Chicken · Main Courses

One Pot Chicken and Rice

I like this dish because it has a short list of ingredients which I usually have on hand and there is only 1 pot to wash up.   It also tastes fantastic.   The short simmer time makes this good  for weeknight dinners, and tasty enough for a casual dinner with friends.  Add some good bread, a nice salad, maybe some wine….

Serves 4

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One Pot Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs with legs attached

1 teaspoon salt  (divided)

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 cup long grain white rice

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 cups peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse and pat chicken dry.   Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy deep skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken,  on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoon fat from skillet.   Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and almonds and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, water and tumeric and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible.   Pour any juices from plate into the pan.   Cover tightly and simmer, over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in peas.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve.

 

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Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Vindaloo

Yes, the list of ingredients is long, but dont let that discourage you.   You probably have most of them hiding in your cupboard anyway, so you might as well give this a try.

Take a few minutes to assemble and measure everything before you start and this will be a snap!

Even for slow cooks like me, it was ready from start to finish in under an hour.

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Chicken Vindaloo

2 onions, one roughly chopped, the other sliced

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more later if you like it hot, but taste first)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces *SEE COOKS NOTES*

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peels left on, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock

 

Blend the roughly chopped onion and the next 11 ingredients in food processor until a more or less smooth paste forms.  Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, add paste from processor and cook until darkened in colour and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add the sliced onion, chicken and potatoes; sauté 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with more cayenne, if desired, and salt and pepper.

COOKS NOTES- you can sub chicken breast for the thighs, but wait until the potatoes are nearly cooked before adding to the mix.  Those small pieces of chicken breast take only a few minutes to go from nicely cooked to dry so watch carefully.

The original recipe, printed in Bon Appetit, Sept 2002 is from The Ambassador Dining Room in Baltimore MD,  I have tweaked it a bit to suit me, but it is pretty much as written.

 

 

 

Beef · Main Courses

Chili with Baked Potatoes

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When my sister and I shared an apartment all those years ago, we always had a pot of chili in our fridge.  For us, it was the ultimate single girls go-to meal.    We would make a big batch which would feed us for most of the week.   Not having to worry about what to make for dinner left our minds free to think about more important things… like what to do on the weekends.   All good things must come to an end, and eventually, our apartment sharing days were over and our weekly chili routine was abandoned.

I honestly have not made chili in so long that I had forgotten how good it was.  This version uses dried chilies because they are easily found where I live.  If you cant find dried chilies,  sub regular chili powder.   The taste will be a little different, which will make this recipe your own.

All you need to round this meal out is a big green salad.

Serves 4, but you can easily double it and it freezes very well.

 

Chili with Baked Potatoes

1 Tablespoon oil

1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 dried ancho chilies, seeds & stems removed

14 oz can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons ketchup

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1  Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

1  whole dried chipotle chile  or 1 Tablespoon canned chipotles in adobo, minced

1 – 16oz can black beans (do not drain) or 2 cups prepared pinto beans, with some broth

1 1/2 cups water

4 medium potatoes, “baked” in microwave

Sliced scallions, grated cheese, sour cream for topping

 

Remove stems and seeds from the ancho chiles and tear into large pieces.  Place in heatproof bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Set aside.

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink, stirring often to break up any lumps – about 5 minutes.   Add onion, garlic, paprika, cumin and ground pepper.   Cook, stirring until onion is soft and spices are fragrant – about 4 minutes.

Put the ancho chilies and their soaking liquid into blender.  Add tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar,  and Worchestershire sauce.  Blend on high until smooth.  About 45 seconds.

Add chili mixture to ground beef.  Stir in beans, the whole chipotle chili  (yes, just leave it whole)  and 1 1/2 cups of water.   Bring to boil, reduce heat, stir occasionally and let simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, until liquid is reduced and chili has thickened.   Remove the whole chipotle before serving.

To serve, place potato on plate, open it up and spoon chili over it.  Top as you like with grated cheese, sour cream and scallions.  Or any other topping you can dream up.

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Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.

 

 

Chicken · Main Courses · Salads

Spinach Salad with Pan Seared Chicken Breast

Not too taxing in the cooking department and still tastes great.   There are lots of ways to dress this, but honestly, a simple drizzle of good olive oil is really all you need.  This is on the lighter side, but still satisfying.

This serves 2 as a main course.

Spinach Salad

For the Salad

2 bunches spinach,  washed well, dried,  & larger leaves torn and tough stems removed

small handful of arugula, torn (optional, but highly recommended!)

2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 radishes, quartered or sliced

1 green onion, white and green parts thinly sliced

3 – 4 white mushrooms, sliced

Chopped preserved lemon for garnish (optional)

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

The Chicken

1 Tablespoon canola oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

juice of half a lemon

salt

pepper

Heat oil in frying pan, over high heat until oil is shiny.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to frying pan and sear on both sides.  About 2 minutes per side.  Partially cover pan with lid and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked thru.  I like an internal temp of 155 – 160.  Remove chicken to plate, tent with foil and let rest until internal temp reaches 165,  about 10 minutes. (Yes, the temperature does increase after you take it off the heat)

Meanwhile, toss all the salad ingredients except olive oil to combine and arrange on 2 plates.

Slice chicken crosswise into 1/4 inch slices, and lay on top of prepared salad.

Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over each plate and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over top.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and serve.

COOKS NOTE – if using spinach from a bag, ALWAYS give it a wash.  Even though the package says it is washed and ready to use, the stuff in those bags can be loaded with bacteria!!

Beef · Uncategorized

Tex-Mex Shepherds Pie

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Tex-Mex Shepherds Pie

Serves 6.

Yup, this is a comfort food.  You’re welcome.

1 kilo (2 1/2 pound) potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, diced

1 poblano chile, diced

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ slices

2 chorizo sausages, cut into quarters then diced

350 grams lean ground beef (a little more than 1/2 lb)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if available)

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken (or turkey) stock

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach

1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

3 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons butter

1/1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400F.   Cook potatoes in salted water until tender.

While potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large pot.

Add onion,  poblano and celery and cook 5 minutes over medium high heat, until vegetables are softened.

Add chorizo and ground beef.  Cook, stirring often until meat is no longer pink.  3 – 5 minutes.

Stir in  garlic, cumin and pepper and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes and chicken stock, increase heat to high, and bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by about half and slightly thickened.  5 – 10 minutes.  Stir in frozen peas and spinach.

Transfer to 9″ x 13″ oven-proof casserole & set aside.

Drain potatoes and let cool slightly.  Add sour cream, milk and butter.  Mash well.  Taste for seasoning, add salt to taste.   Stir in cheese and red pepper flakes and mix well.

Gently dollop potatoes over meat mixture in casserole, smoothing a bit with a spoon so there are no gaps between the dollops.

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Thanks to FoodTV.com for the inspiration for this dish.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes until edges are bubbling and potatoes have started to brown in spots.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a fresh green salad to ease any guilt you might feel from adding all that cheese to the potatoes.

 

 

 

 

Main Courses · Pork

Cubano / Cubana

 

img_2112One of the hazards of cooking from books is that, sometimes, I have not yet had the opportunity to sample the original version of whatever it is I am trying to cook.   My first attempt at Guacamole, for example, had people asking what it was because, even though I followed the recipe exactly, it bore no resemblance to actual guacamole.  Why?  Having no previous experience with avocados, I had no clue that they should be soft, like a banana, not rock hard, like a carrot.

Such is the case with Cubanos.  Ever since we watched the movie Chef, I have been fascinated with the idea of these sandwiches.  I mean, for an entire movie to be based upon a sandwich, it must be one heck of a taste experience!  Shortly after seeing the film,   Nagi’s Recipe Tin Eats  published the recipe developed by Chef Roy Choi, for the pork  used in the movie sandwich.

Off to the meat market to buy pork to recreate what was quickly reaching mythical status in my imagination.   The result of our efforts was pretty good.  But, perhaps because of the build up I had given it in my mind, it was not the taste experience I had been expecting.

I shelved the idea of recreating this taste sensation for a long time (been there, done that), until I saw Chef Jose Garces Cubano Recipe  and was tempted to try  once again.

We liked the mustard glaze on this a lot.  Better, even, than the marvellous Mojo marinade on the first try, according to my nerdy food notes, and thus declared it to be our new favourite version.   But at the end of the day, I questioned the value  of all the effort put into preparing and cooking the pork and subsequently, making the sandwich.

In all honesty, it still felt like just a fancy name for a grilled sandwich to me and I could not shake the feeling that there must be something “more” to this.    I mean, if it really was just a sandwich, why all the fuss?  Why, when I google Cubano, do I come up with PAGES of hits.  Why does seemingly every chef out there have their own spin on it?   Pinterest actually has a whole board JUST FOR Cuban Sandwiches!

We stopped at a new place for lunch today, and on their menu was Cubana!  Assuming this to be the Mexican version of a Cubano (a google search later did confirm this to be true),  I ordered one to try to discern what I have been missing in trying to make this at home.

My plate hit the table with a ‘thud’.  One look at it, and I realized why it was $90 pesos, and the most expensive thing on the menu!   I have never seen a sandwich so big!  It was worthy of  a spot on  Man vs Food !  What a day to have left my camera at home!  It was so big, I immediately sent half of it back to the kitchen to be wrapped to go.

The half sandwich you see below weighed in at 15.8 oz!  And this is only half of it!! Imagine!

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Upon examining the contents of this behemoth, I realized what I have been missing in all my attempts, and which is pretty much the whole point of the sandwich, I think  . . . abundance with humility.

Stuffed between the layers of bread was the expected layer of pork, this one braised in a light tomato sauce.  Also included was a breaded pork cutlet, a scrambled egg (maybe 2), a slice of deli ham, at least 2 grilled wieners, a slice of American cheese (translate that to kraft cheese slice),  a fairly large slab of panela (fresh local cheese), tomato, onion and lettuce.

This sandwich taught me a lot.  Not just about Cubanos and Cubanas, but also about cooking in general.  The Cubanos I had been making, while technically correct and very nearly picture perfect fell far short of the experience I was hoping for .  This was a good reminder that while everyone can cook from a book, it is getting out there to experience the cultures and flavours we want to bring to our stovetops that make us stronger cooks.

Only now, that I have tasted the “real deal” will I be able to fully “bring it “to my own table.   Admittedly, duplicating this exact sandwich in my own home will most likely never happen, just because of its size.  But I will take what I learned from it to kick my next pork sandwich up a few notches.