Saturday, June 30, 2012

Honey Chipotle Chicken

Love on a plate, my friends. I have to say that I tagged this post as being part of the "Understanding Spices Series" because I consider chipotle peppers a spice. This recipe is a modification of Rachael Ray's Chipotle Cashew Chicken, and it is FANTASTIC. Here is my recipe card...that I do not exactly follow. If you want to see the recipe I follow, scroll down to the bottom!

These are boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Buy these - not because I am a low fat enthusiast, but because they are easier to cook...and faster :).

Step One: Sprinkle on paprika, salt, and pepper. The paprika will give it a pretty color and a depth of flavor.

I can find these at my grocery store, and they are cheaper than the colored bell peppers. They taste almost the same, though, and they are so much cuter!

Step Two: Chop up an onion, two or three cloves of garlic, and two or three little sweet peppers (or one small bell pepper, any color).

This is what the can of chipotle peppers looks like. You can find these on the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store.

Step Three: Take out two of the peppers, slit them open,...

...and scrape out the ribs and seeds.

Step Four: Chop up the peppers.

Spiciness Factor: The heat lives in the ribs and seeds. I throw the ribs out because they are so stinkin' spicy! I do throw in a little bit of the seeds, but not much. I do not like things too terribly spicy. Even if you leave out the seeds and ribs altogether, you will still get a good bit of heat.

Step Five: Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and then cook the chicken thighs on both sides until nice and brown (about 2-3 minutes per side).

They won't be cooked through all the way, and that is ok.

Step Six: Move all of the chicken thighs to the side of the pan.

Step Seven: Pour in soy sauce. Enjoy the smell :).

Step Eight: Turn the heat back to medium, and then add in the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook until the veggies are soft.

Step Nine: Cover the mixture, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Step Ten: Stir in water chestnuts. They are wonderfully crunchy and fantastic. You can find those on the ethnic food aisle, too.

Step Eleven: Add in the chipotle peppers and a spoonful of the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers. Save the rest of the peppers and sauce in the can for another day.

Step Twelve: Spray your measuring cup with canola oil before putting honey in it so that the honey will all slide right out.
Step Thirteen: Turn off the heat, and then stir in honey.

Pretty, pretty, pretty, and good, good, good!

Step Fourteen: Top with a little parsley for color. (Can you tell I was almost out of parsley?)

I feel that I need to take a moment to let you know how much I love this rice. This is toasted almond rice, and the almonds in it give the rice have an amazing, nutty flavor. I like to serve the honey chipotle chicken over this kind of rice because the almonds give an added crunch.

The original recipe by Rachael Ray called for cashews, but I could not taste the cashews when I added them in. I hate to ruin a good cashew, so this kind of rice was a great trade-off. 

Even if you do not serve honey chipotle chicken with anything, it is soooo goood.  


Honey Chipotle Chicken
Click here for printable version
3 T. canola oil
½ t. paprika
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
1 ½ - 2lb boneless
, skinless chicken thighs
1 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 T. soy sauce
2 t. garlic
1 red bell pepper
, chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and chopped
1/3 c. honey
2-3T parsley
, chopped
1 box almond rice, prepared according to package directions 

Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Move the chicken thighs to one side of the pan. Add soy sauce, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking until the veggies are soft. Cover, and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in water chestnuts, chipotle peppers, and a spoonful of adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers. Stir well, and cook together another minute. Turn off the heat, and stir in honey. Garnish with parsley, and serve over almond rice.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Understanding Spices: Dutch Oven Stew

First of all, see this, my friends? This is a Dutch oven. Love your Dutch oven. Hug it tight. Make it your best friend, especially if it is an old school one like this one. The new ones with enamel tend to be hard to clean. Not this one! This one is perfect. It is easy to clean, and it can be seasoned, the old southern word for pans that retain the layers of flavor and goodness from each and every meal prepared in them.
Anyone ever watch The Famous Jett Jackson? Blast from the past, I know, but a good show. Remember the one where Miss Coretta hides all of her pots and pans from her ex-daughter-in-law so that she won't wash her pans? She didn't want the pans to lose all that seasoned goodness with harsh washing. Maybe that is a look into my future. If you ever come to my house and see pans in odd places, well...

