Chicken Satay

I have been looking forward to making this since it was first posted at Runs with Spatula on the 15th. Trying to figure out the right night to have time to set the marinade up and let it do its job meant I had to put it off until today.  Totally worth the wait.

Daring Cooks: Pork Chicken Satay

Marinade

  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Protein/meat

1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

In a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the chicken and blend until smooth.
Cover chicken with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.  If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.

Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.

Broil or grill a 3 – 4 minutes per side on a hot grill or grill pan or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 3 – 4 minutes.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic-chili paste, or to taste (highly recommend at least this much)

Mix the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and garlic-chili paste in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.  Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and soy-lemon seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.  All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.  Adjust seasoning as needed at this point.

I used chicken instead of the pork that Amy originally used. When I think satay, I think chicken. Plus, we had pork for dinner last night.

Chris’s verdict: home run, make this again*

Because I am incredibly lazy and because during the marinating time, I ran to the pharmacy which took too long and I got home after the MSU game started, I skipped skewering and just laid my strips out on to the foil for going under the broiler.

My other major change: I added more peanut butter after tasting. We use Simply Jif, a low salt/low sugar peanut butter. After melting, the sauce felt too thin and also not very peanutty. I think this might be due to the reduced salt along with the competition from the other strong flavors.

Served with shiitake mushrooms and bell pepper stir-fry (soy sauce, sesame oil and a dash of fish sauce) and rice seasoned with cardamom.


I imagine this sauce would go well with any protein. The vegetarians will just want to skip the fish sauce. I can’t offer any substitutes but I can say to not add more soy sauce. You may need to adjust your salt as fish sauce has a fair amount. I use low sodium soy sauce and didn’t any salt to any part of the dish.


*Lucky for Chris
, I had a whole extra chicken breast that I tossed in the marinade after dinner. He’ll have a nice treat tomorrow.

Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Aah leftovers. We had a lot. I knew the turkey would eventually become turkey salad but I also knew that would be a lot of turkey salad. So, while Chris made the salad, I pondered on soup versus chili.  After a check of fridge contents, I went the soup route, primarily because I had unintentionally made double the amount of wild rice required for the corn casserole on Thursday.

Turkey-Wild Rice Soup with Fancy Carrots

The skeleton recipe for this was from a Paula Dean magazine but I only used it for approximate ratios.

Ingredients
4 cups cooked turkey, approximately, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion (red, is what I had)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 32-oz broth (chicken or vegetable) plus more as desired
2 cups cooked wild rice
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
salt & pepper

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large stockpot, over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring to coat with oil; season with salt & pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, turkey,dried herbs and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Check broth level and add more if necessary, depending on how thick you want it. Add fresh thyme, stir in cream and let cook about 5 minutes more. Season to taste.

This made for a thick soup. It was brothy, not overly creamy but not a lot of broth compared to the  turkey and rice. Just something to bear in mind.

An ideal go with: seeded bread sticks or cheesy toast.

Thanksgiving 2009

A small gathering this year, just 4 people, Chris, my parents and I.

Not that I would let that stop me from making too much food. I had the usual suspects: turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Then, a few things to try. In consideration of my vegetarian mom, I make the stuffing with vegetable broth. This year I am also adding a wild rice dish, also vegetarian. I did not plan a strictly vegetable dish. I have a in-law family recipe for green beans as a back-up but I’m hoping no one misses it. I was never a fan of the green bean casserole anyhow. I also wanted to make an apple based dessert after buying a bag of Michigan Empire apples at Whole Foods.

For pre-dinner noshing, we had onion dip (from 101 cookbooks, a personal favorite of mine and always a hit at parties) and chips with cheese, crackers and a fruit platter.

Dinner is:

Smashed Red Skin Potatoes:  Made these last year too, but subbed thyme for rosemary this year. Still think they are awesome on every level. Creamy, good on their own but also tasty with gravy. The cream cheese adds a tangy level of flavor you won’t get using milk.

I am still interested in making a whole mean of mashed potato varieties some time, just not for a holiday dinner.

