Posts Tagged red pepper flakes

Chicken Biryani

Chicken-BiryaniI made this the other night for a potluck Indian feast at a friend’s house. It was outstanding, I must say. However, biryani is not only considered an Indian dish, but also a Pakistani dish. Unlike Paella, you want to use a long-grained rice for this dish. Basmati rice is absolutely perfect for biryani.

This dish also makes use of one of the greatest spices on the planet: Cardamom. It may well be expensive, but it’s lends an amazingly aromatic flavor to this dish. I used both pods and ground Cardamom for mine.

Ingredients

3 lbs boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

4 tbsp canola oil; plus an additional 2 tbsp canola oil

6 small potatoes, cut in half

2 large onions, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp ginger paste

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp chili powder

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional; but not really if you like a little heat)

1.5 tsp salt

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

5 Cardamom pods

1 tsp ground Cardamom

1 pinch Saffron

16 oz Basmati rice

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skilled. Add the potatoes and fry until browned. Remove to paper towels and reserve.

Add 2 more tbsp oil to the skillet and fry the 2 finely chopped onions, garlic, and the ginger paste until the onions are soft and golden. Add the chili powder, pepper, red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, salt and the tomatoes. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes. Add the yogurt, mint, cardamom pods and ground cinnamon. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat until the tomatoes become pulpy. Add a bit of chicken broth or water if the mixture becomes too dry and begins to stick to the pan.

Once the mixture becomes thick and smooth, add the chicken and stir well to coat evenly. Cover and cook over very low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken becomes very tender. The mixture should be fairly thick once the chicken is done. If your mixture looks to runny, remove the cover and cook for several minutes to reduce the mixture.

While your chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and allow it to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes.

In another large skillet, heat the additional 2 tbsp canola oil and fry the single diced onion until it is golden. Add the saffron, ground cardamom, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, ground cloves and rice. Stir continuously until the rice is coated with the spices.

In a medium-sized pot, heat the 4 cups of chicken stock. When the stock is hot, pour it over the rice and stir it well. Add the chicken mixture from the other skillet, as well as the reserved potatoes. Stir everything together gently, and bring it to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly, turn the heat down low and cook for about 20 minutes. Do not life the lid or stir while cooking.

Spoon the biryani onto a warm serving dish, remove the cinnamon stick, and you’re ready to feast!

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Chicken and White Bean Chili

chicken and white bean chiliIt’s getting pretty chilly outside, and it is definitely “soup weather.” But in our house, it’s also chili weather. This is not what you’d expect for “chili” because it’s made with white beans and chicken, both ground and chicken pieces. However, it is a nice change from the traditional chili (which I also love).

Some of the spices are different. Some are the same as traditional chili. I use a combination of ground chicken and chicken thighs, so there is a variation in consistency that makes this dish very yummy.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in bite-sized pieces

1 lb ground chicken

2 15 oz cans Cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped

3 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tsp salt, plus more for final seasoning

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp ancho chili powder

3 tbsp garlic, minced

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp flour

Fresh-ground black pepper (for seasoning)

Queso Fresco or Monterey Jack Cheese (for serving)

Fresh cilantro sprigs (for garnish)

Directions

Add the olive oil to a large pan or Dutch oven and heat on medium. Then, add the ground chicken, chicken thigh pieces, yellow and orange bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become soft.

Then add about a half cup of the chicken stock, along with the ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and flour. Turn the heat down a bit and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring a few times..

Add the rest of the chicken stock and the rinsed and drained beans, along with the cilantro. Stir to mix everything together.

You could, of course, have this dish completed in about 45 minutes if you cook this on medium-high. However, I recommend that you turn the heat to low and allow the chili to simmer for about one and a half to two hours to really allow the flavors to take hold. About 35 minutes before your chili is done, add the corn so that it heats through.

Serve the chili topped with shredded Queso Fresco or Monterey Jack Cheese. A side of white corn chips adds a nice texture!

Please remember to check the chili while it is cooking and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste!

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Ratatouille

ratatouille-image_1Before we begin, let’s establish that we’re not talking about the Disney movie here. There are a million variations on this particular theme. Make mine a million and one. This French concoction can be a side dish, or it can be a main dish (with rice pilaf), or it can be an appetizer. Pick your poison. Everything that is used in this recipe is roughly chopped…not too big, and not too small. Leave the skin on everything except the red (or Bermuda) onion. I use cilantro here, but you can also use parsley if you’d like. My problem is that I’m not a great lover of parsley, with the exception of specific recipes. I think cilantro (often referred to as Mexican parsley) is a much more interesting taste.

Another basic staple in my house is Balsamic Drizzle or, as some call it, Balsamic Cream. I like to drizzle some on mine but this is entirely optional.

This is a project for sure. Everything cooks in stages initially, and it comes out best if cooked slowly. Cooking it for less time will leave you bigger and more distinct pieces of vegetables. Cooking it for up to 1.5 hours will result in a more blended silky stew. The beauty of this is that it can be served warm or room temperature. And leftovers? Nothing like it. Roll it up in a piece of lavash bread or throw it in a pita pocket, melt some Italian Fontina on it, and have yourself a great lunch. It can also be frozen.

