rubber gloves!   This contains HOT peppers and  your hands will complain bitterly if you don’t.
  • Ribs and sauce can be cooked 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • If you want more spice in these, add a couple more habaneros to the marinade.

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