Wild Rice-Corn Casserole: From Pioneer Woman, using of  course, frozen corn because you can’t find fresh sweet corn in Michigan in late-November. Comments on PW’s site indicate this is either a love it or hate it dish. It was a love it dish for us. I added a little shredded cheese and onion crisps for the last 10 minutes of cooking (reasons listed below). My dad, the usually quiet type, actually commented on my Facebook about this dish!

Stuffing/Dressing: No recipe really. I used some stuffing cubes with seasoning, adding celery and onions, chopped apples, and vegetable broth, generally following the guidelines on the bag of cubes. Baked in the oven, separate from the bird, again in consideration of my mom’s needs. Chris doesn’t really like it this way and has been correcting my use of the word “stuffing” as it was not actually stuffed in the bird. Whatever.

Garlic-Rosemary Roasted Turkey: I brined the turkey overnight, just using salt, sugar and a handful of thyme plus a bit of rosemary. The next day, the turkey is thoroughly rinsed and allowed to air dry slightly. Then, using the cell phone photo of a recipe in Cooking Light magazine (as seen at the dentist on Wednesday but later located on the internet),  I created a butter-garlic-rosemary rub to put under the skin on the breasts then over the skin everywhere.

Gravy:  No picture, no recipe. After taking the turkey out of the oven, I removed it to a serving dish and covered it in foil to rest. The drippings from the pan were poured off and I set the pan over two burners set to medium. Using a wooden spatula, I scraped up the bits and goodies, then added a few tablespoons of flour to make a paste. I then added 2 cups of chicken broth before mixing in the drippings which had been skimmed of most of the fat. Cook over medium-low until a little less thick than you want at the table. Because of that garlic paste on the bird, this gravy was uber-garlicky. And delicious.

**Dandelion Greens: Even though I didn’t plan any green vegetable dish, my mom mentioned having a bag of dandelion greens and suggested I could do something with them. I wasn’t sure if Chris would like them as they can be quite bitter but he does like arugula, a lot. I really did not want to do something like creamed spinach or otherwise add a lot of cheese/cream/dairy to the greens. I decided to just saute them in garlic and olive oil with some lemon juice added at the end. I also added a bit of sugar to counter the bitter. I should have added a lot of sugar. Even then, though, I don’t think this dish was going to work. The leaves were fully wilted but the stems were still very crunchy, even after trimming a fair amount of stalk off. Either this batch was just far too bitter for anyone in the family to eat or every recipe on the internet is only for people who really like bitter greens because all the sauteed versions I found recommend cooking for no more than 10 minutes; seemingly nothing was going to make it less bitter except perhaps more sugar. Which defeats the purpose, in my mind.

Apple-Cranberry Crumble: No picture, sorry. Actually, my parents didn’t stay to eat dessert so Chris and I tried this later on. It was decent, the crumble topping was especially tasty- of course I’d expect that of something made with brown sugar and butter! I should have peeled the apples. The recipe is Martha Stewart but I found it by way of the blog Lisa is Cooking. As Lisa did, I skipped peeling the apples but I think I would have been happier if I had although it could just be that the Empire apples were not the best choice even though they are recommended for baking.  Maybe a little more sugar? I did add a few splashes of our apple brandy from Uncle John’s Cider Mill & Fruit Winery in St. Johns. I had planned to serve this with ginger ice cream but didn’t. I guess I’ll just have to eat that some other way!


Now that you know how the meal came out, let’s talk about how it was made.

The night before, I made the carmelized onions for the onion dip and cooked up the wild rice too. And of course, brined the turkey.

When my parents arrived Thursday morning, following the Lansing Turkey Trot, I made up the dip and pulled the turkey out of the refrigerator. We had our snacks and generally, I goofed around. I planned to have dinner about 5:30-6pm so there was plenty of time.

Eventually, I prepped the turkey (it sits out for 1 hour with the rub on it) and started assembling my stuffing, corn/wild rice dish and scrubbing potatoes.

