Winnah Winnah Chicken Dinnah

In an effort to save time this week, I purchased a family pack of chicken breasts yesterday with the plan to marinate them in various sauces and grill or broil them before slicing and serving over salad greens (harvested from our garden) for lunches.

Step one: trim the fat. The family pack was not my usual brand of Amish-grown chicken so I spent more time than I liked trimming off all the excess fat. I considered weighing the trims but decided that was being too anal. After I trimmed it all down, I pounded the breasts to a more even thinness. Chris had offered to grill them up after the sun went down so I thought this would speed the process.

Step two: marinate. We had about 1/3 of a bottle of this fajita seasoning marinade left so I put that in with two of the breasts.

For the next group, I used some of a mojo sauce marinade that Chris had found. Its the same brand as the fajita and its really not my favorite brand as they are all made with high fructose corn syrup. Today, he found the brand we normally buy, Goya Mojo Criollo at a new little market on Waverly (just south of Saginaw, behind Walgreens).

For the last group, I mixed Dijon mustard, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika with garlic powder.

Marinated overnight, I decided to have Chris grill it up and I would use some of it for dinner tonight. On a whim, I bought these new Fold-it things from Flat Out during my speedwalk shopping trip through Meijer last week. Basically a flat bread with a built-in hinge to make a sandwich, I picked up the Rosemary & Olive Oil variety and immediately knew I’d be doing something with caramelized onions.

Tonight, I sliced up 1 1/2 Vidalia onions, heated up 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter then added the onions, letting them cook slowly until they were goldeny brown and sweet:

After these were done, I chopped up some cilantro from the jungle. Heat 1 Fold-it in a non-stick skillet. Top with a little shredded cheese and let melt. When the chicken comes off the grill, slice it. Add to the flat bread and top with cilantro and caramelized onions. You could also consider a little pineapple, grilled maybe…

Now the question is, which marinated chicken variety would go best?

Chicken Roulette

Well, that would require that I be able to tell them apart. I am pretty sure we both ended up with Mojo marinated chicken but uh, you can see my dilemma.

It was good, no matter what. Bodes well for future lunches.

Chicken Curry

I started out with the intention of making something Asian-y for dinner- a Chinese stir-fry type of thing. This is because the chicken we had was pre-cut in to strips, ideal for a quick cook. Looking around the house, I realized that a. I need garlic and b. this cilantro we planted is getting out of control. And c. warming up naan is way quicker than making rice.

So I detoured south and went for Indian cuisine. Using the cookbook, 5 spices 50 dishes, a gift for Chris*, I decided to make the chicken curry because I had all the correct spices. The other reason I was drifting from more Chinese-Asian was a lack of ginger- a key ingredient in most Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese dishes.

I did have to make a couple of changes based on what I had and a desire to add more veggies.

What I used- (followed by as in the book where necessary)

1 onion, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 sliced thin (2 onions, finely chopped)
14 oz can crushed tomatoes, no salt added (3 fresh tomatoes, chopped = 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly (not in book version)
1 package chicken breasts, strips style (3 lbs chicken parts, bone-in)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup chicken broth (1 cup water)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

What I did

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions until they begin to brown (or completely brown if time permits).

Combine cayenne, turmeric and cumin with 1 tablespoon of water to create a paste. Stir paste in to onions, mix to combine and cook 3-5 minutes. Add tomato and stir constantly so mixture doesn’t scorch.

Add chicken and bell pepper; mix to combine. Cook about 10 minutes then add water plus salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a high simmer. Cook uncovered until chicken is completely cooked through, up to 30 minutes (boneless chicken strips only took about 15 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar, adjust seasonings.

Served with garlic naan and plenty o’ cilantro.


This was good, spicy with just a little sour from the vinegar. However, it was not thick so perhaps not suited to naan dipping. I didn’t have anything handy to thicken it up (i.e. sour cream or cream or yogurt) so we made do. I still like chicken tikka masala better but with no marinating, this was way quicker.

*So, this was meant to be a gift for Chris so he could make some Indian food. How many dishes has he made so far?

EDIT: add bell pepper with chicken or partly through onion sauteing, whatever floats your boat.

Introducing my Royal Food Taster, or Sniffer anyhow

Smells good to me

Trying to take a picture of tonight’s dinner when a little helper showed up. Thanks Zelda, for your approval!

A few bonus shots- the mercurial moods of Zelda:

Cute
Appearing to be evil, actually licking her chops

If you want to know what I did to make that dinner, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. It was good and “very green” according to Chris. I’m not sure if that means environmentally friendly or full of vegetables.

Garlicky Rosemary Chicken

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Earlier Chris was sending me texts, asking what I wanted for dinner. I said I wanted lobster. And wine. On a boat on the ocean.

Instead we had chicken, rice and balsamic green beans. I also made a quick pan sauce with lemon juice, rosemary and red onion. Good in concept only okay in execution.

But I did take a couple of pics using the new Droid from which I am also posting this.

Chicken Tikka Masala Nirvana

Onions- smell the tasty-ness

When your husband tells you that the dish you’ve just served is one of the top five best of all time, you probably ought to write down the recipe. When I first started making dinner tonight, I wasn’t necessarily going to blog about it. I did take some pictures but that was more because I just received a new (old) lens in the mail and wanted to play with it and the new natural light we get now that Spring has sprung forth.

I first tried making my own chicken tikka masala back in January of 2009.  Since then, I’ve used various jarred sauces along with variations on spice mixes and pastes to make  marinades, trying to move ever closer to “perfection” as described by Chris, the lover of all things tikka. Some of the sauces have been closer than others but each time, either the marinade or the sauce was off (plus there was that one time I used vanilla yogurt instead of plain- not that Chris seemed to notice).  Short of buying a tandoori oven, I didn’t really know what else to try*.  Truthfully, I don’t know what I did tonight that made it work so well but I’d like to think it was using yogurt in the sauce (healthier too!) and the almonds.

Top 5: Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients

1 package chicken breasts, cut in to strips or chunks
1 container Fage yogurt (2% fat), plain, divided
1 tablespoon Neera’s tandoori paste from Cinnabar Foods**
Sauce:
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup slivered blanched sliced almonds
1/2 onion, medium dice
1-2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ginger

Directions

Mix tandoori paste and 2/3 of the yogurt together in a plastic bag. Add chicken pieces, marinate for at least an hour

Over medium heat, toast almonds (in a tiny bit of oil) until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Either grind in food processor or use a mortar and pestle if you are feeling particularly aggressive.

Prepare to be bashed

Preheat grill or broiler.

In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and onions, cooking until they look that picture up there at the top (softened but not browned).

Add half the garam masala and cayenne pepper to onoins. Stir to combine and continue to cook for two or three more minutes.

Meanwhile, you can put your chicken on the grill or broiler about now.

Add tomato sauce, ground almonds and remainder of spices to the pan. Reduce heat to low and allow the flavors to meld.

When chicken is done, cut in to chunks (if you didn’t already) and add to tomato sauce along with the remaining yogurt. Mix to combine, heat through and serve.

Perfect?
Chicken Tikka Masala

We had our with store-bought garlic naan. Garnish with fresh cilantro, of course.  Also would be excellent with rice or quinoa.  I recommend a bit of raita too as this version turned out fairly spicy.


*I have looked in to purchasing a tandoor. Looked as in glanced. Amazon sells them, for a couple thousand dollars so that is clearly out of the question. Right?

**I wish I could remember exactly where we bought this. Maybe Whole Foods or I just saw it in some random store.  You can get it online if you follow the link in the ingredient list, though.