Anyway, ever try to make your own beef stew? I tried to make my own all the time. It always ended up tasting like meat and potatoes cooked in water. Even if I added something to make it taste different like ketchup or tomato sauce, it just tasted like meat and potatoes cooked in water with ketchup or tomato sauce mixed into it. Beef stew from a can tasted better quite honestly.
Enter Emeril Lagasse and spices. I found his beef stew recipe and modified it SO very much, but I did not modify one very important part - the spices. He makes a blend of spices he calls "essence." You can see a reduced version on the side of my trusty recipe card in the picture below:

Ta-Da! Finally beef stew that is better that the canned kind. So. Much. Better. I have a sore throat today, and I made this to fix it. :) ...and I feel that you should know that I have made the recipe in this post more user-friendly than my trusty recipe card.

Step One: Measure out the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme into a small bowl. Mine is actually my super ancient 1/3 cup. It makes me happy. 
Mix them all up! Pretty spice confetti.

This is how these look when you buy them pre-cut in the grocery store. These are called beef round chunks.

Step Two: Pour all of the spices onto the meat. Yes, the meat is still on the tray from the pack from the store. I do not like dirtying dishes. :) Don't worry! I disinfect this part of the kitchen later.

 Mix together with your fingers until coated.

Step Three: Add just enough to cover the bottom of the Dutch oven. Heat to med-high. Since this oven/range is eleven years old now, I had time to wash my measuring cup and tablespoon that I would need later while it heated up. I kept a close eye on it, though. I promise!

Step Four: Add a single layer of beef to the bottom of the Dutch oven. You should hear a sizzling sound when you add them. If you don't, take them out, and try again in about 30 seconds or so. As you can see, my Dutch oven only holds about half of the beef in it at a time. I have to cook them in two batches.

See? This is the rest of the beef. They are waiting patiently for their turn.

It took a while to get this picture because it was the camera lens kept getting all steamed up! This is what the beef should look like - brown, not gray. If your beef is gray, you didn't let your oil get hot enough.

Step Five: When brown on all sides, remove the beef to a plate temporarily.

This is what the pan will look like after you remove all of the beef (both batches) to a plate. Do not discard all of this good stuff! It will make the stew taste oh so delicious.
Step Six: Add onions and stir well. You will start to see all those lovely brown bits sticking to the onions. Mmmm.
Step Seven: After the onions have cooked a while, they will be translucent and covered in wonderful brown loveliness. These aren't caramelized, they are just covered in goodness. At this point, add the garlic. Let it cook about 30 seconds. Do not let it burn! Burnt garlic is bitter.

Step Eight: Add flour. I used self-rising. Why? I don't know.

Stir it in, and cook it until you cannot see any white flour anymore. Raw flour will make your stew taste like raw flour. Cooked flour = yum.

Step Nine: Add two cups beef broth. Yes, I realize that this is only one cup. I added two! No, I do not know why there is a honey bear in the background.

Step Ten: Add tomato paste. Just so you know, tomato paste in a tube is one of the very best inventions ever!

Step Eleven: Add the beef back into the Dutch oven, and stir in all of the ingredients you have just added.  

Step Twelve: Wait for the stew to come back up to a boil. If your stove is eleven years old, waiting will give you enough time to clean up the random cooking products and utinsils scattered about the kitchen. After the stew comes back up to a boil, reduce the heat to med-low to low (If your stew is still bubbling a bit when you remove the lid, you are good.), and cover. Leave it that way for an hour which would be a good time to Pinterest stalk.
Step Thirteen: After an hour has passed, peel four potatoes, and cut them into chunks (whatever size you like. I cut mine into rather large chunks).
On a sidenote: Don't you love my potato peeling/chopping method? Peels on a paper towel. Genius, no? Some of you just responded no, and I'm ok with that.
Step Fourteen: Add the potatoes to the Dutch oven,...
...stir, and cover. Cook 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Use the extra time to Pinterest stalk some more!

...and here is the end result my friends...

 ...and it doesn't last long!

Dutch Oven Stew
Click here for printable version
canola oil
1-1.5 lb beef stew chunks (usually can be found pre-cut in the store)
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 T flour (I use self-rising, why? I do not know)
2 c. beef broth
1 T tomato paste
1/2 t. + 1/8 t. paprika
1 1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. cayenne
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. thyme
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Mix together paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme. Season the beef with the spice mixture on all sides. Heat oil in Dutch oven to med-high heat. Brown beef on all sides, browning in batches so that every piece of meat is always in contact with the pan. Remove beef. Cook onions in remaining oil until translucent. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add flour; stir about 2 minutes. Add broth, tomato paste, and beef. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Add potatoes. Cover and simmer 30 more minutes or until potatoes are tender.
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