The turkey is roasted at 500° for 30 minutes then the temperature turned down to 250° and cooked until thermometer in the thigh reads 165°. My turkey, round about 11 lbs was the same size as the recipe version so this should have equaled 2 hours.

During the initial 30 minute high-heat roast, you can really hear the fat cracklin in the oven. And, upon opening the oven to insert the thermometer for the 2nd phase, I set off our smoke detectors briefly.  Oops.  Our oven, a gas version, doesn’t actually have a reading for 250° on the dial. It goes from “warm” to 260° to 300°. Knowing that it runs a little cold anyway, I set it just below the 300° mark.

After about 45 minutes, I put the stuffing/dressing and the wild rice dish in the oven too. Normally, these only need 30-45 minutes but with the lower temperature for the slow-roasted bird, I decided this would work. The temperature on the bird was still rising so I didn’t pay much attention when I put these dishes in alongside.

Another 30 minutes later (so 1 hr 15 min down, 45 to go), I realize that A) the temp isn’t going up anymore and B) I don’t hear anything “cooking” in the oven. I open it up and immediately notice that abscence of heat. I fiddled with the control and couldn’t make the flame come up, even cranking it to broil. I realize this means the pilot has gone out- randomly since we never shut the oven off, at all. According to the directions on the oven, the door, racks and bottom of the oven have to be removed to access and light the pilot. Fortunately, the oven door comes off easily but we still had to take all the pans out. As I did so, it became apparent that the oven had been off for awhile as I could remove everything, including the roasting pan which had been in for 30 minutes at 500° degrees, with my bare hands.

After removing everything, finding a lighter and getting it lit, we started reassembly, only to have it go out again. It took four or 5 tries for it to stay lit. After you light the gas, you have to hold the knob down for 60 seconds and they should say “60 seconds minimum.” Of course, you can’t turn the oven to on yet because otherwise you’ll scorch a finger or two during reassembly.

All told, this process took 30 minutes and overall delayed dinner by about two hours. I still made gravy though- must have my gravy for my turkey. And potatoes. And stuffing.

Two notes:

**Notice the little gizmo next to the dandelion greens? Its our Vinturi wine aerator and it rocks! One of many wedding gifts used during this meal including new wine glasses and the platter upon which the turkey is sitting.

**The turkey recipe from Cooking Light advises you to remove the skin after the formal presentation. HA HA HA. Do it if you want but we did not want.

Good stuff: Chicken, bacon, cream, wine

A week ago Sunday, Chris went to bed complaining of a sore throat. Monday, he was convinced he had strep throat and went to the doctor. Diagnosis: no strep, no swine flu, no regular flu. Most likely a cold. Now, 9 days go by and I’m good, free of illness. I think I’ve won, I’ve dodged the bullet. Tuesday night, I felt a little scratch in my throat. Dang Dang Dang!! I am in the class of employees who get Veteran’s Day off and I had a list of things to do. Not one of which I did. Instead, during my day off yesterday, I watched all the Top Chef episodes from this season minus the two I’d already seen. I laid on the couch and watched people cook some crazy stuff in some crazy environments (3 kinds of ceviche after a night spent sleeping in a teepee in the Nevada desert- really?), occasionally dozing.

Eventually, I made dinner for Chris and I but I was too beat from my hard day of lounging (really, I was exhausted) so he cooked up some boneless pork ribs marinated in chimichurri sauce on the grill while I made rice and some peppers & onions with a slight South American bent thanks to some cilantro and cumin. Then, we sat down to watch the newest episode of Top Chef. The new ep featured Nigella Lawson as guest judge. The quickfire (initial short challenge, for the uninitiated) was focused around the idea of breakfast in bed from room service. I’m not a big breakfast eater but some of those dishes had the potential to turn me around- if someone else were cooking- I’m not in to breakfast because I’m not in to mornings, in general.