Ingredients

2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 large red (or Bermuda) onion, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped

2 cups sliced portobello mushrooms

6 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 medium-large eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes

3 zucchini, sliced and cut in half

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut in strips

10 springs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Balsamic Drizzle (for serving)

1/4 cup dry white wine (for deglazing the pan)

Directions

Prior to beginning this process, a word about deglazing the Dutch oven. During the cooking process a brown glaze will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep a 1/4 cup of dry white wine on hand for deglazing purposes. You do not want this brown glaze to burn and ruin the flavor of the dish. Add wine a little at a time as necessary and scrape off the bottom of the pan. Add the deglazing liquid to the bowl with the cooked vegetables.

The first thing you have to do is cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Eggplant traditionally retains a lot of water. Cut the eggplant first and place the pieces in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. Prior to this becoming a blended dish, the vegetables will be cooked in stages. Therefore, you want to keep the raw vegetables in separate bowls.

Place 2 tsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven (at least 5-1/2 quart) and warm over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt, and sauté until they are just beginning to turn brown. This will take about 10 minutes. Then, add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for about another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and put this into a large, clean bowl.

Add another 2 tsp of oil to the Dutch oven and toss in the zucchini. Add another pinch of salt. Cook the zucchini until it begins to brown. This should again be about 5-7 minutes. Remove the zucchini and add it to the other vegetables.

Rinse the eggplant under cold water, and squeeze the pieces to remove as much moisture as possible. Add 2 more teaspoons of olive oil to the pan along with the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove the eggplant and add it to the other vegetables.

Finally, add some more olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic until it becomes slightly brown and fragrant. Then, add the tomatoes, thyme, cilantro, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Allow the tomato juice to bubble, and deglaze the pan as it does.

Add all of the cooked vegetables back into the Dutch oven. Stir to mix, and reduce the heat to low. Taste and adjust salt level, and add black pepper to taste. You can cook this for another 30 minutes or up to an hour and a half. Shorter cooking time will result in larger more distinct pieces of vegetables. Longer cooking times will result in a very nice melded stew. The choice is up to you.

Before taking the Ratatouille off the stove, remove the bay leaves and stir in the basil. Serve in bowls, adding a dash of olive oil to the top. You can also offer a drizzle of Balsamic cream as well as some finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

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Orechiette with Peas, Garlic and Pancetta

Orechiette with Pancetta and PeasOrechiette (or pig’s ears) is undoubtedly the best pasta on the planet. They look like little space ships, for one. More importantly, they are like little “cups” that manage to hold whatever you’re combining it with. This means you miss none of the flavor of the dish.

Now, a word about Pancetta. It’s basically Italian bacon. What makes it different is that it is minus that smoky flavor, which is just perfect for several dishes, including this one. You can buy it several different ways. You can buy it as a big roll. You can have it sliced at the deli of your local grocery store, which is great when you want to put it on burgers. You can even buy it chopped, which is what I do for this particular dish.

This pasta dish is remarkably simple and comes together pretty quickly.

Ingredients

1 lb Orechiette pasta

1 cup chopped Pancetta

1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted and heated

6 tbsp olive oil

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Parmesan Reggiano (for serving)

1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes (for serving)

Directions 

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the Orechiette and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until al dente. You should check after 12 minutes.

While your pasta is cooking, add the Pancetta to a skillet and cook until just a bit crispy. You don’t need any oil for this. Remove and set aside. While this is going on, defrost and heat your peas in a microwave. Set the peas aside.

Add 6 tbsp oil to the pan you cooked the Pancetta in. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the oil is infused. Allow the garlic to cook, but do not allow the garlic to burn. Then add the Pancetta and peas to the pan with the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the black pepper and give it a stir.

Drain the Orechiette and return it to the cooking pan. Add the Pancetta, garlic, peas and oil from the pan and toss until mixed. Pour into a serving plate and top with grated Parmesan. Make sure you serve the pasta with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes on the side.

Now, all you need is a nice glass of red wine…

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Slow Cooker Balsamic Pulled Chicken

slow cooker pulled chickenOh, now here’s a variation on a theme for sure. I did an informal inquiry about what people think when they are asked about “pulled” meat recipes. The vast majority of them think of pork. But it doesn’t stop at pork. Here is a great pulled chicken recipe. The majority of recipes call for boneless chicken breasts, but I think that boneless thigh meat is far superior to breast meat. In its essence, thigh meat is much more moist. The results here are absolutely delicious.

This recipe can be served two ways. Balsamic pulled chicken can be served traditionally like pulled pork…on rolls (preferably onion rolls). Or it can be served over corn bread. There are a number of good recipes for corn bread. In fact, there’ll be one right on the box of corn meal you buy to complete this recipe. However, I’m providing a link to one of my favorite corn bread recipes, courtesy of the spectacular Giada De Laurentiis.

Ingredients

2-2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

sea salt and pepper (to season the chicken)

1 medium-large Vidalia onion or Bermuda onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup Balsamic vinegar

1 cup Ketchup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Pickled jalapenos (for serving)

Baby Arugula (for sandwiches)

Directions

Place the onions and garlic on the bottom of the slow cooker. Salt and pepper the chicken and add it to the slow cooker, packing the brown sugar evenly over the top. If your chicken overlaps (which it might), be sure to get some of the brown sugar in between the pieces.

In a bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Pour it over the chicken. Set the slow cooker on “high” to cook for four hours. During that time turn the chicken once.

When you reach the 3-hour point, remove the chicken and pull it in to strips using two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker for another hour, cooking with the cover off so that the “mop” thickens a bit.

Serve over corn bread topped with pickled jalapenos, or serve pulled chicken sandwiches on onion rolls using baby arugula the same way you’d use lettuce in a sandwich.

 

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