Caribbean Chicken and Rice

I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous cook.

Grocery shopping makes me happy.  See here, here, here.

I like buying interesting ingredients like tempeh and achiote paste and creating recipes to fit them.

And while I appreciate my family’s old recipes as much as the next Norwegian (hello, lovers), I try to venture out and try new ones as often as I can afford.

Although, I don’t bake.  I don’t own a hand mixer, let alone a stand mixer.  I can only push my limits so far.

This twist on chicken and rice is nothing if not affordable, but the ingredients and method make it feel different than the ol’ rice/broth and grilled/baked chicken stand-by.

Caribbean Chicken and Rice
Serves 2-3

1 lb chicken drummettes, bone-in, with or without skin
1 medium onion, chopped and divided
1/4 cup flour (I used all purpose, but whole wheat is fine)
1 cup brown rice
1 can light coconut milk, divided
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 t paprika
1/2 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t turmeric
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 t + 1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, heat 1 t olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once shimmering, add 1/3 of the chopped onion.  Saute until translucent but not brown.  Add uncooked rice and cook until it begins to smell toasty (about 3 minutes).
2. Add 10 oz (about 2/3 of the can) of coconut milk and a cup of water to the rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.
3. Add peas to the rice once it’s almost tender and cover.  After 5-10, fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

4. While rice is cooking, heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a medium to large skillet.
5. Sprinkle flour onto a plate and season with all spices, salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken lightly in flour and place in skillet.  Cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides.  Remove to separate plate.
6. Add remaining onion and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until onion is translucent.  Add remaining coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a bubble.

7. Nestle chicken back into skillet, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

8. After 15 minutes, remove cover from skillet and allow liquid to reduce by half.
9. Serve chicken over rice, drizzling sauce and veggies over top.

I usually prefer white meat over dark meat, but this was dang good.  And that package of chicken drummettes only set me back $1.79 at Trader Joe’s.

BLAM!

I named this recipe “Caribbean” chicken, but honestly I make no actual claims to the authenticity of this dish.  But the heat from the spices and the velvety coconut milk made me feel like I should be swinging in a hammock on a white sand beach with a fruity drink in one hand.

Anyone have a deal on airfare to share?

Advertisements

Spring is in the…Food

I think you should all know that I have a tickets to the Cubs home opener on Friday.

And as luck would have it, the weather is looking rather pleasant every single day this week except for Friday.

I’m not worried about it, though.  There are weiners at Wrigley in my near future.  Oh, and probably some hot dogs, too.

(Sorry, Mom.  I had to.  I can’t resist a double entendre.)

And even though the weather is being more stubborn than…well, me, I decided last night that I needed to fight it and inject a little spring into my dinner.

Yup, spring is the beginning of artichoke season.

Usually I just trim them up and boil them (and eat the meat dunked in mayo- shhhh, don’t tell anyone), but I was going with the creative juices last night.

I found this Giada recipe.  So technically I wasn’t creative at all since I used someone else’s recipe, but hey.  There was no mayo involved, and I consider that a coup.

These are scooped out and baked with blue cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs

Not as skillful as Giada.  I got a little overzealous on that first one there…just ignore it.

Hooray for me, I’m a quick learner.

I liked ’em!  Fair warning: if you’re not a fan of blue cheese, don’t make these.  If you are…do it now.  They’re awesome.

I also threw together some stuffed chicken breasts, which were an original Megan creation (look, Ma, no recipe!).

I butterflied them,

Mixed some scallions, sundried tomatoes which were sauteed with a clove of garlic, and about 2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese (heyoo, double duty ingredient!)

Stuffed ’em and toothpicked them closed,

and browned them for about 5 minutes per side in a little olive oil.

Dare I say that my dish trumped Giada’s?

That was some dang good chicken.

{Giada, if you’re reading, I’m sorry.  I still think you’re a mighty fine chef.}

Springtime Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4

1 lb chicken breasts
~10 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated or packed in oil
3 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
2 T crumbled blue cheese
1 T olive oil+ 1/2 t
salt and pepper to taste

Butterfly chicken by carefully cutting lengthwise, ensuring that you don’t cut all the way through.

Saute tomatoes and garlic in a skillet in 1/2 t olive oil until fragrant.  Remove to a mixing bowl and combine with scallions and blue cheese while still warm.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Top each chicken breast with equal amounts of filling.  Fold over and secure with toothpicks.

Heat remainder of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Carefully place chicken in skillet, brown for 5 minutes.  Flip, brown for another 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and cover for about 5 minutes more.  Test for doneness by cutting through a breast with a knife at the thickest spot.

Ahh, colorful, light meals.

Yup, I’m ready for spring.

Now if only the weather would stop being such a jerk.

Well, Finally

The day has come.

After months of stringing you along, I’ve finally done it.

I made braised food.

Although the name of my blog is admittedly tongue in cheek, I’ve felt somewhat like a poser for a while having cooked not one single braised meal.

It is, after all, the method of champions.

If you’ve never been one to look at your dutch oven longingly, waiting for that moment when the perfect braising recipe will present itself, have no fear.  I promise it’s easy.  And surprisingly soothing.  Or maybe I’m just a freak of nature that likes getting a chicken stock facial from leaning over my cookware too often.

Check out this article for a basic how-to on the method.

The impetus for this dish was the chicken.  I’m a sucker for a deal, and bone-in chicken breasts were only $4 at Trader Joes.  You can’t beat it.

And since I was feeling kinda frisky today, I thought it was only fitting to make something spicy.

Spicy Beer Braised Chicken ‘n Veggies

The first thing you want to do is pat the chicken dry.  This is gross, but just do it.  You won’t get the crispy golden chicken you want if you don’t.  You start by getting a really nice crust on the outside of the chicken, and then let it rest and render out some bacon.  You don’t have to do this part, but it adds so much flavor.  I mean, it’s bacon.

Once the vegetables have softened, it’s time to deglaze.  This is my favorite part.  It’s when all the flavor comes to the party.  Basically, just add your liquid and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the dutch oven.

That’s basically it.  Then you just simmer away until the meat is so tender it starts to fall off the bone.

The trick is to use a heavy bottomed pot with a lid (hence the dutch oven) and cook over low heat.  You need to devote a little time to braising, but it’s totally worth it.

What you need:

Bone-in chicken breast

2 slices bacon (I used apple wood smoked, but any flavor is fine)

1 small onion, sliced

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 medium potato, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T chili sauce, or to taste

spices:  I used a sprinkle each of salt, pepper, cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper

12 oz beer

2 cups chicken broth or stock.

—————————-

Sear chicken over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side, set aside.

Cut bacon strips into lardons (ie, into cubes) and add to dutch oven.  Once the fat has rendered, set aside.  Remove all but a little of the fat from dutch oven and add onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic and spices.  Saute until tender (about 6-7 minutes) and then add chili paste.  Once combined, add beer.  Let reduce for a few minutes and then nestle chicken and bacon back into pot, and add chicken broth.

Once the mix has come to a bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and cover, simmering for about 45 minutes or until the meat is falling off the bone.  During the last 10 minutes or so, remove the lid and let the sauce reduce.  If necessary, add a teaspoon of corn starch to a bit of water and stir into mix to thicken.

There.  Now I don’t feel like a fraud.

What’s your favorite cooking method?  Have you taken a stab at braising?