The second part of the show was the elimination challenge where each chef had to cook a dish, inspired by a casino in Vegas, for 175 people. Nothing too mind-blowing here and the chef who should have gone home weeks ago finally went home. At the end of the show, we saw a preview for next week- the guest judge is Thomas Keller of the French Laundry- very big deal and all the competition chefs were visibly freaking out. This led to a conversation between Chris and I on who all these people were and I learned that he didn’t know who Nigella Lawson was. Now, Chris doesn’t watch food shows all the time but he likes a certain body type and usually picks up on that instead of one’s cooking ability for TV food celebs. Nigella is right up his alley, especially with her sensuous food talk, lots of oohing over flavors, moaning over aromas, etc.

Cutting to the chase, I brought up her website and while we were talking, I looked at some recipes and found something I thought he’d like, no matter the source. And it used a number of ingredients we had on hand. Upon further review, I ended up making a number of tweaks.

Chicken with mushroom-bacon sauce

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 slices bacon
1/2-3/4 cup creme fraiche
2-3 handfuls shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups sliced)
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, one sliced, one diced
3/4 cup white wine (approx)
olive oil

mashed potatoes
steamed peas with tarragon

To begin, fry three slices of bacon (I used thick-cut) in a large saute’ pan. Remove bacon when done, draining on paper towels. Drain most of the fat, leaving just a thin coating on the pan. If you don’t have much fat- well what kind of bacon were you using?!? And, if necessary, add a bit of olive oil to the pan. You will probably have some crunchy bits on the bottom of the pan- leave them there. Add two chicken breasts to the pan. Cook 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm.

While chicken is cooking, chop bacon in to small pieces.

After chicken has been removed from pan, add a teaspoon of olive oil, if necessary. Add garlic and rosemary to pan, cooking and stirring frequently until fragrant and garlic is turning golden brown. Add mushrooms, stir to coat then add bacon. Allow to cook until pan begins to dry then add 3/4 cup wine to deglaze. Turn heat to medium-high to bring sauce to boil. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1/2 cup creme fraiche.

Serve in layers: mashed potatoes then chicken breast then mushroom-bacon sauce. On the side, we had steamed petite peas with just a bit of butter and 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon.


If the ingredients don’t tempt you, the pictures surely will. Except I didn’t take any pictures because I couldn’t find the camera!! Of course, this is the night my plate looked perfect- great presentation with the mushroom sauce draped lovingly over the chicken breast, small amounts of sauce pooling at the bottom, lying on a bed of mashed potatoes with a nice bright green along the side thanks to the peas.

I’ll make this again. Next time, I’d like to cream up the sauce even more. I was using up the creme fraiche we had. I probably would have used more if I’d had it. The advantage of creme fraiche over heavy cream is that the creme fraiche is less likely to curdle on the high heat. You have to be more cautious with heavy cream- turning the heat down before adding and waiting a few minutes for security.

Arroz con Pollo

I borrowed this recipe from Elise, over at Simply Recipes. Some modifications for serving size and timeliness along with what was handy.

Arroz Con Pollo

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 package boneless skinless chicken breast, patted dry (approx 3 breast halves with tenderloins)
1/2 cup of flour for dredging
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Paprika

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups* chicken stock
1 cup of diced tomatoes (canned, oregano, basil, garlic flavor), strained
Pinch of oregano or more
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup frozen mixed vegetable blend (beans, carrots, peas)

Directions

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan with a lid.

Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika together on a small plate. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and saute in pan until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add the rice to the pan to brown. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Stir first to coat the rice with the olive oil in the pan. Then allow it to sit and brown lightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion, garlic and rice mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the stock, salt, oregano and tomatoes together.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the rice. Pour the stock mixture over the rice and chicken. I added a little more dried oregano here but its optional. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook 15 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the stock.

Add frozen vegetable blend to pan and return lid. Cook 3-5 minutes until vegetables are heated through. Fluff rice with a fork before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

This made 4 servings. It all came together pretty quickly – maybe 30 minutes start to finish. No picture- it was quick but a late start to dinner so I didn’t want to impede Chris by taking glamour shots first.

Arroz con Pollo would make a great make-ahead dish. You could freeze individual portions.